The environment

There’s a story doing the rounds about how plastic recycling has always been a scam. Consumers started to get concerned about the ecological consequences of throwing plastic away and — despite knowing it was infeasible and uneconomical to actually recycle — they slapped little logos on everything implying that they can and will be recycled, […]

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I find it’s good practice to approach literally anybody, from a municipal worker who I am passing on the sidewalk while they’re performing official duties to clerks in shops with an immediate attempt at a substantive conversation, not just a rote exchange of greetings or well-wishes. By that means the other morning I got the […]

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The most pressing challenge for bringing climate change under control is replacing the world’s energy sources for electricity production, building heating and cooling, and transport. At the same time, humanity needs to learn how to do everything necessary to maintain a technological civilization without fossil fuels. That includes agriculture, as well as the production of […]

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If finance minister Bill Morneau believes that Canada’s budget deficit “the challenge of our lifetime” he’s either tragically ill-informed, delusional, or disabled by finance-industry-insider blinders. Russia and Argentina, among others, show how states can default on their external debts and suffer relatively little consequence, as investors race back in within years. Even the worst economic […]

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Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s bid to save bill blocking Trans Mountain project After investing billions in project, Kenney marks start of Keystone XL construction in Alberta If the countries which have created the most total climate pollution up to this point continue to believe that they can build new fossil fuel projects which will operate […]

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In the 1950s, when the RBMK design was developed and approved, Soviet industry had not yet mastered the technology necessary to manufacture steel pressure vessels capacious enough to surround such large reactor cores. For that reason, among others, scientists engineers, and managers in the Soviet nuclear-power industry had pretended for years that a loss-of-coolant accident […]

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In closing, a few words can be said about other aspects of the PCF [Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change]. The complete ignoring of the 2020 target illustrates the power of the Canadian dynamic of policy failure set out in chapter 1. Disguising the lack of will and effort needed to achieve an […]

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One concern about the informal and non-hierarchical approach used in most campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns, and in the climate activist movement more broadly, is that it impairs institutional memory and thus prevents people from having a strong understanding of what has already been done and learned. In an effective and intriguing effort to counter […]

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Back in 2009, I described various ways to try to deliberately engineer the Earth system to reduce the severity of climate change and noted: The first way to do this is to encourage the growth of biomass. This is relatively easy, but has limited potential. Biomass is like a giant carbon cushion: it can be […]

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Besides, the historian William Cronon argues that there is nothing “natural” about wilderness, that it is a deeply human construct, “the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history.” Though I might be appalled by Marco Polo’s failure to swoon at mountains and deserts along the Silk Road, wilderness in […]

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