You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘environment’ tag.

Gerome Irwin writes on Canada’s fateful choice to continue down the path of environmental ruin.


“It’s a trite cliché to say the time has long since past the critical tipping point when humanity can no longer have it both ways. Every human must, sooner or later, once and for all, choose which side of the debate they’re on and then accept the consequences of whichever side is chosen.

One prime example is Canada’s decision to continue to choose this fatal addiction to oil and fossil fuels by its latest decision to continue building a Trans Mountain pipeline from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of British Columbia. Canada’s decision to increase the flow of toxic bitumen – one of the dirtiest of all substances known to exist – to a world hopelessly hooked on yet its next fix of the deadly black stuff flies in the face of whatever constantly re-adjusted Paris Accord Agreement or proposed grandiose Green Environmental Plan to help humanity once and for all kick this fatal attraction. Every new scheme in this direction, whether it’s a so-called aboriginal/First Nation ‘Reconciliation’ Pipeline, to get them their own ‘tiny cut of the economic pie’, or whatever other spinoff plan of the same thing boils down to a falsehood of perpetually trying to have one’s cake and eat it, too.

it’s always a curious fact to note that oil is what remains as a by-product of one of Earth’s most primitive epoch’s in its evolutionary journey yet also is perhaps the main cause of what scientists now refer to as the Anthropocene Epoch in geological history that is in the process of repeating yet the sixth great extinction of all of life on earth.

Human society must keep reminding itself that it’s by-products like bitumen that are fueling this epoch extinction and literally every aspect of the human world’s modern civilization, and that such decisions are bringing about, if not speeding up, this fatally destructive geologic epoch that, to continue to do so, must knowingly and willingly consume and destroy ever-greater amounts of the earth’s precious, finite natural sources like water that, literally and figuratively, is the very essence of life.

Water is the only real lifeline that sustains all of earth’s living things as we all travel together safely through time and space on our tiny, resilient blue orb through an incredibly harsh, unforgiving, hostile universe. One could even go so far as to say that the ancient waters that daily course through all our bodies is a holy communal fluid full of the actual hosts of ancient ancestors of all manner and kind going back to the very beginning of creation. Therefore, no matter how else one may put it: Water is the Most Sacred Substance of all that not only Protect’s but Inspires the Journey we’re on Together.”

Kinda mystical toward the end of the quote, but the crisis we are not facing is on scale that is hard to imagine.  Our limited capacities are working against us on this issue and must be overcome.  Yesterday.

Good chunks of Eastern Canada are getting the flood treatment.


“In Canada, this spring’s rainfall, compounded by melting snow, has led to states of emergency and evacuations in areas across Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.”

The people who have built or bought their homes on floodplains are currently getting their asses kicked again, just like last year, and most likely just like next year.  Our climate is becoming more chaotic and more prone to extremes it would seem that choosing to live in a vulnerable area is perhaps, not the best of decisions.  Enter the notion of the floating home:

   “English, who runs the Buoyant Foundation Project, explained that most homes on flood plains, if properly equipped, would be unscathed in flooding like Canadians are experiencing today. 

Amphibious homes are retrofitted with “a hidden floating dock underneath” and vertical posts that guide the house up and down, allowing it to float on water, she said.

“It lets the water go wherever the water wants to go and the house gets out of the way. So it doesn’t try to compete,” she said. “Humankind does the accommodation rather than trying to push the water around.”

Wow.  To me, this seems to be one of the problems we humans have when making decisions about how to use and exist in the space our biosphere provides for us.

We, in most of North America, are very comfortable with imposing our designs (societal and architecturally speaking) on the environment and are quite happy to rely on human ingenuity to fix the problems that arise from our initial imposition.

I want to be clear, I live in a urban setting that is quite pleasingly civilized and manicured to standard that removes most of the hazardous aspects of making a living.  And I like it, quite a bit actually.  But my current happiness and comfort, doesn’t excuse the artificial nature of the relationship and all the downsides it brings to the table with regards to sustainability and the future.

So, this leads to one of the problems I see with the notion of floating houses.  It is the seeking of a technological solution to a problem created by technology.  River management is a fools game – the more we mess with river system the worse said system gets.

We avoid the basic problem – building on a floodplain – by making houses that float.  We should consider not building in high-risk areas in the first place and add incentive for people to move away from areas that regularly get flooded.

Seems reasonable to me.  However, as we all know, human beings are not particularly reasonable creatures.

We have a NIMBY problem here.  The bad news is that said NIMBY problem is on a planetary scale and my backyard is really everyone’s back yard so to speak.  The doom of our time is coming, human driven climate change, and we merrily continue to do that very things that will cause our end.  It’s fascinating watching the ecocide play out because if there is one truth to the entire situation it is this – until the elites of our society feel the pain of AGW, nothing will be done – because the current status quo is a just too darn profitable and comfortable to want to change toward a future that might sustain the future of the species.

Of course, from my small balcony in which I view the world, I can point to one system that has been royally screwing the planet since it’s inception – capitalism.  And yes, yes, yes, apologists I’m happy I’ve been given the few crumbs of technology and relative stability that make my balcony observations possible but – and it’s a rather large but – would I trade my technology and relatively easy life style for one that works withing the boundaries of the carrying capacity of the earth?  Absolutely.  It is the adult and responsible course of action; the only hitch is that doing the right thing is rarely a profitable venture and we all know how the ‘right thing’ vs. ‘making money thing’ goes, at least in our current economic paradigm.

Paul Street adds to the argument:

   “Other thinkers of an eco-Marxian bent, myself included, narrow the diagnosis. They historicize the climate crisis, situating it in the specific historical context of capitalism. The concept of “the Anthropocene” has rich geological validity and holds welcome political relevance in countering the carbon-industrial complex’s denial of humanity’s responsibility for contemporary climate change, they note. Still, they counsel, we must guard against lapsing into the historically misleading, fatalistic, and often class-blind use of “Anthro,” projecting the currently and historically recent age of capital onto the broad 100,000-year swath of human activity on and in nature. As the Green Marxist environmental sociologist and geographer Jason Moore reminded radio interviewer Sasha Lilley last a few years ago, “It was not humanity as a whole that created …large-scale industry and the massive textile factories of Manchester in the 19th century or Detroit in the last century or Shenzen today. It was capital.”

Indeed, it was not humanity as a whole that built the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)in 2015 and 2016. It was capital, corralled in the accounts of Energy Transfer Partners, under the supervision of a reckless, eco-cidal and profit-mad billionaire named Kelcy Warren, who funded  the DAPL with billions of dollars from across the world’s leading financial institutions.

It was not humanity as whole that hid evidence of Greenhouse Gassing’s deadly impact on human prospects.  It was capital on various levels but most particularly in the form of Exxon-Mobil, who (in the greatest climate and environmental crime in history) buried the findings of its very own cutting-edge scientists in the 1970s and 1980s— an offence that that, as Chomsky says, “is almost hard to find words to describe.”

Moore and other left analysts argue with good reason that it is more appropriate to understand humanity’s Earth-altering assault on livable ecology as the “Capitalocene.” It is just a  relatively small slice of human history – roughly the last half-millennium give or take a century or so – during which human society has been socially and institutionally wired by a specific form of class rule to relentlessly assault on an ultimately geocidal scale.

It is only during the relatively brief period of history when capitalism has ruled the world system (since 1600 or thereabouts by some calculations, earlier and later by others) that human social organization has developed the inner, accumulation-, commodification-, “productivity”-, and growth-mad compulsion to transform Earth systems – with profitability and “productivity” dependent upon on the relentless appropriation of  “cheap nature” (cheap food, cheap energy, cheap raw materials and cheap human labor power)  Moore maintains that “humanity’s”  destruction of livable ecology is explained by changes that capitalism’s addictive and interrelated pursuits of profit and empire imposed on its behavior within “the web of life.”

It is capitalism and its quarterly earnings obsession with short-term profits, not Rich’s “human nature,” that constantly plunders and poisons the commons and trumps long-term planning for the common good.”

Hurricanes give no fucks about your socioeconomic status.

Our short-sighted nature will be the end of us.  Unless…

“This in one of the timeworn paths to societal ruin discussed in a paper published five years ago by mathematician Safa Motesharrei, atmospheric scientist Eugenia Kalnay and political scientist Jorge Rivas in the journal Ecological Economics. Reviewing past societal collapses, they reflected on a potential current global scenario in which:

“[T]he Elites—due to their wealth—do not suffer the detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners. This buffer of wealth allows   Elites to continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe. It … explain[s] how historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases). This buffer effect is further reinforced by the long, apparently sustainable trajectory prior to the beginning of the collapse. While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory ‘so far’ in support of doing nothing.”

Is this not the state of “humanity” under the command of capital today, with many millions of disproportionately poor and powerless people already suffering from climate disruption while the wealthy few continue to enjoy lives of unimaginable, environmentally shielded opulence atop a recklessly fossil-fueled planet so vastly unequal that the world’s eight richest people possess as much wealth between them as the bottom half of the species?

It’s “the rich,” not humanity in general, that “are destroying the Earth,” as Herve Kempf noted in the title and text of an important book eleven years ago. At the same time however, it is in fact up to “our species,” yes, humanity, to save itself and other Earthly life forms by engaging in a great mass uprising against those who have plundered and poisoned the commons for private profit. (If there’s another intelligent life form out there that survived the transition to high-tech modernity and developed the capacity to save other species in the galaxy, now would be the time for them to travel through tie and space to lend us a hand.  I’m not holding my breath for that!)   The best bet we have, my fellow world citizens and common(s)ers, is is eco-socialist people’s revolution here on the planet itself.”

Revolt or die comrades.  :/


Bonus Reading: Human Nature and Dynamics There is a good deal of math here, however, also a very readable paper on the collapse of complex societies. It’s a good read and worth your time.



So much utility, but at what cost?

So this happened.

Then they changed it to this.

Like the climate change that comes along with carbon emissions DOESN’T hurt us. Short term thinking is our bane.  For the record – the carbon tax is a necessary feature of our society if we wish to continue to progress as a society and a nation.


    The amount written about the environment and what needs to be done is staggering.  We’ll file this report under the heading “Oh Sh*t were screwed” column for the sake of convenience.  The only limits humanity respects are those of a distinctly Malthusian nature.  I’d add to his general work by saying that we, as a species, tend to do something until it comes back and bites us in the ass while kicking us in the teeth and laughing.  Then and only then we might get a clue and reorder our policy with regards to not scheduling another ass-kicking  session for ourselves.  The problem, we live in a short-term political/economic cycle that at its very base encourages short term solutions and policy based on staying in power rather than any sort of rational stewardship the environment and ultimately our lives.

Did you know why the green movement is such a joke?  It’s because we still have the bounty of the earth at our finger tips.  We can not or will not connect the dots about the destruction of our biosphere aka…the conditions necessary for our species to survive.  Let me assure you the day will come when the Green Parties in North America take power, right about the time when scarcity of food and potable water make basic survival a pressing concern.

Enter Malthus and his “misery and vice”.   Of course, the rich will won’t give a flying fig in the beginning.  The grandiose structures of their wealth will keep them intact for awhile, of course backed by the coercive apparatus of the state, but those will crumble and fall into ruin as the carrying capacity of the Earth plummets.  Money just isn’t that nourishing.   I’m hoping that we in Canada won’t hit the wall during my lifetime because once the poo hits the fan, the radical reorganization of our society will reflect a new set of priorities that have little to do with ‘advancement’ and ‘civilization’.

Anyhow, as we dance merrily toward oblivion the UN has decided to call out some of the more obvious signs as we trundle ever more quickly to the collapse of our current way of life.

“Two weeks before the start of a global conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations is warning that progress has stalled on key environmental goals the world’s nations have set for themselves, like tackling climate change, combating desertification and protecting biodiversity.

“The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human well-being,” the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) said when it released its Global Environmental Outlook Wednesday.

The world has made progress on only four out of 90 of the most pressing environmental goals and objectives agreed upon as part of the Millennium Development Goals and other international pacts, the UNEP said.”

Well, four out of ninety isn’t that bad.  I mean, someone needs to win the green participation ribbon when it comes to maintaining the Earth as a suitable place to live.

“Little to no progress was made on climate change-related goals such as limiting the increase in average global temperature to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels or in areas such as revitalization of depleted fish stocks, protection of biodiversity and the combating of desertification.”

     People want to live like North Americans, outside the bounds of reasonable consumption, insulated to the consequences of our gradual fouling of the nest. 

“Overall, the world is failing to stem the loss of biodiversity, with about 20 per cent of vertebrate species under threat and some natural habitats shrinking by more than 20 per cent since the 1980s.

“We have failed,” said Elizabeth Thompson, executive co-ordinator for the upcoming Rio conference, dubbed Rio+20. “We have not properly mainstreamed the issue of sustainable development as a way of living, doing business. That is the overall reason why we have not made the kind of progress that we should have.”

What a nice way of saying we are a greedy parasitical species that is slowly digging the hole that civilization will fall into with our unrealistic expectations and desires.  I think I want that my tombstone – My news of me and my death has not been properly mainstreamed….  Jesus-frak. Spare us the verbbing of nouns and just spell out how irresponsible we actually are.

“The report also produced regional outlooks. It singled out North America and Europe for their “unsustainable levels of consumption” and highlighted that North America lags behind other parts of the world when it comes to use of renewable energy.

The greatest threats for Asia, Africa and the Pacific are rapid urbanization and population growth coupled with increasing consumption, which are putting stress on already dwindling natural resources. Latin America and the Caribbean share similar worries.

Thompson said that the Rio conference is supposed to be a “transforming moment.”

The Rio conference will take place in Brazil from June 20 to June 22 and will mark the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit, or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio in 1992.”

I cannot wait for the wisdom that issues forth from this great summit of the minds.  It won’t matter a whit. What I can guarantee though that once Mr.Malthus comes calling “misery and vice” will be all the frakking rage for a very long time.



The move is over.  Let the unpacking begin.  Thank you, my committed readership, for staying with us here at DWR during the transition to our new home.  It has been a wild and hectic couple of weeks.  I should be able to commit a little more time to blogging and finding the information I find interesting and sharing it with you.  With that in mind I’d like to share and and comment on the recent furor about Tom Mulcair’s comments about the “Dutch Disease” in Canada.

The noise generated by his comments are out of proportion to what his observation was:

Mulcair claims that “Dutch disease” has hit the country, blaming energy exports from the Alberta oilsands for artificially raising the Canadian dollar and hollowing out the manufacturing industry.

Coined in an article in The Economist in 1977, the concept refers to the adverse economic effects that the discovery of large natural gas fields off of the coast of the Netherlands in the 1960s had on the country’s manufacturing sector.

The theory goes that a boom in a natural resource sector can lead to an appreciation of a country’s real exchange rate. That increase in the dollar value makes exports more expensive, and has an adverse effect on the manufacturing sector by making it less competitive.

Okay, so it sounds reasonable so far.  Our dollar goes up and makes our manufacturing industry less competitive.  But what has got the defenders of corporatism all up in arms?   Mulcair takes his statement one step further…

Mulcair said the problem is the government is not enforcing legislation that would include the environmental costs of exploiting natural resources.

“Those statistics with regard to the overall losses of jobs in Canada are irrefutable,” he said this week. “And they are directly related to the fact that we’re not enforcing federal [environmental] legislation.

Oh snap.  How dare you mention that pillaging the land in the hog-wild foo-fur-ah that is Fort McMurray might be anything less than a calm nuanced approach to resource management is beyond the pale.  Fainting couches were needed *stat* across much of the Canadian media and parliament.

I am wondering when the leader of the Opposition will apologize to western Canadians for suggesting the strength of the western Canadian economy is a disease on Canada,” Heritage Minister James Moore said in the House of Commons.

“He attacks western Canada, he attacks our energy industry, he attacks all of the West and the great work that is being done by western Canadians to contribute to Canada’s national unity. He should be ashamed of himself,” he said.

Yes, he should be ashamed for trying to keep the government accountable to for environmental legislation that is currently on the books, oh the villainy.  The tar sands have gained a love-halo that is growing in magnitude.  Speaking out against them is sacrosanct,with reasonable debate being drummed out by “it’s good for the economy!!!1!” and other nonsense.

Good On Mulcair for pointing out some of the problems with the oil-sands vis-a-vis the rest of Canada, the man is doing  his job as leader of the Opposition.


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