Obama Calls Out Climate Deniers, & Other Good News

It’s always enjoyable (and all too rare!) to share good news, and I’m pleased that there’s some to share on this, the last Friday in April:

  • The Ontario government under newly elected premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Wednesday that it will be partnering with the government of Manitoba and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to keep the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwestern Ontario open. The federal government of Stephen Harper made the controversial decision last year to withdraw funding and shutter the 40 year-old world-renowned freshwater research station. As the SaveELA website describes,

“Studies conducted at the ELA have provided sound scientific knowledge for the development of environmental policies both nationally and internationally. Some key areas of influence have been in understanding and managing algal blooms, acid rain, climate change, mercury pollution, greenhouse gas fluxes from hydroelectric reservoirs, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” 

I understand that ELA scientists were gearing up to study whether or not emissions from the Alberta tar sands reached beyond that province’s borders. While carefully worded, the press release from the Ontario government does seem to underscore the importance of science to their government, in contrast to the anti-science bent of the Harper Conservatives. It will be interesting (in an appalling way, I’m sure) to see the spin Greg Rickford, the increasing elusive CPC Member of Parliament for the region (and my own MP) puts on the whole ELA disaster when he attempts to run for re-election in 2015. Here’s part of what the Ontario Government press release said:

Experimental Lakes Area is a one-of-a-kind, freshwater research region in northwestern Ontario that attracts scientists from across Canada and around the world. 

The important science and research performed in this area informs our pollution reduction strategies, our understanding of climate change and how we can protect our lakes and rivers here in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.

Supporting science and research is part of the new Ontario government’s plan to build a fair, prosperous Ontario for the benefit of all. (Click here for full press release)

Kudos to Diane Orihel, who got the Save The ELA campaign off the ground last summer, and to Peter Kirby, the Kenora lawyer who has been working tirelessly to keep the momentum going when Diane pulled back to finish her studies. And of course Dr. David Schindler, the founder and former director of the ELA, has been a tireless and outspoken advocate for the ELA and against this reckless decision. A friend and fellow environmental activist wrote yesterday, “I’m in a bit of a shock because we actually succeeded” but it may still be too early to break out the champagne. As Dan Lett wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday, there are still stiff obstacles to overcome – mostly in Ottawa – before the ELA is secure. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Rickford in happier days, at funding announcement in 2009
MP Greg Rickford (centre) in happier days, at funding announcement in 2009


  • This news may fall under the category of “too little, too late” but it’s still progress; President Obama tweeted around pointed attack on the climate deniers in Congress. The link went to a page on his website headlined “Call out Climate Deniers in Congress”.  It reads:

The science on climate change is clear

But many members of Congress are in complete denial, and they’re standing in the way of progress.

We need to call them out.

Watch this embarrassing video – and join the fight to get serious on climate change:



Sweet!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Schindler’s Pissed, And Other News

I’m back in the saddle, after a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation, which included almost no access to the internet for two whole weeks. Four of us piled into a clean diesel VW Golf wagon and made the pilgrimage from our home in northwestern Ontario to the coast of Florida – 37 hours of driving – and then hopped on a short flight to the Bahamas where we spent a week in a two bedroom condo next to a gorgeous beach. So, not a zero-carbon holiday but as close as this Canadian looking for some southern sun could manage! Thanks to all of you who dropped into 350orbust while I was away, and especially those who took the time to comment despite the delay in my response.

After my self-imposed news blackout, it appears the world is still careening towards multi-faceted collapse, and the Canadian federal government under Stephen Harper continues on its dangerously regressive and parochial path. The banking crisis in Cyprus foreshadows the economic upheavals in store for the rest of us. On the bright side, spring is quickly approaching and the gardeners among us are gearing up for that busy and hopeful time of year. One of the first items on my agenda upon arriving home on Tuesday was to attend the meeting of our local foods initiative to discuss the establishment of two new community gardens in our municipality (this dynamic group was part of establishing the first, and very successful, one in our area last spring). So life is good, too.

Here are some of the headlines that grabbed my attention when I logged back on this week:

  • IMF, citing $1.9 Trillion in government subsidies, calls for an end to energy ‘mispricing’: Government subsidies of gasoline, electricity and other energy sources amount to about $1.9 trillion a year and should be ended or offset with taxes used to battle climate change and pay for social programs, the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday in a major foray into the global warming debate.From top energy users such as the United States and China to the poorest of the poor, the fund said countries should be more aggressive in developing energy tax and pricing policies that reflect the true cost of fossil fuel use, including such “externalities” as pollution and the steps needed to mitigate the effects of a warming climate.
  • Natural Disasters Cost Insurers $77 Billion in 2012:   A report by global re-insurers claims that 2012 was one of the most expensive years for insurers on record. Natural disasters specifically “large scale weather events” were to blame for the historically high numbers.
  • Canada Only UN Member to Pull Out of Droughts & Deserts ConventionThe federal cabinet last week ordered the unannounced withdrawal on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, ahead of a major scientific meeting on the convention next month in Germany.The abrupt move caught the UN secretariat that administers the convention off guard, which was informed through a telephone call from The Canadian Press.

And here’s a link to a radio interview earlier this week with world-renowned Canadian freshwater scientist Dr. David Schindler, founding director of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a world-class freshwater research facility that is being closed by the Harper government. It is 10 minutes well spent: CBC Radio: As It Happens. Schindler doesn’t mince his words with regards to the Harper government’s irresponsible approach to resource exploitation and the environment; “Schindler’s pissed”, as someone pithily tweeted. My favourite quote from the interview is: “…Some of the best previous Ministers of Fisheries we had were conservatives, people like John Fraser and Tom Siddon. But we don’t have people of that character running this government. And frankly I don’t call these people [in the Harper government] conservatives. They’re ideologues who can’t understand that the route of conservatives is to conserve…

David Schindler


Canada apparently can’t afford the two million dollars a year required to maintain the ELA, but we can afford to fork over $20 Million for two visiting Chinese pandas. And Mr. Harper can choose a photo-op with these same pandas, rather than meeting a group of First Nations youth who walked nearly a thousand miles through a harsh northern Quebec winter to reach Ottawa and send a message to the Canadian government, and other First Nations, that the time for unity and reconciliation is now.


graphic: Meanwhile In Canada Facebook page
graphic: Meanwhile In Canada Facebook page


I’ll wrap up with a video from comedian (and fellow Canadian) Jim Carrey that has got the NRA nutters and its Fox News friends (and fellow nutters) hot under the collar. Way to go, Mr. Carrey! Here’s a clip from the very funny – and bitingly satirical – video (to watch the whole thing go to FunnyOrDie.com):