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Orcas- Climate Change- Pipelines


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As the fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight climate breakdown

The Guardian by George Monbiot / October 18, 2018

Our politicians, under the influence of big business, have failed us. As they take the planet to the brink, it’s time for disruptive, nonviolent disobedience.

It is hard to believe today, but the prevailing ethos among the educated elite was once public service. As the historian Tony Judt documented in Ill Fares the Land, the foremost ambition among graduates in the 1950s and 60s was, through government or the liberal professions, to serve their country. Their approach might have been patrician and often blinkered, but their intentions were mostly public and civic, not private and pecuniary.

Today, the notion of public service seems as quaint as a local post office. We expect those who govern us to grab what they can, permitting predatory banks and corporations to fleece the public realm, then collect their reward in the form of lucrative directorships. As the Edelman Corporation’s Trust Barometer survey reveals, trust worldwide has collapsed in all major institutions, and government is less trusted than any other.

As for the economic elite, as the consequences of their own greed and self-interest emerge, they seek, like the Roman oligarchs fleeing the collapse of the western empire, only to secure their survival against the indignant mob. An essay by the visionary author Douglas Rushkoff this summer, documenting his discussion with some of the world’s richest people, reveals that their most pressing concern is to find a refuge from climate breakdown, and economic and societal collapse. Should they move to New Zealand or Alaska? How will they pay their security guards once money is worthless? Could they upload their minds on to supercomputers? Survival Condo, the company turning former missile silos in Kansas into fortified bunkers, has so far sold every completed unit.

Trust, the Edelman Corporation observes, “is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function”. Unfortunately, our mistrust is fully justified. Those who have destroyed belief in governments exploit its collapse, railing against a liberal elite (by which they mean people still engaged in public service) while working for the real and illiberal elite. As the political economist William Davies points out, “sovereignty” is used as a code for rejecting the very notion of governing as “a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials”.

Nowhere is the gulf between public and private interests more obvious than in governments’ response to the climate crisis. On Monday, UK energy minister Claire Perry announced that she had asked her advisers to produce a roadmap to a zero-carbon economy. On the same day, fracking commencedat Preston New Road in Lancashire, enabled by the permission Perry sneaked through parliament on the last day before the summer recess.

The minister has justified fracking on the grounds that it helps the country affect a “transition to a lower-carbon economy”. But fracked gas has net emissions similar to, or worse than, those released by burning coal. As we are already emerging from the coal era in the UK without any help from fracking, this is in reality a transition away from renewables and back into fossil fuels. The government has promoted the transition by effectively banning onshore wind farms, while overriding local decisions to impose fracking by central diktat. Now, to prevent people from taking back control, it intends to grant blanket planning permission for frackers to operate.

None of it makes sense, until you remember the intimate relationship between the fossil fuel industry, the City (where Perry made her fortune) and the Tory party, oiled by the political donations flowing from both sectors into the party’s coffers. These people are not serving the nation. They are serving each other.

In Germany, the government that claimed to be undergoing a great green energy transition instead pours public money into the coal industry, and deploys an army of police to evict protesters from an ancient forest to clear it for a lignite mine. On behalf of both polluting power companies and the car industry, it has sabotaged the EU’s attempt to improve its carbon emissions target. Before she was re-elected, I argued that Angela Merkel was the world’s leading eco-vandal. She might also be the world’s most effective spin doctor: she can mislead, cheat and destroy, and people still call her Mutti.

Other governments shamelessly flaunt their service to private interests, as they evade censure by owning their corruption. A US government report on fuel efficiency published in July concedes, unusually, that global temperatures are likely to rise by 4C this century. It then uses this forecast to argue that there is no point in producing cleaner cars, because the disaster will happen anyway. Elsewhere, all talk of climate breakdown within government is censored. Any agency seeking to avert it is captured and redirected.

If Jair Bolsonaro takes office in Brazil, their annihilistic actions will seem mild by comparison. He claims climate breakdown is a fable invented by a “globalist conspiracy”, and seeks to withdraw from the Paris agreement, abolish the environment ministry, put the congressional beef caucus (representing the murderous and destructive ranching industry) in charge of agriculture, open the Amazon Basin for clearance and dismantle almost all environmental and indigenous protections.

On 31 October, I will speak at the launch of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square. This is a movement devoted to disruptive, nonviolent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse. The three heroes jailed for trying to stop fracking last month, whose outrageous sentences have just been overturned, are likely to be the first of hundreds. The intention is to turn this national rising into an international one.

This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government. That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned.

See article here……..

 


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Rise For Climate – Build Our Future Not a Pipeline! Event

RISE FOR CLIMATE – International Day of Action

Vancouver March & Rally
4pm
Vancouver Art Gallery
Georgia & Howe

BUILD OUR FUTURE – NOT A PIPELINE!

The forests are on fire and the air is thick with smoke. The water is polluted and the planet is being destroyed. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be hell-bent on wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on buying one ageing Tar Sands pipeline and trying to build another.

Join hundreds of thousands mobilizing around the world on September 8. We are putting forward a vision for a sustainable future We are working together to show the alternatives, and we are growing!

Bring your friends, family and co-workers as we gather to demonstrate and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for climate justice and a better world. We are working to build our future, not a pipeline. We demand the government of Canada do the same.

Fund Housing, Healthcare, Education & Green Energy – NOT PIPELINES!

Sponsors: Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, UBC 350, Vancouver 350

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This event takes place on the traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

More information on “Rise for Climate” International Day of Action: https://riseforclimate.org/

“On 8 September we will rise together in our neighbourhoods to take action, telling the story of the communities we want, and showing governments how to follow our lead. We’ll connect all our local efforts globally to help make an unstoppable wave of people’s climate leadership – from our town halls, to our schools, and places of worship.”

For more information: climateconvergence604@gmail.com / 778-889-7664


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Rise for Climate!!! International Day of Action Event

https://www.facebook.com/events/328347781240170/

RISE FOR CLIMATE – International Day of Action

Vancouver March & Rally
September 8th @ 4:00 pm
Vancouver Art Gallery
Georgia & Howe

BUILD OUR FUTURE – NOT A PIPELINE!

The forests are on fire and the air is thick with smoke. The water is polluted and the planet is being destroyed. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be hell-bent on wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on buying one ageing Tar Sands pipeline and trying to build another.

Join hundreds of thousands mobilizing around the world on September 8. We are putting forward a vision for a sustainable future We are working together to show the alternatives, and we are growing!

Bring your friends, family and co-workers as we gather to demonstrate and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for climate justice and a better world. We are working to build our future, not a pipeline. We demand the government of Canada do the same.

Fund Housing, Healthcare, Education & Green Energy – NOT PIPELINES!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This event takes place on the traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

More information on “Rise for Climate” International Day of Action: https://riseforclimate.org/

“On 8 September we will rise together in our neighbourhoods to take action, telling the story of the communities we want, and showing governments how to follow our lead. We’ll connect all our local efforts globally to help make an unstoppable wave of people’s climate leadership – from our town halls, to our schools, and places of worship.”

For more information: climateconvergence604@gmail.com / 778-889-7664


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Important Event – Shut Down Federal Liberal Fundraiser: Stop the Pipeline Buyout

https://www.facebook.com/events/1796954137079075/

 

Fundraising while 600 wildfires burn and climate chaos intensifies while pushing a climate-busting pipeline — the priorities of Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals are clear.

Thursday August 23 in downtown Vancouver, Liberal MP Hedy Fry is hosting Finance Minister Bill Morneau for a $500 a plate fundraising dinner at a fancy hotel in downtown Vancouver. Nanaimo will host an unwelcome party for Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on August 22, and there’s a decent chance Trudeau will make the trip to raise cash for the 2019 election.

Let’s shut them down.

Date: Thursday August 23
Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Location: Outside Century Century Plaza Hotel Downtown Vancouver
Address: 1015 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC
Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/sGqhwofXPPK2

RSVP: http://eepurl.com/dDenpz

Join us to remind MP Fry that the people of the West Coast do not accept the stubborn federal Liberal push to build a pipeline while wildfires burn and climate change chaos intensifies.

RSVP: http://eepurl.com/dDenpz


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The transformative power of climate truth

Dear Reader:
We are not living in a post-truth era. We are living in a pre-truth era.

Yes, Trump and his administration are liars and criminals.

But did President Obama tell the whole truth about the urgency of climate crisis and the scale of the necessary response? Did Hillary Clinton? Does anyone in national politics? Does the climate movement? Do you?

Only policies based in reality can get us out of this crisis.

I recently updated my essay The Transformative Power of Climate Truth, one of The Climate  Mobilization’s foundational documents. The new subtitle, “Ecological Awakening in the Trump Age” reflects how the political situation and TCM’s strategy have changed since I first wrote it.

Transformative argues that positive change, both societal and personal, depends on our embracing the truth.  It also explores why climate truth is so rare, and how we as citizens can use it to ignite transformative — not incremental — change.

It’s been a horrifying year, but I haven’t lost hope. And it’s because people across the country have stopped waiting for politicians and pundits to wake up.

From Hoboken to Los Angeles, people like you are standing up and inaugurating a new politics of climate truth.

The pre-truth era is coming to a close. Together, we can make sure climate truth transforms this country for the better.

If any of our writing has had an impact on your life, please consider sharing your story and helping us fundraise or joining us asorganizers.

Onward!

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD
Founder and Director, The Climate Mobilization

Ecological awakening in the age of Trump

by Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD, Founder and Director of The Climate Mobilization

 

See essay here……..

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx0AhW2o5XAcSGZ6QUNsckNHZTg/view

 


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What the National Energy Board won’t tell you about pipelines

iPolitics Insights by Ross Belot / November 2, 2017

The 2017 UN climate change conference in Bonn — otherwise known as COP23 — starts Monday. A year ago I said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna would be going there with nothing to brag about. This year, she can at least make small talk about her plans to teach children about climate change.

Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr is pleading with industry to reduce its energy consumption. Those firms that succeed in cutting energy use by 10 per cent or more will be formally recognized as Energy Star Achievers — demonstrating that, between Carr and McKenna, the Trudeau government’s approach to fighting climate change is the same one a middle school teacher would take.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: This government has no strategy to meet Canada’s emissions reduction commitments under the Paris accord, let alone Stephen Harper’s target of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions between 2005 and 2030.

Who says so? Our own National Energy Board. It just released Canada’s Energy Future 2017, a report that shows fossil fuel use peaking by 2019 and then flatlining through 2040. So our plan to transition to a low-carbon economy basically amounts to doing what we’re doing now, based on what the NEB thinks our fuel use will be in future.

The NEB presents some scenarios that Peter Watson, the NEB’s CEO, says show fossil fuel use declining in “a meaningful way.” One scenario involves higher carbon pricing. Let’s take a closer look at that one.

It has to be said that Watson has a pretty peculiar idea of what’s ‘meaningful’ in the face of global warming catastrophe. The NEB’s base case shows a 5 per cent decline in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 over 2005 — not because we’ll be using less energy (we’re going to be using 9 per cent more energy overall from fossil fuels, the NEB forecasts) but because we’ll have switched from ‘dirty’ coal to ‘cleaner’ natural gas by then.

No, his so-called ‘meaningful’ reduction in the NEB’s “high carbon pricing scenario” amounts to a paltry 4 per cent reduction — not terribly useful to a government that has pledged a 30 per cent reduction, to be achieved largely through the use of carbon taxes.

This tells us two things. First, the NEB makes no effort to tell us what we’d have to do to meet our Paris targets, and seems to have no interest in that. Second, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan isn’t going to do the job.

open quote 761b1bMaybe — if the NEB started giving people all the facts — governments, industry and the public could have an informed conversation about the future of Canada’s energy sector. Instead, all we get is yelling and finger-pointing.”

That’s disappointing. Also disappointing is the disappearance from this report of the low price scenario which doesn’t support the NEB’s push for more pipelines. The NEB now produces just one price scenario through the 2020s, one that’s high enough to justify significant growth in the oilsands. The evidence they provided previously that did not support pipelines — that has mysteriously vanished from their forecast.

The use of multiple price scenarios as a requirement for assessing pipelines came up in the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s very critical review of Enbridge’s giant Line 3 expansion application. Ironically, the price data that just disappeared from the NEB’s report is exactly what Minnesota expected in an application — and its consultant cited last year’s NEB energy outlook as an example of what should be considered.

Now, it’s possible that the NEB and Watson think it’s far more important to show that marginal reductions in carbon emissions out in the 2030-and-beyond timeframe don’t affect our oilsands production than it is to present scenarios showing no growth in oilsands production due to low prices. But given its ongoing push for pipelines — and Watson’s own biased testimony to a Senate committee a while ago — one might wonder if the low-price scenario disappeared because its data conflicted with the pro-pipeline story. (After all, people like me use those numbers against the NEB — and they really don’t like it.)

Here’s something else we learned from Minnesota’s review of that pipeline application. The same consultants Enbridge used produced the economic basis for the Trans Mountain expansion application — consultants whose approach the Minnesota Department of Commerce described as ”simplistic — and in the case of pipeline capacity, unrealistic.”

The analysis Minnesota has done calls into question our regulator’s approach to pipeline approvals, since logic similar to the content in the Enbridge application has been applied by the NEB for Trans Mountain, resulting in approval.

I don’t know what’s going on with the NEB. The agency has capable people who do excellent work. But somehow, the data are getting misused. A low-price scenario — the one which looks like what we’re most likely to see over the next ten years at least — clearly suggests that oilsands production isn’t going to grow much. That scenario undermines the case for Energy East and knocks down the conspiracy theories about its cancellation: the market outlook — not the Trudeau government’s policies — killed that project. Same goes for Keystone XL’s prospects. Maybe — if the NEB started giving people all the facts — governments, industry and the public could have an informed conversation about the future of Canada’s energy sector. Instead, all we get is yelling and finger-pointing.

Do we need Trans Mountain? What benefits does it offer Canada? Who knows? As long as the NEB keeps spinning a supportive story instead of giving us real information, we can’t evaluate the costs and benefits of pipeline projects. The NEB’s approach appears to be to withhold data that call into question their CEO’s Senate testimony, instead of addressing the real questions.

Is the NEB in the business of professionally assessing pipeline applications? Or is it just another industry cheerleader?

See article here……

 


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A brief history of the Earth’s CO2

Coal fired power plantImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

Climate change has been described as one of the biggest problems faced by humankind. Carbon dioxide is is the primary driver of global warming. Prof Joanna Haigh from Imperial College London explains why this gas has played a crucial role in shaping the Earth’s climate.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has been present in the atmosphere since the Earth condensed from a ball of hot gases following its formation from the explosion of a huge star about five billion years ago.

At that time the atmosphere was mainly composed of nitrogen, CO2 and water vapour, which seeped through cracks in the solid surface. A very similar composition emerges from volcanic eruptions today.

As the planet cooled further some of the water vapour condensed out to form oceans and they dissolved a portion of the CO2 but it was still present in the atmosphere in large amounts.

What is climate change?

The first life forms to evolve on Earth were microbes which could survive in this primordial atmosphere but about 2.5 billion years ago, plants developed the ability to photosynthesise, creating glucose and oxygen from CO2 and water in the presence of light from the Sun.

This had a transformative impact on the atmosphere: as life developed, CO2 was consumed so that by around 20 million years ago its concentration was down to below 300 molecules in every one million molecules of air (or 300 parts per million – ppm).

Early EarthImage copyrightSPLImage caption Artwork: As life developed on Earth, carbon dioxide levels plummeted

Life on Earth has evolved under these conditions – note that humans did not appear until about 200,000 years ago – and atmospheric CO2 has not exceed that concentration until the industrial revolution brought with it massive emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels: coal and oil.

CO2 plays an important role in climate because it is one of the atmospheric “greenhouse” gases (GHGs) which keep the Earth’s surface about 33 degrees warmer than the -18C temperature it would be at were they not present.

They do this by being fairly transparent to the Sun’s rays, allowing them through to warm the surface, but then absorbing the radiant heat that the surface emits, so trapping it and enhancing the warming. In the present climate the most effective GHGs are water vapour, which is responsible for about two-thirds of the total warming, and CO2 which accounts for about one quarter.

Other gases, including methane, make up the remainder. The atmospheric concentration of water vapour is less than 1% and, with CO2 making up only a few molecules in every ten thousand of air, it may be surprising that they can have such a significant impact on the surface temperature.

They are able to do this, however, because the structure of their molecules makes them especially effective at absorbing heat radiation while the major atmospheric gases, nitrogen and oxygen, are essentially transparent to it.

air sampling stationImage copyrightNOAAImage captionThis air sampling station at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii recorded CO2 levels going past 400ppm

The greenhouse effect means that as the atmospheric loading of GHGs increases the surface temperature of the Earth warms. The overall increase in global temperature of about 1C over the past 150 years is almost entirely due to the human activities that have increasing amounts of atmospheric GHGs.

Most significantly, the concentration of CO2 has been rising exponentially (at a rate of about 0.17% per year) since the industrial revolution, due mainly to the combustion of fossil fuels but also to large-scale tropical deforestation which depletes the climate system’s capacity for photosynthesis.

In 2015, it passed 400ppm, more than 40% higher than its pre-industrial value of 280ppm and a level that has not existed on Earth for several million years.

While the basic science of how GHGs warm the Earth is very well understood, there are complications. The climate system responds in various ways which both enhance and ameliorate the effects of these gases.

For example, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour (before it condenses out in clouds or rain) and because water vapour is a GHG, this increases the temperature rise. Another example: as the oceans warm they are less able to hold CO2 so release it, again with the result the initial warming is enhanced.

VolcanoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionVolcanoes can eject small particles into the upper part of the atmosphere

The global temperature record over the past century does not show the same smooth increase presented by CO2 measurements because the climate is influenced by other factors than GHGs, arising from both natural and human sources. Some particles released into the atmosphere by industrial activities reflect sunshine back to space, tending to cool the planet.

Similarly, large volcanic eruptions can eject small particles into the higher atmosphere, where they remain for up to about two years reducing the sunlight reaching the surface, and temporary dips in global temperature have indeed been measured following major volcanic events.

Changes in the energy emitted by the Sun also affect surface temperature, though measurements of the solar output show this effect to be small on human timescales.

Another important consideration in interpreting global temperatures is that the climate is inherently complex. Energy moves between the atmosphere and oceans in natural fluctuations – an example being El Niño events. This means that we cannot expect an immediate direct relationship between any influencing factor and surface temperature.

All these factors complicate the picture. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the global temperature rise over the past century is a result of human-produced GHGs, mainly CO2.

While, until the industrial revolution, the CO2 concentration has not exceeded the 280ppm value that last occurred several million years ago, it has gone through periods when it was considerably lower.

Notably, during the ice ages which have occurred roughly every 100,000 years over at least the past half million, drops in global temperature of perhaps 5C have been accompanied by reductions in CO2 concentration to less than 200ppm.

The ice ages, and associated warmer interglacial periods, are brought about by changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun which take place on these long timescales. The cooling in response to a decline in solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface results in a greater uptake of CO2 by the oceans and so further cooling due to a weakened greenhouse effect.

This is an entirely natural phenomenon and it is worth noting that such amplification of temperature fluctuations will occur in response to any initiating factor regardless of its source and including human-produced greenhouse gases.

The effects of increasing CO2 are not limited to an increase in air temperature. As the oceans warm they are expanding so producing a rise in sea level, this being exacerbated by the melting of some of the ice present on land near the poles and in glaciers. The warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour resulting in increased occurrences of heavy rainfall and flooding while changes in weather patterns are intensifying droughts in other regions.

If human emissions of GHGs into the atmosphere continue unabated then the global temperature will continue to rise and the associated weather impacts become ever more severe. The UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015, at which 195 nations unanimously agreed on an aim to restrict the temperature rise to less than 2C, or preferably 1.5C, above the pre-industrial “baseline” was an extraordinary political achievement.

To achieve this, however, will require a complete cessation of global CO2 emissions by the second half of this century and, while the world considers how this might be achieved, the crossing of the 400ppm mark in CO2 concentration has been matched by a global warming of 1C.

See article here…..


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A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It’s a catastrophe

Insects have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years in every habitat but the ocean. Their success is unparalleled, which makes their disappearance all the more alarming.

Thirty-five years ago an American biologist Terry Erwin conducted an experiment to count insect species. Using an insecticide “fog”, he managed to extract all the small living things in the canopies of 19 individuals of one species of tropical tree, Luehea seemannii, in the rainforest of Panama. He recorded about 1,200 separate species, nearly all of them coleoptera (beetles) and many new to science; and he estimated that 163 of these would be found on Luehea seemannii only.

He calculated that as there are about 50,000 species of tropical tree, if that figure of 163 was typical for all the other trees, there would be more than eight million species, just of beetles, in the tropical rainforest canopy; and as beetles make up about 40% of all the arthropods, the grouping that contains the insects and the other creepy-crawlies from spiders to millipedes, the total number of such species in the canopy might be 20 million; and as he estimated the canopy fauna to be separate from, and twice as rich as, the forest floor, for the tropical forest as a whole the number of species might be 30 million.

Yes, 30 million. It was one of those extraordinary calculations, like Edwin Hubble’s of the true size of the universe, which sometimes stop us in our tracks.

Erwin reported that he was shocked by his conclusions and entomologists have argued over them ever since. But about insects, his findings make two things indisputably clear. One is that there are many, many more types than the million or so hitherto described by science, and probably many more than the 10m species sometimes postulated as an uppermost figure; and the second is that this is far and away the most successful group of creatures the Earth has ever seen.

Terry Erwin’s beetle collection from rainforest canopies in the Amazon, on display in Washington, DC.
 Terry Erwin’s beetle collection from rainforest canopies in the Amazon, on display in Washington, DC. Photograph: Frans Lanting/Alamy

They are multitudinous almost beyond our imagining. They thrive in soil, water, and air; they have triumphed for hundreds of millions of years in every continent bar Antarctica, in every habitat but the ocean. And it is their success – staggering, unparalleled and seemingly endless – which makes all the more alarming the great truth now dawning upon us: insects as a group are in terrible trouble and the remorselessly expanding human enterprise has become too much, even for them.

The astonishing report highlighted in the Guardian, that the biomass of flying insects in Germany has dropped by three quarters since 1989, threatening an “ecological Armageddon”, is the starkest warning yet; but it is only the latest in a series of studies which in the last five years have finally brought to public attention the real scale of the problem.

Does it matter? Even if bugs make you shudder? Oh yes. Insects are vital plant-pollinators and although most of our grain crops are pollinated by the wind, most of our fruit crops are insect-pollinated, as are the vast majority of our wild plants, from daisies to our most splendid wild flower, the rare and beautiful lady’s slipper orchid.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/oct/2017-10-18T08:07:49/embed.html

Furthermore, insects form the base of thousands upon thousands of food chains, and their disappearance is a principal reason why Britain’s farmland birds have more than halved in number since 1970. Some declines have been catastrophic: the grey partridge, whose chicks fed on the insects once abundant in cornfields, and the charming spotted flycatcher, a specialist predator of aerial insects, have both declined by more than 95%, while the red-backed shrike, which feeds on big beetles, became extinct in Britain in the 1990s.

Ecologically, catastrophe is the word for it.

It has taken us a lot of time to understand this for two reasons: one cultural, one scientific. Firstly, we generally do not care for insects (bees and butterflies excepted). Even wildlife lovers are fixed on vertebrates, on creatures of fur and feather and especially the “charismatic megafauna”, and in the population as a whole there is even less sympathy for the fate of the chitin-skeletoned little things that creep and crawl; our default reaction is a shudder. Fewer bugs in the world? Many would cheer.

Secondly, for the overwhelming majority of insect species, there is no monitoring or measurement of numbers taking place. It is a practical impossibility: in the UK alone there are about 24,500 insect species – about 1,800 species of bugs, 4,000 species of beetles, 7,000 species of flies and another 7,000 species of bees, wasps and ants – and most are unknown to all but a few specialists. So their vast and catastrophic decline, at last perceptible, has crept up on us; and when first we began to perceive it, it was not through statistics, but through anecdote.

The earliest anecdotal impression of decline was through what is sometimes termed the windscreen phenomenon (or windshield if you live in the US): time was, especially in the summer, when any long automobile journey would result in a car windscreen that was insect-spattered. But then, not so much. Two years ago I wrote a book focusing on this curious happening, but I gave it a different name: I called it the moth snowstorm, referring to the moths which on summer nights in my childhood might cluster in such numbers that they would pack a speeding car’s headlight beams like snowflakes in a blizzard.

But the point about the moth snowstorm was this: it had gone. I personally realized it had disappeared, and began writing about it as a journalist, in the year 2000; but it became obvious from talking to people who had also observed it that its disappearance dated further back, probably to about the 1970s and 1980s. And the fact that an entire large-scale phenomenon such as this had simply ceased to exist pointed inescapably to one grim conclusion: though unnoticed by the world at large, a whole giant ecosystem was collapsing. The insect world was falling apart.

Moths are also in steep decline.
 Moths are in steep decline. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Today we know beyond doubt, and with scientific statistics rather than just anecdote, that this is true, and the question immediately arises: what caused it?

It seems indisputable: it is us. It is human activity – more specifically, three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year, since the end of the second world war. This is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted.

So what is the future for 21st-century insects? It will be worse still, as we struggle to feed the nine billion people expected to be inhabiting the world by 2050, and the possible 12 billion by 2100, and agriculture intensifies even further to let us do so. You think there will be fewer insecticides sprayed on farmlands around the globe in the years to come? Think again. It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world.

 Michael McCarthy is a writer, naturalist, and author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy


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Globe editorial: Are reconciliation and development compatible?

One of the great projects of modern-day Canada is reconciliation between the federal government and Indigenous peoples.

It’s important and necessary work. But as a recent breakdown in negotiations between First Nations leaders and Ottawa shows, it is hampered by the lack of a definition of what reconciliation is, and what it will look like if and when it is achieved.

Three members of the executive of the Assembly of First Nations last week sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying they will no longer collaborate with Ottawa on reforming key enviromental-protection laws that they, and the government, believe have been tilted too much in the favour of industry.

The AFN members say they don’t feel like full partners in the process. But their real beef seems to be that Ottawa is moving in a direction that they don’t agree with.

“Our order of priority is environmental sustainability and then the national [economic] interest,” said Chief Isadore Day, one of the signatories to the letter. “The federal government’s order of priority is the national interest and then environmental sustainability.”

This is a reasonable difference to have. It’s also a reasonable difference for two different levels of government to have. But for the current federal government, it is overshadowed by the Liberals’ signature vow to achieve reconciliation – a major part of which is its promise to establish “nation-to-nation” relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Native leaders like those in the AFN believe such a relationship means that Ottawa can’t approve projects that affect Indigenous territory without their “free, prior and informed consent,” a term taken from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada, even thought it is an UNDRIP signatory, has balked at giving Indigenous people what amounts to a veto over development. Its stance, which is supported by current Canadian law, is that the government must seek informed consent in good faith, but it can move forward in the national interest if that consent can’t be obtained.

It’s a huge difference of opinion. If one side believes an Indigenous veto over development is necessary for reconciliation, there’s a good chance it won’t ever be achieved. That in turn raises the question of whether there’s a point to talks like the ones that stalled last week.

These are the great mysteries of reconciliation: What does it look like? Can it realistically be achieved? As far as we can tell, no one has a clue.

See article here………


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First Nations leaders break with Ottawa on environmental policy

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day waits to appear at the Commons Aboriginal affairs committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 14, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

First Nations leaders have halted their collaboration with Liberal government on developing environmental legislation, arguing Ottawa is failing to make good on its vaunted commitments to work in partnership with Indigenous people.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, three members of the Assembly of First Nations executive committee said they were promised that they would be full partners in crafting the rules under which major mining, oil and gas and pipeline projects would be assessed. They complained they are being left out of key decisions on the proposed legislation. The letter, dated Oct. 16, was provided to The Globe and Mail on Thursday.

“Technical discussions between officials have been largely one-sided and do not encompass the principles of collaboration and transparency that a nation-to-nation relationship must embody,” said the missive signed by three regional chiefs who are co-chairs of the AFN’s Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment.

The Liberal government is in the process of overhauling four pieces of legislation – the National Energy Board Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act – which govern how major resource projects are assessed and approved. The laws underwent major revisions under the former Conservative government, with the intent of speeding up regulatory approvals, but the Liberals – as well as many Indigenous leaders and environmental groups – argued the Conservatives tilted the playing field in favour of industry, and gave short shrift to environmental concerns and Indigenous rights.

In an interview, Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said the Liberal government is failing to give proper weight to environmental considerations and treaty rights as it prepares draft legislation, and is putting a greater emphasis on economic development.

“Our order of priority is environmental sustainability and then the national interest,” said Chief Day, an AFN executive member and one of the signatories to the letter. “The federal government’s order of priority is the national interest and then environmental sustainability.”

In keeping with the government’s policy of reconciliation, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna say Ottawa will partner with Indigenous leaders in developing the new environmental rules, as well as in monitoring their enforcement.

Chief Day said that public commitment is not being met.

“It’s a sad story but we have become strangers to the process,” he said in an interview. “I’m sensing we are in darkening times when it comes to sunny ways of this prime minister and his commitment to nation-to-nation relationship.”

In a statement from their offices, the two ministers insisted the government remains committed to working “in a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

“Over the past year, the federal government has held more than 200 meetings with Indigenous peoples across the country, to discuss the path forward to restore Canadians’ trust in our environmental assessment and regulatory processes. The Assembly of First Nations has made substantial contributions to move forward the dialogue on improving these processes,” the ministers said in the joint statement.

At a two-day energy summit hosted by his department last week, Mr. Carr ensured Indigenous leaders had prominent roles while pledging that the government’s approach to resource-industry regulation would be guided by aboriginal values of “protection of the land, air and water.”

Behind the scenes, however, the government was facing a barrage of criticism from the AFN committee.

At a meeting in late September, the chiefs told the minister they disagreed with the government on key points, and that it would be wrong to state publicly that two sides were aligned. The minister responded that he was working hard to meet the government’s commitments on Indigenous relations and was “moving too fast for some and not fast enough for others,” according to an internal AFN briefing on the meeting provided to The Globe.

The meeting featured some heated exchanges between the AFN chiefs and Mr. Carr, and prompted the letter to the prime minister. However, in a signal of divisions within the AFN itself, National Chief Perry Bellegarde refused to sign the letter.

In a speech at the United Nations in New York last month, Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged Canada is still operating under a colonial system put in place in the 19th and 20th century that deprived Indigenous people of their rights and left many of them in dire poverty.

He vowed to establish “nation-to-nation” relations based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes rights to self-determination and to assert the need for free, prior and informed consent over developments that impact their traditional territory.

The AFN’s rebuke on what they believed to be “co-development” of environmental legislation illustrates the significant challenges the Liberals face as they look to put those principles in practice.

Rather than insist on the right to free, prior and information consent, the Liberals’ principles for relations with Indigenous people says the government “aims to secure” their consent “when Canada proposes to take actions which impact them and their rights, including their lands, territories and resources.” Mr. Carr said last week that the government must strike a balance among interests when assessing major projects like pipelines and mines.

In their letter to the prime minister, the three regional chiefs argue Ottawa’s commitment to implement the UN declaration “sets a standard that has not yet been met.”

The Liberals are overhauling legislation that was put in place five years ago by the previous Conservative government and was criticized for failing to properly account for Indigenous rights and environmental protection. The current government insist the new rules would reduce the likelihood of approvals being overturned by the courts, but Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said the changes do not go far enough in ensuring Indigenous people exercise free, prior and informed consent over project approvals.

See article here…..