Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jerry Taylor writes that any reasonable evaluation of the risks associated with a climate breakdown demands that we transition away from carbon pollution as quickly as possible. Aria Bendix points out that multiple major U.S. cities stand to become uninhabitable over the next few decades due to the consequences of climate change. Moira Welsh notes that Toronto is unprepared for the frequency and intensity of floods which are hitting it on a regular basis. And Sarah Rieger writes that Calgary's drinking water is at risk of contamination from wildfires upstream. 

- Atiya Jaffar discusses the growing movement for a Green New Deal in Canada, while Yanis Varoufakis is hopeful that a similar plan can united Europe's progressive forces. And Andrew Nikiforuk sets out a few of the most damaging myths about pipelines which have distorted any discussion of climate policy and fossil fuels in Alberta (and beyond).

- Eric Doherty points out how a transformation of transportation infrastructure needs to be part of any viable climate plan, while Cat Hobbs notes that common ownership will be a crucial feature of a transit system that better serves users while reducing carbon emissions. And Matthew Taylor points out how a reduction in work hours may play an important role in answering the climate crisis.

- David Hagmann, Emily Ho and George Loewenstein study the harmful effects of small "nudges" which lead people toward greater opposition against carbon taxes. But Neil Macdonald (for all the issues elsewhere in his reasoning) argues that a similar effect applies to carbon taxes themselves in distracting from, and undermining public support for, any more thorough transition to a clean society. 

- Finally, Lisa Xing discusses OpenMedia's push for a right to repair linked to electronics sold and used in Canada.


  1. At the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 when Trudeau and McKenna strolled onto the world stage to proclaim "Canada's back," a sense of unjustified optimism prevailed. 2 degrees Celsius would no longer be acceptable. We had a 1.5 degree Celsius limit in our minds.

    We were so delighted that it wasn't Harper representing Canada at the Paris summit that few heard the voice in the background. It came from Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, then head of the Potsdam Institute and one of the very top thinkers on climate change. He said yes, yes, that's a fine target but reaching it will necessitate the "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industry.

    Johnny Schellnhuber knew that the fossil energy giants intended to keep growing and wouldn't stop until governments rallied to shut them down, the induced implosion. We have utterly failed on that score. Both OPEC and the International Energy Agency forecast a sharp increase in carbon fuels in the coming decades.

    "The facts are quite profound: by 2040, OPEC predicts global economic growth doubling from today’s levels, as the number of people on the planet expands by 1.7 billion. Significantly for the oil sector, which is transportation driven, another 1.2bn people will be behind the wheel of an automobile. Commercial vehicles on the road will double, while air travel will soar. And, in the developing countries, massive potential exists for providing access to modern energy services to billions of people currently without adequate means of heating, cooking and lighting.

    "Translate all these facts into energy demand and unsurprisingly a 50 per cent increase from today’s levels is predicted by 2040. Of course, these are just forecasts, which are always subject to change, but even if just half of what is expected today becomes a reality, one constant will remain — fossil fuels will continue to be of paramount importance to the world’s economic wellbeing. Surely then, their development should be encouraged and nurtured — certainly not held back.

    "OPEC Secretary General, Abdalla Salem El-Badri, certainly agrees. “Fossil fuels will need to supply more than three-quarters of the energy mix by 2040,” he told delegates at an oil conference in Paris in April. This, he said, compared with a mere 22 per cent share for non-fossil fuel energy."

    That, Greg, is a death sentence.

    1. That it is. But OPEC is hardly an unbiased observer, and the crucial fight now is the one between the people willing to allow it to dictate the terms of our development even if it leads to an uninhabitable planet, and those of us prepared to fight for our future.