Tuesday, 27 March 2012
Bella Bella Community School - April 1st at 4pm to April 3rd at 4pm.
In Toronto: Queen's Park, Sunday April 1st, 4pm, details at Transition Toronto.
Read the February 24 press release. Watch and listen to this video (with contact information). Visit the Bella Bella Community School website.
"Leading by example," says a young girl named Mahpiya expressing solidarity from Pahin Sinte Owayawa (Porcupine School) in South Dakota - well, she has certainly got that right. (News report here: Lakota Hunger Strike for Water Protection Solidarity Bella Bella.)
I am sure I do not have to tell you how important this is.
Please forward this news widely.
As it happens, I have spent some hours kicking my heels on that wharf.
Queen's Park Toronto, Day 1:
And a short video: Toronto in solidarity with Waglisla (Bella Bella) fast to protest Enbridge pipeline.
Queen's Park Toronto, Day 2:
Just five of us to begin with (two is enough mind you), but soon others began to arrive including a group from Occupy Toronto.
Here is another short video: Toronto in solidarity with Waglisla (Bella Bella) fast to protest Enbridge pipeline - Day 2.
Almost forgot to mention the two constables who are now the grand winners in the 'people in positions of authority with good manners' category - having displaced the Park Police in Washington last year from first place.
Queen's Park Toronto, Day 3 - breaking the fast:
Lyn brought apples (practical) and raspberry chocolate (delicious), and Rita brought felafel (substantial) for us to break our fast.
My camera packed up except for Mari's poem (at the left) and this video.
The constable's name is Carla. I didn't tell her that she could put me in jail before I would fill out her protest permission form - so she continued cordial.
What did I learn? Fasting makes you tired and stupid-er, weary. An 'objective correlative' perspective on the malnourished 5th of humanity who experience it, more-or-less, every day until it effectively kills them.
Some professional dissembler of misinformation from Arizona showed up - his name is Daryl, I presume he is Larry's other brother from the Newhart show - to tell us that Denmark has completely abandoned wind power - and I began to lose my temper and retired from the conversation. Which brought it all full circle - Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton's Harbour ...
As reported in the Guardian:
Denmark will supply 35% of its total energy from renewables by 2020 and 100% by 2050.
The deal aims to see Denmark cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and decrease energy consumption by more than 12% compared to 2006.
It also aims to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables, with half of its electricity delivered by wind farms. The agreement also covers advances in renewable heat, smart grids, and biogas among other green technologies.
... and on the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building website: Martin Lidegaard: DK makes energy policy history, and DK Energy Agreement, March 22 2012.
A short video (5 minutes) of a speech from 2011 (the only one I could find in English).
Born in 1966 - so Generation X, not a 'millennial' like our Jason Russell.
Is there a possible connection here with Denmark being the single European country to save virtually all of its Jews from the Holocaust? This Wikipedia article is worth reading carefully.
Thursday, 15 March 2012
Up, Down, Appendices.
So ... I began to translate the Kony 2012 video into Portuguese to send to the girls; and thought, "Hey, maybe this would be useful to the Invisible Children 'team' too?" Sent an email offering the translation free-for-nothing, had a response as if it had been forwarded to someone in charge of that end of things, and then ... nothing. I thought, "Oh, they're busy with all the controversy." A week has passed, almost. I know my expectations are unfair but the translation has languished & stalled. WTF?! Oh yeah, I quit, gave up, again. What are you supposed to do in a vacuum? Practice breath yoga?
But yes, I will get back to the translation soon, and my son and I look as if we will go out together on the night of April 20.]
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me, other times I can barely see.
It went something like this:
I never did like the Grateful Dead, their music didn't make sense to me - literally off key - except for this one single tune, Truckin', which did make sense and still does. It stuck ... and the rest slid on by.
The 'is/should be' dualism doesn't really wash. You can see it clearly in the struggle over Brasil's new Código Florestal: ruralistas who are really agribusiness vs the ambientalistas who (quite rightly) shout "Não! Não! Não!" as loudly as they can. When Marina Silva calls it a farce she is coming across on at least several levels.
The Câmara dos Deputados was supposed to vote on Tuesday March 6th. They put it off to the 13th, and then again to 'maybe next week'. What is goin' on is the damned Rio+20 in June and the cowardly politicians don't want to embarrass themselves before that. You've come a long way Dilma eh? Shell games.
And the kids over at CYCC are inviting applications for the COP18 CYD (you cannot touch anything to do with the UNFCCC without being swamped and overcome by acronyms eh?). COP18?! Doh? Doh? Doha?! Would not the resources that will be squandered on attending this patently useless conference and its enormous carbon footprint be better spent on some local initiative? Education say, or, or ... a campaign along the lines of Kony 2012?
Then there is this artist fellow, this Omar Figueroa Turcios, who seems to be more involved with an 'is/could be' dualism.
A strange fish, sort of ugly and sort of not, with a beautiful tree growing up.
Hippies were stoned and horny, but the defining quality, or the one I am seeing today anyway, is gladness.
That joke about vinegar sums it up ... I posted it here somewhere some when ... but can't find it of course ... the hippie says "Yeah man! It's ... sweet." ... Ah, here it is - found a somewhat reasonable scan of Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and excerpted the last bit below.
A few more Turcios images turned up on the journey (which need no commentary):
I know you don't really understand any of this, but the elements are all there eh? What more can I do? If you could read you might understand; and that you can't read is not my fault.
In the late 70's we made a hippie faire in that Ottawa park, the one that was famous for its 'gay stroll' - same one that Roméo Dallaire tried to kill himself in (they say) ... just a sec ... right, Major's Hill Park. I put up two prototypes of a Renaissance Yurt - a small rhombicuboctahedron tensegrity made of cardboard tubes & woven polyethylene, Fabrene, with red polka-dot balls as the joints (the only colour I could get in quantity on short notice). I thought it might be useful for the Afghani refugees who were standing outside in the snow and rain in northern Pakistan in those days according to reports. I have a picture of it somewhere.
Some honcho hippie turned up, I think it was Stephen Gaskin from The Farm in Tennessee, and since I was sort of in the central commmittee I got introduced. He was wearing a leather baseball cap with a Grateful Dead logo of some kind on it which I remarked on. He said, "Yeah, I am still flying our colours," and I said, "They're not my colours man," and he turned away - and that was the end of that. He got up on the stage we had there and said a few things which I have forgot.
There was eventually going to be a smoke-hole in the top panel but it was not included in the prototype. It rained heavily overnight and when I arrived the following morning the top (flat) panel had caught the rain like a bathtub - it was 100 gallons or more, Huge! - and the whole structure was straining - but intact. Marvellous! I pushed the bathtub up and away went the water. The yurt configuration also sheds wind, even very strong wind, but that's another story - Aikido tactics.
Eventually I gave the prototype to the Peace Camp on the Parliament Hill lawn, and they set it up there. I have a picture of that somewhere too, from the newspaper, front page I think. It fell down the next night because the adhesive I used to put the Fabrene panels together, an experimental double-sided tape from 3M (covered in 'TOXIC!' warning labels), could not absorb the free liquid ethylene that rises to the surface of all polyethylene films. The tape let go all at once in the dark. He told me he woke up looking at the stars, wondering why he could see them. That was funny. We both laughed.
The plan, the 'program' was to move on to a large rhombicuboctahedron tensegrity in the cardboard tubes & Fabrene scheme but using a heat-weld to join the panels. I got a commercial partner, Descon Inc., whose principals eventually called me an 'outrageous convoluted bastard' for no reason that I could fathom and turned me out. They did frame one of my sketches and hung it on the wall in their office.
My colleague's timorous wife (he was a Polish refugee who claimed to have advanced degrees in everything which he never had, but he was helping with the model) nagged him into either getting something on paper or getting out. There was nothing to put on paper so that was that and nothing came of it. Golden Goose syndrome.
I never figgured out what I did in the darkroom to get those light waves - I like them, some kind of static; but I could never reproduce the effect. Kirlian static maybe, auras.
Two quick but serious stories:
Stuff is falling off the back of the turnip truck. More than just these two no doubt. Uh oh!
Oh right! Stop moaning about bog-standard senior moments. Except I know what they are like - forgetting where you put things, forgetting appointments, pouring the coffee into a pot instead of into the cup, all'a that, not scary at all, funny - and this ain't like that.
How it is gonna work itself out when I am so isolated I don't know. It scares the shit out of me to think of being at the mercy of the medical bureaucrats. By that time I am guessing there will be a 'final solution' in place to deal with indigent & forgetful boomers if there is not one already.
If I had any money left I would get back to Brasil and be one'a those guys led around by the hand or pushed in a wheelchair by a couple'a smiling black women. Used to see 'em all the time on the beach at Ipanema.
And finally, just a question: Why is the FBI so hot on Anonymous d'you think?]
Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman covers some heavy ground, so the frequent grammatical errors and typos are good in a way as comic relief when I hurl the book at the wall. Then a whole chapter on Stanley Milgram with hardly a typo in it (?) ... it could be that our Zygmunt is making his way in the world, like a sociologist, like most of the rest - so it goes. That said, there are points of light in it.
And Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah (downloadable at Demonoid); nine hours, bound to have an effect and not an entirely salubrious one but - clearing away the cobwebs thread by thread.
In Chapter 3: The Roots of War: Rousseau, Darwin and Hobbes of his book War, Gwynne Dyer writes:
We merely need to establish three propositions. The first is that human beings have the physical and psychological ability to kill members of their own species. The second is that human populations will always grow up to the carrying capacity of the environment and beyond. The third is that human beings are no better at conserving their environment and preserving their long-term food supply than any other animal.... coming at it in a different dimension.
The shape of an integrated notion begins to emerge out of all of this: which I am in no position to elaborate on very much, yet - an amalgam of instrumentalism, so-called rationality, bureaucracy, compartmentalism ... physiology ... given my mental state I may very well have been here before and simply forgot.
So ... I will go back and re-read Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, slowly; get Stanley Milgram in the original; read Raul Hilberg and Yehuda Bauer; and Gwynne Dyer's War; the list will certainly get longer as I go along.
Though one is rarely permitted to compare the Holocaust with anything, surely the end of the genus Homo and most if not all of his cousin caterpillars ... surely this comparison is legitimate eh?
( editor's note )
eX be-un around
con u bial -ial
eul eul eul
My father had a great laugh. One of the times I remember him laughing was as he was explaining Income Tax to me: a 'temporary measure' introduced in Canada just before WWI - the absence of such a tax had been a big draw for immigrants apparently (and he was one of them). Why was it a draw do you think?
And again when we discussed Social Insurance Numbers - I was an upcoming young systems analyst with infinite faith in unique keys - and he said, "They will use it for whatever they want to use it for," (with a laugh y'unnerstan' and no trace of sardonic).
William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity always turns me away and I find myself composing three letter acronyms as I go along - D.D.D. dubious dilettante dalliance - but maybe I will get a little farther into it this time. Echoes of Oscar Wilde.
A-and yes, Andrew Weaver: I am reading Hard choices and Keeping our cool - all at once, gobble gobble.
The big question so far is ... Why is the power-elite not heeding this man?
The introduction to Hard choices is by Jan Zwicky (another 'famous' Canadian poet I have never heard of). Something about her prose rings a bell, an alarm bell that is, so I follow it up a bit and find a connection to Robert Bringhurst, which rings yet another bell. Funny really, because the first thread to catch & snag was her use of the word 'partner' instead of spouse or husband or girlfriend or something - and I found myself wondering if she might be a lesbian (apparently not).
Bringhurst's bell is more serious. I lived on Simon Charlie's land in Duncan for a year or so, almost two, helping him install his totem poles in the lodges of rich white folks - very straight guy Simon, very clear, what a friend.
Later on, when my children were small, I read to them almost every night, or sang to them, or both - and sometimes in the afternoon! We set a high standard for stories - two very favourites were Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like by Jay Williams, and The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling.
When The Raven Steals the Light came out in 1984 we immediately got a copy. I was pleased to be able to connect Simon Charlie to a wider context, especially of the calibre of Bill Reid. Sadly, the writing was not up to spec - basically unreadable - and I wondered and wondered how Bill Reid could have done such a thing. Eventually, reading his (the only words in the thing that are unequivocally his) preface carefully , with its implicit criticism of the stories as presented, I tentatively concluded that the book had been produced by a cluster-fuck of bureaucrat poetasters.
Hard to tell. I have wondered about Bill Reid before and got nowhere.
The central story, as apparently interpreted and 'written' by Bringhurst (text here): doesn't know to whom it is addressed (children or concupiscent cynics); consistently uses 'the Raven' instead of 'Raven' as in Simon's usage; and contains far too many blundering inconsistencies of all kinds ... we never did finish reading it aloud, the book languished on various shelves until it was lost.
One aspect of it, from Bill Reid as well I am sure, is the epilogue, on Dogfish Woman.
Simon made transformation masks, counterweighted, you pulled a little string underneath and it ... transformed. He offered me one once, but I took a carving of Eagle instead, a choice I've often regretted.
Any man who has been divorced will have a visceral response to this Dogfish Woman piece - in addition to possibly finding a way through it to integrate the experience.
This all relates, comes back around eventually to the introduction to Andrew Weaver's first book, if you are willing to see it, and if not it will do no good to explain much farther.
In short: Birds of a feather flock together.
I was going to post her introduction somewhere on-line for easier analysis but thought better of it. Get the book, read it for youself, tell me I am full of shit, whatever.
I am still waiting for Generation Us.
From what I have read I can see clearly that Andrew knows his stuff and knows what has to be done. I could quibble with the editorial quality - his books are nowhere near as carefully put together as Peter Sale's Our Dying Planet - but the material is all there.
I guess it comes back to the ways in which those of us who understand what is happening and what is coming out of it deal with despair. That's it really. Andrew seems to have been taking comfort with a certain flock. I know how it is in Victoria, did a few shifts there, anywhere handy to the university is permanently frozen solid. Have to wait and see what is to be found in Generation Us.
Still and all - Why have our leaders not acted on these clear warnings? Ai ai ai!
Seven year itch I guess, this blogging business. When I was developing computer systems I had a (glad) vision of helping to make the world a more rational and accessible place, even the stuff I did for the oil barons. Nonsense as it turns out. And the Internet, Netscape Navigator, then Google with their 'No Evil' and all, the (always coming but never here) open-source. It was reasonable to think of a discussion, exchange of ideas, progress (in my limited understanding of progress). Now it seems that even email just reinforces most people's unwillingness and inability to read and understand. Making principles of incapacities. Bollocks! All bollocks!
There has not been one single conversation come out of this blog in all these seven and more years. On the contrary, old friends, even family, who would tell me they were following it never said anything serious, and eventually stopped talking to me altogether. The vast majority of comments are spam. Another wasteland.
One would have to call it a bust.
There once was a man named Moby Dick
Who had the misfortune to be born with a corkscrew prick
And all of his life he did search and hunt
To find a woman with a corkscrew cunt;
But when he found her he dropped down dead -
The son of a bitch had a left-hand thread.
That's what they do I guess, what we do, fat old farts washed up on the stinking beach: reminisce on the glory days, complain, converse with dead people, remember (and when memory fades, imagine) big white smiles in black faces, somehow get the seratonin level back up into positive numbers.
But hey! One of the sumac sprouts in my defunct garden has come to life again! How did it know? I thought not being frozen all winter had done them in. Up (comes) the Sumac!
I am sorry to be such a know-nothing shit head gentle reader. I am kinder up-close - of course almost no one comes there anymore, a few friends in Brasil, by email. Harmony [河蟹] is coming.
"Practice ressurection," says Wendell Berry; a Christian meme. "No matter, try again, fail again, fail better," says George Orwell in a more secular tone. "Read books, repeat quotations," says our Bob, "draw conclusions on the wall."
An up side is that daylight savings time changes no longer upset me - my circadian clock is so fucked that it just makes no difference. I'm not, literally, actually, a sumac (yet) and I hardly notice.
1. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues excerpt 'Special Bonus Parable', Tom Robbins, 1976.
2. Umwelt preface, Keith Eccleston, April 1969.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues excerpt 'Special Bonus Parable', Tom Robbins, 1976.
Special Bonus Parable
In a place out of doors, near forests and meadows, stands a jar of vinegar–the emblem of life.
Confucius approaches the jar, dips his finger in and tastes the brew.
"Sour," he says.
"Nonetheless, I can see where it could be very useful in preparing certain foods."
Buddha comes to the vinegar jar, dips in a finger and has a taste.
"Bitter," is his comment.
"It can cause suffering to the palate, and since suffering is to be avoided, the stuff should be disposed of at once."
The next to stick a finger in the vinegar is Jesus Christ.
"Yuk," says Jesus.
"It's both bitter and sour. It's not fit to drink. In order that no one else will have to drink
it, I will drink it all myself."
But now two people approach the jar, together, naked, hand in hand. The man has a beard and woolly legs like a goat. His long tongue is slightly swollen from some poetry he's been reciting. The woman wears a cowgirl hat, a necklace of feathers, a rosy complexion.
Her tummy and tits bear the stretch marks of motherhood; she carries a basket of mushrooms and herbs. First the man and then the woman sticks a thumb into the vinegar. She licks his thumb and he hers. Initially they make a face, but almost immediately they break into wide grins.
"It's sweet," they chime.
Umwelt preface, Keith Eccleston, April 1969.
|the reader the writer :||one||smple plextext'us|
A PHLOX ON YOUR POCKSHEAD POETS!
DRUMMOXSEZ! (theis readder rights)
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOU SLYLLY POOLS?
YOUR NAME INLIGHT?
your poems are PLEASE!
your prooems please?
are knockious .
to my peur lamsbed? (your peaces of come are
KNOW! (the redder rites)
Go thic leeches! What means this (s)p(l)ay
ing with my wierds?
(will's son missspell(ing) RECEIVE so eve
recs i after seeing)
eden he kn ought breech the LAW of Muspellrime)
Pawits! emittaries of the commonterm
agens of the politeburrow Lucius
(y)our cerebration of wit'suntidy mess will bring
((alb)orotar es junto a
(alb)orozar) (writhes the reacher)
be naieve in night nigh wor(l)ds (o hum)
an perhappenings the whirld's end
with a sigh tuuuuuuuuus that breath
outlet with all my ploysuns in again
The Cant is : "things that love night/love
not such nigh(t)s as this."
(III ,ii , 42-43)
"Let's in" saith then that Fool.
(the wreather wretches
the wrider wights
(the parts of the reader was plaid by keith eccleston
who has withheld his name
for fear he"d be permitted.
Thursday, 8 March 2012
Thursday March 8 2012, noonish:
It is a strange day indeed when you see James Inhofe praised on this blog eh?
WATCH THE KONY 2012 VIDEO (!) on Vimeo, or even on YouTube.
JUST DO IT!
(And like the man says, "You have to pay attention.")
Easy to be cynical. And the cynics out there are taking some shots at Invisible Children (the organization that made the video); unsuccessfully by my lights. Here is Invisible Children's response: Critiques - which works for me.
In the video you will see James Inhofe supporting Kony 2012. (!) (Now, if he could just get his head straight on climate change eh?)
Here's Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army on Wikipedia; and here's a timeline from the Toronto Star:
1986 Kony begins kidnapping children to form his rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) turning young boys and men into child soldiers and young girls and women into “wives” and sex slaves.
Kony and his fighters prey on civilians in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan killing hundreds of thousands and brainwashing their captures.
It is believed the LRA has kidnapped 30,000 children. It is reported Kony forces his new conscripts to kill their parents and mutilate and torture others.
July 2005 Kony is the first warlord indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
October 2005 The ICC issues arrest warrants for Kony and four of his top commanders: Dominic Ongwen, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, and Vincent Otti. Kony, Ongwen, and Odhiambo remain at large.
August 2006 LRA commander Raska Lukwiya is killed in combat with the Uganda Peoples Defence Force.
November 2006 Kony and his deputy, Vincent Otti, talk with UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland. The brief meeting — hoped to boost peace talks to end northern Uganda's brutal war — ended inconclusively with Kony griping about Kampala and war crimes charges and denying the rebels hold captives, officials said.It is not by accident that this issue has 'gone viral' as they say. Jason Russell and his colleagues are clever and know how to walk a fine line with righteousness (a lot could be said about this, I will spare you except to say that THIS is what intelligent democracy looks and sounds like). That they (we?) got that two-faced creep Barack Obama on board, however tentatively, is testimony enough. (Ten years of hard work mind you; promises made; promises kept.)
November 2007 Vincent Otti is killed by Kony for allegedly wanting Kony to sign the peace agreement, according to reports.
Early 2008 As peace talks over South Sudan collapse, Kony's men begin venturing further north and west.
January – April 2010 The LRA slaughters 96 civilians and abducts dozens more in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch reports.
May 2010 Barack Obama signed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 that committed the United States to help bring down Kony and the LRA.
October 2011 Obama deploys 100 troops to Uganda to help regional forces combat the LRA.
November 2011 The African Union formally declares the LRA a terrorist group.
March 2012 Kony remains elusive.
If (just 'if') we can pull this off in 2012 - arrest Joseph Kony and present him to Luis Moreno-Ocampo for trial - then maybe (just 'maybe') we can somehow do the same for the unfolding environmental catastrophe in 2013. That would make it Lucky '13 eh?
Hot Damn! Something to go for!
Thursday March 8 2012, 'round midnight:
For people like me who will not use Facebook & Twitter & such-like dreck it may be difficult to find links, so here: Invisible Children website, and Tumblr Blog.
A-and there are k-k-Canadian connections too: Roméo Dallaire and his 2010 book They fight like soldiers, they die like children: the global quest to eradicate the use of child soldiers; and Samantha Nutt and her 2011 book Damned nations: greed, guns, armies, and aid.
I have read both of these books - and excellent they are - but (there's always a 'but' in there somewhere) they do not generate the anticipation I am feeling about going out on April 20, hopefully with a group, and painting the town with Kony 2012 posters. And my son is excited about it too - because the young women who come into his bar are talking about it - and maybe on April 20th we will go out together - there's a prospect!
Friday March 9 2012, noonish again:
The complacent majority; fundamentally & profoundly insecure (including those oft-ignored urogenital facets of fundament-al) yet simultaneously smug & supercilious, are threatened by the Kony 2012 phenomenon, disturbed. The quibbles being raised by various cynics - at the Guardian they are even quoting 'experts' who have explicitly not seen the video - are just that, cynical quibbles - pundit jizz.
If they really wanted to hit Jason Russell they would go after his Christianity - perhaps Leonard Cohen gives us a clue as to why not in his poem about the blue butterfly - but who knows, maybe they will attack his faith and the Pat Robertson connection later on.
In the meantime, if they can embarrass me because I am a 'sucker' and have 'fallen for' Invisible Children's 'slick pitch' - then the threat is entirely defused.
Sorry boys & girls it's not workin' - I'm not embarrassed and the threat is not defused. A-and next year I will be trying to use whatever lessons come from this experience with Jason & his colleagues on a really important issue.
Friday March 9 2012, comin' up on midnite again:
Whoa! It's touch and go!
The detractors, running around this baloon with all the pins they can muster, are trying to make big mileage on the photograph to the left. Even the woman who took it, Glenna Gordon, is expressing some kind of furious ideological outrage (#3 & #4 below). But it ain't workin' - 60 million+ hits on YouTube as I write, and counting (as if that means anything).
My path tonight went something like this:
Reading and watching and listening to Rosebell Kagumire as she dips into the 'don't appropriate my story' rhetoric, takes the heart right out of me. And Mark Kelley (or his scriptwriter at least since the man himself looks like a Peter Kent clone - mindless beefcake) obviously has an agenda - his carefully selected vocabulary is all: "virus," "old story like Joseph Kony," "spent force," "oversimplified," and, "Uganda has been at peace for six years."
1 - A Kony 2012 blog post: A Movie Director's Thoughtful Response;
2 - Washington Post: Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer;
3 - Glenna Gordon's blog aka Scarlett Lion:
Invisible Children, the next chapter;
4 - Glenna Gordon again: Why Invisible Children can’t explain away this photo. (Frankly I don't give a damn? Is that what she means?);
5 - Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire's blog: My response to Invisible Children’s campaign;
6 - A Chimamanda Adichie video referenced by Rosebell: The danger of a single story;
7 - Rosebell's video: My response to KONY2012; and,
8 - CBC: Connect with Mark Kelley starting about 24 minutes in (the slider sort of works).
But (there's that 'but' again, savin' the day) along come David McKenzie & Becca Young (Kelley is a numbskull, but his guests, not so much) who look to me like they are thinking more-or-less for themselves. Becca Young is quick & clever & perceptive; she is even careful with her words (though she does put a modifier on 'unique' which is only permitted to Northrop Frye & Bob Dylan, sorry Becca) when she corrects herself to say that it is 'driven' not controlled. She is clearly trying to tell it as she sees it, and she gives us a balanced and indeterminate view without drawing conclusions, as does David McKenzie.
A-and that is enough to get me back on the rails again.
[Kelley's third guest is maybe the paradigm of the other class of pundits - the poisoned perineal (carrying on the fundament theme) ones: Grant Oyston looks like what ails him could be easily fixed in that region if he could just get the carrot out, or a blow job maybe, or both. His blog is here.]
Has Uganda really been at peace for six years? I don't think so. Certainly their neighbours are not at peace. Something to look into tomorrow.
This day is ending well, for me at least. Good night gentle reader. :-)
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Up, Down, Appendices, Too good to pass up.
'Tensile' from Latin tendere, to stretch; 'attenuate' from tenuare, to make thin (it looked like they might've had the same root).
Reverdy: "There is no love, only proofs of love." Nonsense of course, we know no more of love than we know of God - but ... interesting nonsense nonetheless.
Eu defendo a natureza do Brasil. Diga não ao novo Código Florestal! Vetá-lo Dilma!
These turned up while digging around after the Código Florestal: a picture taken by a visitor in Vila do Pesqueiro on Ilha de Marajó, near Belém; and another by a visitor in some other place. Somehow one gets from the left to the right (in the Western world) on each line. Is there any such a thing as the whole story? The straight goods? A clear vision? Resurrection?
When I say, "It's too late, we're cooked," she replies, "I don't believe that - it's so discouraging," and I say, "Discouraging or not doesn't change it. Anyway, I'm not discouraged, or not so often, not like, all the time. Isn't it better to face things straight?"
My parents faced things straight (and with good humour too). I didn't know them well enough to be able to say why with certainty - but I think it had something to do with their essentially rural & out-of-doors upbringings and some collection of essentially straight experiences they had in early life - possibly that they each survived what were in those days (and probably still are) very serious illnesses.
Later on she says, "Oh, have you given up on God too?" and I reply, "What's to give up on?" But, that's just flip; so I try to say that even big-name atheists like Richard Dawkins don't actually claim to know, they just make their guesses at the other end of the spectrum. I don't know either (fer gawd sake!).
It's the theists, or some of them, who claim to know - when they very obviously don't. It's the theists who call for Inquisitions & Crusades & Fatwas & Jihads (?) Isn't it? Buggering orphans at Mount Cashel. Wars on Terror. Residential Schools.
A-and do I not sometimes feel blessed? Even without having in-hand a final & incontrovertible determination on the existence or non-existence of God? (Scope here for a future post, I.I.I.I. - incontestable, indisputable, indubitable ... incontrovertible!)
The single comment from the UVic climate-scientists about remarks on 'The Alberta oil sands and climate' article in the last post is:
By posting an exact copy of our article on your website you are in violation on [sic] Nature Climate Change's copyright, and for your own sake I suggest you remove it immediately.That's not an excerpt. That's the whole fuckin' message! For my own sake? A threat?! It's good to know where they are 'coming from' though eh? At least that.
So ... I write back, "Well, it's not quite exactly exact, is it?" - and get no answer. (Yet. But they have stopped things in a way - part of my mind is now all'a time waitin' for the other shoe to drop.)
There were some additional spurts of pundit jizz I missed on this issue:
The oilsands are a symptom of the bigger problem of our dependence on fossil fuels, Andrew Weaver, February 21.
Point missed on oilsands report, say researchers, Mike De Souza, February 22.
Media coverage of oilsands prompts scientists’ rebuke, James Munson, February 22.
Weaver study offers fossil fuels warning, David Suzuki & Ian Hanington, February 29.
"And thick and fast they came at last, and more, and more, and more — all hopping through the frothy waves ..." (as Lewis Carroll says of pundits).
Suzuki didn't even write the one under his name I don't think, not a word of it - just a guess. About the best is James Munson's - who does get his knees all wet (clap clap) in the spin of it - but still misses these central questions:
Why is this paper behind a $20 paywall? And why do the authors want it that way? and,
Did Andrew Weaver not see that this was going to happen? He is a 'grown up' according to age and appearance, experienced (but not in Jimi's sense I guess). He even inserted the thin edge of the wedge into the seam for them himself with his disingenuous equivocation: "I thought it was larger than it was."
Doh!? The other one, Swart, is just a pup; but Weaver could easily have known better. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth?
These are just questions y'unnerstan' and double entendres ('amphiboly' sez the OED) not intended as the prelude to a conspiracy theory, no. B-b-but it's getting on towards the end of the day on this particular wrinkle and it's all bollocks'n confusion! And muddy cork-boots up an' down the stairs!
Whose interests are best served by such a state of affairs d'you think? The public or Exxon/Mobil & the Heartland Institute?
When I feel the need of renewal I try to stay right away from stuff like this: Tomorrow is a Lovely Day sung by Vera Lynn (it was included in a BBC series I was watching, The Singing Detective).
[YouTube is so fucked up around copyright (I can't even figgure out how they know?). So ... not sure if you can listen to that last one or not though I went to the trouble of posting it so you could. Oh well.]
Some other stuff though, I can't get enough of. There is a sort of canon:
João e Maria (Hansel & Gretel), lyrics by Chico Buarque - conflating all times & tenses (translated lyrics here). This video was taken during one of his shows at Canecão; I might have been there in that crowd near the front that night with my honey - can't say if he sang the same encore each night.
Even this morning as I listen to him: "e você era a princesa que eu fiz coroar, e era tão linda de se admirar que andava nua pelo meu país" / 'and you were the princess I crowned and it was so beautiful to admire the one who walked naked through my country' - it brings tears to my eyes, just as it did on that night when I first heard it.
'Coroar' to crown has shades of meaning - a 'coroa' is also an older white-haired person - so when he crowns her princess he is also crowning her dowager (OED: An elderly lady of dignified demeanour). And then there is street slang where 'coroa' is an older gent sidling up for a serving to the troughs of flesh at the termas - the girls like to get their hands on a coroa, simply because they are generally undemanding and generous and kind.
[I am told they also regularly offer lip service, which some of the girls say they enjoy. I saw a thought on oral sex once - I think it was in Roger Scruton's Sexual Desire: A Moral Philosophy Of The Erotic, I had a copy but I can't seem to put my hand on it today - that called it putting the identity (as embodied in the face) into the sexual act.]
Terra, pronounced 'terr-ha' with a rolled 'r' and an almost-indawn breath, by Caetano Veloso, such a vain fellow - (translated lyrics here).
"As tais fotografias em que apareces inteira, porém lá não estavas nua e sim coberta de nuvens" / 'those photographs in which you appear complete, however, where you are not naked but wearing clouds'. Giorgio Agamben might find another facet of his Nudities in that.
Handel's Messiah is in this canon too; when the chorous belts out, "and he shall be calléd, WONderful, COUNsellor ..." - every year I wait for it, to see if it will work on me again even thinking as I do - and it always works. There's a miracle for you.
I no longer turn to prayer in the muddy confusion. Music is a form of prayer though, sometimes (Jock Davidson used to say so). Someone who thinks God has the patent on transcendence just ... doesn't know any better.
City of London -v- Samede and others, Court of Appeal Judgment: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, 22nd February 2012.
Before: THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS, LORD JUSTICE STANLEY BURNTON and LORD JUSTICE McFARLANE
Between: THE MAYOR COMMONALTY AND CITIZENS OF LONDON Respondents - and - TAMMY SAMEDE (a representative of those taking part in a camp at St Paul's Churchyard, London), George Barda, Daniel Ashman, Paul Randle-Jolliffe, Stephen Moore, Persons Unknown Appellants
Sméagol aka Gollum; the name somehow combines smug & small (or narrow).
Occupy was such a tremendous opportunity for the powers-that-be to start to get themselves off crack and straightened out. Huge! And instead they blew it - stifled it, dispersed it, ignored it - while the Christians crucified it with faint praise in addition to their standard mealy-mouth hypocrisy. Where is that zero'th card of the Tarot again? And who's the fool?
If the Robo-Call allegations were true it would not be merely 'dirty tricks', it would be a criminal offence carrying serious consequences - impeachment f'rinstance - but, unfortunately, I don't think it is quite true enough.
The uncomfortable questions raised by Chantal Hébert in The Star (below) work for me. They seem almost too thoughtful to have come from anywhere in k-k-Canada at all (and they didn't either, byline says Montreal).
If only McGuinty had the balls for such a thing. Of course he doesn't. Moudakis seems to think he is making a fool of McGuinty and maybe he is, but he makes a fool of himself while he's at it.
Moudakis gets things wrong to a slightly greater degree than Gable, not from any nice-guy reluctance to be too pointed (as I sometimes imagine in Gable's case), but, I surmise, just bog-standard smugness & troll-induced blindness.
Martin Cohn is much funnier with his, "But your latest demand — that I as Ontario’s premier prostate myself ..." (sadly, the spelling has since been 'corrected'). Oh well.
There are more loose ends unaccounted for:
I am reading the 1989 version and waiting for the 2000 revised edition of Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman. These Polish intellectuals! Bah! Hopefully the later version may include that someone fixed the typos (being generous here, because it looks like he doesn't actually speak English so well - might have done better to write it in Polish then and have it translated eh?) And page after page after page of sloppy overlapping generalizations about Jews (!) he could at least keep them concise. BUT, interspersed, buried here and there, are insights that ring like a bell, a silver one. So.These will simply be 'thrown over the fence' into the next post. All good.
Seven types of ambiguity by William Empson, 1930, pictured at the beginning of John Fowles' The Magus.
Nudities § 10 The Last Chapter in the History of the World by Giorgio Agamben (very short, whole essay is two paragraphs).
The upcoming vote on the revised Código Florestal (March 6) in Brazil's Câmara dos Deputados (in Brazil it seems to go through the Senate first?); here are some recent comments by Marina Silva: Marina Silva diz que ... é farsa. A farce she says. Got that right. All very confusing too, because the 'ruralistas' whom you might imagine to be small holders are really big-time agribusiness - including Laticínios Bom Gosto / Good Taste Dairy Products who are in the 'business' of raping Arquipélago do Marajó and Ilha de Marajó where I found one of the images above. (I didn't know where it is either - you can start here: map, and a much better one here, also available here and here. Yes, it's an island, an archipelago of islands.)
Oh, a-and Andrew Weaver - I am reading Hard choices: climate change in Canada 2004, a collection of essays edited by himself & Harold Coward (some kind of theologian); and Keeping our cool: Canada in a warming world 2008, and Generation us: the challenge of global warming 2011, are in the queue. It seems right to read these books in chronological order - maybe get a better sense of the man. Born in 1961 ... so, early fifties. This report may not be made - I am sort'a hoping that something will happen to end this blog before I finish reading all three.
Some kind of escape - maybe not as drastic as Alan Burke ... but yeah, I would like to be out of here and doing something else. None of the so-called activists will even talk to me. I'd be better off back with the oil barons (the best days, bar none, were spent workin' for Eddie) but that bridge is well burned. Oh well.
Most of the plants in the window-garden died, suddenly, all at once, no idea why (maybe it was the razor clippings?); and after a month or so in shock I stacked them away and after another month or so I cleaned the window.
WOWZERS! If the cigarettes are doing that to the windows just imagine what they must be doing to my lungs.
Could that pesky second-hand smoke have killed my beloved plants?! Ai ai AI!
Oh, sure, I think I know something about love (nonsense of course, I know no more of love than I know of God). ... A force; but tiny, so tiny as to be almost without effect. Like gravity, locally insignificant - but gravity accumulates over space until it is able to suck the very flesh down off our bones. Love does not seem to be like that: everywhere, ubiquitous, constant; but infinitesimally small and vanishingly improbable; always entirely deniable.
A whisper so low you are not quite sure you even heard it - though it woke you up, a dream was it? A breath on your neck so light you cannot be sure it is warm - but yes, you think it might be warm.
Too good to pass up:
Found at Bizarro by Dan Piraro - two that made me laugh.
You can read it "Slow, Children Texting" or "Slow children texting" - funny either way.
Walking down to see the lake this morning and had to step aside for a guy in a suit who was texting as he came up the sidewalk on his way to work. The street is filled with birds goin' crazy for spring - and he is immersed in it, oblivious - he didn't see me or the birds.
Seymour Mayne wrote a poem about Stan on the roof, studying while the Sunday church bells rang all around him - same sort of thing.
Maybe a tinge of bitter in the second one - and the bitter on both sides of the equation. These days it's me who's feeling toxic ...
Instead of copyright prohibiting and preventing copying, couldn't they simply ensure that things are copied accurately and with provenance? Even pirated music leads back eventually to the source doesn't it? Wouldn't it be a net benefit if the whole gaggle of lawyers were simply not in it anymore?
And books: I don't know what kind of person tries to read seriously on-line - no one who really wants to know what the book's about - can't be done. Oh, I know they're all buying these 'tablets' now ... I see people using them on the streetcar - nobody I would want to know.
I remember something about the chemistry of memory being less effective for material coming at you from a computer screen, but that was a while ago, something to do with the refresh rate of CRT's - maybe this liquid crystal stuff is different. Anyway, I read a lot and mostly, 99% of the time, I either borrow books from the library or buy them. Having it on-line makes it easier to refresh your memory - Where did I read that? - and facilitates discussion; that has to result in more hard-copy sales in the end doesn't it?
Ach! Wha'do I know. Not'ing!
1. Robo-call accusations raise uncomfortable questions, Chantal Hébert, February 27 2012.
2. The oilsands are a symptom of the bigger problem of our dependence on fossil fuels, Andrew Weaver, February 21 2012.
3. Media coverage of oilsands prompts scientists’ rebuke, James Munson, February 22 2012.
4. Weaver study offers fossil fuels warning, David Suzuki & Ian Hanington, February 29 2012.
5. Point missed on oilsands report, say researchers, Mike De Souza, February 22 2012.
Robo-call accusations raise uncomfortable questions, Chantal Hébert, February 27 2012.
MONTREAL—If there is a tactical scheme behind the so-called voter suppression scandal, it is not readily apparent in the list of allegedly abused ridings put forward by the opposition parties.
Only a small fraction of the 50 federal seats where the margin of victory was less than 5 per cent last May — and where presumably every vote counted — are alleged to have been targeted by fraudulent calls.
Liberal ridings such as Brampton-Springdale and Ajax-Pickering that were known to be high on the Conservatives’ to-win list (and that they did win) were apparently not plagued by such calls.
On the other hand, a substantial number of the three dozen ridings on the opposition list were safe Conservative seats.
Take the Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills. On May 2, former Conservative minister Michael Chong kept the seat with a majority of 26,000 and 63 per cent of the vote. He clearly needed no help to get re-elected.
Chong has emerged as one of the least partisan voices in Parliament. He resigned from Stephen Harper’s first cabinet over a matter of principle. It is hard to imagine that he would have countenanced party-sanctioned dirty tricks in his riding.
In Simcoe-Grey, the Conservatives won by more than 20,000 votes and the aggrieved Liberals ran fourth, behind the NDP and former Conservative incumbent Helena Guergis.
In the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, both opposition parties have complained that their supporters were victims of early morning or late night calls from people misrepresenting themselves as volunteers for their campaigns. In Davenport, the NDP reported the same complaint.
The Conservatives did not really have a dog in either fight. They ran a distant third in both ridings.
And then did Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (majority 16,000 +) or Conservative incumbent Rick Dykstra (majority 13,000 +) seriously need a dose of dark arts to hang on their Niagara Falls and St. Catharines ridings?
A Machiavellian mastermind could always have orchestrated fraudulent calls to a host of ridings where such tricks were unlikely to affect the outcome for or against the Conservatives just to throw anyone off the scent of an orchestrated pattern.
But that sounds like a high-risk investment for a relatively low yield. The Conservative vote is not noticeably more vigorous in the ridings where the opposition is alleging that fraudulent calls took place than in comparable ones.
That is not to say that something is not rotten about the state of Canada’s electoral democracy or that the ruling Conservatives have no responsibility in that deteriorated state. But they are not alone.
Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives have pushed the line of what is considered fair game in partisan politics. It now basically sits on the divide between what is legal and what is not. The evidence suggests that the closer parties play to that line, the greater the chances that some of their partisans will cross it.
The Liberals just learned that the hard way when it was found that one of their staffers was responsible for leaking details of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ private life on Twitter.
Too often, the opposition has been prompt to follow the Conservatives down the same slippery slope. On that score, the addiction of all federal parties to robo-calling is a telling development.
A technique originally used to dispense useful information to prospective supporters is being turned into an instrument of harassment.
When MP Lise St-Denis left the NDP to sit as a Liberal in January, the New Democrats hired a firm to robo-call her constituents of Saint-Maurice-Champlain. The NDP was not identified as the sponsor of the calls and recipients were not told that if they pressed 1 to signal their displeasure with St-Denis, they would be re-directed to her riding office — where they swamped the phone lines for a number of days.
There is nothing illegal about the ploy and NDP strategists profess to be totally comfortable with it. But should it have its place an ethically moral political environment?
Throwing rocks at the Conservatives with one hand will achieve little for the common good if the opposition parties are busy expanding their own glass houses with the other.
The oilsands are a symptom of the bigger problem of our dependence on fossil fuels, Andrew Weaver, February 21 2012.
Back in September the Keystone XL pipeline controversy was at its peak. Proponents of the pipeline were entrenched in their views that the suggested route was the only viable one. Opponents brought forward myriad concerns. Nebraskan ranchers pointed out the absurdity of building a new pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer — the water source of much of the U.S. agricultural belt. The National Congress of American Indians and Canadian First Nations brought forward compelling arguments that the pipeline jeopardized the potential health of their communities and resources. Others argued that it might be “game over” as far as global warming was concerned.
It was in the midst of this controversy that Neil Swart, a Ph.D. student in my lab, and I became engaged in a discussion as to the global warming potential of the oil in the Alberta tarsands. Our hunch was that it was big. We had heard the rhetoric and we wanted to undertake a quantitative assessment as to its veracity. On Sept. 28, we submitted the results of our analysis for publication and after five months working its way through the peer review paper, the final article appeared in Nature Climate Change on Sunday. We received no funding for this research. It was initiated exclusively out of curiosity.
We asked how much global warming would occur if we completely burned a variety of fossil fuel resources. Here is what we calculated:
• tarsands under active development: 0.01°C.
• economically viable tarsands reserve: 0.03°C.
• entire tarsands oil in place, which includes the uneconomical and the economical resource: 0.36°C.
• total unconventional natural gas resource base: 2.86°C.
• total coal resource base: 14.8°C.
Our overarching conclusion is that as a society, we will live or die by our future consumption of coal. The idea that we’re going to somehow run out of coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels is misplaced. We’ll run out of our ability to live on the planet long before we run out of them.
Some might point out that our published calculations do not account for the additional greenhouse gases arising from the extraction, transportation and refining of the tarsand resource. This was deliberate.
The so-called “wells to wheels” approach to tarsands mining includes the natural gas, diesel and coal emissions that arise during extraction and refining, together with transportation of the oil. However, these would come from the other resource pools and shouldn’t be double-counted. The relative mix of such fuels would obviously change in the future as well. We wanted to be consistent to ensure that emissions and subsequent warming from all resources were calculated the same way.
Nevertheless, if you account for the additional “wells to wheels” emissions, our estimates of potential global warming from the tarsands would increase by about 20 per cent. But even this is uncertain. If all refining, extraction and transportation were done using energy from renewable or nuclear power, the number would be close to zero. If it were all done using electricity from inefficient coal-fired generators, it would be higher. Once more the key message is clear. We will live or die by our future consumption of coal. And if everyone in the world had similar per-capita emissions as North Americans, it will be sooner rather than later.
I have always said that the tarsands are a symptom of a bigger problem. The bigger problem is our societal dependence on fossil fuels. As we use up the easy-to-find resources, we start going to more extreme measures to access what is left. The result is increasingly environmentally hazardous approaches to extraction.
None of this discussion takes away from the profound ecological and social concerns involved with the development of the tarsands. I am convinced that the Canadian government could do a better job of regulating the industry to ensure that these ecological and social concerns are properly addressed. In addition, the industry represents the single biggest growing sector of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions.
The atmosphere has traditionally been viewed as an unregulated dumping ground. There is no cost associated with emitting greenhouse gases.
Economists call this a market failure. To correct this failure a price is needed on emissions. This allows individuals and businesses to find the most cost-effective means of reducing their own emissions. In fact, the oil and gas industry has repeatedly called upon the federal government to introduce such emissions pricing. They want some certainty as to “the rules” under which they must operate.
It would be a huge mistake to interpret our results as some kind of a “get out of jail free” card for the tarsands. While coal is the greatest threat to the climate globally, the tarsands remain the largest source of greenhouse gas emission growth in Canada and are the single largest reason Canada is failing to meet its international climate commitments and failing to be a climate leader. The world needs to transition away from fossil fuels. That means coal, unconventional gas and unconventional oil all need to be addressed.
Andrew Weaver is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria. He was a lead author in the UN second, third, fourth and ongoing fifth scientific assessments of climate change.
Media coverage of oilsands prompts scientists’ rebuke, James Munson, February 22 2012.
How does the Canadian media handle a complicated science story? Not well, if this week’s coverage of a study on the carbon emissions of Alberta’s oilsands is any indication.
Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart, two University of Victoria scientists, authored a study that compared the carbon emissions of different fossil fuels if they were completely extracted from the ground. The study found the Albertan oilsands to be less destructive to the climate than coal. That news prompted a media flurry so significant that by midweek, the scientists were reaching out in the media to correct the record.
Weaver and Swart’s study was first published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, a partner of the more well-known journal Nature, and was picked up by Bob Weber of the Canadian Press. The scoop, though it balanced the new research with the scientists’ view that all fossil fuel dependence should be reduced, frames the news against the public’s impression of the oil sands as a climate change disaster.
One of the world’s top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta’s oilsands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal.
“I was surprised by the results of our analysis,” said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, who has been a lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “I thought (the threat of oilsands emissions) was larger than it was.”
The story quickly appeared on other major media outlets, including the CBC.
Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons, who reached the scientists and wrote a story the next day, described the already-fiery discourse over the study in her column, “UVic’s Andrew Weaver Says Impact of Burning All Alberta’s Oilsands Negligible.”
Since the provocative paper was published on Sunday afternoon, the phones at the University of Victoria have been ringing off the hook, with calls from journalists around the world. In the blogosphere, Swart and Weaver’s paper has been embraced by some oilsands advocates as validation and endorsement of oilsands production, and poo-poo’d by others as old news. Meanwhile, some climate change activists have condemned the findings, with some even suggesting that Weaver has been bought off by “Big Oil.” Not everyone has bothered to read the paper, which takes the more nuanced view that while the oilsands add little to the world’s carbon footprint, they are a significant enabler of fossil fuel addiction.
The story had already taken off in many people’s minds as a public relations exercise — a science-based counterpoint to environmentalists trying to stop the oilsands.
The Globe and Mail picked up the story and framed it as a climate change game-changer ahead of Thursday’s vote in Brussels on the EU fuel-quality directive that would limit oilsands fuel from entering Europe — a vote that before the report seemed all too likely to go through.
... the EU vote comes against a landscape newly shifted by research showing that on a global scale, oilsands emissions are not the dark-shirted villain some have made them out to be. That research, published in the journal Nature and co-authored by one of Canada’s most respected climate scientists, throws a wrench into the debate over an energy source whose reputed “dirtiness” has sparked fiery debate around the world.
While the story repeated the fact that both authors oppose the expansion of the oilsands and call for a switch away from fossil fuels, pro-oilsands players were already counting the study as a feather in their cap.
Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said it is “important” that analyses like Dr. Weaver’s are being done, since it might help calm “the inflamed rhetoric from the other side.”
On Tuesday, Postmedia published a story that put far more priority on Weaver and Swart’s opposition to the oilsands. The authors make that clear in the second paragraph, after they state the study’s findings that coal causes more emissions than oilsands in the lede.
Still, that’s no reason to endorse the Keystone XL or Northern Gateway pipelines, say two Canadian climate experts in a provocative study released on the weekend.
On the same day, Andrew Weaver wrote his own op-ed in the Toronto Star. Free of the rhetorical tricks journalists use to make a story lively, he dryly explains the study’s findings, explaining in detail the context of the scientists’ curiosity (the heated debate over the Keystone XL pipeline) and the study’s limitations.
While Weaver admits the findings don’t conform with what the loudest oilsands opponents have claimed, he doesn’t seem to suggest the findings have changed the oilsands debate for scientists like him.
While coal is the greatest threat to the climate globally, the tarsands remain the largest source of greenhouse gas emission growth in Canada and are the single largest reason Canada is failing to meet its international climate commitments and failing to be a climate leader. The world needs to transition away from fossil fuels. That means coal, unconventional gas and unconventional oil all need to be addressed.
On Wednesday [today], the most explicit attempt to quell any misunderstandings in the media was published in a second Postmedia story, written by Mike De Souza, the wire service’s go-to guy on oilsands reporting. In the article, entitled “Point Missed on Oilsands Report: Experts,” the story is no longer the science at all, but its optics.
Two Canadian climate change scientists from the University of Victoria say the public reaction to their recently published commentary has missed their key message: that all forms of fossil fuels, including the oilsands and coal, must be regulated for the world to avoid dangerous global warming.
“Much of the way this has been reported is (through) a type of view that oilsands are good and coal is bad,” said climate scientist Neil Swart, who co-wrote the study with fellow climatologist Andrew Weaver. “From my perspective, that was not the point. … The point here is, we need a rapid transition to renewable (energy), and avoid committing to long-term fossil fuel use if we are to get within the limits” of reducing global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
As the EU heads into a debate over its fuel-quality directive tomorrow, it seems the discussion here in Canada over the oilsands is still far from settled.
Weaver study offers fossil fuels warning, David Suzuki & Ian Hanington, February 29 2012.
It was inevitable that climate change deniers and some oil industry promoters would misinterpret a study by scientist Andrew Weaver before reading beyond the headlines.
A letter in the Calgary Herald actually claimed that “Weaver’s revelation … raises even more skepticism about the entire science behind global warming.” The writer went on to argue that the report by University of Victoria climate scientist Weaver and PhD student Neil Swart is an “awakening for David Suzuki and his environmental followers.”
It’s typical of the nonsense people who understand science have to put up with every day. The study, published in Nature, says the opposite.
Weaver and Swart set out to answer a simple question: “How much global warming would occur if we completely burned a variety of fossil fuel resources?” Their conclusion that burning all the coal or all the gas from the entire world’s resource bases would raise global average temperatures more than burning all the Alberta tar sands reserves is hardly a surprise.
What is surprising is their finding that emissions from burning all the economically viable oil from the tar sands would only contribute to a 0.03°C rise in world temperatures, and burning the entire tar sands oil in place would add 0.36°C. That may not seem like much, but we need to put it in context.
First, the study looked only at the emissions from burning the fuels and not from extracting, refining, or transporting them. The report’s authors explain that these additional emissions “would come from the other resource pools and shouldn’t be double-counted.”
If we are to avoid a 2°C increase in global temperatures, each person in the world would be allocated 80 tonnes of emissions over the next 50 years. The emissions from burning all the tar sands oil that is now economically viable (the reserves) would represent 64 tonnes of carbon for each of the 340 million people in the U.S. and Canada – about 75 per cent of the U.S. and Canada’s global per capita allocation. If we include emissions from the extraction, it rises to 90 per cent or more.
The study doesn’t consider any other environmental consequences of the tar sands either, from water use and pollution to destruction of boreal habitat.
As I’ve said before, we’re not going to stop using oil overnight, so we will continue to use tar sands products, at least in the short to medium term. But the best ways to limit environmental impacts are to slow down and to ensure the highest environmental standards are met and that we are getting maximum value for the oil to which all Canadians have a right.
As Weaver and Swart conclude: “If North American and international policymakers wish to limit global warming to less than 2 C they will clearly need to put in place measures that ensure a rapid transition of global energy systems to non-greenhouse-gas-emitting sources, while avoiding commitments to new infrastructure supporting dependence on fossil fuels.”
Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation editorial and communications specialist Ian Hanington.
Point missed on oilsands report, say researchers, Mike De Souza, February 22 2012.
Team calls for rapid transition to renewable energy
Two Canadian climate change scientists from the University of Victoria say the public reaction to their recently published commentary has missed their key message: that all forms of fossil fuels, including the oilsands and coal, must be regulated for the world to avoid dangerous global warming.
Two Canadian climate change scientists from the University of Victoria say the public reaction to their recently published commentary has missed their key message: that all forms of fossil fuels, including the oilsands and coal, must be regulated for the world to avoid dangerous global warming.
"Much of the way this has been reported is (through) a type of view that oilsands are good and coal is bad," said climate scientist Neil Swart, who co-wrote the study with fellow climatologist Andrew Weaver. "From my perspective, that was not the point. . . . The point here is, we need a rapid transition to renewable (energy), and avoid committing to long-term fossil fuel use if we are to get within the limits" of reducing global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
The commentary, published in the British scientific journal Nature Climate Change, estimated the effect of consuming the fuel from oilsands deposits - without factoring in greenhouse gas emissions associated with extraction and production - would be far less harmful to the planet's atmosphere than consuming all of the world's coal resources.
"The conclusions of a credible climate scientist with access to good data are very different than some of the rhetoric we've heard from Hollywood celebrities of late," said Travis Davies, a spokesman from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
"However, it clearly doesn't absolve industry from what it needs to do: (To) continue to improve environmental performance broadly, and demonstrate that improvement to Canadians and our customers . . . in terms of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, as well as water, land and tailings facilities."
Swart and Weaver also note that growth in oilsands and recent debates over a major pipeline expansion project in the United States represent a symptom of the planet's unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels. The commentary said policy-makers in North America and Europe must avoid major infrastructure of this nature since it is pushing the planet dangerously close to more than 2 C of average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels, which is considered to be a threshold of dramatic changes in global ecosystems.
Swart also said their estimates revealed that the relative impact of the oilsands on the climate, per unit of production, would push the average Canadian to 75 per cent of what would be considered their maximum allowable carbon dioxide footprint for an entire lifetime. In other words, this would mean that after factoring in oilsands emissions, the average Canadian would not have much room left to consume fossil fuels for their other energy needs if he or she wanted to do their fair share of reductions when compared with citizens from other countries, Swart explained.
"If we go down this path, the amount of warming will be massive," Swart said.
Governments from around the world have agreed that scientific evidence shows that humans are causing global warming through land-use changes and the burning of fossil fuels, but that it is possible to avoid dangerous impacts of climate change by dramatically cutting levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat in the atmosphere.