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2012-12-17  |  John Bennett

By John Bennett

This time last year I told you about a storm gathering here in Ottawa that threatened to blow Sierra Club and other environmental groups out of existence. At the time I asked you to consider making a donation as it may be the last time you could do so and receive a tax receipt. I would have forgiven you for thinking I was overstating the seriousness of the situation at the time. Unfortunately, much of what I predicted came to pass in 2012.

You know all about Joe Oliver and Peter Kent calling us money-laundering radicals and anti-Canadian puppets of foreign billionaire socialists. You certainly know about the Omnibus Bills that gutted federal environmental protection – a regulatory and legal system that took 40...

2012-11-22  |  John Bennett

By John Bennett

The Prime Minister took yet another unusual step this week. Instead of wishing both teams “good luck” in this week’s Grey Cup game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders, he had to -- in Harper Fashion™ -- choose sides. He chose not to deliver a neutral statement like “may the best team win”, or express hope it’ll be “a good game for the fans”. Instead, he expressed his strong desire to see Calgary beat Toronto.

Pierre Trudeau once turned the Parliament lawn into his own personal practice field just so he could prepare to deliver the Grey Cup’s ceremonial kick-off. But he knew better than to cross that sensitive line and publicly favor one part of the country over another in the big game.

On the surface this isn’t a big departure for the PM. But isn’t it, after all, irrelevant who wins or loses? Isn’t it supposed to be about the fans -- and more...

2012-11-14  |  John Bennett

By John Bennett

Last week we stepped in it. Rather big. We ran an appreciation promotion after a long-time supporter who operates an outdoor equipment store donated a very expensive made-in-Canada jacket. We were thrilled that we’d be able to give it away to a supporter – a way of saying thank you.

Sierra Club Canada is a not an animal rights organization; we take no position on hunting and trapping. We are a conservation organization and, for strategic reasons, we must work with a broad range of organizations. Sometimes we even work with hunters -- including Canada’s Aboriginal peoples -- in order to achieve our goal of protecting the environment.

We sent out the promotion email and immediately received a storm of protest (apparently I'm good at arousing people, but not always in a good way). The jacket contained goose feathers and a fur collar, we were angrily told. I should have put more thought into this...

2012-11-14  |  Paul Beckwith

By Paul Beckwith (with input from Matthew Ladd)

A few days ago in Ottawa, the temperature reached 21oC. The old record was 18oC and the average high for this time of year is 5oC. This is not a local Ottawa effect or a one-shot anomaly. Weather records that have stood the test of time for over 100 years are dropping like flies everywhere. What is causing this?

Canada’s main meteorological office generates its weather forecasts by running complex analogical weather prediction models (commonly referred to as the “analog method”). In the analog method the existing state of the atmosphere in a particular region is determined, and then compared against a massive database of atmospheric states for the same time and region in previous years. The closest matches of the atmospheric states are identified, and the forecast is basically obtained by examining how those prior systems evolved over time.

...

2012-10-29  |  Paul Beckwith

Melting Arctic sea ice aims Frankenstorm Sandy directly at the Big Apple

By Paul Beckwith

Frankenstorm Sandy is a scary beast. A hybridization between a tropical hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone, her behavior is not natural at all. Moving northward off the east coast, Sandy is turning left toward land instead of right toward the sea. Sandy’s being blocked from moving north by a high pressure area of enormous magnitude, and being sucked west by a low pressure region of very exceptional (and highly unusual) strength. Thus the designation “Frankenstorm”.

Because the Earth rotates on its axis, circulating air deflects toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere and to the right in the Northern Hemisphere. This deflection is called the...

 
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