Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to create a best-seller

According to a CBC article, the novel written by Mark Tushingham, Hotter Than Hell, is now in it's second printing.

Looks like Ms. Ambrose did the publisher a big favour giving them all that free publicity!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ambrose wants to join 'coal pact'

Today Environment Minster Rona Ambrose talked about supporting the US-led Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Environment. (See the CP story.) According to the CP article, this is "a loose agreement involving the United States, Australia, India, Japan, China and South Korea. It is not legally binding and does not set caps on carbon emissions."

Here's the low-down on this 'pact' by Grist magazine. I particularly like this quote from James Connaughton (head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality):

"[W]hat we're trying to do is create a framework in which we can define more effectively and on a faster timescale real programs of action that will deliver real investments and real places. ... Hopefully, we'll get a convergence of some of these broader rhetorical commitments into a program of concrete action."

Wow - I feel much better about our chances of saving the planet now!

According to the Grist article, Bob Brown, head of Australia's Green Party has labeled the agreement "a "coal pact," noting that Australia isn't the only big coal producer at the table. China, the U.S., and India are also top producers of this hot commodity, and aren't anxious to phase it out anytime soon."

However, Ms. Ambrose also said that we won't be joining any more partnerships until we clean up our own backyard. I hope that the Tory plan for doing this is a little more concrete than this 'pact' seems to be!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Canadian Environmental Policy a 'Blank Slate'

I was listening today to a CBC radio interview about Brian Mulroney's "Greenest Prime Minister" award. The interviewee said that the only good thing about the current government's environmental policy is that it's a 'blank slate' - if they wanted to, the government could do great things for the environment.

With that in mind, I've added a poll to this site. What do you think the government's policy should be on global warming? Vote, and/or send us your comments!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Warning: Proximity to oil sands may cause near-sightedness

According to a recent Leger Marketing survey, 23% of Canadians "believe global warming will lead to the destruction of the planet". They also broke down the results province-by-province:

Thirty-one per cent of Quebecers believed in the end-of-the-world scenario, while other regional breakdowns along the same lines were: British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces, 22 per cent; Ontario, 21 per cent; and Alberta, 16 per cent. (emphasis is mine)

I guess if you make enough money on the oil patch you can buy yourself another planet or something.

[Disclaimer: "The margins of error for the regional breakdowns are higher."]

Response from Stephen Harper

Here is the PMO's response to my email:

Dear Ms. Neumann:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your recent e-mail.

Please be assured that your comments have been noted and that they will receive due consideration from the Minister, who has already received a copy of your correspondence.

L.A. Lavell
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Climate change is not just an issue - it is THE issue

Everything I've been reading lately has me more and more convinced that climate change is real, and that we MUST do something about it. Here's a scary piece from ABC News:

"Last year the chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change said that man's carbon emissions were reaching such concentration that "immediate and very deep cuts in the pollution are needed if humanity is to survive."


And yet according to a recent poll, the majority of Canadians, while being concerned about the environment, are not concerned that Stephen Harper is in power, and even think the Tories are doing a good job!

Obviously, the message is not getting out here in Canada. I see lots of stories in American media on climate change, and relatively few Canadian stories.

And now for some better news...
On the other hand, there are lots of good-news stories happening at the local level: Halton region has a pretty good plan to improve car-pooling and transit use among it's staff members. And Toronto councillor Joe Mihevc has an interesting idea of creating small neighborhood groups of people to help each other make their homes more energy efficient! Sounds great - anybody else in!?!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hotter Than Hell

Want to order a copy of Mark Tushingham's book? It's available at Or better yet, recommend that your local library purchase a copy!

My letter to Stephen Harper and Rona Ambrose

Dear Mr. Harper and Ms. Ambrose:

I am deeply concerned about the announced cuts to the One Tonne Challenge and other Kyoto programs. Most climate experts agree that climate change is real and is happening right now. While we may not feel the full effects for many years, we don't have a lot of time left to mitigate this problem. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to act now!

As far as I can see this is the most important issue that we as Canadians should be working on. I urge you to take the advice of government scientists, and environmental leaders like David Suzuki.

I understand that the government will soon be announcing tax incentives for transit users. While this is a good first step, there is so much more we need to do. The federal government should be playing a critical role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by:

  • encouraging and enforcing industrial emission-reductions
  • promoting and subsidizing alternatives to fossil fuels
  • assisting businesses and individuals to become more energy efficient
  • bringing in programs to reduce automobile use
I strongly believe that we can and must fulfill our Kyoto commitments. Please let me know what your government plans to do on this very important issue.

Worried about climate change? Let Harper know!

D.Neumann asked "how can we get the message out to more people?"

Well, first I think we should all contact Stephen Harper, Rona Ambrose (Minister of the Environment), and your local Member of Parliament. Let the Tories know that you care and are watching what they do! Don't forget to post here and let us know what you said!

Also, if you like this blog, please forward the address to anyone you think may be interested. Don't forget that you can be notified when it's updated using the site feed address:

If you use Firefox, you can use this address to create a live bookmark. Or if you use a service like My Yahoo, you can add the feed to your home page.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Canadian gov't stiffles scientist while chopping Kyoto programs

This story says it all!

Novelist scientist silenced as Harper Tories quietly axe 15 Kyoto programs

I woke up this morning in Canada, but I feel like I'm going to bed in good-old George W. Bush country!
Apparently, government scientists are supposed to sit around doing nothing for a year while Mr. Harper figures out a way to pretend to do something about global warming. And they should certainly not be writing (and promoting) any novels!

On the other hand, maybe I should move to California. At least Arnold admits global warming is a problem and is working on a plan to address it (although maybe not fast enough)! However, moving will not get me and my family away from global warming.

If the Dutch minister of the environment is right, "we have only a few years, and not ten years but less, to do something". We can't afford to waste a year figuring out another strategy!

Canadian 'skeptics'

Heard the one about the '60 leading scientists' who don't think climate change is real?

The National Post published this letter from signed by 60 scientists (well, at least 2 are economists, but who's counting?).

I don't normally read the Post, but I found references in other media to these 'leading scientists', and tracked down the letter. I was curious who these people were - how do they know each other, and who coordinated this letter? Anyway, after a bit of searching I found that at least some of them are affiliated with a group called Friends of Science. Clearly, this is a group dedicated to not believing in global warming. I found at least one reference to the Fraser Institute on their website, which sent up another red flag.

According to the website SourceWatch, the FoS domain name "registered to Charles Simpson, a "retired oil industry employee"."

Follow the Money
There's more interesting information on Tim Ball (a FoS member, and signatory to the letter) in this article by Daniel Gutstein. It seems that a lot of Mr. Ball's work is sponsored by coal and oil companies. What a surprise!

And the other side...
Here is a more detailed description of what is wrong with this letter. Way to go Joanna! What she said!

Thinking of planting some trees to offset your CO2 emissions?

While planting trees is usually a great idea, it may not have much impact on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to this article from SciDevNet.

The bottom line is, we "cannot rely on nature to clean up"!

Monday, April 10, 2006

How many planets do you use?

Here's another interesting quiz: Ecological footprint quiz

According to this quiz, it takes 3.8 hectares to support my lifestyle. It also says "If everyone lived like you, we would need 2.1 planets".
Here are my results:

It's interesting, but the questions are not as detailed as the One Tonne Challenge, so I wonder how accurate it is. It does bring the question of what we choose to eat into the picture though.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Apparently I was a bit late to be touting the OTC!

As pointed out in a blog called Clay and Wattles, use that calculator while you can because the Tories may be removing it soon! According to an article in the Globe and Mail the Tories have abruptly stopped funding this program.

In other news, apparently biofuels are good, but only if they are made in Canada!

Two steps back and one baby-step forward??

Canadian Emissions Chart

Here's a scary chart, courtesy of the United Nations Environment Program:

Canada Emissions up to 2003

I can only imagine that our emissions have continued to climb in the last 2 years. You can also see other countries' charts. Check out Germany, France, and the UK for comparison!

By the way, it's rather embarassing that Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be ahead of us on this issue.

Do nothing? You can't be serious!

Here's a great piece from the Times Online (UK) arguing against the 'climate change skeptics'. Some nice quotes:

"If we discovered that some asteroid was heading in our direction with a 5 per cent chance of collision, we would mobilise every missile, throw all our money at strategies to deflect it. But when scientists confront us with a threat that they believe is still within our control, we wish it away. Crazy."

"The real superstition here is our horror of using less, in societies that have been reared on consumption. There is a desperate fear that greater efficiency would devastate the economy. But the idea that we are plunging into a new Dark Ages is ridiculous. Is everything we hold dear threatened if we have to refit our homes with energy-efficient lightbulbs? In the US, corporations that have reduced energy use have made money."

I think the idea of buying 'clean' power plants for China is an interesting one. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Calculate YOUR emissions - and take the One tonne challenge!

Despite the change in government, the One Tonne Challenge program is still up on the government of Canada web site. The Emissions Calculator is actually kind of neat. Basically, you enter information about your household and driving habits, and it estimates how many tons a year of greenhouse gasses you produce. Then, you can select things you can do to reduce your emissions, and it dynamically shows you how much you would save.

My one quibble with the calculator is that it doesn't take everything you may be doing already into account when giving the first estimate. For example, one of the suggestions in the reduction part was to install a low-flow shower head. Well, we already have that, so I wasn't sure if I should check the box (that says you will implement this change), or not.

I suppose I could go through the survey twice - the first time checking off ONLY the items we already do, and the second time checking off what we are planning to do in the future. That should give me more accurate "before" and "after" estimates.

Anyway, here are my results from my first pass at this:

Current emissions estimate: 4.59 tonnes
After planned reductions: 3.184 tonnes

The Canadian average is 5.5 tonnes, and the Ontario average is 5.7 tonnes, so we're not doing too badly. But I know we can do better!

Canadian government pays lip service to climate change

The new Tory government presented it's speech from the throne today. There was one sentence relating to the environment and climate change:

"It will take measures to achieve tangible improvements in our environment, including reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

It will be interesting to see what these measures will include.

Also on the government of Canada web site are notes for a speech by the new Minister of the Environment, Rona Ambrose. She talks about the need for a "new Canadian Clean Air Act". This is stolen right out of the NDP election platform. No wonder Jack Layton sounded so pleased with himself today. I really hope this new act will have some teeth in it!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

First Post

This blog will cover the topic of climate change and what we can do about it.

Reading all the news and articles lately has got me really worried! Most environmental issues have some doom-and-gloom aspects to them, but this is really scary! It seems to me that if/until we get this figured out, climate change and how to prevent/mitigate it should be the only thing anybody is talking about.

However, in order not to sound too depressing, I want to talk about things we can do to help the situation. I'm also going to blog about things we are doing in our own household to reduce our emissions, and what kind of progress we're making.

I also hope to bring a Canadian perspective to this topic, and talk about what Canadians are doing, or should be doing.