Category Archives: Politics

What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters

Wow, this article streams about 20 of my gravest passions – grave in the sense of their depressing content – but mostly it’s an intriguing look at society’s relationship with technology. Thank you for this, Nathanael Johnson.


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Grist

About a third of the way through this series on GMOs, after a particularly angry conflagration broke out on Twitter, I asked my wife, Beth, if I could tell her what had happened. I was hoping to exorcise those digital voices from my head. Someone had probably accused me of crimes against humanity, shoddy journalism, and stealing teddy bears from children — I forget the details, thank goodness. But I remember Beth’s response.

“No offense,” she said, “but who cares?”

It’s a little awkward to admit this, after devoting so much time to this project, but I think Beth was right. The most astonishing thing about the vicious public brawl over GMOs is that the stakes are so low.

I know that to those embroiled in the controversy this will seem preposterous. Let me try to explain.

Let’s start off with a thought experiment: Imagine two alternate futures, one in…

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Canada ‘rogue state’ on environment, says ex-Harper appointee


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Global News

WASHINGTON – A former Harper government appointee has used a keynote speech at a Washington, D.C., event to trample the Canadian government’s message on oil pipelines.

Mark Jaccard was one of the first people nominated by the Conservatives to the environmental file, when he was named in 2006 to the now-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

READ MORE: Strong belief in oil industry’s economic clout drives pipeline approval: poll

The environmental economist now has delivered a lengthy rebuke of Canada’s climate-change performance at an event near the White House, as the Obama administration grapples with whether to approve the Alberta-U.S. pipeline.

He calls Canada a “rogue state” on the environment and urges the U.S. to block Keystone.

MORE: In contract, emails and meetings, Alberta officials ensured ‘independent’ pipeline safety review wouldn’t look at enforcement

Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at Simon Fraser University…

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On the IPCC Report: What BC should expect

IPCC Report: What BC can expect – I will up date this once they post the video link.

Meanwhile, read the Headlines or the full IPCC Report on Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.


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Win a signed copy of my new favourite coffee table book!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations goes to Paul Le Tourneau who was randomly selected as the winner of a signed copy of Banned on the Hill!

Banned on the Hill

While reading and absorbing James’ essays, I was reminded of the term infotainment, which Jon Stewart used to describe the likes of Fox News. Infotainment also aptly describe The Daily Show but with a different sentiment. Instead of being a news show designed to entertain for the sake of ratings, The Daily Show is a comedy show that also happens to inform—Banned on the Hill does the same. James sees art as a way to deliver the truth yet leave room for personal interpretation and opportunity to decide for one’s self:

“The wonderful opportunity we, as visual artists, have is to help people understand complex issues by presenting information in ways that people can better absorb it.”

In her essay What is Harper afraid of?, James includes the above image to help people “remember and really feel the scale of the tankers navigating the skinny channels in B.C.” By juxtaposing information from a graph against a familiar scene, James makes the numbers real. The reader now imagines a tanker standing on end in the middle of NYC and the data come alive.

To the skeptics, please note that she’s not exaggerating. This size comparison is a point of pride for the American Petroleum Institute and it is in fact plainly graphed on page 5 of its promotional material. Continue reading


Book Review: Banned on the Hill by Franke James

How to catch the eye of friends who ignore our climate plight?

Put this on your coffee table, even your kids will pick it up:

What would you do if you discovered you were blacklisted by your own government for speaking up on climate change and the tar sands? In Banned on the Hill, artist and author Franke James, tells how she first discovered she was being censored by the Canadian government — and how she fought back.

It’s an inspiring story that shows how creativity, crowd-funding and investigative digging can work together to shine a bright light on a government that is more interested in message control than a citizen’s democratic right to free expression. Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as an active citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to take on the Harper administration, especially with humour. “It’s kind of like a judo flip, meaning that you can actually flip someone who is much bigger than you.”

In Banned on the Hill, Franke James assembles her funny yet factual visual essays on her observations, evidence, and experience as an everyday Canadian who is losing her identity: Canada the free-thinker; Canada the conscientious; Canada the conservationist.

Not only does James express the sense of helplessness felt by so many Canadians fighting to protect treasured natural landscapes and resources, she also exposes the Harper Government’s flagrant censorship of public employees (elected Ministers included) and publicly funded scientists, along with apparently one of Canada’s most obvious national security threats: artists.

Where words fail, James’ art fills in the emotion and visceral sense of the current identity shift in what it means to be Canadian under Harper’s Conservatives. Canada’s reputation as a world leader in clean air and water is giving way to a reputation of a nation that trades clean water for dirty oil and blacklists anyone who objects.

“The Canadian government has clamped down on scientists who tell the truth about the tarsands—and it’s tried to shut up artists too. Happily, Franke James is indefatigable!” ~ BILL MCKIBBEN, Founder, 350.org

“Whether deflating ethical oil or unraveling our access to information system, Franke James defends Canada’s natural capital with provocative imagery and tough questions. Banned on the Hill may be the planet’s most enjoyable how-to-write-to-your-elected official guide, and it reveals that the Harper regime can’t bully every foe into submission.”
ERIC RUMBLE, Editor-in-chief, Alternatives Journal

On behalf of Canadians left speechless by the Harper Government, Franke James says it all, despite being Banned on the Hill.

Check back for your chance to win a signed copy of Banned on the Hill!

Or, if you can’t wait, get your own copy at Amazon.


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