1. Gulf of Maine warming at alarming rates
I discussed this just Saturday, but now the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is affirming that gulf waters are “heating up faster than 99 per cent of the world’s oceans.” NOAA views things from a US perspective, but the same issues hold in Nova Scotia:
Ironically, the warmer water has created ideal conditions for lobsters and contributed to an overabundance in recent years, causing prices to tumble to their lowest point in nearly two decades in Maine. But continued warming could force to them to move north or die off, [University of Maine prof Bob] Steneck said.
Puffin chicks have starved and died because of a lack of the herring and hake they need to grow and fledge. Seemingly overnight, longfin squid — normally found in warmer, more southerly waters — appeared, [Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences researcher Nick] Record said.
Scallops, also an important economic element in the Gulf, are vulnerable to ocean acidification, which scientists say is another effect of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The changes threaten a three-state industry valued at more than $1 billion in 2012, a year in which fishermen caught more than 550 million pounds, NOAA statistics say.
We should be making all our decisions around energy consumption and use with consideration of the effects of climate change. That’s why I put this item first on today’s list—the next item, on fracking, is very important, but nothing at all is more important than what we’re doing to the Earth’s climate.
Mining more coal and fracking for more natural gas will only make the ocean situation worse, and undermine Nova Scotia’s half-billion dollar lobster industry.
2. Fracking banned
As expected, energy minister Andrew Younger yesterday announced plans to introduce legislation to ban fracking in Nova Scotia, but I’ll wait to see the actual legislation, as there appears to be a bit of hedging around the edges of the ban. “This is neither a permanent nor a time-limited ban,” Younger said, and the ban applies only to “high-volume” fracking, whatever that means. Moreover, “we’re prepared to open this up if a community approaches us and is prepared to look at this,” Younger told the CBC.
3. Steele resigned over union offer
Former finance minister Graham Steele’s book comes out today, but the Chronicle Herald got a sneak preview yesterday. In his book, What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise — and Collapse – of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government, Steele reveals that he left government after premier Darrell Dexter reversed a cabinet decision to hold the line on pay increases for the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union. Writes reporter Michael Gorman:
Within hours, the legislation was scrapped and Steele and the rest of his caucus colleagues learned Dexter instead agreed to a richer deal with the union, one the government side — including Steele — rejected during previous negotiations. Dexter made the decision without consulting caucus or treasury board, said Steele.
After two years of holding the line at one per cent increases, Dexter, facing a health-care strike, agreed to a richer deal with the union.
“The boys in the Premier’s Office had gone to work on Darrell, and they didn’t care what anybody else thought,” writes Steele. “Once the offer was made to the union, it couldn’t be pulled back. And the premier had told his boys to make the offer.”
I’m glad Steele has written with such candour, but I wish there was more detail about costs. Maybe there is in the book, and Gorman just didn’t get into the details.
Steele is of course a finance guy, and finance guys tend to look at numbers in a narrow fashion. All I can say is that we can afford what we want to afford. The very same NDP government could afford to give $300 million to the billionaire Irving family, so I take the “we can’t afford to pay working people more” line with a grain of salt.
Still, Steele’s resignation is important for what it says about how our political system works. We’re supposedly a democracy, and yet decision-making rests with one person, the premier or the prime minister. The political parties are not democratic organizations, but rather cheerleading squads, indistinguishable from the Chinese Communist party rallying around the Dear Leader. There is no room for disagreement, no tolerance for varied opinions.
That’s perhaps a bit unfair—to the Chinese Communists, who appear to tolerate more dissent than do Nova Scotian political parties.
Regardless, the one-man-rule system is not healthy.
3. Jail is understaffed
A guard speaks to Metro about conditions in the Dartmouth jail.
4. Halifax council back to work
I discuss four big issues facing Halifax council this fall. This article is behind the pay wall and so is available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
5. Save the Khyber
Friends of the Khyber is meeting tonight at 7pm, at the North Memorial Library on Gottingen Street.
1. Yeah, Armageddon!
The Chronicle Herald disapproves of the ban on fracking. It’s a “very disappointing decision,” says the paper’s main editorial, which doesn’t mention climate change. “Could we please find more things to say no to?” sniffs Marilla Stephenson, who doesn’t mention climate change.
Sure, Canada is going full-steam ahead with plans to exploit the tar sands, and Nova Scotia itself is continuing efforts to drill offshore, and those operations should be opposed as well, but each time we open up a new opportunity to mine fossil fuels, we’re that much closer to irreversible climate change. Denying the opportunity to burn still more fossil fuels isn’t “saying no”; it’s saying yes to caring about the future.
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building at the park)—the committee will discuss a proposed Mi’kmaq Warrior Memorial, among other issues.
Standing Committee on Economic Development (9:30am, Johnston Building)—The only thing on the agenda is discussion of the agenda itself.
The women’s basketball team is going to Germany.
Some people won’t take climate change seriously until some boring white dude in a bad suit talks about it, so here’s the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, talking about it, at the 39:00 minute mark.
“I am really depressed about this,” he concludes.
In the harbour
(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)
Veendam, cruise ship, Charlottetown to Pier 20
Toreador, vehicle carrier, Southampton, England to Autoport
Reykjafoss, container ship, Argentia to Pier 42
Mainport Pine, BP Exploration to Pier 25
Carnival Splendor, cruise ship, Saint John to Pier 22
Zhuang Yuan Ao, asphalt tanker, Saint-Jean-Port-Joil, Quebec to anchor for bunkers
Asphalt Star, asphalt tanker, Gibraltar to anchor
Asphalt Sailor, asphalt tanker, Saint John to anchor alongside Asphalt Star
Toreador to Manzanillo, Dominican Republic
Reykjafoss to Portland
Veendam to sea
Carnival Splendor to sea
Zhuang Yuan Ao to New York
Asphalt Star and Sailor will be conducting a transfer operation in the Bedford Basin. This was done once before earlier this year.
Carnival Splendor is making its first stop in Halifax to my [Peter Ziobrowski’s] knowledge. She is a bit of an infamous ship. First, she was a sister of the Costa Concordia, which sunk off Italy, but was transfered to parent company Carnival during construction. She also suffered from a 2010 fire in the engine room causing a loss of power, and she needed to be towed back to San Diego. The US Navy flew supplies to her, for her four-day powerless cruise back to port.
HMCS St John’s is due out of the graving dock and moving to the machine shop wharf at the shipyard.
I’m about 200 emails behind, so no, I’m not ignoring you specifically.
I know you were being facetious about boring old white guys, but in truth there have been some pretty impressive instances already. Remember the 2006 Stern Review on climate change by British economist Nicholas Stern, now Lord Stern? That was eight years ago, and he’s certainly a white guy in a suit — though I don’t think I’d class him as boring.He now thinks he got it wrong: it’s much worse than he thought. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/27/nicholas-stern-climate-change-davos
I have tried very hard to get Stern for a Green Interview,and will persist. Another on my wish list is an old white guy named Dr. James Hansen, formerly of NOAA, who’s been blowing this particular whistle for decades.
” only high volume fracking” suggests there might be such a thing as “low volume fracking” …googling didn’t help me, so perhaps you can, with your sleuthing expertise(smile).
A single vertical well that is fracked uses a much lower volume of fracking fluid and water than a horizontally drilled well, but a single vertical well cannot be used to economically extract shale gas deposits. Shale gas drillers drill as many as ten horizontal wells, fanning out from the same common drill hole like spokes on a wheel once the desired vertical drilling depth has been reached.
Old style vertical oil & gas wells use a much lower volume of fracking water than today’s horizontal drilling projects. The high volume of fracking waste waters from horizontal shale gas operations is one reason why the province is holding off embracing shale gas exploration, they will not bring this up again until waste water management has a viable solution in NS.
Of course there are a number of other concerns that will require solutions as well, and if the O&G industry is not willing to find and embrace more acceptable processes for exploring & extracting shale gas, they may never drill for it in NS… but there is always a but, right?
On the subject of fossil fuels and climate change it is worth noting that while the government is grandstanding on the fracking ban it is welcoming with open arms any would-be LNG operator who comes along. The LNG facility at Goldboro, already conditionally approved, would increase provincial Greenhouse gas emissions by close to 20% and there are two others possible in the Strait area that would have at least as great an impact on GGH emissions. If even one of these projects goes ahead the province’s legislated targets for emissions would likely be exceeded which says something about how easily legislation can be disregarded when big energy projects appears.
The shale gas fracking ban is an example of how the Precautionary Principle should be applied. But all need to be aware that if future scientific or highly credible studies are published, we can expect to see the NSgov of the day go back to the public to test the pro-fracking waters once more.
Of interest in the not too distant future is what has happened concerning the Georges Bank study that is supposed to be on going. The Banks have had a moratorium that bans O&G activities in place since 1988 (renewed in 2012); but that ban expires on Dec 31, 2015, when it will be reviewed to see if another ban extension is approved.
Thanks for bringing the oil and gas ban expiry to my attention. I’ll keep on that.
Why does it continue to be so hard for Nova Scotia to invest in renewables and green energy, a clear path of the future, instead of fossil fuels? The coast of Nova Scotia has some of the highest average winds in North America, the biggest tides, and above average solar energy available. It seems like a no-brainer. We all want Nova Scotia to be successful (otherwise we wouldn’t still be here).
The NSgov could lead by example by putting solar panel arrays on top of all government buildings. In this way they can monitor and gather real-time data so that staff inside of the Energy Department can look for real world solutions for implementing private & integrated solar PV power networks with in NS.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) are almost silent in operation and are capable of being rooftop mounted as well. They are 15% or so less efficient than their pinwheel wind turbine cousins; but there is no sonic pulse from their operation which makes them far more friendly for close proximity installations near workplaces and residences. They are usually of a smaller electrical power output capacity; but they are right-sized for rooftops and cost less to maintain.