The Emerging Arctic World Order

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland speaks at the Arctic Imperative Summit, 2012 in Girdwood, Alaska. Well worth the 30 minute listen – this is one politician that speaks the truth to power. Wake up, folks!


Thanks to Doug Grandt, climate warrior extraordinaire,  for sharing this link.

Weathergirl Goes Off Script, Mentions Science

Pippa the weathergirl goes off script and drops some science instead of the usual barbeque forecast:



Yes, there is more sea ice missing now than there is ice remaining. It’s in a “death spiral”, scientists are saying:

Rate of Arctic Summer Sea Ice Loss is 50% Higher Than Predicted

This picture from NASA shows the current extent of Arctic sea ice. The line shows the average minimum extent from 1979 to 2010.

Source: NASA Goddard Flight Centre

If this truth-telling leaves you in despair and feeling hopeless, you’re not alone (“The Six Stages Of Climate Grief“). But recognizing there is a problem, as T.V.’s Dr Phil likes to say, is only the start. The sixth stage of climate grief that Ms. Wysham talks about is action. I’m living proof that action is a surefire antidote to climate trauma and despair. This is our generation’s “Great Work” – let’s get to it!

If you’re ready to embrace the “The Work” but aren’t sure where to turn, check out Citizens Climate Lobby, a grassroots group focused on creating the political will for a sustainable climate as well as empowering individuals to claim their personal and political power. You might also be interested in the approach that the Transition Network takes, which is focused on preparing communities for the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change by becoming more resilient.


Skinny Dipping: Therapy For A World Careening Towards Climate Chaos

Sunrise on Mexican Hat Lake, Woodland Caribou Park

I’ve just returned from an invigorating five day wilderness canoe trip in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. The Park is part of an bi-provincial bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is right out our back door. My family, along with 2 other families who were dedicated enough to travel the 6 hours from Winnipeg to our home in northern Ontario, set off for our adventure last Tuesday. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and all of the coach/computer potatoes and urban dwellers among us, and the youngest members of our group on their first long canoe trip, rose to the challenge magnificently. Setting the pace for the rest of us was 15 year-old Annie Rose, who had spent two weeks canoeing on the Bloodvein River in Manitoba this summer. That trip included a dramatic helicopter rescue after one of the group leaders was struck by lightening; luckily the young woman recovered completely. Our trip, fortunately, was not as eventful but did include over 20 portages through rocky Canadian Shield terrain as well as kilometres of paddling.

There is nothing like getting unplugged for a stretch to give a different perspective on things. When I turned on my computer yesterday, headlines like these were waiting:

  • Arctic Ice To Reach A Record Low Within Days: Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in “dramatic changes” signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region.With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record – currently set in 2007 – within days…
  • An Outbreak of West Nile Is Worst in U.S. History: The mosquito borne West Nile virus has killed more than 40 people and infected nearly 1,000. The latest outbreak is set to become the worst ever in US history. Almost half of the reported cases have occurred in the state of Texas. Dallas county has responded by launching an extensive West Nile education programme campaign.
  • Food Riots Predicted Over U.S. Crop FailureThe world is on the brink of a food “catastrophe” caused by the worst US drought in 50 years, and misguided government biofuel policy will exacerbate the perilous situation, scientists and activists warn.When food prices spike and people go hungry, violence soon follows, they say. Riots caused by food shortages – similar to those of 2007-08 in countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, the Philippines and Burkina Faso among others – may be on the horizon, threatening social stability in impoverished nations that rely on US corn imports.This summer’s devastating drought has scorched much of the mid-western United States – the world’s bread basket.Crops such as corn, wheat, and soy have been decimated by high temperatures and little rain. Grain prices have skyrocketed and concerns abound the resulting higher food prices will hit the world’s poor the hardest – sparking violent demonstrations.
  • Food Shortages Could Force World Into Vegetarianism, Scientists Warn: There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations,” the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.
    “There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade.”Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.

It’s more than enough to make a thinking person throw up their hands in despair. For me, it is helpful to close my eyes and go back to the quiet mornings in the wilderness, when a few of us early risers would take advantage of the quiet to go for a skinny dip which refreshed our aching bodies as well as our souls. On the last morning I was joined by my friend for a swim and we set off around the island, christening ourselves the “Bare-naked Blueberry Babes” ( in recognition of our other shared passion, picking wild blueberries). As the soft cool water caressed our skin as we swam, we felt ourselves getting in touch with our “inner mammal”, that part of our senses that we share with other animals yet so often are called on to deny in our disconnected, urbanized culture. We need to consciously work on getting more in touch with our senses, says Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. Dr. Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained neuroscientist who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain when she was 37 years old. Her left-brain was disabled as the hemorrhage flooded it, but it was her experience of the right side of her brain that affected her most profoundly during and after the stroke. The right side of our brains are the home of intuition, feelings, awareness and the ability to see ‘the bigger picture’.  Our culture is profoundly left-hemisphere dominant, and that’s what’s got us into the dire trouble we are in  – we are profoundly disconnected to the natural world, including our own bodies, these days. Imagine the difference in our world if we all spent time cultivating our right brains, the center of peacefulness and connection. One of the ways to “feed” our right hemispheres is to focus on our body, and our senses. Bolte Taylor recommends dancing in the rain to reconnect with this part of our brain; I think she would also approve of skinny dipping in the lake.

So, Mr Harper, President Obama, Mitt & Ryan,  I prescribe at least 2 regular doses of this therapy daily, until you come to your senses – literally!

Swimming in the Lake, 1942. Source:

More links:

Woman in Recovery After Being Struck By Lightning During Manitoba Canoe Trip

Dr. Jill

For those of you who would like a taste of my week, and/or perhaps need some inspiration to plan your own back-to-nature adventure, here’s a video from another fan of the park, Woodland Caribou Provincial Park: Why I Come


Climate Change: We Are Stuck Between The Impossible and The Unthinkable

David Roberts is staff writer at In this TEDx talk given at Evergreen State College “Climate Change is Simple”, he describes the causes and effects of climate change in blunt, plain terms.


On April 16, 2012, speakers and attendees gathered at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege: Hello Climate Change to reflect on the ability — and responsibility — of formal and informal education to inspire and empower action in this era of climate change.

More links: . You can follow David Roberts on twitter – and possibly inspire another TED Talk – at @drgrist.

Ready to get to work on creating the political will for a sustainable climate? Head over to Citizens Climate Lobby and join with other people all over North America doing exactly that.

Summer of Drought & Climate Science Doesn’t Budge Senate Deniers



Virtually all of America’s corn and soy farms are now in drought disaster areas. Food prices globally are already rising as a result.  This is what the very beginning of climate change looks and tastes like. We can’t afford this kind of change – we need serious action on climate change now.

There’s lots of action on the climate change front this week, including in Washington DC where Senate hearings on climate change started this week. To no one’s surprise, climate denier (and fossil-fuel funded) Senator James Inhofe railed against the science and the scientists (aka “climate alarmists), declaring at one point that “the global warming movement has completely collapsed.”  During Sen. Inhofe’s diatribe against climate “alarmists,” the National Academy of Sciences, NOAA, NASA and, by extension, Galileo, it was the hottest day ever recorded in his home state of Oklahoma.

The hearings are being live-streamed here. Common Dreams gives a good overview of yesterday’s presentation by climate scientists in Scientists Tell Senate Panel:  Climate Change Is Here And Disaster Costs Will Be Huge.  George Monbiot weighs in on Inhofe’s entrenched inanity in Dance With The One Who Brung You, where he asserts that the environment is being trashed because of a failure to reform campaign finance. Truly, these politicians need to wear their sponsors on their clothes, like athletes, so that citizens can identify clearly whose interests they are protecting.

I’m listening to the hearings while I write this, and it’s fascinating in a disturbing kind of way (like watching a car crash in slow motion) to hear Inhofe and Sessions carry on about the “proof” that the planet isn’t warming, and claiming that the National Academy of Sciences is some kind of lobby group for special interests. Oh, the irony!

Here’s some Canadian nonsense. PM Stephen Harper, whose government has been awarded more “Colossal Fossil” awards at international climate talks than any other government, asserted this week that Canadian youth, who are among the most vocal critics of this government’s climate policies, are “misinformed” about global warming talks. *sigh*

On the upside, here’s some interesting developments:

Investment Shift For Algae Biofuels To See Market Grow 43.1% Annually

Public Willing To Pay More For Green Energie

To wrap up, this one’s for Prime Minister Harper, Senator Inhofe and Senator Sessions, and all those conservative politicians out there suffering from Anti-Science Syndrome (ASS):

Photo: I got it from Facebook, but can’t identify the source

Climate Change: Lines of Evidence

The National Academies, America’s preeminent independent scientific advisory body, has produced a series of videos about the science of climate change. This one,the second in the series, explains how scientists have arrived at the current state of knowledge about recent climate change and its causes.




Climate Change Study Forces Skeptical Scientists To Change Minds

We’re All Climate Change Idiots

COP 17 in Durban – Day 1

Today is the first day of the U.N. climate talks in Durban South Africa. As I wrote earlier, many people’s expectations (including mine) for a meaningful and binding international climate treaty coming out of these 10 days is low. It seems, sadly, that unbridled capitalism will triumph over humanity’s need for clean water, clean air, and a stable climate. The Alberta-based Pembina Institute put it this way:

Comparing the frustratingly slow pace of international negotiations on climate change against the ever-increasing urgency of climate-change science, it is hard to be optimistic. The level of ambition currently being demonstrated puts the world on track for irreversible and catastrophic climate change.

I recently heard someone say “Power is power.” Imagine if we lived in a world where everyone, whether they are an African living in remotest Sudan or a Pakistani in the highest Karakoram mountain or a New Yorker in Manhattan, could put up a solar panel or wind turbine to run their laptop or power their schools. Citizens of the world could get around without lining the pockets of Big Oil and Gas, as they rely on electric cars, or e-bikes, or accessible public transport. Parents wouldn’t need to be the gate-keepers of toxins to protect their children from poisons in the food they eat or the air they breathe, as sustainability becomes the norm in agriculture and industry as well as transportation, and clean water and air become the standard around the world rather than the exception.

The fossil fuel industry recognized several decades ago, before most environmentalists and certainly before most politicians (who still don’t get it), that a fundamental paradigm shift is required to address the climate crisis, and this shift threatens these corporations’ bottom line. They are fighting for their lives, and fighting dirty; and they don’t care about the lives of the most vulnerable or about our children’s future.

Christiana Figueres, who replaced Yvo de Boer as head of the U.N. climate secretariat in 2010, said Sunday the stakes for the COP17 negotiations are high, underscored by new scientific studies. Figueres said under discussion at COP17 was: “nothing short of the most compelling energy, industrial, behavioral revolution that humanity has ever seen.

As investigative reporter William Marsden said on CBC Radio’s The Current this morning, it’s time to bring the science to the table, and let the science, not politics and the fossil fuel industry, dictate what should be done. Yet the industrialized nations, the big emitters, have been increasingly ignoring the science and muzzling scientists. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Association has said that the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average temperature increases of 3.5 C, and called for immediate action because if the world’s energy infrastructure isn’t changed by 2017 CO2 emissions will be locked in and catastrophic climate change will be set in motion.

Where are the parents, who should be in the streets demanding our governments take the science seriously and protect our children’s future?  It’s time for parents and grandparents, as well as young people, to get noisy and get active. Otherwise, we’re facing mutually assured destruction.

Suggestions For Immediate Actions:

The Council of Canadians has an action for Canadians to send a message to the European Union to uphold the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which labels tar sands oil as a high carbon, and encourages suppliers to reduce emissions and promotes the use of cleaner fuels over dirty fuels. For details on how to send a message of support for this clean fuel policy, go to the Council’s Action Alert page.

Join Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonprofit non-partisan international group focused on creating the political will for a sustainable climate and empowering individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. Dr. James Hansen said at the Keystone XL Pipeline protests:

“Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new,  fast growing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 35 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

CCL has introductory calls on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month, contact me at or email Or check out their websites:

Citizens Climate Lobby International

Citizens Climate Lobby Canada

Whatever you chose to do, the important thing is to do something. For those of us who have a future generation depending on us, doing nothing isn’t an option any more.

International Energy Agency: Rising Fossil Energy Use Will Lead To Irreversible & Potentially Catastrophic Climate Change

The International Energy Agency released the 2011 World Energy Outlook yesterday.  What is almost as interesting as the report itself is the coverage of it in the MSM.

Here’s a summary of the report by the IEA itself in this video featuring Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency. At 2:49 of this summary Mr. Birol says

“Climate change: a crucial topic for the WEO. Then we look at the infrastructure of the energy sector, and we look at current investments. We see the risk of our energy sector being locked in and we have very little room to maneuver. We try to define it.”


Locked in to a dirty energy future indeed, thanks to the intransigence and greed of the fossil fuel industry. And yet, here is what the coverage of the WEO in the Vancouver Sun looked like yesterday. Entitled “Much-criticized oilsands key to global energy growth, international agency says”,  Peter O’Neil writes:

Alberta’s oilsands provide one of the world’s few areas of energy production growth outside the volatile Middle East and North Africa, though environmental concerns could hinder its expansion, the International Energy Agency said in a report Wednesday.

Quite the spin job, about a report that clearly states “the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average temperature increases of 3.5 C“. The oil sands are part of that insecure and inefficient system.  Even the Calgary Herald, in the heart of oil country, was more honest with its headline for the same article by O’Neil, “Environmental concerns may hinder oilsands: IEA“.

Here’s what Think Progress’s Joe Romm had to say about the report:

IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”:

The International Energy Agency has issued yet another clarion call for urgent action on climate.  Their 2011 World Energy Outlook [WEO] release should end once and for all any notion that delay is the rational course for the nation and the world.

The UK Guardian‘s headline captures the urgency:

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change

We must start aggressively deploying clean energy now through myriad policies, including a price on carbon.  That has been the conclusion of most authoritative studies, of course,  including the recent one by California’s independent state science and technology advisory panel (see “Study Confirms Optimal Climate Strategy: Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, Research and Develop, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy“).

Yes, that graphic from the International Energy Agency says that Without further action, by 2017, all CO2 emissions will be “locked-in” by the existing infrastructure. As Romm says, the time has come to “deploy, deploy, deploy”, the same way economies were changed overnight in the face of World War II.  Who will lead?  Romm says we need a Churchill; perhaps he’s right. But maybe, for this global challenge, it’s the 99% that will provide the momentum for this change. Perhaps we don’t need one Churchill – we need thousands, or millions of Churchills, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther Kings, Ghandis, Wangari Maathais, etc.
More links:
Get empowered and work to create the political will for a sustainable climate – become a Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer.

David Suzuki On Occupy Movement: The Future Of Young People Is Being Sacrificed To Corporate Agenda

David Suzuki was interviewed at the Occupy Montreal event last Saturday:

“We’ve got to take back our country, and take back our democracy..Stop serving the corporate agenda. It seems that money is everything that determines what our priorities are right now…The economy by itself is nothing. We use the economy for something else – do we want justice, do we want greater equity, do we want environmental protection?..This is about the future for these  young people, that is being sacrificed for the sake of the corporate agenda right now…What are corporations for? They exist for one reason, and one reason only. They may be doing things that we need that are really useful, but their only reason for existence is to make money, and the faster they make the money, the better it is. And that is not an acceptable way to run the world. What about people? What about the future, and jobs for young people?”


More links:

David Suzuki Foundation: Occupy Wall Street Reflects Increasing Frustration

The Occupy Movement Goes Global

Yesterday the Occupy Wall Street movement, sparked by a call from the Vancouver-based Ad Busters magazine, started sparking occupations in Canada. From  five thousand people  in Vancouver, to three hundred in Halifax, and dozens of other “occupations” in between, Canadians expressed their disatisfaction with the status quo. I was able to participate in some of the Occupy Winnipeg event, where three hundred+ of us showed up and walked and chanted our way from the Manitoba Legislature to the TD Bank building on Portage Avenue, and back. It was inspiring and fun, and I hope it signals a sea-change in our political and economic system. Because if we continue down the road we are on, we are heading towards economic and planetary disaster.

Here’s filmmaker Velcrow Ripper speaking at the Occupy Saskatoon yesterday: