Section: Analysis

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Opinions, insight, and analysis of environmental news and politics.

Carbon tax gains momentum in the US

The idea of a carbon tax is gaining momentum in the US as a way to combat the so-called "fiscal cliff" and climate change. Al Gore is calling a carbon tax the "obvious solution", and US think tanks are also actively discussing the idea ( Meanwhile, in Canada we have the Harper government's ongoing carbon tax farce instead of serious discussion. It is time for a new Prime Minister.

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IEA says 2/3 of proven fossil fuel reserves must stay in ground

A new International Energy Agency report says “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal”. This apparently doesn't bother Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who is hell-bent on getting oilsands bitumen to market as quickly as possible. The linked article exposes Canada's oilsands plan as completely irresponsible.

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Will President Obama act on global warming?

Damien Carrington/Guardian asks "What does Obama's victory mean for action on global warming?" Carrington says "some action is now at least conceivable" and notes that Obama mentioned climate change in his victory speech. Lisa Hymas/Grist argues that action will likely come in the form of EPA regulations on greenhouse gases due to a deeply divided Congress.

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Joe Oliver's letter to editor fails most basic fact check

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has responded to a story last week on emails that revealed he "didn't know much" about energy projects. He wrote "That is false and misleading. I requested more information on a specific project..." (source). Fact: Oliver's email clearly states "It would be useful for me to have someone do a review of the projects..." (plural)

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You cannot be neutral. Which side are you on?

Journalist Chris Hayes witnessed Hurricane Sandy from his home in New York City, and here reflects on the US "political system that can barely bring itself to acknowledge or discuss the tangible danger climate change poses to us, never mind undertake the massive, sustained effort necessary to combat and adapt to it." He says the time for dithering is over: "You cannot be neutral. Which side are you on?"

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The "inexcusable failure" of journalists

MUST READ: Wen Stephenson, former editor at The Boston Globe, calls out his profession for using "objectivity" as "a convenient excuse for what amounts to an inexcusable failure to tell the most urgent truth we've ever faced." That truth? "We have to find a way to leave 80 percent of accessible fossil fuels in the ground... if we're going to avoid the very real risk of catastrophic climate change within this century."

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Planned oilsands development will far exceed climate limits

How will unimpeded oilsands development affect climate? Planned oil developments around the world already far exceed what is needed to limit global warming to 2 C. In a 2011 report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said oilsands production would need to be limited to 3.3 billion barrels per day (pbd). Right now, 9.38 million bpd is planned, almost 3 times the IEA limit. This is simply terrifying.

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Conference Board of Canada's has "starry-eyed" view of oil sands benefits

The Conference Board of Canada released a report claiming massive economic benefits to Canada from unimpeded oil sands development. However, it appears that there are many economic issues the Conference Board simply ignored, including climate change. Indeed, a newly-released memo to Minister Joe Oliver indicates that soaring costs may cripple the industry.

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Broadening concensus on link between climate change and big storms

The most recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek screamed "IT'S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID" on the cover. The story inside describes the broadening consensus that “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.”

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Harper's opposition to carbon tax called "nonsensical, ideologically-driven"

Chris Majka/ writes "There is no place where the nonsensical, ideologically-driven agenda of the Harper Conservatives runs more spectacularly aground on the shoals of the environment, economics, and even reason and consistency, than in the case of carbon pricing." He exposes how the Harper government is on the wrong side of the debate, at odds with economics (isn't Harper an economist?) and even the oil industry.

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Policy dictated by politics rather than science

Stephen Hume/Vancouver Sun has this to say about the Cohen Inquiry on the missing Fraser River sockeye: "It's a bracingly direct commentary on the cascading effects of policy dictated by politics rather than science... (successive governments) politicized and then undermined the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which, in turn, lost sight of its science-based mandate." There are some important lessons here.

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It's global warming, stupid

Damages from hurricane Sandy are estimated to be between $30bn-$50bn (, and many reports are making the link to climate change. Jeff Masters explains that there is a connection to the recent Arctic ice melt and Bill McKibben calls it a "grim warning from science". The cover of Bloomberg Business week says it all: "IT'S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID".

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Rick Mercer rants about the Experimental Lakes Area

In this video, Rick Mercer about the Harper government's cut of the Experimental Lakes Area. Mercer says "This goes to the very heart of who we are. When I think about what makes Canada great, fresh water is right at the top of the list. We have over 2 million lakes in this country and more than enough people who are willing to mess with them. My Canada includes weird scientists who are devoted to keeping our water clean."

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RMR: Rick's Rant - Experimental Lakes Area Cuts

By Rick Mercer/Rick Mercer Report, Tue Oct 30 (2012)

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An Environment Canada retiree speaks out

An Environment Canada retiree writes that the new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement "doesn’t matter because the federal government has largely destroyed its capacity to deliver it." He points out that the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) had 80 scientists in 2004 and 20 now. He decries the "dismantling of environmental science" he sees, arguing "these are terrible mistakes, that can bring terrible harms."

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