“My Little Bit Won’t Hurt” – Carbon Emissions & Biomass Burning

The following graph of an Antarctic ice core sample covers Earth’s last 800,000 years. It was done by the British Antarctic Survey (Natural Environment Research Council) and reported on 14 November 2016. {Amos14Nov2016} {Mulvaney2016}. The double graph shows the correlation between atmospheric CO2 in the top graph and temperature in the bottom graph. The CO2 lows are around 190 ppm (parts per million); the highs around 270 ppm. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but obviously is when it comes to Earth’s climate. The graph shows a cycle of approximately 100,000 yrs.

There are lots of highs, lows, zigzags everywhere. As some people love to say, weather changes constantly – changes are normal. They are right, weather does and those zigzags would agree. Throughout those 800,000 years, Earth has had droughts, wildfires, and created large deserts. Earth has had vicious storms, enormous floods, and eroded. It has seen large freshwater lakes created and emptied, has seen incredible changes in sea levels, had islands created, and islands washed away. Earth has had multiple ice ages and had areas become parched. It has also had continental plates move, earthquakes, numerous volcanic eruptions, and has been hit by objects from space. All many times.

However, since most changes were localized or slow enough, most life had time to adapt or migrate. In all those times, there wasn’t such rapid melting of Earth’s Poles, such destruction of the oceans, and ruination of land ecosystems and food systems. Recent CO2 changes have already required plants, insects, animals, and humans to migrate and to die off. {UN} {WWF} {Audubon} {World Meteorological Organization (WMO)}

In those turbulent 800,000 yrs., species have evolved; and others have become extinct. Around 750,000 ya (years ago) Neanderthals came into existence, around 350,000 ya Homo sapiens, around 50,000 ya humans met and mated with Neanderthals affecting 1–3 % of our DNA, and, between 9000 and 7000 ya, humans began to domesticate animals and clear the forest for farming.

By 2000 ya, from the fallout of increasing deforestation, the bones of wild animals in Ireland from 90 archaeological sites were already showing a loss of nitrogen caused by exposed soils’ and consequently plants’ nitrogen sources. {Green13June2018} Since nitrogen is a key to plant’s chlorophyll and to plants’ and animals’ proteins, this was a significant happening. It is much like nitrogen losses in the Maritimes which is why forests have regressed to the plants which were first here, shortly after the ice age, and which required only thin soil: aspen, birch, and spruce. Soil scientists have declared clearcutting is not sustainable. {Keys2016} {Lahey2018}

Besides nitrogen, exposed and warmed soils have also lost calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus to leaching, and CARBON to the atmosphere. {Bandy1999} 2000 ya! “Scientists estimate that the Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass 2000 ya. Since that time, humans have reduced that amount by half.” {Schramski2015}

100 Year Ice Age Cycles

Before the years 800,000 before present, building Earth’s present-day atmospheric conditions had taken much of nature’s effort and time. When mosses evolved around 480 mya (million years ago), the Earth’s atmospheric levels of CO2 “are thought to have been 16 times higher than they are now, and average global temperatures are thought to have been 25C, around 10C higher than they are now [2012].” {Lenton2012} Between 330 mya and 140 mya, ferns and conifers could only bring the CO2 down to 3 times the current levels. {Bradshaw2016} Ferns and conifers had 200 million years, but conifers don’t store water and, though they photosynthesize in the winter, are relatively inefficient at photosynthesis compared to flowering plants. {Wohlleben107} {Simonin2018}

140 mya, flowering plants’ (hardwoods) began to evolve smaller genetic material/genome, and could build smaller cells. “In turn, this allows greater carbon dioxide uptake and carbon gain from photosynthesis.” {Briggs15January2018} {Simonin2018} Additionally, a study of 673,046 trees by the US Dept. of Interior found the oldest trees work best, not 40-year-old trees and, looking at them, why wouldn’t the oldest work best? {Stephenson2014} {Quinn16Jan2014} What chance would saplings have? “Research has documented that for many years after a clearcut, a resprouting forest emits more CO2 than it absorbs.” {CarterFEN} “Plantations can sequester only a quarter of the CO2 that functioning woodland can, and converting forests to plantations actually releases carbon trapped in the soil.” {GraberStiehl3March2016} “Scientists say halting deforestation [is] ‘just as urgent’ as reducing emissions.” {Milman4Oct2018} {IPCC4October2018. (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)}

The graph shows, over the last 800,000 yrs., Earth’s CO2 ppm “natural” range, has been 190 to 270 ppm. The thing is, the Earth’s atmosphere is now [2018] at 410 ppm. There is nothing like 410 ppm on this graph of the last 800,000 years. Additionally, the Earth has never had more CO2 put into its atmosphere per year than this year in 66 MILLION YEARS, two major extinctions ago. {Zeebe et al 2016} {Amos21March2016} What’s happening is not “natural”!

Many rationalize “their little bit won’t hurt”. They wait, wanting someone else to change first. Individuals and families wish to warm and amuse themselves with carbon-fueled energy and play with carbon-run toys and vehicles. People want to make money from creating energy and fuels. They want to call those fallen trees and remnants of harvests just “waste”. That so-called waste could have recycled hard-won forest nutrients and carbon-sequestered soils. They want to cut hardwood trees and shrubs, chip, and send them to England, France, throughout North America and locally for biomass energy or biofuels, and claim it causes no harm. They don’t know or are indifferent to the FACT that the older trees’ and hardwoods’ ability to sequester is far more efficient than the young replacement trees and those future forest nutrients are found in the decaying wood.

There are 7.6 billion people on Earth. It soon will be 10 billion. Even those, who pick up loose kindling to keep a small fire going or cook a picnic meal, are adding carbon to an atmosphere that can’t take much more.

Our Earth is in grave trouble. There is no reason for ignorance. The science is there. We have arrived at the “Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’” {McGrath8October2018} {UN’s IPCC 8 October2018}. People need to have new eyes. Eyes that appreciate what older trees do. Eyes to see the difference between aspen, poplar, birch, and spruce forests and the older mixed elm, hemlock, oak, beech, ash, and maple forests. Eyes to see what is lost when the sides of forests are opened. Eyes to see and understand what happens to exposed soils. Eyes to see the most important uses for so-called wastes. With new eyes, people can make appropriate changes and work within forest-covered areas. Each of Earth’s 7.6 billion people’s pieces doesn’t have to hurt.

 

Norris Whiston 4945 Highway 311, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia B0K 1V0 902-657-3476 norrisw@ns.sympatico.ca

Can be shared freely.

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Government Consultation Document: Vulnerable populations

One of the commitments in the  Government response to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development’s Report “Healthy Environment, Health Canadians, Healthy Economy: Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999” was “to develop, engage on, and publish under CEPA a policy on vulnerable populations, which will include a definition of vulnerable populations and the objectives of the program, including the framework for how Health Canada considers vulnerable populations as part of risk assessments.”  This document is a first step to meeting this commitment.

This is a preliminary consultation, and you are welcome to provide comments during the public consultation as well which is planned for fall 2018.  In the interim, we are asking for your comments on this proposed definition, as well as the examples within the document by November 15, 2018.  Please forward all comments to:  hc.esrabdirector-directeurberse.sc@canada.ca.  Please note that there will be a mechanism established for sustained input from stakeholders and experts as we advance consideration of vulnerable populations in a more comprehensive and transparent manner.

 

Document: Consultation vulnerable population

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Webinar Series

The National Marine Sanctuary Webinar Series provides educators with educational and scientific expertise, resources and training to support ocean and climate literacy in the classroom. This series targets formal and informal educators that are engaging students (elementary through college) in formal classroom settings, as well as members of the community in informal educational venues (e.g. after school programs, science centers, aquariums, etc.).

 

Check them out here: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/education/teachers/webinar-series-archives.html 

Proceedings of 2018 BoFEP Science Workshop Available

The Proceedings of the 12th Bay of Fundy Science Workshop  (2018) “A Changing Fundy Environment: Emerging Issues, Challenges and Priorities”, Editors: Joshua McNeely, Marianne Janowicz, Blythe Chang, Sarah Chamberlain, Susan J. Rolston, and Peter G. Wellsheld 9-12 May 2018 at the Agricultural Campus, Dalhousie University, Truro, NS, is now available on the BoFEP website.
The 12th workshop was attended by approximately 115 people, mostly from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It was very encouraging to see so many young people in various positions attend and engage in the discussions. BoFEP was delighted to award Rachel Cadman and Jaya Fahey with the Best Student Poster and Paper presentation respectively. The plenary and public talks were on the North Atlantic Right whale, marine debris and the Bay of Fundy’s future. Paper sessions covered tidal energy, fisheries ecology and management, monitoring and contaminants, integrated coastal management, dykelands and tidal restoration, the new oceans protection plan, and marine protected areas. Three panels were held – ocean literacy and awareness, information use at the science‐policy interface, and future research needs and BoFEP’s continued role as an NGO. An excellent field trip took place, with tidal bore rafting on the nearby Shubenacadie River estuary.

NSEN and the Truro Public Library Launch New Talking Circle Series with Catherine Martin

The first of four traditional Mi’kmaq Learning Circles, entitled “Ego to Eco: Learning the Mi’kmaq calendar to Experience Human and Ecological Health’s Interdependence,” will be held at the Truro Public Library on November 7th from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Reading Room. Catherine Anne Martin will present thoughts on the Mi’kmaq teachings on the interdependence of environmental and human health as exemplified in the Mi’kmaw traditional calendar of thirteen moons that focuses on the natural events of our climate cycle and what other species are doing in each moon cycle.

This focus on the “other” helps humans to be more aware of the ecological needs of all species and how we are a part of those same needs.  Going from our own “ego wants” to “eco needs,” through exposure to indigenous cultural reality, is necessary to change our ways in the cause of the planet’s and our own health. Unmitigated destructive polluting and resource extraction practices, along with our own misplaced focus on egocentric “wants,” has led us to environmental degradation and climate instability. Such issues as wellness, motivation,     

Thanks to Catherine Martin’s gracious gift to lead the 2018 Halifax circles and partial funding from the Halifax Community Health Board of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, this new series has been extended to the Truro region through the co-sponsorship of the Truro Public Library and will continue each month (December 5, January 9 and February 5) at the same location. 

NSEN, with its revitalized new board chaired by Ph.D. Engineering student, Chris White, and the crucial in-kind support of one of Truro’s favourite gathering place has agreed to host Mi’kmaq circles in order to facilitate a more ecologically and inclusive way for people to meet and face our fragile future on the planet. The series looks at components of human health—fitness, wellbeing, motivation and direction through the prism of environmental elements and the eco-centric Mi’kmaq Calendar.

For millennia the unceded Mi’kmaw territory (what is now called the Atlantic Provinces) was sustained by an eco-centric philosophy of a land-based consciousness. The inclusivity and egalitarianism of this philosophy is exemplified by the Mi’kmaq talking circle tradition, an ideal setting for all people living in this time and space to come together to learn how to best survive spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. The circle format focuses on deep listening in a respectful way to the circle leader and then to each other as a sacred talking stick is passed, allowing each participant to share if he or she so wishes. 

By acknowledging that 1/ putting the needs for a healthy environment before egoic greed, 2/ considering what the fullness of the natural world (of which human animals are a part) offers in each month through the perspective of the Mi’kmaw calendar and 3/ discussing the challenges of  being healthy in a society that most often ignores that nature is in control, will integrate humans to see that we must put nature first and create the political will to protect our environment above everything.

NSEN encourages a repeat of the broad spectrum of last year’s circles’ representation during which Mi’kmaq, Anishnabe, Cree and Haida First Nations, Inuit people from fifteen countries, all ages, genders and economic backgrounds, long time residents of Halifax, new Canadians, professionals from the arts and sciences and persons of all abilities came together to listen to the Circle leader and then to each other. 

Alanis Obomsawin, a renowned Abenaki filmmaker, singer, artist and activist, relayed this pithy and poignant indigenous wisdom:  “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

Media Contact: Joanne Light,  jonilight3@yahoo.ca, 902-429-1571


SCHEDULE AND CONTENT OF 2018 TRURO MI’KMAQ TALKING CIRCLES

 

Catherine Martin

Hosted by Catherine Martin

B.A., Theatre Arts (Dalhousie U.), M. Ed., Media Literacy (Mount Saint Vincent U.) and Member of the Order of Canada and of the Millbrook Mi’kmaw Community in Truro is an independent producer, director, writer, facilitator, communications consultant, drummer and the first woman Mi’kmaw filmmaker from the Atlantic Region.

Mi’kmaq teachings understand human and ecological health are interdependent. Ego to eco-centricity improves fitness, wellbeing, direction and motivation.

 

Schedule of Events 

Wed., November 7 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Martin introduces“Keptekewiku” (frost month) to explore humans, the elements—water, air, earth and fire—and other species’ relations at a time when we may fear more anxiety for the winter to come.

Wed., December 5 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Martin introduces “Kesikewiku” (winter month) to explore relations in the dark and cold time. If we have an unstable climate, how does that affect species in winter?

Wed., January 9 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Martin introduces “Penamujuiku” (frost fish runs’ month) to explore relations when climate change disrupts other species and our own patterns of survival?

Tues., February 5 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Martin introduces “Apuknajit” (snow blinding month) to explore relations when we are blinded by the enormity of environmental and climate health issues and don’t know which way to turn. How can a respect for and understanding of Mother Nature help us?

2018 ACORN Conference – Building Bridges: Creating New Relationships in Agriculture

Are you passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture?

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The ACORN Conference a great opportunity for you to deepen your organic farming knowledge and network with people with similar interests. The conference is a three-day event that brings together farmers, researchers, processors, and businesses from across the region and beyond!

 

This year, you will have the opportunity to learn about sustainable livestock management, soil health, farming in changing climate, on-farm water security, seed to seed farming, and more!

 

Register before November 14 here: 2018acornconference.eventbrite.ca

 

We look forward to seeing you November 26-28, 2018 in Charlottetown, PEI.

A Short but Sweet Chapter in the Long Journal of a Climate Activist

This fall, in my seventh year as a volunteer climate change lobbyist of a “little power pony” called Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada, I asked myself: “Do I have the resources and energy to go to Ottawa for the third time to once again lobby MPs, Senators and aides for a revenue-neutral price on pollution? Back home three or four others and myself had spent hundreds of hours of the last seven years meeting with all but two of our Nova Scotian MPs and many MLAs, leaders of political parties, people in the faith, business and government policy bureaucrat communities, as well as hundreds of fellow citizens to get for Nova Scotians, especially low and middle income households, a fair shake if and when we would begin to price carbon pollution. That could only happen with a system where the revenue collected on a steadily increasing cost of fossil fuel products would be given back as rebate cheques to the citizens.

 

I looked at my bank account and said: “I just can’t do it.” Then I did something I’ve rarely done, I asked my fellow citizens for help to get to Ottawa and stay with a billet for four days. Donations of $250 from a city councillor, $210 from four fellow climate activists and $100 from a faith community came in over the next few days. I felt so supported in a government climate that had mostly ignored what we had been saying for so long. It was one of those times when you feel all warm and fuzzy like when you fall backwards into the interlocked arms of a group in one of those group dynamics’ trust exercises. I can’t thank those five individuals and one church body enough for catching and catapulting me to Ottawa.

 

I was about to face an intense four more days in the long journey of a citizen of a democracy where, despite evidence that we, the people, have little sway in the matters that affect us (compared with oil executives and those in their back pockets), we feel compelled to act tenaciously with patience and discipline (a motto a very smart businessman told me that is the creed he lives by ‘TPD,’ he calls it) to “be the change.”

 

Off I went, yes, using a lot of fossil fuels to get there. Please spare me the fallacious ‘ad hominem’ ‘You’re a hypocrite!’ attack. Until we have hemp biofuel and high-speed trains, I am forced to use what I have depended on and squandered in my misguided, brainwashed practise of focusing on my wants, rather than my needs.  I am told my generation was the worst offender. I wear it. I own it. But anyone from my generation can counteract what we didn’t realize we shouldn’t have been doing. In the late 1970s, most revoked our commitment to clean energy under the avalanche of the Reaganomics-led corporate takeover that killed the electric car and manufactured the self-centred materialist “yuppified” 1980s. 

Back in the future present, for four days, from October 13-16, I paid my penance as a gas and oil chugging baby boomer as one of 55 volunteers of at least four generations, who met with 54 Parliamentarians (talk about jet fuel junkies!), including cabinet ministers, both opposition critics for the environment and most members of the All-Party Climate Caucus.

Prior to lobbying, we spent 16 hours learning from a stellar line-up of climate change and communication experts including Mark Cameron from Canadians for Clean Prosperity – which produced a groundbreaking report in late September showing that the vast majority of Canadians would come out ahead with carbon fee and dividend. At the end of the weekend, three new Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapters were activated in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Oro-Medonte, ON, and Saskatoon, SK.

It turns out seven (years lobbying) and thirteen (national meetings) are my lucky numbers. This time, we heard a rumour on the hill that implementation of our preferred plan (carbon fee and dividend) was going to be announced as the official backstop policy for pricing carbon pollution. Independent Senator for Alberta, Grant Mitchell (who CCL’s former national director, Cathy Orlando and team have been lobbying since 2011) (since November 2011) announced (in her meeting with him), “You are one of the most successful lobbying groups I have worked with because you are about to get what you lobbied for.”

 

So it came to pass. On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau announced (announced) “It is free to pollute, so we have too much pollution.” He presented the solution simply: “Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada. We are going to place a price on the pollution that causes climate change from coast to coast to coast. We’re also going to help Canadians adjust to this new reality” in response to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which released a report on October 8th of this year. Its heartbreaking bottom line is that we have just twelve years left to reign in the climate crisis with severe consequences of inaction being felt by as early as 2040. That urgent message was brought to parliamentarians. On Monday, October 15, while on Parliament Hill, an emergency debate on the IPCC’s 1.5C report happened.  Many CCLers watched in the House of Commons Gallery including eleven-year-old Sophia, who concluded afterward, “I wish they would cooperate.”

 

Using one province as an example, the PM stated that a family of four would receive $307 with their tax return this spring, more than doubling to $718 by 2022. Eight in ten families will get back more than they pay.  The policy also includes extra support for small, rural and remote Canadian communities. Trudeau emphasized that every nickel of this revenue (Climate Action Incentive)would be returned to Canadians.
And so it was that Canada became the first country in the world to enact a carbon fee and dividend policy. The story is far from an “…and they all lived happily ever after” ending. With a national election coming up next year, political attacks on the policy are already coming fast and furiously, so the job of generating political will for carbon fee and dividend is by no means finished in Canada for the sitting government. Success will hinge on their continued approach of persistent and respectful engagement that eschews partisanship.
As one Conservative MP told the group, “We like you because you are nonpartisan.” As another MP said, “We need you volunteers to tell the public far and wide about this.”  I say, how about this government restoring the funding for the Canada-wide provincial Environmental Networks, like the NSEN, which former PM Harper eliminated and PM Trudeau hasn’t reinstated.  Now would be a good time to do so because those networks would get the word out in theri climate change caucuses if they had a little money to catch them.”  
I told you it was a long journey. 
by Joanne Light