Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mackenzie pipeline also approved yesterday by fed panel - let the cash flow!

Yet another bombshell of potentially unsavory environmental news snuck through under the radar yesterday while most Canadians were ignoring news of any kind.

This time, it's the MacKenzie Valley pipeline, in Canada's Northwest Territories, up for approval by Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Yeah, this is the same pipeline that was Considered too much of a potential sociological and environmental hazard to be allowed even by lax 1976 standards,

That was then, this is now:

"The project would provide the foundation for a sustainable Northern future," the panel concluded while laying down numerous conditions. The project is backed by Imperial Oil (Exxon), Shell and ConocoPhillips.

All this fall, there has been rumblings of discontent from the carbon industry, commentators and various interest groups. They say construction was supposed to have already started. The panel has "dragged on" for four years, they say. woo-hoo!

Even though industry has been pushing for 40 years for this $16 billion construction project / cash pipeline to go through, they are still pushing for hefty government incentives... which of course the Harper Reform Cons will be sure to give (after pretending to play it tough a bit longer).

Meanwhile, previously ambivalent or hostile first nations groups have been bought out by promises of free-flowing construction cash as hundreds or thousands of workers trample through the boreal forest and across the permafrost...

Considering that this would be the country's largest construction project, to be built through the most fragile ecosystems imaginable, it would be pure folly to allow it.

When you consider that the purpose of this pipeline is to pipe natural gas to the Tar Sands... just so that they can burn more carbon and make more profit while they "MAKE" dirty oil... it is absolute insanity.

And they want public money to build this?

These guys are pathological! It is disgrace.

Not to mention - they could have coughed up a few billion 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago and put up windmills to their hearts' content. They would have clean power to spare up there by now - to "make" all the oil they want. Clueless.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Canadian government agent of mass destruction on two fronts

The Canadian government is now an agent of mass destruction on two fronts.

We know all about the Alberta Tar Sands, the world's filthiest industrial project that produces the world's dirtiest oil.

Now, in an apparent fit of revenge after being embarrassed by an amusing spoof at Copenhagen by the Yes Men, the Canadian government has ordered the destruction of 4,500 websites in Germany.

Only two of the websites had anything to do with the Yes Men prank.

Harper Turtles - shuts down Parliament again

For the second time in a year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has prorogued Parliament.

Harper's sorry regime has gotta come down.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec - beyond the high voltage rhetoric

Face it, NB Power has got itself in a position where $4.8 Bil of debt is sinking it. NB residential customers are paying 60% more for their power than Hydro Quebec customers and industrial users are paying 20% more. And, with major assets coming up for replacement, the future is looking bleak indeed.

Prices and discontent with the utility are already high - and a viable operational model for the utility has yet to be unveiled by NB's official opposition or the opponents to the Hydro Quebec deal.

Now major renovations are underway at the Point Lepreau nuclear facility and several old coal generating stations are due to be refurbished or scrapped, which, when all is said and done will add perhaps billions more to the debtload.

Not surprisingly, the announced sale to HQ has caught New Brunswickers in an already owly mood. And it's not getting any sweeter.

Frantic commentators on message boards, news story comment rants and blogs have stated things like, "Quebec is trying to spread French across Atlantic Canada", "no truck nor trade with separatists", "this deal will be NB's Churchill Falls", or... "I'm not paying one cent to the separatists". Obviously, there is already a severe brainpower shortage in certain parts of NB, (as is the case everywhere!). The fact remains though that there is a huge opposition to the deal even though New Brunswick business (i.e. McCains & Irvings) and government are very much in favour of it.

Really, it comes down to a perceived loss of sovereignty and a (simply unthinkable) perception of getting shown up by Quebec. New Brunswickers, especially the English-speaking population, just cannot bear the humiliation of having mismanaged their utility into the ground, only to have it magnanimously 'rescued' by Quebec.

In all the hyperbole written over this deal, I don't think I have seen a single reference to price vs. value. Meanwhile, HQ is already supplying over one-third of the electricity consumed in New Brunswick, so the question of sovereignty over energy supply is already well watered down.

I think that if one person (like, say, a "news reporter") in New Brunswick would actually take the trouble to discover that B.C. Hydro is now in the process of buying a one-third share in the 450Mw Waneta Dam for $825 million, then the already high decibel level of the protest going on would be increased by tenfold!

The trouble is, the nature of the protest in NB is totally knee-jerk and emotional, so no one seems to care about finding actual reasons why the deal should be opposed.

And, having just said that, I think it is the B.C. Hydro - Waneta deal with Teck Resources that is the exceptional case, going against the grain of market price logic. The NB Power deal seems to be well justified by market conditions, even if the pending BC deal makes it look like a giveaway.

So... what would make the deal palatable to New Brunswickers?

This would answer the problems that most people have with the deal:

1. A clause that would tend to narrow the difference paid by NB and HQ residential customers after the five-year rate freeze already agreed by HQ
2. Some way of making the sovereignty of the assets less of an issue

If the deal succeeds, it opens up opportunity for greater synergies. With the NB coal-burning generating stations nearing the end of their useful lives, it must be assumed that HQ has in mind to replace a lot of this high-emission dirty energy with clean sustainable energy from the HQ grid.

The other possibility is that HQ would take advantage of the opportunity to introduce new elements of alternative sustainable power into NB, leaving the utility free to sell additional excess hydro power to the U.S.

Although New Brunswick and Quebec share many common features, there are also many differences that could prove interesting as the search for plausible future models of heating and power generation are concerned.

For one thing, has anyone thought of this...?:

Geo-thermal conversion for New Brunswick

Someone out there ought to be researching practical ways of introducing geo-thermal heating into the mix, for example. Say the New Brunswick government, using a small portion of the theoretical debt carrying potential that is freed up with this deal, were to sponsor a geo-thermal installation program that could be implemented on an individual home-by-home basis... This would effectively put the heat-generating capability in the hands of the individual homeowners of New Brunswick.

Do the math. There are 300,000 households in New Brunswick. Let's say, for example, that an individual geo-thermal system could be engineered to sell for $10,000. And let's say that 100,000 households would qualify and take advantage of an initial 10-year program.

That would represent a $1 billion price tag - a pretty small price to pay for the virtual guarantee of sovereignty and sustainability for heating in an entire province! We see, though, that the $1 billion doesn't really need to be paid by N.B. The price would largely be paid by home owners (perhaps via a system of provincially guaranteed loans) and this, largely, out of savings they would realize in their heating bills.

The program could include aspects of manufacturing to be handled in New Brunswick, and of course there would be the jobs benefit of the contracting to install the systems. The resale value of the homes would be greatly increased. The high concentration of geo-thermal heating in N.B would set the province up as a center of excellence and expertise in sustainable energy, potentially developing export products.

A substantial portion of geo-thermal conversions would be from oil, as well as electric, so both heating oil and electricity suppliers would be losing sales. However, since Irving and HQ are seen to be big winners in the deal to sell NB Power, it seems like a no-brainer that they would be on board for such as deal as this. Not to mention that any electricity not needed to heat N.B. homes could be heating U.S. homes more profitably.

The province, meanwhile, wouldn't have to actually go into debt to manage the program - it could be a cooperative arrangement amongst all stakeholders - the province, banks, utilities, contractors and home owners.

The project could be run in conjunction with other projects for commercial and industrial buildings.

The whole thing would contribute to massively reduce the carbon footprint of New Brunswick at virtually no cost to the province, or to anyone, at the same time as building a new industry and providing thousands of permanent jobs.

Frankly, it appears to me that it would be so easy to turn this thing into a massive positive for New Brunswick, that my "conspiracy theory" sensors are starting to tingle...!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What was China's strategy in Copenhagen?

Was China dealing in bad faith in Copenhagen?

If you read Mark Lynas' piece in Tuesday's Guardian, you may well conclude, 'yes' they were dealing in bad faith.

Lynas' headline on the front page of the Guardian environment section says, "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room.

Lynas goes on to detail several reasons why he feels China is responsible for the poor agreement that isn't even agreed.

He writes, "China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame."

The humiliation to Obama, of course, originated with the Chinese Premier, Wen Jinbao, who did not attend the negotiating session on the night of Friday, Dec. 18, at which Obama spent several hours. So President Obama was forced to deal with some Chinese flunky, who would need to excuse himself periodically to call his bosses for guidance.

Having some personal experience with Asian cultural sensitivity in face-to-face interactions, the two conclusions I draw are that, firstly, Jinbao must have been keenly aware of the awkwardness and embarrassment he caused by not showing up. Second, and more important, though, I think his reason for not attending could have been influenced to some extent by a determination to not get into a face-to-face confrontation or disagreement with Obama.

The failure of Copenhagen to result in an agreement that would be considered useful in terms of alleviating Co2 emissions and global warming is widely being put on the Chinese.

No need to even mention here the ghost in the room, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was basically persona non grata anywhere and everywhere in Copenhagen. We might, however, consider what a difference it could have made if Canada were to have been an activist for tough emissions cuts, rather than trying not to be noticed. I would imagine that both the U.S. and China would have been pressured towards greater resolve in achieving a significant deal.

The next step, as I see it, is to let time do its work. In two weeks I believe we will have a much clearer idea of where Copenhagen has brought us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Eco Art by Tatiana Iliina

Tatiana Iliina has completed a new Glacier painting.


This one is entitled "Glacial Interface" and is 24th in the series. It is painted with acrylic on canvas, using Tatiana's signature painting knife techniques. The painting is 30x36 inches. (94x78 cm)

These paintings are unique for our time. They are a reminder of the power and frailty and beauty of our planet, all at the same time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

178 World Leaders, Please Take Note: Next time how about negotiate a deal to note beforehand

In case anyone didn't like the way the Copenhagen agreement unfolded, here's an idea.

For the purposes of negotiating a deal for everyone to take note of:

Please just stay home and negotiate the whole thing by email and phone. If you want to celebrate taking note of the deal, then you could send envoys or environment ministers to the site of the celebration, so that you can all take note of it.

For the purposes of negotiating a deal for everyone to agree on:

First organize yourselves into blocks which feel they have common positions. Something like 5-8 blocks would be OK. Then appoint negotiators, take the deal that everyone agreed to take note of - and push it towards a deal that everyone will sign.

That will probably work.

In the meantime, if we are going to get a handle on the situation with the environment, some people are going to have to strike out on their own and take leadership. It will have to be people who have the wherewithal to do it and they will need to do it large and loud.

There needs to be many more successful showcase projects up and running soon, in order to convince less visionary leaders that there are other ways to turn profits besides by burning fossil fuels.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Copenhagen Accord - final text

Fifteenth session
Copenhagen, 7– 18 December 2009
Agenda item 9

High-level segment
Draft decision -/CP.15
Proposal by the President

Copenhagen Accord
The Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and other heads of delegation present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen,
* In pursuit of the ultimate objective of the Convention as stated in its Article 2,
* Being guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention,
* Noting the results of work done by the two Ad hoc Working Groups,
* Endorsing decision x/CP.15 on the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action and decision x/CMP.5 that requests the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I, Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to continue its work,

Have agreed on this Copenhagen Accord which is operational immediately.

1. We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We emphasise our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change. We recognize the critical impacts of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures on countries particularly vulnerable to its adverse effects and stress the need to establish a comprehensive adaptation programme including international support.


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2. We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity. We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries and bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-emission development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.

3. Adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures is a challenge faced by all countries. Enhanced action and international cooperation on adaptation is urgently required to ensure the implementation of the Convention by enabling and supporting the implementation of adaptation actions aimed at reducing vulnerability and building resilience in developing countries, especially in those that are particularly vulnerable, especially least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. We agree that developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries.

4. Annex I Parties commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economywide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document. Annex I Parties that are Party to the Kyoto Protocol will thereby further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol. Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent.

5. Non-Annex I Parties to the Convention will implement mitigation actions, including those to be submitted to the secretariat by non-Annex I Parties in the format given in Appendix II by 31 January 2010, for compilation in an INF document, consistent with Article 4.1 and Article 4.7 and in the context of sustainable development. Least developed countries and small island developing States may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support. Mitigation actions subsequently taken and envisaged by Non-Annex I Parties, including national inventory reports, shall be communicated through national communications consistent with Article 12.1(b) every two years on the basis of guidelines to be adopted by the Conference of the Parties. Those mitigation actions in national communications or otherwise communicated to the Secretariat will be added to the list in appendix II. Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification the result of which will be reported through their national communications every two years. Non-Annex I Parties will communicate information on the implementation of their actions through National Communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected. Nationally appropriate mitigation actions seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support. Those actions supported will be added to the list in appendix II. These supported nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties.

6. We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.

7. We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote mitigation actions. Developing countries, especially


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those with low emitting economies should be provided incentives to continue to develop on a low emission pathway.

8. Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding as well as improved access shall be provided to developing countries, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, to enable and support enhanced action on mitigation, including substantial finance to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-plus), adaptation, technology development and transfer and capacity-building, for enhanced implementation of the Convention. The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments through international institutions, approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 – 2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa. In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements, with a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries. A significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.

9. To this end, a High Level Panel will be established under the guidance of and accountable to the Conference of the Parties to study the contribution of the potential sources of revenue, including alternative sources of finance, towards meeting this goal.

10. We decide that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund shall be established as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention to support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation including REDD-plus, adaptation, capacitybuilding, technology development and transfer.

11. In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology we decide to establish a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.

12. We call for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015, including in light of the Convention’s ultimate objective. This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius.


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Quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020
Annex I Parties Quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020
Emissions reduction in 2020 Base year


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Nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing country Parties
Non-Annex I Actions
- - - - -

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Climate denier Prof Ian Plimer ripped to shreds on Australian TV

The Australian geologist and businessman, Prof. Ian Plimer's lies are exposed in a debate with journalist George Monbiot.

The dynamics of the interview / debate, which appeared a couple of nights ago on Australian ABC Television are pretty strange.

It appears as if Plimer wanted to be the interviewer rather than the interviewee, even though he was the one who wrote the book that was the topic of discussion. Yet, he refused to answer straightforward questions regarding the accuracy of statements he made in the book - even though these questions tend to cast the pages of his book in the light of used toilet paper.

He would constantly revert to the tactic of answering a straight question about his own book with some random balderdash.

He was snafu'd most blatantly of all on his contention that volcanoes produce more Co2 than human beings. This is like a piece of gospel for climate deniers. It's a claim that I have seen repeated dozens of times by deniers.

It was pointed out that the U.S. Geological Survey found that humans actually produce 130 times more Co2 than volcanoes. After numerous attempts to change the subject, Plimer then goes on a lengthy explanation that 85% per cent of volcanoes are under the oceans. At this point, Monbiot submits that the U.S. Geological Survey had been specifically asked by a U.K. journalist about this point and that the response was that undersea volcanoes had been included in the USGS calculations. Plimer was just totally exposed for the fraud he is.

It may all be moot at this point. As Copenhagen nears the end, still no hope for a deal is in sight, with U.S. President Obama scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

Canada's role has been little more than an embarrassment.

Admittedly, Canadian emissions are not really a factor, even though we are the world's 8th highest Co2 emitter and have the dirtiest project on Earth, the Alberta Tar Sands, right here in our ownback yard.

The major polluters - primarily the U.S.and China, are the ones that have to change their positions in order to achieve an overall different result.

However, a Canadian move could put a little more pressure on the U.S. and China to act. As it stands, Canada's image as the oil-rich, snotty-nosed, spoiled brat is still deflecting a lot of attention from China and the U.S. If we were to move our camp thataways, it would leave China and America more exposed to the bos and arrows from the rest of the world.

Doesn't seem likely though. Our entire country's agenda is now being run by one province, Alberta. And I think it is Harper who will ultimately be forced by Obama to budge a tiny bit, just in order to save face. Up until that time, Stevie will be happy to take a few journalistic arrows in the service of big oil profits.

That's if he isn't late for the meeting...

(and I do hope I'm wrong about this and Harper turns out to be a real leader)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alberta Oil - One Glob for the Price of Two Globs

Has anyone noticed the elegantly profitable symmetry that is unfolding in the Alberta oil patch?

A phalanx of oil companies, all of whom swear that they do not have time nor resources to put up a few windmills or do any other reasonable thing, are lining up to get their dibs in on the Athabasca Oil Sands.

Why is this, I wondered to myself.

Of course, the answer came quite easily.

Because these oil sands are a profitable operation.

But, they are really more profitable, even, than meets the eye. That's because there is a special magic in the air in Alberta that actually doubles the sales... and who knows what's going on with the profits? The oil companies are raking it in as it is, of course. Posting gargantuan profits with minimal worries about what the economy is doing. Cheating the public outright at the retail level at every turn. It is mind boggling what they get away with.

The coffee card effect

But the real sleight-of-hand goes on in the oil sands. Remember, this is the operation where it takes something like 4 times the energy to produce a barrel of oil as it does in conventional oil production. For starters, it takes 1200 cu. ft. of natural gas to produce one barrel of oil in the extraction process of conventional tar sands production. Since a barrel of oil is equal to about 6,000 cu. ft. of natural gas, it's just about like a Tim Horton's coffee card - extract 4 barrels of oil - you get to sell another barrel! Then there is all the other fuel used in the operation. Running all those dump trucks on steroids, shuttling the workers, etc., would all be additional energy burnt and additional Co2 and other emissions in the air and water. Even today, with oil production at possibly 15-20% of the anticipated future levels, the tar sands are consuming 40% of Alberta's natural gas production.

At that point we can consider the barrel of oil delivered, for the purpose of this discussion, but the consumption of fossil fuels associated with that barrel has only just begun. That's because Alberta has the intent of using carbon capture and storage (CCS) to reduce or neutralize the impact of the fuel burnt in the extraction process. In a nutshell, each time the Co2 emissions from one unit of fossil fuel is sequestered in CCS, the equivalent of another 50-75% of a unit of fuel is burnt. As explained in more detail here, this includes 20-30% in the capture, another 20-30% in liquefaction and a long list of other costs, including transportation of the liquid to the storage site, facilities construction, etc.

The net effect is a clusterbomb of fossil fuel consumption. To be sure, there may be few, if any, cases where the oil company running a project is one and the same as the company supplying the natural gas. But it is clear that all of these companies, together with their smaller suppliers and the Province of Alberta, form a common community that, as a whole, stands to realize exceptional benefits from the multiple combustion engine that is the Athabasca Tar Sands.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New World EV Record: Japanese car goes 555 km on one charge - Tokyo - Osaka

An electric car built by the Japan Electric Vehicle Club (JEVC) traveled the 555 km between Tokyo and Osaka on one charge in November.

The car, a Daihatsu Mira EV demolished the previous record of 501 km on one charge, set in October by a Tesla in Australia.
The following details are translated from the JEVC website:

Tokyo - Osaka Mira EV charging during non-charging 555.6km trip mileage achieved!

EV dreams and romance!
"No way, Osaka, Tokyo - Mira EV travel charger
To do so much running, "

===== ===== 1 achieved 555.6km mileage charge

Japan EV Club, November 17 (Tuesday), and
"No way, Osaka, Tokyo - Mira EV charging the trip to do so much running," and the
Up from Nihonbashi Osaka Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan EV Club Mira produced EV (electric vehicle), and
During one run more than once without charge,
1 achieved 555.6km distance charges.

No way of charging electric vehicles in running span 555.6 kilometers,
Tesla Motors U.S. October 27 Sun no way he established a range of 501km without a recharge,
Is a new world record. Apply to this record in Guinness.

? Tokyo - Osaka during non-charging EV Mira Travel Summary

Starting November 17, 2009 (Tue) 3 hours at Nihonbashi, Tokyo
Arrival November 17, 2009 (Tue) 16:26 min Osaka Nihonbashi

Distance: 555.6km
Running time: 13 hours 26 minutes 34 seconds
Driver: end ?? (Japan EV Club representative)
Passenger seat: Usui Takenobu (Japan EV club technical staff)

Vehicle: Mira EV (Japan EV Club Production)
Base vehicle: Miraban Daihatsu
Motor: DC brushless synchronous
Rated output: 14kW
Maximum output: 35 kW
Battery: Lithium Ion SANYO
Total Voltage: 240.5 V
Total energy: 74 kWh
Capacity: 2

Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. Toyotaiyajapan sponsors
Sanyo cooperation
Japan EV Club hosted project management

"Tokyo - Osaka EV Mira travel during non-charging" special website
11/17 has been running on the report.

Monday, December 14, 2009

CCS - Carbon Capture and Storage - Solution? Stopgap? or a Gimmick to Drive Oil Sales?

One of the least popular alternatives, in environmentalist circles, for reducing GHG in the atmosphere, is the whole concept of carbon capture and storage.

This is the process where Co2 emissions are captured at some point in a combustion cycle and, by one of a variety of means, are trapped and sequestered so they do not enter the atmosphere.

This is seen by many as, at worst, nothing but a trick dreamed up by the oil companies to facilitate even greater profits while postponing the inevitable, that is, the day we wean ourselves from carbon fuels altogether. Others view CCS as a stopgap type of measure, which could be quick to implement and relatively useful until such time as alternative energy production is brought up to speed. And, there are others who see this option as the holy grail of making our energy needs compatible with the healthy future of the planet. Which is it? I dunno but let's take a look.

There are many different variations of CCS. Probably the most common is where Co2 is captured in a coal burning or other combustion process and then pressurized, liquefied and injected into the earth. The most common injection sites used so far are old oil fields, where the liquid Co2 is effective for recovering additional oil that otherwise wouldn't have been possible to get out of the old wells.

Then there are many variations of this process ranging from different ways of preparing the underground site to ocean floor scenarios, etc.

The other most promising technique, rather than liquifying the Co2, is to use a process called carbon mineralization, where the Co2 is used to form carbonate solid material, such as limestone or other rock.

CCS is well established on a small scale. One of the largest facilities in the world is the Petroleum Technology Research Center in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Once full, this facility will contain the equivalent of the Co2 produced by 6 million cars in one year.

The government of Alberta has budgeted $2 billion for CCS and several projects have already started.

The problems with CCS at a glance are as follows:

* high cost of capturing the Co2 (approx 20-25% of energy produced)
* high cost of liquefaction
* cost of transport
* potential of leakage
* the solution is not permanent
* sequestration sites are finite

CCS drives petroleum consumption

So, the total cost in energy and dollars of the CCS process would be something like 50% of the energy produced in the original process.

Add to this consideration the fact that oil from the tar sands already implies a huge energy component in initial production.

Well, the good thing about all this for the oil companies is that the additional energy they use can be seen as additional sales for their industry, which also have the effect of supporting petroleum prices and so forth.

The other problem is that this method only deals with the Co2. Many other serious pollutants are still dispersed into the atmosphere.

This problem is also present with the carbon mineralization technique. However, there are some advantages. First of all, the by-products of carbon mineralization, whether they be limestone or a similar carbonate, are all inert, non-toxic, solid materials that can be buried, piled or used for pretty much anything. Secondly, this technique is permanent - and, for the sake of discussion, sustainable.

In the case of carbon mineralization, you still have to capture the Co2, so you still have that cost. Most of the other costs are as yet undetermined.

Company claims to produce fuel from Co2

The down side of this technology is that tried and proven methods of rapid carbon mineralization are still in the research stage. Much of the information out there is locked down in academic portals that you have to subscribe to or pay as you go. In short, C-M could have potential, but working models are still few and far between.

There are many other techniques out there.

There has been a proposal floated for such a thing as zero-emission coal, a complex process that seems to lead to either CCS or carbon mineralization in the end anyway.

Beyond that, there is even a company in California, Carbon Sciences Inc., that is claiming to be able to produce fuel from Co2, effectively recycling the emissions.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ocean Acidification - Global Warming's Evil Twin

As Charles Clover writes in today's Times Online, there are other consequences of rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, in addition to global warming.

Approximately 25% of the co2 produced each year is absorbed into the oceans. This has lessened the impact of global warming, to be sure. However, the down side is that this has caused an increase in acidity of the oceans of about 30% since the beginning of the industrial age.

NOAA states in their May 2008 "State of the science fact sheet for ocean acidification" that:
"The oceans have absorbed about 50% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released from the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in chemical reactions that lower ocean pH. This has caused an increase in hydrogen ion (acidity) of about 30% since the start of the industrial age through a process known as “ocean acidification.” A growing number of studies have demonstrated adverse impacts on marine organisms, including:

  • The rate at which reef-building corals produce their skeletons decreases.
  • The ability of marine algae and free-swimming zooplankton to maintain protective shells is reduced.
  • The survival of larval marine species, including commercial fish and shellfish, is reduced."
Since increased acidity is only one of the problems facing the oceans, many of the ecosystems are in dire straights. The situation with the coral, for instance is already critical - many say beyond hope.

Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art... and is there such a thing as good climate change art?

Toronto artist Franke James published 6 Tools to Make Climate Change Art on her blog for Blog Action Day, Oct 15th, 2009. James gained some notoriety in 2008, when she convinced the city of North York to allow her to have a green driveway.

Go ahead! Have at it! Use any or all of these tools - or make up your own. Everyone can make climate change art.

6 Tools to Make Climate Change Art

green conscience six tools by Franke James

Sort of following through on this, there is a discussion over on Lea Shick's blog at Arts for COP15 about what is good climate art.

Essentially the discussion mimics the "what is art?" or the "what is good art?" convo that we are familiar with.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Opposition to Teck Resources sale of Waneta Dam to B.C. Hydro

There seems to be a consistent pattern of opposition to this sale from diverse parties around British Columbia. I first wrote about this transaction in November. The terms and specifics of the deal seemed really bizarre to me at the time, especially having just read detailed descriptions of Hydro Quebec's recent deal to purchase NB Power. In short, Teck Resources is getting a lot more ($825 mil) for a 1/3 share in this asset than some verifiable market comparables would suggest as fair value.

The status of the sale at present is that it is going through the approval process at the B.C. Utilities Commission.

The so-called B.C. Hydro Final Argument document was filed with the BCUC on December 9.

In that document, the justification for the price on the transaction is rather weak, based mostly on speculative estimated costs of future alternatives for B.C. Hydro and speculation about whether Teck Resources would accept a lower price.

If you go to the BCUC link you will find links there to all the official submissions that have been made to date. There are dozens of them there. Most of the ones that I saw were opposed to the sale.

The MLA for Nelson Creston, Michelle Mungall, wrote about this issue on her blog Dec. 1.

I will continue to follow up on this matter as it unfolds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Permaculture permeates the planet - one path to a sustainable future

The vision of a sustainable future for the planet is one shared by many - and more and more people are getting involved as time goes by.

One of the approaches to preserving a healthy planet for future generations that has become codified, if you will, and has spread throughout the world, is permaculture.

Permaculture has been defined in various ways. The following is taken from The Permaculture Association (U.K.) website:

Permaculture combines three key aspects:

1. an ethical framework

2. understandings of how nature works, and

3. a design approach

The idea of permaculture is to create communities that are self-sufficient, prosperous and respectful of values that will enable the community and the planet to exist in perpetuity.

Here are a couple of other useful links:

Permaculture Canada

Permaculture U.S.

At some point in the near future I would be interested in looking into the evolution of "permaculture| as a movement to date.

Is this something that is centrally organized on a global basis? I don't know why it has that feel about it.

Is this a globalization initiative dressed up like a "small is good" philosophy?

What caught my eye is the "design approach" to sustainable living.

To what extent does design imply art? To what extent does design imply imposing a prescribed lifestyle? Is there design going on here that is "outside the box"? To what extent is the design creating the box, if at all?

I would love to look into this more thoroughly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Alberta Tar Sands GHG emissions to double by 2020

As bad as Alberta's GHG emissions are today, at about 5x the Canadian per capita average, the worst is yet to come.

According to Alberta government projections, GHG emissions from the Tar Sands alone will rise from a level of about 65 million tons of co2 equivalent in 2010 to about 130 million tons (megatons) per year by 2020.

For sake of comparison, 65 megatons is approximately equal to the total 2006 emissions of the province of British Columbia and approximately 80% of the current GHG emissions of the province of Quebec.

Alberta's total GHG emissions are projected to increase from approximately 236 megatons in 2006 to 270 in 2010, 290 in 2015 and 310 in 2020.

Total Alberta GHG emissions (millions of tons)

1990 - 172
1995 - 195
2000 - 210
2006 - 236
2010 - 270
2015 - 290
2020 - 310

Alberta Tar Sands Greenhouse Gas & co2 emissions

1990 - n/a
1995 - n/a
2000 - 20
2005 - 25
2010 - 65
2015 - 112
2020 - 130

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What can Alberta do about the tar sands?

Nothing is black and white.

Anyone who has paid attention has noticed that there are environmental groups that want to "shut down" the tar sands.

I don't think that is a reasonable solution and I don't think it is going to happen.

I've also noticed a few other things.

i.e. Alberta raised royalty rates in '07 and the oil cos. squawked but they still have a sweetheart deal and investment continues to roll in, despite a shaky market. Start-ups in the tar sands get a 1% royalty for a bunch of years... something like that. I haven't studied it in depth.

And, over the past couple of years the oil companies have made extraordinary profits.

So, all signs indicate that the oil companies have wiggle room. Heck, they have wiggle room for all the dinosaurs in Drumheller...

On the other side, it seems that Alberta's resource royalties have dropped from around $12+ B to $6+ B in the last year. But has Alberta had to put in a sales tax to make ends meet? Nope. In fact the popular new Wildrose Party is pushing for bigger concessions to the oil companies.

So, yeah, it looks like Alberta also has some wiggle room.

I suggest that Alberta and the oil companies get serious and figure out some ways to put the planet ahead of profits - but still keep profits intact.

As I understand, the problems with the tar sands are several - but the main one is that it takes 3 or 4 times the energy to produce the oil than a conventional oil source. So..

1. They need to have sustainable energy phasing in at all plants.

No one can claim it doesn't make economic sense. Every cubic foot of natural gas that isn't consumed today (in such a ridiculous, when you think about it, process as producing oil) is preserved for the future when it will be much more valuable. And that aside - if it is viable for Quebec to put up wind farms, when Quebec is already self-sufficient in electricity, then obviously it must be viable for Alberta.

2. They could set up one tar sands plant as a showcase to prove the viability and feasibility of a clean project. They could plan it from A to Z as a model eco community - once the lead was taken the other projects would be forced to follow suit. Parks, reforestation, fishing... They could put in rapid transit systems for the employees, gardens, geothermal heating for the houses, whatever it takes. The oil companies could never buy better PR than that. I admit it's cheaper to pay off junk scientists - but that is not going to work for long. People are just not that stupid.

When they see oil execs taking their kids to swim in tailing ponds - then people will believe that the water is safe. -not before

3. They need to come up with innovative ways of cleaning the water they use and recycling the heat out of it. And they're probably doing this already - they just need to do it 5 or 10 or 100 times as well.

4. Look at other ways of converting excess co2 or disposing of it in addition to the deep burying that they're already working on. (I find it weird that putting our atmosphere under ground could possibly be sustainable?!)

5. Try to come up with some dang thing that would be unique in Alberta that is environment-friendly. They are going to need this for cap and trade and PR reasons, as well as for the good of the planet. I dunno what to suggest - a made-in-Alberta high-speed rapid transit system between Edmonton and Calgary or right up to Ft. McMurray? Maybe an innovative way to harvest methane gas from cattle? Perhaps establish a university or technical school focused entirely on the environment? Things of this nature will be economic catalysts, they'll enable Alberta to set and meet useful emission reduction targets and improve public relations which are currently at an all-time low and about to start costing all Canadians.

If Albertans are worried that the tar sands will become another fur seal debacle - Yes. Start worrying. Tar Sands will be Fur Seals X 1000000s in terms of consequences. And the difference is the tar sands problem is legitimate.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Canada: Thanks Stephen Harper - We Are Now Known as a "Thuggish Petro-State"

Anyone who doesn't believe that Stephen Harper is single-handedly flushing Canada's reputation down the toilet...

...need look no further than Monday's Guardian, a major national / international U.K. newspaper and online news publisher.

Those with their heads in the (tar) sand can say what they will.

This is what is being said about our beloved Canada. It is being said all over the world. It is being said in the city and in the country. It is being said at war and at peace. We are numbly, willingly, greedily, aiding and abetting this lunatic Stephen Harper in destroying the viability and the essence of what has been Canada for the past 100 years.

When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world's peacekeeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country's government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee's tea party. So amazingly destructive has Canada become, and so insistent have my Canadian friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I've broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to Toronto.

So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.

Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works

Can we please stop this insanity?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

India Opens the Door to "Deviation from Business as Usual", with support from developed nations

Just a day after Indian Premier Manmohan Singh said the country could commit to emissions cuts with strings attached, the chief Indian climate negotiator has cast doubt on that possibility, confirming only that India would be open to "Deviation from Business as Usual".

"There cannot be any emission cuts," said Saran, adding that the developed world did not expect countries like India to adopt emission reduction targets but instead to accept "deviation from business as usual."

India is currently the fourth-leading country in terms of co2 emissions, at 1.5 billion tons of co2 equivalent emissions per year as of 2006, putting it just behind Russia. China and the U.S. were at 6.1 and 5.5 billion tons respectively.

In terms of per capita emissions, however, India's 1.29 tons per person puts it at the bottom of the list. China's per capita emissions in '06 were at 4.57 tons per person, just over the worldwide average and the U.S.'s per capita emissions were at 18.68 tons per person, the highest in the world, with the exceptions of Kuwait, Qater and the U.A.R.

China pledges emission cuts per unit of GDP

The Chinese announcement Thursday Nov. 26 of firm targets in emission cuts is tied to the country's GDP.

The tactic is unique among the major greenhouse gas emitters, however it does represent some quantifiable target, which is something that no one has been sure the Chinese would agree to.

The specific target set is to reduce co2 emissions by 40-45% of 2005 levels by 2020, relative to each point of GDP.

According to the People's Daily, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said "That is a very important and ambitious target... The announcement injects a momentum in leading up to the Copenhagen summit".

Friday, November 27, 2009

Entire Country At Risk: Bhutan in danger of global warming disaster

The tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan is one of the world's last unspoiled treasures. People live a traditional lifestyle in unbelievably picturesque settings.

Bhutan's breathtaking "Tiger's Nest"

As a report by Anjali Nayaer in the current edition of Nature News explains in detail, Bhutan is a nation on the brink of disaster, it's geographic landscape in the midst of literally earth-shaking transformation:

Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035. This puts the mountainous nation of Bhutan at a special risk. In an area smaller than Switzerland, it has 983 glaciers and 2,794 glacial lakes, some of which have burst to produce deadly glacial lake floods.

A almost unbelievable transformation is underway across the planet, and nowhere is it more all-encompassing than in Bhutan, as the article goes on to explain:

The sounds of global warming are deafening at Thorthormi glacier. Every few minutes, a block of ice rips off the glacier and crashes into the lake in a trail of dust and ice. These are some of the tallest mountains in the world and form Bhutan's northern boundary with Tibet.

Some distance downstream - the setting for the new 1200 MW Punatsangchhu-I Hydroelectric Project, scheduled to be built in 66 months by Larsen & Toubro (L&T), India’s leading Engineering, Technology and Construction Company - that's if the whole valley isn't washed out by a massive flood caused by overflowing glacial lakes upstream...


The above photo shows the Canadian Ambassador to Bhutan, Joseph Caron, who yesterday presented Bhutan's Foreign Minister with a letter of credit in the amount of $50,000 for earthquake relief. Sometimes a little cash will go a long way to help people...

Once they're gone, no amount of money will bring back the glaciers in Bhutan.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What is the

Fascinating how soon we begin to look back on things that, it seems like, we just started a short time ago. Such is the case with this blog.

When we first started this blog in '07, the Eco Art out there in cyberspace was just beginning to proliferate. We did quite a bit of research into what there was - and one of the more interesting groups we discovered was the California-based is a non-profit group run completely by volunteers.

The following is adapted from the organization's "about" page., is a 100% volunteer run online museum of environmental art founded in 2001.

"Our goal is to inform, inspire and connect people through environmental art and encourage the creation of new work that serves communities and ecosystems. If you like this site and feel moved to volunteer or contribute to the birth of a sustainable culture, please visit our membership section and join us to support the growth of this movement. We are currently planning a major redesign of the site and a new organizational model to run it with. Stay tuned!"

There are listings of something like 200 artists, numerous online exhibitions and projects, community listings with a calendar and a blog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Eco Art Painting by Tatiana Iliina: Tailings Pond

Co2 Art is proud to feature another eco art original abstract painting by Tatiana Iliina.

This one is titled "Tailings Pond", from Tatiana's Industrial Waste series.


" that's how everything works... ...and then that big river o' water just washes all that gunk outa there and it just goes right inta that huge pond that ya seen when ya flew in...'ll sit in that pond maybe a hunnert years... ...then they'll do some tests..."

Tailings Pond is dedicated to the thousands of hectares of once-pristine wilderness that are now covered by standing lakes of chemical soup all over the world.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Canada ghg emissions per capita 2006 by province - divisive forces coming to bear

Following are the figures on the per capita by province emissions I have extrapolated from bargraphs on a British Columbia government Ministry of the Environment website. After quite a bit of searching around these are the best figures I can readily find.

Carbon Footprint by Province

greenhouse gas emissions per capita by province 2006, in tons of co2 equivalent

Tons of co2 per capita

Alberta 70

British Columbia 14
Manitoba 18
New Brunswick 24
Newfoundland & Labrador 18
Nova Scotia 21
Ontario 15
P.E.I. 15
Quebec 11
Saskatchewan 73
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. 16

Interestingly, most sources for these figures, as well as total ghg emissions by province give graphic images, without showing the data. What is that about?

Interesting to note that B.C. acknowledges 62.3 million tons of co2 emissions in 2006, plus an additional 4 million tons of emissions caused by logging industry deforestation.

What are the total ghg emissions by province?

here are some Stats Canada figures on that, picked up from the Energy Collective website

Again, the figures given are just eyeballed off a bar graph, since the bar graphs appear in umpteen sources on the internet and I am having a tough time finding the actual stats

The numbers show the Greenhouse gas emissions for Canada by province, with the 1990 number first and the 2006 number second.

Emissions are measured in millions of tons of co2 equivalent, and are net, incorporating such factors as deforestation, afforestation, etc.

GHG Emissions 1990 - 2006

Alberta 172 - 236

British Columbia 50 - 66
Manitoba 20 - 22
New Brunswick 19 - 21
Newfoundland & Labrador 12 - 12
Nova Scotia 21 - 22
Ontario 174 - 190
P.E.I. 2 - 2
Quebec 84 - 82
Saskatchewan 45 - 73
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. n/a

Interestingly, some of the federal government sources of information have magically disappeared.

But here is another very interesting set of data - this is the percentage of the Canadian increase in ghg emissions since 1990, by province:

Alberta 50.2%
British Columbia 10.9%
Manitoba 1.9%
New Brunswick <1%>
Newfoundland & Labrador <1%
Nova Scotia <1%
Ontario 13
P.E.I. <1%
Quebec 0% (total decrease of 1%)
Saskatchewan 22.7%
Yukon, Nunavut & N.W.T. 0% (total decrease of 17%)

The above figures also obtained from a chart on the Energy Collective.

A disturbing and divisive fact is beginning to emerge here.

This is that all provinces benefit from their natural resources according to their distribution among the provinces. However, as things are unfolding, it looks like all the citizens of a country are being held accountable for the emissions of the country as a whole.

I can't see this evolving in any way that will be palatable in a context of Canadian unity.

For one thing, we have two provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, that are blatantly exposed in terms of per capita and total ghg emissions, especially against 1990 levels.

Alberta residents enjoy zero provincial sales tax and low income tax - so it's not going to look very good if residents of other provinces end up paying Alberta's way...

On the other hand Quebec is at the other extreme, already reducing emissions per 1990 levels. So Quebecers are really going to be hard pressed to agree with propping up any kind of polluting economy in the rest of the country.

Quebec and Alberta. Two provinces with already strong independent tendencies, are only going to find divisive forces running deeper and wider as the continuing climate discussions reveal more facts and the consequences become apparent to the average person.

Quebec has a Plan A and Plan B for Copenhagen

Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp said Friday that Quebec will likely be bringing a Plan B to Copenhagen that will involve the conference recognizing the role of state and provincial governments in the climate change debate, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette Saturday.

Quebec is one of four Canadian provinces, with Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba, representing 80% of the population, and seven U.S. states including California, that have joined the Western Climate Initiative, a group that supports a cap and trade program and is pushing for more ambitious position on greenhouse gas reduction targets. Currently Canada has indicated a target of a 3% emissions reduction on 1990 levels would be acceptable to adopt. Meanwhile, Beauchamp has indicated that Quebec may be setting its sights on a reduction target in the range of 25% or higher.

The lame Canadian target is accentuated by Quebec's strong position. If one considers the second largest province in Canada is targeting a 25% reduction - yet Canada's overall reduction is only 3%, we see that some parts of Canada are, in fact, planning rampant emission increases.

The entire world is basing the Copenhagen talks on 1990 emission levels and Canada's Conservative government is continuing to talk about using 2006 as a baseline.

On December 15 in Copenhagen, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and South Australia Premier Mike Rann will co-chair a leaders summit on climate change. Attendees at this meeting will include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and French presidential runner up Segolene Royal.

The separatist Parti Quebecois is trying to make hay over Copenhagen, with PQ international relations critic Lise Beaudoin asking Beauchamp how Quebec can go into Copenhagen as a part of the Canadian delegation in good conscience, when Canadian Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, wants the talks to fail.

At this point, Beauchamp indicated that Quebec will likely bring the most ambitious emission target of any any jurisdiction in North America to Copenhagen.

In an interview with Europolitics, we see that the Euros are getting sensitive about the Alberta Tar Sands, as the reporter specifically asked Beauchamp about it:

"What is your position on Canada’s use of oil sands?"

Beauchamp's reply was diplomatic:

"No matter what type of industry we are talking about, if it is a strong GHG emitter, then under a ‘cap and trade’ it will have either to invest in reducing emissions or to buy trading allowances. There can be an oil sands industry, but this industry should not in any way hinder Canada from being ambitious in its fight against climate change. Rules should also be imposed on this industry so that it makes its contribution in terms of reducing GHG emissions."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. coins new arms race

Writing in the Huffington Post a couple of days ago, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. declared a new arms race: the race to mobilize a green economy. And, he pretty much comes out and says that the U.S. is losing the race convincingly, right out of the blocks.

He says that the Chinese have dedicated 38% of their economic stimulus package to sustainable development, which would be approximately $1.5 trillion bucks. Trouble is, according to Wikipedia, China has only allocated just over 5% of its stimulus package to green initiatives. Could there be some grey area? Sure. But I don't think Kennedy is serving his causes well leaving so much room for doubt with unsubstantiated claims.

People who are concerned about the environment need to keep in mind the need to be very careful not to drift into hyperbole in any of their activities, so as not to distract from the message they are really attempting to get a cross.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Evergreen Brickworks: Eco Mega Project in TO

Toronto's Evergreen Brickworks, self-proclaimed as Canada’s first large-scale, environmental community centre, is scheduled to open inMay 2010.

The project, being built in the derelict Don Valley Brickworks, just off the Don Valley Parkway, near downtown Toronto, has been spearheaded by Evergreen, a non profit organization dedicated to "making cities more livable."

The Evergreen Brickworks project has included fundraising to the tune of $55 million, $44 million of which has already been obtained.

Since 2004 the site has been offering a variety of activities such as a farmers market, a chef's market, guided nature walks and workshops and picnics.

The project is envisioned as a "sustainability showcase", including carbon neutral heating and cooling, with a solar co-generation system, net neutral water consumption complemented by 4 million litres of water per year collected from rainfall on the building roofs, zero waste to landfill and extensive provisions for sustainable transportation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New on screen: H2Oil digs deep in the tar sands

Was not able to see this new film, H2Oil, but it does promise to be a high profile addition to the body of work out there zeroing in on the Alberta Tar Sands.

It screened a couple of times last week at Concordia in Montreal.

On the website you can request a screening at a location near you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Prentice says it's futile to reduce emissions if U.S. doesn't

The great Harper government cop-out continues.

Speaking in Edmonton Friday, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said that Canada would cause itself economic hardship by cutting emissions if the Americans didn't follow suit, with no benefit to the environment.

He failed to mention the obvious to the partisan Chamber of Commerce luncheon faithful - that if all countries took this approach there would have been no progress at all yet on climate change.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Welcome to the Maldives -new Tatiana Iliina painting!

A beautiful haunting canvas which could be an artist's concept of what the Maldives Islands may look like in a few years time, after being completely flooded by rising waters fed by melting ice caps.

global warming,painting,Maldives,Tatiana Iliina

Another gorgeous day in the Maldives...

Maldives government meets under water

A couple of weeks ago, the Maldives Parliament held a session underwater to symbolize the island nation's struggle for survivial. I read it was officially a government cabinet meeting.

The Maldives consist of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, about 200 of which are inhabited and have an average elevation of 4 feet 11 inches above sea level.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Project COAL: International Call for Artists - Appel a projet international

This is a call for artists that is open until Nov. 30, 2009

It is organized by COAL, the "coalition for the arts and sustainable development" which was created in France in 2008 by professionals of contemporary art, sustainable development and research. COAL is a nongovernmental organization. Its members are Alice Audouin, Baudelot Alexandra, Alexis Botaya, Loic Fel, Lauranne Germond, Yann Queinnec, Guillaume-Olivier Robic, Agathe Utard Clement Willemin.

On the COAL website there is a much more complete description, in French, of what it's all about.

This is the website:

Most of the (somewhat garbled) translation below I have borrowed from the website: Arts for COP15 art & activism Copenhagen 09


PROJET COAL is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the National Center of Fine Arts


PROJET COAL is a cycle of calls over three-years that invites artists to work on major global environmental and societal challenges. Approaches to sustainable development range between creativity and accountability. Sustainable development is still too often democratizes through normative discourse or alarmists. But change also depends on the sensitivity and performances, giving artistic expression to all its necessities.

Supported by partners in art and sustainable development this call for project aims to:

- Encourage the involvement and commitment of arts on environmental and societal current issues.

- Enhance the role of the artist as a stakeholder, promote exchange and networking with other stakeholders engaged in the field of sustainable development (NGOs, international institutions, communities, firms, unions ...).

- Support the production and distribution of signifying pieces of art.

- Provide visibility into projects and creative proposals on major societal and environmental issues.

- Promote their implementation and dissemination to public and private actors.

Based on a detailed study of the issue, made under the supervision of a scientific committee, the artists are invited to submit their project proposals, realistic or utopian, to risk solutions, to put a new look.

This call for proposals will be:

- Publishing a reference book presenting 100 projects selected under this call. Designed as a catalog of suggestions, ideas, visions, the book COAL PROJECT 2009 will be widely disseminated to policy makers and stakeholders (media arts and sustainable development, communities, NGOs, companies ...).

- Organizing a series of seminars around the projects and a full day of multi-stakeholder metting around 10 projects selected in the presence of the jury and the Scientific Committee and key stakeholders in sustainable development.

- rewarding a recipient designated by the jury of experts with a grant of 5 000 euros. The winner also receives the accompaniment of COAL for networking necessary for the development of his project.

All details : scientific committee, thematic, jury, application on


For further information, please email at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Teck Resources gets $825 million from B.C. Hydro for less than 1/3 of the Waneta Dam

Now for something a little off topic - but still well in line with my interest in sustainable power and economics...

As an appetizer, the news that the estimate for economic impact of the 2010 Olympics has gone from $10.7 B to $4 Bil...:^O

I may be an apologist for the Olympics as a great - if flawed - institution, but give me a break. OK, it's still peanuts compared to the discrepancy in the Reform-Conservatives' budgeting over the past 15 months... but no one expects them to get anything right... just as long as they loosen up the gun laws...

Then there is the little-known case of B.C. Hydro buying into the Waneta Dam, owned by Teck Resources Ltd., in southern B.C. near Trail.

Campbell's government paid $825 million for a ONE-THIRD share of EXCESS power going forward.

OK these just look like numbers... that is until you stop to consider that Hydro Quebec just bought an entire utility, NB Power, lock, stock and barrel, for $4.75 B. That deal included 15 hydro, coal and diesel power generating stations, and a full-blown nuclear station currently getting a $1.5 billion refurbishing job from Atomic Energy of Canada. BTW - I have seen the cost of a new reactor pegged at $5-8 Bil.

So let's total it up - HQ gets 3,324 MW of installed generating capacity - in a deal widely described as a win - win, for $4.75 Bil. $1.43 million per MW

B.C. gets one-third of the excess power produced by a dam whose total capacity is 450 MW. Excess means that first the power to run the Cominco Smelter in Trail comes off the top... I dunno how much this smelter takes to run - let's just ignore it for the sake of argument. Let's just say B.C. gets 1/3 of the full capacity. OK 150 MW, for $825 Mil $5.5 million per MW - without allowing for whatever it takes to run the smelter.

What happened to Teck's stock price?

The difference is that Teck has been selling its excess power for some ridiculous sums to the U.S., whereas Hydro Quebec is locked into providing power to NB residents with no rate hikes for 5 years. Anyway, by disregarding whatever power it's going to take to run the smelter, we should be able to safely assume we're erring on the side of making the deal look better for B.C. Hydro than it really is.

But B.C. Hydro isn't guaranteed anything. Who knows? there could be years with minimal excess power to sell if the water is low. The price in the U.S. could also fall. The U.S. prices are all artificially inflated a la Enron anyway - they could easily fall.

I don't know what has happened to the deal since the announcement. There is supposed to be a utilities commission looking into it. There is precious little about the deal on either B.C. Hydro's or Teck's website.

Oh yeah... so in and around the same time period that Teck made the deal to sell what maybe $200-400 million of power to B.C. Hydro for $825 million ...there is the little matter of the price of Teck's stock going up from $3.90 to $33 over a period of months! Hmm hmmm, sure would be cool if a person had a way to tell when these sweetheart deals were in the works! I would love to see what Jon Stewart would do with this one...

But despite how it looks, it would be only fair to mention that Teck is a large company with a market cap of $19 billion (ok, as little as $3 billion several months ago) and all types of things influence its stock price. Not the least of which - coal sales to China, the commodity crash and the credit squeeze.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stephen Harper's Canada target of scorn and derision at Barcelona climate talks

After a week of pathetic and embarrassing non-action at climate talks in Barcelona, pretty much full disengagement, and an altogether counter-productive approach, Canada has swept the awards for being the most destructive country on Earth towards the environment.

On the final day of the conference in Barcelona, Canada was awarded the Fossil of the Day and the Fossil of the Week awards by the Climate Action Network, a worldwide network of 450 non-governmental organizations based in Washington D.C., working to "limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels".

The main objective of all these talks, and the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, is to arrive at a binding number that all countries will agree to, to represent the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990 levels.

As of now, it appears that a worldwide aggregate number of 11-15% reduction by developed nations on 1990 might be achievable. Most poor countries and emerging economies are saying that this number is far too low and needs to be at 40.

Europe, meanwhile is pushing for targets in the range of 20-30%.

Canada is presently sticking to a laughable 3% reduction, saying even that will cause significant restructuring difficulty. On top of that, Canada is trying to use a loophole in previous wording that would allow us to peg our reductions based on estimates of future emissions.

Canada's negotiating position has always been to use the facts that we are a thinly populated, northern country of large distances to justify our "difficulty" in reducing levels of emissions.

In Barcelona we have been exposed BIG TIME by Norway, a country every bit as far north and thinly populated as Canada. At these talks, Norway has stepped up and raised its commitment from a 30% reduction to 40%. Norway, incidentally, is the top oil producer in Europe and one of the top 6 net oil exporters in the world as of 2008.

Stephen Harper has proven completely incapable of financial management. Blowing a $13 billion Liberal surplus almost overnight and plowing the country into (who knows?) a $50 billion deficit situation in a matter of months. Tossing out seemingly random economic projections and interim budgets along the way.

Now, Harper is on the way to destroying Canada's accumulated international good will capital that has been carefully nurtured over the past 90-100 years.

As his mentor, George W. Bush did in the U.S., Harper is doing everything he possibly can to bring the scorn of the world down on Canada. We cannot allow this to continue.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Canada the "worst nation by a mile" - The Guardian

Writing in the Guardian yesterday, John Vidal says that Canada is the near-unanimous choice of observers at the lead-up to Copenhagen climate-change talks in Barcelona this past week, as "the worst nation by a mile."

He goes on to say that Canada, already the worst per capita greenhouse gas producer, is expected to propose a miniscule 3% reduction in 1990 emission levels, is home to the dirtiest oil in the world and is sneakily tossing in a sleight of hand proposal to "exploit a loophole which would allow it to reduce emissions compared with what it might emit one day in the future!"

Prime Minister Harper is oblivious to reality...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Canadian company Saltworks reduces energy needed for desalination by 80%

Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshi have come up with an ingenious way to desalinate water using a series of brine solutions of different concentrations, together with a solar-assisted evaporation component.

According to an article in the Economist the best reverse osmosis systems currently consume about 3.7 kWh of electricity to produce 1,000 litres of drinking water, whereas the Canadians' company, Saltworks, claims to be able to produce the same amount of drinking water using less than 1 kWh of electricity.


To develop such a technology in Vancouver, where it rains non-stop and you rarely see the sun. =)

More on this new technology can be found at Cleantech Blog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Craik Sustainable Living Project - Five Years In

A town in Saskatchewan that adopted a long-term sustainable development strategy several years ago is already demonstrating impressive results.

The town seems to have at least stalled imminent ruin by its adoption of the green municipal plan and the enthusiasm generated could spill over into a thriving future.

At the turn of the millennium, Craik was badly depressed, suffering from the same syndrome experienced by hundreds of prairie towns... declining rural populations, centralized service centres, lack of opportunity for youth and so forth.

A joint effort of the Town of Craik and the Rural Municipality of Craik to seek a community project that could offer hope for the future was presented the concept of creating an eco village by Dr. Lynn Oliphant of the Prairie Institute for Human Ecology and formerly the University of Saskatchewan.

Craik is located roughly halfway between Regina and Saskatchewan and the town has a population of about 400.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Copenhagen Art Exhibition Opens - Rethink Contemporary Art & Climate Change

This exhibition opened in Copenhagen on Oct. 31 and will run through December.

The program for Rethink Contemporary Art & Climate Change, includes numerous exhibitions, events and shows.

The timing coincides neatly with the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, scheduled for December 7-18, also in Copenhagen.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Artist has discovered new island and wants to sail it to England for Olympics

A British artist, Alex Hartley, discovered a new island off the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, during the 2004 Cape Farewell expedition. The island had been revealed as melting ice caused a glacier to recede from the island.

Now, in a project named NOWHEREISLAND, Hartley plans to transport a part of the island to England. The island is about the size of a football field and is made up mostly of morain and rubble covering a small amount of bedrock. The island is named Nymark Island and is officially recognized by the Norwegian Arctic Survey.

Another part of the plan includes applying for "micronation" status while the island is enroute to England. There is already a "call" out for citizens and Hartley hopes his micronation will surpass several others in terms of population. This reminds me of the Principality of Sealand, a "country" that was set up in 1967 on a deserted concrete gun fixture that had been built during WW2 just outside of British territorial waters.

Friday, October 30, 2009

16-km wide floe of Arctic ice disintegrates in 5 minutes

Canadian scientists on an icebreaker working in the Beaufort Sea went looking for multiyear Arctic ice - something that used to cover the Arctic at depths up to 80 meters thick.

They have reported back and the news is not good. To make a long story short, they didn't find much at all. They just found hundreds of kilometers of "rotten ice", and seas that an icebreaker can plow through at 13 knots. This ice is made from bits and pieces of ice left over from previous years covered by jsut a thin layer of one-year ice.

David Barber, the Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba, said that the ice is melting extraordinarily fast. "I've never seen anything like this in my 30 years of working in the high Arctic ... it was very dramatic," he said.

One ice floe they did find was 6-8 meters thick and about 16 kilometers wide. This small island of thicker ice disintegrated in 5 minutes after being buffeted by some waves.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New battery technology to be manufactured near Montreal

French billionaire Vincent Bollore announced today that his company, the Bollore Groupe, will invest $120 million in a battery factory in Boucherville, according to an article in Yahoo News Canada. They will be the first in the world producing the innovative lithium-metal-polymer battery technology that was developed in parallel by Quebec's Avestor, absorbed by Bollore Groupe in 2007, and BatScap, another Bollore subsidiary.

The interesting thing is that, at the time of the takeover of Avestor, Bollore had applied to build the new manufacturing facility in Brittany, France. For some reason they have decided to add to the existing Avestor facilities in Canada.

Maybe this was faster, easier to get approved, or perhaps a question of cheaper electricity, or, perhaps they hit up the QC gov't for tax concessions - who knows? No reasons given. Or maybe they will build in Brittany later.

This battery has an electric car project ready to go, in collaboration with the Italian Pininfarina Group. The fully electric "Bluecar" has already been shown at trade fairs in Europe and there is apparently a prototype of it set up in the Avestor building in Boucherville, Quebec. It has a top speed of 130 km/h and range of 250 km on a charge.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Climate Cover-Up" exposes grow op of "astro-turf" grass roots science

There's a new book out that cuts to the most crucial issue of the whole global warming discussion.

The book is Climate Cover-Up,
The Crusade to Deny Global Warming
by James Hoggan with Richard Littlemore

As described in detail on the link above, the book gets into the nuts and bolts of how the truth about climate change has been deliberately shrouded in misinformation led by none other than the Masters of Misinformation, Phillip Morris. LOL

Rather than me go on about it, I could share the words of Leonardo Dicaprio on the subject:

“This book explains how the propaganda generated by self-interest groups has purposely created confusion about climate change. It’s an imperative read for a successful future.”

or David Suzuki:

Climate Cover-Up documents one of the most disgusting stories ever hidden about corporate disinformation. What you’ll discover in this book amounts to proof of an intergenerational crime.”

James Hoggan is the leading figure behind the DeSmogBlog, one of the more authoritative sources of information on climate change.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Map shows effect of rising sea level from 1 - 14 m.

Here's a link to a cool map that gives an approximation of what would happen if the sea level rises by varying amounts from 1 to 14 meters.

Arctic Ocean Acidity an Imminent Wildlife Disaster

There have been several reports detailing the growing problem with ocean acidity due to absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.

Now it is becoming clear that there is imminent danger to the ecosystem and the food chain, specifically in the Arctic, where increasing acidity in the water could dissolve the shells of shellfish within 10 years. This is according to an article in the Telegraph.

It says acidity in the oceans is rising faster than ever before in the past 65,000 years. Doesn't sound good at all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New glacier painting marks the precarious situation in the Himalayas

Tatiana Iliina's new abstract painting, Gangotri Glacier, is named after the glacier that is the main source of the Ganga River, also known as the Ganges.

The Ganges is India's holy river. As described by Jawaharlala Nehru in his 1946 book, Discovery of India,

"The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man…"

The Ganga flows for 2,500 km through India, Nepal and Bangladesh and provides water for something like half a billion people before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Considering that the Gangotri glacier is responsible for up to 70% of the water in the river during the dry summer months and that this glacier is receding twice as fast as in recent years, the future for the River Ganga is by no means clear. Some scientists estimate that the glacier may be gone by 2030. If that is the case, drastic measures will be required to keep the the river from drying up completely.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Canada's Coast a Major Asset for Wind Power - But Motivation Lacking

According to the CIA Factbook, Canada has over 202,000 km of coastline.

Big deal, huh?

Well, it is a bit of a big deal if you consider that the country with the next longest coastline is Indonesia, with 54,000 km. Then it's Greenland, with 45,000 km, and Russia, next in line, has only 37,000 km.

If you think these figures must be in errror - well, yeah, maybe they are - who knows? But, they are repeated on Wikipedia. On top of that, certain Canadian sources claim as much as 240,000 km of shoreline.

Without getting into too much detail, consider Hudson Bay, consider all the Arctic islands, etc. There is definitely a lot of coast in Canada.

One significance of this is the wind power potential implied by all this coastline. For a variety of reasons, the coast is one of the favourite places to install these megaliths.

The trouble is, these things are big, they kill birds, they are noisy and they can instantly ruin a pristine vista that has endured thousands of years.

Meanwhile, Canada is also rich in hydro-electric energy, which supplies roughly 59% of our electricity and carbon-based energy sources. So, our wind power potential may be huge, but our other energy sources are plentiful and reliable. When you consider the negatives of wind, it becomes clear why it has been difficult to get the wind industry into high gear in Canada.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What are the consequences of attempting to cool the atmosphere?

This week, there was talk in the news about attempting to counteract global warming by proactively cooling the atmosphere.

The rationale for this is that many scientists believe we are very near, if not past the "tipping point", which will soon result in accelerated warming and the anticipated disasters that are
expected to follow forthwith.

The method I heard discussed was a concept that involved shooting a material into the upper atmosphere that would block the sun's heat from entering the atmosphere.

My opinion on this is that it is probably too risky. Any intentional action that could be substantial enough to change the temperature of the entire atmosphere could conceivably have substantial unforeseen side effects.

Thanks but no thanks!

Here at left is the latest dis- appearing Glacier painting by Tatiana Iliina, Glacier XIX.