Opinion

What I Learned From Being in a Focus Group Led by Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

By Laura Bouchard for CANADALAND.

A few weeks ago, Bruce Anderson, a popular pundit and pollsterwrote an opinion piece criticizing the NDP’s Leap Manifesto as a clumsy political misstep. Canadians, Anderson argues, would never go for bold action addressing climate change. We’re a mild people. A simple people. He wrote:

Canadians want 'pro-growth environmentalism.' They want to tap entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, science, capital and yes, capitalism, to help create ideas that marry our desire to put food on the table, money away for our kids’ education, and some sense of security about how we’re going to live in retirement.”

This last sentence caught my eye. If you read it closely, you’ll notice two lists. First are the feel-goodisms the oil industry likes to drape itself in: innovation, science, entrepreneurship; second are the actual anxieties of average Canadians. Rather artfully Anderson has fused the interests of everyday Canadians with the rhetoric of the oil patch; perfectly aligned and indistinguishable.

B.C. Government Quietly Undercuts Province's Ability to Feed Itself

If California’s farmers ever run out of the water needed to irrigate their crops, we’ll be in for a rude awakening.

With 70 per cent of British Columbia’s imported fruits and vegetables coming from the sunny U.S. state, any climatic disaster there would almost certainly result in dramatic run-ups in food prices here.

Our elected leaders know that such a scenario may be close at hand. But they’re not talking much about it — perhaps because to do so would be to admit that many of the government’s policy choices are at direct odds with the very idea of promoting domestic food security.

Unprecedented Wildfires in Western Canada Call For Serious Climate Action

This is a guest post by Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club B.C.

The wildfires currently raging uncontrolled in Alberta are not within the range of what’s normal.

As of May 29, 854,984 hectares have burned this year in Canada, mostly Alberta — almost 10 times the 25-year-average amount of forest lost by this date (89,391 hectares).

And summer hasn't even started.

Warm temperatures and low humidity mean that, for the time being, there is no end in sight. A similar situation is taking shape in British Columbia.

The correlation between higher average temperatures and wildfires in Canada has been well-researched, but the extremes now underway still come as a shock. Leading climate scientists have compared the urgent need to prevent further overheating of our planet to a person with a dangerously high fever. Our body temperature is normally about 37 degrees. If it increases by two degrees to 39, you have fever. If it goes over 41, you might die.

David Suzuki: How Do We Feed Humanity in a Warming World?

Calculating farming’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is difficult, but experts agree that feeding the world’s people has tremendous climate and environmental impacts. Estimates of global emissions from farms range widely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts them at 24 per cent, including deforestation, making agriculture the second-largest emitter after heat and electricity.

Agriculture contributes to global warming in a number of ways. Methane and nitrous oxide, which are more potent than CO2 but remain in the atmosphere for shorter times, make up about 65 per cent of agricultural emissions. Methane comes mainly from cattle and nitrous oxide from fertilizers and wastes. According to the World Resources Institute, “Smaller sources include manure management, rice cultivation, field burning of crop residues, and fuel use on farms.” Net emissions are also created when forests and wetlands are cleared for farming, as these “carbon sinks” usually absorb and store more carbon than the farms that replace them. Transporting and processing agricultural products also contribute to global warming.

Eating Less Meat Will Reduce Earth’s Heat

Will vegans save the world? Reading comments under climate change articles or watching the film Cowspiracy make it seem they’re the only ones who can. Cowspiracy boldly claims veganism is “the only way to sustainably and ethically live on this planet.” But, as with most issues, it’s complicated.

It’s true, though, that the environment and climate would benefit substantially if more people gave up or at least cut down on meat and animal products, especially in over-consuming Western societies. Animal agriculture produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, consumes massive volumes of water and causes a lot of pollution.

But getting a handle on the extent of environmental harm, as well as the differences between various agricultural methods and types of livestock, and balancing that with possible benefits of animal consumption and agriculture isn’t simple.

David Suzuki: Divest from Damage and Invest in a Healthier Future

If people keep rapidly extracting and burning fossil fuels, there’s no hope of meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement climate change commitments. To ensure a healthy, hopeful future for humanity, governments must stick to their pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. Many experts agree that to meet that goal, up to 80 per cent of oil, coal and gas reserves must stay in the ground. That makes fossil fuels a bad investment — what analysts call “stranded assets.”

Putting money toward things that benefit humanity, whether investing in clean energy portfolios or implementing energy-saving measures in your home or business, is better for the planet and the bottom line than sinking it into outdated industries that endanger humanity.

Peace River Break a Critical Conservation Corridor in Rare Intact Mountain Ecosystem

By Tim Burkhart, former researcher with the Cohen Commission and Peace River Break Coordinator with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
 
On a clear day after the thaw, I climb a meandering hiking trail through thick forest, crossing springs swollen with alpine melt, and scramble up rocky slopes to a wind-swept vista of alpine tundra at the weather-beaten peak of Mount Bickford, about 40 minutes west of the small industry town of Chetwynd, B.C.
 
From this lofty vantage point above the Pine Pass, the crucial east-west length of Highway 97 is visible, connecting northeast B.C. with the rest of the province west of the Rockies.
 
Standing beside the dark waters of a mountain lake, still fringed with snow, I can gaze out upon an uninterrupted view of one of the most important landscapes in British Columbia.

Only One Canadian University Has Divested. Here's How Alumni Can Help Change That

Protests and petitions were never really my thing. I’ve never owned a Che Guevara t-shirt and my haircut would be entirely appropriate for a police officer. But the more I read about climate change, the more I felt like I was part of a society and an economy going in the wrong direction. Specifically, plummeting downward. And unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life avoiding eye contact with children and mirrors, I knew I had to do something more than cast an occasional ballot.

About this time I became aware of the fossil fuel divestment movement. Students from over 20 universities across the country are attempting to convince their schools to divest their endowment funds from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years, and immediately freeze any new investments in those companies. And I thought, hey, I have a couple of university degrees, maybe I can help.

But first you might be wondering why exactly these students and I are so worked up about climate change and fossil fuel companies. The answer boils down to 3 numbers:

Why I Wrote a Book About How to Clean Up Toxic Debates

I wrote my last book, Climate Cover-Up, because I wanted to take a deeper look at the science propaganda and media echo chambers that muddied the waters around climate change, fuelled denial of facts and stalled action. The book was a Canadian best seller, was reprinted in Spanish and Mandarin and became the basis of many lectures, panel discussions and presentations I have given around the world since it was published in 2009.
 
I continued to be perplexed and frustrated by the spin doctoring swirling around the global warming issue, making it easy for people to refute the reality of what’s going on and ignore this critical collective problem. But as time went by I became even more concerned and alarmed by the crazy state of debate today in general — the toxic rhetoric that seems to permeate virtually all of the important issues we face, whether it’s a discussion about vaccinations, refugee immigration, gun control or environmental degradation.

The Company(ies) BC Hydro Keeps

Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River

Another month, another Site C dam contract. Yet again, it's with one of those almost — but not quite — Canadian companies.

On April 6, Canadian Press quoted Premier Christy Clark as stating “Montreal-based Voith Hydro Inc. will design, supply and install six turbines, six generators and associated equipment.”

Voith would be more accurately described as a family-owned, German-based company with operations in Montreal and dozens of other locations around the world. It may seem trivial, but it's not the first time BC Hydro has taken liberties with postal codes.

In a news release last November, it announced the selection of Peace River Hydro Partners as the preferred proponent for the $1.75 billion Site C main civil works contract.

Peace River Hydro Partners is comprised of Samsung C&T Canada, Acciona Infrastructure Canada and Petrowest.

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