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The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention

Justin Trudeau and Canada's premiers

For decades, the urgent need for climate action was stymied by what came to be known as “climate denialism” (or its more mild cousin, “climate skepticism”).

In an effort to create public confusion and stall political progress, the fossil fuel industry poured tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of foundations, think tanks, lobby groups, politicians and academics who relentlessly questioned the overwhelming scientific evidence that human-caused climate change is real and requires urgent action.

Thankfully, the climate deniers have now mostly been exposed and repudiated. Relatively few politicians now express misgivings about the reality or science of climate change (the current Republican nominee for U.S. president being a notable exception, along with some other conservative bright lights like Sarah Palin and Canadian MP Cheryl Gallant).

That’s the good news.

The bad news is we face a new form of climate denialism — more nuanced and insidious, but just as dangerous.

Divide and Conquer: The Threatened Community at the Heart of the PNW LNG Project

By Ash Kelly and Brielle Morgan for Discourse Media. For a full, interactive version of this investigative piece, visit Discourse Media.

For more than 5,000 years, First Nations people have collected plants and harvested red cedar on Lelu Island, which sits where the Skeena River meets the Pacific Ocean near Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia. Adjacent to some of the most critical salmon habitat on the West Coast, Lelu Island is considered so valuable that, according to local Indigenous oral histories, Indigenous tribes have long battled to control it.

Not much has changed today — except that the battleground has shifted to Victoria and Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is set to make a decision about Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG)’s proposed $36-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which is majority-owned by the Malaysian energy company Petronas. That decision could come at any time, although deliberations are likely to stretch into the fall. If built, the project will link a pipeline that weaves through traditional First Nations territories with a conversion plant and shipping terminal on Lelu Island.

Why the Site C Dam Fails Economic Test: NDP Critic

Site C dam construction

This is a guest piece by Adrian Dix, the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway and the NDP critic for BC Hydro and ICBC.

BC Hydro and the provincial Liberal government are playing a reckless game with British Columbians. They are building the Site C dam even though it is apparent that we do not need the power.

The consequences will include lost jobs, higher electricity rates and long-term damage to BC Hydro and provincial finances.

Does Premier Christy Clark think BC Hydro's customers in this province would support a $9-billion-plus project to offer subsidized power to American and Albertan consumers? Could this ever make any sense?

B.C. has seen this story before with respect to Site C, but with a very different ending.

What I Learned From Being in a Focus Group Led by Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

By Laura Bouchard for CANADALAND.

A few weeks ago, Bruce Anderson, a popular pundit and pollsterwrote an opinion piece criticizing the NDP’s Leap Manifesto as a clumsy political misstep. Canadians, Anderson argues, would never go for bold action addressing climate change. We’re a mild people. A simple people. He wrote:

Canadians want 'pro-growth environmentalism.' They want to tap entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, science, capital and yes, capitalism, to help create ideas that marry our desire to put food on the table, money away for our kids’ education, and some sense of security about how we’re going to live in retirement.”

This last sentence caught my eye. If you read it closely, you’ll notice two lists. First are the feel-goodisms the oil industry likes to drape itself in: innovation, science, entrepreneurship; second are the actual anxieties of average Canadians. Rather artfully Anderson has fused the interests of everyday Canadians with the rhetoric of the oil patch; perfectly aligned and indistinguishable.

A Brief History of Fossil-Fuelled Climate Denial

Protester holding a banner: "You can't recycle wasted time"

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

Canadian Climate Denial Group, Friends of Science, Named as Creditor in Coal Giant's Bankruptcy Files

By Charles Mandel for the National Observer.

A Canadian climate change denial group has popped up in a U.S. coal giant's bankruptcy proceedings that have lifted the curtain on the funding of a sophisticated continent-wide marketing campaign designed to fool the public about how human activity is contributing to global warming.

document, nearly 1,000 pages long, lists the Calgary-based Friends of Science Society as one of the creditors expecting to get money from the once-mighty coal company, Peabody Energy.

Climate scientists and environmentalists have long suspected that the so-called “Friends” group was a front for fossil fuel companies trying to block government action to reduce carbon pollution, but Friends of Science members always declined to reveal their source of funding.

Unprecedented Wildfires in Western Canada Call For Serious Climate Action

This is a guest post by Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club B.C.

The wildfires currently raging uncontrolled in Alberta are not within the range of what’s normal.

As of May 29, 854,984 hectares have burned this year in Canada, mostly Alberta — almost 10 times the 25-year-average amount of forest lost by this date (89,391 hectares).

And summer hasn't even started.

Warm temperatures and low humidity mean that, for the time being, there is no end in sight. A similar situation is taking shape in British Columbia.

The correlation between higher average temperatures and wildfires in Canada has been well-researched, but the extremes now underway still come as a shock. Leading climate scientists have compared the urgent need to prevent further overheating of our planet to a person with a dangerously high fever. Our body temperature is normally about 37 degrees. If it increases by two degrees to 39, you have fever. If it goes over 41, you might die.

Black Press Keeps Buying and then Closing Small B.C. Papers. Why?

By Megan Devlin for J-Source, the Canadian Journalism Project.

Eric Plummer, editor of the Alberni Valley Times, remembers the day last September when two representatives from Black Press told him his paper was closing.
 
“They came in, I think it was like 4:00 or 4:30,” he said. “I don’t think that we’d even finished the paper yet, actually.”
 
The daily paper, which served the 25,000 people of Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island from 1967 to 2015, was one of 11 British Columbia community newspapers that Black Press bought from Glacier Media in 2014.
 
“I won’t contend that the paper wasn’t losing money,” Plummer said. “I think at that point I was just so hellbent on keeping the paper going that I refused to believe that we were going to be dying just yet.”
 
On Oct. 9, 2015, Plummer published the paper’s last edition.

Fort McMurray and the New Era of Infernos

By Ed Struzik for The Tyee.

A sudden shift in the wind at a critical time of day was all it took to send a wildfire out of control through Fort McMurray, forcing more than 80,000 people out of their homes in what has become the biggest natural disaster in Canadian history.

Earlier this week, Darby Allen, the regional fire chief for the area, minced no words when he was asked what might happen now that more than 1,600 homes have been destroyed.

''This is a really dirty fire,'' he said. ''There are certainly areas within the city which have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will take them.''

The media line now is that fire experts saw this coming five years ago when one of the Flattop Complex fires tore through the Alberta town of Slave Lake in 2011, forcing everyone to leave on a moment's notice. A report released shortly after predicted that something similar could happen again, and its authors made 21 recommendations to prepare for the possibility.

Peace River Break a Critical Conservation Corridor in Rare Intact Mountain Ecosystem

By Tim Burkhart, former researcher with the Cohen Commission and Peace River Break Coordinator with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
 
On a clear day after the thaw, I climb a meandering hiking trail through thick forest, crossing springs swollen with alpine melt, and scramble up rocky slopes to a wind-swept vista of alpine tundra at the weather-beaten peak of Mount Bickford, about 40 minutes west of the small industry town of Chetwynd, B.C.
 
From this lofty vantage point above the Pine Pass, the crucial east-west length of Highway 97 is visible, connecting northeast B.C. with the rest of the province west of the Rockies.
 
Standing beside the dark waters of a mountain lake, still fringed with snow, I can gaze out upon an uninterrupted view of one of the most important landscapes in British Columbia.

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