Carol Linnitt's blog

Brave, Beautiful, Renewable: Exploring Geothermal Energy in Iceland

A drive along Iceland’s ‘ring road,’ a winding narrow highway that encircles the isolated island’s 1,332 kilometre circumference, will take you from the sublime to the beautifully desolate in quick succession as views of snow spotted mountains give way lava fields, relatively young in geologic time at 800 years, covered in the country’s signature muted green moss.
 
But perhaps no natural feature is so stunningly otherworldly than Iceland’s geothermal activity.
 
The remote island is the outcome of upwelling forces, emerging in the volcanic seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The result is a remarkably active geologic landscape, one pitted with boiling mud pots, meandering hot rivers and steaming caverns that open up out of a serene landscape like gaping mouths of Hades.
 
One of my first day trips, along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, I stop at the Geysir geothermal valley, a popular tourist hot spot (the English word geyser is a derivative of the Icelandic word geysir, which means gusher). The Strokkur Geysir, like Old Faithful, is a pressurized water column that superheats and erupts at regular intervals, blasting 25 to 30 metres into the air above a crowd of camera-ready spectators.
 
Both laconic hot pools and violently boiling cauldrons of water surround the Geysir, all of which can be seen from a vantage point just a short hike up the hill. Small-scale geothermal stations, used in a domestic capacity at houses and farms, dot the landscape, easily identifiable with their consistent plumes of steam rising into the mid-day sky, which at this latitude, above 64 degrees north, seems a bluer blue.

Canada Has Enormous Geothermal Potential. Why Aren’t We Using it?

Like a stand of eager horses chomping at the bit, Canada’s young geothermal industry is waiting impatiently at the starting line, ready for the race to begin.
 
But there’s no starting pistol in sight. At least, not yet.
 
Getting geothermal projects up and running in Canada “has been harder than it needs to be,” according to Alison Thompson, founder and president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CANGea).
 
Thompson, along with a group of delegates from Canada’s geothermal industry, is currently in Reykjavik at the Iceland Geothermal Conference where delegates, experts and scientists from around the world are swapping stories from the geothermal trenches.
 
Despite having the second largest delegation at the conference after Iceland, Canada has little to show or tell.
 
“Canada has an incredibly high quality resource and we can’t even get out of the starting gate,” Thompson told DeSmog Canada.

Shady Corporate and Foreign Donations Don’t Belong in B.C. Elections: New Poll

Christy Clark recently turned down the opportunity to limit foreign and corporate donations to political parties in campaigns. She justified her position by simply stating, “I represent everyone.”
 
Yet a new poll conducted by Insights West found the vast majority of British Columbians — 86 per cent — support a ban on both corporate and union political donations.
 
The poll, conducted on behalf of the Dogwood Initiative, a democracy advocacy organization, suggests Clark’s cozy relationship with major foreign and corporate donors could put her in the hot seat leading into the province’s next election.
 
That seat is likely to be even hotter after revelations Clark takes a cut of funds donated to the B.C. Liberal party through exclusive cash-for-access events that can cost up to $20,000 dollars to attend.
 
A high percentage of B.C. Liberal donors, 81 per cent, and an even higher number of B.C. NDP voters, 91 per cent, support putting a ban on corporate and union donations before the next election.

We’re Easily Confused About What Experts Really Think, New Research Shows

I’m not a scientist. And chances are, neither are you.
 
That likely means we both find ourselves deferring to the opinion of others, of experts who know more about complex matters — like health or nuclear safety or vaccinations or climate change — than we do.
 
But heck, even scientists have to rely on the expertise of others (unless they’re some sort of super scientist with infinite knowledge of all things. Ahem, Neil deGrasse Tyson).
 
But for the rest of us intellectual Joes, we rely heavily on what we think the experts think. As it happens, figuring out what the experts think isn’t so easy, not even in those instances where the majority of experts agree on a subject.
 
Take for example, the issue of climate change, which is just what cognitive scientist Derek J. Koehler had in mind when he launched a recent pair of experiments designed to investigate what factors might contribute to our collective failure to grasp expert consensus.

Premier Clark’s Proposal to ‘Electrify Oilsands’ With Site C Dam Has ‘Air of Desperation’: Panel Chair

Premier Christy Clark has ambitious plans for the copious amounts of electricity — far more than British Columbia is expected to need for more than a decade — generated by the Site C dam on the Peace River: sell it to Alberta.
 
In a recent interview with Alaska Highway News, Clark said the power from the Site C dam, scheduled to come online in 2024, could potentially provide electricity to Alberta — where the government has recently committed to closing all of its coal-powered energy plants.
 
“We could potentially electrify the oilsands, which would make the oilsands the cleanest oil produced anywhere on the globe,” Clark said.
 
“If Canada wants to make an argument for our resources to find their way to market, let’s make them the cleanest in the world and let’s make that our brand.”

Pipeline Companies Ordered to Publicly Disclose Emergency Plans Online After Kinder Morgan Secrecy Scandal

The National Energy Board, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, will now require pipeline operators to make emergency response plans publicly available online, according to an order issued this week.
 
The new rules require all pipeline companies to post emergency plans on their websites by September 30, 2016. The increased transparency measure is part of a larger effort by the National Energy Board to regain credibility with the Canadian public.

“We’ve always reviewed manuals, we’ve always reviewed companies’ emergency management systems to make sure they’re robust, but Canadians are now saying they want more information and we’re just acting on what Canadians are telling us,” National Energy Board chairman Peter Watson told Global News. 

“This is an example where I felt quite strongly that we could put more information out about companies’ emergency response plans and help people understand what’s at play and how these things work. And that will, I think, give them more confidence that we know what we’re doing around these systems for emergency response.”

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