Must Reads from Last Week



World Community Film Festival

The World Community Film Festival is back again, February 1-2, 2019. This is BC’s longest running social justice documentary film festival, and is presented annually in Courtenay.

Global Warming: The time has come for a personal carbon cap, overlooking the full costs of alternatives to wood heat, and the feasibility of the woody biomass industry as a climate change solution

This week these three issues came together in the Comox Valley Record. A letter to the editor from Fred Fern of Merville spoke eloquently about the need for a personal carbon cap. “Every person on the planet has a carbon footprint and can make that footprint smaller. We are going to have to ration carbon….” In another letter to the editor from Harold Macy, also from Merville, he writes about the carbon footprint problems of alternatives to burning wood for heating. Then, there’s an article announcing the filmBurned,” which was shown at North Island College on January 23. “Burned” is “an unflinching, critical look at the woody biomass industry as a climate change solution.”

Reading these three items brings to mind David Brooks, a New York Times writer and PBS commentator, who says that in terms of the catastrophic climate effects of global warming, only technology will save us. But he’s missing the component of restraint that Fern suggests in his letter, while Macy points out that changing one technology for another isn’t carbon footprint-free. So, perhaps, a personal carbon cap needs to underpin any technological measures we try - serious restraint on an individual level.

In this election year, Green Party candidates will have to be prepared to grapple with questions such as these. There are no easy solutions here, but solutions absolutely have to be found and the populace has to buy into those solutions.

…and there’s more on the idea that technology can save us: For geoengineers, a scientific existential crisis

Excerpt: “Geoengineering refers to a controversial set of proposals centered around one basic idea: to use technology to help cool down a rapidly warming planet. The most prominent scheme is solar radiation management (SRM), whereby sunlight is reflected back into space to reduce global warming. Such a feat may be attempted through a variety of techniques including stratospheric aerosol injection, which acts much like a volcano does naturally by dumping tons of tiny sulfur particles 60,000 feet in the sky. This is not, generally speaking, a popular idea…The approach is a measure of last resort, a stopgap that might stave off some of the worst effects of warming in the face of plodding progress toward reducing carbon emissions. SRM also has plenty of potential downsides — such as regional changes to weather patterns and related effects on crop yields — and it would do nothing to address climate-adjacent issues like ocean acidification…“People should be livid that elites and governments are presiding over a slow-motion apocalypse, and have let global warming get to a point where some careful geoengineering research is warranted.” Read more.

Climate Law in Our Hands campaign: Part 1

DATE/TIME:  Monday, January 28, 2019, 4 pm sharp
LOCATION:  Courtenay Council chambers, 830 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay

This blog has previously reported on this initiative by the West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) folks, going back to September 2018. In November, we reported on the vote at the Union of BC Municipalities on exactly this campaign, which sadly was defeated.

Well, WCEL is coming to the Comox Valley! This is very exciting!! Kudos to Dogwood and WCEL for initiating this campaign. Our local chapter of Dogwood BC is partnering with West Coast Environmental Law in their “Climate Law in Our Hands” campaign. The campaign encourages communities to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for the damages and costs associated with climate change. To date, 16 governments in B.C., along with the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, have written Climate Accountability Letters to 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies asking them to pay their fair share of the costs currently paid by local taxpayers. See this article in the Vancouver Sun from December 2018.

RSVP to Join us in Council chambers Monday January 28th at 4:00 pm sharp. Space is limited. Dogwood and WCEL will be asking city council to go to bat on your behalf.

As part of the same presentation to Courtenay Council, Andrew Gage of WCEL (West Coast Environmental Law)  will be presenting on the Kwispaa LNG pipeline project that is slated to come through the NIPR and Courtenay-Alberni ridings (see below). If you can be there, your support would be most helpful.

Climate Law in Our Hands campaign: Part 2

LNG, Fracking, and the Comox Valley Connection

DATE/TIME:  Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 7-9 pm
LOCATION: Florence Filberg Centre, Conference Hall
RSVP: Watershed Sentinel’s Facebook page

This event will be featuring four speakers and a question period:

  • Keith Wytton from the Barkley Sound Alliance on Kwispaa, the massive LNG project proposal in Barkley Sound which plans to run its pipeline through Comox (he’s from the Port Alberni Regional District)
  • Richard Wright, Wilps Luutkudziiwus Spokesperson from Madii Lii Center in Gitxsan territory in Northern BC
  • Michael Sawyer, environmental consultant who successfully appealed a decision of the NEB with respect to the Prince Rupert LNG pipeline and is now appealing the Coastal GasLink
  • Damien Gillis, journalist and photographer, on the impact of fracking on land and water

In this article from November 2018, Longtime West Coast resident Jim Whitworth, 74, said attending the Kwispaa LNG open house on Nov. 26 at the Ucluelet Community Centre was like ‘walking into a room full of used car salesmen’.” Another attendee, Jason Sam, said “I think it’s a terrible idea. It’s going away from renewable energies and investment completely into polluting energy for at least two to three decades. Plus, the amount of tanker traffic that is going to be going through there is crazy.”

For some background on Steelhead, go to The piece is from 2016 and things have changed in terms of the proposed pipeline route, but Harald Wolf has done some digging into who makes up Steelhead. Here is the organizational chart he created as a result of his investigations. Note the HUGE investment by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (our money).

Coldest Night of the Year walk

Also see Campbell River and Powell River. In each community, the funds raised go to different organizations but with the theme of helping the homeless.

This year, NIPR Greens have a team - Team Green. Please go to our site and sponsor our walkers, or just add a message of encouragement. Mark de Bruijn and Carol Thatcher are the team captains. Megan Ardyche is going to be responsible for the recycling of the compostable cups and utensils. Yes, St. George’s has agreed to go green and use compostable dishes! This is very exciting as there won’t be all that Styrofoam going to the landfill. The Comox Valley Regional District has agreed to provide the bins, and to provide a ticket so the recycling can go to the local compost centre. This is all thanks to the efforts of local Green, Jay van Oostdam, who is working with the Comox Valley organizers to reduce waste.



Trans Mountain

Part 1: NEB seeks comments on whether to consider all climate effects of Trans Mountain pipeline international program director Tzeporah Berman watches scientist Mark Jaccard speak about the economics of oilsands development. Photo by Michael Ruffolo

“The National Energy Board (NEB) is accepting comments on whether it should consider all climate-related impacts of the proposed Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker expansion in its latest review of the project. The regulatory agency made the announcement Wednesday in response to a legal motion by, an environmental advocacy group, urging it to set aside a 2014 ruling against a similar motion. The NEB will accept comments from other intervenors until January 25. Trans Mountain will have until January 29 to respond and can make comments until January 31.” Read more.

Part 2: More than 100 First Nations could purchase the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline

The majority of the 134 First Nations represented by the Indian Resource Council are interested in buying the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, according to chief executive Stephen Buffalo. (CBC)

From January 15, 2019: Excerpt: Dozens of First Nations leaders are meeting this week to discuss a plan that could make them the next owners of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.

Indigenous leaders will debate Wednesday which financial model is ideal if they are able to purchase the pipeline project, which would boost the amount of oilsands bitumen shipped from Alberta to the B.C. coast. After a private “high level” meeting with the federal government was held in Calgary last month, the Indian Resource Council (IRC) is optimistic it will be able to present a proposal to Ottawa to acquire the pipeline project in the coming months. The IRC represents 134 First Nations that have oil and gas resources on their land.” Read more.

Update from the Toronto Sun January 18: “[Indian Resource Council president and CEO Stephen] Buffalo described the Indigenous Energy Summit attendees as a “pro-development, pro-oil-and-gas room” and he wants to support what he views as a chance for them to benefit from a big investment.” This just a week after the Wet’suwet’en Nation blockade to stop an LNG pipeline was overrun by RCMP.

On Haida Gwaii, culling deer is an act of cultural and ecological restoration: Deer Wars, The forest awakens

Removing deer allows the plants to regenerate, supporting the return of native biodiversity and rebuilding ecosystem resiliency. For the Haida, who’ve occupied these islands for some 13,000 years, it will also revitalize a lost food source and botanical medicine chest—ethnobotanical surveys here cite over 150 species of plants, many of which have been decimated by deer. If ecological restoration is an act that expresses love for an environment and hope for the future, Restoring Balance stands as a bold and important collaboration for an additional reason: with Canada engaged in broad-based social and political reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the dual restoration of biological and cultural integrity in Gwaii Haanas constitutes a form of ecological reconciliation.” Read more.



Election 2019: Shadow Cabinet Series 2019 – Science & Innovation, International Trade

As part of the lead-up to the 2019 federal general election, members of Shadow Cabinet will be hosting webinars on areas of policy related to their portfolios.

When: Tuesday February 5 2019, 6pm Pacific [10min presentations, 15min
Where: Register with the link below. NOTE: This webinar is limited to Green Party members, volunteers, and candidates; and registrations will be checked accordingly.
Who: Amita Kuttner (Science & Innovation) and Paul Manley (International Trade)
What: “A.I. & Machine Learning” and “Trade and Investor State Provisions”
Q&As … 1 hour total duration]


Distinguished economists validate Green Party’s economic policy

Read more.

Green Party calls for end of seismic testing on East Coast

“The Green Party of Canada is calling for a ban on seismic testing by the oil and gas industry off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in the wake of data showing plunging plankton levels…The tiny organisms live near the ocean’s surface and underpin the entire marine food web, feeding the smallest and largest of creatures that call the ocean home. Small but mighty, they are what make life on Earth possible.” Read more. Also read Elizabeth May in October 2018, about a “piece on in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study found there is rapid deoxygenation happening in the northwest Atlantic as a result of shifting ocean currents.”

First Nations Forward: If you didn’t know, now you’ll know

Excerpt: “A lot of historic moments with lasting impacts took place in British Columbia over the past year. First Nations communities celebrated groundbreaking court victories with national implications, won awards for clean energy leadership, and took reconciliation efforts into their own hands. This National Observer series, First Nations Forward, is dedicated to shedding a light in what can feel like a dark era of increasing climate change, fake news, and divisive politics, by emphasizing the many stories of success and sovereignty taking place across the province. Every story of a trailblazing individual, Nation or collaboration tells a larger tale of resiliency, leadership and foresight that may be remembered for generations to come.”



Racism, hatred and bigotry - things are not always as they appear but love stayed home this day

This January 19, 2019, HuffPost link includes both an article and a video which details the disrespect young white, high school boys wearing MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats showed toward tribal elder, Nathan Phillips, who was participating in the Indigenous People’s March. The students are standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, as they harass Phillips. UPDATE: Jan. 21 — More footage has emerged of the viral moment between a Native American man and a white teenager, complicating perceptions of the incident. Please see the updated story here.

Google, Facebook, and Microsoft sponsored a conference that promoted climate change denial

“Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have publicly acknowledged the dangers of global warming, but last week they all sponsored a conference that promoted climate change denial to young libertarians.” Read more.

Plastics: Golf balls polluting protected ocean

Dense aggregations of golf balls littering the sea floor in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, California. Alex Weber, CC BY-ND

A young woman discovers thousands of golf balls in federally protected waters, which she and a friend retrieve. “As environmentally conscious teens, they started removing golf balls from the water, one by one. By the time Alex contacted me, they had retrieved over 10,000 golf balls – more than half a ton.” Read more.

Australia’s beloved gay penguin couple become proud parents to new chick

In a photo from the aquarium, Sphen, Magic and the chick they are raising, for now called Sphengic at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. These two diligent male Gentoos, unaware of the political heat around their courtship, became a larger symbol for the country.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium / The New York Times

Love is love. “When Sphen and Magic became a couple, Australia had just gone through a bitter battle about whether same-sex marriage should be legal. The human gay marriage debate had brought out thorny personal and religious tensions. These two diligent Gentoos, unaware of the political heat around their courtship, became a larger symbol for the country. If a penguin colony could figure this out, a human nation certainly could…Penguins are born with the ability to raise chicks from start to finish whether they’re male or female, and that’s quite an interesting thought to keep in mind,” Hannan said. “We’re the same.” Read more.




These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge and yet have been so resistant to learning anything. (Thomas M. Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters)

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