Thursday, August 30, 2012

893. Commons: Alternatives To Markets And States

Derek Wall
By Derek Wall,, August 27, 2012

Capitalism has failed. Leaving the care of society to the market has led to massive inequality, climate chaos and financial crisis. The system is indeed one of zombie economics, the doctrine is dead but the beast still walks amongst us. It reminds me of the cartoons where Bugs Bunny runs over the edge of the cliff but, not noticing that he has done so, continues to march on air until realization strikes and the silly rabbit plummets to the ground.
However while capitalism is in crisis, alternatives are not obvious to all. The binary choice has been market versus state. If you have more market you have less state or vice versa. State provision of goods and services seems innately problematic. A central plan reduces choice, fails to promote creativity and may be vastly inefficient. When markets fail, neoliberals can point to the failures of a soviet style economy to justify the continuation of a system of supply and demand.
There are number of objections that can be made to this. Fredriedrich Hayek argued, seemingly convincingly, that planners would lack the information necessary for effective planning. Yet markets increasingly provide perverse signals and transmit false information. Think of the way that marketisation has led to commodification of services such as education and housing. Markets lead to speculation and speculation leads to catastrophe. Planning is problematic and imperfect, but marketisation gradually infects an economy with chaos.
Planning can be made democratic by measures such participatory budgeting. Likewise the National Health Service is an excellent example of state planned economic activity that works, although to work better the pharmaceutical companies that make medicine so expensive and the corporations that spend £ms marketing junk food would need tackling.
However what is emerging fast is the alternative of a commons based economy. Peer to peer, social sharing, collaborative consumption, commons, economic democracy are all terms that cover economic activity that moves beyond the market and the state, based on cooperation and harnessing human creativity.
The economics of sharing is essential to overcome climate change and other environmental ills. If we can share goods we can reduce our impact on the environment while getting access to the things we need. Car pools might be seen as a good example and there is a role for state provision of shared resources — good public transport is an example. Boris bikes are a good example of social sharing, we don’t privately own the bikes, its just a shame that the bikes taunt us with Barclays label and only extend to Central London.
The commons economy moves us beyond commodification. Goods are produced because they are useful and/or beautiful not just to generate cash. An economy of free can evolve, capitalism to some extent generates artificial scarcity, keeping us insecure to get us working and consuming.
Commons economies are based on the principle of usufruct. This is the concept that we can use something as long as we leave it in a good or improved state for others. Its the key principle to my mind of effective green politics and socialism. Indeed Marx observed in Capital, Volume III:
“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”
I don’t think utopia or blueprints are helpful and we don’t have to answer every question about the practicalities. We must recognise that capitalism has failed and struggle practically and intellectually for an alternative. Its not a matter of imposing a social sharing economy but of fighting commodification. The corporate world is keen to enclose the commons of cyber space, fighting legislation such as ACTA and SOPA is essential. The battle to re-legalise squatting is another example. Housing in the UK is obscenely commodified, in the USA there are more empty homes than homeless people. Leaving buildings empty as investment chips should be a crime, homeless people showing creativity and using space should be celebrated.

To me the key moment of class struggle is the struggle over property rights. Those who want an economy that works should focus on property rights. The banking collapse has lead to debt and debt to austerity. The agenda is to use debt to privatise more of the economy so education, health care, water provision are owned by distant owners and swopped around to make profit. A commons based economy puts these and other resources into the hands of local people to manage not for short term greed and the whims of bond markets but for long term need. Politics is essentially about property rights and the often invisible battles must be made visible and won.
There is an intellectual task to show that commons, perhaps termed communism, or democratic ownership of society by communities, works. The two towering figures here are Marx and Elinor Ostrom. In many ways they are polar opposites. The late great Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize for her work showing the common pool property was an effective way of managing natural resources. She came from a liberal background and her work is very much about micro economics. Her work was based on detailed studies showing how an economy based on cooperation can be created. I would highly recommend both her Governing the Commons and her final book writing with Amy Potteete and Marco Jannssen ‘Working Together’.
Marx was, well, Marx! One of his earliest pieces of writing dealt with the removal of commons rights to German peasants — it became illegal for them to pick up fallen wood from forests. In Chapter 27 of Capital One he showed how the English commons had been stolen and enclosed by an elite. His ethnographic notebooks where he focused on indigenous commons were astonishing. For Marx the rational creative society is a self-owned one based on democratic control i.e the recreation of the commons. The working class can through revolutionary action transcend capitalism and create a communist society. Its about commons for Marx not top down bureaucracy.
Both Marx and Ostrom were true political ecologists, keen to show how the wrong kind of human institutions and practices destroyed the environment. Ostrom’s work is cautious, pluralistic and rejects panaceas, while celebrating the commons, she does not reject the market or forms of state action. However her work does explore the micro foundations of a non monetary economics, something most economists would find unthinkable! While a far from easy read, ‘Working Together’ has astonishing implications. She spent decades building a more nuanced and creative way of thinking about human economic behaviour, revolutionary stuff indeed.
The struggle practically and intellectually has to be about rolling back commodification and regrowing a gift economy. Commons economies don’t abolish injustice or guarantee sustainability but we can do better than being slaves to an economy which marches to the beat of the bond markets. Whether Syriza in Greece, the work of ecosocialists, the experiments of workers control and solidarity economies in Latin America or a thousand other examples alternatives to a bought and sold world are emerging.

Derek Wall is former Principal Speaker of the Green Party of England and Wales. He is a founder member of Green Left and the Ecosocialist International, his books include the No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics 
Further Reading
Derek Wall – Prosperity without growth, economics after capitalism

892. Cuba: Cholera Epidemic That Killed 3 Persons Is Over

Patients being treated for cholera
By EFE, Fox News, August 29, 2012

The Cuban government said that the cholera outbreak that erupted in June, killing three and infecting 417, is over, Communist Party daily Granma reported Tuesday.

"Ten days have passed since the latest confirmed case, whereby the Public Health Ministry says that this outbreak is over," the newspaper said of the epidemic that originated in Manzanillo, a city of 130,500 residents located some 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of Havana.

Authorities also said that there were cases "associated" with the outbreak in other municipalities in surrounding Granma province and in the neighboring provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo and even in Havana.

"All these later events, characterized as isolated cases, occurred through people who traveled from Manzanillo and were identified by an effective system of epidemiological monitoring and treated with timely measures," the ministry said.
Of the 417 registered cholera cases, the majority were adults, the bulletin added, going on to emphasize the "indispensable ... and effective cooperation of the public."

After learning of the health emergency, the government decided as a precaution to suspend the traditional summer Carnivals in Manzanillo and Bayamo, another city in Granma province.

In addition, the Venezuelan government sent to the island 20 military doctors to provide support.

Cuban President Raul Castro spoke out on July 24 to denounce "propagandistic campaigns" regarding the cholera cases designed to "discredit" the island's health care system and asserted that the outbreak was under control.

The most recent cholera epidemic in Cuba occurred in 1882 and the latest cases were registered shortly after the downfall of strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959, according to official information.

Despite the fact that it said the outbreak was "concluded," the Cuban government is also saying it will maintain its vigilance to avoid "the recurrence of new cases."
In addition, the national government is reiterating its call for the public to take preventive measures concerning personal hygiene, water and food.

For several weeks, the authorities have been issuing daily preventive messages along the same lines to avoid the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever, although there have been no reported cases of that disease. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

891. Satellites Show Sea Ice in Arctic Is at a Record Low

By Justin Gillis, The New York Times, August 27, 2012
A ship belonging to Greenpeace in the Arctic Ocean last year. Measurements
show that sea ice now covers less than 30 percent of the ocean’s surface.

The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region and a likely harbinger of larger changes to come.

Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center, a government-sponsored research agency in Boulder, Colo., announced the findings on Monday in collaboration with NASA. The amount of sea ice in the summer has declined more than 40 percent since satellite tracking began in the late 1970s, a trend that most scientists believe is primarily a consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases.
“It’s hard even for people like me to believe, to see that climate change is actually doing what our worst fears dictated,” said Jennifer A. Francis, a Rutgers University scientist who studies the effect of sea ice on weather patterns. “It’s starting to give me chills, to tell you the truth.”
Scientific forecasts based on computer modeling have long suggested that a time will come when the Arctic will be completely free of ice in the summer, perhaps by the middle of the century. This year’s prodigious melting is lending credibility to more pessimistic analyses that that moment may come much sooner, perhaps by the end of this decade.
“It’s an example of how uncertainty is not our friend when it comes to climate-change risk,” said Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “In this case, the models were almost certainly too conservative in the changes they were projecting, probably because of important missing physics.”
Experts say that a powerful storm in the Arctic this month almost certainly contributed to the record by breaking up ice. But the record low would not have occurred, they say, if the ice had not been steadily contracting for the past several decades.
The pace of that decline seems to be accelerating. But scientists are somewhat cautious in their predictions, given that sea ice is prone to natural variability. They have only a 33-year record of careful satellite observations, and before that, only sketchy data from maps and other historical sources.
By itself, the melting of sea ice does not raise global sea levels, because the floating ice is already displacing its weight in seawater. But the sharp warming that is causing the sea ice to melt also threatens land ice, notably the Greenland ice sheet, which is melting at an increasing rate. Melting land ice does raise sea levels.
Already, the reduction in sea ice is altering weather patterns in the Arctic region, and perhaps beyond. It is putting stress on the ecology of the region and causing rapid erosion of shorelines that are now exposed to more vigorous waves.
The melting does, however, offer some potential benefits, including new shipping routes and easier access to oil and other mineral deposits. A rush is on to stake claims and begin mineral exploration in the Arctic.
The average temperature of the region is rising more than twice as fast as that of the earth as a whole, confirming a prediction first made in 1896: that increasing levels of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels would have an especially large impact in the Arctic. One reason is that the white surface of the ice reflects a great deal of sunlight back to space, but the darker water and land exposed when the ice melts absorb more heat from the sun, which in turns leads to additional melting, more sunlight absorption and so on — a feedback loop that scientists call Arctic amplification.
Dr. Francis is one of a small group of climate scientists who argue that the decline of sea ice is already having consequences for weather in the Northern Hemisphere’s middle latitudes, including in the United States. She has published research suggesting that air circulation patterns are being altered in a way that favors more extremes, like heat waves and droughts.
Such ideas are not considered proven, but they are getting more attention as the weather careers from one extreme to another.
Every year, the surface of the Arctic Ocean freezes during the long, dark winter, with the extent of sea ice usually peaking in March. Until recent decades, a high proportion of the ice was thick enough to survive the summer. But scientists say the warming trend has reduced the ice to just a shell in many places. The means it can melt easily in the round-the-clock sunshine that strikes the highest latitudes in summer.
Said Walt Meier, a top scientist at the snow and ice center, “Parts of the Arctic have become like a giant Slushee this time of year.”

890. Cuba: Granma Publishes Detailed Health Care Cost Data Fueling Speculation on Reform

By Associated Press, The Bismarck Tribune, August 28, 2012
Patients wait in a polyclinic

HAVANA — Cuba’s system of free medical care, long considered a birthright by its citizens and trumpeted as one of the communist government’s great successes, is not immune to cutbacks under Raul Castro’s drive for efficiency.
The health sector has already endured millions of dollars in budget cuts and tens of thousands of layoffs, and it became clear this month that Castro is looking for more ways to save when the newspaper voice of the Communist Party, Granma, published daily details for two weeks on how much the government spends on everything from anesthetics and acupuncture to orthodontics and organ transplants.
It’s part of a wider media campaign that seems geared to discourage frivolous use of medical services, to explain or blunt fears of a drop-off in care and to remind Cubans to be grateful that health care is still free despite persistent economic woes. But it’s also raising the eyebrows of outside analysts, who predict further cuts or significant changes to what has been a pillar of the socialist system implanted after the 1959 revolution.
“Very often the media has been a leading indicator of where the economic reforms are going,” said Phil Peters, a longtime Cuba observer at the Lexington Institute think tank. “My guess is that there’s some kind of policy statement to follow, because that’s been the pattern.”
The theme of the Granma pieces, posters in clinics and ads on state TV is the same: “Your health care is free, but how much does it cost?”
The answer is, not much by outside standards, but quite a bit for Cuba, which spends $190 million a year paying for its citizens’ medical bills.
Based on the official exchange rate, the government spends $2 each time a Cuban visits a family doctor, $4.14 for each X-ray and $6,827 for a heart transplant.
It’s not a luxury service, though. Scarcities now are common and sanitary conditions fall short of the ideal in decaying facilities where paint peels from the walls. Patients often bring their own bed sheets, electric fans, food and water for hospital stays.
One Havana-based clinical physician applauded the campaign, saying it targets a pervasive problem: Conditioned to think about health as an inalienable right, many Cubans rush to the hospital whenever they come down with a cough or the sniffles, demand expensive tests before they’ve even been examined and sometimes get aggressive if doctors refuse.
“Respect for doctors has entirely been lost,” he said. “Some will indulge a patient for fear of how they might react.”
The physician spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss health care with a foreign journalist. Interview requests were not granted by the Health Ministry, though a spokeswoman said in a brief email response that the costs in Granma were the result of careful study.
The fact that the figures were published at all suggests a sea change in conceptions about health care, said Nancy Burke, director of the Cuba Program in Health Diplomacy at the University of California, San Francisco.
“It’s interesting that the health care system, which has always been touted as a basic human right, is now being put into market terms,” said Burke, a medical anthropologist who makes yearly research trips to Cuba. “That says so much about Raul’s market reforms and the ideology ... informing that. It’s a real shift, a major shift in the way of thinking about health care.”
She noted that the island’s doctors are increasingly cash cows for Cuba as it sends them abroad to treat the poor in countries such as Venezuela. The international missions fulfill a humanitarian purpose but also offset a significant share of the
$28.5 billion in cash and subsidized oil that the South American nation has sent Cuba since 2005, according to Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, who said he uses public records to track the figure.
To cut costs in Cuba, state media have urged doctors to use their “clinical eye” before ordering pricey lab tests, and target the practice of people stockpiling medicine to carry them through shortages.
In one TV spot, a woman visits a doctor and requests a long list of pills. Asked why she needs so many, she replies: “Oh, doctor, it’s for my personal stash.”
“I stop cold when I see that, not knowing whether to laugh or cry,” blogger Greter Torres Vazquez wrote on a Cuban youth-issues website. “Maybe they’ve never had the experience of going to the pharmacy and asking for medicine that their aunt, their grandmother, their mother needs urgently, only for the worker to say ‘Sorry, we ran out five minutes ago.’”
Some seized on the campaign to complain about corruption in hospitals.
“They should also publish the miserable salary that doctors get paid; that’s an embarrassment,” said Maria Soto, a 62-year-old Havana resident. “And it’s serious, because it leads to the problems everyone knows about: You get bad service or, even worse, they charge you under the table.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

889. Half of the Particulate Pollution in North America Comes from Other Continents

Satellite image of particulate pollution over Beijing

By ScienceDaily, August 22, 2012

Roughly half the aerosols that affect air quality and climate change in North America may be coming from other continents, including Asia, Africa and Europe, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Maryland at Baltimore County and the Universities Space Research Association.

Atmospheric particles can travel thousands of miles downwind and impact the environment in other regions, found lead researcher Hongbin Yu of the University of Maryland, and his team in a report published in the August 3, 2012 issue of the journal Science. This could offset emission controls in North America and suggests there are more factors affecting domestic pollution than the Environmental Protection Agency has accounted for.

"People have been concerned about how an emerging Asian economy and increased manmade pollution will influence North American air quality and climate, but we found that dust makes large contributions here," explained Yu, an associate research scientist in UMD's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC). "So we cannot just focus on pollution. We need to consider dust."
The study, which provides the first satellite-measurement-based estimate of the amount of airborne particles that come to North America from overseas, shows this migrating dust usually comes in at high altitudes and in the U.S. is most likely to affect upper atmospheric conditions.

Most of the pollution migrating into the North American atmosphere is not industrial emissions but dust from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, , Yu found. Out of the total annual accumulation of foreign aerosols, 87.5 percent is dust from across the Pacific, 6.25 percent is composed of combustion aerosols from the same region and 6.25 percent is Saharan dust from across the Atlantic.
The EPA is aware that foreign pollution affects U.S. air, but it is unclear on the amount of imported aerosols, Yu said. The study revealed that much of the dust migration occurs at high altitudes and is unlikely to affect the air we breathe.
However, Yu adds: "Scientists need to acquire a better understanding of the interactions between dust and climate."

Current satellite sensor technology allows scientists to track aerosol plumes across the ocean and measure their composition and particle characteristics. The three-dimensional satellite measurements can distinguish dust from other types of aerosols such as those released from burning biomass and fuel. While dust and combustion aerosol migration occurs year round, it is heightened in the spring due to strong seasonal wind patterns and extra-tropical cyclones.

UMD climate scientist Antonio (Tony) Busalacchi, who is chairman of the Joint Scientific Committee for the World Climate Research Programme and chairman of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, says one of the most interesting points Yu and his coauthors make in their study is that even a reduction of industrial emissions by the emerging economies of Asia could be overwhelmed by an increase in dust emissions due to changes in meteorological conditions and potential desertification.

"Over the course of time climate, human influence on the environment, and dust emissions have been inextricably linked," notes ESSIC Director Busalacchi, who was not involved in the study. "One need only look at the Dust Bowl of the 1930's to see this. With ever expanding drought conditions due to climate change, we can expect trans-boundary transport of dust aerosols to increase in the future"
Lorraine Remer, Mian Chin, Huisheng Bian, Qian Tan, Tianle Yuan and Yan Zhang also contributed to the study, Aerosols from Overseas Rival Domestic Emissions over North America.

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Maryland. The original article was written by Evelyn Rabil.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:
  1. H. Yu, L. A. Remer, M. Chin, H. Bian, Q. Tan, T. Yuan, Y. Zhang. Aerosols from Overseas Rival Domestic Emissions over North AmericaScience, 2012; 337 (6094): 566 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217576

Sunday, August 26, 2012

888. Indo-European Languages Originated in Anatolia, Research Suggests

By ScienceDaily, August 23, 2012

New research links the origins of Indo-European with
the spread of farming from Anatolia 8000-9500 years ago.
(Credit: Image courtesy of Radboud University Nijmegen)

The Indo-European languages belong to one of the widest spread language families of the world. For the last two millenia, many of these languages have been written, and their history is relatively clear. But controversy remains about the time and place of the origins of the family. A large international team, including MPI researcher Michael Dunn, reports the results of an innovative Bayesian phylogeographic analysis of Indo-European linguistic and spatial data.

The majority view in historical linguistics is that the homeland of Indo-European is located in the Pontic steppes (present day Ukraine) around 6,000 years ago. The evidence for this comes from linguistic paleontology: in particular, certain words to do with the technology of wheeled vehicles are arguably present across all the branches of the Indo-European family; and archaeology tells us that wheeled vehicles arose no earlier than this date. The minority view links the origins of Indo-European with the spread of farming from Anatolia 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.

Lexicons combined with dispersal of speakers
The minority view is decisively supported by the present analysis in this week's Science. This analysis combines a model of the evolution of the lexicons of individual languages with an explicit spatial model of the dispersal of the speakers of those languages. Known events in the past (the date of attestation dead languages, as well as events which can be fixed from archaeology or the historical record) are used to calibrate the inferred family tree against time.

Importance of phylogenetic trees
The lexical data used in this analysis come from the Indo-European Lexical Cognacy Database (IELex). This database has been developed in MPI's Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture group, and provides a large, high-quality collection of language data suitable for phylogenetic analysis. Beyond the intrinsic interest of uncovering the history of language families and their speakers, phylogenetic trees are crucially important for understanding evolution and diversity in many human sciences, from syntax and semantics to social structure.

Journal Reference:
  1. R. Bouckaert, P. Lemey, M. Dunn, S. J. Greenhill, A. V. Alekseyenko, A. J. Drummond, R. D. Gray, M. A. Suchard, Q. D. Atkinson. Mapping the Origins and Expansion of the Indo-European Language FamilyScience, 2012; 337 (6097): 957 DOI: 10.1126/science.1219669

887. Good News from the Bad Drought: Gulf 'Dead Zone' Smallest in Years

By ScienceDaily, August 23, 2012 
The "Dead Zone" in 2005; image credit: NASA

The worst drought to hit the United States in at least 50 years does have one benefit: it has created the smallest "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico in years, says a Texas A&M University researcher who has just returned from gulf waters.

Oceanography professor Steve DiMarco, one of the world's leading authorities on the dead zone, says he and other Texas A&M researchers and graduate students analyzed the Gulf Aug. 15-21 and covered more than 1,200 miles of cruise track, from Texas to Louisiana. The team found no hypoxia off the Texas coast while only finding hypoxia near the Mississippi River delta on the Louisiana coast.
"We had to really hunt to find any hypoxia at all and Texas had none," he explains.

"The most severe hypoxia levels were found near Terrabonne Bay and Barataria Bay off the coast of southeast Louisiana.

"In all, we found about 1,580 square miles of hypoxia compared to about 3,400 square miles in August 2011. What has happened is that the drought has caused very little fresh-water runoff and nutrient load into the Gulf, and that means a smaller region for marine life to be impacted."

DiMarco has made 27 research trips to investigate the dead zone since 2003.
DiMarco says the size of the dead zone off coastal Louisiana has been routinely monitored for about 25 years. Previous research has also shown that nitrogen levels in the Gulf related to human activities have tripled over the past 50 years. During the past five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,700 square miles and has reached as high as 9,400 square miles.

Hypoxia is when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels, defined as concentrations less than 2 milligrams per liter, and persistent hypoxia can potentially result in fish kills and harm marine life, thereby creating a "dead zone" of life in that particular area.

The Mississippi is the largest river in the United States, draining 40 percent of the land area of the country. It also accounts for almost 90 percent of the freshwater runoff into the Gulf of Mexico.

"These findings confirm what we found in a trip to the Gulf back in June, and also what other researchers in Louisiana have discovered, so there is general agreement that the dead zone this year is a very, very small one.

"But the situation could certainly change by next spring," DiMarco adds.
"The changes we see year to year are extreme. For example, last year, record flooding of the Mississippi River and westerly winds in the Gulf led to a much larger hypoxic area, particularly earlier in the summer. We'll just have to wait and see what kind of rainfall is in store for the Midwest over the next 8-10 months."

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided byTexas A&M University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

886. Only Two Percent of Canadians Deny Climate Change

By ScienceDaily, August 24, 2012 

Only two per cent of Canadians believe climate change is not occurring, a new important survey released August 24 by IPAC-CO2 Research Inc. concluded.

The survey comes on the heels of Alberta Premier Alison Redford's recent push for a National Energy Strategy, which would address the future of Canada's oil and gas industries, and its approach to carbon management.

"Our survey indicates that Canadians from coast to coast overwhelmingly believe climate change is real and is occurring, at least in part due to human activity" explained Dr. Carmen Dybwad, CEO of the environmental non-government organization said. "These findings have been consistent from 2011 and 2012. Canadians care about issues like extreme weather, drought and climate change."
Opinions about the cause of climate change and how to combat it are, however, sharply divided among the provinces.

"Canadians most commonly (54%) believe that climate change is occurring partially due to human activity and partially due to natural climate variation," said Briana Brownell of Insightrix Research, who conducted the survey for IPAC-CO2.

"Residents of Quebec (44 %), Atlantic Canada (34%) and British Columbia (32 %) are more likely to believe climate change is occurring due to human activity than those on the Prairies (Alberta and Saskatchewan 21 %, Manitoba 24 %)."

Canadians are also divided on what they believe should be the priorities to fight climate change.

A total of 35 % of Canadians believe the priority should be to promote cleaner cars running on electricity or low-carbon fuels while only 16 % favored a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from the whole economy. Support for a carbon tax is lowest in B.C. (6%) and highest in Quebec (24%).

A key solution cited by Canadians is Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, which involves capturing carbon dioxide from an industrial source of greenhouse gases, transporting it, and storing it deep in the Earth's subsurface.

A majority of Canadians agree that capturing and storing carbon dioxide should be compulsory when building a new coal (59%) or natural gas (57%) power plant, though Canadians are concerned about the risks associated with CCS.

Quebec residents (71 %) would be concerned if carbon dioxide was stored underground within 1.5 kilometres to 3 kilometres from their home, while Saskatchewan residents (43%) were the least worried.

Residents of B.C. (60%) are most likely to believe that the storage of carbon dioxide represents a safety risk in the future. Again, Saskatchewan residents (48%) are significantly less likely to hold this belief.

"CCS is not the "magic bullet" solution to combat climate change, but the development of CCS technology represents a necessary step in reducing Canada's emissions," said Dr. Dybwad.

For a second consecutive year, IPAC-CO2 contracted Insightrix Research, Inc. to conduct an online survey of Canadian residents. Survey responses were collected from 1,550 Canadians between May 29 and June 11.

The percentage of Canadians who are unsure whether or not they would benefit from CCS has increased notably from 42% in 2011 to 48% in 2012.

Residents of Ontario are more likely to believe that it would (33%) benefit them, while in Quebec the reverse is true, where 30% believe they would not benefit from the technology.

The proportion of Canadians who are unsure of the effectiveness of carbon capture and storage has increased notably from one quarter (24%) in 2011 to one third (35%) in 2012.

Despite the concerns many Canadians have about the technology, Dr. Dybwad remains optimistic about the future of CCS and its impact on Canada's environment.

"Canadians are concerned about the risks and benefits involved with CCS, but IPAC-CO2 exists to ensure that carbon dioxide is stored safely and permanently in the ground by providing risk and performance assessments of carbon dioxide storage projects."

The 2012 survey on Public Awareness and Acceptance of CSS in Canada now is available on IPAC-CO2's website at:

Story Source: