Monday, June 27, 2022

Renewable Energy Rant

Wind Farm in Southern Alberta
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

I will begin by repeating what I said yesterday:

I agree completely with a rant by Eric Reguly in the June 18 Globe + Mail, titled "Unfolding crisis shows fault in putting biofuels before food."  He highlights the irrationality of continuing to subsidize the production of biofuels using food crops as the danger of widespread famine resulting from the war in Ukraine increases every day. 

The following is my own rant about ‘Renewables’, originally posted in April 2021:

Outdated analyses of the climate change mitigation potential of various technologies refer to ‘renewable’ alternatives to fossil fuels.  In these analyses, biofuels (or biomass), which do not result in significant GHG emission reductions* are combined with other renewables (solar, wind, tide) that have huge potential to make significant GHG reductions, and nuclear energy, which is a whole different class with unique disadvantages (public perception) and advantages (remote location can greatly reduce need for transmission lines or pipelines). 

‘Renewables’ should not be considered as a group with similar climate-change mitigation potential.  Alternatives to fossil fuels should be described as low-carbon, clean or green. These alternate energy sources include nuclear and do not include biofuels.

* Originally, biofuels were viewed as inherently carbon-neutral, assuming the carbon dioxide plants absorb from the air as they grow completely offsets, or neutralizes, the CO2 emitted when fuels made from plants burn. However, this offset is largely negated by the GHGs emitted during the cultivation, harvesting, transportation, and refining processes.  When burned for power generation or heating, biofuels emit about the same amount of GHGs as fossil fuels. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Climate Change Preparation

The Oilsands
Page from my haiku book, Inventing the Future
©2019 Charlene Brown

I agree completely with a rant by Eric Reguly in the June 18 Globe + Mail, titled "Unfolding crisis shows fault in putting biofuels before food."  He highlights the irrationality of continuing to subsidize the production of biofuels using food crops as the danger of widespread famine resulting from the war in Ukraine increases every day.  He points out that this procedure is a terrible waste of food.  And he argues convincingly that producing biofuels from food crops has almost no effect on carbon emission reduction – a fact I alluded to in the following blog post from December 2017:

Canada is gradually improving its ranking in environmental opinion polls, but we’re still subject to some derision, focusing on the Alberta Oilsands, which critics refer to as ‘tarsands that produce the world’s dirtiest oil.’

They may be right, but I think if we paid higher carbon taxes we could pay for whatever research it takes to clean up this energy source. And this would be far better than going to war over oil in the Middle East or using food to make biofuels.

In the meantime, I thought I’d present this ‘blot on the landscape’ as a ‘cleaned up’ semi-abstract design.  As for making sense of the rest of the overlaid haiku, Googling ‘climate change preparation’ will get you over a million results to read...

Tomorrow I will re-publish my own Renewable Energy Rant, originally posted on this blog in April 2021.


Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Nice Surprise in Canmore

Canmore ArtWalk
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Until my most recent visit to Canmore, I’d never heard of the Spur Line, despite having grown up in Banff, only a 26 km drive away.  My lack of awareness notwithstanding, the Spur Line was an important part of the Canmore’s history from the late nineteenth century until 1979, crossing the Bow Valley to connect the mine to the CPR mainline. 

The part of what became the Spur Line Trail from the iconic Canmore Engine Bridge to 7th Avenue has, in recent years, been turned into an Art Walk showcasing paintings created by artists, some of them children, from the town of Canmore and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation at Morley. 

Paintings depicting wildlife found in the area and wide-ranging aspects of community history, are done on boards prepared from timber cut along the trail, then sealed to protect them from the mountain weather.  The collection is a nice surprise in an already spectacular walk.


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Painting a Misty Memory


Na Pali Coast, Kauai, USA
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

I wrote several blog posts about the trips on which I took each of my grandchildren, back in the day.  Hawaii was our destination in 2005, and I wrote blog posts about that trip on Dec. 4, Dec. 14Dec. 18and Dec.23, 2016.

I started publishing stories about ‘My Travels With Our Grandkids’ online on Medium, beginning this March with my 2004 trip to Costa Rica. For that story I used the same photos and paintings I’d used on this blog. 

For the Hawaiian trip, however, I wanted to add a picture of the spectacular Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. I hadn’t included any of my photos of it in the blog posts because they were very misty and totally unrecognizable to anyone but me  So I painted this picture showing details I had recorded only in my (not particularly photographic) memory.


Sunday, June 5, 2022

Here’s something I didn’t have time to paint

The springs above the Cave + Basin
Watercolour and crayon
©2016 Charlene Brown

This painting has already been round the block a couple of times − in 2016and then again in a slightly stylized version I used in a haiku book, in 2017 − but I’m going to use it again, just because I was at this spectacular location again  a few weeks ago, but this week I had to stay home for a Zoom meeting on my usual painting day at the seniors’ centre.

Should you be wondering, here’s an explanation of why we’re still meeting on Zoom, since pandemic restrictions have been lifted and most of us have had two shots and two boosters.  We have in fact started having in-person general meetings, but the meeting this week was an editorial meeting of the team working on our newsletter.  We’ve discovered it’s much easier to work on Zoom with the layout person (me, as it happens) sharing the screen where the publishing program is being run.  It seems people with real jobs are finding this too, and it looks like there will be huge changes in the way offices operate, now the advantages of not having to get together in the same place every day have been recognized.  



Sunday, May 29, 2022

Historic church in Canmore

REDress Project
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

The dresses now on display at this church are part of an on-going project to increase awareness of the horrendous findings of the MMIWG.

My interest in painting this church relates to a much less dire controversy involving it and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Banff. 

The Canmore church, built in 1890 and 1891 in the ‘Carpenter Gothic’ style, was one of the first Presbyterian churches in Alberta.  Ralph Connor, an ordained Presbyterian minister, was sent on a mission to the Canadian Rockies, serving Banff, Anthracite and Canmore about a hundred years ago.  He was an ardent advocate of temperance, labour rights, and the progressive ideals of the Social Gospel movement.

In 1925, he was strongly in favour of joining other Presbyterian churches, as well as Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada.  The idea was popular with his congregation in Canmore, but the Clerk of the Session in Banff (my grandfather, Jock Thomson) led a successful revolt to “ensure that St. Paul’s remained Presbyterian.” 

This resulted in Ralph Connor serving the remainder of his mission in Canmore only.  In spite of this, he played a leading role in bringing the various denominations together, and was soon called to serve in St. Stephen’s Church in Winnipeg. 

By the time of his death in 1937, Ralph Connor had become a prominent figure in the United Church and a best-selling author of several books, some relating to "difficulties in the mission fields of the Canadian West."  The church in this painting was named the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church in 1942.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Finally – a Real Trip to Paint!

A new view of Cascade
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

When I was growing up in Banff, we would occasionally swim in Johnson Lake (which we called Johnson’s Lake and still do).  And somehow we never noticed the spectacular view of Cascade and its reflection in that lake. Maybe that was because we never walked far enough along the lake, beyond the heavily wooded area near the road,  to see it.  More likely it was because when you live in Banff you don’t even see Cascade because it’s always there

Anyway, I was in Alberta a couple of weeks ago for the Mothers Day weekend (my first time off the Island in two years!) and made a point of finding some new painting locations. 

Full disclosure:  I took photos at these locations to be used as reference pictures back here in Victoria.  It’s still much too cold to be sitting around painting in Banff.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Sankey diagram* of the Albedo Effect

It’s complicated
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

Albedo, or degree of whiteness, determines the fraction of light that is reflected by a body or surface, and the complementary fraction that is absorbed. Albedo is a simple concept that plays a complicated role in climate change, especially in the Arctic.

Sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 85% of the sunlight that strikes it, absorbing only 15% of the heat. Whereas deep blue open water can absorb as much as 90% of the sun’s light and heat. The heating effect of climate change is compounded over the years as melting results in more open water and longer ice-free periods.  Melted ice is replaced with thinner ice, resulting in an earlier thaw the following year.

A similar compounded effect has been observed on land in the Arctic, where the length of the snow-free period each year will have an effect on the amount of time that the land is absorbing and holding heat, and subsequent speeding up of the spring thaw.  In addition to this, the lower albedo of bare land varies with the darkness of the vegetation.  Generally lighter deciduous vegetation will reflect more sunlight and absorb less than evergreen trees and shrubs.

An unexpected phenomenon, a shift in vegetation from conifer to deciduous ground cover, has been observed in the taiga of northern Canada by measuring the albedo of the area over a period of years. Last September, I wrote about the possibility that this increased reflectivity of the land surface will exert a negative radiative effect, or cooling, on the climate. 

 * Sankey flow diagrams feature directed flow lines the widths of which are proportional to the size or intensity of whatever is being measured, in this case incident and reflected sunlight.