Hello friend, I’ll keep this blog alive as an archive of past projects, presentations, discoveries and the like, but I’ve moved my updates over to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you there!
Back in January I delivered a short presentation on the importance of encouraging “Risky Play” at PechaKucha Night Vancouver and Zack Embree was kind enough to record it from the audience. Thanks, Zack!
Last week I had the pleasure of attending Social Change Institute, an annual gathering of people “who work to strengthen capacity, collaborations, and success of the social change sector.”
This was my second SCI, but it was Heather Bauer‘s first. In her day job, Heather (@hb2cents) works for British Columbia’s provincial government as a senior climate action analyst. But as conference participants found out when talent night rolled around, she also has a gift. Damn, she can sing.
Heather performed her original song, ”In The Event of an Emergency,” one evening before an audience of gobsmacked conference participants. The piece is, in effect, a sultry shout-out to those who fight climate disruption. Here it is, as Heather says, ”nearly naked: acoustic with a tiny bit of reverb and recorded in one shot with no editing.”
For several months, through my work at Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, I have been compiling Clean Energy Review, a weekly digest of 10 clean energy transition updates from across Canada and around the world. I am going to attempt to cross-post this digest here each week.
This week, a major accounting and consulting firm goes deep, the Canada Green Building Council extends a welcome hand to charities, and Mark Jaccard gives Alberta an earful over its carbon pricing policy.
1. A KPMG TREASURE TROVE: In a comprehensive new report, the consulting firmdeclared that this will be a busy year for clean energy investors and developers. We learned quite a bit reading this. So will you.
2. IT PAYS TO CUT CO2: The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions askedClimateSmart to assess the impacts of carbon-cutting measures undertaken by nearly a dozen B.C. companies. No surprise: They slashed costs and rapidly recouped investments.
3. TORONTO TAKES KYOTO: Ottawa pulled out of the Kyoto Accord last year, having once pronounced the target “impossible.” We presume nobody told the City of Toronto, which just cut more than twice as much carbon as Kyoto required.
4. ALBERTA RIPE FOR WIND: Canada could have as much as 22,500 megawatts of installed wind capacity by 2021, with Ontario leading the pack. Alberta is poised to steal the second-place spot from Quebec, a new forecast concluded.
6. ENERGY-ENVIRO CROSS-BORDER COMBO: Canadians and Americans think their respective governments should combine environmental and energy departments, star pollster Nik Nanos said, flagging potential for an “energy strategy for the continent.”
7. BIOENERGY SUCCESS OUT WEST: The B.C. Bioenergy Network awarded itselftop marks for creating revenue and jobs. Since 2008, some $16.6 million of project funding has leveraged about $123.5 million worth of clean investments in the province.
8. A NEW ENERGY FUTURE FOR CANADA: The Conference Board of Canada released “Energy Futures for Canada” a set of four plausible energy futures in 2050. Scenario two, aka Green Machine, bears closest resemblance to our New Energy Vision for Canada.
9. RETURN OF THE ACCIDENTAL ACTIVIST: Economist Marc Jaccard roastedAlberta’s carbon-pricing regime: “One way for climate policy to fail is by having none. Another is to have… policy that looks to have more effect than it actually does.”Caution: Contains ultra-wonky content.
10. GREEN FOR ALL: The Canada Green Building Council said it would make affordable green buildings even more so by waiving the LEED certification and registration fees that it normally charges charitable projects.
If you would like to like to subscribe to Clean Energy Review, please do so here.
Contemporary artist Steve Miller sent me the work he created out of my 2008 book, Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th a Billionth of the Planet. It’s called “Library Branch.” Here’s a look between the covers.
The other day, I received an email that blew my mind. It was from New York contemporary artist Steve Miller, and it concerned my 2008 book Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th of a Billionth of the Planet.
“Part of my practice is silk-screening into other books,” Miller wrote. “I recently completed a transformation of Almost Green. There are some sample pages below. I can assure you that in this effort you are in good company such as the Nobel Laureates Al Gore and James Watson.”
And then this, with these captions:
Amazing, right? It gets better: “When I make these books I silk screen print on every page of the book, and this can take a year to do. In your case two years.”
Wait. Two years?
As it turns out, for the past 24 months, while I’ve been going about my life, on the other side of the continent, Steve has been quietly transforming my work into something truly spectacular. His email explained that he’s done similar treatments with Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance and James Watson’s The Double Helix.
I called Steve up to thank him for the tremendous honor, and ask a few questions, starting with, why me? Why this?
“You know The Strand bookshop? I came across your book there one day,” Miller said. “Your book caught my attention because I liked the premise, this idea of how its not easy being green, it takes a conscious effort, and its a dialogue that we aspire to, but getting down to it is another thing. I knew I had a lot of the imagery that could go with that, and so I said, ‘this works for me.’”
Miller called the transformations “absurdist exercises that I do, that are completely financially futile.”
This also describes the Eco-Shed I built in my front yard, the writing studio that became an obsession and a curse—the building that is at the heart of Almost Green.
My book “embodies the dialogue we are all a part of , the contractions, the impossibility of it, the need to do it,” said Miller. “I hope that is implied in this object.”
“It is about doing something that doesn’t make any sense, it embodies all the absurdity of everyday reality.”
Miller is an accomplished artist. He has held 35 solo shows, all over the world. Currently, he is showing in a traveling museum show in Mexico and his next solo show opens January 9th in Bern, Switzerland. In August 2013, he will have a solo museum show at the National Academy Of Sciences in Washington, DC. That work is about a collaboration with the 2003 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Rod McKinnon.
Miller does not yet have a name for this new work, but he is shipping it to me to check out first-hand, and sign, before sending back.
I can’t wait to see it.
Postscript, January 24 2013:
I don’t have the book yet, but Steve has sent along two additional images, including the dust jacket.
Watch “Climate of Doubt,” a fascinating PBS Frontline documentary.
How would you spend $125 million to make your community stronger, healthier, and more prosperous and liveable? That’s the question the new Better Future Fund project asks.
The project is a collaboration between Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada (where I work), the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, and the David Suzuki Foundation. It’s an experiment to engage British Columbians on the carbon tax review. It’s based on the idea that British Columbia’s carbon tax is a good policy that is working as designed — it is starting to reduce fossil fuel use in the province. But it could be made stronger.
How so? As the policy is currently designed, so-called “process” and “fugitive” emissions are not subject to the carbon tax. This is climate pollution that is leaked or released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels like natural gas are processed and transported, or as a byproduct of certain industrial processes.
If industry took responsibility for these emissions and paid the carbon tax on them, the province would have another $125 million in public coffers. Local B.C. communities could theoretically access these funds to secure a stronger future. Bike lanes? Neighbourhood heating systems? Energy retrofits for homes and schools? You name it.
Our team calls this hypothetical “green fund” the Better Future Fund.
So how about it? How would you invest $125 million? Swing on over to the site, it uses a cool SayZu word cloud to display all of the suggestions for how the money that is currently left on the table might best be invested to fight climate change and help secure a better future for British Columbians.
And ps while you’re there, be sure to use the form provided to send a quick email to the finance minister. He wants to know what you think of the carbon tax. He needs to hear from those who support the policy before August 31, when the current review of the policy, now underway, wraps up.
Well worth seven minutes of your time: Ivan Thompson of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation appeared on CBC’s As It Happens last night to respond to ongoing misinformation about the role of charities in civil society, and why U.S. foundations are supporting Canadian conservation work.
Here is the link. The interview with Thompson begins at about 8:25. You may need to enable pop-ups to make it work.
Here’s a sample:
Jeff Douglas: Why do you think the government is focusing so much attention on environmental charities?
Ivan Thompson: “It is hard not to draw some conclusions when you look at the behaviour and background of oil industry front groups like Ethical Oil and those who echo their assertions….”
“The focus on international donations to environmental groups appears to be a diversionary tactic to silence voices that question key development decisions. In particular, decisions like, is it in the best interests of Canada to have supertankers throughout the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest? Pipelines through some of the world’s last functioning wild salmon watersheds? Or the degree to which our economy becomes more dependent on the oil industry that is influenced heavily by foreign interests, such as the Chinese government. These are legitimate questions and it appears that the interest appears to be in silencing voices that are trying to raise them.”
“The real casualty here, is the capacity of Canadians to have a say in how their natural resources are developed for the benefit of future generations.”
“The truth is, Charities can provide more than band-aids. They want to help solve the problems. Research, education, dealing with crises are important functions of charities, no question, but ultimately these groups want to see their efforts work their way into good public policy so the crises can be avoided in the first place.”
I reached out to my network the other day, seeking suggestions for interesting non-fiction. The results appear below, with some minor curating from me. The ink is still drying on some of these titles, while others have been around for some time. (One book is almost 70!)
It looks like a solid list of interesting and eclectic stuff, so I thought I’d share it here. Thanks for all the recos, friends, and feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve read something lately that isn’t here, but that you feel needs to be.