B-17 Flying Fortress over Regina

Regina was lucky to get a visit from the famous World War II bomber plane.

I spent a few days running outside in the morning when I heard it roaring overhead, and snapping some photos and shooting videos. My older SD video camera has a much better 12X real zoom (48X digital), but my phone has HD video and less decent 4X digital zoom.
B-17

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 Flying Fortress

Wood Mountain: Population 21

When I was ten, my family picked up an exchange student from the Regina airport. It was Winter. As the South American boy rode with me on the van bench, across an open prairie between Regina and Moose Jaw, he asked how many people lived in Wood Mountain. I replied proudly, “Forty people live in Wood Mountain.” I knew, because I could count every one by going through each home in my mind, up and down the three streets, and three avenues. “Forty thousand?” he prompted for more details. “No, forty people.”

The school closed about three years later. The second last elevator burned in 1997 due to lightning strikes. The last wooden elevator in the village was demolished in 2014. There’s still a Community Hall, a rural post office and RM/Village office, a fire hall, a church, and Department of Highways buildings, and there are 21 people who live right in the village. More than a few live on the farms and ranches nearby. It’s still a community, and it still matters. Now, it’s Population 21.

It’s not even the second time Wood Mountain has been featured in a National Film Board documentary, but it is the first with my parents.

Stranded Assets, Saskatchewan Style

A report by a little known government entity says what I have been saying about pipelines stranding assets:

Its overall conclusion, however, urges caution when it comes to long-term investments in pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure.

Such investments “could be at high risk of becoming economically unviable as prices in renewable electricity further decline,” it warns.

I happened to also be writing the Leader Post to question why its columnist wrote that coal isn’t going away for a foreseeable 30-40 years!

Dear Editor:

In response to Bruce Johnstone’s “Carbon capture critics see the world the way it should be, not the way it is”, there are some apparent inaccuracies.

One needs only to look to SaskPower’s own predictions of the power mix in 2030 to learn that coal-fired generation as it exists today, will cease to exist in only 14 years. The Conservatives, hardly traditional climate change fighters, passed this into law. Johnstone’s prediction that it “is unlikely to decline significantly in the next 30 or 40 years.” seems out of step with what is most likely.
It’s unclear why a technology that doesn’t exist is listed as a possible silver bullet, rather than examining geothermal which the Premier and SaskPower both have said could come to our aid in short years.

Johnstone feels the $1.5 billion invested in CCS is a solution, but in his own words “defeat[s] its own purpose”, through its enhanced oil recovery. Isn’t it a bit like taking material to patch a hole in the bow of your boat, from the hull of the stern?

Johnstone cites MIT’s Herzog as believing “that renewables alone cannot help us achieve our climate change goals”, but there are other experts like Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson who believe they can. Regina’s Dr. Brett Dolter can explain other possibilities for Saskatchewan’s grid that leave coal and CCS in the past, while renewable energy sources build the province and economy.

“It is increasingly plausible to foresee a future in which cheap renewable electricity becomes the world’s primary power source and fossil fuels are relegated to a minority status,” concludes Policy Horizons Canada.
Yet Johnstone concludes with, “So it would be a huge mistake, not to mention a huge waste of taxpayers’ money, to give up on carbon capture now.”

This runs completely contrary to the advice from Policy Horizons Canada.
“[We] suggest that governments ensure that the risks of further investments in oil and gas infrastructure be borne by private interests rather than taxpayers,” the report reads.”

SaskPower is a public interest and bears the risk of CCS. While Cenovus, a private venture, benefits from the waste CO2 production.
Whose perspective is Johnstone arguing for?

Sincerely,
John Klein
Regina

http://leaderpost.com/opinion/columnists/johnstone-carbon-capture-critics-see-the-world-the-way-it-should-be-not-the-way-it-is

Alternate shorter version below, the word limit was 250, instead of 350.:
Continue reading

Premier Wall Has Hack Hurling Hypocrite Insults #skpoli

The Premier recently had the Lieutenant Governor read the throne speech for his new government session. In it, she said that some unnamed people following a “misguided dogma” with “no basis in reality” needed to be stopped from destroying our economy while they aim to protect our environment.

“They look at those jobs [in oil & gas, coal and uranium] like they are somehow harming the country and the world.” No dark side to those industries whatsoever, right? Place hands firmly over eyes after stuffing ears, please.

It’s an obvious bit of climate change denialism formalized by a government who has then inexplicably spent over $1.5 Billion on carbon capture and sequestration with the guise of reducing climate change causing emissions. Why solve a problem that isn’t real and isn’t somehow harming anyone, right? (Here’s the answer to that rhetorical question.)

After my blog post, a Wall hack contacted me (and nearly anyone who tweeted the Premier about the shocking attack on reality).

christina s. 2016-05-19 00:19:00 -0400
I contacted Premier Wall recently to ask why Saskatchewan continues to advertise drilling for oil and gas while fires rip through the province and I was told that because I use plastic and petroleum I was a hypocrite and deserved ridicule. I’m stunned to know that we have politicians operating at this infantile, ignorant and arrogant level.

If you doubt that claim, check out what Premier Wall’s “professional hack” wrote:

With the country’s Climate Change Minister coming to Saskatchewan, I hope she has some very frank and public words for Premier Wall and Climate “skeptic” Environment Minister Cox.

The government should not be telling people they won’t talk with them about reducing pollution if they have a car, or a cell phone. It’s a blatant attempt to silence critics of a province who has lagged in developing its wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal power resources. Boldly, their unproven claim is that no other SK government has ever invested as much in renewable energy. The throne speech also mentions investing in “clean” energy, but never in the context of reducing climate change causing gas emissions. It does take a moment to give a shout-out to Ronald Reagan though.

For those keeping score at home on your Throne Speech Bingo Sheet, that’s
Dead Presidents – 2 & Climate Change – 0.

ADDED: Wall’s comments “immature“. I’d go a step further and call them reckless and dangerous given what we know about climate change’s dangers.

Head In The Tarsand

When an out of control fire roars toward you, it’s totally fine to stick your head (and the rest of you) into the sand, in a fireproof shelter preferably. After the fire passes, you’ve got to come out and ask what the heck happened, and why.

Facebook has been bustling with people talking about the tragic fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The partially razed city is the epicenter or Mecca of Canadian Conservative politics (not Calgary which is simply the more urbanized version of Fort Mac and area). It’s been booming for years and years, but with the glut of OPEC oil, and the resulting price slump, it’s been going bust. The ravages of fire are kicking a city that already is down and maybe on its way out.

The Politically Correct thing in Conservative western Canada is to not mention the fire’s connection to the global disaster For Mac is infamous for contributing to: climate change. For the love of dog, don’t you dare mention holding an opinion that we should use much much less oil. You might as well suggest someone breathe less deeply, when you see the insult on their face for having suggested it. After all, you breathe too, so why would you say such a thing?

Conservatives preach about “personal responsibility”, no? There are victims of crimes and perpetrators of them, and everyone else. In a crime against an oppressed demographic, observe how many people suggest her clothing was a contributing factor; personal responsibility, eh? Claiming the Fort Mac refugees are completely blameless for their economic situation is an affront to Conservative values and saying they don’t deserve compassion and help from government is an affront to socialist values. There’s a middle ground available somewhere between shutting up, and praying your heart out on Facebook.

Saying the fire is unrelated to politics and our economy is what politicized the tragedy.
Suggesting there is no cause also implies we can’t mitigate it to stop future evacuations.

The following is from Facebook, in response to some of these thought listed above.

Elizabeth Todd:The NDP government in Alberta just cut millions in forest fire budget. As SK did before our wildfires last year. When climate scientists have been predicting droughts and increased wildfires.

And to make up for the costs of these events our government made cuts to education and health care. This is just shitty planning that they can get away with because it is politically incorrect to talk root causes and how we plan to address issues. It is political that we are paying for climate change disasters with frontline workers, cuts to research chairs, and cuts to maintenance workers.

Its political to ignore the causes of these events. It’s also not very political, but very human to want to find out why something awful happened in order to prevent it from happening to more people.

The boreal and other forests around the world are burning like this, McMurray isn’t the exception, this is going to become the new rule if we don’t get serious about a transition to green energy.

And yes, it’s not really the workers in the patch, but they do tend to vote for oil politicians in droves and so do their families and communities because the oilfield companies frame environmental concerns as attacks on workers. Which is very effective.

And even if they don’t vote for oil politicians, the NDP is still promoting pipelines- infrastructure that guarantees decades of tar sands expansion.

Guilt is useless and a conversation around whether we- I myself, you over there- are dependent on fossil fuels doesn’t mean we have to consent to this kind of future or should feel guilty if we use the stuff. We are politically and economically hooked on it and our current state of politics has us debating whether our dependence on oil means we have to be ok with it, rather than planning the transition in our communities and demanding the government support these plans.

Its also just difficult to read about evacuees being hosted in Fort McKay and being surprised to learn that the First Nation there can’t drink their water due to fossil fuel development.

This moment of crisis goes back much further than the city of Fort McMurray burning and the moment we can move from a debate about whether we should have this debate, to a debate about what we are going to do about the issues will be the moment I actually believe that the chorus of people de-politicizing this moment actually give a damn about what happened to the people in McMurray.

Empathy without analysis and strategy is just charity. It wont stop the next blaze.

We could hold our comments about the destruction of another Canadian community in reverence of the families hurt, and for political correctness, or we could simply start talking about another tragedy contributed to by poor planning, budget cuts, and our non-renewable, fossil fuel economy driven global crisis. Lac Megantic, Slave Lake, La Ronge, which disaster shall it be if not the relevant one going on now in Fort Mac?

Trudeau on Forest Fire Tragedy

The Prime Minister spoke about forest fires’ connection to climate change at a community affected by a massive evacuation due in part to climate change.

“The reality of climate change is that we’re going to see more and more extreme weather events and we need to make sure that as a country we’re properly equipped to deal with these challenges.”

Trudeau said he expects a better collaboration between all levels of government on resources, training and funding when it comes to fires.

Fast forward a few months to this week.

Responding to comments made earlier, Trudeau said May’s suggestion that the disaster was “very related to the global climate crisis” was neither helpful, nor accurate. […]

“It’s well known that one of the consequences of climate change will be a greater prevalence of extreme weather events around the planet,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference.

“However, any time we try to make a political argument on one particular disaster, I think it’s a bit of shortcut that can sometimes not have the desired outcome. There have always been fires.

Yeesh.

The Trudeau government was also advised when it was sworn in last November that wildfires were getting worse. The bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada told their new minister, Jim Carr, that governments across the country hadn’t provided enough funding to help communities prepare for the worst.

The provincial, territorial and federal governments developed a Canadian Wildlands Fire Strategy in 2005, calling for “more resilient communities, improving fire management approaches to balance ecological integrity with protection of life and property, and implementing modern business practices.”

But Carr was told that governments didn’t invest enough money to support that strategy in the last decade.

“Governments remain supportive of the Strategy, but progress towards implementation over the past decade has been limited, primarily due to fiscal constraints,” said briefing notes, prepared for Carr.

“The frequency and severity of wild land fires have been trending upwards in the past few decades and summer 2015 was particularly severe. As a result, there have been calls from the public, communities and provinces for increased federal involvement in wildfire management.”

David Schindler, a University of Alberta scientist who studies the ecology of inland bodies of water, said there have been increasingly favourable conditions for forest fires in recent years. He noted that climate scientists have been predicting the increase in forest fires for at least a decade.

Despite the obvious drought conditions (we got almost no snow last Winter), the federal government wasn’t warning people of the extreme danger.

Wildfires briefing by mikedesouza
https://www.scribd.com/book/311550761/Wildfires-briefing

Hat tip to Daniel.