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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.

A Brief History of Fossil-Fuelled Climate Denial

Protester holding a banner: "You can't recycle wasted time"

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

Canadian Climate Denial Group, Friends of Science, Named as Creditor in Coal Giant's Bankruptcy Files

By Charles Mandel for the National Observer.

A Canadian climate change denial group has popped up in a U.S. coal giant's bankruptcy proceedings that have lifted the curtain on the funding of a sophisticated continent-wide marketing campaign designed to fool the public about how human activity is contributing to global warming.

document, nearly 1,000 pages long, lists the Calgary-based Friends of Science Society as one of the creditors expecting to get money from the once-mighty coal company, Peabody Energy.

Climate scientists and environmentalists have long suspected that the so-called “Friends” group was a front for fossil fuel companies trying to block government action to reduce carbon pollution, but Friends of Science members always declined to reveal their source of funding.

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.

Black Press Keeps Buying and then Closing Small B.C. Papers. Why?

By Megan Devlin for J-Source, the Canadian Journalism Project.

Eric Plummer, editor of the Alberni Valley Times, remembers the day last September when two representatives from Black Press told him his paper was closing.
 
“They came in, I think it was like 4:00 or 4:30,” he said. “I don’t think that we’d even finished the paper yet, actually.”
 
The daily paper, which served the 25,000 people of Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island from 1967 to 2015, was one of 11 British Columbia community newspapers that Black Press bought from Glacier Media in 2014.
 
“I won’t contend that the paper wasn’t losing money,” Plummer said. “I think at that point I was just so hellbent on keeping the paper going that I refused to believe that we were going to be dying just yet.”
 
On Oct. 9, 2015, Plummer published the paper’s last edition.

Fort McMurray and the New Era of Infernos

By Ed Struzik for The Tyee.

A sudden shift in the wind at a critical time of day was all it took to send a wildfire out of control through Fort McMurray, forcing more than 80,000 people out of their homes in what has become the biggest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Earlier this week, Darby Allen, the regional fire chief for the area, minced no words when he was asked what might happen now that more than 1,600 homes have been destroyed.

''This is a really dirty fire,'' he said. ''There are certainly areas within the city which have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will take them.''

The media line now is that fire experts saw this coming five years ago when one of the Flattop Complex fires tore through the Alberta town of Slave Lake in 2011, forcing everyone to leave on a moment's notice. A report released shortly after predicted that something similar could happen again, and its authors made 21 recommendations to prepare for the possibility.

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.

New 'Meta' Study Confirms Consensus: 97% of Publishing Climate Scientists Agree We are Causing Global Warming

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

When we published a paper in 2013 finding 97% scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, what surprised me was how surprised everyone was.

Ours wasn’t the first study to find such a scientific consensus. Nor was it the second. Nor were we the last.

Nevertheless, no-one I spoke to was aware of the existing research into such a consensus. Rather, the public thought there was a 50:50 debate among scientists on the basic question of whether human activity was causing global warming.

Burning Fossil Fuels is Responsible for Most Sea-Level Rise Since 1970

By Aimée Slangen, Utrecht University and John Church, CSIRO

Global average sea level has risen by about 17 cm between 1900 and 2005. This is a much faster rate than in the previous 3,000 years.

The sea level changes for several reasons, including rising temperatures as fossil fuel burning increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In a warming climate, the seas are expected to rise at faster rates, increasing the risk of flooding along our coasts. But until now we didn’t know what fraction of the rise was the result of human activities.

In research published in Nature Climate Change, we show for the first time that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the majority of sea level rise since the late 20th century.

As the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere continues to increase, we need to understand how sea level responds. This knowledge can be used to help predict future sea level changes.

Fact Check: Outlook for Coal Not Quite What it Used to Be

Coal pollution in China

This is a guest post by Benjamin Thibault and Andrew Read of the Pembina Institute

Coal Association of Canada (CAC) president, Robin Campbell is currently touring Alberta with a series of “ACT information meetings.” He is making a number of assertions about the province’s coal industry and Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. We feel that some of the points being raised by Campbell need to be addressed. This is the second blog post to address those claims and to reiterate the importance of Alberta’s pledge to phase out coal power pollution.
 
As our first fact check showed, the CAC has been disseminating some misinformation on coal’s contribution to air pollution in Alberta. Another bucket of inaccuracies centres around the long-term future of coal — both locally and internationally — and the potential for coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) in particular.

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