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Weasel Words For the 21st Century

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 13:18

Changes are overtaking us rapidly and the people we trust to safeguard us from the worst are not keeping up. The political growth industry of the moment is inventing words of self-absolution to cover almost any disaster contingency.

The hands-down favourite so far is "no one saw it coming." The variation is "no one could have seen it coming." Bush Jr. used it when America got rumbled by the 2008 Great Recession. Harper and Redford used it when downtown Calgary was turned into a marine park by torrential flooding in 2013.

These are weasel words, phrases intended to disguise the great lie. No one could see the 2008 meltdown coming? Nouriel Roubini clearly foresaw it. Paul Krugman did too. Just read his 2005 book "The Great Unraveling." Nobel laureate economist, Joe Stiglitz, saw it coming. They saw it and they were warning anybody willing to listen that it was coming, soon, and it was going to hit hard.

Here, "no one saw it coming" translates into "no one I was willing to listen to saw it coming" or "no one who embraces the same wobbly ideology I cling to saw it coming" or "no one wanted to see it coming and so we didn't look."

When Calgary was hit by the second "once in a century" flood in less than a decade, that too was foreseeable. Climate scientists had warned that we were going to experience severe storm events of increasing intensity, duration and frequency. They knew that climate change was increasing the content of water vapour in our clouds. They knew how the warming Arctic atmosphere was creating these Rossby Waves that plunged high into the north and then far into the south and would periodically simply stop moving which meant that a torrential rain storm could be parked over the same area for days on end.

But Harper is gone and so too is Bush. Today we have a new cast of characters but are they one bit better than the last bunch? Leave Trump out of it. We've got a new guy who now has a year in power under his belt, the namesake of one of the greatest political minds in our nation's history. What might we expect from him? Will he be just another "no one saw it coming" leader, another purveyor of the great weasel words?

In a word, "yes." Ignoring the warnings from the IMF and World Bank, Trudeau remains a globalism free trader, fang and claw. He clings to the neoliberal experiment that Milt Friedman, before his death, admitted was a failed ideology. He believes that Canada has a road to play in the world and it's a road paved with bitumen.

Trudeau had barely been sworn into office before scientists began to sound the alarm about a "climate emergency" underway in the Arctic. They revealed that, in the middle of the pitch-black Arctic winter, the region was experiencing a heat wave powerful enough to trigger cyclonic winds that thinned the Arctic sea ice by an astonishing 4 inches.

This prime minister watched as eastern Canada endured a summer of sustained drought that damaged agricultural production. Now, for the second consecutive year, the Arctic is experiencing a dark winter heat wave. Correct me if I'm wrong but I've not heard a word from Trudeau or his EnviroMin, Dame Cathy, about the climate emergency underway in the Arctic. Just yesterday we learned from the Arctic Resilience Report that conditions in the far north have brought us to the brink of triggering no fewer than 19 climate change "tipping points" which could send us on the path to catastrophic, runaway global warming.

So what's our government's response at this critical moment? In a picture, this:

Of course they'll tell us they couldn't see it coming. You can't see much of anything when your head is up your ass. Look at it this way. With a government like this, you're on your own. We all are.

Saturday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 12:16
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne comments on the importance of the labour movement in ensuring that economic growth translates into benefits for workers:
The findings of a study released this month by the Canadian Centre for Study of Living Standards, an Ottawa-based think-tank, reinforces why there is a “pervasive sense among Canadians” in the so-called middle class that they are not getting ahead.

And the data supports this stagnation of the middle.

The study notes that while Canadians are more productive than ever, those productivity gains are not being shared. Indeed, median real hourly earnings grew by a measly 0.09 per cent a year between 1976 and 2014, while labour productivity grew by 1.12 per cent a year.

Yet workers were promised they would share in those gains if they worked harder, worked longer, worked faster, worked leaner. And so they did that.
The study found the gap in earnings and productivity was because of three key factors: rising inequality (more share going to the top), the rising costs of consumer goods and a decline in workers’ share of the national income while the corporate or capital share is getting bigger and bigger.

The authors, economists James Uguccioni, Andrew Sharpe and Alexander Murray, note that “economic history and economic theory suggest that labour productivity growth should generate rising living standards for workers over time, so the gap between annual labour productivity growth and annual median wage growth is puzzling.”
The authors conclude: “the most plausible explanations for both the ‘hollowing out of the middle’ of the earnings distribution and the decline of labour’s share of income are globalization, technological change and institutional change.”

By institutional change they mean declining unionization. More and more economic research has been noting that the inability of workers to join unions, often because of regressive labour laws, is impacting not just how the economic pie gets shared, but economic growth and rising inequality.

A U.S. study by the Economic Policy Institute found that declining unionization resulted in lower wages for non-union workers. This isn’t a surprise, as unions often lift the floor for everyone.- R.A. Washington notes that laissez-faire economic theory tends to miss the mark in describing reality due to its hand-waving away the significance of the consent of the governed when neoliberal governments implement policies designed to serve the market rather than the citizenry. And Rupert Neate highlights the inevitable result of allowing the populist right to get the upper hand, as a U.S. election decided largely by working-class insecurity figures to only further benefit the extremely wealthy at everybody else's expense.

- Daniela Vincenti reports on a study showing how CETA's environmental provisions are utterly ineffective, while its impact on democratic governance could be massive.

- D.C. Fraser, Pamela Cowan and Erin Petrow report on Brad Wall's decision to make a bad economic situation worse by treating a deficit as an excuse to cut already-suffering core programs in health, education and social services. Ashley Martin writes about the latest study showing that a quarter of Saskatchewan children already live in party even before the Saskatchewan Party takes an axe to existing supports. And the CP and CBC both report on the alarming vacancies in social work positions in northern Saskatchewan.

- Finally, Jonathan Freedland wonders whether the rise of the extreme right can be traced in part to the centre-left showing undue respect across the spectrum which is never reciprocated.

THE PROBLEMS OF CARDING: Excising the Discriminatory Police Street Check Process

JOE FANTAUZZI Thoughts about power - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 12:03
Over at, I have posted an updated public policy analysis of the police practice of carding, also known as “street checks” that I did as part of my Master’s course load. The full paper can be found HERE. But here is the Executive Summary: This policy analysis paper examines three options to deal with the discriminatory […]

This May Sound Radical But There's Really No Other Choice

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 08:30

With backward thinking governments still in the neoliberal embrace of constantly growing GDP, a different vision, one based in reality, is beginning to take hold.

There's a new economic movement, "degrowth." From Deutsche Welle:

With the planet reaching its biophysical limits on what it can provide us, a growing number of economists and environmentalists say we need to switch focus from economic growth to human and ecological wellbeing.

...Currently, few question the pursuit of economic growth. From national economic policies to international programs for sustainable development, growth has typically been the goal.

But some economists now argue that on a planet with finite resources, we may have to stop growing in order to survive.

"More economic growth means more and material extracted out of nature, and more and waste after we use these materials," sais Giorgos Kallis, an ecological economist and editor of "Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era."

"With the current level of economic growth - and aspired levels of growth - there is no way to avoid dramatic and catastrophic change of the climate."

Here's what Justin Trudeau, and every prime minister, Liberal and Tory, going back at least to Brian Mulroney, refused to accept.
Man's resource footprint has outgrown the planet by a factor of 1.7 times and that's still growing. We are exhausting the Earth of the resources, renewable and non-, necessary for the continuation of life on our planet. We are now in what is called "overshoot."

This graphic illustrates our problem. Our consumption is already in overshoot well above the planet's carrying capacity which is, predictably, degrading. The evidence is manifest, everywhere. It is tangible, measurable, and it's even visible to the naked eye from the International Space Station. It takes many forms including deforestation and desertification (the exhaustion of farmland and its transformation into desert). It can be seen in dried up lakes and rivers that no longer run to the sea. It takes the form of algae blooms in our lakes and rivers and coastal oceanic dead zones. NASA's tandem Grace satellites reveal surface subsidence caused by our rapid depletion of our groundwater, our aquifers. We see it as our industrial fishing fleet collapses one fish stock after another. The examples go on and on and on.
We have embraced the delusion that our economy, nationally and globally, can exceed the bounds of our planetary ecosystem, our environment. Those who make the argument that intelligent life is self-extinguishing have proof aplenty in that.
Several years ago, renowned British scientist, James Lovelock, said that mankind's survival depended on accepting what he termed "sustainable retreat." But try telling your neighbour that the future of our grandkids and theirs hinges on our willingness to reduce our standard of living by 40 per cent, perhaps more.
The degrowth movement is welcome and long overdue but with our governments in the grip of magical thinking the odds against it are monumental.

Now There's a Snag. Trump May Have to Choose - His Real Estate Empire or the Presidency,

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 08:30
Festung Trump
They're a plainly bipartisan duo: the former chief ethics council to #43, George w. Bush, and the former chief ethics counsel to #44, Barack Obama. But they speak with one voice when it comes to Donald J. Trump.

The former ethics lawyers for president Barack Obama and George W Bush have asked the electoral college to not appoint Donald Trump as the next president due to his potential conflicts of interest.

Richard Painter, former chief ethics counsel for Mr Bush, and Norman Eisen, former chief ethics counsel for Mr Obama, said that the president-elect must sell out from his real estate and business holdings before 19 December, when the electoral college officially appoints the next president.

As reported by ThinkProgress, Mr Eisen pointed to Article 1, Section 9 of the US constitution which prohibits presidents from accepting "any present, emolument, office, or title, or any kind whatever, from any king, price, or foreign state".

The most recent up-and-running example of a Trump business is the new hotel in Washington DC, which hosted a group of 100 diplomats this month, providing food and a tour of the expensive suites.

"The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable," Mr Eisen said.

Mr Trump recently told the New York Times that he "could run [his] business perfectly, and then run the country perfectly". He added that the "law [was] totally on [his] side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest".

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe shared the view that Mr Trump must divest to prevent potential conflicts of interest.

Mr Trump has already asked favours from politicians to help his businesses profit, including UK politicians to scrap wind farm proposals which would block the sea views from his Aberdeenshire golf course.

He has also come under fire for allowing his daughter Ivanka to sit in on meetings with heads of state, including Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Justin Trudeau, the Cons, and the Trump Bump

Montreal Simon - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 06:17

With less than thirty shopping days to go before Christmas, I've been trying to ease myself into the spirit of the holiday season.

But let's face it, it's not easy.

Not with Donald Trump running wild in the United States.

Not with his malignant influence spreading into Canada.
Read more »

I'll Keep Posting These Kind Of Videos

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 06:00
.... whenever I find them.

Meanwhile, these letters from Star readers remind us that the threat of racism is never far from home. We must be constantly vigilant and ready to take action against it:
Re: Signs in Toronto urge white people to join ‘alt-right’.

Marilyn May is correct in asserting that these fringe racist groups are emboldened by the attention such beliefs have received in the press with the ascent of Donald Trump and right-wing xenophobia in the U.S.

Before we get too smug; we should reflect on the fanaticism displayed by our own Rob Ford and the so-called Ford Nation. While that issue was not racist, it was a reflection of the resentment of certain groups against what they considered the elites in downtown Toronto, or the fringes versus the centre.

There will always be tribalism amongst humans and, on a smaller scale, this gives a sense of belonging and coherence in many groups. When it becomes confrontational, it is dangerous and inimical to the public peace.

In times of rapid technological and social change, we experience high levels of personal and social stress, no matter how comfortable and safe we might be compared to our forefathers.

It is interesting to note that the support of radical Trumpism has a religious twist. Christians, in particular, feel threatened and scared by the apparent incursion of other, foreign faiths or from those who have no faith at all.

I’m not sure Jesus would have approved.

Sigmund Roseth, Mississauga

It comes as no surprise to me that Donald Trump’s victory has emboldened those who periodically pop their intellectual manhole covers and bring their hateful views to the light of day.

The only difference is they believe there is now a place for their unfortunate views and they choose to remain above ground a little longer and soak up some sun.

I, however, have a great deal of faith in my fellow Canadians and don’t believe there to be fertile soil for open displays of hate here. These misguided bigots will soon enough discover this and retreat their views from whence they came, replacing their manhole covers firmly.

David Ottenbrite, Mississauga

What a mournful state of affairs has gripped Toronto. Strange indeed that men in Toronto think that because Donald Trump loves to hurl racist slurs, it makes it legal for white men in our city to do the same.

The whole world will regret that such a man could ever be elected by any group of people. Shame on the U.S. voters

Joy Taylor, Scarborough

Not only should we heed columnist Desmond Cole’s advice not to be smug. Since the appearance of alt-right posters in east-end Toronto and other reported terrible incidents of racism, we should avoid complacency about such attitudes within our society. We must be vigilant, call out unacceptable behaviour and develop strong positive responses.

Paul A. Wilson, TorontoRecommend this Post

Calling The Kettle Black

Northern Reflections - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 05:31

We live in the Age of Misplaced Faith. A stunning example of what this means for ordinary people is CETA -- the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Murray Dobbin writes:

The federal government makes its own "reality" by crafting "facts" to fit its policy objectives -- no matter how outrageous they are when put to the test. Three numbers stand out in the talking points of federal governments under both Harper and Trudeau: that CETA will increase GDP by $12 billion, that it will create 80,000 jobs and that the newly created wealth will boost income by $1,000 per family.

But economist Jim Stanford debunked these numbers long ago -- pointing out in 2012 that the federal trade department simply took the $12-billion figure (itself a highly dubious figure) "[a]nd divided it by the number of families in Canada. That assumes that every additional dollar of GDP translates directly into family income. In fact, higher GDP never fully trickles down into income..." The money that does find its way into income goes mostly to the wealthy.

The $12-billion figure came from a study commissioned by Canada and carried out by three EU economists. Stanford pointed out that the model used made some outrageous assumptions:
"[c]onstant full employment (so no one can be unemployed due to imports), balanced trade (so a country's total output cannot be undermined by a trade deficit), no international capital flows (so companies cannot shift investment abroad), and no impact from fluctuating exchange rates."Stanford called the study "outrageous." He was being far too polite. It was outright fraud. Anyone paying even cursory attention to the Canadian economy knows that not one of these assumptions holds. We haven't had full employment for decades, we have been experiencing trade deficits for years, NAFTA resulted in the shifting of billions of investment dollars to Mexico and China, and our exchange rate has been all over the map.
A recent study from Tufts University took a long look at CETA and arrived at these conclusions:

  • "CETA will lead to a reduction of the labour income share. Competitive pressures exerted by CETA on firms and transferred onto workers will raise the share of national income accruing to capital and symmetrically reduce the share of national income accruing to labour. 
  • By 2023, workers will have foregone average annual earnings increases of €1776 in Canada and between €316 and €1331 in the EU depending on the country.
  • CETA will lead to net losses of government revenue. Competitive pressures exerted by CETA on governments by international investors and shrinking policy space for supporting domestic … production and investment will reduce government revenue and expenditure. 
  • CETA will lead to job losses. By 2023, about 230,000 jobs will be lost in CETA countries, 200,000 of them in the EU, and 80,000 more in the rest of the world [the study projects a loss of 23,000 Canadian jobs due to CETA in the first seven years].
  • CETA will lead to net losses in terms of GDP. [D]emand shortfalls nurtured by higher unemployment will also hurt productivity and cause cumulative losses amounting to 0.96 per cent of national income in Canada..."

Mr. Trudeau lambasted Mr. Harper for his misplaced faith. It was the pot calling the kettle black.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 19:37
Lange feat. Cate Kanell - Fireflies

In Berlin, There's This Sculpture...

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 14:20

It's aptly named "Politicians Discussing Global Warming."


Yeah, I'm diggin' it.

Birds of a Feather

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 14:05

Donald Trump and Viktor Orban - could this be America's next presidential bromance?

Hungary's prime minister said he'll no longer be considered a "black sheep" in the eyes of the US after speaking with Donald Trump, who has invited him to visit Washington.

In a phone conversation, the president-elect "made it clear he thinks highly of Hungary," Viktor Orban said in an interview published in the Vilaggazdasag business daily on Friday. President Barack Obama has shunned Orban during his two terms, having never held a bilateral meeting with the NATO ally leader and criticizing him for eroding democracy.

Trump "invited me to Washington, and I replied that it's been a while since I've been there, since they treated me like 'black sheep,' " Orban said in the interview, without specifying when the phone call happened. "He laughed and he said they treated him the same way."

In July, Orban became the first leader in Europe to publicly back Trump's presidential bid, arguing that under his leadership, the US wouldn't try to export democracy. The 53-year-old, three-term premier has clashed with the Obama administration and the European Union, who have censured him for having built what he's described as an "illiberal state" modeled on authoritarian regimes including Russia and Turkey.

Other Than Apocalypse, What's On the Horizon, Mr. Monbiot?

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 13:20

Thanks, George, but confirmation bias I can do without right now.

Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, wants you to think big, very big, about what is now on your plate no matter how much you may wish it wasn't. It's an entree he calls "The 13 impossible crises that humanity now faces."

He knows it's depressing reading and he feels very sorry for that but he wants us all to realize the magnitude of what we have to confront.

I haven't got the heart to summarize it here but I'll cherry pick a couple of bon mots a la George.

On the prospect that Marie Le Pen might win the next French election.

"If Le Pen wins, the permanent members of the UN security council will be represented by the following people: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Theresa May and Marine Le Pen. It would be a stretch to call that reassuring."
Oh, shit. Damn. Bugger that. 
How about this one. Just 60 harvests left - in case anyone's counting.
"According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, at current rates of soil loss we have 60 years of harvests left."
For what it's worth, there was plenty of research on this both before the UN FAO warning and there's been plenty of research confirming it since. Around the globe we're working our farmland to exhaustion, relying on ever increasing amounts of agri-chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides needed to produce "normal" crop yields. It's a candle ablaze brightly from both ends.
And, of course, there's the accelerating extinction event. No list would be complete without it.
"One of the peculiarities of this complex, multiheaded crisis is that there appears to be no “other side” on to which we might emerge. It is hard to imagine a realistic scenario in which governments lose the capacity for total surveillance and drone strikes; in which billionaires forget how to manipulate public opinion; in which a broken EU reconvenes; in which climate breakdown unhappens, species return from extinction and the soil comes back to the land. These are not momentary crises, but appear to presage permanent collapse."
But, wait, what am I thinking? This is Black Friday, there are deals to be had - everywhere - on everything. It's past time to get down to some serious online bargain hunting. Happy shopping everyone.

Focus on What Really Matters Most

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 12:44

Our government has many priorities. The prime minister has said that he wants to be known, first and foremost, as a free trader. He's all about increasing trade, maximizing growth in GDP.

Mr. Trudeau also says he wants real action on climate change. So far that's been stalled on vague statements about carbon pricing that have triggered strong push back from the fossil provinces - especially Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The prime minister is now expected to appease the petro-provinces by approving at least one pipeline to the Pacific, in all probability the Kinder Morgan project that will see an armada of heavily laden supertankers navigating through Vancouver's Coal Harbour and on through the province's southern coastal waters.

This government still has no means, no technical solution to a major dilbit spill in these challenging waters. Once the diluent separates out the remaining bitumen sludge sinks to the bottom at depths that are essentially unreachable. Perhaps hoping to cover its tracks in such a disastrous event, the Environment Minister has approved the chemical nightmare, Corexit, as an oil dispersant even though it merely causes spilled oil to sink, not disperse, which would help deliver its content of toxins, heavy metals, acids and carcinogens to the seabed that anchors the chain of marine life on the coast.

Trudeau knows there's no way to clean up a dilbit spill and yet he's ignoring that troubling fact - and the long term wellbeing of coastal British Columbians - to accede to his political imperative and appease the petro-province premiers.

Is that what really matters most to Canadians? Is exporting the costliest, highest-carbon synthetic petroleum what is best for us and our grandkids? Of course not. It is, however, what the prime minister's handlers see as most politically opportune. Liberal fortunes trump (and I use that word advisedly) the wellbeing of Canadians hands down.

Yet we hear nothing from this government, nary a word, about the "climate emergency" now spreading across the Arctic. The Stockholm Environment Institute, in conjunction with the Arctic Council and other scientific groups, today released a blunt warning in the form of the Arctic Resilience Report which concluded that we're at risk of triggering 19 "tipping points" that could greatly accelerate the onset of runaway global warming not merely in the Arctic but across the globe.

The tipping points are addressed in Chapter 3 beginning at page 64 of the 240-page report. Among other things it notes that all Arctic nations are vulnerable to at least 10 of the 19 identified tipping points while Canada, Russia and the US are exposed to 18.

Regime shifts in the Arctic encompass a broad range of dynamics that typically occur on a time scale of decades to centuries, and a spatial scale from local and landscape dynamics, to subcontinental ones, with consequences that may be felt globally. The rest of this section summarizes the most established regime shifts reviewed in the academic literature. Most (12 out of 16) are difficult to reverse or irreversible on a 100-year time scale. The evidence supporting the existence of these regime shifts comes primarily from contemporary observations, paleo-records and models (13 regime shifts); experimentation has only been possible on six. In fact, the scales at which these regime shifts dynamics occur, both in space and time, make experimentation a rare option. Hence, identifying the mechanism underlying some Arctic regime shifts is a challenging task that relies heavily on modelling and the synthesis of studies of long-term changes in the ecology, hydrology, geology and climate of the Arctic. Most of regime shifts identified occur in marine and polar systems; the others occur in tundra, temperate and boreal forests, and freshwater lakes and rivers.

The report itemizes each of the tipping points with an explanation of the individual regime, the consequences that flow from it and what, if anything, can still be done by way of response. The discussion explains that these regime changes are not linear, it's not a steady state progression, but are subject to abrupt and fairly dramatic change. It also shows how many of the 19 tipping points can combine to create a synergy that can evolve into a cascade effect.
It's a well written, balanced paper that's within the comprehension levels of non-science types like yours truly. It's a pretty easy read for a research report.
The Arctic Resilience Report is ultimately a warning that we don't have the luxury of time to respond to the irreversible changes now underway. Catastrophic runaway global warming could be a matter of years away. We must come to appreciate the speed of the changes underway, how we suddenly became confronted with 19 tipping points. Government institutions, it notes, are moribund and, as currently organized, incapable of keeping up with the pace of change. 
If there was ever a time to go on something akin to a war footing, this is it. This is what matters most to the future of our country, not bloody bitumen pipelines, not half-assed proposals about carbon pricing. It's time for Mr. Trudeau to focus on what really matters most to Canada, not what's best for his political fortunes.

For What It's Worth

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 09:17

Unfortunately, bias and prejudice are an ingrained part of human nature, and as much as we might wish to deny it, there are demons that reside in all of us. The only honest way to deal with them, in my view, is to admit to and confront them as the first steps in overcoming them.

Like many Canadians, I have long wanted to believe that we occupy a higher moral ground than, for example, the United States, when it comes to racial, ethnic and religious equality. Of course, both history and recent events, including what was covered in this podcast, show that to be but wishful thinking. The internment of Japanese-Canadians and Italian-Canadians during WW11 is a historical rebuke to such notions, but there are other, lesser-known blots on our collective conscience.

You may have heard that a Canadian banknote set to circulate in 2018 will feature the first woman who is not the Queen. While the top five finalists are all worthy choices, my preference is for this woman:

Most people have heard of Rosa Parks, but how many know about Viola Desmond?
A business woman and beautician, Desmond is best known for her stand against racism as a black woman in Nova Scotia. While attending a movie in 1946, Desmond daringly took a seat on the main floor of the theatre rather than the balcony — reserved for non-white customers — after being refused a floor seat by the cashier. She was convicted in court for her actions, but was posthumously granted a pardon in 2010.And this video conveys the situation she faced with such courage and conviction:

Historical injustices can never really be atoned for. However, they can be acknowledged and used to educate all of us, with the hope they they will never, ever happen again, however fond and unrealistic an aspiration that may be.
Recommend this Post

It's Pedal to the Metal for Arctic Climate Change

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 09:02

You wouldn't know it by the goingson in Ottawa or any provincial capital but, since October, climate scientists have been declaring an "emergency" in the Arctic.  The Liberal government apparently has too much on its plate including how to drive some damned pipeline across British Columbia.

Now those scientists are being a bit more blunt.

Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.

The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

The tipping points.
...the tipping points identified in the new report, published on Friday, include: growth in vegetation on tundra, which replaces reflective snow and ice with darker vegetation, thus absorbing more heat; higher releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the tundra as it warms; shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean, resulting in altered climate patterns as far away as Asia, where the monsoon could be effected; and the collapse of some key Arctic fisheries, with knock-on effects on ocean ecosystems around the globe.

...Scientists have speculated for some years that so-called feedback mechanisms – by which the warming of one area or type of landscape has knock-on effects for whole ecosystems – could suddenly take hold and change the dynamics of Arctic ice melting from a relatively slow to a fast-moving phenomenon with unpredictable and potentially irreversible consequences for global warming.

The good news is that, if there is any way to avert truly runaway climate change and if we really want to do that, we know where to start. The Potsdam Institute's Schellnhuber told us at last year's climate summit in Paris. It begins when the governments of the world trigger an "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry.

It's Later Than We Think

Northern Reflections - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 06:30

The news on climate change is not good -- and it's getting worse. The mainstream media are beginning to get the message. Ole Hendrickson writes:

The headline of a recent Washington Post article says "The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends." Scientists are stunned by the magnitude of this deviation from past climate norms, as warm air keeps flooding into the high Arctic. But don't be fooled into thinking this means a warm winter in Canada. Even as the Arctic Ocean stubbornly resists winter, extreme cold has prevailed over Siberia and could spread to North America. This represents an ever-more chaotic climate. 

Another example is a must-read New Yorker article entitled "Greenland is melting," by Elizabeth Kolbert, winner of the 2015 non-fiction Pulitzer Prize for The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Kolbert describes in great detail what scientists working in Greenland are witnessing: "The shrinking of the country's ice sheet is triggering feedback loops that accelerate the global crisis. The floodgates may already be open." 
We are rapidly approaching a worse case scenario:

How bad could it get? Scientists aren't talking about complete human extinction, are they?
Sorry, but they are indeed. This may be the first you've heard of "euxinia" (pronounced "yuke-zenia"), but basically, this involves a planet devoid of higher life forms that depend on oxygen, oceans choked with rotting organic matter and bacteria spewing out toxic hydrogen sulfide. This happened during past mass extinctions, notably the biggest of all at the end of the Permian Period, 252 million years ago.

One study published this year says "exacerbation of anoxic "dead" zones is already progressing in modern oceanic environments, and this is likely to increase…" Another study says "[g]lobal warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic." Authors of the latter study add that "[t]he end Permian holds an important lesson for humanity regarding the issue it faces today with greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change."
And Mr. Trump thinks it's all a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.


Pierre Poilievre and the Death of the Unfair Elections Act

Montreal Simon - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 04:27

In all the nightmare years of Harperland, it was one of the foulest bills the Con regime ever rammed through parliament.

Pierre Poilievre's Orwellian named Fair Elections Act, which he claimed would strengthen democracy. 

But was in fact a blatant attempt to strangle it by suppressing the vote.

So I'm glad to see that ghastly law is about to join Poilievre in the garbage can of history.
Read more »

On advance opportunities

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 11/24/2016 - 18:03
And now, time to give credit to the Saskatchewan Party where it's due.

Some people are justifiably anticipating that thanks to Donald Trump, self-dealing will be the word of the year to come.
@MikePMoffatt @nutgraf1 I'm waiting for the OED to make "self-dealing" Word of the Year for 2017.— Ian Gillespie (@IanRGillespie) November 24, 2016 But if the rest of the world isn't going to see that as an expected governing principle until 2017, then Fred Bradshaw, Brad Wall and company can take a bow for being well ahead of the curve.


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