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Canada Speeds Up Desertification With Tar Sands, Exits U.N. Convention Aimed At Addressing Problem

By Joe Romm on April 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

"Canada Speeds Up Desertification With Tar Sands, Exits U.N. Convention Aimed At Addressing Problem"

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The biggest threat that climate change poses to humanity is Dust-Bowlification. So naturally the first and only country to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is Canada, home of the Dust-Bowl-accelerating tar sands.

In 2011, the journal Nature asked me to write a Comment piece after they read one of my posts on prolonged drought and “Dust-Bowlification.” I argued that because of those threats, “Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.” (The photo is by Dorothea Lange, who was hired by the Farm Security Administration to help humanize the Dust Bowl.)

As the UNCCD explained in its response to the withdrawal last month:

The UNCCD is the only legally binding instrument that addresses desertification/land degradation and drought….

In June 2012, world leaders at Rio +20 declared land degradation and drought as some of the most serious global challenges impeding the sustainable development of all nations, especially developing countries…. They also reaffirmed their resolve, in accordance with the UNCCD, to take coordinated action nationally, regionally and internationally, to monitor, globally, land degradation and restore degraded lands in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.

Global warming is projected to worsen and prolong droughts over much of the world — and to Dust-Bowlify as much as one third of the Earth’s currently habited and arable land. Certainly all nations have a moral obligation to work to reduce desertification, especially one like Canada that working to speed up climate change — see “Keystone XL Pipeline = Tar Sands Expansion = Accelerated Climate Change.”

And in case you were wondering whether Canada actually bothered to offer a legitimate reason for exiting this international effort, try this:

Canada defended its decision to pull out of a United Nations convention that fights the spread of droughts just a month before a major gathering would have forced the country to confront scientific analysis on the effects of climate change….

Harper said Thursday that the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification is too bureaucratic. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called it a “talkfest” that does a disservice to taxpayers.

Canada is shocked, shocked that a U.N. Convention is a bureaucratic talk-fest. Seriously. What next, Canada withdraws from the Olympics because the games are “too competitive”?

This shameless move is yet one more reason for Obama to kill the Keystone pipeline.

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18 Responses to Canada Speeds Up Desertification With Tar Sands, Exits U.N. Convention Aimed At Addressing Problem

  1. Joan Savage says:

    Besides the Canadian government’s support of the tar sands and related pipelines, it seems likely that Canada largely hasn’t started worrying about its own version of Dust-Bowlification.

    In 2011-12, Canada exported 32,061 thousand tonnes of grains and flour. Although it experienced some of the drought and deluge that hit the US, the huge mid-continent farmland there is largely unscathed at this time.

    For more on Canadian grains and exports:
    http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/statistics-statistiques/cge-ecg/annual/exports-11-12-eng.pdf

    • Joan Savage says:

      That could change, as the Canadian Weather Office predicts above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the next several months for most of mid-Canada.

      http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/saisons/

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Joan, I have been trying to send you references for 2 days but they all went into moderation, and stayed there. Will post 1 by 1 below. Apologies to others for the irrelevance, ME

  2. Mimikatz says:

    How about a boycott of travel to Canada and of Canadian products? Do they think global warming will make them the world’s breadbasket? Are they planning to grow crops in the former forests devastated by bark beetles?

    Buy only Indian lentils!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Canada deserves boycotting for numerous reasons, but only because of Harper and his gang of Rightwing extremists.

  3. David Goldstein says:

    Joe, you are quite clearly wrong about the connection between desertification and climate change. (sarcasm off) I mean, after all, look at this New York Times headline: http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/climate-change-didnt-cause-the-big-drought/ “Climate Change Did Not Cause Big Drought”. Boom. There it is in the NYT. And, even though it quotes Dr. Trenberth’s challenges to the NOAA report, it STILL goes with that headline. Un-freakin-believable. Any hint of nuance is simply ignored…don’t know what else to say….it is beyond pathetic and WAY beyond irresponsible.

    • Sasparilla says:

      I bet Exxon, one of their big advertiser’s, was happy.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The entire global parasite class are behind denialism, because the trillions in fossil fuel assets underpin the entire capitalist house of cards. Things are getting pretty hairy, what with neo-liberal capitalism proving inherently unstable (as Hyam Minsky and others showed) not stable as the Mont Pellerin and Randian boofheads religiously asserted. Attack fossil fuels now, and the whole filthy edifice would implode up its own fundament, which, felicitously, is precisely what has to happen if we are to survive.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    It’s really sad to see Canada acting in a manner previously only reserved for the U.S..

    The XL needs to be killed and the oil needs to stop flowing through the existing two tar sands pipelines – for the good of everyone, most of all the Canadians whose government is rapidly turning into the political arm of the tar sands oil companies…

  5. Byron Williston says:

    Excellent post, Joe. Readers should be reminded that Harper’s decision to withdraw from the UNCCD is part of a larger pattern of actions all aimed at filtering out ideologically unwelcome facts. For example, the government recently withdrew funding from the Experimental Lakes Area in Northern Ontario. There was some first class research being done there on, among other things, the effects of climate change on fresh water resources. Harper has not been shy to let the world know that his economic agenda is based essentially on seeing Canada as a repository of natural resources. A 19th-century description of Canadians pegged us as “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” a self-image most of us thought we had gotten beyond.

    Anyway, if there’s a market for our tar you can bet on us to rip it out of the earth, environmental consequences be damned. Obviously with an agenda like this, the less information about environmental degradation available to the public, the better. Very sad to be a Canadian these days.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Harper is, in my opinion, simply a typical New Right fanatic. We in Australia have hordes of them, in the MSM, politics and ‘think-tanks’ that do no thinking, simply regurgitate moronic received wisdom. The Right operates on a simple Pavlovian stimulus and response arrangement where the Rightist, when faced, as now, by the total repudiation, by events, by science, by experience, of their ideological religion, reacts with a furious exacerbation of their all their pathological features. If science tells us that the climate is being destabilised and that mining tar is ecological suicide, then science must be silenced, while the facts are fitted to the policy, by some cadre of pliant pseudo-scientists and MSM accomplices. Not content with total dominance of the MSM, where the Right’s lies, idiocies, profanities against life and serial hate and fear-mongering tirades are growing ever more deranged, the Rightist in power must silence all dissent, because it outrages his narcissistic delusions of omniscience and omnipotence. After science has been throttled, they will turn on the web, because Thought Crime still flourishes there. I’d expect Canada to lead the way, but Australia won’t be far behind. We are entering a New Dark Age of obscurantism and willful ignorance, because that is precisely the Stygian milieu in which the forces of Darkness believe that they will prosper.

  6. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Joan S. Rene Thom, 1964. Catastrophe Theory. Basics are on Wikipedia, ME

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Joan S. F.E Emery, 1976. Causal path analysis, In Systems Thinking, 1981. Vol 1. Yields an open, transparent systemic overview of a correlation matrix of unlimited size, ME

  8. fj says:

    Nixing Keystone XL will send the right message loud and clear.

  9. Elizabeth Woodworth says:

    Check out this powerfully written article by Elizabeth May, Green Party leader for Canada:

    “Canada Goes Rogue,” http://elizabethmay.ca/in-the-news/island-tides/canada-goes-rogue/