Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Discovering Global Environmental Interconnections

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Welcome to Bizarro World: Canada and US Spending $billions to Create Climate Chaos

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President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) say they’re worried about climate change, but neither the U.S. nor Canada has cut emissions.

Analysis by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Aug 10, 2011 (IPS)

Canada and the United States are now the centre of Bizarro World. This is where leaders promise to reduce carbon emissions but ensure a new, supersized oil pipeline called Keystone XL is built, guaranteeing further expansion of the Alberta tar sands that produce the world’s most carbon-laden oil.

“It’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy – and that we leave the tar sands in the ground,” the U.S.’s leading climate scientists urged President Barack Obama in an open letter Aug. 3.

“As scientists… we can say categorically that it’s [the Keystone XL pipeline] not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”

The letter was signed by 20 world-renowned scientists, including NASA’s James Hansen, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and George Woodwell, founder of the Woods Hole Research Center.  Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental Journalism in the Public Interest

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I’m an independent journalist who covers international environmental issues in the public interest.copenhagen press pass

My work has been published in publications around the world including National Geographic, The Guardian (UK), Vice Magazine, Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), Al Jazeera, Earth Island Journal, The Toronto Star, Common Dreams, and DeSmog Canada.

Co-winner of the 2012 Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for reporting on Climate Change.

News media have cut their coverage of environmental issues so I launched Community Supported Environmental Journalism

Swiss journalist Daniel Wermus in 2010 article: “Stephen Leahy, a Canadian, and one of the world’s best-known investigative reporters on environmental issues, has launched a challenge:
if corporations won’t pay for the news, then it is up to communities and the public to fill the gap.“

I am asking people to provide some financial support so I can continue to research and write articles millions will read*.  Just $10 a month helps guarantee more articles like the ones on this site. All supporters receive a personal, one-page weekly newsletter. Without your support I can’t work for all of us — Stephen

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“Multiple environmental crisis represent “the greatest challenge in the history of our species” – Thomas Lovejoy, professor, George Mason University,  former chief scientist of the World Bank

“We need people like you. In tough economic times, where information flow is increasingly channeled and controlled…” – E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor, University of Guelph

*Yes, millions of readers. My articles are used by newspapers and magazines around the world and reprinted on news websites such as Reuters AlertNetthe GuardianAl JazeeraAlterNet, Common Dreams, Truthout,  InfoSudNone of these pay me for this reuse. Unfortunately I only average $175-$200 payment even if it took a week or more to research and write the article.

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Canada Slashes Charity’s Funding To Protect Giant Tar Sands Project P.S. Oil companies get $2+ billion in subsidies

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Please read this eloquent piece from Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter on how the Harper govt cut funding of Kairos, a renowned church charity for telling the truth about Canada’s tar sands.

How can Canadians in good conscience try to help African women get water when it is carbon emissions from the tar sands are part of the reason they face drought?

And then Harper and his Minister Bev Oda lied and tried to cover up their vindictive actions claiming they want to improve the lives of the poor “efficiently”. (This from a govt giving billions in public subsidies to oil companies)

Here’s the first paras of Porter’s column:

A few years back, the staff at Kairos planned a trip to Nigeria’s oilfields to examine environmental damage, corporate responsibility and human rights abuses.

The board of the faith-based development organization rejected the idea. It sent them to Alberta’s tar sands instead.

“I remember saying, ‘They’ll kill us — that will be considered very political,’ ” recalls Mary Corkery, Kairos’ passionate executive director. “The churches said, ‘This is our work. Our work is inspired by faith to tell the truth. It’s a development issue if it’s far away. It’s a political issue if it’s at home. Or if it offends anyone.’ ”

Think it’s a stretch to compare Canada to Nigeria? A government that forges documents, that makes things up, that smothers dissenting opinions, that accuses the media of lying.

via Porter: Kairos does important work; we should all support it – thestar.com.

About Subsidies:

Every Day Governments Give an Estimated $2 billion to Oil, Coal & Gas Industry

About the Tar Sands:

30 Page e-book:_Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest: The Environmental Cost of Canada’s Tar Sands

Europeans stopped Canada’s Slaughter of Baby Seals – Can They Stop Canada’s Tar Sands?

Canada’s “Mordor” Ensures Climate Treaty Failure in Copenhagen

Report: +2.4C by 2020 leaves Billions Hungry? Scary but Untrue. Inside Story of Good Intentions Gone Wrong (and how the media fell for it)

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Food Report Released Knowing the Science Was Wrong

By Stephen Leahy

Jan 19 2011

In the year 2020 climate change will devastate much of the world’s harvest leaving one in five people starving because the global temperature will have shot up an average of 2.4 degrees C a new report released Tuesday shows.

Shocking. Stunning. Scary even. And completely untrue.

Days before the report’s release I told the author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (FEU), an Argentina-based NGO, it was impossible to get to 2.4 degrees of warming by 2020. Global temperatures have increased 0.8C in the last century and the 64-page report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production: A 2020 Perspective,” is based on additional 1.6C degree increase in just nine years time.

I asked several climate experts if it was possible to reach a +2.4 degree average global temperature by 2020. Their answer: “No way”.

This independent environmental journalism depends on public support. Click here learn more.

The reason is that the oceans absorb 93 per cent of the additional heat being trapped in the atmosphere due to the burning fossil fuels. If we stopped burning all fossil fuels and emitting other greenhouse gases today, the atmosphere would still continue to slowly heat up over the next 50 to 100 years as the oceans released that stored heat.

So ‘thank God for the oceans’ I said to Hisas who is also Executive Director of FEU-US when I explained all this via emails. And in an interview with Hisas on Monday I suggested the report be withdrawn. She refused, saying her organization had worked on the report for more than a year and the science was solid. It was all based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report and had been vetted by Osvaldo Canziani, a former co-chair of the IPCC she said.

Unfortunately Canziani was in hospital and unavailable for an interview. Read the rest of this entry »

Media Fails on Climate Change in 2010 – How You Can Ensure 2011 Will Be Better

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Few people understand the serious danger climate change poses all of us largely because media have done a poor job in covering it. In 2010, US TV media pretended it had all gone away – no more global warming…poof, bad dream, moving on.

From the must-bookmark The Daily Climate:

Drexel University professor Robert Brulle has analyzed nightly network news since the 1980s. Last year’s climate coverage was so miniscule, he said, that he’s doubting his data.

….

Coverage of December’s United Nations climate talks in Cancun is Exhibit A: Total meeting coverage by the networks consisted of one 10-second clip, Brulle said. By contrast, 2009′s Copenhagen talks generated 32 stories totaling 98 minutes of airtime. “I’m trying to check it again and again,” Brulle said of the 2010 data. “It’s so little, it’s stunning.”

Newspapers do little better with a huge decline in the US/Canada in 2010 which had some of the lowest level of coverage in the world, lower than Asia and the Pacific according to this graph. Read the rest of this entry »

Be a Partner in Independent Enviro Journalism

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More than 20,000 people from 190 nations attended the international climate meeting in Cancun, Mexico and it received one ten second clip on US network TV 

Coverage of environment and science has been gutted. If there is coverage it rarely digs below the surface. It’s not just TV, it’s all media. After 18 years of being published in major publications on two continents, I now count myself lucky to get $150 to $200 for an in-depth article. The few independent media outlets are either non-profits or struggling.

Urgent environmental issues didn’t go away just because most media stopped covering them.

Many, many people tell me:we need people like you to write about these issues”.

I’d like to do more but it is impossible to continue without your support for what I call Community Supported Journalism. People directly support independent journalists who craft honest and thoughtful articles about important subjects the mainstream media ignores or gloss over.

Community Supported Environmental Journalism Works

In 2010 dozens of people offered their help, donating $5,750 which helped ensure many breaking international stories were covered including the first media reports on the global die-off of corals and how climate change may be bringing colder winters to Europe and eastern North America. Those donors — who are really partners — enabled me to cover important international meetings like the UN Convention on Biodiversity, UN climate change conference, scientific meetings and much more.

Please join us. Consider a donation of just $10 a month to support enviro journalism that serves the public interest.

Contributions can be made safely and easily via PayPal* or Credit Card*. [You can cancel at any time, automatically. No need to contact me] 

Monthly support options starting @ $10 a month

One-time donations are most welcome. Click and enter the amount.

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Thanks for reading. — Stephen

Letters of Support:

We need people like you. In tough economic times, where information flow is increasingly channeled and controlled, you perform a simply critical role. Hang in there. You are an admirable role model for the future.”

– E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor, University of Guelph.

“Stephen Leahy has done a superb job exposing the enormous sums the US government is spending on corporate welfare for big oil.”

Ross Gelbspan, Pulitzer-prize winning editor and author of The Heat is On

My continued appreciation to those who have contributed in the past.

A Reporter’s Diary: EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE OF UN CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY FROM NAGOYA, JAPAN

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NOTE: The following are excerpts from my personal notes to friends and supporters written during the heat, confusion and massive information dump of a major international conference. Often written late at night I attempted to offer some personal perspective into what was going on and what I was up to. — Stephen

Tuesday, 19 Oct – Geopolitical obstacles getting in the way

I’m here at the big UN conference on biodiversity. It’s 430 am here, the first day ended about 9 pm. It’s 12-ring cat circus like the Copenhagen climate meeting but the mood here is more positive. There are similar geopolitical obstacles getting in the way of slowing the loss of species and ecosystems. Another major difference is the lack of little public awareness of the fact that we cannot continue to shred nature’s web of life without suffering dire consequences.

I’ll try and do my bit – write 10 -12 articles over next two weeks. I wanted to thank a couple of supporters who helped out to cover some of the travel costs. I want to keep you informed of what’s going on here but these notes take a couple of hours to do.

This week is a story about an important development in Africa: In sincere efforts to make one last major attempt to transform Africa’s poverty and hunger are we imposing our worldview on Africa yet again? Bill Gates and others are donating hundreds of millions to create a New Green Revolution for Africa. This difficult and controversial story took over a week to do and wrote the final draft during my 17 hr flight here.

My other story connects the dots between extreme weather this summer and climate change. No single storm is directly attributable to CC BUT without CC it is unlikely the Russian heat wave and floods in Pakistan would have occurred. (PS those were events were two sides of the same coin)

Finally I received a number of letters, mostly positive but a couple saying I was too negative in last week’s article ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ Canada Sees Global Warming “Prosperity” Instead of Calamity’. Any organization that puts out a chart of climate impacts at 4 – 5C of global warming and fails to mention the scale of the calamity that would result is delusional or deceptive. Some take the stunningly selfish and naive view we can ‘adapt’ by turning up the AC.

Do consider making a small automatic monthly contribution as a fair exchange for these articles.

Greenest wishes, Steve


Wednesday, 20 Oct – Diversity R Us

There is an astonishing diversity of people here. Last nite I talked to an Amazonian Indian who took 10 days to get here, had wine accidentally spilled on me by a reindeer herder from Finland and found the lost passport of a Brazilian diplomat. And that is a five minute snap shot. It is a very big world with so many different people it is incredible they have all come here to try and address a common issue. That they can’t agree on what kinds of actions and how to implement should not come as a surprise.

Sunday, 24 Oct – Canada won’t play nice (yet again)

Canada is blocking agreement on a key measure to get a new international agreement to protect biodiversity here. This is not new. In recent years Canada has gone out its way to snub international UN agreements including the outright refusal to fulfill its legal obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Hard to believe the same government lobbied hard for a seat on the UN security council and actually expected to be rewarded.

Sadly there is no one reporting for Canadian publications to document the irony. (And as a result Canadian’s aren’t really aware of what their government is up to.) Read the rest of this entry »

Blame Canada: Seeks to Drop Native Peoples from New Biodiversity Pact

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Awarding Winner Poster - CBD COP 10 Nagoya - Copyright Stephen Leahy

By Stephen Leahy

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 21, 2010 (IPS)

Blame Canada if countries fail to agree to a new binding treaty to curb the rapid loss of plant, animal and species that form the intricate web of life that sustains humanity.

That is the view of indigenous representatives from Canada in response to a late night move by the Canadian delegation to strike a reference to indigenous peoples’ rights at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) members’ conference here.

“Canada is stalling progress here, weakening our rights and fighting against a legally-binding protocol on access and benefit sharing,” said Armand MacKenzie, executive director of the Innu Council of Nitassinan, the indigenous inhabitants in northeastern Canada.

“Their opposition threatens global biodiversity… people need to speak out,” MacKenzie told IPS.

A protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS) without a guarantee of the rights of indigenous people and local communities “would be totally void”, said Paulino Franco de Carvalho, head of the Brazilian delegation.

“Brazil will not accept any agreement on biodiversity without a fair ABS protocol…. We are not bluffing on that, I must be very clear,” Franco de Carvalho said in a press conference.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ Canada Sees Global Warming “Prosperity” Instead of Calamity

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By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 8, 2010 (IPS)

The first comprehensive look at the expected impacts of climate change on Canada offers an embarrassing and misleading “don’t worry, be happy” vision, citing more golf days and better access to northern deposits of oil and gas courtesy of global warming, critics say.

“The chart needs to be withdrawn,” said climate scientist Danny Harvey of the University of Toronto. “It is full of bad science and utterly downplays the serious impacts of climate change.”

The chart Harvey referred to is the “Degrees of Change” interactive diagram released this week as part of a national educational initiative called “Climate Prosperity” by the prestigious Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE).

How can we (Canada) talk about profiting from climate change when most of the world will suffer devastating impacts, in part because of our emissions?” Harvey said.

“It is disgusting.”

In a release about the Climate Prosperity initiative, David McLaughlin, NRTEE president and CEO, said, “Adapt and prosper will be increasingly central to Canadian governments, communities, and businesses as these effects become more and more evident.”

NRTEE officials did not respond to IPS requests for an interview.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism.

Read the rest of this entry »

“We’re Here to Insert Some Reality into an Unreal Situation” — 350.org Founder Bill McKibben

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Bill McKibben is a U.S. journalist, writer and environmentalist and the founder of 350.org. Credit: Stephen Leahy

Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Dec 2009

Bill McKibben is a U.S. writer, environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign. His first book, “The End of Nature”, was published in 1989 and is regarded as the first book written for a general audience about climate change.

350.org is credited with organising the most widespread political action in history when more than 5,200 public demonstrations were held on Oct. 24 in 181 countries. The organisation’s goal is to raise public awareness about the dangers of climate change and the need to return carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm). Currently, concentrations are 387 ppm and increasing at 2.0 to 3.0 ppm per year.

Recent science suggests that a maximum of 350 ppm may be what is needed to keep overall global temperatures below 2.0 degrees C.

TERRAVIVA: Why are you here?

BILL MCKIBBEN: I wrote a book on climate change 20 years ago and you could say I’m just following the trail to its end. We’ve also brought 350 young people from all over the world to make sure negotiators hear their voice and insert a little reality into an unreal situation. Read the rest of this entry »

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