Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ralph Surette highlights the dangers of a pollution-based economy which fails to account for the damage we're doing to our planet and its ability to provide food for people:
This is something to behold. A more-or-less hurricane in early July. Has anyone ever seen such a thing?

This is climate change, and it's getting worse. And whereas the news of the day is about people with the power out, the long-term story is about the hit to agriculture, now and in future, here and worldwide -- keeping in mind that farming is more than an "economic sector." It's the food supply.
This is the story all over, as agriculture, always up and down, has become a wild, unpredictable ride through floods, droughts, storms, killing heatwaves, heat-related pest infestations and other hazards. In some places -- drought-ridden California being the prime example -- the scary question is whether agriculture there is simply finished for good.
What to do? As with our pollution-based economy generally, the answer is one we and our established systems resist ferociously: to change our ways. The experts point out that a third to half of food is actually wasted and mere increased efficiency, especially energy efficiency, in the food system -- from the farm to us -- would work wonders. Only 43 per cent of the world's grains are consumed directly by humans. The same applies to the other part of the food system, fisheries. A staggering figure in that regard is this: of the 110 to 130 million tonnes of fish caught worldwide annually, 30 million tonnes is discarded at sea -- the same amount as goes to fishmeal to feed farmed fish. Is this as impossible to change as it seems?
- Meanwhile, Tavia Grant discusses the health effects of climate change.

- Laura Broadley reports that Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is now grudgingly admitting that its in situ oil extraction may be contributing to ongoing and still-unexplained oil spills. (As a friendly reminder, that's exactly the type of oil exploitation the Cons have declared to be immune from environmental assessment.) And Jessica McDiarmid writes about Windsor's fight to be able to protect its citizens from hazardous goods being shipped by rail.

- Gloria Galloway reports on the threat to Canada's national parks from unfettered resource development and a woeful lack of public investment.

- David Climenhaga points out that the Cons' latest spin on TFWs seems designed to allow low-pay zones wherever an employer wants to avoid offering a fair wage to Canadian workers.

- Finally, Shannon Gormley rightfully questions why equal pay for women is still projected to be a lifetime away:
Seventy-five years. According to an Oxfam report released Sunday, that’s how long it will take until women in G20 countries can earn, stow away and waste as much as the men who, right now, probably sign their paycheques. In no G20 country does women’s pay reach 80 per cent of men’s.

Before we get into how to save time (and money) — listen. That sound you hear is the sound of conservatives everywhere uttering a secret hope masked as insight: “Progress is slow,” these anti-progressives say, with a smugly wizened intonation peculiar to the type of man who smokes a pipe and has another man shave him with a straight razor.

Of course, 75 years isn’t slow. Turtles are slow; 75 years is an actual, honest-to-God lifetime. Seventy-five years is longer than it took a large chunk of Germany to go from being fascist to communist to capitalist. Longer than it took people to go from using typewriters to computers the size of living rooms to computers they wear on their eyeballs. Longer than it took Americans to go to the moon and then back again and then decide they didn’t feel like going to the moon anymore. Seventy-five years are about as many years as most of us will ever have.
(W)omen who ask for raises, promotions and other career opportunities aren’t just denied what they want, they’re punished for asking: whether they ask “nicely” or assertively, whether they ask in writing or in person and, most remarkably, whether the person they ask is a man or another woman. Women’s bias against other women is a particularly clear indication that we can’t wait for our subconscious minds to change. We need to change systems and structures and let our minds catch up.

That’s Oxfam’s answer. In Canada, where “progress has stalled to a halt over the past two decades,” and only 57 per cent of women have been employed full-time over the past five years compared to 76 per cent of men, change has to mean national low-fee day care, which has given Quebec more money than it has cost, and no more public service cuts, which disproportionately affect women. Globally, it must mean equal pay legislation, non-discriminatory taxation, and paid parental leave.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Greg. The Guardian has a piece this morning on a UN report showing that climate change impacts have worsened five fold since 1970. It consists of 8-graphs that depict what's happening. What I found most telling where two bar charts. One showed greatest disasters in terms of reported deaths, the other in terms of economic losses. When it came to deaths (and suffering) it was all Third World. On economic loss, it was mainly the US (Katrina, Sandy, Andrew and Ivan). I had to question what if we, the industrialized world, had to carry an entry for the costs of those Third World deaths and other suffering that is mainly attributable to the carbon emissions we have caused since the Industrial Revolution? The disconnect between the two may go a long way to explaining why we have repeatedly failed to reach a global climate change action consensus.