17 December 2007

Bali Brou-haha

Canada backs down on climate 'road map'

The Harper government and the Bush administration caved in to international pressure at the United Nations climate change summit Saturday, accepting the "Bali road map" toward a new comprehensive agreement to try to stop human activity from causing irreversible damage to the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems. The framework was hailed by the UN's top climate-change official, Yvo de Boer, as an ambitious, transparent and flexible solution on the road to a comprehensive treaty in 2009, imposing deeper commitments on the richest nations in the world to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as softer targets or commitments for developing countries to come into force after the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period in 2012. With the Harper government silent, several developing countries, along with the European Union members, protested, booed and resisted attempts by the US, which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, to impose what most of the countries felt were unfair obligations on the developing world in the fight against climate change. The pressure eventually forced US lead negotiator Paula Dobriansky to cave in and accept the consensus, allowing the Bali road map to be adopted. In a subsequent debate by Kyoto countries, Canadian Environment minister John Baird attempted to stop members of the protocol from declaring that developed countries should collectively strive to deepen their post-2012 emission targets in the range of a 25 to 40% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. The Harper government has insisted that such a measure would be impossible for Canada to achieve in 12 years. But following a series of rebukes, criticism and pleas from 17 different countries, Baird told the conference he would "stand down," garnering a warm ovation from delegates. The concession also meant that he had failed to achieve his main objective of getting binding commitments for major emerging economies such as China and India to reduce their emissions in absolute terms. The Bali road map consists of a framework for emissions cuts, the transfer of clean technology to developing countries, reducing deforestation, and adaptation aid for developing countries vulnerable to droughts and rising sea levels.
(Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald 071215; Calgary Herald 071216)

Corporate Canada braces for new rules on emissions

Canadian corporations can expect growing pressure in the coming years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond what the federal government has already pledged after Ottawa reluctantly accepted new targets at an international climate change conference in Bali. The Conservative government is now finalizing regulations for large industrial emitters and for the auto industry as part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 2006 levels by 2020. But before the ink is even dry on those rules, Canada will be facing pressure to cut further and faster – which will inevitably result in new demands on business, Christine Schuh, director of sustainable business practices for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Calgary, said yesterday. She said the two-week Bali conference, which ended Saturday, set an aggressive timetable to negotiate a global agreement on post-2012 climate change targets, and endorsed the International Panel on Climate Change view that dramatic action is needed to avert an environmental crisis. “Business can expect new demands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions … There are still a lot of people who thought they could negotiate their way out of the impending regime, but that is clearly not on.” Recent surveys of Canadian companies indicate relatively few have allocated budgets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or had senior management focus on how the climate change issue will affect their business. Companies say they are waiting for clarity from the federal government in terms of the new climate change regulations. However, Julia Langer, of World Wildlife Federation, said it is unlikely the current government plan will be the last word. At Bali over the weekend, Canada grudgingly accepted broad targets to reduce emissions by 2020 by between 25% and 40% from 1990 levels. The agreement is part of an accord that covers all 38 of the countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
(Globe and Mail 071217)

06 December 2007

Wanted: Deep Cuts

Cut emissions 50%: scientists

Leading scientists, including several from Canada, are urging the international climate summit to commit to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. "There is no time to lose," says the Bali Declaration by Scientists, to be released today at the United Nations climate conference where delegates from almost 200 countries are meeting to hammer out an international framework for reducing emissions. The scientists are calling for cuts of at least 50% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to try to keep the rise in the global temperature below 2 C. While 2 C does not sound like much, researchers say warming above that threshold would be enough to trigger mass species extinctions and accelerate melting of polar ice sheets, which could lead to a seven-metre rise in sea level in coming centuries. The declaration says humanity has a "window" of as little as 10 years to turn the situation around. Meantime, emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities continue to rise quickly and the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere "now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years." The declaration says, "If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species in serious danger of extinction."
(Calgary Herald 071206)

05 December 2007


WooHoo! I got tickets today.

04 December 2007

Everyone's gettin' squeezed

Oil, gas explorers feeling pressure of new price floor

Oil and gas explorers around the world need US$70 a barrel oil on a sustained basis to make the returns they were making only a couple of years ago with oil prices at $30, according to a study by international energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. Rising costs for equipment, lack of access to many basins and more challenging plays have elevated prices needed to earn a return of 15% on exploration, Andrew Latham, vp of exploration service, said from Edinburgh, where the firm is based.

"Things have changed quite quickly," he said. "What we are seeing is the equivalent of a new price floor for explorers, and the US$30 that worked two or three years ago certainly doesn't work anymore." The higher floor price is contributing to the higher price of oil, he said. The study, based on an analysis of conventional exploration in 400 basins around the world, found the cost of drilling alone has risen by 60% since 2004.

Latham said the basins hit hardest are those in deep waters, such as the Gulf of Mexico, offshore West Africa and Brazil, where there is a shortage of all types of equipment, from drilling rigs to floating production facilities.
(National Post 071128)

Understatement of the Year

Web user sentenced for killing online rival
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | 8:58 AM ET
The Associated Press

A 48-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., man entangled in an internet love triangle built largely on lies was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for killing his rival for the affection of a woman he had never met.

Thomas Montgomery, who posed as an 18-year-old marine in online chats, pleaded guilty in August to gunning down Brian Barrett, 22, in a parking lot at the suburban Buffalo factory where they worked.

The motive was jealousy, investigators said. Both were involved online with a middle-aged West Virginia mother — who herself was posing as an 18-year-old student.

Prosecutor Frank Sedita argued for the maximum sentence of 25 years, describing Montgomery's "almost predatory" pursuit of the woman and his resentment of Barrett when she cooled to Montgomery's advances after 1½ years and thousands of pages of internet chats.

"The chats reveal an obsessive desire to make Brian Barrett suffer," Sedita said.

Barrett, a college student who aspired to be an industrial arts teacher, was shot three times at close range after climbing into his truck at the end of a shift at Dynabrade in Clarence on Sept. 15, 2006. His body was found two days later by a co-worker.

"My wife and I don't understand how this could happen, how such evil could walk the Earth," Barrett's father, Daniel, said at the sentencing hearing. "To gun down a boy over simple jealousy does not make sense to us."

Montgomery's lawyer said fantasy and reality blurred for the then-married father of two teenage daughters, who was involved in his church and was president of his daughters' swim club.

"Until September 2006, this was a man who held his head high," attorney John Nuchereno said. "By September 2006 — call it an obsession, call it an addiction, call it what you want — he was suffering from a diminished capacity of some sort."

Montgomery, now divorced, attempted suicide in his jail cell after his arrest. He chose not to speak at his sentencing.

Montgomery began chatting with the woman, identified in court as Mary Sheiler, in 2005.

Occasionally, the woman would mail packages to his home. When one of the packages was intercepted by Montgomery's wife, she wrote back, telling Sheiler her husband's true age and saying he was married.

Barrett, whom Montgomery had mentioned in his exchanges, was drawn into the triangle after the woman contacted him online to confirm what she had been told by Montgomery's wife.

Justice Penny Wolfgang called the situation a "consequence of misuse of the internet."

No shit.

New Britain Is Sinking

Islanders seek climate summit help

KILU, Papua New Guinea (AP) -- Squealing pigs lit out for the bush and Filomena Taroa herded the grandkids to higher ground last week when the sea rolled in deeper than anyone had ever seen.

What was happening? "I don't know," the sturdy, barefoot grandmother told a visitor. "I'd never experienced it before."

As scientists warn of rising seas from global warming, more and more reports are coming in from villages like this one on Papua New Guinea's New Britain island of flooding from unprecedented high tides. It's happening not only to low-lying atolls, but to shorelines from Alaska to India.

This week, by boat, bus and jetliner, a handful of villagers are converging on Bali, Indonesia, to seek help from the more than 180 nations gathered at the U.N. climate conference. The coastal dwellers' plight -- once theoretical -- appears all too real in 2007, and is spreading and worsening.

Scientists project that seas expanding from warmth and from the runoff of melting land ice may displace millions of coastal inhabitants worldwide in this century if heat-trapping industrial emissions are not sharply curtailed.

A Europe-based research group, the Global Governance Project, will propose at the two-week Bali meeting that an international fund be established to resettle "climate refugees."

Summarizing the islanders' plight, Ursula Rakova said: "We don't have vehicles, an airport. We're merely victims of what is happening with the industrialized nations emitting `greenhouse gases."'

The sands of Rakova's islands, the Carteret atoll northeast of Bougainville island, have been giving way to the sea for 20 years. The saltwater has ruined their taro gardens, a food staple, and has contaminated their wells and flooded homesteads. The remote islands now suffer from chronic hunger.

The national government has appropriated $800,000 to resettle a few Carteret families on Bougainville, out of 3,000 islanders. "That's not enough," Rakova told The Associated Press in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby. "The islands are getting smaller.

Basically, everybody will have to leave."

In a landmark series of reports this year, the U.N. climate-science network reported seas rose by a global average of about 0.12 inches annually from 1993 to 2003, as compared with about 0.08 inches annually for the period 1961-2003.

But a 2006 study by Australian oceanographers found the rise was much higher, almost one inch every year, in parts of the western Pacific and Indian oceans. "It turns out the ocean sloshes around," said the University of Tasmania's Nathaniel Bindoff, a lead author on oceans in the U.N. reports. "It's moving, and so on a regional basis the ocean's movement is causing sea-level variations -- ups and downs."

Regional temperatures and atmospheric conditions, currents, undersea and shoreline topography are all factors contributing to sea levels. On some atolls, which are the above-water remnants of ancient volcanoes, the coral underpinnings are subsiding and adding to the sinking effect.

The oceanic "sloshing" is steadily taking land from such western Pacific island nations as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. In Papua New Guinea, reports have trickled in this year of fast-encroaching tides on shorelines of the northern island province of Manus, the mainland peninsular village of Malasiga and the Duke of York Islands off New Britain.

International media attention paid to the Carteret Islands, the best-known case, seems to have drawn out others, said Papua New Guinea's senior climatologist, Kasis Inape.

"Most of the low-lying islands and atolls are in the same situation," Inape said in Port Moresby.

Here in Kilu on the Bismarck Sea, on a brilliant blue bay ringed by smoldering volcanoes, swaying coconut palms and thin-walled homes on stilts, the invading waves last year forced some villagers to move their houses inland 20 or more yards -- taking along their pigs, chickens and fears of worse to come.

It did, on November 25, when the highest waters yet sent them scurrying. "We think the sea is rising," said 20-year-old villager Joe Balele. "We don't know why."

The scene is repeated on shores across the Pacific, most tragically on tiny island territories with no "inland" to turn to.

Preparing to head to Bali to present her people's case on Tuesday at the U.N. climate conference, Rakova searched for words to explain what was happening back home.

"Our people have been there 300 or 400 years," she said. "We'll be moving away from the islands we were born in and grew up in. We'll have to give up our identity."

01 December 2007


The Shapeshifters are coming to Calgary on December 12. I can't wait! Here is their new song "New Day" from the album Do Not Disturb, coming out in Spring 2008.