Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: June 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm getting dry just writing about it.

Ignored by most papers this week is a report from the United Nations on the predicted impact of desertification. The BBC and the Seattle Post Intelligencer both reported on the study claiming 50 million people will be displaced within the next decade from desertification and further than 2 billion people who currently occupy dry lands are potential victims of desertification.

So what are the causes of desertification?

1. Global warming - changing weather patterns, rising heat, increased need for agricultural water, higher evaporation rates of lakes and land.

2. Over grazing by live stock- destruction of plant life which holds soils leading to increased erosion, decreased ground shading which increases evaporation.

3. Intensive and or unsustainable farming- Driven by market forces farmers often plan inappropriate thirsty crops like corn and cotton rather than crops better adapted to the growing conditions. These choices mean higher levels of irrigation than are sustainable, example: the near draining of the Ural sea for Soviet agriculture.

4. Aquifer depletion- in order to sustain crops where they don't belong, deep aquifers of fossil water have been tapped and over utilized lowering the water table and making non irrigated lands bone dry.

5. Poorly designed and maintained irrigation systems- The irrigation systems around the Ural sea wasted so much water to leakage and evaporation that the sea was pumped down faster each year. Spraying water increases evaporation and total water use, whereas a well maintained drip system for produce can drastically decrease water use. A covered or sealed irrigation system vs open trenches also saves water.

6. Dams and man made water diversions- Since the large Nile Aswan dam system was build the fertility of Egyptian lands have decreased because of the lack of the annual flood which added moisture, organic content and washed away salt build up from the soils. Short sighted development plans have done as much harm as good.

7. Gluttonous Urban use, we live this- Growing grass and keeping it green all year, washing cars, sidewalks, high volume toilets, 30 minute showers, and top opening washers are just a sampling of our gluttony. The stupidity of Las Vegas and other green zones in the middle of a desert truly question our fitness to survive as a race.

8. Importation of non-native species of plants- South Africa was heavily planted with imported tree species brought by the Dutch and English. These species consumed much larger quantities of ground water and were actually drying up rivers. Recent programs to remove non-native trees and replace them with native species have returned water flow in some rivers previously dry.

So what does this all mean?

Well, we have 6.6 billion people who are being squeezed by the threat of both encroaching deserts on one side and rising sea levels on the other.

How the hell are we going to deal with the level of displaced persons in the next 50 years let alone try to feed them with total arable land shrinking, fresh water being wasted, and the oil/gas for farming equipment, fertilizers and pesticides hitting peak?

We are in the process of lowering the carrying capacity of our planet while we are also raising our population and consumption. Something is going to break and it's going to get ugly!

Do you really think the political parties and processes that allowed these problems to arise in the first place can solve them?

Only a Green Canada can be a strong Canada.Recommend this Post

Friday, June 15, 2007

A reasonable transit plan, who’d have thought?

The Ontario Government has announced a 17.5 billion dollar transit strategy which will carry the province to 2020.

The plan calls for the extension of the Younge subway to Highway 7, new rapid transit for Hamilton, new monies for GO Transit and probably the most noteworthy move, the electrification of GO Transit's busy Lakeshore line. Moving to electric trains will speed up service, and greatly reduce pollution, this would be a win for ridership and a win for the environment.

I can't say I'm a fan of subways as they cost far more per mile than light rail but overall this is a pretty good start. My fear however is Ottawa under the current stupid regime will not chip in their share and Toronto under the current nearly bankrupt regime will not be able to borrow the money needed.

The other problem; This plan relies on the Liberals actually winning the Ontario election this October.

Two train stories in a day, what's with that?Recommend this Post

More poison China Trash

As mentioned in a previous post China is an unethical trader who either cannot or does not care to adequately ensure the safety of it's manufactured goods. Well they've proved my point yet again as over a million Thomas the Tank Engine toys have been recalled due to lead contamination of the paint.

The effected toys are mostly the red and yellow trains and accessories from the wooden line of toys produced from Jan 05 to June 07. I've seen numbers as high as 1.5 million units over a 2 1/2 year period, Yup that's quality control for you.

The production codes that tell you if they are dangerous or not are on the packaging not the toys, I'm sure most parents have packed the boxes away for safe keeping.

Lead is a serious toxin for developing children and these toys must be taken away from your kids.

Yet another reason to boycott China trash,Recommend this Post

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Academic support for Carbon taxes

MIT researchers have modeled the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles and have found that it is going to take both significant time, government incentives and intervention including Carbon Taxes to encourage the move away from traditional internal combustion vehicles.

Problems cited for slow adoption include

Irrational consumers - not necessarily making smart buying decisions based on economy alone.

Infrastructure problems- until you have significant vehicles on the road filling/charging stations etc will not be built. Until you have significant filling/charging stations you can't sell the cars.

Higher fuel economy equals less demand which in turn creates less incentive for companies to build infrastructure .

The result shows that incentives and Carbon taxes need to be instigated and sustained over a long enough period of time to make the market self sustaining. Considering the average road life of today's cars and the limited ability to expand non conventional vehicle production quickly this period will be of a significant length.

That incentives and Carbon taxes will work where pure market forces will not is an important discovery. The Green Party of Canada has the only platform that includes both incentives and a carbon tax, sounds to me like MIT endorses our policy, which will aid both the fight against Global Warming and better prepare us for Peak Oil.

I'm sure Harper and the boys will claim MIT is full of socialist conspirators.

Recommend this Post

Global warming and Giant Waves

I tripped across a great science web site NewScientist.com, the site is just littered with interesting articles.

One story states that new models on global warming show that the speed of giganitc ocena waves are speading up and will continue to do so as the climate warms, projections are 20-40% increase by the end of the century.

These gigantic ocean waves, recorded since the advent of sattalite imagry and can stretch for 100s of km. Until recently however there was not enough data to model their trends.

Faster moving waves can not only increase the risk to ocean vessels but can also impact over all weather patterns, just another finger pointing to the effects and mechanics of Global Warming. Just another fact Bush and Harpo can ignore.Recommend this Post

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mutant Space Worms

The Globe and Mail reports that worms allowed to breed for 28 generations in space will probably be Mutants.

I have no doubt they are mutants and it's obvious that one of them escaped!Recommend this Post

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

There is one real leader!

In honour of the G8 was meeting where climate change was one of the most important topics the Green Party of Canada released it's Green Party Climate Plan: A New Energy Revolution to Avert Global Catastrophe,

These proposals are toughest offered by any national party and are a strait forward and a honest attempt to do what needs to be done. These proposals if enacted today might just let us meet Kyoto.

This is what a real leader proposes, no bogus science, no bogus costing, no propping up evil, no fixation on ATM fees, no defending years of inaction and no waffling on what you believe.

The other "leaders" should take notes on how this is done.

There is one real leader, Elizabeth MayRecommend this Post