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Archive for April, 2011

German Greens To Lead State For First Time

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Germany’s Green party will lead a state for the first time in the country’s history after signing a coalition agreement with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the prosperous state of Baden-Wuerttemberg on Wednesday (Germany’s 3rd largest).

Nationally, the Green party also continues to gain electoral support, to the point that local media are starting to talk about a possible Green candidate for the country’s chancellorship.

Experts give two main reasons for the Greens’ victory in March. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan swayed voters away from nuclear power and toward greener energy efforts; and an expensive and controversial overhaul of the train station in Stuttgart, the state capital, had the Green base mobilized.

This article provides a good overview of how the Greens rose from a fringe party in Germany to a ruling power over the course of the last 30 years. Could this be a lesson for Canada’s Green Party as it remains mired in the range of 5% voter support in the current federal election campaign?

Categories: Politics Tags:

Just published – my review of Clive Hamilton’s ‘Requiem for a Species’

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The current issue of Alternatives Journal includes my review of Clive Hamilton’s ‘Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change‘. The article is reprinted here below.

Beyond Stupid
Reviewed by Mark Brooks
Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist
the Truth About Climate Change
Clive Hamilton, London, UK: Earthscan,
2010, 240 pages.

I have a friend I’ll call Dave. An educated,
rational and intelligent man, Dave can
be counted on for thoughtful, reasoned
arguments, except on one issue: climate
change. He has read the overwhelming
evidence, but Dave remains certain that
climate change is a myth. His proof?
He has none that hasn’t been dismissed
repeatedly by climate scientists. Still,
Dave remains steadfast and I could never
understand why. Clive Hamilton may
have given me the answer.

Read more…

Earth Day 2011: Should Nature have rights?

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Interview with Andrea Harden-Donahue of the Council of Canadians (8:45)



Just in time for Earth Day, I recently caught up with Andrea Harden-Donahue of the Council of Canadians at the Cochabamba+1 conference in Montreal. The original Cochabamba conference took place in Bolivia last year under the title of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The meeting drew tens of thousands of people from all over the world and billed itself as a people’s alternative to the UN climate change negotiations, which culminated in Copenhagen in 2009 but has yet to result in any meaningful international agreement to address the climate crisis.

Out of this Cochabamba conference came a call to protect nature by recognizing its inherent rights (also expressed as the Rights of Mother Earth). The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was proclaimed and presented at the United Nations several weeks later. And now a new book has been published based on this declaration entitled ‘The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.’

As stated in the preface, “This book brings together the voices of acclaimed authors, progressive thinkers, political leaders and environmental and community activists from around the world who share their passion and insights about the Declaration, the Rights of Nature and the urgent need to recognize the unbreakable link between respecting ourselves and respecting the planet – Mother Earth – on which we all live and depend. The authors all reflect on the important question: What would our world look like if nature had rights?

“With distinguished contributors such as Maude Barlow, David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood, Eduardo Galeano, Nnimmo Bassey, Pat Mooney, Shekhar Kapur, Susan George, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and more, The Rights of Nature is meant to inform and inspire others about the need to create and ratify a binding instrument to protect the rights of the Earth and all living things upon it.”

A compelling concept indeed. First we had the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Since that time, humanity has demonstrated an appalling disrespect for the environment and for other species. Has the time finally come for Nature itself to be imbued with its own inalienable rights? If so, would this actually change how we treat and interact with the world around us? How would this even work as a legal concept?

For more info, check out this recent article in the Toronto Star, which describes how Bolivia is about to pass the world’s first law that grants nature equal rights to humans and protects it from a long list of human exploitation. The country is now urging the United Nations to adopt a similar convention.

Click the audio player above to hear my interview with Andrea Harden-Donahue in which she discusses how this idea developed and what it represents.

Download the interview here by right clicking and selecting ‘Save as’ or ‘Save target as’.


Interview with Michael Graetz of Yale

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Check out this interview if you have a few minutes to spare.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Professor Michael Graetz of Columbia and Yale Law Schools discussing his new book, The End of Energy. The book chronicles 4 decades of failure on the part of our leaders to successfully address the nation’s energy issues. Rather than pushing policies that, over time, would produce the changes we need, we have searched for silver bullets and directed huge subsidies and tax breaks to favored constituents and contributors.

We have never been asked to pay a price that reflects the real cost of the energy we consume, and until we face the facts about price, our energy incompetence will continue—and, says Graetz, along with it the unraveling of our environment, security, and independence.

The entire one-hour video of this interview can be viewed at: http://ylsqtss.law.yale.edu:8080/qtmedia/library/BookTalkGraetzEnergy0

Earthgauge news for the week of April 18

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

World Environment News – Q+A: How Does Fukushima Differ From Chernobyl?
“Fukushima has its own unique risks, but comparing it to Chernobyl is going too far. Fukushima is unlikely to have the kind of impact on the health of people in neighboring countries, the way Chernobyl did,” said nuclear specialist Kenji Sumita at Osaka University.

US wolves lose to US politics – Mongabay.com
A ‘rider’ attached to the most recent budget passed this week in the US congress has stripped gray wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, a first in the law’s nearly 40-year-history.

Concerns over herbicide may lead to ban – Vancouver Sun
Agricultural seeds and chemicals giant Monsanto Co introduced the chemical glyphosate to the world in 1974 and has made billions of dollars over the years from Roundup as well as from the “Roundup Ready” corn, soybeans and cotton the company has genetically engineered to survive dousings of glyphosate.

Amid rising voices of alarm, regulators in the United States and Canada are conducting a formal review of glyphosate’s safety, lawsuits are pending and some groups are calling for a global ban.

Hazardous haze envelops Kuala Lumpur – msnbc.com
Malaysia’s leader declared an emergency in two regions Thursday, closing workplaces and calling on mosques to hold special prayers for rain to rid the country of hazardous haze drifting from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia.

UN Report Predicts Eco-Farming will Double Food Production
A recent study by the United Nations, predicts that eco-farming, or ‘agroecology’, could double the crop yield in poor countries over the course of a decade.

Categories: News

Elly Blue: The economic case for on-street bike parking

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The economic case for on-street bike parking | Bikenomics | Grist.

Behold the virtues of adding more parking spaces for bikes (rather than cars) in downtown cores. It not only helps to reduce car usage (and therefore pollution), it makes good economic sense. Why don’t we give bikes a higher priority than cars when (re)imagining our cities?

Canada federal election 2011 – assessing each party’s energy and environmental policies

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

For the scoop on environmental issues during the federal election campaign, check out this handy Checklist for clean energy that has been created by the Pembina Institute. It outlines the core elements of a strong climate change and energy electoral platform.

Pembina has also assessed each party’s climate change and energy commitments using the criteria outlined in this checklist. Click the links below for the skinny on how each party measures up. The upshot? Not surprisingly, the Greens and the NDP rate very well. The Conservatives? Uh, not so much.

Liberal Party

New Democratic Party

Green Party

Bloc Québecois

Conservative Party

Green cars could be made from pineapples and bananas

‘Green’ cars could be made from pineapples and bananas – Science Daily

Your next new car hopefully won’t be a lemon. But it could be a pineapple or a banana. That’s because scientists in Brazil have developed a more effective way to use fibers from these and other plants in a new generation of automotive plastics that are stronger, lighter, and more eco-friendly than plastics now in use.

Categories: Clean energy, Clean tech
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