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Polar Vortex 2.0? | Zero Hedge

Polar Vortex 2.0? | Zero Hedge.

With California experiencing emergency drought conditions and sun-glass-clad bronzed beauties driving their convertibles around in Lake Tahoe amid not an inch of real snow, the East Coast – just emerging from the cocoon following Polar Vortex 1.0 – is, as we warned, about to be confronted with another chilly blast of “Arctic Cold” weather with temperatures up to 25 degress below average and 8 inches of snow due for New York City tomorrow, and wind chills up to 40 below for the Upper Midwest On the bright side, it will be a BTFD opportunity for all those missed earnings expectations for Q1 retailers.

As MarketWatch notes:

New York City could get up to 8 inches on Tuesday and Tuesday night, while Washington D.C. could get up to 7 inches. In Chicago, up to 5 inches could fall overnight Monday and temperatures Tuesday could be as cold as 13 below zero, including wind chill

Via  National Weather Service,

A strong cold front will dive southward from the Plains and Midwest on Monday to the East Coast and Southeast on Tuesday. Bitter wind chills to 40 degrees below zero will impact the Upper Midwest. At the leading edge of the cold air, a winter storm is forecast to develop on Tuesday that will impact the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coast with snow and blowing snow.

…Heavy snow for the Mid-Atlantic into Southern New England…

…Temperatures will be 10 to 25 degrees below average from the Mississippi Valley into the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic…

A front moving off the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Coast will develop a wave of low pressure over the Tennessee Valley that will intensify rapidly moving off the North Carolina Coast by Tuesday afternoon/evening.  The storm will continue to deepen Tuesday night into Wednesday morning moving just off the Mid-Atlantic Coast paralleling the Northeast Coast to just off Cape Cod by Wednesday morning.

The system will produce light snow over parts of the Middle Mississippi Valley by Monday evening expanding into parts of the Ohio Valley by early Tuesday morning.  As the storm moves into the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, moisture from the Atlantic will move inland aiding in the development of snow over the Mid-Atlantic to the Ohio Valley/Tennessee Valley.

The system’s dynamics will increase, producing an area of moderate to heavy snow over parts of the Mid-Atlantic by Tuesday evening, moving into Southern New England and Coastal Northern New England by Wednesday morning.

Technology offers no ‘un-do’ switch for global warming — Transition Voice

Technology offers no ‘un-do’ switch for global warming — Transition Voice.

seeing through car dashboard

Can we cool down the Earth? Don’t count on it, say scientists. Photo: KristinaDragana.

In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), among the most conservative scientific organizations on Earth, issued a report concluding that global warming is irreversible without geo-engineering.

Yet, as Earth System Dynamics recently pointed out, known strategies for geo-engineering are unlikely to succeed and that “climate geo-engineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming.”

Meanwhile, in December, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences announced that gradual change of the climate is not guaranteed: “The history of climate on the planet — as read in archives such as tree rings, ocean sediments, and ice cores — is punctuated with large changes that occurred rapidly, over the course of decades to as little as a few years.”

Indeed, Earth has witnessed a five-degree Celsius rise in global-average temperature during a span of 13 years.

Writing for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, John Davies concludes: “The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040.” Davies considers only atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, not the abundant self-reinforcing feedback loops triggered on the climate-change front.

Considering only one feedback loop among many, methane release from the Arctic Ocean is expected to increase global-average temperature by more than 4°C by 2030 and 10°C by 2040, according to Sam Carana’s research (see especially Image 24).

Humans have not occupied Earth at 3.5°C above baseline. If this seems problematic to you, I believe you’re paying attention.

– Guy McPherson, Transition Voice

Polar Vortex – The Sequel: Coming To A Frozen US City Near You | Zero Hedge

Polar Vortex – The Sequel: Coming To A Frozen US City Near You | Zero Hedge.

Just when everyone thought the infamous polar vortex is gone (if not quite forgotten, having dipped the temperatures in some part of the US to sub-Martian levels), it’s baaaack. Sky News reports that America is set to be hit by another blast from the polar vortex although this time Niagara falls may not freeze, as temperatures are likely to be higher than last week’s extreme conditions. “The polar plunge is expected to move south from Canada, bringing colder air and sub-zero temperatures to the US this week. Forecasters say it will sweep over the lower Mississippi Valley and Midwest on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then hit the East on Thursday. The main thrust of the cold air will follow up a couple of days later.”

Polar vortex to return to US

More from Sky:

“Following the retreat of Arctic air this weekend, waves of progressively colder air will move southward over Canada this week,” said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather.com’s lead long-range forecaster. “We will likely see a piece of the polar vortex break off and set up just north of the Great Lakes spanning January 16 to 20.

“This next main arctic blast will not rival, nor will be as extensive as the event last week.”

Many areas are still recovering from last week’s polar vortex, which saw the mercury plunge to -12C (11F) in New York City and -24C in Chicago.

A Coast Guard cutter was brought in to keep shipping lanes open, but the ice was too thick to break in places.

Residents have flocked to the river banks to take pictures of the polar conditions.

Rick Wilson, from Yardley, Pennsylvania, told an ABC TV station: “Incredible. I came down here just to take pictures of this. My grandchildren would not believe this. This looks like something you’d find in Antarctica.”

Sky News weather producer Jo Robinson said: “After a milder spell, plunges of cold air are expected later in the week. “The first is expected across parts of Canada, the Midwest and eastern parts of the US over the next few days. “More significant cold air will affect those areas by the weekend, but thankfully it doesn’t look to be as cold as last week.”

Of course, what is bad news for anyone who needs to buy heating at surge pricing, is great news for apologists of bad economic data, because don’t look now, but January employment numbers just became “meaningless” and if the BLS issues another disappointing jobs report on the first Friday of February, it will be the weather’s fault. And, “logically”, if the report is great, it will be entirely due to the recovery.

Peak Oil Is Dead | Michael T. Klare

Peak Oil Is Dead | Michael T. Klare.

Long Live Peak Oil!

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

Among the big energy stories of 2013, “peak oil” — the once-popular notion that worldwide oil production would soon reach a maximum level and begin an irreversible decline — was thoroughly discredited.  The explosive development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the United States helped put it in its grave.

As the year went on, the eulogies came in fast and furious. “Today, it is probably safe to say we have slayed ‘peak oil’ once and for all, thanks to the combination of new shale oil and gas production techniques,” declared Rob Wile, an energy and economics reporter for Business Insider.  Similar comments from energy experts were commonplace, prompting an R.I.P. headline at Time.com announcing, “Peak Oil is Dead.”

Not so fast, though.  The present round of eulogies brings to mind the Mark Twain’s famous line: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  Before obits for peak oil theory pile up too high, let’s take a careful look at these assertions.  Fortunately, theInternational Energy Agency (IEA), the Paris-based research arm of the major industrialized powers, recently did just that — and the results were unexpected.  While not exactly reinstalling peak oil on its throne, it did make clear that much of the talk of a perpetual gusher of American shale oil is greatly exaggerated.  The exploitation of those shale reserves may delay the onset of peak oil for a year or so, the agency’s experts noted, but the long-term picture “has not changed much with the arrival of [shale oil].”

The IEA’s take on this subject is especially noteworthy because its assertion only a year earlier that the U.S. would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s number one oil producer sparked the “peak oil is dead” deluge in the first place.  Writing in the 2012 edition of itsWorld Energy Outlook, the agency claimed not only that “the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer” by around 2020, but also that with U.S. shale production and Canadian tar sands coming online, “North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.”

That November 2012 report highlighted the use of advanced production technologies — notably horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) — to extract oil and natural gas from once inaccessible rock, especially shale.  It also covered the accelerating exploitation of Canada’s bitumen (tar sands or oil sands), another resource previously considered too forbidding to be economical to develop.  With the output of these and other“unconventional” fuels set to explode in the years ahead, the report then suggested, the long awaited peak of world oil production could be pushed far into the future.

The release of the 2012 edition of World Energy Outlook triggered a global frenzy of speculative reporting, much of it announcing a new era of American energy abundance. “Saudi America” was the headline over one such hosanna in the Wall Street Journal.  Citing the new IEA study, that paper heralded a coming “U.S. energy boom” driven by “technological innovation and risk-taking funded by private capital.”  From then on, American energy analysts spoke rapturously of the capabilities of a set of new extractive technologies, especially fracking, to unlock oil and natural gas from hitherto inaccessible shale formations.  “This is a real energy revolution,” the Journal crowed.

But that was then. The most recent edition of World Energy Outlook, published this past November, was a lot more circumspect.  Yes, shale oil, tar sands, and other unconventional fuels will add to global supplies in the years ahead, and, yes, technology will help prolong the life of petroleum.  Nonetheless, it’s easy to forget that we are also witnessing the wholesale depletion of the world’s existing oil fields and so all these increases in shale output must be balanced against declines in conventional production.  Under ideal circumstances — high levels of investment, continuing technological progress, adequate demand and prices — it might be possible to avert an imminent peak in worldwide production, but as the latest IEA report makes clear, there is no guarantee whatsoever that this will occur.

Inching Toward the Peak

Before plunging deeper into the IEA’s assessment, let’s take a quick look at peak oil theory itself.

As developed in the 1950s by petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert, peak oil theory holdsthat any individual oil field (or oil-producing country) will experience a high rate of production growth during initial development, when drills are first inserted into a oil-bearing reservoir.  Later, growth will slow, as the most readily accessible resources have been drained and a greater reliance has to be placed on less productive deposits.  At this point — usually when about half the resources in the reservoir (or country) have been extracted — daily output reaches a maximum, or “peak,” level and then begins to subside.  Of course, the field or fields will continue to produce even after peaking, but ever more effort and expense will be required to extract what remains.  Eventually, the cost of production will exceed the proceeds from sales, and extraction will be terminated.

For Hubbert and his followers, the rise and decline of oil fields is an inevitable consequence of natural forces: oil exists in pressurized underground reservoirs and so will be forced up to the surface when a drill is inserted into the ground.  However, once a significant share of the resources in that reservoir has been extracted, the field’s pressure will drop and artificial means — water, gas, or chemical insertion — will be needed to restore pressure and sustain production.  Sooner or later, such means become prohibitively expensive.

Peak oil theory also holds that what is true of an individual field or set of fields is true of the world as a whole.  Until about 2005, it did indeed appear that the globe was edging ever closer to a peak in daily oil output, as Hubbert’s followers had long predicted.  (He died in 1989.)  Several recent developments have, however, raised questions about the accuracy of the theory.  In particular, major private oil companies have taken to employing advanced technologies to increase the output of the reservoirs under their control, extending the lifetime of existing fields through the use of what’s called “enhanced oil recovery,” or EOR.  They’ve also used new methods to exploit fields once considered inaccessible in places like the Arctic and deep oceanic waters, thereby opening up the possibility of a most un-Hubbertian future.

In developing these new technologies, the privately owned “international oil companies” (IOCs) were seeking to overcome their principal handicap: most of the world’s “easy oil” — the stuff Hubbert focused on that comes gushing out of the ground whenever a drill is inserted — has already been consumed or is controlled by state-owned “national oil companies” (NOCs), including Saudi Aramco, the National Iranian Oil Company, and the Kuwait National Petroleum Company, among others.  According to the IEA, such state companies control about 80 percent of the world’s known petroleum reserves, leaving relatively little for the IOCs to exploit.

To increase output from the limited reserves still under their control — mostly located in North America, the Arctic, and adjacent waters — the private firms have been working hard to develop techniques to exploit “tough oil.”  In this, they have largely succeeded: they are now bringing new petroleum streams into the marketplace and, in doing so, have shaken the foundations of peak oil theory.

Those who say that “peak oil is dead” cite just this combination of factors.  By extending the lifetime of existing fields through EOR and adding entire new sources of oil, the global supply can be expanded indefinitely.  As a result, they claim, the world possesses a “relatively boundless supply” of oil (and natural gas).  This, for instance, was the way Barry Smitherman of the Texas Railroad Commission (which regulates that state’s oil industry)described the global situation at a recent meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Peak Technology

In place of peak oil, then, we have a new theory that as yet has no name but might be called techno-dynamism.  There is, this theory holds, no physical limit to the global supply of oil so long as the energy industry is prepared to, and allowed to, apply its technological wizardry to the task of finding and producing more of it.  Daniel Yergin, author of the industry classics, The Prize and The Quest, is a key proponent of this theory.  He recently summed upthe situation this way: “Advances in technology take resources that were not physically accessible and turn them into recoverable reserves.”  As a result, he added, “estimates of the total global stock of oil keep growing.”

From this perspective, the world supply of petroleum is essentially boundless.  In addition to “conventional” oil — the sort that comes gushing out of the ground — the IEA identifies six other potential streams of petroleum liquids: natural gas liquids; tar sands and extra-heavy oil; kerogen oil (petroleum solids derived from shale that must be melted to become usable); shale oil; coal-to-liquids (CTL); and gas-to-liquids (GTL).  Together, these “unconventional” streams could theoretically add several trillion barrels of potentially recoverable petroleum to the global supply, conceivably extending the Oil Age hundreds of years into the future (and in the process, via climate change, turning the planet into an uninhabitable desert).

But just as peak oil had serious limitations, so, too, does techno-dynamism.  At its core is a belief that rising world oil demand will continue to drive the increasingly costly investments in new technologies required to exploit the remaining hard-to-get petroleum resources.  As suggested in the 2013 edition of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, however, this belief should be treated with considerable skepticism.

Among the principal challenges to the theory are these:

1. Increasing Technology Costs: While the costs of developing a resource normally decline over time as industry gains experience with the technologies involved, Hubbert’s law of depletion doesn’t go away.  In other words, oil firms invariably develop the easiest “tough oil” resources first, leaving the toughest (and most costly) for later.  For example, the exploitation of Canada’s tar sands began with the strip-mining of deposits close to the surface.  Because those are becoming exhausted, however, energy firms are now going after deep-underground reserves using far costlier technologies.  Likewise, many of the most abundant shale oil deposits in North Dakota have now been depleted, requiring anincreasing pace of drilling to maintain production levels.  As a result, the IEA reports, the cost of developing new petroleum resources will continually increase: up to $80 per barrel for oil obtained using advanced EOR techniques, $90 per barrel for tar sands and extra-heavy oil, $100 or more for kerogen and Arctic oil, and $110 for CTL and GTL.  The market may not, however, be able to sustain levels this high, putting such investments in doubt.

2. Growing Political and Environmental Risk: By definition, tough oil reserves are located in problematic areas.  For example, an estimated 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil lies in the Arctic, along with 30 percent of its untapped natural gas.  The environmental risks associated with their exploitation under the worst of weather conditions imaginable will quickly become more evident — and so, faced with the rising potential for catastrophic spills in a melting Arctic, expect a commensurate increase in political opposition to such drilling.  In fact, a recent increase has sparked protests in both Alaska and Russia, including the much-publicized September 2013 attempt by activists from Greenpeace toscale a Russian offshore oil platform — an action that led to their seizure and arrest by Russian commandos.  Similarly, expanded fracking operations have provoked a steady increase in anti-fracking activism.  In response to such protests and other factors, oil firms are being forced to adopt increasingly stringent environmental protections, pumping up the cost of production further.

3. Climate-Related Demand Reduction: The techno-optimist outlook assumes that oil demand will keep rising, prompting investors to provide the added funds needed to develop the technologies required.  However, as the effects of rampant climate change accelerate, more and more polities are likely to try to impose curbs of one sort or another on oil consumption, suppressing demand — and so discouraging investment.  This is already happening in the United States, where mandated increases in vehicle fuel-efficiency standards are expected to significantly reduce oil consumption.  Future “demand destruction” of this sort is bound to impose a downward pressure on oil prices, diminishing the inclination of investors to finance costly new development projects.

Combine these three factors, and it is possible to conceive of a “technology peak” not unlike the peak in oil output originally envisioned by M. King Hubbert.  Such a techno-peak is likely to occur when the “easy” sources of “tough” oil have been depleted, opponents of fracking and other objectionable forms of production have imposed strict (and costly) environmental regulations on drilling operations, and global demand has dropped below a level sufficient to justify investment in costly extractive operations.  At that point, global oil production will decline even if supplies are “boundless” and technology is still capable of unlocking more oil every year.

Peak Oil Reconsidered

Peak oil theory, as originally conceived by Hubbert and his followers, was largely governed by natural forces.  As we have seen, however, these can be overpowered by the application of increasingly sophisticated technology.  Reservoirs of energy once considered inaccessible can be brought into production, and others once deemed exhausted can be returned to production; rather than being finite, the world’s petroleum base now appears virtually inexhaustible.

Does this mean that global oil output will continue rising, year after year, without ever reaching a peak?  That appears unlikely.  What seems far more probable is that we will see a slow tapering of output over the next decade or two as costs of production rise and climate change — along with opposition to the path chosen by the energy giants — gains momentum.  Eventually, the forces tending to reduce supply will overpower those favoring higher output, and a peak in production will indeed result, even if not due to natural forces alone.

Such an outcome is, in fact, envisioned in one of three possible energy scenarios the IEA’s mainstream experts lay out in the latest edition of World Energy Outlook. The first assumes no change in government policies over the next 25 years and sees world oil supply rising from 87 to 110 million barrels per day by 2035; the second assumes some effort to curb carbon emissions and so projects output reaching “only” 101 million barrels per day by the end of the survey period.

It’s the third trajectory, the “450 Scenario,” that should raise eyebrows.  It assumes that momentum develops for a global drive to keep greenhouse gas emissions below 450 parts per million — the maximum level at which it might be possible to prevent global average temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (and so cause catastrophic climate effects).  As a result, it foresees a peak in global oil output occurring around 2020 at about 91 million barrels per day, with a decline to 78 million barrels by 2035.

It would be premature to suggest that the “450 Scenario” will be the immediate roadmap for humanity, since it’s clear enough that, for the moment, we are on a highway to hell that combines the IEA’s first two scenarios.  Bear in mind, moreover, that many scientists believea global temperature increase of even 2 degrees Celsius would be enough to produce catastrophic climate effects.  But as the effects of climate change become more pronounced in our lives, count on one thing: the clamor for government action will grow more intense, and so eventually we’re likely to see some variation of the 450 Scenario take shape.  In the process, the world’s demand for oil will be sharply constricted, eliminating the incentive to invest in costly new production schemes.

The bottom line: Global peak oil remains in our future, even if not purely for the reasons given by Hubbert and his followers.  With the gradual disappearance of “easy” oil, the major private firms are being forced to exploit increasingly tough, hard-to-reach reserves, thereby driving up the cost of production and potentially discouraging new investment at a time when climate change and environmental activism are on the rise.

Peak oil is dead!  Long live peak oil!

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left.  A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation.

Climate Chaos is here……. | Damn the Matrix

Climate Chaos is here……. | Damn the Matrix.

The followers of this blog should be well ahead of the rest of the internet regarding the current extreme weather in America if they read Mark Cochrane’s guest post way back in July last year titled “Weather Whiplash”.

Of course, all the climate deniers are out in force these last few days, letting themselves believe that the snowball http://theaimn.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/the-day-after-tomorrow.jpg?w=199&h=300weather in the US is proof “climate change is crap”…….  when in fact, nothing of the sort is true.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, global warming is causing the polar ice to melt, and that melting is sending the weather haywire by making the jetstream do things it was never meant to do.

The dramatic melt-off of the Arctic sea ice due to climate change, is hitting closer to home for millions of Americans. That’s because melting Arctic sea ice has triggered a domino effect leading to increased odds of severe winter weather events in the Northern Hemisphere’s mid latitudes — think “The Day After Tomorrow”.  Well, metaphorically anyway….. though who knowswhat the future may hold on that front!

Australians may think of Arctic climate change as this remote phenomenon that has little effect on our everyday lives, but what goes on in the Arctic remotely forces weather patterns, even here in Australia…..  What drives the weather is energy.  Heat energy to be precise.  At any one time, there is a precise amount of energy in the Earth’s atmosphere.  It is growing, apparently at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs per second, but even at such a mindboggling rate, over short periods like a week or a month, it may as well be constant, so able is the planet’s capacity to absorb it.

The Earth’s spin sends eddies in both the air and oceans, causing turbulence in the way this energy is distributed or moved about the biosphere.  Heat normally wants to travel towards cold places and equalise the temperature of cold areas and hot areas.  But these eddies don’t allow the heat to travel in a straight line, as it would in, say, a piece of metal heated at one end.  Solar energy creates wind this way, and these eddies cause the wind to move along curved paths, as do ocean currents.

Add energy into the system by trapping heat under the blanket of greenhouse gases, and the eddies become more energetic.  A bit like when you heat a saucepan of water; the water molecules become more and more energised, start convection currents, and eventually the water boils as the molecules can no longer remain in contact with each other and turn into a higher state of energy called a gas, in this case, steam.  it’s Physics 101, really.

Because the amount of heat energy is ‘constant’, when it’s freezing cold in America, it’s stinking hot somewhere else, https://i0.wp.com/www.news.cornell.edu/sites/chronicle.cornell/files/arctic_0.jpgand at this time of the year, that means us in the Southern Hemisphere.  That extra energy is causing more and more extreme weather, both here, and over there.  As this sort of weather becomes more normal, the sum total of all the weather events become the new climate, and presto, we have Climate Change.  And no Tony Abbott, it is NOT CRAP.

Cornell’s Charles H. Greene, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Bruce C. Monger, senior research associate in the same department, have detailed this phenomenon in a paper published in the June issue of the journal Oceanography.

Greene says, “What’s happening now is that we are changing the climate system, especially in the Arctic, and that’s increasing the odds for the negative Arctic Oscillation conditions that favour cold air invasions and severe winter weather outbreaks by diminishing latitudinal pressure gradient which is linked to a weakening of the winds associated with the polar vortex and jet stream. Since the polar vortex normally retains the cold Arctic air masses up above the Arctic Circle, its weakening allows the cold air to invade lower latitudes..”

Here is a good video explanation of what is going on:

Now what I want to know is….  what will happen to the jetstream in the Southern Hemisphere?

International Bee Expert Speaks Out | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice

International Bee Expert Speaks Out | A\J – Canada’s Environmental Voice.

Urgent: The public comment period on actions to protect bees from neonicotinoids in Canada closes today!

Professor Dave Goulson is a UK biologist who specializes in bees. He has published over 200 scientific articles on the ecology of bees and other insects, and is the author of Bumblebees: Their behaviour, ecology and conservation (2010, Oxford University Press) and A Sting in the Tale (2013, Jonathan Cape), a popular science book about bumblebees.

In 2010 he was BBSRC “Social Innovator of the Year” and in 2013 he won the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology from the Zoological Society of London. In 2006 he founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity devoted to reversing bumblebee declines.

We spoke to Goulson recently to get the scoop on all this buzz about neonicotinoids.

A\J: George Monbiot, who quotes your work in his blog, says that the EU ban is not comprehensive or meaningful – that only a few kinds of neonicotinoids will be banned and that the class of pesticides as a whole will continue to be used widely.
DG: It’s not a complete ban at all. It’s only two years, so it’s temporary, it applies only to seed dressing on flowering crops, so canola, corn, sunflowers, and only the drilling of seed-treated crops in the spring and summer when bees are flying because of the dust that’s created that leads to fairly swift death for bees.  It does not apply to foliar sprays on fruit and vegetables, garden use, or to seed dressings on winter wheat, which is a big crop in Europe that is drilled in the autumn. But lots of them will still be used and, given their persistence in soil, there will be lots swilling around. And even if there were a total ban for two years, because of their persistence I wouldn’t expect bee populations to be bouncing back as a result. It would take many years for these compounds to be removed from the soil.

A\J: My research on this issue indicates that bees are only one factor – that many other invertebrates and birds are threatened by these chemicals. Is part of the problem that services provided by bees can be fairly easily quantified in economic terms? Is this focus on bees at the expense of the bigger picture?
DG: I would agree completely. One of the reasons you highlight is that bees get all the attention because everyone understands that they are important, but fewer people understand the importance of worms, earwigs, etc.  The second thing is that beekeepers notice when their bees die. But wild organisms have no one to look after them and no one to notice if they are having problems. The first people to notice the effects of neonicotinoids were French beekeepers back in the 1990s. But there are lots of insects in the environment that we don’t want to be killed that are also being exposed.  This can be through build up in soil and water, and the pesticides can be drawn up by non-crop roots. There is every reason to suspect that the effects are much, much broader than just bees, be we have no good monitoring programs for these other organisms.

A\J: Do we have a handle on how effective neonics are at increasing crop yields? Can it be quantified?
DG: This is the most interesting thing of all. There is no doubt we need farming; we need to produce sufficient food efficiently. If these pesticides were vital to farming we might just have to accept bee kills. The irony is that there is no evidence that they are effective. Pest management in farming is not based on evidence; it’s not based on field trials. Recently there have been a few studies from the US on soybeans that found no effect on yields whatsoever. Farmers are paying good money for seed treatments that don’t benefit them in any way. There is a fundamental problem with the system, in my view, which is that most agronomic advice to farmers comes from people who work for agrichemical companies. So it’s hardly surprising that they are recommending farmers use lots of agrichemicals. And it seems as if some of the ones they are recommending aren’t doing anything. It might sound a bit crazy, but look at it this way – we all buy things that we don’t need all the time: cosmetics that don’t do anything, vitamin supplements that don’t do anything, and so on. We are all easily convinced to buy things we don’t need and farmers have no other source of information. They can’t choose not to use these chemicals anyway, because it’s impossible to get untreated seed at present, so they don’t even have a choice. They are forced to pay for something that doesn’t work, which I think is pretty outrageous and I think if farmers knew that, they might well be quite unhappy.

A\J: Are you saying that after getting their education, most agronomists end up working for agrichemical companies?
DG: I’m not an expert on the Canadian system, but I can tell you that in the UK, 80 per cent of agronomists work directly for agrichemical companies and I believe the situation is similar here.

A\J: If corn, soy and canola farmers are prevented from using neonics, what alternatives will they have? Will these be more harmful?
DG: The first response to this is whether they need an alternative at all. If these chemicals aren’t benefiting their yield, then clearly they don’t need to be replaced with anything. IF one makes the assumption that for someone, somewhere, neonics are providing some small benefit, although there’s no evidence for this, then farmers might want to use something else. They won’t go back to using organophosphates as they have been banned. It’s more likely that farmers might increase their use of pyrethroids slightly, which are being used currently anyway – most seeds treated with neonics are also sprayed with pyrethroids. So that’s the worst-case scenario. Now, pyrethroids do kill bees, they are an insecticide, but they do have a big advantage from a bee’s perspective in that they don’t persist in the environment for longer than a few days. So beekeepers can shut their hives or take them away for a few days, while neonics are in the environment 365 days a year.

A\J: One of our bloggers has suggested that it’s time to rethink they way we practice agriculture – that enormous monocultures are extremely hard on soil, water, wildlife and humans. Are you able to comment on that?
DG: I would say that modern agriculture is probably not sustainable in the long term globally. We are losing absurd amounts of soil from repeatedly plowing in parts of the world where winds or heavy rains can wash it away. We are using up underground aquifers in some of the more arid parts of the world; we have problems of salinization in some parts of the world. We are reducing the ability of the planet to produce food globally. We do need to rethink the ways we are producing food.

A\J: John Bennett of Sierra Club Canada has noted that western Canada hasn’t seen the same die off as we in eastern and central Canada have. He wonders if it might be the difference between corn and canola production. Do you have any insight on that?
DG: I don’t know the details on that, but I’ve heard the same arguments. Application of neonics on canola is much lower than on corn. But the problems for bees are not just pesticides. Bees have been suffering for many decades because there aren’t many flowers left. Modern farming doesn’t leave room for anything but the crop. This applies more to wild bees than to honeybees, but they’ve all undergone a 70-year decline due to lack of food. On top of that we’ve accidentally introduced disease and parasites, and now we’re poisoning them. It’s this combination of stressors that’s at the heart of the problem. Bees could cope with one of them, or maybe two, but if you throw three or more factors at them they get into trouble. So maybe there are fewer stressors in the west or they exist in different combination. It may also come down to the application rate of the pesticides. I have heard that this may be exaggerated, that western bees are not as healthy as they are made out to be, but I don’t have any figures on that.

A\J: Do you have a take away message for us?
DG: I’m always really keen to get people to not just talk about honeybees. Pollination is done by a whole load of different insects and they are all really important and all need looking after. Bees have their champions, but all organisms need to be protected.

You’ve got just enough time left to tell Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency Publications Section what you think about a potential ban – comments are due today! Get the details here.

 

Arctic resources claim deadline today for Canada – Politics – CBC News

Arctic resources claim deadline today for Canada – Politics – CBC News.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships were taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships were taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. (Petty Officer Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

Today is the deadline for Canada to file scientific evidence to justify its claim to Arctic resources beyond its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The federal government is being cagey about the submission that it is supposed to file within 10 years of signing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international treaty setting out maritime rules.

“It’s being a really closely held secret. The big thing that everyone is wondering about is how far up the Lomonosov Ridge we’re [Canada] actually going to go,” says University of Calgary professor and Arctic expert Rob Huebert.

The Lomonosov Ridge is an undersea mountain range that runs between Ellesmere Island, Canada’s most northern land mass, and the east Siberian coast in Russia.

The science package that Canada will file with the UN is essentially a series of undersea co-ordinates that map what the government claims is this country’s extended continental shelf. Under Article 76 of the UN maritime treaty, any coastal country can claim rights to the seabed and sub-seabed up to 150 nautical miles beyond its exclusive economic zone.

In one exception, a country can claim beyond 150 nautical miles if there is a ridge that juts out from its extended continental shelf.

Overlapping claims

Canada could potentially have conflicting claims with Denmark on its border with Greenland and with the U.S. in the Beaufort Sea. But the contentious overlap might be with Russia on the Lomonosov Ridge.

Russia presented its claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2001. That claim ran along the Lomonosov Ridge right up to the North Pole. If Canada has a claim to the Lomonosov Ridge, it could reach 200 nautical miles beyond the pole. That is the halfway point between Canada and Russia.

RUSSIA ARCTIC A titanium capsule with the Russian flag is seen seconds after it was planted by the Mir-1 mini-submarine on the Arctic Ocean seabed under the North Pole during a record dive on Aug. 2, 2007. (Association of Russian Polar Explorers/Associated Press)

The UN commission just judges the science and doesn’t have the power to resolve competing claims. Those have to be resolved state-to-state.

University of Ottawa Russia specialist Ivan Katchanovski doesn’t expect there will be a conflict, even if the Canadian and Russian claims overlap.

“There is potential for significant dispute, but don’t expect this is going to lead to a major confrontation or cold war,” Katchanovski told CBC News.

He argued that such a confrontation would make Russian President Vladimir Putin look weak.

“Putin wants to collaborate with Western powers. He does not want to be treated as a secondary power. He wants to be considered to be equal,” Katchanovski explained. “Any confrontation would be detrimental to the Russian image abroad.”

As for the Danes and Americans, Canada worked closely with both of them on mapping the sea floor. Denmark submitted its claim to the commission in November.

U.S. hasn’t signed treaty

The U.S. situation is a little more complicated. It has yet to ratify the maritime treaty, so it doesn’t have the right to submit a scientific claim to the UN commission.

That hasn’t stopped the Americans from working with Canada, though.

“We get along pretty well with the Canadians, and with respect to the surveying of the extended continental shelf, the two countries found that they could co-operate, and that would be a win-win that would save the taxpayers money,” said John P. Bellinger III, an international law expert and former adviser to the last Bush administration on the treaty.

Bellinger said the U.S. would accept Canada’s submission to the UN commission even if there was overlap, “provided that it does not prejudice the U.S. claim.”

Bellinger did offer one caveat to the government in Ottawa.

“If Canada tries to take the North Pole just before Christmas, I think the United States would be very opposed to that.”

 

“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” | Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”

02 Monday Dec 2013

Dystopian-Worlds-1

Despite mounting evidence of our grim reality, the world’s psychopathic leadership remains willfully deaf, dumb, and blind to the unfolding global ecocide and humanicide. A persistent sounding of the alarm by a tiny minority of the population only seems to have irritated and offended those in the elite class who are pressing the fossil-fueled industrial machine onward, full steam ahead. However, it’s not a cliff we are headed towards because surely the psychopaths would have hidden their parachutes underneath their business suits. There will be no Bottleneck for humans because we’re headed toward the black hole of extinction from which nobody gets out alive. Yes, they’ll be a few hangers-on for a brief period until there is only one lone straggler… and then darkness for the human species along with 99% of all other life. We’re doomed by a pathocracy:

…from Greek pathos, “feeling, pain, suffering”; and kratos, “rule”

A totalitarian form of government in which absolute political power is held by a psychopathic elite, and their effect on the people is such that the entire society is ruled and motivated by purely pathological values.

A pathocracy can take many forms and can insinuate itself covertly into any seemingly just system or ideology. As such it can masquerade under the guise of a democracy or theocracy as well as more openly oppressive regimes…

Kevin Moore, a frequent commenter on this site, has provided us with an excellent summation of current factors which clearly spell extinction for the “wise” ape. Certainly if a reasonable person in charge studies his list, they would want to turn this ill-fated ship around before it quite literally takes everyone down into a deep, watery grave. On the contrary, Kevin points out that they are “throwing the compass and fishing gear overboard” and “boring holes in the hull while distributing all the rations for immediate consumption.” I’m afraid those who have managed to work their way into political positions are forbidden from making any decisions jeopardizing business-as-usual; but as the memes go, there is no business on a dead planet nor is there a planet B. The least these politicians and corporate heads could do is be honest with their own children by telling them their future is not as important as the short-term profits to be had right now by ripping up the Earth’s last remaining resources and fouling the biosphere. If they cannot be truthful to their own offspring, how could we expect them to be forthright and unbiased with us?

At any rate and for posterity’s sake (however brief that may be), here is Kevin’s detailed and ‘hopium-free’ list:

Yesterday I sent out an email to a long list of people concerning the meeting I had with the local council’s climate change officer, during which I pointed out we are in the early stages of complete meltdown of planetary systems. And ‘nobody’ is at all bothered.

Here is what I sent as a summary of the meeting: .

I raised the following points with Colin Comber, New Plymouth District Council climate change officer, at our meeting on Friday, 29th November, 2013. On most points he had nothing to say.

1. The forcing factor for methane has been raised from 23 times CO2 to 34 times CO2. Even that multiplier understates the warming potential in the short term, and a figure of at least 100 times should be used for methane bursts.

2. Recent methane bursts in the East Siberian Sea have resulted in 2000ppb, which is equivalent to over 200ppm CO2 in the short-term, making the total global CO2 equivalence 600ppm (at least). The extraordinarily high concentration of greenhouse gases has resulted in rapid temperature increases in the Arctic (up around 1C since 2006, despite the huge amount of energy involved in melting ice.).

3. 2012 saw the lowest ever summer ice area.

4. The current Arctic ice area is hovering around two standard deviations below the historic average, but much of the ice is thin and new, making 2013 the lowest stable ice volume ever.

5. Atmospheric CO2 hit 400ppm earlier this year. It troughed at 393ppm (photosynthesis cycle) and is on its way up; it is anticipated to reach 403ppm April-May 2014.

6. The heat forcing of current atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to around 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs being exploded every day.

7. The present level of atmospheric CO2 is 40% above the pre-industrial level and corresponds to a sea level 23 meters above current; the reason we don’t have an immediate sea level rise is the thermal lag of warming deep oceans and converting ice into water. Such a level of CO2 has not been experienced any time in the evolution of humans over the past 2 million years. Indeed, for much of our recent history the CO2 level was around 180ppm and there were thick ice sheets as far south as central England.

8. The IEA has announced we are on track for a rise in average temperature of 3.5oC by 2035. Such a temperature rise puts temperatures beyond anything experienced in human history and most of the Earth into an uninhabitable zone. Interestingly, NZ governments quote the IEA as the best source of information when it comes to energy but completely ignore the IEA when it comes to unwelcome information about climate. The IEA is talking about a runaway greenhouse gas situation.

9. Acidification of the oceans [due to absorption of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere] is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, leading to stress of organisms dependent on bicarbonate cycle for shell formation. Industrial activity is altering the chemical and biological composition of the oceans at a rate faster than that of the great Permian Extinction Event which wiped out 95% of life on Earth. Continuation on the current path of burning fossil fuels will render the oceans uninhabitable to most existing marine species, and then wipe out most terrestrial species.

10. I was personally shocked to see millions of jellyfish on a local beach recently. Although my observation has no scientific significance it is indicative of the ‘death of the oceans’ I have been reading about; we are transforming the oceans back to some primeval form, similar to that of 600 million years ago, wiping out the species (turtles, sunfish etc.) that feed on jellyfish and loading the oceans with toxins. I had previously noted the paucity of sea life in rock pools compared to 30 years ago (this is presumably not from over-collection, since the beach has been designated a maritime protection zone).

11. Whereas the previous five mass extinction events (other than the one that wiped out dinosaurs) were due to natural volcanic activity, the present mass extinction event is due to industrial activity and emissions from industrial activity.

12. An unknown amount of radiation is leaking from the crippled Fukushima reactors into the Pacific Ocean. People on the west coast of the US are now extremely concerned, particularly since mass deaths of sea life are now being frequently reported.

13. Australia recently reported the highest ever October temperatures (corresponding with the earliest severe wildfires).

14. Typhoon Haiyan was the biggest storm ever to make landfall and resulted in unprecedented damage. This was due to extraordinarily hot sea water associated with ocean warming. An excellent essay on Nature Bats Last highlighted the fact that prior to the Second World War people in the region lived without the ‘benefits’ of civilization, and when storms smashed things up they just picked up the pieces and rebuilt their huts, got water from lakes and rivers, and went back to fishing from small boats: now they are unable to do any of that because all the natural, sustainable systems have been ruined or covered with concrete and asphalt, and industrial civilization resulted in a population explosion that resulted in far more victims than there would have been if development had not occurred.

15. If we imagine the Earth totally covered with industrial civilization (no land available for food production) it is clearly not sustainable. 90% covered by civilization is not sustainable. Nor is 80%. Not even 50% is sustainable. The current level of civilization utilises about 43% of the primary production of the Earth and has resulted in a 0.85C rise in average temperature. That 0.85C rise is already having catastrophic effects (meltdown of the Arctic, super-storms etc.)

16. The fact that we already have meltdown (lowest Arctic ice, extraordinary storms, death of corals etc.) at 0.85C above the long-term average indicates that we are already in overshoot with respect to population and resource consumption. Despite the fact that we have reached the meltdown stage, governments persist with policies predicated on increased population and increased resource use, which is completely insane. NPDC [New Plymouth District Council] advocates the same kind of insanity on a daily basis.

17. The previously proposed ‘safe’ level of temperature rise of 2C is not safe at all, and was only ever an arbitrary number. But climate specialists now admit that warming cannot be restricted to 2C anyway, and that we are on track for a 4C or 6C rise in average temperature, i.e. a largely uninhabitable planet in a matter of decades, probably by 2060, which would be within the normal lifespan of children living today. If the International Energy Agency is correct, the Earth will be largely uninhabitable by 2040.

18. Nothing whatsoever is being done to curtail emissions. International negotiations are a farce predicated on ‘kicking the can down the road’ for as long as possible. NPDC policy, mirroring that around the world, is geared to increasing CO2 emissions, via increased population, increased use of concrete, increased dependence on internal combustion engines, etc. I quoted the incident I had witnessed of two petrol-powered vehicles being used to deposit and level gravel on a path in Pukekura Park when one person with a wheelbarrow could have done the job (and 50 years ago that was how the job was done); meanwhile, the mulching machine in operation in the park prior to our meeting would have consumed more energy in a few hours than the electric bikes the council promotes would save in a year.

19. Extraction of conventional oil peaked over 2005 to 2008, and the economic system is now being propped up by desperation measures centered around fracking, deep-sea drilling, extraction from tar sands, etc. as well as consuming ever greater amounts of energy, such activities increase the emissions associated with fossil fuel extraction, thereby exacerbating the climate catastrophe.

20. We cannot look to John Key* or Jonathan Young** or Andrew Little*** for leadership on environmental issues: they are simply opportunists acting as agents of global corporations and money-lenders; they implement policies favourable to global corporations and money-lenders which entail trashing the environment, generally as quickly as possible.

21. Currently, NPDC is fully committed to destroying the futures of the young people living in the district and elsewhere via resource depletion and environmental collapse, as indicated by the huge display in the council foyer which announces that NPDC spends 2c of every dollar collected promoting economic growth. (Economic growth equates to increased resource consumption and increased emissions.)

22. The present economy has no future because of energy depletion and because it is increasing the level of pollution, both locally and globally. Continuation on the present path of searching for and burning fossil fuels results in an uninhabitable planet within decades. Drastically reducing fuel consumption leading to total abandonment of fossil fuels is the only sane option. (It may be too late for that, but it is still the only sane option.)

23. This is not a matter of priorities. Surely there can be no priority higher than ensuring the next generation has a habitable planet to live on. The system ignores the most important priority of all, and therefore the system is INSANE.

24. Everyone within the system pretends nothing is wrong and that the system has a future even when a modicum of rational thought indicates it doesn’t (infinite growth on a finite planet is mathematically impossible.)

25. The composition of the new council give us no reason for optimism and many reasons for extreme pessimism.

26. The main reason the general populace of the district continues to ‘behave badly’ -purchase and use oversized vehicles, cover land with concrete and asphalt, consume at unsustainable levels etc.- is because they are encouraged to by NPDC. The only message they get from the council is that everything is rosy (when the reverse is the case and we are mightily close to collapse).

27. The overuse of internal combustion engines is causing severe health problems globally and within the district. Coupled with consumption of junk food, mechanized transport is causing obesity and other diseases. Consumerism is generating a freak society, and each week that passes the ‘freak show’ becomes more bizarre.

28. There is a culture of ‘spend, spend, spend’ amongst council officers, with utterly ridiculous projects being undertaken. Apart from being totally unnecessary, these concrete and steel projects put additional CO2 into the atmosphere and bring forward abrupt climate change and an uninhabitable planet, are financially crippling the district, and pushing those on low fixed incomes ‘off the cliff’.

29. I pointed out that I spoke with Gary Bedford, regional environment officer, prior to returning to NP in 2006, and raised the matters of Peak Oil and Abrupt Climate Change; he ‘did not want to know’ and has done nothing whatsoever to protect the district. Indeed, he is on record as making absurd statements such as: “Climate change will be good for Taranaki.” I wish to have a follow-up session with him.

30. I have been proven right on practically everything I said in 2006 and subsequently to variously composed councils since 2006. Council officers have been proven consistently wrong. But it makes no difference how often council officers are proven wrong, nothing in the system changes and the insanity continues.

31. NPDC has been provided with the most accurate data and analysis available over many years (particularly my submission to the draft plan 2013), and NPDC has ignored it all. Hence, everything that matters has gotten worse and will continue to get worse by the day.

32. As far as I can establish, Colin Comber is the only council officer in a position to challenge the nonsense churned out by the bulk of the administration, in so far as all the policies advocated by senior council officers result in increased emissions and an ever faster meltdown of the global and local environment. I pointed out to him that he has ‘sat on his hands’ since our first meeting (around 6 years ago) and everything has gotten worse as a consequence.

Notes:

*John Key: NZ Prime Minister.

**Jonathan Young: MP for the city

***Andrew Little: List Labour MP for the city (MMP system).

Andre Judd: recently elected (October 2013) mayor of the city.

What is particularly interesting for me is that Jonathan Young, Andrew Little and Andrew Judd all have copies of my most recent book ‘The Easy Way’ (which details most of what is discussed on CoIC and NBL etc.) and that I had several sessions with Andrew Little on the content of TEW, and numerous sessions with Andrew Judd prior to his election.

Old habits die hard, but if you’re a smoker and you’ve got stage 3 cancer staring you in the face, the only two options are to radically change your behavior or die with your bad habits. We’ve already destroyed the Earth’s air conditioner which has altered the Jet Streams, unlocked the methane monster, and set off various other positive feedback loops ushering in a new normal of extreme weather. As a result, humans no longer enjoy a stable climate within which to cultivate food and can no longer depend on feshwater supply from seasonal snow melt. Yes, it’s rather a bit too late, but why keep digging when the hole you are in is already way too deep?

71CJ9qM2KOL._SL1200_

Jim Love, Canadian Mint chairman, helped run offshore ‘tax-avoidance scheme’ for clients – Politics – CBC News

Jim Love, Canadian Mint chairman, helped run offshore ‘tax-avoidance scheme’ for clients – Politics – CBC News.

For years, the fortune of a former prime minister was quietly mired in a hefty court battle pitting members of a prominent Canadian family against a big bank, Bay Street law firms and each other, CBC News has learned.

 

The fight over the financial legacy of Arthur Meighen, who served as prime minister in 1920-21 and 1926, grew to embroil 15 parties, two dozen lawyers and thousands of pages of records.

 

There were claims that a plaintiff attacked his own father in a bathroom, and legal bills in the millions of dollars.

 

 

As the spat unfurled, it roped in entities as diverse as Canada Trust, the former law firm Ogilvy Renault, offshore companies in the Caribbean and a senator.

 

But despite the big names and historic appeal, from its start in 2008 until it was discreetly settled three years later, the entire legal saga was kept out of the public eye — until now.

‘Significant manipulations’ alleged

One of the principal players in the drama was Toronto tax lawyer James Barton Love, whose connections in Ottawa have seen him appointed in recent years as chair of the Royal Canadian Mint and a consultant to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Former prime minister Arthur MeighenArthur Meighen left millions of dollars to his descendants. (City of Toronto archives)

Well before that, though, Love befriended and became an adviser to several members of the Meighen family, including patriarch Donald Wright, a composer, philanthropist and Order of Canada recipient.

“I knew of his great friendship with my cousin Patrick Wright, who died prematurely, and of the great esteem with which he was held by my uncle Donald Wright,” said Arthur Meighen’s grandson Michael Meighen, who was still a Conservative senator while the lawsuit was unfolding.

Wright consulted Love on investments, hired his law firm for legal work and made him a director of a number of holding companies within the $20-million-plus heritage known as the Arthur Meighen Trust, court documents show.

 

 

Short-lived PM

Arthur Meighen, born in Ontario in 1874 and initially trained as a mathematician, took up law in Manitoba in the early 1900s and was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1908. He went on to serve in Prime Minister Robert Borden’s wartime cabinet, and then became prime minister himself when Borden retired in 1920.

Meighen lost the 1921 election to Mackenzie King’s Liberals but won a minority in the 1925 vote, though King would stay in power for eight more months with the backing of a third party. The King-Byng affair in June 1926 brought Meighen back to power, but for less than three months before he lost another election.

Meighen resigned as Tory leader and went on to serve in the Senate, and then briefly as party leader again from 1941 to 1942. Following the Second World War, he amassed his wealth from investment funds he had set up.

 

But some of Meighen’s heirs — Wright’s granddaughters Tara and Alyssa — would eventually claim Love abused his powers, alleging he worked with Wright to retool the Meighen Trust, effectively cut them off from their inheritance, and depleted the family’s money through administrative and legal fees.

 

“It is clear from my grandfather’s records that Love was the chief architect of all of the significant manipulations of the trust from the 1980s onwards,” Alyssa Wright says in a sworn statement filed in court.

 

Alyssa Wright and her sister stood to inherit about $3 million each when they turned 35. But as that day came and went for each of them, they claimed, neither Love nor Legacy Private Trust (LPT), the trust company he runs that had a role managing the Meighen fortune, was forthcoming about the money or how it was kept.

 

“My requests for information from Love and LPT have been met with significant delays and claims from Love that he is too busy to answer my questions, or alarmingly, that he does not consider that he owes any duty to me to provide the requested information,” Tarah Wright said in an affidavit as part of the lawsuit.

 

Around that time, Love had been appointed to the board of the Mint and then to a panel advising the federal finance minister on tax issues. “Part of the difficulty with scheduling a time when we might get together,” he wrote to Tarah Wright, “relates to my very busy travel schedule.”

 

The Wright sisters weren’t satisfied and sued — for $15 million — alleging Love and Canada Trust, which had also had a hand in managing the Meighen millions, breached their fiduciary duties and acted negligently. None of the allegations was ever tested in court, and Love and Canada Trust emphatically denied any wrongdoing.

 

Offshore tax shelter

 

Among the lawsuit’s grievances: that Love and Canada Trust had participated in moving $8 million of their great-grandfather’s legacy into offshore havens to try to avoid Canadian tax. The Wrights said they “lost capital and income” as a result, but were also exposed to “taxes, interest and penalties” due to the transaction.

 

In court records, Love acknowledges he played a role in the offshore arrangement, but says that it was limited, and that ultimately the Meighen family enjoyed “significant savings of Canadian tax.”

 

Just as scathing is the Wrights’ allegation that Love drained a chunk of their family’s wealth through the fees his trust company and law firm charged to the Arthur Meighen Trust and to their grandfather’s estate.

 

Donald J.A. WrightComposer and philanthropist Donald Wright, who received the Order of Canada in 2001, was the former PM’s son-in-law and co-managed the Arthur Meighen Trust for many years. (CBC)

Records filed in court show Legacy Private Trust, Love and his law firm have made at least $1 million from their roles advising the Meighen family and administering its money.

 

Some of that came from two side trusts set up for Alyssa and Tarah Wright. Each account had just over $70,000 in it in the early 1990s, the court records show, but by the time they were wound up in 2008, Love’s law firm had absorbed nearly $57,500 of that in fees.

 

An accountant’s report submitted to court shows that, starting in about 2002, the law firm would bill on average hundreds of dollars a month to each trust — far more than the trusts were making in investment income.

 

Alyssa Wright said in a sworn statement that she “asked Love directly” how so much of the funds could have been eaten up by expenses, but “Love was unable to provide an answer.”

 

Love countered in an affidavit that the fee arrangements were agreed to by the women’s aunt, who was overseeing the money and who “approved each account …. and signed each trust cheque in payment of the accounts.”

 

The aunt, for her part, said that she naively signed the fee agreements “without having any idea what usual fees” are.

 

And she, too, worried about the amounts of Meighen family money that were going to administrative and legal fees, particularly in the case of the offshore transaction.

 

“Trusts and corporations offshore over which I have no control … have been depleted by poor investments, fees, disbursements and claims for compensation which are outrageous,” the aunt, Priscilla Wright, affirmed.

 

Love, however, said the fees his company was charging were “considerably lower than what other trust companies would charge and recognizes the longstanding relationship between Legacy and the Wright family,” according to an email he wrote that was filed in court.

 

$8.9M settlement

 

The lawsuit also recounts a meeting in mid-January 2006 between Love and Alyssa Wright, just days before the Conservatives would triumph in that year’s federal election.

 

Wright said she asked about bringing her share of the offshore Meighen money back to Canada. Love, who would later be appointed as an adviser to Finance Minister Flaherty on international taxation, “gave me a vague answer to the effect that this would depend on the results of the upcoming Canadian election [and] anticipated changes to the tax laws,” Wright’s sworn statement says.

 

The lawsuit was finally settled in 2011, with Canada Trust, Love, his current and former law firms and his trust company on the hook for a total of $8.9 million, though none of them admitted any fault.

 

It’s not clear how much of that, if anything, each defendant had to pay, or whether their insurers are footing the bill. Besides Michael Meighen, none of the parties would talk due to their promise of confidentiality.

 

One thing that is clear, though, is that Love and the Meighen estate are parting ways. The settlement calls for him and his firms to relinquish their positions within the array of Meighen family companies, foundations and investments.

 

Arctic 30: freed Briton urges ‘frank discussions’ about future protests | Environment | theguardian.com

Arctic 30: freed Briton urges ‘frank discussions’ about future protests | Environment | theguardian.com.

Kieron Bryan

Freelance videographer Kieron Bryan being released on bail from a detention centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Liza Udilova/Greenpeace/EPA

There should be frank discussions about future Greenpeace protests following the arrest of activists and journalists in Russia, one of the six Britons freed from detention has said.

 

Freelance journalist Kieron Bryan, one of the Arctic 30 arrested by the Russian authorities over a protest against oil drilling two months ago, said his first trip with the organisation had been a baptism of fire.

 

Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven, said all those who had been on the Arctic Sunrise vessel had been given a proper briefing about the risks involved and added that the organisation would not be intimidated, although there were no plans for further protest in Russia.

 

The Arctic Sunrise was seized by the Russian authorities and 28 activists and two freelance journalists on board were arrested. All six Britons involved have been granted bail.

 

The group were originally charged with piracy but the authorities said this would be downgraded to hooliganism.

 

Bryan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the group were briefed about the risks before the trip.

 

“We discussed the legal implications of doing a protest in Russia. I remember distinctly piracy being mentioned and the laughter that followed,” he said.

 

“I can’t stress what a shock it was to everyone. We all thought that we would get a rap on the wrists and then be sent away, so to find ourselves facing 10 to 15 years was a very difficult time.”

 

Bryan said Greenpeace should consider the increased political pressure that would apply on future protests relating to oil.

 

He said: “I think there has to be some honest discussion, definitely, and I would love to be part of the discussion with Greenpeace about what happens in future. This was my first trip, so it was a baptism of fire.

 

“But I do think there needs to be some consideration if the changing landscape politically on the global scale … The desire for oil is getting greater and as that happens the political pressure put on people like myself and Greenpeace will increase. So, I hope there are some frank discussions.”

 

Sauven told the programme: “People were given a proper briefing and all the potential issues that could arise were in that briefing.”

 

Asked if the organisation would repeat the protest, Sauven said: “We have got no plans to do that. But … when half the oil spills that happen in the world happen in Russia, should we be silenced? Should we be intimidated? Should journalists not go and report that and expose what’s going on?

 

“This was an entirely peaceful process. We have been going to the Russian arctic for nearly three decades. We’ve been up there campaigning against Russian whaling, we’ve been up there actually in far more challenging situations, even campaigning against Russian nuclear testing when we ran a campaign to get a ban on nuclear testing around the world – a ban that we won, and a ban on whaling that we won.

 

“I hope that we can also protect the Arctic but we are not going to do that if we are intimidated or silent.”

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