Friday, October 9, 2015 - 10:05 • Judith Lavoie

Water quality in a tributary of one of Southeast Alaska’s prime salmon rivers will improve once a new mine opens on the B.C. side of the border according to spokesmen for Seabridge Gold Inc, the Toronto-based company planning to open the Kerr-Sulpherets-Mitchell (KSM) mine.

The copper, gold and molybdenum mine, 65 kilometres northwest of Stewart and 30 kilometres from the Alaska border, received federal and provincial environmental assessment approvals last year and the company is now seeking a joint venture partner for the $5.4-billion project.

But the prospect of a massive mine close to a tributary that runs into the Unuk River has alarmed Alaskan fishing, First Nations and environmental groups who say the risk is unacceptable and are pushing for transboundary mining issues to be referred to the International Joint Commission.

The long term risks of KSM far outweigh any short-term improvements to water quality the mine may create,” Chris Zimmer, Rivers Without Borders Alaska campaign director, said.

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Friday, October 9, 2015 - 07:56 • James Wilt

It’s easy to assume the plummet in energy prices will be a boon for the fight against climate change as emissions-intensive oilsands projects are cancelled or put on hold, but experts say that will only be the case if we learn some lessons from the current downturn.

Here are the three key factors that will determine whether Canada cuts emissions during this downturn or simply moves from “heroin to methadone,” as one expert puts it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 14:20 • Carol Linnitt

Mel Arnold, a federal Conservative candidate from the North Okanagan-Shuswap riding in B.C., told the CBC he remains “unconvinced” by climate science and that the role of human activity in the rise of global temperatures remains undetermined.

In an interview with the CBC’s Daybreak South radio show this week, Arnold told host Chris Walker he believes only 1.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are human-caused.

Arnold also said cycles in climate could be responsible for recent changes in temperature.

“I don't know that it has been determined for sure that human activity is the main cause. It is part of the process,” he told Walker. “But how much of it is actually naturally occurring, that's I think where the debate is.”

“As you know, this area was once buried in kilometres of thick ice during the ice ages. And we have approximately 30-year cycles on weather conditions here. Those types of things are still in play.”

Cindy Derkaz, federal Liberal candidate from the North Okanagan-Shuswap riding said Arnold was simply toeing the Conservative Party line.

I wasn’t surprised,” Derkaz said. “I feel that he is following a party line and bound to do that and I’ve noticed that there’s been no rebuttal of [Arnold’s statements] from the party.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 15:03 • Kevin Grandia

Sabrina Zuniga, the Conservative party candidate running in the riding of Spadina-Fort York in Ontario, was caught on tape claiming that “oil is a natural substance… so spilling into the environment, the land will absorb it because that's what oil is.” Zuniga's riding is in close proximity to the route of the Enbridge Line 9B pipeline, which may soon be carrying diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands through the Greater Toronto Area.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 10:40 • Guest

This is a guest post by Andy Skuce.

Volkswagen has admitted to cheating on emissions tests of some of its diesel vehicles. The full story has not yet been made public, but Volkswagen seems not to be an isolated case. There are indications of widespread gaming of emissions testing in the European automobile industry, with regulators and governments turning a blind eye to cheats and being reluctant to introduce testing procedures that would measure actual emissions in real-world conditions. 

There are some parallels with the estimation of emissions in the natural gas industry in British Columbia, where officially-sanctioned emissions rates are far lower than in other jurisdictions, compliance inspections are non-existent and methodologies do not include state-of-the art field measurements.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 14:04 • Guest

Over the past year we have seen a growing body of public opinion critiquing varied aspects of what is now termed ‘Harperism,’ for many a vexing and disturbing approach to Canadian governance.

My own criticism of the syndrome is increasingly annoying to my wife. ‘Your anger about Harperism seems to have deep emotional roots; it’s bigger than just — you need to dig deeper to discover its real cause.’

Well, I have. A key aid to my political exploration has been E. O. Wilson’s 2012 book, The Social Conquest of the Earth. The dust jacket commentary refers to it as the ‘summa work’ of his legendary career as an ecologist. Wilson is the living heir to Darwin, and a Professor Emeritus at Harvard.

He aids my political critique of Harperism in his rational analysis of eusociality — the most advanced level of social organization. Eusociality manifests as our collective ability as Homo sapiens, brought about by the evolutionary process of group selection, to empathize, to be compassionate, and perhaps most important, to be altruistic.

After reading Wilson, I was able to define my angst: I think the current Conservative government is presiding over a diminution, even a dismantling of eusociality in its many unique Canadian contexts. Simply put, we are diminishing state-wide altruism.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 12:08 • Kevin Grandia
Canada Federal Election Climate Change
Canada Federal Election Climate Change

With only a couple of weeks left in the Canadian federal election, voters are starting to ask fundamental questions about where the major parties stand on important issues like climate change. Canadians already rank climate and environment as a top issue both during and between election cycles. 

But with both the federal election on the horizon and international climate talks scheduled in Paris for late November, Canadians have a real opportunity for their votes to translate into substantial climate action on the global stage. 

Pressure is mounting for Canada to play a leadership role at these negotiations, with major trading partners like China and the United States already jointly announcing their emission reduction goals and commitments in advance of the talks.  

Friday, October 2, 2015 - 08:00 • Raphael Lopoukhine

A small, conservative movement is growing in Ontario to “reset the conversation” around carbon pricing and bring the centre-right back to an originally-conservative position, one in support of a market-based approach to fighting climate change. But the movement faces an uphill battle.

It’s very ironic — the idea of carbon pricing, came more from the right than the left originally,” Mark Cameron, executive director for Canadians for Clean Prosperity, and former policy director to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told DeSmog Canada.

There are well known conservative economists who endorsed carbon taxes for decades.”

You don’t need to feel alone, there are a number of people coming into this tent,” said Chris Ragan, chair of the Ecofiscal Commission, associate professor at McGill University and research fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Those hoping for a reset will soon see how the Ontario Progressive Conservative party engages on the topic when the governing Liberals introduce a cap-and-trade plan in the near future.