Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rabies and Politics

My little sister, who's a wildlife biologist, has spent the summer and fall in southwestern Ontario working on a MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources) project which entails live-trapping as many raccoons, skunks, possums and anything else that they can get - vaccinating them against rabies - and then releasing them back into the wild.

So I think my sis places the traps in high wildlife traffic areas.

She catches raccoons... and whatever else ends up in the traps (what is that black one?)... she carries them in their cages against her hip back to the truck...

she vaccinates them, and then she lets them go! Fun way to spend your summer, eh?

There's no cycling stuff today, but here's some U.S. and Canadian politics -

Bob Woodward has a new book called State of Denial: Bush at War Part III. There's a lengthy excerpt of it in the most recent Newsweek, and the chunk in Newsweek is all about Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary. I'll resist saying what I'd like to say about Rumsfeld, and instead just give you this great quote.
Rumsfeld wrote a memo in May 2006 titled "Illustrative New 21st Century Institutions and Approaches." Apparently he felt the need to defend himself, and the Bush administration, from charges of incompetence (largely re. the handling of the war in Iraq). So he writes, in this memo "The charge of incompetence against the U.S. government should be easy to rebut if the American people understand the extent to which the current system of government makes competence next to impossible."

Hmm... so the U.S. system of government, and "competent governance," are mutually exclusive? Thanks for the heads-up.

In Canada - where our economy is based on the Alberta oil sands and the Ontario auto industry - and where we believe that climate change and environmental catastrophe only happens somewhere else to somebody else, there was big news recently about Rona Ambrose, our Minister of the Environment, calling all the auto-industry head honchos in to talk about reducing auto-emissions. Wow! The Conservative Government (of all parties - their political base is in Alberta with the oil cowboys) is going to set standards for reducing auto emissions! We're going to start following California and Sweden and help save the planet?
No, not really.
In the Toronto Star yesterday, in a story titled -
Car emission curbs planned
- there's a quote from Jim Miller, the executive vice-president of Honda. "Everyone walked out in a fairly upbeat mood. Nothing of substance was discussed."
Wow, she really got tough with those guys, eh?

The above is especially ironic when you look at the Conservative Party's attitude towards the Kyoto Accord. Although Canada has signed the Kyoto Accord, the Conservatives believe that meeting our greenhouse gas targets under the Accord would ruin our economy, and so they're trying to backpedal away from the Accord.
A Liberal MP out of Quebec named Pablo Rodriguez is trying to force the Conservatives to honour Kyoto, by sponsoring Bill C-288 - An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. On Oct. 4 the bill passed its second reading - Liberals, Bloc Quebecois and NDP joining for 152 votes in favour of the bill, with 115 Conservatives voting against it. The bill will now move to committe hearings before it goes for its third reading, and then moves over to the Senate for approval.

Here are two quick things from the Globe & Mail on this topic:
Kyoto linked to soaring power bills

Along with other Conservative MPs, Ms. Ambrose attacked the private member's bill from Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez that would force the government to meets its 2008-2012 Kyoto targets. “Electricity prices in British Columbia would increase by 40 per cent, electricity prices in Ontario would increase by 65 per cent, natural gases prices would increase by over 300 per cent in Alberta and over 130 per cent in Ontario. These are the kind of impacts of enforcing the [Kyoto] target on Canada's industry today which is exactly what [Mr. Rodriguez's bill] entails,” she said, as opposition MPs groaned dismissively.

No need for a Kyoto debate: It's over
Jeffrey Simpson

The reduction of about 65 per cent [of greenhouse gas emissions] by the early part of the 2020s is supposed to occur while energy use continues to rise and more and more oil is produced from the tar sands.

Just yesterday, EnCana and ConocoPhillips of Houston announced plans to spend $10.7-billion (U.S.) to produce and upgrade 400,000 barrels a day of raw oil sands crude by 2015.

A barrel of oil from bitumen produces about two to three times the carbon from conventionally pumped oil. By 2020, 80 per cent of Canada's oil will come from the tar sands. If nothing is done to radically change the capturing of carbon from producing all that oil, Canada's greenhouse gases will rise, and rise sharply. And what does Ms. Ambrose propose to do about that?

How Canada, or more precisely Alberta with its constitutional control of natural resources, is developing oil sands is environmentally crazy: using relatively clean natural gas to produce heat that allows the oil to be extracted from the sand. We are using a clean fuel to produce a dirtier one.

So the debate over whether Canada will meet its Kyoto commitments is a false one, because it's over. Those targets will not -- cannot -- be met.

Every sign points to this country's emissions continuing to rise for years, short of an upsurge in public concern and the application of sustained political will.


Darren J said...

I feel like the Ontario liberals are handling this all wrong. They're starting to cry that the feds (conservatives!) will hurt the ontario auto industry, but there's no reason to think that emission reduction will reduce the number of cars people buy. Are Californians walking everywhere?

Leeyann said...

I feel honoured to have made it on the blog. The black one is a mink, and I have the record this year for the most caught in a season - I caught 7.

Curt said...

I wonder if that bill will pass the Senate? I hope so. Maybe you guys could set a good example for us? I only wish it worked like that.

OPEC has announced plans in the near future to slash production and go for a price rebound. So it's not official yet, but if it happens the boys in Alberta are gonna be mighty happy about that. You may know about the pipeline that was built from Athabasca out to the Pacific so that oil could be shipped easily to China. Boy, did D.C. throw a fit about that.

Cool raccoon pictures.

Jill said...

Leeyann is brave. Raccoons are vicious.

BikeTalk said...

I worked at a vet hospital when I was in middle school, mostly pinning dogs while they got shots, and had to get the rabies series and man, it was zero fun. I mean, usually when I get jabbed with needles in my stomach I really enjoy it, but for some reason that time...

Chris said...

I thought the black animal was a mink!

I suppose it sounds naive, but I think that your little sister has a pretty good deal-lots of fresh air, getting to see the animals, fresh air...I think you're a little crazy to do a two-hour commute to work, but in a good way. I'd actually love to ride a bike, but having having had three bikes stolen either in Boston or SF, I kind of gave up on the whole enterprise