Limiting Scientists’ Free Speech: A New Canadian Tradition

Ah, Rick, I love you, and your honesty and willingness to use your celebrity status to remind Canadians what our nation has come to under Stephen Harper. Thanks!



Wondering what all the fuss is about? Listen to Dr. Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist from the University of Victoria, discuss the current clampdown on Canadian scientists by the federal government:



More links:

Canadian Federal Research Deal “Potentially Muzzles” U.S. Scientist: Arctic Research Agreement Contains “Excessively Restrictive” Language

Prestigious Science Journal Slams Harper Government’s Muzzle on Scientists

Information Commissioner Called Upon to Probe “Muzzling” of Federal Scientists

Summer of 2012: North Americans Begin to Harvest Climate Chaos They’ve Sown

A friend and newly graduated family physician told us a story about a young man who came to his clinic for medical advice. The young man was having a hard time adjusting to being away from home for the first time, and to his first full-time job, and was considering quitting and returning home. Our friend’s advice to this young man was to take two “man-up” pills every morning, and hang in there for a while longer.

I’m not going to comment on the medical validity of this advice, but it does seem to me that it’s good advice for all of us in North America these days. We are starting to reap what we’ve sown, with our callous disregard of the ecosystem that gives us life. Human beings need clean water, clean air, and a stable climate to thrive, and we’ve put all of these in peril with our burning of fossil fuels and our political apathy. Our relentless search for harder and harder to access oil has led to mountain tops being blasted off for coal, the poisoning of our aqueducts to frack for natural gas, and the destruction of the Canadian boreal forests in search of bitumen from tar sands. It’s hard to accept responsibility for this – we all love our children and work tirelessly to keep them safe in the short-term. Yet it’s time for parents and grandparents to take two “man-up” pills each and every morning, and to actively work to salvage a livable climate and planet for future generations. It’s our inter-generational responsibility, our “Great Work”. Hopelessness, apathy and cynicism are luxuries our children cannot afford.



Not sure how to respond? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby, The Transition Network, or  the Post Carbon Institute, or go to my Action not Apathy page.

More links:

Global Drought Monitor

Actions Speak Louder Than Words As Earth First! Shuts Down Gas Drilling in Western PA

U.S. Senator: Washington’s Failure To Act On Climate Change Is Blameworthy & The Consequences Profound

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave a powerful speech in the U.S. Senate last week, making a thorough  and well-supported argument for immediate comprehensive action to mitigate the effects of human-caused climate destabilization and ocean acidification:


Here are some excerpts from the transcript:

Mr. President, I am here to speak about what is currently an unpopular topic in this town. It has become no longer politically correct in certain circles in Washington to speak about climate change or carbon pollution or how carbon pollution is causing our climate to change.

   This is a peculiar condition of Washington. If you go out into, say, our military and intelligence communities, they understand and are planning for the effects of carbon pollution on climate change. They see it as a national security risk. If you go out into our nonpolluting business and financial communities, they see this as a real and important problem. And, of course, it goes without saying our scientific community is all over this concern. But as I said, Washington is a peculiar place, and here it is getting very little traction.

   Here in Washington we feel the dark hand of the polluters tapping so many shoulders. And where there is power and money behind that dark hand, therefore, a lot of attention is paid to that little tap on the shoulder. What we overlook is that nature–God’s Earth–is also tapping us all on the shoulder, with messages we ignore at our peril. We ignore the messages of nature–of God’s Earth–and we ignore the laws of nature–of God’s Earth–at our very grave peril.

There is a wave of very justifiable economic frustration that has swept through our Capitol. The problem is that some of the special interests–the polluters–have insinuated themselves into that wave, sort of like parasites that creep into the body of a host animal, and from there they are working terrible mischief. They are propagating two big lies. One is that environmental regulations are a burden to the economy and we need to lift those burdens to spur our economic recovery. The second is the jury is still out on climate changes caused by carbon pollution, so we don’t need to worry about it or even take precautions.

   Both are, frankly, outright false.

…Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean.

   The laws of physics and the laws of chemistry and the laws of science these are laws of nature. These are laws of God’s Earth. We can repeal some laws around here but we can’t repeal those. Senators are used to our opinions mattering a lot around here, but these laws are not affected by our opinions. These laws do not care who peddles influence, how many lobbyists you have or how big your corporate bankroll is. Those considerations, so important in this town, do not matter at all to the laws of nature.

   As regards these laws of nature, because we can neither repeal nor influence them, we bear a duty, a duty of stewardship to see and respond to the facts that are before our faces according to nature’s laws. We bear a duty to shun the siren song of well-paying polluters. We bear a duty to make the right decisions for our children and grandchildren and for our God-given Earth.

   Right now I must come before the Chamber and remind this body that we are failing in that duty. The men and women in this Chamber are indeed catastrophically failing in that duty. We are earning the scorn and condemnation of history–not this week, perhaps, and not next week. The spin doctors can see to that. But ultimately and assuredly, the harsh judgment that it is history’s power to inflict on wrong will fall upon us. The Supreme Being who gave us this Earth and its abundance created a world not just of abundance but of consequence and that Supreme Being gave us reason to allow us to plan for and foresee the various consequences that those laws of nature impose.

   It is magical thinking to imagine that somehow we will be spared the plain and foreseeable consequences of our failure of duty. There is no wizard’s hat and wand with which to wish this away. These laws of nature are known; the Earth’s message to us is clear; our failure is blameworthy; its consequences are profound; and the costs will be very high.

To read the full transcript, go to the PDF of the Congressional Record (Senator Whitehouse’s address starts in the 3rd column of  S6477) or

If you’d like to send Senator Whitehouse a note thanking him for his courage in standing up to powerful polluters, his address is:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Hart Senate Office Building
Room 717
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-2921
Fax: 202-228-6362
(and by the way, today – October 20th – is his birthday, if you want to include that in your message!)

Hug A Climate Scientist Today!

Today is officially “Hug a Climate Scientist Day”, a reminder that climate scientists are our friends!  Don’t forget to do so, virtually, or in reality if you happen to have one as a neighbour or colleague.

For years climate scientists have been carrying a huge load for the rest of us, staring the climate crisis in the face day in and day out while the rest of us have been oblivious to the danger we are putting ourselves and our children into. Increasingly they are doing this while being attacked on many fronts. It’s not easy, I would imagine, to live with the stark reality of human-caused climate change day in and day out, especially if you are a climate scientist with children and grandchildren. But to add personal attacks, including death threats, to what a scientist has to put up with because of their career choice must be horrifying as well as being so, so discouraging.

On a lighter note, here’s one person’s take on the day from

Customers are asked to not squeeze the Climate Scientists.
Ripeness can be ascertained if the stem gives to gentle pressure.
Supplies have been affected by recent unseasonal weather patterns.

So,  to all the scientists out there working on this oh-so-important issue, thank you, thank you, thank you!  I only wish you could be paid an oil executive’s salary for all you do (and they could receive your’s – then we’d see how many of them complained that climate scientists are in it for the money!).  Consider yourselves hugged 350 times!

More links:

Australian National University Scientists Being Threatened For Researching Climate Science

Climate Change: The Basics of 350

From Hans Hansen, this explanation and video of the importance of 350 parts per million of C02:

What does the number 350 mean?

350 is the most important number in the world—it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.
Is 350 scientifically possible?

Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.
Is 350 politically possible?

It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, and shift the world to a clean energy future.


Climate Skeptics’ Slushy Thinking

A quick surf of the net shows that the climate contrarians and ranters are out in full force, shouting from the rooftops that snow storms are proof that global warming ain’t happenin’. Senator James Inhofe and his family even built an igloo during the recent winter storm in Washington D.C. which they dubbed “Al Gore’s house”, I guess to make the point that – hmm – what exactly?  Are they saying that Gore said global warming means it will never snow again? Instead, what Inhofe and friends’ stunts and rants  demonstrate is that it’s dangerous to listen to a nonexpert on an issue as important as this one (see my recent post, Would You Let a Climate Science Skeptic Perform Brain Surgery On You?).  As Grist recently reported, conservatives say stupid things about the snow and the media reports it.  Blogs say even stupider things about snow and climate. Here’s a few ripe ones hanging out on the blogosphere today:

I just wanted to post a quick reminder for the “climate change” crowd.  In the face of record-breaking snowfall, the Al Gore followers insist that man-made global warming is still occurring. They claim that these periods of cooling are just a part of the warming cycle.  That the “greenhouse gasses” needn’t always produce a greenhouse effect (Just like real greenhouses which occasionally serve as deep freezers.  Oh, wait that would be ridiculous).

( I guess by “periods of cooling” this blogger is referring to winter:)

Here’s another one that touts a frozen lake as proof that there is no climate change:

Global Warming Alert: Lake Erie Frozen Over First Time in 14 Years.

And how about this one:

It has long been my conviction that the Global Warming parade is a strong added factor for a minimalist world government, eventually to be controlled by Antichrist. It forces the governments of the world to cooperate on issues that has global reach, paving the way for a governmental system controlled by a few autocrats in a time preceding the return of Christ.

*heavy sigh* Makes me think of the quote from Albert Einstein (who, we now know, thanks to the climate skeptics, is not to be trusted because he was one of those money-grubbing scientists out to conquer the world):

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

As Jonathan Hiskes at recently wrote:

We can absolutely expect climate change to bring blizzards in places that don’t normally see a lot of blizzards, like Washington, D.C. We can also absolutely expect more snow shortages in places that normally receive a lot of snowfall, like Vancouver, British Columbia. Climatologists expect just this sort of “global weirding”: less predictable, more extreme, more damaging.

More on this topic at ‘Global Weirding’ Vs. Climate Skeptics’ ‘Slushy Thinking’ from Huffington

Enough blogging for now – I’m off to curl up with a cup of tea and “No-Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process” by Colin Beavan.  It’s an interesting, funny and well-written account of a New Yorker and his young family who attempt to live for a year with as little impact on the planet as possible.  Click here to visit Beavan’s blog, and here for his post “What I’d Say If I was Wrong About Climate Change”.