Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Environment

Dizzying weather extremes a new fact of life for Canadians, experts say

Published

5 minute read

As Ottawa limps across the finish line of its snowiest January on record, cherry blossoms are blooming at the legislature in coastal Victoria, B.C.

Millions of Canadians were hiding out this week under extreme cold warnings stretching across the map, even as some East Coast cities enjoyed moderate temperatures.

According to experts, these co-existing extremes have been predicted for some time — and they’re likely here to stay.

“This is the kind of thing people have been predicting for years,” said Konrad Gajewski, a professor of geography and environment at the University of Ottawa.

“This kind of pattern of more alternation, more extremes, both in terms of warm and cold conditions is what we’re expecting for the future.”

Central Canada’s cold snap comes from the oscillating upper wind patterns of the jet stream, pushing the cold air down from the north with the polar vortex.

At the same time, the large “waves” in the wind patterns push some warm air north, explaining comparatively warm temperatures on the coasts.

The exact role climate change plays in the pattern’s changes is an ongoing discussion in the scientific community, but a common belief says it’s the result of a warming Arctic.

“It’s thought that as the Arctic warms up because the ice is melting back, we’re going to have more of a situation where you have what we call ‘waviness’ in the polar vortex,” Gajewski said.

This “waviness” in the upper wind’s pattern could be carrying cold further and further south into south and central Canada, and pushing warm air further north along the coast.

Atmospheric physics professor Kent Moore at the University of Toronto says the striking weather patterns show how the world’s climate system is intimately coupled, and how changes in the coldest and warmest regions can be felt in central Canadian cities.

As an example, Moore pointed to the theory that the waves in upper wind patterns are moving slower, with larger amplitudes as a possible result of warming in the Arctic.

“The largest changes in the climate are occurring in the Arctic and some would say, ‘Who cares? I live in mid-latitudes, why should I care about that stuff?'” Moore said.

“The Earth is kind of a small place and so things that happen in the Arctic don’t stay in the Arctic.”

This interconnectedness of the world’s climate system also explains the impacts from El Nino systems on Canada, Moore said.

David Atkinson, a climate professor at the University of Victoria, said the jet stream’s behaviour could also make the increasingly frequent, intense storms on the East Coast gain even more strength.

“If the air is kind of moving apart, it allows surface air to rise more easily,” Atkinson said. “That helps a storm to work, storms depend on rising air.”

Gajewski said the arrival of long-predicted weather patterns means it’s time for all levels of government to seriously plan for changes that are already hitting Canada in the form of sweltering heat waves in the summer and record cold in the winter.

This could mean more snow-clearing and flood response on the municipal level and global warming mitigation efforts across the board.

In Ottawa, Gajewski pointed to some ongoing local efforts like more bicycle lanes and efforts to plow some of them in the winter.

“A lot of it would just be common sense. It’s going to get hotter in the summers and we’re going to get perhaps more snow, more rain, more extreme conditions, more floods,” Gajewski said. 

“Cities have to be planned to deal with that kind of thing.”

For cities like Ottawa, which just completed its twelfth straight day of round-the-clock plowing, people shouldn’t plan to retire their shovels any time soon.  

“We’re going to have to shovel more often.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

Follow Author

Dan McTeague

COP in Focus – Part 5 – Trudeau Commits to Shutting Down Canada, While Driving a Jaguar

Published on

#Just out of his electric Jaguar (because nothing says “I’m staying in touch with the average person” like a Jaguar), Justin Trudeau took the stage at the Conference of the Parties (COP26) meeting in Glasgow yesterday.

Trudeau’s message in Glasgow:  his extreme green agenda is about to get, well, more extreme.

Here are the “highlights”:

– a carbon tax set to reach 170 dollars a ton in less than a decade. (Over four times its current price);

– a second carbon tax called the “Clean Fuel Standard”, or CFS, that he sneaked by with little notice as a regulation;

– a tax on methane that is, in effect, a third carbon tax for anyone using natural gas (and this represents more than a third of our energy in Canada);

– billions in handouts to cities to buy electric buses that then don’t work well in the Canadian winter (and in some cases need polluting diesel generators to be heated);

– billions to the provinces for electric vehicle charging station subsidies so that people wealthy enough to buy an electric car can find a place to charge it;

– billions in handouts to an international fund to help other countries reduce their emissions with the same;

And that’s not all, even at a time when the country is massively in debt and more so every day, when the cost of living is rising dramatically and banks are now signaling interest rate rises are coming, when Canadians are trying to come out of over a year and a half of unprecedented lockdowns and start society up again……..

Now the Prime Minister says Canada will put an absolute cap on oil and gas emissions, and lower that cap every year.

All these announcements might seem like mere noise to most of us. This is because we don’t appreciate the day-to-day implications – who has the time to figure out what all of this means? And it sounds good, doesn’t it? You know, because “green.” Because it’s 2015, um, no – because it’s 2021.

But Canadians need to know these latest installments of Trudeau’s green agenda have very real implications. And yesterday’s announcement should drive the point home.

If you don’t allow greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to rise, how do you build infrastructure projects? How do you grow your economy? How do you deliver oil and gas exports to nations that want them and can’t believe we won’t export them? How do you get our oil and gas – some of the most cleanly produced in the world – to places where people still heat with much dirtier, much less efficient, much less healthy wood and dung? The fact is you don’t.

Trudeau’s announcement is his most powerful signal yet that he will kill the Canadian economy to satisfy his ideological green agenda. Our lives are about to become significantly more expensive.

And this doesn’t have to happen.

But Trudeau is making it happen.

Will resource company CEOs finally stand-up?

Will all those executives bending over backwards to show how committed they are to being “green” finally defend the interests of their shareholders – all of us who have their stocks in our RSPs and pension funds – and say “enough is enough”? Will our energy executives start to express even the slightest interest in the hundreds of thousands of Canadians currently in their employ – people who will lose their jobs as a result of Trudeau’s policies?

Life is going to get even less affordable. But wow, that electric Jaguar is a nice-looking car isn’t it?

Dan McTeague | President, Canadians for Affordable Energy

dan_mcteague_headshot.jpg

An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions.

Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.

 

Continue Reading

Energy

Why Bad Climate Legislation Is Worse Than No Climate Legislation

Published on

From Michael Schellenberger

Moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin & Krysten Sinema Are Right to Oppose the Clean Energy Performance Program

Progressives are angry that moderate Democratic Senator Joe Machin has reportedly opposed the inclusion of climate-related legislation in President Joe Biden’s budget “This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, a Canadian political scientist who helped write the legislation. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality.”

But that’s not the reality. The “Clean Energy Performance Program” is not needed to meet climate goals, and might actually undermine them.

Consider Waxman-Markey. That’s the name of the “cap and trade” climate legislation that passed the House but failed in the Senate in 2010. It had a climate goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. Instead, the U.S. reduced its emissions by 22 percent.

Had cap and trade legislation passed in the Senate, emissions would have declined less than 22 percent, because Waxman-Markey so heavily subsidized coal and other fossil fuels. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, “the Environmental Protection Agency projects that even if the emissions limits go into effect, the U.S. would use more carbon-dioxide-heavy coal in 2020 than it did in 2005.”

The same thing would likely have been true for the Clean Energy Performance Program, which lock in natural gas. Consider France. According to the Commision de Regulation de L’Energie, €29 billion (US$33) billion was used to purchase wind and solar electricity in mainland France between 2009 and 2018. But the money spent on renewables did not lead to cleaner electricity. In fact, the carbon-intensity of French electricity increased.

After years of subsidies for solar and wind, France’s 2017 emissions of 68g/CO2 per kWh was higher than any year between 2012 and 2016. The reason? Record-breaking wind and solar production did not make up for falling nuclear energy output and higher natural gas consumption. And now, the high cost of renewable electricity is showing up in French household electricity bills.

Some pro-nuclear people supported the proposed Clean Energy Performance Program. They claimed it would have saved existing nuclear plants at risk of closure. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the closure of nuclear plants including Diablo Canyon in California, will result in nuclear energy in the U.S. declining by 17% by 2025. If the Program had passed, some pro-nuclear people believe, plants like Diablo Canyon could have been saved.

But the Clean Energy Performance Program would not have saved Diablo Canyon for the same reason it would not have saved Indian Point nuclear plant, which closed in New York, earlier this year: progressive Democratic politicians are forcing nuclear plants to close, and at a very high cost to ratepayers.

If the Clean Energy Performance Program had passed into law, Diablo Canyon’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, would simply have passed the $500 million to $1.5 billion penalty imposed by the Program onto ratepayers, along with the other billions in costs related to closing Diablo Canyon 40 years earlier than necessary. The same would have happened with Indian Point.

Where there is political support for saving nuclear plants, state legislators and governors save nuclear plants, as they did in Illinois a few weeks ago, and as they have done in Connecticut, New Jersey, and with up-state nuclear plants in New York. In other states, nuclear plants are protected from cheap natural gas by regulated electricity markets. And now, with natural gas prices rising dramatically, any nuclear plants at risk of closure for economic reasons are no longer at risk.

Share

What threatens the continued operation of nuclear power plants, and nuclear energy in general, is the continued subsidization of renewables, which the Clean Energy Performance Program would have put on steroids. Under the program, utilities would have received $18 for each megawatt-hour of zero-emissions energy it produces between 2023 to 2030, on top of the existing $25 per megawatt-hour subsidy for wind energy.

Under such a scenario, notes energy analyst Robert Bryce, a wind energy company “could earn $43 per megawatt-hour per year for each new megawatt-hour of wind energy it sells. That’s a staggering sum given that the wholesale price of electricity in New York last year was $33 per megawatt-hour. In Texas, the wholesale price of juice was $22 per MWh.”

Manchin is joined in his opposition to the Plan by moderate Democratic Arizona Senator, Krysten Sinema, and understandably so. The legislation would cost Arizona ratepayers nearly $120 billion in additional electricity costs, according to energy analysts Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling of the American Experiment. “This would result in a 45 percent increase in electricity prices by 2031, compared to 2019 rates,” they note.

As troubling, the Clean Energy Performance Program would increase dependence on solar panels made in China by incarcerated Uighyr Muslims living in concentration camps and against whom the Chinese government is committing “genocide,” according to the U.S. State Department. New research shows that China made solar panels cheaper through the use of forced labor, heavy government subsidies, and some of the dirtiest coal in the world. The Program would have done nothing to shift production of solar panels back to the U.S.

Nor would the legislation have done anything to internalize the high cost of solar panel waste disposal. Most solar panels become hazardous waste, and create dust from heavy metals including lead, as soon as they are removed from rooftops. A major study published in Harvard Business Review earlier this year found that, when the high cost of managing toxic solar panel waste is eventually accounted for, the true cost of solar electricity will rise four-fold.

As troubling, the continued expansion of weather-dependent renewables will increase electricity costs and blackouts across the United States, as they did in California and Texas. Those renewables-driven blackouts were likely on Senator Manchin’s mind when he made his decision to oppose the Clean Energy Performance Plan. He certainly knows about the problems of renewables in Texas and California, since I discussed them directly with Manchin when I testified before his committee earlier this year.

A better approach would be for Congress to seek nuclear-focused legislation to expand nuclear from its current 19% of U.S. electricity to 50% by 2050. It should take as a model the British government’s announcement yesterday that it would put nuclear energy at the center of its climate plans. Global energy shortages triggered by the lack of wind in Europe have led nations to realize that any efforts to decarbonize electricity grids without creating blackouts must center nuclear power, not weather-dependent solar and wind.

Environmental Progress and I met with British lawmakers in 2019 to advocate for a greater focus on nuclear. At the time, many British energy analysts, as well as ostensibly pro-nuclear climate activists, Mark Lynas and George Monbiot, were telling the public that their nation did not need more nuclear, as Britain could simply rely more on wind energy, and natural gas. Now, electricity prices are skyrocketing and factories are closing in Britain, due to a bad year for wind.

It was a strange experience to be alone in Britain, without support from supposedly pro-nuclear Britons, in urging lawmakers to build more nuclear plants, but I was similarly alone in many other parts of the world, and got on with the task. Happily, one year later, former Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Zion Lights joined me in advocating for nuclear, and quickly forced the government to agree to a nuclear build-out.

Today, in the U.S., there is a growing grassroots movement for nuclear energy, one which saved nuclear plants, twice, in Illinois, and other states, and is gearing up to save Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California. Doing so will require a new governor, since the current one, Gavin Newsom, made closing the plant a feature of his sales pitch to powerful environmental groups, including Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Fund which are, like Newsom himself, heavily funded by natural gas and renewable energy companies that stand to benefit from the Diablo’s destruction.

Leadership at the national level will need to come from Senators Manchin and Sinema. While a significant amount of electricity policy is determined by the states, the Senate can play a constructive role in maintaining the reliability, resiliency, affordability, I testified to Senator Manchin and other committee members. Senator Sinema is from Arizona, a state with the largest nuclear plant in the U.S., Palo Verde, and which is a model of how to make electricity both low in emissions, and in costs.

With the Clean Energy Performance Program now apparently dead, the Congress, led by Manchin and Sinema, should take policy action to not only keep operating the nuclear plants that have been critical to preventing power outages in recent years, but also expand them.

About Michael Shellenberger

Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,”Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress.

He is author of the best-selling new book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020), which has received strong praise from scientists and scholars. “This may be the most important book on the environment ever written,” wrote climate scientist Tom Wigley. “Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book,” says historian Richard Rhodes, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb. “Within its lively pages, Michael Shellenberger rescues with science and lived experience a subject drowning in misunderstanding and partisanship. His message is invigorating: if you have feared for the planet’s future, take heart.”

Additional Reading:

Why Biden’s Climate Agenda Is Falling Apart

Nuclear Plant Closures And Renewables Increase Electricity Prices & Unreliability, Testifies Michael Shellenberger to U.S. Senate

China Made Solar Cheap With Coal, Subsidies, And “Slave” Labor — Not Efficiency

Why Everything They Said About Solar Was Wrong

Continue Reading

Trending

X