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Earth Day no deterrent to Canada’s drive for more dirty fossil fuels

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Just look at what Canadian politicians are trying to shove through right now:

  • Keystone XL tar sands pipeline
  • Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline
  • Fat twinning the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline
  • Millions of more tonnes of BC coal mining and exports
  • Fracking everything in sight to export a monstrous surge of natural gas and by the way increase dangerous methane leakage
  • Three new liquid natural gas export facilities in Kitimat
  • Doubling the flights at YVR
  • Tripling the oil super-tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet

And guess what? We don’t even bother to count anything on that list in our carbon footprint. Convenient eh? It is a total carbon gong show. Pedal to the medal. Pigs at the trough.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark even wants to halt the province's tiny BC Carbon Tax. It adds another penny to our gas prices each year. Woah, too much. The whole point of the carbon tax was to increase the costs of dirty energy over time so society would choose cleaner alternatives. And yet both gasoline and natural gas are cheaper now than before the BC Carbon Tax started.

Clark has even refunded millions of dollars in carbon taxes paid by hot house growers, yanked gas taxes from aviation fuel, slashed the amount of clean energy alternatives we are building and has said she wants to start building fossil fuelled power plants again.

If you want chaotic weather and to experience first-hand the economic misery of a massive carbon bubble popping, she’s your captain.

Hansen’s warnings today

James Hansen warned over 30 years ago where a dirty energy path would take us. He was right back then, but people aren't doing enough to divert humanity from that path. So on this Earth Day, people might want to hear where Hansen thinks our current dirty energy path is taking us. Here are a few of his recent statements from his papers and a recent TED talk.

On how much global warming is safe:

  • What do I know that would cause me, a reticent mid-western scientist, to get myself arrested in front of the White House protesting? And what would you do if you knew what I know?
  • [The extra energy Earth is gaining because of our CO2] is enormous. It is about 20 times greater than the rate of all energy use by all of humanity. It is equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day, 365 days per year. That is how much extra energy the Earth is now gaining each day.
  • Reassessment of the dangerous level of global warming has been spurred by realization that large climate effects are already beginning while global warming is less than 1°C
  • global warming of 1°C, if maintained for long, is already close to or into the 'dangerous' zone. The suggestion that 2°C global warming may be a 'safe' target is extremely unwise based on critical evidence accumulated over the past three decades. Global warming of this amount would be putting Earth on a path toward Pliocene-like conditions, i.e., a very different world marked by massive and continual disruptions to both society and ecosystems. It would be a world in which the world's species and ecosystems will have had no recent evolutionary experience, surely with consequences and disruptions to the ecosystem services that maintain human communities today. There are no credible arguments that such rapid change would not have catastrophic circumstances for human well-being.
  • We will have started a process that is out of humanity’s control. Ice sheets would continue to disintegrate…the economic consequences are almost unthinkable. Hundreds of New Orleans-like devastations around the world. What may be more reprehensible if climate denial continues is extermination of species … 20 to 50 percent of all species … ticketed for extinction by the end of the century if we stay on business-as-usual fossil fuel use … the severe heat waves of Moscow and Texas were not natural they were caused by global warming.
  • Increasing intensity of droughts and floods will severely impact bread baskets of the world causing massive famines and economic decline.
  • It would be immoral to leave these young people with a climate system spiraling out of control.

On continuing fossil fuel exploitation:

  • If governments fail to adopt policies that cause rapid phase-down of fossil fuel emissions, today's children, future generations, and nature will bear the consequences through no fault of their own. Governments must act immediately to significantly reduce fossil fuel emissions to protect our children's future and avoid loss of crucial ecosystem services, or else be complicit in this loss and its consequences.
  • Despite overwhelming evidence, governments and the fossil fuel industry continue to propose that all fossil fuels must be exploited before the world turns predominantly to clean energies.
  • The reality is that most governments, strongly influenced by the fossil fuel industry, continue to allow and even subsidize development of fossil fuel deposits … These efforts include expansion of oil drilling to increasing depths of the global ocean, into the Arctic, and onto environmentally fragile public lands; squeezing of oil from tar sands; hydro-fracking to expand extraction of natural gas; and increased mining of coal via mechanized longwall mining and mountain-top removal.
  • The true costs of fossil fuels to human well-being and the biosphere is not imbedded in their price. Fossil fuels are the cheapest energy source today only if they are not made to pay for their damage to human health, to the environment, and to the future well-being of young people who will inherit on-going climate changes that are largely out of their control.

On solutions:

  • A scenario that stabilizes climate and preserves nature is technically possible and it is essential for the future of humanity.
  • Even a moderate but steadily rising price on carbon emissions would be sufficient to move the world toward clean energies, but such an approach has been effectively resisted by the fossil fuel industry.
  • The longer we wait the more expensive and difficult it becomes. If we had started in 2005 it would have required emissions reductions of 3% per year…if we start next year it is 6% per year. If we wait 10 years it is 15% per year. Extremely difficult and expensive, perhaps impossible. But we are not even starting.

On where to go from here:

So now you know what I know. The science is clear. I need your help to communicate the gravity and the urgency of this situation, and its solutions, more effectively. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.

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