Dear Mr. Harper

Canada’s Prime Minister Harper has been receiving messages about halting the expansion of the Alberta tar sands from far and wide this week.  First, it was the 400 Canadians who gathered on Parliament Hill this past Monday, 200 of whom put themselves on the line to get arrested, speaking out loudly and clearly for our children and grandchildren’s future.

On Thursday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu along with seven other Nobel Peace Laureates, wrote a letter to Harper calling on him to stop the tar sands expansion. On the same day, the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy, an arm’s-length government agency with nary a climate scientist among them, warned that Canadians face a high economic cost from the impact of a warming global climate, and the country should act quickly to reduce the financial price by investing in adaptation measures.

Also on Thursday, a group of Canadian researchers released a report which outlined a huge loss of ice in the Canadian Arctic this summer.

Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in newly published research.

The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say. 

Individually, these messages are loud and clear.  Together, they are impossible to ignore. The question remains: is Stephen Harper listening?

More links:

Media Release: Nobel Peace Laureates Call on Harper to Stop Tar Sands Expansion

Canadian Ice Shelves Breaking Up At Record Speed: Region lost almost half its ice shelves in last six years

Economic Cost of Climate Change Will Be High

NRTEE’s Report: Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change For Canada

Hundreds Gather on Parliament Hill to Say “No” To Tar Sands

Just Say No – It’s Time For Canada To Wean Itself Off Its Addiction to Tar Sands Crude

This hour protestors are gathering on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, to show their opposition to the Alberta tar sands, and specifically the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that could be built from Alberta across the U.S. to carry tar sands bitumen to Texas refineries.

I would dearly love to be there, but by the time this event was organized I was committed to helping with all-day events for Moving Planet day this past Saturday, and a sustainability workshop on Sunday. As I live a 5 1/2 hour drive from a direct Ottawa flight, and am a 24 hour drive away from Ottawa, I struggled with the decision about giving up my local commitment to building sustainability or traveling (and burning carbon) to make a very important national statement to our government and to other Canadians. In the end, a friend suggesting a low-carbon alternative. She couldn’t attend, either, but recruited a friend in Ottawa to go. As it turns out, a friend and fellow Citizens Climate Lobby member was in Ottawa visiting her daughter this weekend, and so we were able to negotiate extending her ticket so that she could attend today’s event, and represent both of us. It’s a creative and low-carbon solution, so thanks Kaaren for the idea, and thanks, Val for standing up for all of our children’s future on Parliament Hill today!

The event is being livestreamed here.

Meanwhile, here’s Robert Redford “Punching Back at Big Oil”

When you challenge Big Oil in Houston, you can bet the industry is going to punch back. So when I wrote in the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that we should say no to the Keystone XL pipeline, I wasn’t surprised when the project’s chief executive weighed in with a different view.

The corporate rejoinder, written by Alex Pourbaix, president for energy and oil pipelines for the TransCanada Corp., purported to cite “errors” in my oped. Let’s set the record straight, point by point.

First, the Keystone XL, as proposed, would run from Canada across the width of our country to Texas oil refineries and ports. It would carry diluted bitumen, a kind of crude oil, produced from the Alberta tar sands. On those points, we all agree.

I say this is a bad idea. It would put farmers, ranchers and croplands at risk across much of the Great Plains. It would feed our costly addiction to oil. And it would wed our future to the destructive production of tar sands crude. Click here to read the full article on RSN.org