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Our Comment in Nature calling for oil sands moratorium

candian-oil-sands-615National Geographic: Photograph by Peter Essick

On June 25th, Mark Jaccard wrote the following on his blog:

Here is the press release for our Nature paper, released June 25, calling for a moratorium on oil sands expansion. This means no loss of current jobs in the oil sands. But it does mean a return to sanity from this selfish rush to accelerate global warming, ocean acidification and ecological destruction – events that will lead to huge economic and social costs according to a just-released study by the World Bank. It does mean that we should not build new pipelines like Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and others.

Press release:

Scientists call for a Halt to Oil Sands Expansion Until Policies Address True Costs and Global Impacts.
A Comment published today in the journal Nature calls for a moratorium on new oil sands projects in Alberta, Canada due to flaws in how oil sands decisions are made. The authors are a multidisciplinary group of economists, policy researchers, ecologists, and decision scientists. They argue that the controversy around individual pipelines like Keystone XL in the US or Northern Gateway in Canada overshadows deeper policy flaws, including a failure to adequately address carbon emissions or the cumulative effect of multiple projects. The authors point to the contradiction between the doubling of the rate of oil sands production over the past decade and international commitments made by Canada and the US to reduce carbon emissions. “The expansion of oil sands development sends a troubling message to other nations that sit atop large unconventional oil reserves,” said lead author Wendy Palen, Assistant Professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.
Read the full press release here.
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Want to Change the World? Read This First

change

 

One key take-away message from this post carbon institute article by Richard Heinberg is:

“Only ideas, demonstration projects, and policy proposals that fit our emerging infrastructure will have genuine usefulness or staying power. How can you know if your idea fits the emerging infrastructure? There’s no hard and fast rule, but your idea stands a good chance if it assumes we are moving toward a societal regime with less energy and less transport (and that is therefore more localized); if it can work in a world where climate is changing and weather conditions are extreme and unpredictable; if it provides a way to sequester carbon rather than releasing more into the atmosphere; and if it helps people meet their basic needs during hard times.”

Click to read more.

 

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Avoiding Collapse: An agenda for sustainable degrowth and relocalizing the economy

In this thoughtful paper, UBC Professor Emeritus William Rees, the originator of “ecological footprint analysis”, explores the interconnections between the ecological and social crises we face, and then offers up an inventory of policy solutions to address them. While radical by today’s context, his proposals seek to break through the layers of denial that mark dominant economic thinking.

His extended essay highlights the most pressing global challenges we face – the climate emergency, the reality of ecological “overshoot” that already exceeds the long-term carrying capacity of the earth and outrageous and unsustainable levels of inequality. But the paper also offers a hopeful way forward, a whole new approach to sustainable planning at every level. The solutions proposed relate to trade policy, taxation policy, regulatory policy, a re-localization of economic planning, and many other areas, but also speak to the urgent need to shift popular culture away from rampant consumerism and a blind faith in material growth. Rees contends that tackling the ecological crisis will require a much more equitable sharing of the world’s resources – a “new social contract” both locally and globally.

 

 

 

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Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation

Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation is a 2014 update to the 2008 science assessment report, From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate.  During this time period, our understanding of climate change impacts and adaptation in Canada has increased, both as a result of new research and through practical experience.  Led by Natural Resources Canada, the development of this report involved over 90 authors and 115 expert reviewers, and synthesized over 1500 recent publications.

The web-accessible report is available in its full version and by chapter.

 

 

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PCIC Employment Opportunity: Administrative Assistant – 1 year term

PCIC is seeking to hire an Administrative Assistant.

The Administrative Assistant works closely with the Director, the Lead for Planning & Operations and the Webmaster/Editor to facilitate a multi-disciplinary team of scientists to carry out an applied scientific program focused on providing regional climate services to stakeholders. The position is central to the functioning of PCIC through providing administrative and travel support to the PCIC staff, consolidating and maintaining financial records and staff records, and providing general administrative support. Refer to the complete job description for more details. For additional information, please address enquiries to Shelley Ma at climate@uvic.ca(link sends e-mail).

Closing Date: June 30th, 2014

Application: Please send your application with a CV, including three professional references. Address cover letter and application to Miss Shelley Ma, climate@uvic.ca(link sends e-mail), with “ATTN: Administrative Assistant” in the subject line. Please indicate whether you are legally able to work in Canada.

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Global refugee figure passes 50m for first time since second world war

Screenshot 2014-06-20 08.05.30Children in the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq. Photo: Courtesy of  UNHCR

 

The number of people forced to flee their homes across the world has exceeded 50 million for the first time since the second world war, an exponential rise that is stretching host countries and aid organisations to breaking point, according to figures released on Friday.

Half the world’s refugees are children, many travelling alone or in groups in a desperate quest for sanctuary, and often falling into the clutches of people traffickers, the annual UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) global trends report said.

Factors that forced people to leave their homes included climate change, population growth, urbanisation, food insecurity and water scarcity – many of which interacted with and enhanced each other.

Read the full article here.

 

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WEBINAR on key findings from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: now available online

Dr. Stewart J. Cohen, Senior Researcher, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, presented key findings from the Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

This webinar is now available online.

This webinar was delivered jointly by ICLEI Canada and the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at Simon Fraser University.

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report consists of four volumes, one of which is the Working Group II report entitled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” The Summary for Policymakers, based on the underlying report, was approved by governments on March 31, 2014, and contains information on observed and projected impacts, and adaptation.

Dr. Stewart Cohen, a Senior Researcher with the Climate Research Division, Environment Canada presented key findings from the Working Group II report on this webinar.  Dr. Cohen contributed to Canada’s first national climate change assessment report, “Canada Country Study”, as well as the 2007 National Assessment, and “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” published in 2009. Since 1992, he has contributed to publications of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. For the IPCC 5th Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, he is a member of the author team of the chapter “Foundations for Decision Making” as well as a member of the core writing team for the Summary for Policymakers which was released on March 31.

Climate Change: Implications for Cities, a summary report of key findings from the 5th Assessment, will also be presented.  The newly launched report, produced by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the University of Cambridge, synthesizes the most pertinent findings of AR5 specifically for the “city sector”.


ABOUT IN SESSION:

ICLEI Canada is hosting a series of webinars on various climate change and sustainability issues at the local level.  The In Session series offers expert-led presentations on many subject areas as they relate to sustainability planning, biodiversity management, communicating climate change, municipal best practices, capacity building, and research.

PAST WEBINARS:

Presentation slides and recordings of past webinars can be found on our Resources page: Past Webinars

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Farmers Insurance Drops Climate Change Lawsuits Against Chicago-Area Cities


Illinois-flooding
Who should pay for the impacts of climate change? This conundrum was at the center of nine class action lawsuits filed by Farmers Insurance in April against dozens of cities in the Chicago area for failing to prepare for the floods that hit Illinois last spring. The insurance company argued that local governments should have known that rising global temperatures would result in heavier rains and did not do enough to secure sewers and storm drains. But, in a surprising turn of events, Farmers withdrew the suits last week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In a statement, company spokesman Trent Frager said that Farmers initiated the lawsuits to recover money on behalf of its policyholders for losses that could have been avoided by municipalities, as well as to encourage cities and counties to take more preventative actions to reduce the risks of future natural disasters. But it seems the threat of legal action was enough to accomplish the insurance giant’s goals.

Read the full article here.

 

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A Last Look at California’s Glaciers

California’s glaciers are disappearing at a rapid rate.

Screenshot 2014-06-16 13.27.01          Photo credit: Tim Palmer

Many people don’t realize that glaciers even exist in California. In fact, we have about 130.

Most cling to steep slopes of the Sierra Nevada, but they’re disappearing at a rapid rate. Geologist Greg Stock of Yosemite National Park reports that even Lyell Glacier—second-largest in the Sierra—no longer has the mass required for it to creep downhill, which is one condition that defines a glacier.

Among all the changes wrought by global warming—heat waves, raging floods, rising seas, menacing droughts—the melting of the glaciers is the most immediately visible for anyone who ventures high enough to see them.

One might reason that California’s glaciers are already small and of little consequence, but the same forces that are melting them are also reducing the mountains’ entire snowpack, which will diminish this century by 30 to 70 percent, according to scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That snowpack accounts for 60 percent of the water used in California.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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ICLEI IN SESSION WEBINAR – JUNE 17 AT 1:30PM REGISTER NOW!

Tuesday June 17th, 2014 from 1:30pm-2:30pm EDT

Key Findings of the Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

Presenter: Dr. Stewart J. Cohen, Senior Researcher, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada

This webinar is being delivered jointly by ICLEI Canada and the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at Simon Fraser University.

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report consists of four volumes, one of which is the Working Group II report entitled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” The Summary for Policymakers, based on the underlying report, was approved by governments on March 31, 2014, and contains information on observed and projected impacts, and adaptation.

Dr. Stewart Cohen, a Senior Researcher with the Climate Research Division, Environment Canada will present key findings from the Working Group II report on this webinar.  Dr. Cohen contributed to Canada’s first national climate change assessment report, “Canada Country Study”, as well as the 2007 National Assessment, and “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” published in 2009. Since 1992, he has contributed to publications of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. For the IPCC 5th Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, he is a member of the author team of the chapter “Foundations for Decision Making” as well as a member of the core writing team for the Summary for Policymakers which was released on March 31.
Climate Change: Implications for Cities, a summary report of key findings from the 5th Assessment, will also be presented.  The newly launched report, produced by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the University of Cambridge, synthesizes the most pertinent findings of AR5 specifically for the “city sector”.

ABOUT IN SESSION:

ICLEI Canada is hosting a series of webinars on various climate change and sustainability issues at the local level.  The In Session series offers expert-led presentations on many subject areas as they relate to sustainability planning, biodiversity management, communicating climate change, municipal best practices, capacity building, and research.

PAST WEBINARS:

Presentation slides and recordings of past webinars can be found on our Resources page: Past Webinars

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Job Posting: City of Vancouver Planner II (Senior Sustainability Specialist)

City of Vancouver job posting : Planner II (Senior Sustainability Specialist)

Click here for details.

 

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Norfolk gets evidence of climate change every high tide

NORFOLK — where the sea is rising faster than anywhere else on the East Coast.

NorfolkVirginia

When Debbie Miller and husband Gary Chiaverotti had four feet added to the foundation of their Norfolk, Virginia home, seen Oct. 23, 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid 95 percent of the $140,000 cost. (Photo: Family photo/The Washington Post)

At high tide on the small inlet next to Norfolk’s most prestigious art museum, the water lapped at the very top of the concrete sea wall that has held it back for 100 years. It seeped up through storm drains, puddled on the promenade and spread, half a foot deep, across the street, where a sign read, “Road Closed.”

The sun was shining, but all around the inlet people were bracing for more serious flooding. The Chrysler Museum of Art had just completed a $24 million renovation that emptied the basement, now accessible only by ladder, and lifted the heating and air-conditioning systems to the top floor. A local accounting firm stood behind a homemade barricade of stanchions and detachable flaps rigged to keep the water out. And the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk was looking to evacuate.

“We don’t like being the poster child for climate change,” said the Rev. Jennifer Slade, who added that the building, with its carved-wood sanctuary and soaring flood-insurance rates, would soon be on the market for the first time in four decades. “I don’t know many churches that have to put the tide chart on their Web site” so people know whether they can get to church.

On May 6, the Obama administration released the third National Climate Assessment, and President Obama proclaimed climate change no longer a theory; its effects, he said, are already here. This came as no surprise in Norfolk, where normal tides have risen 1½feet over the past century and the sea is rising faster than anywhere else on the East Coast.

Continue reading article.

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Will California’s Drought Bring About $7 Broccoli?

The end of cheap fruits and veggies draws nigh. Here’s why.

—Tom Philpott | May/June 2014 Issue of Mother Jones

california-drought-broccoli630Illustration: Christoph Hitz

When people tell you to “eat your veggies,” they’re really urging you to take a swig of California water. The state churns out nearly half of all US-grown fruits, vegetables, and nuts; farms use 80 percent of its water. For decades, that arrangement worked out pretty well. Winter precipitation replenished the state’s aquifers and covered its mountains with snow that fed rivers and irrigation systems during the summer. But last winter, for the third year in a row, the rains didn’t come, likely making this the driest 30-month stretch in the state’s recorded history. So what does the drought mean for your plate?

Read the full article here to find out!

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Resilience Thinking and the Future of Watersheds: POLIS webinar June 26th

You are invited to the next webinar in POLIS’ 2013/2014 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series.

WHAT: Resilience Thinking and the Future of Watersheds

DATE: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

TIME: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET)

REGISTERhttp://polis.adobeconnect.com/resilience/event/event_info.html

**Space is limited**

In this webinar, Ryan Plummer (Director, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Centre) will explore the concept of “resilience thinking,” which involves the ability to deal with change and crises in a watershed context. Using progressive examples from Sweden and Canada, he will discuss new tools for dealing with both foreseen (e.g. climate change) and unforeseen (e.g. flooding or drought) crises, and the crucial roles of collaboration and learning in watershed-based decision-making. Following this, Simon Courtenay (Scientific Director, Canadian Water Network) will discuss the work of the Canadian Watershed Research Consortium (CWRC) and its focus on supporting regional cumulative effects monitoring and decision-making regarding land-use management, natural resource management, and impact mitigation.

**SPACE IS LIMITED** Register online at http://polis.adobeconnect.com/resilience/event/event_info.html

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Putting a Price Tag on Nature’s Defenses

ecosrvcsCoral reefs have proved valuable to coastal regions by helping to blunt shore erosion from storm waves.

REUTERS

By CARL ZIMMER

June 5, 2014

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the United States Army Corps of Engineers got to work on a massive network of levees and flood walls to protect against future catastrophes. Finally completed in 2012, the project ended up costing $14.5 billion — and that figure didn’t include the upkeep these defenses will require in years to come, not to mention the cost of someday replacing them altogether.

But levees aren’t the only things that protect coasts from storm damage. Nature offers protection, too. Coastal marshes absorb the wind energy and waves of storms, weakening their impact farther inland. And while it’s expensive to maintain man-made defenses, wetlands rebuild themselves.

Protection from storms is just one of many services that ecosystems provide us — services that we’d otherwise have to pay for. In 1997, a team of scientists decided to estimate how much they are actually worth. Worldwide, they concluded, the price tag was $33 trillion — equivalent to $48.7 trillion in today’s dollars. Put another way, the services ecosystems provide us — whether shielding us from storms, preventing soil erosion or soaking up the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming — were twice as valuable as the gross national product of every country on Earth in 1997.

Dr. Costanza and his colleagues have now updated the 1997 estimate in a new study, published in the May issue of the journal Global Environmental Change, and concluded that the original estimate was far too low. The true value of the services of the world’s ecosystems is at least three times as high, they said.

Read the full article here.

 

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What is the paradox of increasing Antarctic sea ice really telling us?

IceThe Ross Sea: one of the places where sea ice extent is increasing. Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia CommonsCC BY

This year could well see a new record set for the extent of Antarctic sea ice – hot on the heels of last year’s record, which in turn is part of a puzzling 33-year trend in increasing sea ice around Antarctica.

Unsurprisingly, these records have provided fodder for those wishing to cast doubt on climate science or to resist action on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) itself states that while hypotheses exist for Antarctic sea ice trends, they are “incomplete and competing” (see page 909 here).

But far from waving the white flag, or falling on their ice corers, Antarctic sea ice researchers are relishing this grand puzzle of the Southern Ocean.

In terms of natural experiments, they don’t come much bigger or more exciting than those unfolding across the Antarctic climate system right now. What’s more, the science is beginning to yield answers.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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