Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, U.S. Republicans Step Back In Time

With the announcement yesterday of a new carbon tax proposal, Australia is set to become the world leader on addressing climate change. Right now, Australia leads the world in per-capita carbon pollution. The carbon tax, which has been described as “modest, riddled with exclusions, bribing voters and corporations“, is still the best national carbon plan in the world. It is expected to pass in both houses of parliament before the end of the year, but the Conservative opposition and the Australian coal industry seem determined to whip up public sentiment against the carbon tax (remember, Australia is where climate scientists have been receiving death threats and über-denier Monckton is invited back regularly ). Right now, polls indicate 60% of the population is opposed to carbon pricing, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government is the most unpopular in 40 years. A lot is riding on the government’s ability to convince voters that it’s time to tackle climate change.

In the meantime, closer to home, U.S. Republicans, bowing to their tea party members, are set today to repeal legislation that promotes energy-efficient light bulbs, one that was signed into law by none other than President George W. Bush and is now embraced by industry. Sounds like the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Washington these days!

More Links:

Australia Carbon Tax Modest Beginning

Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, Unveils Sweeping Carbon Plan

Climate Scientists Angered By Denier’s Death Threat Campaign

Republicans Defend “Personal Liberty” in Fight To Ban Energy-Saving Lightbulbs

Carbon Fee and Dividend: Building a Green Economy

The Reality of Life in Iraq: Where Does Sustainability Fit In?

Today’s posting is inspired by, and dedicated to, my amazing friend Kathy who is in Northern Iraq for 3 months as part of a Christian Peacemaker Team. Kathy responded to yesterday’s posting about bottled water by relating the reality she sees around her. Bottled water is sold everywhere – restaurants, public squares, corner stores. Kathy has given me permission to share her reflections:

It creates a real quandary within myself when I read articles from your blog and then see the reality of life here. It seems that everything that I can do in Canada and that Canada is doing re: the environment (and I know that is not perfect), is non-existent here. Water is bought from small shops in 5 gallon bottles. Those, I believe are refilled. But the rubbish is full of the small 500 ml bottles. This is what you are automatically given in the restaurants, in the shops, young boys and men are selling them in the main square where the demonstrations are taking place. I asked about the safety of the tap water. Apparently here in the city is does not usually have trouble with bacteria, but there are a lot of heavy metals from the war in the water, so long-term ramifications would not be good.

When you buy things from the shops on the street you are automatically given at least two plastic bags. I have made a tiny inroad in convincing the nearest veg salesperson  to accept my eccentricities and let me fill my reusable net veg bags and then use my own reusable bag. He is young, the older man looks at me like I am from outer space (and maybe I am).

Then there is the rubbish. There is no system for recycling, reusing or composting (the latter maybe in the rural, farm  areas – I don’t know). I have seen the dumps and the rubbish is dumped and burned. People do use buses quite a bit and the buses do not move until they are full. Taxis are used quite a bit too, but there are a lot of private vehicles too.

Kathy then poses a very important question, “Are the ‘3Rs’ just a western, elite thing– for those with the resources to concentrate on it?”

I can’t answer Kathy’s question without bringing my own North American background/bias into my response.  I do know that the average North American’s footprint on the earth is much larger than the average Iraqi’s, so it behooves us to do as much as we can to become better stewards of the world’s resources. And, as my husband reflected, the way to address issues of sustainability in developing countries is to make connections between renewable energy/recycling/composting, etc, and improved living conditions.  There are countless examples of how this might be done. For example, with solar panels that bring electricity to people who don’t have access to the grid, and solar cookers that provide an excellent, non polluting cooking source to improve the life of people who are running out of traditional sources of heat(check out the video below for more on this).

For an Iraqi perspective, here’s a September, 2010, posting from,  by Ali Falkhry from IndyACT, who wrote about the organizing efforts in Iraq:

In a country where people risk life and limb (literally) every second by just walking through the neighborhood you find dedicated activists that are ready to risk everything to raise the awareness and get to work against climate change and to brand a new era of a newly born Iraq.

Hiba, Hala, Mais, Hazem, Lina, Ali and Ashraf, 350 leaders in Iraq, are already rocking the city, promoting for solar panels at the University of Babel Iraq and planting trees near the industrial zones and conducting environmental awareness sessions to convince locals, industries and government to adapt for a renewable energy.

This group is working on their plans for 10/10/10 and preparing for something big. Stay tuned…

The picture below was taken on the International Day of Action on Climate Change in October, 2009. Jamie Henn, of the Youth Climate Coalition, had this to say about the young Iraqi woman, Ola, and her participation in that event:

Perhaps my favorite photos from October 24 is from one of our smallest events. It’s a picture of a young woman in Iraq, who wanted to take part in the international day of action. When she invited her friends to join her in a public event, they told her she was crazy, that it was too dangerous. Yet, she didn’t back down. And on the morning of October 24, she picked up a home made banner, went through the multiple American military check points that separated her from the historic gate of Babylon where she wanted to take a photo, got a brave friend to snap a picture, and emailed it in to our website.  That’s a big action that took big bravery, and for me, it’s a big inspiration for the year ahead.


Ola in Iraq

And here’s a video about a stove powered by the sun that is making a big difference in impoverished countries (via


More links:

Our Collective

Update from Iraq.

Kathy blogs about her experience in Iraq on her blog: Go In Peace, Not To Pieces

Be Part of the Solution – Join the Global Work Party on 10/10/10

The world is gearing up for the Global Work Party on 10/10/10. Here in Canada October 10 falls on Thanksgiving weekend, which is a busy one for many of us. The Green Committee in my community has signed on to the 10/10/10 initiative and broadened it into an “Earth Action Month”. Local schools have been invited to take up the challenge, and will be awarded a $100 prize at the end of the month for participating. In our household, we are working on installing our 7kW set of solar roof panels during the month of October (see update at below), and when they are up we will celebrate by throwing a party.

In the spirit of 10/10/10, a local business in my community of Red Lake has launched an initiative that asks people to share one strategy that they would like to commit to, to reduce their carbon footprint. The goal is to collect 350 local commitments/ initiatives. The business owner, Donna Christofferson, runs Junk ‘n Java, second-hand store that also offers fair trade organic coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate, local eggs, and environmental inspiration. Donna wants the “350 Low Carbon Ideas” to celebrate solutions to the problem of climate change, as well as to inspire change. She plans on sharing with the ideas by posting them in her store, on her Facebook page, and in the local newspaper. As Donna says,

“By sharing our commitments to tackling climate change, we can help each other follow through with our commitments/initiatives.”

Everyone is invited to do celebrate climate solutions by submiting their ideas to Donna by email at:

or go to the Junk ‘n Java Facebook page and send her a message.

Also, on Saturday, October 9th, Junk n Java will have samples of local food recipes to celebrate 10/10/10. Stop by, have a snack, share your idea with Donna and pick up some new ones. You are all invited to be part of a movement – join the growing momentum – it’s time to tackle climate change!

Just a quick update on our family’s participation in the Global Work Party on 10/10/10, our solar panel installation. Up to now, it’s involved a huge amount of legwork and preparation – permits, phone calls, inspections, as well as reading on-line pdf installation  instructions. It seemed like my husband had done all the prep work and was ready to complete the installation, but the project has just hit another snag. The Hydro One Electrical Safety Authority (E.S.A.) electrical inspector emailed Mark last week asking for a photo of the Canadian certification sticker which the supplier had assured us would be on each of the panels. It turns out they are NOT there! At this point, we’re not sure if this can be dealt with relatively easily or whether our plans for putting the panels up in the next 2 weeks are wrecked. Several emails have been exchanged with the company we bought the solar panels from in Southern Ontario, but there has been no resolution of this problem at this time. When there is, I will share it. Keep your fingers crossed for a quick and easy fix – the weather forecast for this week is good, and Mark has taken time off work to finish this project.

Surprising Revelation – Glenn Beck, Climate Change Prophet!

From Applesauce vs. Climate Change: which is more dangerous?

In 2009 Glenn Beck made some bold predictions about the future of our planet and in August 2010 THEY CAME TRUE!


More links:

Click here to find TruthFool on Facebook

Celebrating Summer’s Bounty As Autumn Arrives

Autumn has arrived, and with it the anticipation of new beginnings as well as the bittersweet endings that it symbolizes. No more swimming in the lake, or fresh lettuce from the garden for us. Our rush of summer visitors will slow down to a trickle. This September my husband and I have become empty nesters, as both of our daughters leave for university. Our oldest is a 5 1/2 hour drive away, but the youngest is four provinces away. It is a time to be proud of them as they move on to new life experiences and challenges but also a time to adjust to a house devoid of their laughter, their music-making, and even their arguing.

Being a climate activist doesn’t mean that I don’t take time to enjoy life. It’s the fact that life is so rich and beautiful that spurs me on to work for a world to pass on to my children, and all children, a world that isn’t so tainted by our reckless burning of fossil fuels. I want their world to be as beautiful and amazing as my world has been for me. Part of becoming aware of how humans are impacting the climate for our family has been becoming more aware of how far our food has traveled to get to our plate. We are eating more locally grown and less processed food along with little or no meat.

Part of enjoying summer in our house is gathering, eating, and preserving berries. This summer I got my hands on organic, semi-local strawberries in July, and I picked wild blueberries in August. One day, I made strawberry rhubarb jam and my daughter Kate baked her first loaf of bread. Here are some pictures that preserve our activities that day, as well as a sample of the great northern Ontario blueberries we love. I’ve included the bread recipe that was passed on to Kate by her father. Enjoy!

Mark’s Honey Wheat Bread Recipe:

12 – 13 oz. warm water

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T vegetable oil

2 T honey

2 cups white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

5 tsp quick-rise yeast

1 tsp lemon juice (don’t forget – this helps it rise)

Dissolve the honey in the warm water. Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix together using Kitchen Aid mixer (or equivalent). Mix until dough forms a cohesive ball.

Then, sprinkle flour on the counter. Knead the bread for approximately 5 minutes.

Clean and grease the mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Let rise in a warm place for 45 min – 1 hr.

Once risen, knead down again in a bowl briefly, then shape into a loaf and place in bread pan. Let rise in warm place for 30 minutes. Cook in 350 degree oven for ~30 minutes. Remove and let cool before slicing.

Optional: Mark often adds 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds and  another 1/4 cup of poppy seeds to the bread.

Bjorn Lomborg Joins Growing Group of High Profile Former Skeptics

I’m on a cross-Canada road trip these days, so don’t have much time to spend on my blog. Bjorn Lomborg’s u-turn on climate change is significant enough, though, to merit an on-the-fly posting:

From The Guardian last Monday, the headline:

Bjørn Lomborg: the dissenting climate change voice who changed his tune: With his new book, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg has become an unlikely advocate for huge investment in fighting global warming. But his answers are unlikely to satisfy all climate change campaigners.

The article goes on to describe how Lomborg, in his new book Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits, states that climate change must be addressed now (Lomborg has written in the past that climate change is a problem but not one that should be a top priority for governments). Now, Lomborg has changed his tune enough to say that “man-made global warming exists” and “we have long moved on from any mainstream disagreements about the science of climate change.” This last statement is particularly interesting because Lomborg has often been quoted by anti-science climate deniers in their arguments against the reality of climate change.

Climate Progress has an interesting and in-depth analysis of Lomborg’s shift in position, and Joe Romm isn’t convinced that Lomborg is anything but an opportunist who has only changed his position slightly. The substance of Lomborg’s argument remains the same, Romm argues, and quotes Howard Friel, author of The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight on Global Warming, who wrote recently on Common Dreams:

While spanning the globe for “smart solutions” to climate change and to improve the human condition, Lomborg ignores an obvious major source of human suffering, economic deprivation, human rights violations, and vast amounts of wasted money-that is, perpetual war and global military spending-which now totals approximately $1.5 trillion per year. While Lomborg argues on cost-benefit grounds, by citing a select group of climate economists, that it is too expensive for the world’s economies to reduce CO2 emissions, he voices no opposition to the state of perpetual global war and sky-high military expenditures.

Lomborg is not a responsible climate commentator, and it would be good if responsible news organizations finally figured that out.

It seems it is still good to be skeptical of the “Skeptical Environmentalist”, as Lomborg titled one of his books. Having said that, The Week published an interesting articled on the heels of Lomborg’s apparent change of heart entitled 6 Global Warming Skeptics who changed their minds. Here’s an excerpt:

With 2010 shaping up as the warmest year on record and unprecedented heat waves gripping the planet, global warming skeptics have suffered another blow with the defection of the “most high-profile” member of their camp, author Bjorn Lomborg. But Lomborg isn’t the first doubter to accept the scientific consensus that human carbon emissions are warming the planet and need to be curtailed.

The article goes on to list 5 other high-profile skeptics of anthropogenic global warming, including Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Click here to read the full article.

More links:

Green Groups Cautiously Welcome Bjorn Lomborg’s Call for $100bn Climate Fund

The Lomborg Deception: About Yesterday’s Front-Page Story in the Guardian

Devastation in Pakistan is Unimaginable – But You and I Can Make A Difference

U.S. Senator John Kerry has just returned from a trip to flooded Pakistan, and is shaken by what he saw. This is an excerpt from a posting on his Facebook wall:

I just got home to Massachusetts from seeing the floods in Pakistan — and what I saw there was as devastating and gripping as the last humanitarian crisis I emailed you about. Even as I sit here I’m shaken by the fact that this is Pakistan’s Katrina.

It’s not just that one fifth of the country – an area larger than all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Maryland combined – is submerged under historic flooding, or that with weeks left in the monsoon season, it could get even worse.

None of that captures what I saw and heard when our helicopter touched down. I went to Multan in the Punjab plains. This is no isolated hamlet, but an ancient city, a district capital with a population of over 1.5 million. And it’s inundated with water.

I spoke to the people, heard their stories, their desperation for food and water. They talked of the joy when they saw American Chinook helicopters – distinctive for their two big rotors – because they knew help was arriving. But the scale of the disaster hit me as I flew over the city and surrounding valley, mile after mile of Punjabi plains turned into a massive lake, this large city covered in water. Roads were washed out, vehicles abandoned, tall buildings turned into places of desperate refuge. Any flat surface high enough to escape the waters became a life-raft, often packed with people willing to bake in the hot sun rather than face the barrier of the flood-waters. The scene stretched on and on.

You can get a look at some of this – just get a small sense of it – watching this NBC News piece.

Senator Kerry goes on to encourage generosity in response to this disaster. I’ve posted some links on the bottom that enable you to do this, and if you are Canadian keep in mind our federal government is matching donations to Pakistan relief dollar for dollar. But please consider doing more than donating  money; talk about the link between climate change and extreme weather events like this one with your friends and family. Lower your own carbon footprint, then join together with other members of your community to lower its carbon footprint. We are all in this together!

Donation links:



More links:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Pakistan: Living on the Edge

Waterborne Disease a Threat To Pakistan’s Children

What Will It Take For Us To Live Like “There is no Planet B”?

These stories jumped out at me this week, as clear evidence that we are soon going to “hit the wall” as our consumer-driven, “the economy is what counts, all the rest is noise” ways push our planet to the limit, and beyond. What will it take for us to realize that as our water, air, and land goes, so go we? We aren’t viable if we have to breathe and eat toxins, our lands aren’t arable, and our oceans are so acidified from absorbing our carbon dioxide emissions that mass extinction of marine life happens.

Here are some of the stories that drove this point home to me this week:

Weather-related disasters are here to stay, say scientists:

Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat.

From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan, a sweltering southern Ontario and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.

The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says — although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming. The experts now see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They’ll discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under United Nations, U.S. and British government sponsorship.

“There is no time to waste,” because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott… Read the full article on the Weather 360 blog at The

‘Global Weirding’: Extreme Climate Events Dominate The Summer:

A heatwave in Russia is sparking wildfires that are driving residents from Moscow and devastating the country’s wheat crop. A fifth of Pakistan is underwater and millions are deluged by floods in Asia. Another heatwave is torturing Mexico and the East Coast of the United States. An incomprehensibly large chunk of ice has broken off a glacier in Greenland, the most significant climate event there in 50 years.

Most scientists caution that no single event can be tied specifically to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But climate-change deniers quickly point to the first snowfall in winter as evidence against global warming. If that’s the standard, the extreme climate events all across the globe must say something about whether climate change is already upon us. Indeed, the regularity of the events is beginning to undermine the descriptor “extreme”. Extreme is the new normal…Read the full article on The Huffington Post.

Jersey Shore: Dead Fish Wash Ashore in Thousands For Second Time This Week On East Coast:

NBC Philadelphia reports that tens of thousands of dead menhaden fish washed ashore Wednesday on a New Jersey beach along Delaware Bay.

The incident is strikingly similar to an occurrence from Monday, when thousands of dead menhaden also washed ashore over 200 miles away in Fairhaven, MA…To read the full article, go to The Huffington Post.

And, by Marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor Rikki Ott:  Seafood Safety and Politics Don’t Mix: Opening of Gulf Fisheries At Odds with Evidence of Harm

I have been in the Gulf since May 3 and have witnessed the outbreak of a public-health epidemic as the oil and dispersant came ashore. Every day now, former workers, Gulf coast residents, and visitors share similar stories with me of respiratory problems, central nervous system problems, chemical sensitivities, or bad skin rashes after exposure to air or water in the Gulf — predictable illnesses from chemical exposure, all of which were avoidable given adequate warning and protection.

Stories of illnesses persist despite assurances from four federal agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the U.S. Coast Guard — that no levels of oil or dispersant measured in Gulf water or air were found to be unsafe.

I try to focus on the positive things that each of us can do to make the planet a better, not a worse, place for the next generation, so I apologize if you are feeling overwhelmed or despairing.  Each of us can make a difference – but we do need to acknowledge how bad things have gotten so that a sense of urgency accompanies our actions. See Bill McKibbon’s latest post, We’re Hot As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take It Any More. Remember Joe Romm’s words: “Get informed, get outraged, and then get politically active.”  If you need ideas, head over to and sign up to join or organize a work party on 10/10/10 – be part of the global “get to work on climate change” party.

Global Warming: When You Feel It, It’s Already Too Late


More links:

We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change” NYTimes.February 27,2010

Connect the Dots: Oil Disaster in the Gulf and Record-Smashing Floods in Tennessee

Pakistan Floods Kill More Than 800

I am away this week on a low-carbon canoe trip in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. Enjoy the video!