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

Parliamentary Law Bars Harper From Re-Election: Canadian PM Found Guilty of a Culture of Abuse of Parliament

This just in from on our fossil-fuel lovin’ Prime Minister, who said prior to oil sands development, Alberta’s pristine boreal forest was an “unuseable mass of dirty sand”:

On Friday March 25, 2011 the Canadian House of Commons found Prime Minister Stephen Harper guilty of contempt of Parliament. According to parliamentary law, contempt of parliament is a federal crime. Being that Harper has been found guilty of a crime Harper is barred from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011.   No federal government or cabinet minister has ever been found in contempt before.

The vote by the Canadian House of Commons is very much the same as an impeachment of the president of the United States of America. In the US if a president or US lawmaker is impeached (a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity) that person is removed from office and cannot run for office again. Richard Nixon avoided a vote of impeachment by resigning as president. Harper was essentially impeached from the government of Canada for the federal crime of contempt of Parliament. As a direct result of the House of Commons vote the Harper government was dissolved.  As Stephen Harper was found guilty of unlawful activities he is no longer deemed fit to be the Prime Minister of Canada and an election was called to choose a new leader.

If Stephen Harper has been found guilty of the federal crime of contempt of Parliament why is he running again for the same office that he was removed from? Parliamentary law bars Harper from running again in the upcoming election. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, Parliament is empowered to determine the qualifications of members of the House of Commons. The present qualifications are outlined in the Canada Elections Act, which was passed in 2000. The acts bar individuals found guilty of election-related crimes and are prohibited from becoming members for five years (in some cases, seven years) after conviction. The House of Commons voted unanimously to judge Stephen Harper on election-related (parliament) crimes and declared Harper guilty of the charge of contempt of parliament. The House of Commons vote handed Harper a guilty conviction and as punishment for his crime his leadership was immediately stripped.

The prime minister of a minority government only holds his or her office as long as the “confidence of the house” is maintained. If members of the lower house lose faith in the leader for whatever reason, they can call a vote of no confidence and force the PM to resign. Such a vote of no confidence was made against Stephen Harper on Friday March 25, 2011. That vote not only declared that Stephen Harper no longer had the confidence of the house but the house also found Stephen Harper guilty of the serious offense of contempt of parliament. Contempt of Parliament is the crime of obstructing the parliament in the carrying out of its functions, or of hindering any Member of Parliament in the performance of his or her duties.

The highest duty of a Prime Minister of Parliament is to uphold the Constitution of Canada, which includes the rights and privileges of the House of Commons and the duties owed to the Queen’s representative in Canada. Stephen Harper keeps on failing in his duties on both counts as evidenced by 2 consecutive prorogation of Parliament. Stephen Harper forced the Queen’s representative to dissolve Parliament just so the Conservatives could avoid losing a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.

The first undemocratic shut down of Parliament by Stephen Harper was clearly to avoid the scrutiny of a House of Commons committee over the mounting evidence of willful complicity by the Harper government over the transfer of Afghan detainees to a substantial risk of torture. This is a war crime and one of the most serious allegations any government has faced in the history of Canada. Stephen Harper did everything possible to hide from a vote of confidence, and on Dec. 4, 2008 Stephen Harper unilaterally shut down Parliament. The Governor General had little option but to grant the undemocratic request to avoid a political crisis in Canada. It had put her into an untenable position.

There was no precedent in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world where a democratic parliament was shut down to hide from a vote of confidence. It opened the door for other abuses of the rights and privileges of the majority of Members of Parliament elected by Canadians. Harper has gone through that door again. This time the Governor General did not even merit a personal visit by Stephen Harper to be told to shut down Parliament until early March. Respect, even for the Queen’s representative, by Stephen Harper is in short supply.

This undemocratic criminal behavior by Stephen Harper is another piece of evidence of a major shift in Canadian constitutional democracy taking shape. First, there was the unconstitutional behavior of the Harper government to deny the committee uncensored documents despite a subpoena by the House of Commons. Secondly, there was the Harper-ordered boycott of the committee by the Conservative MPs at the committee. Thirdly, we saw the forced adjournment of the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry of the Stephen Harper’s complicity in torture and the Stephen Harper firing of its chief investigator, Peter Tinsley. This commission, a quasi-judicial tribunal has been stymied in its attempt to determine the truth over the detainee transfer issue.  Finally, there was the unprecedented attempts by Stephen Harper to slander Richard Colvin, a senior Canadian diplomat who was a key witness in the Canadian Afghan detainee issue, for just doing his job of speaking truth to power and then accusing anybody who supports him of either being Taliban dupes or undermining our brave Canadian military heroes.

These are serious examples of abuse of executive power over Parliament, the Governor General, the public service and ultimately the Canadian voters who elected MPs to make Parliament work. There is only one person who is responsible for and has been found guilty of such abuse of power, for such disdain towards the authority of the people’s parliament, for such disrespect towards the Canadian people and for total disregard for the rule of law. His name is Stephen Harper.


More links:


Copenhagen Spoof Shames Canada; Climate Debt No Joke

PM Harper on Alberta’s Pristine Boreal Forest: An “Unuseable Mass of Dirty Sand” Prior to Tar Sands Development

The picture below is what, last Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called “nature’s biggest unusable oil spill”:

Photo: Warren Cariou, Land of Oil and Water

Unlike our Prime Minister, the First Nations who call Northern Alberta home don’t think of this land of muskeg and forest as an oil spill. They call it home, home for them and for the animals and plants that live there and have provided sustenance for them since time before memory.

Harper’s comment is illustrative of the kind of thinking that has got us to the brink of environmental collapse, with global climate destabilization a reality and ocean acidification poised to destroy marine biodiversity. Wendell Berry, American farmer and poet, argues that wherever we are living, we are in trouble because of a “land-destroying economy” that pursues “production-by-exhaustion”. Mountain-top removal to mine coal is one clear example of this, but extraction of oil in the tar sands is another one. Berry recently addressed a gathering at the Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas:

Extracting fossil fuels from the ground is dangerous, and so is the way those fuels are used to work the ground in farming.

The mining of the forests and soil, along with the extraction of fossil fuels, may have started innocently, but since the European conquest of the Americas, “It took us only a little more than 200 years to pass from intentions sometimes approximately good to this horrible result, in which our education, our religion, our politics, and our daily lives all are implicated,” Berry tells the packed house in The Land’s barn.

Alberta tar sands. Photo: David Dodge, Pembina Institute

If we continue to be led by politicians who view the world around us as an untapped resource waiting to be exploited, we are doomed. Berry condemns Harper and his ilk for putting us into the situation we are in, but he also says that because of the “carelessness of our economic life” we all play a part in the destruction of our ecosystem. The solution, Berry says, is for us to learn to do better:

“We can learn where we are, we can look around us and see,” he suggests. We also can rely on land health, “the capacity of the land for self-renewal,” and work at conservation, “our effort to understand and preserve that capacity.”

It won’t be the politicians that push for the paradigm shift that is required. While it’s tempting to get a bumper sticker that says “Ditch Harper. Save the Planet, the reality is more complicated; it turns out, it’s up to us to change ourselves and then work to change the world:

Berry doesn’t look to educational, political, or corporate institutions for much help in those efforts, suggesting that we instead look to “leadership from the bottom” that can be provided by groups and individuals “who without official permission or support or knowledge are seeing what needs to be done and doing it.”

As was demonstrated by the Global Work Parties held this past weekend, it’s up to us, you and me and the millions around the world who recognize what destruction we have wrought, to change what  “business as usual”  means. I’m rolling up my sleeves – how about you?

More links:

Harper Taken to Task Over Oil Sands Views

Soil and Souls: The Promise of the Land

Oil Sands

The Land Institute

Land of Oil and Water: Aboriginal Voices on Life in the Oil Sands

President Obama: “We Can’t Afford Not To Change How We Produce And Use Energy”

In his first address to Americans from the Oval Office, last night Barack Obama discussed the BP catastrophe in the Gulf, promising that BP would pay for their “recklessness”, and then he went on to say that the time to embrace clean energy is now:

So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that, no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk.

After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean: because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires.

Time and again, the path forward has been blocked, not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean-energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean-energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time. But over the last year- and-a-half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jump-start the clean-energy industry.

It’s a hopeful sign, and could signal stronger leadership from the White House on clean energy. Obama, after all, is a father to two young daughters who are going to have to live with the consequences of his leadership, or lack of it, on this issue. What is certain, though, is that Obama can’t do it without the support of the majority of Americans – and Republicans are already massing on the side of Big Oil – so hopefully there will be a groundswell of support for the President that can’t be ignored. I, for one, will be watching with great interest from north of the border, as this unfolds over the next months.  Could the Gulf disaster be the tipping point that finally gets North Americans to kick our fossil fuel habit? And does this mean that Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is going to start talking about weaning Canadians off our addiction, including shutting down the tar sands? After all, for months, he and his Environment Minister Jim Prentice have been repeating that they can’t formulate their own policy, they have to wait and take the lead from the Americans.  It looks like President Obama is leading, Mr. Harper. The question is, are you going to follow?

More Links:

For the full text of President Obama’s speech, click here. For video, click here.

For analysis, go to “A Clean Energy Future is Now: But Mr. President, How Do We Get There?” on The Huffington Post.

Disappointingly, from my perspective as a Canadian, the coverage of the speech on the CBC website focuses almost exclusively on his remarks on BP and the Gulf, which was the first half of the speech, without mentioning the last half of his speech, which was all about transitioning to clean energy (click here to check for yourself).

The Globe and Mail does cover the speech in more depth, although you wouldn’t know it from the headline. Click here to read “Obama Lashes Out At BP in Oval Office Address”.  And the headline in the Toronto Star read “Barack Obama Calls Gulf Clean-up a ‘National Mission’ ” (click here to read article).

And, via the FB group 1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling, a request to add your votes to their clean energy questions for the White House’s Press Secretary tonight. “Its a long-shot, but please add your quick votes if you haven’t yet (it’s as easy as clicking the green thumbs). We’re close to the top of the list. Click here to do just that.

Congratulations Prime Minister Harper

Hinson Calabrese from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, the creative genius behind the  “Hi PM” blog, is back after an absence of several months. Welcome back, Hinson!  Here’s his latest blog post, a video recording a call to Prime Minister Harper after Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act, was passed in the House of Commons this week:


If you have time, click here to visit HiPM and watch more Hinson’s videos.