Friday, July 14, 2006
Is Canada jumping off the deep end by not meeting its Kyoto targets or is it much ado about nothing?
Weather forecasters are predicting the summer of 2006 to be one of the hottest in recent years and perhaps no one is feeling the heat more than Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.
Calls for her resignation from the opposition parties were among the last things heard on Parliament Hill before the government took its annual summer break.
Ever since Ms. Ambrose said the only way to meet Canada’s Kyoto targets was to basically shut down the economy, she has earned the wrath of environmentalists across the country.
“There are four things Canada can do to make progress towards the Kyoto target,” said Matthew Bramley, director, climate change program at the Pembina Institute.
“The first is to reduce economic activity, which no one wants to do. The other options are to be more energy efficient, use cleaner energy sources, and fourthly, finance emission reductions in other countries,” said Mr. Bramley.
“The thing that is regrettable is Minister Ambrose’s statements in the House of Commons where she has talked as though only the first of those four options – which is the dumbest one – is available,” he added.
Just how far off target is Canada?
Under the Kyoto Protocol, which the previous Liberal government signed in 2002, Canada agreed to reduce its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a level six per cent below 1990 levels over the period 2008-2012.
Last fall, the United Nations released a report detailing changes in GHG emissions between 1990-2003. Canada was the sixth-worst offender, with a 24.2 per cent increase.
That statistic can be explained by Canada’s robust economy.
“Between 1990 and 2003, Canada had reduced GHG emissions per dollar of GDP (that is, our economy is becoming less GHG emissions intensive), but growth in GDP per person, and total population has outpaced reductions in GHG emissions per GDP,” said Nick Schneider, policy analyst, risk and environment at the Fraser Institute.
“Therefore, much of the reason that Canada is 30% off target is because of our growing economy.”
Where does Canada go from here?
“The practical implications of reducing Canadian GHG emission in time for the first Kyoto commitment period makes the task essentially not possible,” said Mr. Schneider.
One of the ways Canada can move towards its targets is to purchase credits on the international carbon market, something Mr. Schneider believes makes more economic sense than reducing Canada’s economic output.
However, the idea of giving countries like Russia billions of dollars and not reducing GHG in Canada does not sit well with many people, including the government.
According to a spokesperson from the Ministry of the Environment, Canada will not be buying credits on the international carbon market – the so-called “hot air” credits.
“We are being honest and transparent with Canadians. We are saying we cannot reach those targets without buying international credits and we don’t believe buying credits helps Canada at home.”
Mr. Bramley believes opponents of Kyoto are looking at it the wrong way.
“The trouble is, opponents of Kyoto talk about that (buying credits from Russia) as if it were the only option and that is simply not true,” he said.
“What we need to do is invest in projects in developing countries. Projects that have a rigorous verification process to determine how much emissions were reduced for those projects and you only get credit if you have shown you have real emission reductions. That is what we are interested in when you talk about buying international credits,” said Mr. Bramley.
The government, however, believes a made-in-Canada approach is a better solution and is working on policy over the summer months. When it is unveiled in the fall, it will include much more than a plan to reduce GHG emissions.
“The made-in-Canada approach will be a holistic approach. It will not simply deal with greenhouse gas emissions,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment.
“Canada has no water policy right now. There is no policy right now to clean up The Great Lakes. There will be initiatives on clean soil. There are numerous environmental problems that need to be addressed.”
Regarding the government’s made-in-Canada plan – there is no shortage of opinions.
“I would focus on impact and adaptation,” said Antoni Lewkowicz, a University of Ottawa geography professor who has been studying climate change in northern Canada for 30 years.
“What we need to get around to is how we are going to adapt and manage the impact of those emissions and the increases in temperatures that we can expect,” he said.
Are Canadians their own worst enemies when it comes to climate change?
Professor Lewkowicz says when he asks his students if they support the Kyoto Protocol, most of them put up their hands. But when he asks them if they are willing to give up their cars, fewer students raise their hands.
“Canadians seem to expect Ottawa to reduce emissions for us,” said Mr. Schneider. “But much of Canadian emissions come from the actions of individual Canadians. There’s no shortage of ways for individuals to reduce their emissions. Anything that reduces energy or fuel use will reduce personal emissions – and likely save on your hydro, electric, or gas bill,” he added.
“I don’t like blaming citizens for this,” said Mr. Bramley. “The far most important failure here has been the failure of political leadership in putting in place the policies.”
Whether Canada comes close to its Kyoto targets or not, most people believe something has to be done about climate change.
“Many people ask me when I come down from the north if I believe climate change is happening and my answer is yes,” said Professor Lewkowicz. “Northerners are very aware of what is going on because they spend so much time outdoors looking at the environment more than we do. I think they are going to be profoundly affected in the next 50 or 100 years.”
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Thanks to the shelf life of Kodachrome, conservators at Library and Archives Canada are able to restore another important film. (Photo courtesy of Dale Gervais)
Library and Archives Canada (formerly National Archives of Canada) has been collecting and preserving our nation’s historic moments since 1872.
Sometimes taken for granted, the archives only captures the public’s imagination on special occasions – such as Remembrance Day – when images of Canadians landing on Juno Beach on D-Day are broadcast on the news and splashed across newspapers.
Yet, day in and day out, conservators at the Gatineau Preservation Centre (GPC) in Gatineau, Quebec, go about their jobs restoring books, maps, photographs, audio recordings, videotapes and motion picture film.
However, once in awhile conservators are able to work on a title of significant national importance.
The film The Royal Visit to Canada and the United States of America May 17 – June 15, 1939 is a good example of this.
Silent with English inter-titles, The Royal Visit has a running time of more than three hours and has been edited into 26 parts. It was one of the first motion pictures in Canada shot on 16mm Kodachrome film stock.
When film conservators at GPC started looking at the 26 reels of original Kodachrome they discovered the film was in pristine condition, with little, if any, discernible colour fading (a common occurrence in early colour film). This was due to the inherent archival qualities of Kodachrome and the ideal cold storage facility at the GPC.
Invented by two concert musicians – Leopold Mannes and Leo Godowsky Jr. – Kodachrome was first released by Kodak in 1935 in 16mm motion picture format. A year later 35 mm slides and 8 mm home movies came on to the market.
With a film speed rating of approximately 8 ISO, it was not a photojournalist’s dream under low light conditions, but the film won wide acceptance for its colour, saturation and its unique “look.”
“Professional photographers I have talked to speak to the colour of Kodachrome – the colour palette is unique,” said Charles Smith, vice president of communications (film and photofinishing group) at Eastman Kodak, in a telephone interview.
“Kodachrome is an iconic product,” said Mr. Smith.
The 26 reels had been recanned into new, inert plastic cans. This is a common archival practice for housing motion picture film – replacing metal cans with plastic – a step taken to prevent exposure to rust that might contaminate the film.
Film conservators inspected each reel by hand and took shrinkage readings to determine their ability to be re-printed. Numerous cement splices, many of which had dried up, were in need of repair. More common defects were the base and emulsion scratches that ran throughout the reels. Other irregularities were dirt in the original camera gate, camera movement by the cameraman, and some processing problems.
After the film was hand inspected and conservators were happy with its condition, it was screened on a film-editing machine. The screenings confirmed the quality of the well-preserved Kodachrome stock. Each reel was measured and an inspection report was made.
“I was amazed and pleased to see how well the colour quality of the film has withstood after so many years,” said Dale Gervais, a film conservator at GPC. “Kodachrome is such a treat to work with.”
What distinguishes Kodachrome from other films is the way it is manufactured.
“Kodachrome is a black and white film,” said Mr. Smith. “The colour is added at various stages of the processing. Ektachrome and other chromes are colour films. The colour is in the film when the picture is taken. During the chemical processing, the colour is essentially released.”
After inspection the reels were sent to Luc Morisset, the archives’ timing specialist.
Timing a film is a process where values of light are given to each scene (in the film to be copied) using a colour analyzer. This means, for example, if the original scene is too dark or too light then a light value is given to correct the deficiency. Timing takes a lot of patience and a trained eye to properly correct a film.
Printing the film turned out to be a very challenging and trying experience for the archives’ printers – Richard Tremblay and Gerald Berard.
The wide range of film shrinkage in the originals posed a problem for the printer. Permanent shrinkage is caused by the loss of residual solvents. Since the shrinkage varied shot to shot within a reel the printer had to use a new film gate to handle the shrinkage. If the next shot happened to be of a greater or lesser shrinkage value then a new gate had to be installed. This necessary but mundane task was time consuming and often took a whole day to copy one reel of film.
“This title was abnormal because it meant taking the film gate apart and re-adjusting the transportation pins,” said Mr. Tremblay.
“Sometimes every shot needed adjusting.”
As the films returned back from the lab, they were checked for residual hypo (a technique to measure the amount of fixer that remains in the film’s emulsion after processing) and any other processing factors. Once all the 26 reels were checked they were then compared alongside the originals and any defects or splices were removed (spliced out) or noted as inherent characteristics in the original.
The original Kodachrome film was returned to the colour vault for long-term storage. The new Kodak 35mm internegative will be used to make release prints when financing becomes available.
Because Kodachrome has such impressive storage characteristics, The Royal Visit will be around for many years to come.
“The storage characteristics of Kodachrome – you’re probably talking somewhere in the 50 to 100 year range for dye fade,” said Thomas Moody, a worldwide film manager at Eastman Kodak. “The early Ektachromes were nowhere near that, but the new Ektachromes – the dye fade on that product is comparable to Kodachrome.”
Sadly, Kodak no longer manufactures Kodachrome motion picture film, although Kodachrome 64 and 200 slide film are still available for still photographers. Kodachrome’s highly complex K-14 processing was for year’s proprietary to Kodak, however Kodak has now allowed a small number of labs to process the film for them.
“For competitive reasons we don’t reveal statistics for individual products, but with more photographers shooting Ektachrome or digital, Kodachrome is really declining in demand,” said Mr. Smith. “It still has loyal users, but it is certainly under one per cent of the total film volume we sell.”
“There is a realistic sense (at Kodak) that the market is turning to digital, but we see a continuing role for film. The film market is not going to be as big a market as it used to be, but it is going to remain an important market for the industry and for Kodak,” said Mr. Smith.
For archives around the world, film may be old-fashioned technology, but it is one with a future.
(Thanks to Dale Gervais for help with this story)