Canada is Warming at Twice the Rate of the Globe

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Canada is Warming at Twice the Rate of the Globe, Says New Report

April 20, 2019
Greenpeace Canada analyst hopes study serves as a wake-up call for Trudeau government, but says “You can’t wake up a man who’s only pretending to be asleep” on climate change
Story Transcript


SPEAKER: It’s the 21st century. We know climate change is real. We know that one of the challenges we have is that pollution has been free, but we need to put a price on it.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting for The Real News Network from Montreal, Canada. Earlier this week, officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada, a department of the Canadian federal government, presented the results of a study on warming in Canada. Their study concluded that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and that northern Canada is warming even more quickly, nearly three times the global rate. The officials also reported that three of the past five years have been the warmest on record in this country. Their study is the first of its kind. Entitled Canada’s Changing Climate Report, the study has been in the works for years and is the first of a series aimed at informing policy decisions and increasing public awareness and understanding of Canada’s changing climate. Now here to discuss this new study with us is Keith Stewart. Keith is a Senior Energy Strategist with Greenpeace Canada and part-time instructor at the University of Toronto. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from York University and has worked as a climate policy researcher and advocate for 19 years. He joins us today from Toronto. Thanks for coming back on The Real News, Keith.

KEITH STEWART: Thanks for having me.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: So Keith, even with all of the warming that has occurred in this country since the beginning of the fossil fuels era, we Canadians continue to live in what is one of the world’s relatively colder climates. Why should Canadians be concerned about this report? How is the warming of the atmosphere and of the oceans affecting their lives in practical terms and what practical effects should Canadians anticipate as Canada continues to warm?

KEITH STEWART: It’s kind of a standard joke that oh, in Canada it would be nice if it was a little warmer. The problem is the rate of change. We haven’t historically– well, in the geological record climate has changed a lot over time– but we’re trying to pack change that usually take 50,000 to 100,000 years into 50 years. Because we’re burning fossil fuels and sort of increasing the greenhouse effect trapping heat, which it then causes a whole bunch of other changes. You might think oh, a little bit warmer that would be nice, but you’re also changing rainfall patterns. You’re going to have drought in some places. You are going to have more wildfires, the kinds we’ve seen in B.C. and Alberta the last couple of years where people literally couldn’t breathe. Walking outside in Vancouver was like breathing eight packs, smoking eight pack of cigarettes. In urban areas, one of the warnings in the report is we’re going to see even more flooding. In particular, the kind of flash flooding which in one incident here in Toronto back in 2013, we saw $960 million worth of damage in a couple of hours. We saw street cars under water. People had to be rescued from the GO train by boat. These kinds of severe impacts– the heat waves, the droughts, the wildfires, the flooding– these cause enormous damage to our economy, they cause enormous damage to our health, and we’re only seeing the thin edge of the wedge here.

When you look at this report, a big part of the message in the report is: what the future looks like depends a lot on what actions we take today. In their low emissions scenario, if Canada warmed about one point seven degrees, it would warm by another two degrees, that’s bad because it would have a whole bunch of negative impacts. The negative impacts by far outweigh the positives. In the high emissions scenario, the one we’re actually on the path to right now, they’re talking about warming by six degrees in Canada, on average even more than the far north, by the end of the century. That would make agriculture basically impossible in large chunks of the prairies. They say oh, you can just move further north. Well a lot of places in this country you move further north, they don’t have soil to be able to support agriculture. Here in Ontario, we have this thing called the Canadian Shield. It’s all granite. You can’t grow crops there. And similarly, forests which are suited for one climate system, can’t move themselves north 50, 100, 200 kilometers in the space of 20 years.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This study was released on April 1st, Keith, which also happened to be the date on which a federal carbon tax of $20 a ton took effect in provinces that lack provincial pricing plans, including the provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The carbon tax, as I’m sure you know, is the centerpiece of the Trudeau government’s strategy for fighting climate change. In your view, is this carbon tax adequate both from the perspective of the amount of the tax and the breadth of its application? And if not, what kind of a carbon tax do you think we need in this country given the urgency of the situation?

KEITH STEWART: I think one of the problems we have in this country right now is action on climate change has been narrowed to carbon tax, no carbon tax. And really we need a whole, vast suite of efforts not just carbon taxes but also massive investments in things like public transit, so people can get to where they need to go without having to drive a car. We need to invest in better sewage/stormwater systems so that we’re not having these floodings. We need to invest in rapidly transitioning to renewable energy. A carbon tax is a key part of that. Raising the price of fossil fuels makes them less attractive relative to cleaner forms of energy. It also brings in some cash that can be done to build things like great public transit systems or, put up windmills and solar panels. So in the U.S. we are talking about this as a Green New Deal, kind of built on the New Deal that Roosevelt, that the Americans brought in to fight the Great Depression. That’s the kind of change we need. This carbon tax is a component of that and I think it’s kind of like the lowest possible measure, $20 dollars a ton kicking in this year. That’s 4.4 cents per liter of gasoline. When you look at the price of oil, the price of gasoline goes up and down. That’s not a huge change. That on its own is by no means enough. They’re also talking about increasing it $10 a year. Greenpeace would support that. We also think the money should be invested back in renewables, but that’s got to be just one piece of a much bigger package.

The big problem we have right now is no one is treating the climate crisis really like a crisis. We treat it more as kind of a messaging problem; we do a few things it will go away. Or, on one side of the political spectrum with the conservatives at the provincial level and federally who are fighting against even the small carbon tax that’s being proposed, they’re proposing we do nothing. That somehow if we ignore the problem, it will go away. One of my friends was asking me, “do you think this new report that just came is a wakeup call?” And was like well, there’s an old proverb that says “you can’t wake up a man who’s only pretending to be asleep” and that’s the problem with a lot of the politicians in this country and around the world. They’re pretending to be asleep on this issue, hoping they can get out of office and it will be someone else’s problem down the road.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Now at the same time as the Trudeau government has raised alarms about the extent of warming in this country, federal and provincial governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels to the tune of about $3 billion a year. Also, as we’ve reported extensively on The Real News, the Trudeau government is spending billions of taxpayer dollars to buy its TransMountain tar sands pipeline. Keith, doesn’t this new study– I mean, what Justin Trudeau did on Monday was he held it up and said to the public and in particularly was addressing the conservatives and those who are opposed to the carbon tax, this shows that we have to impose a carbon tax. But doesn’t it also highlight the recklessness of the Trudeau government’s continued defense of the fossil fuels industry, its massive investments in the fossil fuels industry, this perpetuation of our dependence on fossil fuels?

KEITH STEWART: Absolutely. Subsidies in fossil fuels is basically like a negative carbon tax. You’re making them cheaper in order to get people to use more. Similarly, the federal government yesterday was denying that, in response, were denying that the purchasing the pipeline was a subsidy to fossil fuels. Well it is and I think the Trudeau government is trying to have it both ways. They say we’re going to do a carbon tax and we’re going to promote expansion of the oil industry. If you’re serious about climate change, that means getting off of fossil fuels as quickly as possible by mid-century, at the latest. Building a new tar sands pipeline that has to operate for 50 years to make the money back, makes no sense at this point if you’re seriously committed to achieving the Paris climate goals, to protecting the future of our economy, of our communities, of our ecosystems. So it’s not one step forward, one step back which is kind of what we’re seeing from the federal liberals. It’s got to be leaping forward and I think the big problem in Canada and also similarly in the U.S. and many other places is that entrenched power of the fossil fuel interests in Canada and particularly the oil lobby. In the US it’s also the coal lobby who are basically saying, don’t go too fast. Give us time to get our money out. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has launched an election campaign in Alberta saying, we want to double the rate of growth of oil production in Alberta and here’s all things you have to do to help us do that which is kill regulations, get rid of carbon pricing, build new pipelines. That’s basically asking people to vote for climate destruction.

And I think this is going to be a big issue in the federal election here in the fall as we have the conservatives who are saying do nothing about climate change and give more subsidies to the oil industry. You have the liberals who are saying let’s do stuff on climate change but not touch oil production. So they are doing a coal phase out, they’re doing a bunch of other measures. But basically, oil is sacrosanct and what we really need is a push for this kind of a Green New Deal which actually, we can make our lives better. We can create great green jobs right across the country. We can deal with all sorts of problems in this country by the kind of investments that are necessary, putting people to work, solving the climate crisis.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: We’ve been speaking to Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada about an important and alarming new study showing that the rate of warming in Canada is far above the global average. Thank you very much for joining us today, Keith.

KEITH STEWART: Thanks so much for having me on.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: And this is Dimitri Lascaris reporting for The Real News Network.

What If the Sahara Desert Was Covered With Solar Panels?


What If the Sahara Desert Was Covered With Solar Panels?

April 22, 2019

Could this be the solution to climate change?

The planet has until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change

CNN is premiering a video.
How To Fix the Planet

April 22, 2019

According to United Nations experts, the planet has until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change. CNN climate change correspondent Bill Weir joins Full Circle to discuss his travels all around the world looking at the causes of, and solutions to, climate change.

How to fix the planet

According to United Nations experts, the planet has until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change. CNN climate change correspondent Bill Weir joins Full Circle to discuss his travels all around the world looking at the causes of, and solutions to, climate change.

Posted by CNN on Monday, April 22, 2019

Feedback loops will make climate change even worse

Yahoo News

David Knowles          April 22, 2019

Food Photos Could Change the Way You Think About Farmers

Civil Eats

Aliza Sokolow’s Food Photos Could Change the Way You Think About Farmers

The L.A.-based photographer has trained her lens on the growers in your local farmers’ market, showcasing the art and beauty of their hard work.

By Bridget Shirvell, Farming, Local Eats     April 19, 2019

Photo by Holly Liss; all other photos courtesy of Aliza Sokolow.


Scroll through the photos on your phone and chances are good that you’ll find at least one shot of food. And you’re not alone. Today, everything from how baristas decorate their lattes to the way restaurants plate their food is approached at least partly with an eye toward how it will look in a photo.

For Los Angeles-based photographer Aliza Sokolow, 33, food ’grams are about more than social status; they’re also a way to honor the people she admires most: farmers. A former food stylist who worked on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Recipe Rehab, Sokolow founded Poppyseed Agency, a social media and branding firm that works with food brands, restaurants, and chefs. Her photos show off produce: bright, carefully arranged citrus; sliced-open avocados; pints of blueberries from the farmers’ market—all showcased in a stunning line of prints and in her Instagram feed, where she also shares details about the people behind the food.

Aliza Sokolow photo by Holly LissPhoto by Holly Liss

“I really like to tell the stories of the farmers because they’re such heroes of mine,” Sokolow says. “They put in the manual labor and are able to tell when a tomato is ripe for the picking, something a machine is not capable of.” Her hope in capturing the work of her local farmers is to “give people a bit more knowledge and gratitude for what they’re eating and awareness as to how much went into what’s on the plate.”

The popularity of food photographs in social media feeds started off as a bit of joke, but as the influence of Instagram has grown, it has become one of the best ways to recommend and learn about restaurants. “Instagram feeds are the first place Millennials look when scoping out the food,” says Michelle Zaporojets, who runs social media marketing for several Boston-based restaurants. “Foodie influencers have so much power in driving traffic just from a single photo or Instagram Story.”

A self-trained photographer, Sokolow studied architecture and industrial engineering at UC Berkeley and graduated in 2009, at the height of the recession. Uncertain of what she wanted to do at a time when creative jobs were scarce, she took a job in television set design.

“The first day on set there were all these food stylists putting things together and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is like teeny tiny architecture. This is what I’m going to do when I grow up.’”

Sokolow started apprenticing and assisting on sets, and she eventually landed a job working as an assistant to food stylists on Food Revolution. It was while in that role that she took a tour of the Santa Monica farmers’ market with Chef Josiah Citrin of Melisse, and met Karen Beverlin, a “produce hunter” who introduced her to every farmer at the market.

rose apples photo by Aliza SokolowSokolow says all the coolest things she knows about have come from farmers, like hidden rose (or Pink Pearl) apples (which have pink flesh), orange watermelons, oca wood sorrel, which comes in 32 different varieties and colors.

Her a-ha moment came one day when she brought produce from Laura Ramirez of J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch. Ramirez is known for growing a variety of citrus, 12 different kinds of avocados, and other specialty fruit. Sokolow bought two of each type of avocado, went home, cut them all open and took a picture that she posted online. It quickly caught the attention of editors at Food & Wine, who asked if they could use it.

“I was like ‘Oh, maybe that is art,’” says Sokolow.

After getting burned out from working in television, she leveraged the relationships she made at the farmers’ market to launch her digital agency, and began running the social media accounts for restaurant groups and chefs, including Mindy Segal and Suzanne Goin.

In 2016, Sokolow began selling prints of the photographs featured in her Instagram feed and some of them have made their way to restaurants around the United States, including L.A.’s République and Moody Rooster. She has also donated prints for fundraisers, including one for Brigaid.

She uses the eye she developed through her architecture training to style the food in her photos. She’ll line up a row of colorful carrots, or place circular slices of candy-striped beets on top one another until they create a dizzying, colorful display, or cut open citrus to expose their inner geometry. Then she’ll share the photos with her 33,000 followers along with tidbits about the people who grew them in a way that is genuine, educational, and fun.

Beets photo by Aliza Sokolow“By using color, she’s able to make something as simple as a single avocado looking visually beautiful and extremely appealing,” says Beverly Friedmann, a NYC-based content manager for consumer websites.

Aaron Choi of San Marcos-based Girl and Dug Farms says that while he’s can’t say for sure if Sokolow’s photographs of their produce has resulted in more sales, it has definitely attracted more Instagram followers for the farm.

“Her work has reached pockets of people who ordinarily wouldn’t browse a farm’s IG posts on their own,” Choi adds.

Sometimes she shoots directly at a farmers’ market, but most of the time Sokolow brings food home to photograph. It can take as long as a week to gather and shoot, as she travels from market to market across the city, seeking out particular items.

“The colors are what really excite me,” Sokolow says. “When you’re growing up, you think carrots are orange and watermelon is pink, but when I find a pink mushroom or I see that there are five different-colored carrots, that is so mind-blowing and exciting.”

After a food shoot, Sokolow cooks up the ingredients or shares them with friends. Her Instagram also features a number of snaps of cakes and other baked goods often topped with dehydrated fruits. She does a lot of dehydrating and drying, for instance, to make citrus chips that she displays on charcuterie boards.

“I’m really a snacker, so it works out very nicely,” Sokolow says.

Sokolow hopes to connect with even more people through her work. “I like to show the beauty that is what’s grown from the earth,” she says. “The farmers do the work. I just cut things open.”

What the ‘Insect Apocalypse’ Has to Do With the Food We Eat

Anna Lappé talks to environmental scientist and ecologist Francisco Sánchez-Bayo about his new research on global insect decline and the under-reported connection to agriculture.

In early 2019, the journal Biological Conservation published findings from a study about global insect decline that did what few such scientific journal articles ever do: It hit the front pages of major media outlets around the world. The reason? The paper found that one-third of all insect species are in serious decline around the globe and, if trends don’t improve, we could face near mass extinction of all insects within the next century.

Civil Eats recently spoke with one of the lead authors, Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, about the implications of these findings, the underreported connection to agriculture, and what we can do about it.

While the story of environmental collapse, particularly climate change, has focused on species other than humans, it has been focused mainly on the fate of “charismatic megafauna” such as the iconic polar bear. Can you explain more about why your findings about insects, animals that often fly under the radar, are so significant?

We don’t always appreciate insects. They’re small, many are perceived as a nuisance. But their role in an ecosystem is essential; a large proportion of vertebrates depend on insects for food. To put it bluntly, most vertebrates on the planet would not be here if it weren’t for insects. There’s also the function they play in aquatic systems: Insects help purify and aerate water. Together with micro-organisms and worms, they’re vital to soil health. It’s important to realize that insects essential. If we remove them, we disrupt all life on the planet.

What surprised or alarmed you most about these findings?

When we first started, we expected to see declines. We knew that from the start. I have been following the fate of bees for years and I knew that we were seeing significant declines. We had also come across a few studies on butterflies from as far back as 20 years ago that portended decline. But what surprised us was the numbers: One-third of insects are endangered. And it’s not just butterflies and bees; it’s all groups. It’s particularly [alarming] for aquatic insects and specific groups like the dung beetles.

You compiled data from more than 70 studies around the world, and you noted that most of the data in your studies came from the global North. How confident are you that this sampling is representative of global insect decline?

We looked at 73 studies, and we are now including three more that were brought to our attention since we published our first article. The fact that most of these studies are from the Northern Hemisphere is undeniable: We were looking for long-term trends, in particular, and only Europe and North America have records that go back 100 years or more.

Unfortunately, countries with the largest biodiversity—China, Brazil, Australia, for example—don’t have good studies we could rely on. There were none in China and Australia, and only one from Brazil. But the 20 percent of studies that came from regions beyond North America and Europe, Central America, Southeast Asia, etc., all showed the same problems. And the drivers of this decline are common to all these countries no matter what region we’re talking about.

Can you say more about those drivers?

It’s a combination of habitat loss, pollution, biological factors, and climate change. But if you go deeper, you realize that the biggest drivers—habitat loss and pollution—are jointly found in agriculture expansion. So, without a doubt, agriculture is the main driver of the decline of insects, more than all the other factors combined.

What has been the response from your peers?

We’ve received hundreds of emails, saying essentially, “Yes, you are right.” Some publications have criticized us for being alarmist. We only use the word “catastrophic” once, and we use it very carefully. We chose that word deliberately: If 30 percent of insects, the largest group of animals on Earth, are in danger, that iscatastrophic. Damage from a tropical cyclone can be characterized as catastrophic, but that is localized. This is global. This is a true catastrophe.

The paper points very clearly to the damaging impacts of agricultural chemicals around the world; considering that, what has the reaction been from the chemical industry?

We haven’t had much pushback. I received one email from someone from a chemical company. He was very polite, but said that I was unfairly blaming pesticides. [He pointed out that] there are other causes: light pollution, for instance. I demonstrated he was partially right, but mostly wrong. The fact that we point to agriculture as the main culprit and to pesticides as one of the main factors is based on the evidence, examples from the literature. Understand that our study is not an experimental study that can be subject to criticism or misinterpretation. It is based on actual numbers derived from 73 studies all over the world over 30 years. If that’s not evidence enough, then tell me what is?

Let’s talk about the pesticides that you flagged as most concerning: neonicotinoids [also known by the shorthand “neonics”] and fipronil. Why are these particularly worrisome?

These insecticides have been introduced in last 25-30 years and there are features that make them different from older chemicals. First, they’re extremely toxic, particularly fipronil: it’s the most toxic ever produced to all insects and to many other organisms. Neonics are also highly toxic. They’re also soluble in water. So when they’re applied, they don’t just stay in the place you spray or in the soil. When you get that first rainwater, they go everywhere.

Because they’re soluble, they thought they could be used as systemic pesticides that you would apply at the time of planting and because there would be no drift, there would be less impact on the environment. But the risk of drift is minimal compared with the risk to insects in water: Residues from these insecticides flow into the rivers and streams and go out the sea. We know that the waters in North America are completely contaminated with neonics and the same is true in Japan, Canada, and in many other places. All the insects in these waterways are rapidly disappearing.

These insecticides have a delayed and long-term effect, which is not well understood by the authorities that regulate them. When you apply them, they eliminate certain species, which never recover—particularly species with a long life-cycle, like dragonflies. These are the insects we’re seeing disappear the quickest. These insecticides are also causing havoc among pollinators.

With many companies using these insecticides as coating on seeds—corn or oilseed rape [canola], sunflower crops, or soya beans in North America—this problem is only getting worse. And it goes against all principles of IPM [integrated pest management]. You’re using these on all seeds. When there is no evidence that there is even a pest problem, why should a whole field be contaminated? This makes no sense from a pest control and management perspective and it makes no economic sense, either.

Then there’s the basic question: What’s the point of using them? They say they boost productivity but recent studies out of the EU show that there is no gain in yield by using neonics. We are using massively enormous amounts of this insecticide for no gain whatsoever.

The EU has evaluated this and determined that coating seeds with these insecticides should be banned. These insecticides should be used only when needed, when there is a problem. The current approach—to use on all the crops, all the time, year after year—makes no sense from any perspective.

What about herbicides? You note that they’re not as toxic to insects, but they’re also really damaging.

Yes, we could have written much more about that. We were particularly struck by the studies showing the impact on wetlands. About half of all herbicides are water soluble, so they end up in wetlands and eliminate many weeds, which are an important food and breeding ground for insects.

What about the speed of decline?

Most of the declines have occurred in the last 30 years. We know that the sales of pesticides worldwide have increased exponentially in that period, mostly in underdeveloped countries in tropical areas where they spray with no controls whatsoever. Increasingly, many departments of agriculture are cutting back on the number of personnel dedicated to advising farmers on growing practices, known as extension officers. As a result, farmers don’t have pest management advice from anyone with expertise. So where do they get the advice? From chemical companies. They’re told if you have a problem, just apply this or that product. This is one reason pesticide sales have increased.

I recently met two entomologists from Oaxaca who expressed their dismay that the most recent annual meeting for professionals in their field they attended had been sponsored by Bayer, one of the largest makers of chemical pesticides in the world.

I’m not surprised. That happens everywhere.

Your study’s findings are sobering and alarming. It left me wondering, what do you think can be done to avert this impending insect apocalypse?

[Farmers] can adopt different pest-management practices. The key is to apply practical and effective solutions to eliminate pesticide use and also restore habitat across farmland. That can be done through farmer education and through policy. Governments can give incentives for using IPM to change the paradigm: Pesticides should be the tool of last resort. At the moment, many countries encourage the use of pesticides. That has to stop. Why don’t they do the same thing with IPM? Say to the farmers, “we’ll give you a tax rebate if you use less pesticides.” 

I also think banning products in some cases makes sense. Certain compounds, like DDT, should be banned for agricultural use, even if it’s still allowed in certain tropical countries to control malaria. If we took the time to educate farmers and put sensible practices into place to produce food without dependence on chemicals, the whole thing would change overnight.

I would encourage everyone to read the conclusions in the paper: we cannot have monocultures covering hundreds of square miles. We have to plant trees and other habitats for insects. Biodiversity is the only thing that will help crops be resilient and sustainable in the long term and keep balance in the soil. When we [grow diverse crops], we can reverse this trend, but that means taking on a system completely dominated by chemical corporations.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

This animation shows all recorded earthquakes from 1901 – 2000.

NOAA Science On a Sphere

April 8, 2019

We have a new earthquake data set thanks to the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center! This animation shows all recorded earthquakes from 1901 – 2000. You’ll notice that more earthquakes appear as monitoring improved with time. Watch until the end to see a composite frame of all the earthquakes at once!

Read more here:…/earthquakes-of-the-20th-century/

And watch a flat version here:

We have a new earthquake dataset thanks to the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center! This animation shows all recorded earthquakes from 1901 – 2000. You'll notice that more earthquakes appear as monitoring improved with time. Watch until the end to see a composite frame of all the earthquakes at once! Read more here: watch a flat version here:

Posted by NOAA Science On a Sphere on Monday, April 8, 2019

Trump won’t save the air and water — but cities can

Yahoo News

Alexander Nazaryan       April 16, 2019 

Harnessing the water power of Mother Nature

Global Citizen

Harnessing the power of Mother Nature 💡

This Water Turbine Constantly Provides Power All Day

Harnessing the power of Mother Nature 💡

Posted by Global Citizen on Monday, March 25, 2019

Plastics in the ocean could outweigh fish by 2050.

VICE News posted an episode of VICE News Tonight. 

April 9, 2019

If it keeps piling up, plastics in the ocean could outweigh fish by 2050. These scientists accidentally found a potential solution to the plastic problem.

This Plastic-Eating Enzyme Could Revolutionize Recycling

If it keeps piling up, plastics in the ocean could outweigh fish by 2050. These scientists accidentally found a potential solution to the plastic problem.

Posted by VICE News on Friday, April 5, 2019