Friday, January 25, 2008

Amazon destruction on the rise!

We predicted this last Oct in a video I produced for Greenpeace on the effects of forest fires in the Amazon and climate change. After two years of the government boasting a drop in the level of Amazon destruction, last oct. we met with and interviewed a powerful farmer in the region that literally BRAGGED that the destruction was on the rise yet again, and the government wouldn´t be able to do anything to stop it. Yesterday, the government admitted that this was indeed true. For any that has been following my career and life over the last 10 years, you'll know that I’ve spent a lot of time in the Amazon region working with environmental groups and almost exclusively with Greenpeace. You cannot knock the work these dedicated eco warriors have done in the region, but given the Amazon is the size of Western Europe, 80% of the destruction is illegal and that those doing the destroying would just as easily shoot you as talk to you, there is still a very real worry as to the future of this forest!

By the way, in this article by Tom Philip from the UK´s Guardian, I was one of the activists he traveled with last year, shortly after being expelled from one of the towns that the Brazilian governments points to as being part of the porblem in the Amazon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Ranting Gryphon - America

This is sure to go down as a classic!

Science and climate change under attack from the usual suspects and more

If humanity is not ‘natural’ then who are we and why are here? One obvious answer is we were put here by a greater being, a God. But the entire essence of Darwin’s theory is that there is no God as Darwin was a professed atheist. This debate is actually part of the entire question of environmentalism[...]

-- Tim Ball

Here’s an interesting diatribe penned by climate change denilaists Tim Ball and Tom Harris, both self professed anthropogenic global warming (AGW) “skeptics” (cough cough), and both allegedly on various oil company pay roles. Other than the blatant attack on environmentalists and environmentalism (although no where in the article does he define what he means by environmentalism), this article sheds a new light in regards to what is really at stake for some of your more fervent cynics, and why they have amassed such an unrelenting army of ignoramuses.

As many know, recent debates over climate change have taken on a fairly caustic and often war like atmosphere. Cynics (not scientists) have crept out of the woodworks. Just a decade ago none of these “truth warriors” could pronounce climate change and now are all self-proclaimed global warming experts. They are relentless, mean spirited (dedicated to epithets and quirky insulting one-liners like “alarmists”, “eco communists”, green garbage etc.) and often quite violent in their proclamations. On the CKA (Canadakicksass forum ) one poster even asks for environmentalists to commit suicide en mass to show our commitment to nature. Yes folks, this is the level of discussion at times.

So we know that dealing with this ilk of sophistication and having any type of meaningful dialogue on the subject is a Sisyphean task. I’ve often mentioned that the issue was politicized given Al Gore’s film (hate by association), and of course funding from various corporate entities that have oil profits at stake, but Tim and Tom’s articles gives us one more ingredient in the ideation of the denialists. Now, I understand why it is the perfect storm of controversy on the blogosphere: Politics, Corporate greed, and now RELIGION! And it was this paragraph in their article that set me off.

The current western view of the World essentially evolved from the Darwinian view. Even though it is still just a theory and not a law 148 years after it was first proposed, Darwinian evolution is the only view allowed in schools. Why?

There are two extremely important facts to bring up with this one paragraph. For starters, and you hear this questioned time and time again by laymen is that for some reason after years and years of research evolution still doesn’t stack up scientifically and why isn’t it a scientific law if it does? This exposes a gross over simplifications of the scientific process and, dare I say, highlights a blatant ignorance on the part of those who seem to think that in science there is a formal ascendancy from scientific theory to scientific law. There’s not. And anyone claiming to be a climatologist (or any scientist for that matter) as Tim Ball does should actually know this.

Secondly, to answer Ball’s question at the end; Darwinian evolution is only allowed in SCIENCE and BIOLOGY classes because it is the only scientific theory that adequately explains the development of species over hundreds of millions of years. Until another theory is developed, Darwin’s evolution is it. But for the religious, it is not so cut and dried. They wish to see CREATIONISM taught as a science. nd this is behind Ball´s line. It is a long standing debate that goes back well before the Scopes trials and I´ve always been at a loss to understand why certain groups feel so threatened with ONE theory (evolution) taught in ONE class, when they have entire schools (think the Catholic school board) dedicated to teachings of "the creator did it all".

Attempts were recently made by Christian groups to have ‘Intelligent Design” forced into science classrooms and biology text books, but those attempts inevitable, and thankfully, failed. Take a look here and watch Ken Miller, a biology professor and CATHOLIC, rip ID proponents a new one. (This video is not recommended for the chronically fidgety or other sound byte warriors. It´s close to two hours of one man speaking. No special effects and no sound tracks. )

So what does this all mean? Well, Tim Ball and Tom Harris -- two ardent climate change denialists -- are on a mission to demonize not only the science of climate change and its proponents, but now, as we see here, they are in fact actually setting out to demonize the very field of science itself and using the "Good Book" as their trump card.

The last century or so has given us the age of scientific enlightenment, and yet there are crusaders, in science sheep’s clothing no less, attempting to undermine hundreds of years of scientific inquiry and send us back to the dark ages.

It is common knowledge that the right wing Conservatives have a vested interest in sewing doubt, or dismissing climate change outright (although you won´t find ONE repubilcan candidate to say this openly) . They are the energy stock holders, they are the oil barons and they feel they stand to loose the most if the world takes tackling global warming seriously (poppycocks). Partisan political hacks too see this as an “Al Gore issue” (and hence a THEM issue) and now they are being joined by religious fundamentalists in the cause, not necessarily out of unsubstantiated fears of profit losses or a dedication to a political party, but out of the fear that religion is starting to lose its centuries old-toe hold on society as more and more question the “devine” and place more faith in the scientifically explainable.

We live in scary times.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar announcements today, and while every entertainment sage as well as other media panjandrums across the globe rush to the microphones to give their picayune evaluation on best actors, actresses, films and scripts, I thought I’d highlight the lesser discussed category of best Documentary in long form (given you won’t find much on this with mainstream media).
Last year, if you will remember (or maybe not), the film highlighting Al Gore’s traveling slide show on climate change (An Inconvienient Truth) won best doco. This year, I was kind of hoping the Canadian documentary Sharkwater would get the nomination nod, believing that Green Films were still kind of chic in this day and age of Gaia´s awakening. As well, and more importantly for film makers, Sharkwater has taken the documentary circuit by storm winning literally dozens of prestigious awards.

Well, twas not the case, however an interesting trend this year did develop and that is that all but one of the nominations is a damnation of the current US administration in one form or another (Yes, I meant the rhyme). Although environmentalism would find no place in the doco category this year, it is evident that the Academy is still cheering on advocates who see the need to sound the alarms. And that is what this category SHOULD be about; not some simple forum to celebrate frivolous entertainment, but an award’s category recognizing meaningful critiques of the world made by some of the planet’s most ardent social defenders.

Now, if we can only get more people to watch these brutally honest and at times rather terrifying exposés on America in the 21 century at war with others and at war with itself, then maybe, just maybe, more will wake up from this apathetic and fainéant slumber that that nation has been in for over 7 years.

Expect the right wing blogs to scream murder over the coming days.

Here´s the list of nominations and links to the trailers! Rent, learn and support!

1. Operation home coming - See the Trailer
2. Sicko - See the Trailer
3. War/ Dance - See the Trailer
4. Taxi to the Dark Side - See the Trailer
5. No end in site - See the Trailer

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Censorship in the US.

If you ever had that nagging feeling that the US was marching backwards in time seeking the glory days of the dark ages, this should clear up any doubts you may have. My only worry is that there is a well armed army of neysayers, partisan devotees, and ideological fundamentalists in Canada too, so keep on your toes. There is nothing wrong with debate, but when ideologies dictate curriculum, then it’s back to the dark ages we go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heros on the high seas

There is a great high seas drama being played out in the southern oceans with the Sea Shepard Conservation Society and Greenpeace. Keep you eyes on this one folks. I’m just beaming with pride and honor knowing folks on both ships, although I don’t know the two whom are being held! Keep it up!

Linky poo

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Whales and Heros!

Hey folks, just an FYI, but an important one.

I know it’s the new year and everyone is still burning off the calories gained over the holidays, but I just wanted to say there are folks that gave up their holidays, gave up their time with families, and have given up a great deal of comfort to protest again Japan’s blatant savagery and murderous rampages against whales in Antarctica. The Greenpeace crew from the Esperanza has now found the Japanese killer fleet, and the Sea Shepard crew is probably not far behind. I know folks on both vessels and although there are differences between the two groups, and their tactics, I hope the common goal of stopping this absurd hunt is found. There is a BBC reporter on board Greenpeace’s ship, and his blog has been quite an interesting read. I urge all here to read it, and MORE importantly, I urge all to get involved by writing letters, making donations, or more. There is myriad ways you can help these fantastic protesters whom are probably dealing with insufferable conditions on the high seas to protect one of the Earth’s most magnificent mammals.

Remember, there is no debate over this issue. The Japanese are killing whales for their local market under the guise of “research”. Isn’t it time this ilk of 19th century savagery is put to rest?

Photo Credit: ©Greenpeace/ADavies

Affordable cars and killer taxes

Well, India has the world a buzz after showcasing their new 2500 dollar car to accommodate the burgeoning lower-middle class in India. As an environmentalist, I’m of course a wee suspect and a tad worried over the prospect of an additional 300,000 drivers and carbon emitting machines, regardless of how good the mileage is. Still, I’d prefer one million of these than 10,000 HUMMERS. I digress.

However, I don’t want to comment on that. I found an interesting article in the Brazilian press about the car and what is being heralded as the most inexpensive car in the world. To my amsuement, if this CHEAP car was imported to Brazil (as calculated by local economists well versed in the retarded and suffocating taxes Brazil levies on imports), it would no longer be the cheapest car on Earth but a moderately price vehilce in Brazil. They’ve figured out that with all the taxes and placed on the car (Brazil has some of the strickest protectionist policies in place), what was worth 2500 dollars in India would cost 7500 dollars here. That´s without the resellers markup. Like I’ve said before: THEIVES, EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM! (the politicians, mind you). I´ve mentioned this on a number of occasions; when it comes to foreign products or foreigners in general, we’re fxxxed.

However, what caught my attention too was the throw away line offered by one of the economists stating that the emission's standards probably wouldn’t pass in Brazil. At this point, I passed an entire cup of coffee through my nose in a laughing fit that damn near shattered my ribs. This economist owes me a new keybopard. I’ve no doubt that ON PAPER Brazil requires emission standards probably equal to that of Canada or any other European Nation, however there is an imporant phrase in Brazil: “Pra Inglese ver”. Meaning, “for the English to see”. What that actually means is that we can put anything we’d like on paper or in a law, however, don’t worry about it and carry on as usual (nudge nudge wink wink, ya know whatamean). Brazil’s cities are plagued with some of the most polluting vehicles and buses I’ve ever seen, not to mention the particulates released from burning the Amazon that settle in small towns are 4 times greater than the exceptable health limit.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Anthropocene Era - It has a ring to it, eh!

I think it's the dream of many to have something significant named after them. What better way of leaving your mark on the world? Well now, let’s all reach around and give ourselves a collective pat on the back.

Given our penchant for ravaging nature, our love affair with greed and a well-formed disinformation campaign hell-bent on hindering environmental progress, Nobel laureate Paul J. Crutzen has come up with a new name for our current Epoch and he has named it after us. We’re well into what scientists now call the "Anthropocene" Era. Applause, applause; sadly, it couldn’t be more deserving.

" Earth is rapidly moving into a less biologically diverse, less
forested, much warmer and probably wetter and stormier state."

I´m back Baby!

Is Todd back to blogging? Well, maybe. I’ve got a spare few days now that the holidays have drawn to an end and visitors have all headed back to their respective cities/towns and couches. I was chastised about not blogging and equally scolded for not taking into account what a blog is suppose to be when I was blogging: short, succinct and more importantly FREQUENT. My attempts at scholastic tomes, written with intervals of months between them, apparently put most off. Such is life. So with a new year, and a renewed interested in communicating mindless ideas, rants, raves while butchering the English language beyond recognition (because ostensibly you CAN in a blog) I’m back baby! Or at least until I’m bored withitall and my ferret-like attention span is captured by some other meaningless and irrelevant pastime.

So on that note, let me wish everyone a belated happy holidays (I have nothing against Christmas, but I’d like to be more inclusive in my greetings) and a prosperous 2008. See you all soon!