This Isn’t Climate Change

Here’s the scene in Victoria Park today. Look at all that grass and those puddles to splash in. It’s terrific that spring is just around the corner so early in the year! Whee! Best of all, no one can say this abnormal weather proves climate change. You can’t use one unseasonably warm day to prove that something weird and scary with dire consequences for civilization is going on with the climate! That’s un-science! So even though it’s plus-two degrees Celsius — the ninth February day in a row temperatures have gone above zero — don’t worry, everything’s fine!

Oh, and if you’re a parent? there’s no need whatsoever to be concerned about the heatwaves, droughts, extreme storms, unstable economies, food shortages, water crises and mass extinctions in your kids’ futures. Those things won’t happen.

Everything’s fine! Keep voting for pipeline politicians and making fun of environmentalists! La la la la la!

Luke’s Last Stand???

Good day, Regina! it’s -7 right now (5:00) and it’ll get down to -9 tonight. The sun arose, so I am told, at 8:45 and will plop at 5:37. On this day in history the first Frisbees went on sale. I’ve always thought Wham-O toys (best name ever) bought the plans from the U.S. military, which developed the basic concept at its Roswell base and sold it, like other patents based on alien tech, to raise funds for its off-the-books expedition to the hollow earth’s interior. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments.

1. WOMEN SAVE THE WORLD Hey, how about those protests? Read about them in The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Globe And Mail, The Guardian, NowThe Stranger, The Guardian and The Guardian again. Also, check out CBC, SalonNPR and Slate (and cartoons!).

2. TRUMP DID NOT “DELETE” CLIMATE CHANGE AND LGBTQ RIGHTS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE PAGE It’s just a new page. The old page went here. That’s how it works. Come on guys, we’re supposed to be Team Fact. I mean, Trump’s obviously still a homophobic ass hair and climate science nitwit. (See? See how I stuck to facts there?)

Anyways, here’s a good New York Timesstory with a misleading headline.

3. I GUESS THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS DEAD But this might not be a bad thing. Investors’ rights clauses have made many a trade deal sketchy.

4. “ALTERNATIVE FACTS” Trump and his people are either lying or unable to separate reality from fantasy. Take your pick! Got proof their inauguration turnout was lower than either of Obama’s? They just say it’s the bigliest!

5. TRUMP REINSTATES RULE TO HURT WOMEN IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Evil. More here. Who said “women’s rights are human rights”, again? That person should’ve run for president. I bet Americans would’ve elected her.

6. TRUMP’S WHITE MALEOCRACY Trump’s cabinet is the least diverse since Reagan’s.

7. BORDER THUGS BLOCK TRUMP PROTESTERS Apparently some U.S. border agents are power-abusing ideologues who hate women. Assholes. Almost as bad: “Jeepers, we’d better not raise a fuss,” says Canada.

8. I HOPE ANNA MINARD IS OKAY She seems depressed for some reason. You should read this issue’s American Underpants.

9. NOW WHAT? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads a cabinet retreat to figure out how to handle President Fucko.

10. ALBERTA FARMERS DON’T LIKE CARBON TAXES File this one under “boo hoo”. Hearing farmers parrot oil industry propaganda (“wealth redistribution”, “tax grab”, “won’t help anything anyway”) while ignorantly dismissing the reality of climate change would test any reasonable person’s patience. I would think farmers would prefer a carbon tax to a hard cap on emissions, which could have them scrambling and spending a fortune to get into compliance. Carbon taxes are a market-based response to climate change, not a wealth redistribution scheme. If people want to whine, they should complain we didn’t start to address this 30 years ago. Jerks.


12. BEST OF FOOD AND DRINK VS. 2017 We’re working on our draft category list for this year’s pool which goes live in a week! Got a suggestion? Put it in the comments! Here’s last year’s Best Of Food for reference.

13. THE LAST JEDI That’s the just-released name of the next Star Wars movie. Why is the title in Sith red? If they off Luke, it’ll be my LAST Star Wars movie.

Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Robert J Sawyer, Author Of Hominids

robert-j-sawyer-author-photo-by-bernard-clark-colorThe big announcement came this weekend that over 190 nations had signed on to an agreement in Paris to move their economies in the general direction of away from fossil fuels. It’s being hailed as historic.

All nations signing on to the Paris Agreement, rich or poor, have committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with the overall goal being to limit global warming to well below 2° Celsius. Included in the document is even an aspirational target of 1.5°C.

Yay, team. But there’s still no popping of corks around the Dechene household. I’ve yet to get over the betrayal of the Kyoto Accord. And while world leaders were forging this climate deal, their trade ministers and business-development minions continue to toil away at a series of trade deals like the TPP and CETA that may make any international program to curb carbon emissions completely moot

As I said in the comments to another post (on a completely different topic), pessimism is my operating system. And that’s especially true where international climate change treaties are concerned. I see no reason to update to the new optimism OS. It’s barely out of beta.

For now, I’m going to wait and see what the Koch Brothers’ countermove is.

Thing is, I really, REALLY hope the world got it right this time. The alternative — runaway global warming — is just too awful to contemplate.

But contemplate we did. For the current Prairie Dog, we contacted three Canadian science fiction writers and asked them what our planet may face if these international deals continue to fail. They had a lot of very sobering things to say on the subject. So much I couldn’t fit everything into the article. So I’m posting longer versions of those interviews here.

This is the third and final interview in the series. It’s with Hugo and Nebula award winning author Robert J Sawyer who’s 23rd novel, Quantum Night, is coming out in March. It’s set largely in Saskatoon, in and around the Canadian Light Source. 

PRAIRIE DOG: What happens to the planet and our society if these climate summits keep failing and we don’t find a way to limit global warming?

ROBERT J SAWYER: My fervent hope is, just like any group of unruly teenagers who have deadlines months in advance for school assignments, they get their homework done at the last possible moment. Of course, there are those who think we’ve passed the last possible moment to contain it to under two degrees. I am hoping that finally all of the time wasting will come to an end.

So I don’t want to be painted as the guy who says, “We’re doomed and here is what it’s like.” 

That said, if we do drop the ball across the globe and we do face two degrees or more celsius of change, it’s going to be a completely different world.

Continue reading “Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Robert J Sawyer, Author Of Hominids

Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Nina Munteanu, Author Of Darwin’s Paradox

nina-nov2015To mark the end of the COP21 climate conference in Paris, I contacted three Canadian science fiction writers and asked them what might happen to the planet if we can’t reach an international deal on greenhouse gas reductions. The article that came out of those conversations is titled Apocalypse Hot and is in the Dec 10 Prairie Dog.

The writers I spoke with covered more stuff than I could cram into my meagre word allotment. So, I’m publishing longer versions of those interviews here.

This is the second interview in the series. It’s with Nina Munteanu, a limnologist, ecologist and author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction such as The Splintered Universe trilogy and The Last Summoner. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Her non-fiction reflection on the meaning of water, Water Is…, is coming out soon.

We spoke for over an hour and I didn’t transcribe the entire conversation. Here are some highlights…

NINA MUNTEANU on what climate change is doing to the water: We are 70per cent water, the planet is 70 per cent water. Water is all around us and we are part of the hydrological cycle whether we think of that way or not.

Climate change is only an aspect of what’s going on with water. We’re talking about over population, the misallocation and misuse of resources including water. The way water is being used, it’s traded on the stock exchange right now. it’s commodified. I had a thing about how many Americans drink bottled water versus whatever else. It’s huge. We’ve commodified water. We grab it from one watershed — there’s the word mining water — they grab it from one water shed and then they bottle it and then they send it off to somewhere else.

Continue reading “Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Nina Munteanu, Author Of Darwin’s Paradox

Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Julie Czerneda, Author Of A Play Of Shadow

Photo by Roger Czerneda Photography
Photo by Roger Czerneda Photography

To mark the end of another global climate summit — the COP21 conference in Paris — I contacted three Canadian science fiction writers and asked them what they thought were some plausible scenarios for the planet if we fail to solve our carbon problem. The article that came out of those conversations is titled Apocalypse Hot and appears in the Dec 10 Prairie Dog.

The writers I spoke with covered a lot of ground but I only had space in the paper to use a few short quotes. So, I’m publishing longer versions of the interviews here on Dog Blog.

First up is Julie Czerneda. She is the author of the novel, This Gulf Of Time And Stars. And she is also the author of A Play Of Shadow, which won the Aurora Award for Best Novel shortly after I interviewed her. Czerneda did graduate studies in biology at the University of Saskatchewan and taught biology at the University of Waterloo. 

PRAIRIE DOG: Many climate scientists and science writers who cover global warming argue that the only way we can hope to keep to 2°C of warming — if that’s even possible any more — is through a major, coordinated international effort. And yet the summits we’ve held on global warming have either failed outright or have come to weak conclusions. Many of those same scientists and writers argue that COP21 in Paris is our last chance to get this right. From your position as a science fiction writer, what do you see happening to the planet and our society if we keep failing at these international summits?

JULIE CZERNEDA: The landscape around us will change. We will have no say in that change. We will have different living things. We will have us, I don’t want to dwell on the failure of food crops, but what we grow and what we eat will have to change. There won’t be the vast prairie landscapes, there won’t be the fruit belts and areas that grow rice. Areas will be diminished or flooded. We’ll have to make shifts to deal with food shortages and changing diets. Our kids may not be able to afford the kinds of things we do now which is having lots of cattle. A good steak may be something we can’t afford in the future.

Continue reading “Sci-Fi Writers Discuss Climate Catastrophe: Julie Czerneda, Author Of A Play Of Shadow

Watch The Skies Regina

An Alien Get-togetherThe aliens known as the Second Conclave gather after the game finished in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The aliens succeeded in their goal of creating mass mayhem in the world ultimately ending in nuclear war between the nations. (Photo by Megan Roth)
An Alien Get-Together The aliens known as the Second Conclave gather after the game finished. The aliens succeeded in their goal of creating mass mayhem in the world. (Photo by Megan Roth)

On Saturday April 21, 2015 the Queen City was subject to aliens known as The Second Conclave invading the city.

Aliens, presumably from Mars, came to Earth in what appeared at the time to be in the name of peace.

If you missed out on the spectacle, you are in luck! We at Prairie Dog were lucky enough to be on the scene the entire time, and we recorded everything that went on. Lucky you!

The leaders of the worlds and the United Nations were tasked with figuring out how best to deal with the discovery of extraterrestrial life here on Earth.

The day was full of crazy happenings. Everything from proclaiming aliens are not real, even with clear evidence, to threats of war, nuclear war between the world’s nations and even an attempt to blow up Mars.

Waiting and Watching Team China taking a break between all of the chaos of the day in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015.The nation of China held fans and spoke largely in fortunes from fortunes cookies. (Photo by Megan Roth)
Waiting and Watching Team China taking a break between all of the chaos of the day.The nation of China held fans and spoke largely in fortunes from fortunes cookies. (Photo by Megan Roth)

Players were strongly encouraged to dress up to increase their enjoyment as well as increase the overall experience of the game. As you would expect many took this prompt to heart and wore some crazy things, looking at you aliens.

Also to be expected were the different costumes of the nations. Some were tact, if drab. Many chose to wear the dull grey suit of a politician. Some expressed their nation through props.

The Russian team drank vodka, the Chinese team spoke in fortunes found in fortune cookies while waving paper fans, and the U.K. sounded like Australians making fun of the British.

One thing can be said about each player in the game; they were each very committed to the game and their character.

 Security Council A meeting of the U.N.'s security council at the Artful Dodger in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The security council's job was to assess global issues and crisis and decide what to do in order to make the world safer for everyone. (Photo by Megan Roth)
Security Council A meeting of the U.N.’s security council. The security council’s job was to assess global issues and crisis and decide what to do about the aliens. (Photo by Megan Roth)

This was the very first game of this caliber, and the first ever mega-game played in Saskatchewan.

Watch the Skies was a mega-game put on by Sask Games as the kick-off event for Play With Your Food 2015.

By the end of the game it was estimated roughly $40,000 had been raised for Play with Your Food 2015.

There was a registration fee of $25 to play in Saturday’s game, though all proceeds, minus production costs, were donated to Souls Harbour.

Aliens Invade Regina UPDATED

Prairie Dog has been tipped off to an alien invasion happening right here in Regina! Reports are currently sketchy but we will try our best to give the most accurate up to the minute news of this crisis.

The U.N will be meeting to discuss how the world will be dealing with this historic event.

Follow Megan Roth on twitter @MaygenRoth as she gives a blow by blow of events as they happen. 

UPDATE! The aliens have made contact! They claim to have come in peace. However one of their own was captured upon arrival to Earth. Could this be the start of intergalactic war?!

UPDATE 2! The aliens have made contact again! We now know they are called the Second Conclave and they seem to be very concerned with the earth’s wellbeing particularly in impoverish places such as Africa and South America. The aliens have even been working with some nations,but won’t say which.

The biggest news to come from this broadcast is the threat of war and annihilation. If the nations and governments of the world do not cooperate the aliens are willing and able to destroy the world.

UPDATE 3!  Officials have a huge gives! They are giving peace a chance. How? By ceasing all further military activity. The Prime Minister of India hope in the future the world would see an intergalactic federation of the worlds.

Peace has officially taken hold across the world. The aliens appear to have what they wanted.

UPDATE 4! The aliens have taken over the airwaves after refusing an interview with the GNN. The missive directed at the world leaders stated that they are happy with the resolve in conflict. However they were attacked and will be seeking retrebuation.

The aliens claim no one other than those who attacked them will be harmed. Can we trust their word? We will have to wait and see.

UPDATE 5! World peace was short lived as the world is now at nuclear war. Russia and the U.S are no more, the countries have been wiped from the map. Surprisingly France is taking responsibility.

Before Russia was hit they retaliated, taking aim at an alien base on Mars!

Watch the Skies is an all day role playing event happening at the Artful Dodger. All proceeds from today go to Souls Barbour Souls Harbour.

Two T-Shirts In January

T-shirt in January
I’M OUTSIDE IN JANUARY ONLY WEARING TWO T-SHIRTS AND I’M NOT COLD This weather is not normal. Also, I have a banana.

Working late tonight, needed a coffee. Figured I’d just walk across the pedestrian mall to The Good Earth because I didn’t wanna trot all the way to Atlantis (though I like Atlantis coffee better).

But a funny thing happened on the way to the caffeine.

Since this is a 20-second walk and it’s a relatively not-cold day, I don’t put on my coat. When I get to Good Earth, though, it’s closed. So I can either head to The Second Cup in the Cornwall Centre, or walk a few blocks to Atlantis (and the best coffee).

Even though I’m only wearing two thin American Apparel 50-50 shirts and I’m outside in January, I settle on Atlantis.

It was a painless walk.

Yeah, I like food and beer, so I’m well padded and I’m sure that helps me stay warm. Still, there’s no way ANYONE should be able to be outdoors in January for any length of time without shivering their skin off.

I got my coffee and I walked back to the office. Stopped to talk to a pal on the O’Hanlon’s patio, then bumped into Beatty and asked him to take the picture in this blog post.

Total time outside in T-shirts: probably 25 minutes. Total frostbite: none.

Continue reading “Two T-Shirts In January”

Finally, A Fair Global Warming Debate

Once again, comedians are showing the mainstream media how to do their job…

As for Steve’s post about how a collapsing Antarctic ice sheet will lead to rapid sea level rise centuries from now… I guess we’ve nothing to worry about seeing as the Greenland ice sheet is staying right where it is.

Oh, wait…

New Greenland Ice Melt Fuels Sea Level Rise Concerns (Climate Central)

The Unstoppable, Massive Antarctic Ice Sheet Melt Will Flood New Jersey

Big,scary, breaking news:

The collapse of the western Antarctic ice sheet is inevitable and is already underway, scientists said on Monday.

The melt will cause up to four metres (13 feet) of additional sea-level rise over the coming centuries, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world – from Bangladesh to New Jersey – that are already expected to be swamped by only a few feet of sea-level rise.

Oh, great. Wait, what’s this?

But the researchers said the sea-level rise – while unstoppable – was still several centuries off, potentially up to 1,000 years away.

Oh thank god. We’ll all be dead by then. Who cares about the future anyway? Not most Canadians, that’s for sure. And NO ONE gives a rat’s ass about New Jersey. So there you go. Nothing to worry about.

School Board Looking For Connaught Architect

Connaught architect searchThe Regina Public Board of Education is on the hunt for an architect to design a new Connaught School. And you can see the request for qualifications on the MERX site here.

If you or someone you know is an architect who doesn’t suck, you can even apply for the job. Though to be honest with you I am at present of the opinion that the deck is stacked very much in favour of P3A architecture (which is an architecture firm and does not refer to a P3 — ie, public-private partnership — procurement). I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong on lots of shit in the past. But I was tricked into doubting my gut and thinking for a minute that someone other than PCL would get the stadium contract, and sure enough my gut was right and PCL got the job.

Now, in response to a previous post, a commenter said she saw an article in which P3A claimed they aren’t in the running for the Connaught job. But I still haven’t found any such article and I looked pretty hard. So I’m not counting my gut out just yet and am putting my money on P3A.

Doesn’t really matter who gets the job anyway. Did you see the winners of the 2014 Governor General’s Award for architecture? Five fucking rectangles in five different colours. Jesusfuck. What is it with architects that they’re so obsessed with putting people into glass goddamn boxes?

If that’s the state of top-flight contemporary architecture, I don’t hold out any hope for the new Connaught being anything more than a glorified fucking crate.

Weekly Reckoning: Too Much Showgirls Edition

weekly-reckoningGood afternoon. I write to you from what remains of my crumbled psyche. Last week I read a book on Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven’s softcore exploitation film from 1995. The book maintains that Showgirls doesn’t suck (the book is even titled It Doesn’t Suck). So I sat down and watched it. Then I watched the 2012 sequel Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven, which posits that the world of dance is secretly controlled by sleazy Theosophists.

The book is wrong, by the way: that film sucks.

1. A PATHOGEN IN EVERY POT  Feeling comfortable? Good. Here’s a terrifying article about diseases escaping from labs.

2. AND A VAGINA IN EVERY PATIENT  Are you bummed out over being biologically female but born without a vagina? Worry no more! Scientists have successfully grown and implanted four vaginas using the patients’ own cells, and everything seems hunky dory so far.

3. LET’S MAKE A VENN DIAGRAM OUT OF THIS ONE  If you’re wondering whether you like booze, first ask yourself if you’re a Saskatchewan resident. Chances are, one positive answer will entail the other. Now go buy more booze and keep this economic boom going.

4. TWO HOUSES, COMPLETELY UNALIKE IN DIGNITY  On Buzzfeed, Drew Philp explains at fascinating length why he bought a house in Detroit for $500; meanwhile, Thomas Frank blames America’s domestic and foreign policy woes on suburban McMansions. And he’s right. Those houses suck more than Showgirls.

5. FINALLY, A REASON TO STAY UP LATE ON TUESDAY  Don’t go to bed after The Tonight Show on Tuesday. Why? Celestial magic, that’s why. We naked apes of the sublunar plane will be witness to the massive clockwork of the cosmos when the moon, earth and sun align, transforming the moon into a baleful orange eye staring down at us in pitiless judgment. We call it a lunar eclipse and it gets going around 2:00 a.m. EDT.

XKCD Explains Global Warming — Now Shut Up About The Cold

XKCD: coldOnce again, XKCD cuts through the crap and with a few stick figures and a graph makes climate science sensible. And scary.

If you want to know if this thing about the climate generally being warmer applies to Saskatchewan (it does) you can get a thorough look at our local climate context in The New Normal from the University of Regina Press. And if you don’t have time to read a dense, academic text this morning, we reviewed it and interviewed one of the co-editors, David Sauchyn, back in Nov. 2010.

Weekly Reckoning: Gone But Not Forgotten Until Time Obliterates Everything But We’re Star Stuff So Look On The Bright Side Edition

weekly-reckoning1. IT’S ALL GONE MONDRAGON After 18 years, Winnipeg’s Mondragon is closing. Mondragon was famous in Winnipeg as an alternative bookstore and café that served something called southern fried tofu. As Fearless Editor Whitworth says, “Mondragon is like Heliotrope and Buzzword combined AND it’s a worker co-op. Super shitty.” Remember the pad thai at the Heliotrope, people? Remember Gord at Buzzword, who could zero in your taste in books with unnerving accuracy and make the perfect recommendation every time? He also introduced me to the music of Vic Chestnutt. RIP stuff we loved. Just remember that new good things are always welling up from the common soil of our consciousness, from a random idea in some kid’s head to a storefront or a dance company or what have you. Hot damn.

2. REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN WE THOUGHT HAPPINESS WAS A RATIO? Did you know that the secret to human “flourishing” resides in an approximately 3-to-1 of positive to negative emotions? I had no idea that this was the new hotness in psychology until I read this article, which tells us that, thanks to a 53-year-old student who a thing or two about the mathematics behind the theory, the new hotness is actually the old lameness. Or more accurately, the old bullshit. I have a lot of love for stories about outsiders who show up and break received wisdom in half. Alan Sokal makes an appearance as well. Ain’t no party like an Alan Sokal party because an Alan Sokal party subjects your cherished beliefs to elaborate mockery.

3. THE SPICE OIL MUST FLOW The Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline is back up and running after an oil spill near Regina. Wait, what? Apparently everything is just fine, though. Juuuust fine.

4. JESUS STATUE SO FAR NOT ANIMATED BY LIGHTNING Here you will see photos of the statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro being struck by multiple lightning bolts. Residents may or may not be worried about the possibility of the statue coming to life and terrorizing the residents of the city with random blessings.

5. POLAR VORTEX 2: ATMOSPHERIC FREEZAROO Weather reporting is good for two things: doomsday predictions and fantastic names. “Polar vortex” sounds like a malevolent living force from the frozen North intent on sucking the warmth from every creature on Earth like a terrible reverse Santa Claus (or regular Santa Claus on Opposite Day). Now it seems that the Polar Vortex, instead of dissipating, has returned to its northern lair, where it’s hanging out and plotting its return – with blizzards this time. Seriously. Screw you, Polar Vortex.

Epic Gas Attack

Greenhouse gas emissions have unsurprisingly hit a record high, apparently. From the World Meteorological Organization:

The World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80% of this increase. The atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the past ten years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the global average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 41%, methane by 160% and nitrous oxide by 20%.
What is happening in the atmosphere is one part of a much wider picture. Only about half of the CO2 emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed in the biosphere and in the oceans.

“The observations from WMO’s extensive Global Atmosphere Watch network highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent 5th Assessment Report stressed that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” he said.

“As a result of this, our climate is changing, our weather is more extreme, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising,” said Mr Jarraud.

News reports here, herehere. But what’s at stake?

Scientists believe that any increase in global average temperatures above 2 degrees Celsius could create conditions for potentially catastrophic climate change. Negotiators at a United Nations climate summit meeting in Mexico agreed in 2010 to try to hold temperatures below that level by aggressive measures.

The report comes less than a week before international negotiators begin arriving in Warsaw for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, at which delegates will try to plot a path toward a new global climate agreement to replace the frayed 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Its findings also come just two months after top climate scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formally endorsed a “carbon budget,” or maximum allowable amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be released without irreversible damage to the climate. The scientists set the figure at no more than one trillion metric tons of carbon emissions.

There ya go. Maybe we should stop electing  politicians who attack and/or suppress science and want to burn more fossil fuels. Just a thought.

SaskFilm RIP


SaskFilm, the province’s heretofore, once very busy film commission is no more. As of 3pm today, SaskFilm shut down its operations for good.

It was created under the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine in 1989 and, among other things, SaskFilm helped to facilitate hundreds of productions such as Little Mosque On The Prairie and Corner Gas. It also courted a host of bigger budget Hollywood productions to shoot in our fair province, bringing outside investment, and employing a small army of film professionals in the process.

Perhaps most importantly, along with the also now deceased Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN), SaskFilm helped to export Saskatchewan’s stories to the rest of the country and the world. Local independent productions such as Wapos Bay, Landscape As Muse, and The Neighbour’s Dog would not have been possible without SaskFilm. For those who used to work in the industry – both as worker bees and independent producers – it’s been a long time waiting for the other shoe to drop. For whatever it’s worth, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks Culture and Sport is, ostensibly, partly replacing the role SaskFilm played with the still mysterious Creative Industries program. Although, despite its launch in the Spring of this year, there has still been no indication of what kind of funding or incentives independent producers specifically in this province can expect.

As someone who used to work in the Saskatchewan film industry, what else is there to say other than thank you to SaskFilm for helping to build the Saskatchewan film industry over 24 years of service.

For further information on what SaskFilm did, you can visit their facebook page and download a document that lists the hundreds of productions that were shot with SaskFilm’s assistance.

Something to combat your post-referendum blues/joy

What’s the matter this morning? Your chicken taste like pork? Your Yes ballot sizzling away like a water drop on a hot plate? Or maybe doing a little tango with yourself over your contribution to the No side? This should give us all some perspective.

And in the meantime, mark your calendars for summer 2033, when we’re all old and grey and full of sleep, and the city is duking it out with whatever company is grinding our public infrastructure down to a dull nub.

How I Spent My September 11

Back in 2001 I worked at a small television production company – so small that, were it founded in these moustachioed and rhubarb-soda’d times, people would call it “boutique” or even “artisinal.” We specialized in hour-long documentaries about the survivors of the biggest atrocities that the twentieth century could hurl at an unsuspecting citizen: the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, the apocalyptic refresh of Cambodia into Kampuchea, the rape of Nanking, the Holocaust (again), the repeated historical insults visited on the Roma – you get the idea.

My job was to select and order historical stills and footage. I quickly grew accustomed to sitting down with a stack of VHS tapes from footage houses and watching old newsreels with images of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor waving at crowds, followed by Dutch fields of tulips, then wave after wave of planes disgorging bombs over central Europe. It all blurred together into one long spectacle of scratchy film shots, dramatic titles and distant explosions. Even the Vietnam-era footage dissolved into one endless hike through scrubby jungle, punctuated by an occasional corpse. It was a pretty great job, actually.

On the morning of September 11 I walked into work around 9:00 and picked up the phone immediately. I’d spent the previous week going over footage of the British being booted out of Singapore, and now I had to contact the stock footage houses, almost all of which were located in Manhattan and just waiting to charge us their atrocious licensing fees.

I called. Nothing. No ringing phone, no busy signal, no ‘all of our circuits are busy’ message. Just a fat silence on the other end, as if my phone had been unplugged.

I tried another New York contact. Nothing.

“Is something wrong with the phones? I can’t get ITN or Getty to pick up.”

My boss appeared from around the half-wall. For a man who matched my height but outweighed me by at least 100 pounds, he could move with amazing speed and determination. He would just sort of vanish from one spot and reappear in another.

“Are you trying to phone Manhattan, Aidan? Are you seriouslytrying – to phone someone in Manhattan right now?”

My boss delivered most of his information in a series of heavily emphasized rhetorical questions (“Are you bringing coffee? To the office? When you can just make some here”?).

“Yes. Yes I am?”

“Manhattan is on fire right now, Aidan. It’s on fire. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

I did not.

“The World Trade Center has been hit by planes. Don’t you know that?”

I realized that our office was completely empty. Somehow I’d missed the news that morning.

A few weeks later I managed to reach one of my contacts in Manhattan. His apartment lay within blocks of the World Trade Center plaza. When he returned to his place after a week’s absence, he discovered a layer of ash coating every surface. He’d left a window open.