Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canwest resorts to publishing unrefined propaganda

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Canadian newspapers now at the beck and call of the oil industry. (and, presumably, any industry or corporation with the bucks to pay)

Today's print edition of the Montreal Gazette contains a full-page feature on Page A20 sub-titled in small type:
"A six-week Canwest special information feature on climate change, in partnership with Shell Canada."

Mired in red ink and hopelessly unable to adapt effectively to a changing information landscape, Canwest has sold out to corporate influence. The page in the print version of the Gazette doesn't even come with a normal lame disclaimer such as "advertising feature".

By way of contrast, there is another full-page adver-news feature on Page A23, placed by the McGill University Health Centre, which does include the disclaimer "Advertisement" in tiny type at the top of the page, as is customary. This does not appear on the Shell page.

Even though the page does not contain a disclaimer and is presented as genuine news, the Shell page includes blatant promotional content, unfiltered by any pretense of journalism, such as:

"Shell innovation unlocks oil sands"

"Q: Some groups call the oil sands dirty oil.
A: I don't understand where that comes from..."

"Q: You're also inspired about oil sands work. what motivates you?
A: When we get done, there's not going to be any sign that we were there at all"

Shell's Calgary Research Centre (CRC) employs more than 200 scientists, ..."

"The trademark Shell Enhance froth treatment is the first commercial application of an innovative technology..."

"By saving energy, the company will prevent the release of about 40,000 tonnes per year of GHG emissions as well as air pollutants."

Today's article is centred around Shell chemist Brad Komishke, "whose blue-grey eyes take on intensity when he talks about Alberta's oil sands and using science to protect the environment."

He says: "That's why I am at Shell. I feel I can make a difference."

The online version seems to be different. Either that or they are presenting the information in a different sequence.

The headline on the apparent lead article in the online version reads: "Climate change: a reality check."

Unlike the shadowy petro-industry funded think-tanks, (so-called) institutes and PR agencies which spend millions to foment doubt and confusion in the climate change discussion, Shell's overt corporate line is as green as you please:

"The debate about climate change is over and we need to take action," says Ertel, Shell Canada's climate change expert.

Unfortunately, Shell's strategy for dealing with climate change is more about cap and trade, and carbon capture and storage, neither of which is a primary solution in the GHG emission equation.

I don't really put this on Shell. I might question their sincerity or their operational processes (like how about just beginning to replace natural gas with green power sources in the tar sands?). But Shell is behaving with both eyes on the bottom line, like any corporation would.

This is on Canwest. It is a sell-out of the worst kind. It is the sell-out of a profession which operates with the understanding of public trust. It's as if you could instantly become a doctor and operate on patients by paying a given fee.

Canwest owns 13 daily newspapers and 26 community newspapers.

I don't know to what extent this series is running in all of them.


* The National Post
• The Gazette (Montreal)
• Ottawa Citizen
• The Windsor Star
• Leader-Post (Regina)
• The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
• Edmonton Journal
• Calgary Herald
• The Province (Vancouver)
• The Vancouver Sun
• Times Colonist (Victoria)
• Nanaimo Daily News
• Alberni Valley Times

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No-prorogue protests in 70 cities across Canada

We went to the no-prorogue demonstration today in Montreal. It was one of about 70 demonstrations across Canada and around the world against Canadian PM Stephen Harper taking liberties with democracy, shutting down our Parliament. It was interesting to see how that Facebook group (now with over 212,000 members) translated out into the real world, and we thought something maybe interesting or educational for our kids to witness. It was ok. There were maybe 400-500 people. One representative from each opposition party spoke.

Justin Trudeau was up on the stage/platform (in front of the statue at Phillips Square) with one of his small children and left just before it was over and walked right in front of us.


He had one of those flimsy-looking strollers with narrow wheels and the ice on the ground was all rutted and frozen so he could barely push it. He apparently hadn't spent enough time around the stroller :) to know to pull it over the ruts instead. Sort of a cool and humanizing slice of life. It was maybe surprising there was not an entourage and it's just him all by himself, wrestling that stroller out through the back edge of the crowd and onward to the rest of his day...

As for our kids... they were more interested in what was on the menu later...:^O

Monday, January 18, 2010

After the Deluge - Tatiana Iliina's rising seas series continues with new painting, "Salvage"

Water is good. Clean water, be it salt or fresh, is something so fundamental to life that one need not even consider what things would be like without water.

But, what if there were too much water?

Many places in the world are thinking seriously about that very problem right now. Places like the Maldives, the Netherlands, Bangladesh - all the low-lying parts of the world.

This is the problem that Tatiana Iliina addresses in this series of fine art impressionist paintings, entitled, "After the Deluge".


This one is called "Salvage". One of several in the series.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Guess who joined the anti-prorogue FB group now?

I'm talking about the Facebook group protesting the "prorogue" (shutdown) of Canadian Parliament by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Yeah, that FB group that has gone viral and is at 113,000 members and growing fast.

Among the many Conservatives who have thrown in behind democracy in Canada...

Arthur Kent. aka - The "Scud Stud" or Skyreporter.

Even though this guy ran as a PC in the '08 Alberta provincial election and lost against Liberal Dave Taylor...

Apparently he is nevertheless the Kent brother with integrity, not afraid to take a stand contrary to his big bro Peter, who is MP for Thornhill and a jr. minister in the Harper cabinet.

On FB the Scud Stud says: "No politician or political party is bigger than the House of Commons. Canadians financed the election of this parliament, and they have a right to get their money's worth."

Both Kent brothers were exceptional and world class broadcast journalists, who had high-profile careers in Canada and the U.S.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creative Energy in the Tide is High in the World's Longest Shoreline

The energy potential in the Earth's tides is not really unlimited, nor even fully sustainable. However the creative energy in Canada's coasts may hold more potential than we ever imagined.

In fact, the continuous action of the tides has the effect of gradually draining the Earth's rotational force, to the extent that the Earth rotates more slowly by an infinitesimal amount each year. This effect will be slightly amplified by tidal energy projects, but it would only be noticeable after millions of years.

In Canada there are two conditions which dictate that we should pay extremely close attention to tidal power as a potential energy source.

1. In the Bay of Fundy, Canada has the world's strongest tides, and probably the world's best site for developing tidal energy.

2. Canada has by far the world's longest coastline, almost four times longer than that of the second place country.

Both of these geographic conditions warrant extensive study, in order to better understand the huge potentials implied. In both cases, it appears very obvious that our current understanding is inadequate, to say the least.

The flow of water in the Bay of Fundy has been estimated to exceed that of all the rivers in the world! Despite this, current technology and understanding have only produced a high end estimate of 1,000 MW (one GW) of total generation potential, among several Fundy sites, which is something like a few of the world's larger dams.

Fundy is being studied intensively, by both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and with the input of Maine as well as many international players such as the U.K.'s Marine Current Turbines.

At present there is only some incidental power generation in experimental projects in Fundy.

There is one large, 200MW+ tidal power station in France, however this 1960s project uses a barrage style technique, where a dam is used to hold and then release the water brought in on the tides. The use of dams implies high capital cost and exaggerated problems with sediment and other environmental issues. Otherwise there are only a few operating tidal systems worldwide, many different approaches are being explored and it is quite likely that the optimal approach for developing Fundy with little environmental impact is yet to be understood.

The concept of exploiting Canada's vast coastlines for tidal power in a less focused way has hardly been scratched as far as I know. Never mind just the simple idea of just exploring our coasts. This has been done in a cursory fashion, of course, but never with an eye towards developing the artistic potential of the whole. The intrinsic cultural, sociological, esthetic and other considerations of Canada as a maritime nation are unmapped in any way.

The length and unknown potentials of Canada's shoreline (not just in terms of tidal power) are truly staggering. At 202,000 kilometers, our coastline is double the length of the Atlantic Ocean coastline and 70,000 km longer than even the Pacific Ocean! To be sure, much of that coastline is located in the far north. However with the advance of global warming, the length of our ice-free coast is growing in leaps and bounds.

This is a scenario that promises huge dividends for those who seek to unlock the creative potential of Canada's coast.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

China Tar Sands Purchase Appproved by Harper

The Harper government has approved the purchase of two Alberta tar sands projects by the PetroChine International Investment Co. Ltd. from Athasbasca Oil Sands Corp.

The Chinese agreed to spend over $250 million developing the two projects, MacKay and Dover, and open a head office in Alberta to manage things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

No End In Sight - Tatiana Iliina's New Series of Landscape Knife Paintings - a Compelling Epic

Tatiana Iliina has announced a new series of abstract knife paintings. This series is conceived as an ongoing work that may never be finished.

No End In Sight is eco art with a slightly different flavor.

These paintings take "six degrees of separation" to new levels.


First, there is the consideration that all of the paintings are uniquely linked. They are all integral parts of the same landscape. This is evocative of the inescapable idea that all these paintings are indeed inspired by the landscapes of our one planet. The connections run deeper that that... You have the sense that you could walk from painting to painting - see them hanging on a wall side by side - but, in fact, they may be located thousands of miles apart or in different countries or continents.

Also implied are the anonymous, unexplored connections between the people who will own and collect these paintings. The organic, mystical qualities conveyed with the understanding that all these paintings originated in the same place: the same studio, the same mind. Touched and formed by the same hand.

We all live on the same world. We are all connected in a multitude of unseen and unknown ways. And we all have hopes that the planet will continue to flourish and people will continue to enjoy their lives as we have.

No End In Sight is a statement by Tatiana Iliina about the neverending beauty of the planet, the magical ability of art to connect people with this beauty and the unique role and privilege of the artist, to be engaged in this process in so many ways.

The online exhibition is located here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Junior Mining Co. Avalon Rare Metals Looking at Wind Power for Potential Site Near Great Slave

A Canadian junior mining company with operations in the far north is evaluating the possibility of using wind to power a mine which would be located at Thor Lake, near Great Slave Lake.

According to a report that appeared in May in Proactive, the company, Avalon Rare Metals Inc., has been getting good results in core test samples. Avalon's website says they are negotiating with First Nations over certain aspects of the development.

As shown in the Wind Atlas of Canada, the winds around Great Slave are good and Avalon says they have located a few good potential sites to locate windmills.

Apparently the advantage of the windmill power would be to the reduce the exposure of a mining operation to fluctuations in diesel prices.

Avalon Rare Metals, (AVL: TSX) is an exploration and development company with a primary focus on the rare metals and minerals including lithium, tantalum, indium, gallium, rare earth elements such as neodymium and terbium and rare minerals such as calcium feldspar. Avalon presently owns five rare metals and minerals projects in Canada, three of which are at an advanced stage of development.