Posts Tagged ‘George Monbiot’

Oh Canada, say it ain’t so!

December 3, 2009

Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.

That’s one of many scathing passages in George Monbiot’s recent article Canada’s image lies in tatters. It is now to climate what Japan is to whaling. Ouch!

How bad is Canada behaving? Try worse than Saudi Arabia. Smack!

After giving the finger to Kyoto, Canada then set out to prevent the other nations striking a successor agreement. At the end of 2007, it singlehandedly blocked a Commonwealth resolution to support binding targets for industrialised nations. After the climate talks in Poland in December 2008, it won the Fossil of the Year award, presented by environmental groups to the country that had done most to disrupt the talks. The climate change performance index, which assesses the efforts of the world’s 60 richest nations, was published in the same month. Saudi Arabia came 60th. Canada came 59th.

They not only sound worse than Saudi Arabia but they sound a lot like W. Baaam!

In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by his bullying. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government battled for hours (and eventually won) against Canada’s obstructions. A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth.

The apparent reason for the madness are the vast western tar sands, a mommoth repository of oil. As Monbiot describes it:

It’s actually a filthy mixture of bitumen, sand, heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals. The tar sands, most of which occur in Alberta, are being extracted by the biggest opencast mining operation on earth. An area the size of England…

Tar sands are pernicious. Zaap!

Refining tar sands requires two to three times as much energy as refining crude oil. The companies exploiting them burn enough natural gas to heat six million homes. Alberta’s tar sands operation is the world’s biggest single industrial source of carbon emissions.

And while us piggy Americans may find some joy in Canada being called out as the piggiest – we must acknowledge that, of course like the drug wars of Mexico and our drug consumption driving it, the tar sands north of the border, are undoubtedly here to serve America’s unquenchable thirst for oil.

And lest we worry about there not being willing investors for this ghg emissions barn burner, none other than our folk heroes Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have shown growing interest – saying “Wow, this is neat.”

I can’t help but make the side note that it’s no coincidence that Gates and Buffett are also being feed the same horseshit dished out via SuperFreakonomics by Nathan Myrhvold, former Microsoft executive, polymath, and purveyor of climate science (dystopian) fantasies. But I digress.

Monbiot concludes with astonished perplexity.

It feels odd to be writing this. The immediate threat to the global effort to sustain a peaceful and stable world comes not from Saudi Arabia or Iran or China. It comes from Canada. How could that be true?

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Denier Frederick Seitz dead at 96

March 7, 2008

Mr. Seitz’s obituary was notable to me not for his role as a denier per se, but his work for big tobacco and reminded me yet again of tobacco’s role in the whole “denial industry”. And why John Tierney isn’t really a serious journalist, or perhaps he just thinks we’re all a bit slow.

First, from the obituary:

Seitz, a physicist, headed the National Academy of Sciences from 1962 to 1969 and led Rockefeller University, a New York-based research institution, from 1969 to 1978.

Seitz won the 1973 National Medal of Science for his earlier contributions to the modern quantum theory of the solid state of matter. He also wrote a number of books, including “The Modern Theory of Solids” (1940), an influential text on the development of solid-state physics and of transistors.

Sounds okay so far, but then:

Seitz became known later in life for his skepticism about the existence of global warming. In 1998 he solicited thousands of scientists to sign a petition against the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

From 1978 to 1988, Seitz was a member of the medical research committee of the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds.

Global warming deniers and tobacco deniers not-so-seperated-at-birth? As goes the tobacco debate, so goes the climate change debate? Clearly not a coincidence. You see, in fact, it’s big tobacco that started the damn world of global warming denial. For a great blow-by-blow read Chapter 2, in the book Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning by George Monbiot, 2006.

The germination went something like this: In 1993, Philip Morris, getting hammered in public opinion over second-hand smoke after the release of an EPA report, hired the PR firm APCO. APCO designed a campaign to fight a ban on passive smoking by creating the impression of a grassroots movement to fight over-regulation and to portray tobacco fears as just one of many unfounded fears. What are some of the other unfounded fears you may ask? According to big tobacco, one is global warming. Interesting.

Then big tobacco forms the Advancement for Sound Science Coalition, TASSC and among other things finances www.junkscience.com. The tobacco companies and ExxonMobil dance the same dance again and again, in dim light perhaps, where few care to look.

A Brown and Williamson memo sounds like a recurring nightmare:

Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

Does Mr. Tierney address tobacco money? Of course not. Mr. Tierney, perhaps some reporting is in order?