Shell’s global advertising deal with LEGO is part of a carefully thought-out strategy by Shell to buy friends who can make its controversial Arctic drilling plans look acceptable and misleadingly associate it with positive values. LEGO is one of the most beloved and admired toy companies in the world, and Shell knows that this deal will not only increase profits, but also improve the reputation of a company known for recklessly threatening the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
As part of the co-promotion, LEGO has branded Shell’s logo on a special set of its toys. By placing its logo in the hands of millions of children, Shell is building brand loyalty with the next generation of consumers. Shell has launched an invasion of children’s playrooms in order to prop up its public image, while threatening the Arctic with a deadly oil spill. We can’t let Shell get away with it.
If we convince LEGO to cut ties with Shell, it will be a major blow to Shell’s strategy of using deals with popular brands to distract from its Arctic drilling. As millions stand up to expose Shell’s true face, it will become harder and harder for Shell to get the public support it needs to destroy the Arctic.
The U.S. National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its updated Arctic Report card earlier this week. Like many other recent reports about the condition of the north, the canary in climate change coal mine, the news is sobering; new records have been set for snow extent, sea ice extent and ice sheet surface melting. The report summarizes the findings in this unemotional and scientific way:
Multiple observations provide strong evidence of widespread, sustained change driving Arctic environmental system into new state.
Meanwhile in the rest of the world, the insanity continues. Luckily there are people like Marcy Shaffer over at Versus to parody our disconnect from reality, and help us laugh rather than run to the hills screaming (although I’m still keeping that option open for myself). In keeping with the season, here’s Oil To The World, which came to my attention via FireDogLake.com.
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.
There’s not much good news to write about today, as a bubble of cold air from the Arctic moves into central North America. Brace yourself for some record-breaking cold if you (like me) live in that region. But that’s not the worst of it by a long shot; unfortunately this could mean that warmer southern air will make its way to the Arctic, further accelerating record ice melts this year. As Bill McKibbon explained in The Arctic Ice Crisis published yesterday in Rolling Stone:
There’s no place on Earth that’s changing faster – and no place where that change matters more – than Greenland. Late last month, NASA reported that ice all across the vast glacial interior of the world’s largest island was melting – a “freak event” that hadn’t occurred for at least 150 years. The alarming discovery briefly focused the media’s attention on a place that rarely makes headlines. RAPID ICE MELT BAFFLES SCIENTISTS, The Wall Street Journal declared.
In fact, scientists weren’t baffled at all – a paper published just weeks before had predicted that an abrupt, islandwide melt was imminent. The rapid loss of ice is only the latest in a chain of events that have upended conventional understanding of how the Earth’s “cryosphere” – its frozen places – behave. Taken together, the events offer new insight into how fast the world’s seas are likely to rise as a result of global warming – and hence, the fate of major cities like New York and Miami and Mumbai. Click here to read the full article in Rolling Stone.
Under the heading of “cautious optimism” comes the news that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at a 20-year low. This is credited, in large part, because of the boom in fracking to access natural gas reserves:
In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.
Many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for “cautious optimism” about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that “ultimately people follow their wallets” on global warming. Click here to read full article.
Fracking extracts its own price on the environment and human health (just ask those folks in Montana whose tap water now can be lit on fire), so it seems like a dubious savior. And methane’s heat-trapping properties are exponentially higher than CO2’s, although it dissipates from the atmosphere much more quickly. So can we really count on natural gas to get us out of the fix we’re in?
On that note of caution, I’m moving into my weekend. I’m spending some time tomorrow at a local NDP riding association’s AGM, talking about climate change generally, and carbon fee and dividend specifically. Wish me luck, as I am neither an economist nor a politician!
Here in Canada, Newfoundland is still recovering from last week’s Hurricane Igor, which brought never-before-seen destruction to its Bonavista and Burin Peninsulas. Following that severe weather event, the central coast of British Columbia was hit with severe rains that have caused mudslides, cut off communities, and destroyed roads and bridges.
90-year-old Carrie Ricketts from Knight’s Cove Newfoundland said, after being stranded by Igor, that she’s never seen anything like this. Her daughter told CBC news:
“When I heard her voice cracking on the phone and she said to me, ‘Winnie if you saw the devastation, ah, you wouldn’t believe it.’ So, she is being shaken now to her roots.”
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Steven Waugh, Emergency Program Coordinator for the Central Coast Region, said:
“It was shocking, absolutely shocking, how much water has come down here in such a short period of time.”
This video from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sums up the global climate disruption that is going on right now:
We have to believe what we are witnessing with our own eyes — floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat. From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan, to soaring temperatures in the US and a deteriorating landscape in the High Arctic, our planet seems to be having a breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come but real signs of very troubling climate change already under way.
Please join with those of us that are taking action to protect our planet – it’s the only one we have. The movement is growing; just this week, over 100 people were arrested in front of the White House yesterday, after gathering to call on the Obama administration to abolish mountaintop removal mining. Among the people arrested is Dr. James Hansen, NASA scientist whose knowledge of the threat of climate change has prompted him to become an activist.
Need some ideas and inspiration? It’s not too late to get involved in the global 10/10/10 work party in your community. Go to 350.org for more on this amazing global movement.
Yesterday the documentary Arctic Re-Imagined aired on CBC Radio’s “The Current”. In it, journalist Chris Wodskou explores what it means for Canada to be an Arctic nation in a time of dramatic climate changes in the far north.
One of the voices featured in the half-hour documentary is that of Zacharias Kunuk, award-winning director whose films include Atarnarjuat: The Fast Runner. Kunuk was born in Kapuivik in Nunavut, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Here are some of his reflections, from Arctic Re-Imagined, on the changes that are happening in real-time for the Inuit who inhabit the far north:
“The ice used to be so thickin springtime when we were hunting for seals. Now, it’s like everything is a month early and a month later in fallbefore freeze-up.”
“We used to have a lot of multi-year ice. Now we only have first year ice; the heat – what we’re noticing – most of the hunters think it’s coming from the sea. What the elders are noticing the most is the sun doesn’t rise where it used to.”
This change in the appearance of the sun is an unexpected aspect of climate change. When air that is warmer than before blankets a still-cold landscape there are changes in the refraction of the sun’s rays, bending the sun’s light in different ways. Keep in mind that the high Arctic is plunged into darkness when the sun disappears in December and only starts to reappear weeks later in the middle of January. With only an hour or so of “day glow” each day, the Inuit are keenly appreciative and aware of the sun when it does appear.
“…In the second week of January the sun starts to arrive over the horizon . And the elders noticed, because they are always observing the environment, they’ve noticed that it had shifted to the right from where it used to rise. They are saying the sun is a lot higher in the summertime…”
“Even in the high Arctic one of the hunters was telling me in the 1950s they used to have one hour of day glow in the winter. Now they have two hours. So you think the world really tilted.”
“We still use the old techniques [of predicting weather], and add new ones. Climate change…well, you notice it. We have to adapt to it, have to change our routes, our travel routes.”
“We are already noticing this last summer due to climate change there’s more fresh water on top of the salt water. Because in the summertime when we shoot seals they float and we just pick them up. For the past two years, we’ve been noticing seals that we shoot have been sinking when they’re not supposed to…”
To listen to the entire documentary, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Listen to Part 3”. Click here for Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s message on 350.org, and here to read the Inuit Call to Global Leaders: Act Now on Climate Change (give the pdf a few minutes to load).
Click here for actions you can take to make a difference on climate change.