Can Conservatives recover from being a laughingstock on climate change? Hmm

David Staples  •  Edmonton Journal
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‘It’s silly’: Director of Bigfoot movie thanks campaign by Alberta’s energy war room

Viewership of the animated movie spiked after the Alberta government targeted it

The director of a children’s movie about Bigfoot wants to thank the Alberta government’s energy centre for starting a “ludicrous” fight over the film.

The animated Bigfoot Family debuted on Netflix in February. About two weeks later, it had fallen off the top-10 list of most-viewed films, Ben Stassen told The Canadian Press.

But after the controversy earlier this month, “it went back up to number eight and stayed there until last Sunday,” Stassen, who also produced and wrote the movie, said with a laugh during an interview from his home in Brussels.

He added that the movie also made it on the top 10 most-viewed list for other streaming services, such as iTunes and Google Play.

“There were probably between 30 and 50 million people who saw the film on Netflix over the last four weeks,” Stassen said.

“I don’t know to what extent, but the controversy helped the film rather than hurt.

“Thank you for doing it.”

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Going green: Geothermal innovation in Alberta creating buzz

A piece of technology created in Alberta is pushing the boundaries of geothermal energy and drawing international attention.

The Calgary-based company Eavor Technologies has created a closed-loop geothermal system that touts itself as the world’s first scalable clean energy derived from the natural heat of the earth.“It’s a new type of geothermal, this closed-loop. It’s on-demand,” explained the company’s chief technology officer Matt Toews. “That’s been a challenge with [other clean energy like] wind and solar.”

The system is described as similar to a massive subsurface radiator, much like how a vehicle radiator circulates fluid in a closed-loop to remove heat from a gasoline engine. It does not use fracking or water and has no earthquake risk. The “loop” is a closed network of pipes that are installed below ground and cycle through a facility above it.

Eavor deploys the technology around the world but the technical team is based in Calgary. There is an operational project near Sylvan Lake, west of Red Deer.

Toews is a former petroleum engineer. He said the skillset required to dig into geothermal energy is one many Albertans already have.

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Mobilizing youth for systemic climate action

The lessons I learned from Michael E. Mann’s ‘The New Climate War’

As I read Dr. Michael E. Mann’s new book, The New Climate War, I was astounded by his accounts of climate denialism theories, political opposition to reasonable market-based climate solutions, and organized attacks of hypocrisy towards prominent climate scientists and spokespeople.

As a 17-year-old environmental activist, this was an eye-opening encounter to the polarization that has been manifesting between fossil fuel and corporate advocates and progressives for much longer than I have been alive.  

While Mann’s perspective is rooted in the American political battles, the climate wars are not lost on us in Canada.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada deeming carbon pricing as constitutional was controversial among political opponents. But as Mann explains, “There is nothing intrinsically divisive or partisan about [carbon pricing] … market mechanisms for dealing with pollution actually have their origins in the Republican Party.”

It is the other forces, such as fossil fuel interests and those behind the funding of troll campaigns who are using social media, as Mann writes, “to advance the cause of denial, deflection, doomism, and delay.”

Individual action is important, but if we get caught up in the latest environmental and conservation trends, we will not slow the global climatic effects of continued carbon emissions. 

Don’t become complacent

“We should all engage in climate-friendly individual action,” Mann concedes, “But don’t become complacent, thinking that your duty is done when you recycle your bottles or ride your bicycle to work.”

Strong policy leading to corporate accountability influences societal change, whereas lifestyle choices merely affect one individual. 

Talking with other people my age, I constantly hear, “I don’t know where to start.”

There are dozens of advocacy groups — many based here in Alberta — which can assist youth in their mission to lobby government, speak on policy, or bridge conversations between fossil fuel and renewable interests.

I represent the Climate Hub of Southern Alberta (CHSA), but regardless of personal affiliation, grassroots hubs and advocacy groups are working towards similar eco-goals. Find your people and invest in their efforts however possible.  

With local elections fast approaching, the next action that we can take is demanding a climate-responsive municipal government.

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Scientists uncover traces of climate history by cracking open narwhal tusks

Study shows concentrations of mercury rising as sea ice deteriorates

Want to see the impact of climate change? Crack open a narwhal tusk.

A team of researchers from Denmark, Canada, France and Greenland do exactly that in a new study, published March 10 in the journal Current Biology. The aim was to find outhow the animals have been affected by climate change over the past 50 years.

Male narwhal’s single, unicorn-like tusk is formed by dozens of layers of bone. Over the course of each year, a narwhal creates a new outer layer, preserving old bone layers beneath.

That means, like an ancient tree, cracking open a narwhal tusk reveals, in the authors’ words, “an invaluable archive of ecological information” across the animal’s 50-year lifespan, which scientists can use to deduce conclusions about their eating habits, migration and exposure to pollution.

This data makes it possible to “explore rarely captured fine-scale, individual-level responses to environmental change,” the study says, like how a particular narwhal reacted to greater areas of open ice in a warming Arctic.

But more than individual behaviour, the tusks have a “unique capacity to characterize” the cumulative impacts of climate change on Arctic animals, building on more common point-in-time data that doesn’t show how one bad year affects another.

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Japan’s cherry blossom ‘earliest peak since 812’

The cherry blossom season, Japan’s traditional sign of spring, has peaked at the earliest date since records began 1,200 years ago, research shows.

The 2021 season in the city of Kyoto peaked on 26 March, according to data collected by Osaka University.

Increasingly early flowerings in recent decades are likely to be as a result of climate change, scientists say.

The records from Kyoto go back to 812 AD in imperial court documents and diaries.

The city has experienced an unusually warm spring this year.

The previous record there was set in 1409, when the season reached its peak on 27 March.

The blossoms, “sakura” in Japanese, last only for a few days, but their appearance is tremendously important, both economically and culturally. Friends and family get together, and Instagram is awash with pictures.

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