Top News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 13:00 • Chris Rose
Coal plant

Coal, the fossil fuel that largely sparked the industrial revolution, may be facing the beginning of the end — at least in terms of generating electricity.

There are increasing signs of the demise of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, from a global oversupply to plummeting prices to China starting to clean up its polluted air.

Last week, the Carbon Tracker Initiative published an analysis — Carbon Supply Cost Curves: Evaluating Financial Risk to Coal Capital Expenditures — identifying major financial risks for investors in coal producers around the world.

Saying the demand for thermal coal in China, the world’s largest emitter of toxic greenhouse gases, could peak as early as 2016, the analysis also highlights $112 billion of future coal mine expansion and development that is excess to requirements under lower demand forecasts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 06:15 • Judith Lavoie
Jumbo Glacier ski resort

Democracy has been ignored, wishes of local residents disregarded and taxpayers are on the hook for costs associated with a private company’s real estate deal that will give them access to thousands of acres of Crown land, say Kootenay residents and politicians opposed to plans to build a billion-dollar ski resort deep within the Purcell Mountains.

The 24-year history of Jumbo Glacier Resort is marked by controversy and breathtaking departures from usual government process. As the deadline approaches for the province to decide whether to finally approve an Environmental Assessment Certificate, feelings in nearby communities remain raw.

In Invermere, the closest community to the site, Mayor Gerry Taft shakes his head trying to explain how an appointed mayor and council of an adjacent municipality — with no residents or buildings — can make decisions about the surrounding backcountry.

Monday, September 29, 2014 - 10:33 • Judith Lavoie
Jumbo Glacier Resort proposal

Stuck in the ground, halfway down the valley trail leading into the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort, is a stick, leaning crookedly against a small tree, inscribed with the word “Lift.”

About one kilometre away, at the bottom of a recently bulldozed track into soggy underbrush, is another marker with the words “Proposed Corner of Lodge.”

The two markers, reams of flagging tape, several parked backhoes and a drill, where two employees are watching a small stream of water run into the ditch, are the only apparent signs of construction at the site in the remote heart of the Purcell Mountains.

A vital deadline is looming for Glacier Resorts Ltd., which by next month has to prove to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office that significant progress has been made on the billion-dollar plan to build a 6,300-bed resort on Crown land in the glacial wilderness, 55-kilometres west of Invermere.

Saturday, September 27, 2014 - 06:00 • Chris Rose

Vote-hungry politicians reluctant to act on climate change because they are beholden to the powerful fossil fuel sector just received a poor prognosis from the medical profession.

Climate change is not only happening but it can exacerbate many environmental health risks familiar to clinicians and public health professionals, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Harm from climate change includes respiratory disorders, infectious diseases, food insecurity, and mental health disorders, said the JAMA study, Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Health.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 10:23 • Guest
David Suzuki

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

As an elder, I’ve watched Canada and the world change in many ways, for better and worse. Thanks in part to cheap energy and technological growth, the human population has more than tripled, from 2.2 billion in 1936 when I was born to about seven billion today. As a boy, I could drink from streams and lakes without worrying about getting sick. My father took me fishing for halibut, sturgeon and salmon on the Vancouver waterfront. Pretty much all food was organic.

Although my parents were born and raised in Canada, our family was incarcerated in the B.C. Interior during the Second World War. Like other people of colour, my parents didn’t have the right to vote until 1948. First Nations people living on reserves didn’t have voting rights until 1960. And, until 1969, homosexuality was a criminal offence, often leading to prison (now same-sex couples in Canada can marry). Without a health-care system, my parents had to worry far more about illness than Canadians today.

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Although we’ve degraded our natural environment since my childhood, we’ve made great strides in human rights and social programs. But those advances didn’t come without struggle. It’s important to protect and improve the hard-won rights and social safety net that make Canada one of the best countries for citizens and visitors alike — but it’s crucial to protect the natural systems that make it all possible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 08:37 • Carol Linnitt
Aurum Lodge, Homewaters Campaign, Headwaters North Saskatchewan

Alan Ernst and his wife Madeline were world travellers for most of their adult lives. So when they decided to settle down, they gravitated back to one of the most beautiful places they’d ever seen: the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta.

There, the sharp slopes of one of the world’s most dramatic mountain ranges make a sprawling dive to the foothills, which settle into the continent’s vast prairies.

When the Ernsts saw the eastern slopes for the first time, they knew it was going to be their new home.

We just wanted to do something different,” Alan said. “We had office jobs before and we decided we wanted to live in a more pleasant surrounding than the suburbs of a major city. We wanted to live in the mountains.”

The Ernsts found one of the last undeveloped natural areas in the eastern slopes, in between Jasper and Banff, and built the first eco-tourism lodge in Alberta. The Aurum Lodge was constructed in 1999 and opened to the public in the year 2000.  To this day it is the only dedicated, low-impact eco-tourism lodge in the province.

I sometimes joke and say we are the antidote to Banff,” Alan laughed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 11:54 • Carol Linnitt
environment canada, climate change, pr campaign

Facing criticism in the lead up to today’s UN Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper is not attending, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada, praising the country’s action on climate change.

The campaign points to four pillars of Canada’s climate progress including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investing in climate adaptation, “world-class scientific research to inform decision-making,” and international leadership in climate action.

Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada’s waning reputation on the international stage for its climate obstruction, the muzzling of scientists, the elimination of environmental legislation and massive cuts to federal research and science programs.

Reading the Harper government’s claims about its climate efforts is like reading one of Orwell’s books,” Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environment Management, said.

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Eliminating policy is to implement policy. Blocking and abandoning global negotiations is to lead global negotiations. Muzzling scientists is to have science inform decision-making. Working hard to increase carbon pollution is to decrease it. Black is white. Dishonesty is truth.”