Tag Archives: Atmosphere

COP 15, Dr. Suess Style

23 Dec

A very interesting reflection on what happened in Copenhagen. Check it out! You will laugh and cry…

Dr. Seuss\’s Copenhagen by Marcus Brigstocke


Is China doing enough?

8 Dec

As I’m sure all of you are well aware, China is a major greenhouse gas emitter. China and the US combined account for 40% of all world emissions related to energy. Acknowledging this, the Chinese Government have done a number of things. They’ve set a carbon intensity target of 40-45% by 2020. With this target, China is leading all developing countries in terms of having the highest carbon intensity target. China has also committed to introducing low carbon transportation options including a commitment to produce  10 million tonnes of non grain bioethanol by 2020. Accounting for 50% of all world buildings, China has embraced the opportunity to build and renovate buildings to be more energy efficient and sustainable. In addition, China has been researching carbon capture and sequestration and renewable energy technologies. Despite this great effort, it comes down to the fact that China’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising and this will impact climate change. China argues that they are developing more efficiently than other countries have. More specifically, from 2002-2005, China’s GDP has risen 6 times while energy use has risen 2 times. My question to you is…

As China industrialises, is it good enough to not be as bad as developed countries were when they industrialised?

Harper Plans to Attend COP15

26 Nov

All along Stephen Harper has said he has no plans to attend this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. Instead, Environment Minister Jim Prentice would represent Canada in Copenhagen. Suddenly, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, two leaders who until recently weren’t planning on attending, will be in Copenhagen to represent their Nations. Under this new pressure, Stephen Harper, thankfully, has decided to grace COP15 with his pressence. I could take this opportunity to demonstrate how yet again Canada has opted to follow in the footsteps of the US as opposed to being a World Leader on its own. However, I am so happy that Stephen Harper has realised how important his being in Copenhagen is, I will drop it. Thank you Stephen Harper! I will see you in Copenhagen.


Children of Children

23 Nov

The thought of climate change creating havoc, leaving an unbalanced ecosystem, and perhaps at some point in time, one last remaining animal, is very depressing. The unbalanced ecosystem will have destroyed food resources, and infrastructure in the developing world will have collapsed. Cars, pianos, houses, clothes, tables, computers, and dead bodies will be strewn across the streets amid floods and hurricanes and storms and earthquakes. Masses of humans will have become environmental refugees, but safe places of refuge will be too few and far between. Over time people will die of famine and poverty, disease and murder. At some point, there may be one last remaining animal. Not necessarily human, but at least one last remaining creature. It might not even be a mammal, or an amphibian or reptile. It might just be a jellyfish or some deep-sea creature. Nevertheless, the idea of only one living creature is a depressing thought. But facing depressing, or at least disturbing, frightening, and downright dangerous scenarios is necessary.

Star Wars. Batman. The Lord of the Rings. In picking out three of the highest-grossing Hollywood film franchises, there is an apparent common theme. It is one of heroism, where people in a state of danger or peril – not just to themselves but to all those around them – display unparalleled courage. The “heroes” exhibit self-sacrifice and place their own lives in danger – all in the hope of saving, esssentially, the world. In all three franchises, the heroes experience unimaginable terror, fear, danger, peril, sacrifice, and loss. That these themes appear significantly in popular culture suggest that heroism is of cultural value – at the very least – in North America, although heroism is even more prevalent in myths and fables, which exist in all cultures.

Yet there remains excessive apathy and opposition against any meaningful progress in sustaining life on earth.  There are two levels of opposition – one in which climate change is denied outrightly, and the other layer whereby the methods of dealing with climate change are hotly contested. Being that it is 2009, I simply have no patience for the former, given all of the scientific evidence accumulated to this date. As for the latter, well, at the very least, it’s on the right track. I would much rather have a raging debate between equally invested and interested parties than a large population of apathetic citizens or, as I like to call them, pathetic excuses for consuming food, occupying space, and sharing oxygen with my friends and I.

Through my ring of fire I throw those that do not demonstrate intelligence in making climate change a priority in their lifestyles or career, those that know of the importance but could not be bothered, and those that simply do not care. Perhaps the magic of hollywood is such that one really suspends disbelief during a film that they cannot take the morals and values out of them – the same morals and values that can be found in literature, in the fables that we read as children. The idea of heroism, of stepping up to the plate instead of cowering in the corner, appeals to most audiences in my estimation.

However, people appear to be so content with dragging their feet on the issue. Even if I were to throw out all of the science for a moment, one would think that even the selfishness would drive people to become engaged in sustainability. Have they no desire nor will to live comfortably? The luxuries found in North America will rapidly disappear in form or in the way they are delivered within the next decade – they already have, as reflected in food and gas prices. Has this no impact? Even the most crudely selfish person ought to preserve their luxurious (read: excessive) lifestyles by engaging in sustainability. No? What about the child-raising kind of person? Is it really so, that those that embody procrastination cannot find it in their hearts, when staring into their child’s eyes, the vital importance of sustainability? Even our very own children, for crying out loud.

From Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca) and Forest Ethics (www.forestethics.ca), two of the leading environmental groups in Canada, came Moms Against Climate Change, a group born out of the idea that the survival of our children is at stake.

Their campaign video can be found at http://www.takeactiononclimatechange.com, as well as YouTube.

This video is fantastically filmed and edited. The thought of children speaking up and protesting is a welcome juxtoposition. Against a backdrop of the melancholic – and appropriately selected, considering the lyrics – “Celebration Guns” by Canadian indie rock band Stars, the montage of children protesting ought to send alarms to adults of our irresponsibility. Perhaps it is the peroccupation that adults have with, well, their occupations, and other responsibilities, that they forget about sustainability, a decidedly future-oriented aspect. But the future is closer than we thought, as climate change worsens more than expected, and if the future is not secure, of what relevance are our daily duties?

Ironically, despite being less intelligent and less knowledgeable, it is children who can point out the obvious things which adults have overlooked. Children, being uninitiated with the struggles of our daily lives as we shuffle back and forth between stressful workplaces and stressful homes by way of stressful commutes, have the ability to see simple things for what they are. The equation goes like this: If the future, both near and far, are not handled carefully now, then nothing inbetween now and the “near future” will be of relevance. Giving up is not an option; that would be the equivalent of suicide, a result of mental disorder, of which I would not charge all of society. The only solution to this equation is complete focus and attention spent on sustainability across all industries and sectors.

Perhaps the only amendment I would make to the video is that a) many kids, even at their young age, have already figured out that which is so blatantly obvious, and b) the effects of climate change are happening now and and will increase exponentially in the next few years, so unless you are on your death bed, you should damn well be selfish enough to think, “hey, maybe I should do something afterall, even if I’m a douchebag and I don’t care about anyone but myself.”

The video tickles with the idea that, yes, if children knew of the grave situation we are faced with, they would be all over it like vultures on the last animal on earth. Humans need to step up to the plate and face the large headache of implementing sustainability across all industries and sectors in a proper manner. If not, pretty soon, there will be the death of the the last animal on Earth. Only then will sustainability not matter. Only then will danger need not be faced.

Now THAT’s Leadership!!!

16 Nov

This is where the EU stands on Copenhagen:

  • Aspires to play “leading role at Copenhagen
  • Will cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30% if other big emitters take tough action
  • Wants rich nations to make 80-95% cut by 2050
  • Wants poorer nations to slow emissions growth
  • Says they face costs of $150bn per year by 2020, of which EU will pay $7bn-22bn from public finances
  • The world’s third-biggest GHG producer (11.8% of global emissions, 4,641mt CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 17th in the world (9t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $18.3tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 315t
  • Kyoto: Signed – has to get average emissions for 2008-2012 8% below 1990 level

Lets hope that the EU really does act as the leader and knocks some sense into Canada, the US, China, India, and the Gulf States. Currently it’s 5 against 1…


350 Rally in Waterloo

6 Nov

350 CAGOn October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action, about 100 concerned students and other Waterloo locals gathered outside the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo to voice their requests for Waterloo’s MP, Peter Braid, to support action on bringing the world’s carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million. Just one of many similar rallies across the world, the greater goal was to urge politicians to act for the environment at the upcoming COP 15 United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen (to which a number of UWSP’s executive board will be headed). 

After meeting at the Clay and Glass Gallery, the 100 strong crowd marched straight to Peter Braid’s office with a letter outlining their concerns. Byron Williston, a philosophy professor from Wilfred Laurier University, and Jean-Michel Toriel of ForestEthics were on hand to speak about the issues at hand. Williston laid out plainly, one of the major issues:

“We just don’t naturally think about people who are going to be alive 100 years from now. That’s the trick. That’s the ethical challenge.”

Ain’t it just so? Now…why is that there were no experts from the University of Waterloo on hand to speak? 

More at: http://news.therecord.com/article/618694

– Tyler

The Possible Aftermath of COP – 15

5 Nov

tb_copenhagen_denmarkThis triplet of scenarios has made it’s way through the tubes already, beginning with Reuters and then to Treehugger, but its worth giving some thought, so I will write it again. What we’re looking at, are three possible outcomes of the COP – 15 Climate talks. Some of these are more likely outcomes than others, but all are possibilities nonetheless. So, after December 19th, we can expect one of three things:

  1. A broad international agreement – Given that the United States actually signs a climate bill by December, which includes targets for 2020 and funding to help developing countries reach their targets. This would be fantastic, as it would urge developing countries to meet target reductions. Sadly, this appears to be very wishful thinking.
  2. Figure it out later – Lets say the US doesn’t get any Climate bill through the process until early 2010. In this situation, they begin making a case to form agreements at the next scheduled climate agreement talks in Germany in June 2010. If this is the likely case, developing countries will hopefully use the time in Copenhagen to make agreements that are conditional upon the  promises of the United States. 
  3. No Climate Bill in US Senate – If the US senate does not pass the climate bill, there is a possibility that other countries will go ahead with making commitments in hopes that the US will finally fall in. Will it? Won’t it? 

I honestly have no idea what will happen at this conference. But I’m hoping for the best. And will be happy with the second best. My fingers are crossed. Whatever the United States does, its highly likely that Canada will follow in its step. 

– Tyler