pollution

Wed, 2014-09-24 10:23Guest
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Blue Dot Movement Rolls Across Canada

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.

Fri, 2014-08-15 11:42Judith Lavoie
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Mink Farm Pollution Key Culprit in Rendering Nova Scotia Lakes Unswimmable: Report

Lake Fanning, algae bloom, mink farms

When Debbie and Allen Hall bought waterfront property on Lake Fanning in Nova Scotia, they looked forward to a relaxing semi-retirement with their six grandchildren swimming and playing in the lake.

But, a decade later, the Yarmouth-area lake is unusable because of scummy blue-green algae blooms, most likely caused by manure run-off from nearby mink farms. The Halls considered moving and taking a financial blow, but have now resorted to building a swimming pool in an effort to reclaim a fraction of the lifestyle they dreamt about.

We used to think of the classic cliché of fun at the lake, running and jumping off the dock. Now there are massive blooms from late May until November and when they die off, the bacterial decomposition uses up all the oxygen and we end up with huge dead zones,” said Debbie Hall.

Nova Scotia lakes and rivers have been polluted by excess nutrients and phosphorus to the point that no one knows when — or if — they will recover and studies point the finger at fur farms.

There are now 150 mink farms in Nova Scotia and the industry generated $140 million last year with most of the pelts going to Russia, China and South Korea.

Thu, 2014-05-15 13:26Chris Rose
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Changing Oceans to Bring Economic Hardship to Coastal Communities

As scientific studies continue to reveal how carbon emissions are making the world’s oceans more acidic, one prominent academic from British Columbia suggests that the rapidly changing marine chemistry could also eventually negatively affect the economies of some coastal communities. If the recent collapse of a scallop fishery off the coast of B.C.’s Vancouver Island is any indication, those negative changes may already be well underway.

Karen Kohfeld, a Simon Fraser University associate professor and a Canada Research Chair in Climate, Resource, and Global Change, said scientists have learned much about the oceans’ chemical makeup in the past three decades but are less certain about how the increased acid levels will affect ecosystems.

There may be some species that adapt better than others,” Kohfeld told DeSmog Canada on Thursday. “And in the end, we are just beginning to understand how ocean acidification could impact our coastal fisheries in the long run.”

Tue, 2014-05-13 15:45Erika Thorkelson
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Religious Leaders Call on Christy Clark to End Coal Exports

Texada Island

Religious leaders across a number of faiths are calling on the government of British Columbia to halt its plans to expand coal exports.

We state emphatically that making money at the expense of the health and prosperity of the planet is wrong,” write clergy and faith leaders from Sikh, Jewish, Unitarian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Anglican, United Church of Canada, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Lutheran communities along the southern coast, including Texada Island, the Sunshine Coast, Delta, New Westminster and Surrey in an open letter addressed to the Premier Christy Clark and three of her ministers.

The letter was a response to the B.C. government’s quiet approval of an expansion of coal exports from Texada Island in March. The move will increase shipments to between 10 and 20 times the current level, although residents of the island are already complaining that the beaches near the terminal are contaminated with arsenic laden coal.

Citing moral grounds, the leaders are asking the premier “to reconsider the recently approved permit for the augmentation of the Texada Island port facility that would enable the increased coal export, and to phase out all U.S. thermal coal exports from B.C. ports.”

Fri, 2014-05-09 14:10Madeline McParland
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New Federal Regulations Allow Fisheries and Environment Ministers to Authorize Pollution in Fish-Bearing Waters

pollution fish-bearing waters, harper government, west coast environmental law

Fish-bearing waters are less protected from pollution after regulations passed by the federal government give Fisheries and Environmental Ministers the ability to grant blanket-authorizations to pollute if the polluting activity is related to fish-farming, research, or falls under other federal or provincial regulations or guidelines, which are not legally binding.

Deregulating pollution in fish-bearing waters is short-sighted and irresponsible. They represent yet another attempt by the federal government to abdicate its responsibility to Canadians to protect fish and fish habitat,” Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior counsel at the West Coast Environmental Law Association said.

Dumping pollutants, such as drugs, aquatic pesticides and biochemical oxygen-demanding matter, into fish-bearing waters is prohibited in Section 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, except with a permit. The new regulations bypass permits and exempt pollution in a wide-range of circumstances, including aquaculture.

Thu, 2014-04-17 10:30Andrew Leach
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This One Change Would Make the Oilsands No Longer Worth Developing

oilsands, carbon emissions

This article originally appeared in Maclean's magazine and is republished here with permission.

It was reported recently that Exxon-Mobil will begin disclosing the degree to which its assets are exposed to future greenhouse gas policies. This risk is at the heart of what has become known as the carbon bubble, a term advanced by UK group Carbon Tracker, which suggests that assets may be over-valued as a result of not accounting for potential future limits on fossil fuel extraction imposed to fight climate change.

The so-called carbon bubble should be a concern to investors in oil sands stocks, and you only need to consider two numbers to understand why: 80 and 320. First, the number 80: oil sands producers and the Alberta government are quick to tell you that up to 80 per cent of the life-cycle emissions from oil sands occur from refining and combustion, not from extraction and upgrading.

That’s comforting, until you consider that this means that most of the carbon policy exposure for these projects comes from emissions-control policies and innovations far beyond the jurisdictions and markets in which oil sands companies operate.

Fri, 2013-09-27 10:31Guest
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Dan Kahan: We Need to Reframe Climate Change

Polarization photo by Andrew Davidhazy

To overcome polarization on the issue of climate change, Yale professor Dan Kahan says in an interview with e360, scientists and the media need to frame the science in ways that will resonate with the public. A message that makes people feel threatened, he says, simply will not be effective.

By Diane Toomey

It’s a common refrain: If people only knew more about the science, there wouldn’t be so much polarization on the issue of climate change. But Dan M. Kahan’s groundbreaking work has gone a long way to prove that idea wrong. In fact, he’s found, it’s not the lack of scientific understanding that has led to conflict over climate change, but rather the need to adhere to the philosophy and values of one’s “cultural” group.

Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School, says “individualists” — those who believe individuals should be responsible for their own well-being and who are wary of regulation or government control – tend to minimize the risk of climate change. On the other side, he notes, those who identify with the “communitarianism” group favor a larger role for government and other collective entities in securing the welfare of individuals and tend to be wary of commercial activity – he sees them as likely to favor restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

Thu, 2013-07-11 08:00Adam Kingsmith
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Pretty Little Industrial Liars, Pt. 2

Emissions Stacks Smoking Away

Big Industry has committed some of the most atrocious crimes against the environment in Canada and around the world with little fear of reprisal. This is Part Two of a two–part series highlighting some small and large-scale instances of industrial–environmental greenwashing and misdirection in an attempt to better hold conglomerates accountable to the Canadian public.

The Industrial Bait and Pollute
 
Like an environmental fairy tale, it has been thrust into our consciousness for more than a generation – carpool, recycle, take shorter showers, unplug electronics, and shop green, we’ve all got a part to play in conserving the planet for future generations.
 
The Citizen’s Guide to Pollution Prevention – a report from the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy published in collaboration with the federal government, is a perfect example of this institutionalised emphasis on the role individuals are to play if the devastating effects of climate change are to be mediated.
Fri, 2013-01-25 13:09Carol Linnitt
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Two Oil Spills in Alberta Due to Inadequate Monitoring

Companies responsible for two separate oil spills in Alberta failed to provide adequate oversight for their operations, according to federal government documents released by Environment Canada through Access to Information legislation.

The documents detail how Devon Canada and Gibson Energy violated environmental laws, including the federal Fisheries Act, when their operations cause two oil spills into fish-bearing waterways in 2010.

Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, spilled a few hundred litres of oil into an Edmonton creek after failing to properly abandon an unused pipeline. According to a warning letter issued to the company from Environment Canada, “Gibson Energy ULC made a business decision to keep the Kinder Morgan lateral full of crude oil and to not purge it with nitrogen.”

Thu, 2013-01-24 11:52Carol Linnitt
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Environment Canada Issues Warnings to Industry, Forgoes Prosecution, Documents Show

The federal government has repeatedly decided to forego prosecution for oil, gas and pipeline industry violations, according to Environment Canada documents released to Postmedia News through Access to Information legislation.

According to the documents the federal government issued 'warning letters' to companies like Devon Canada, a tar sands oil producer, and Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, after two separate oil spills proved the companies' respective facilities were in violation of the federal Fisheries Act. Violations of this sort can attract fines of up to $1 million, or three years imprisonment, the letters warned.

According to Postmedia's Mike De Souza, letters of this kind were sent to several companies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec for various offenses including the pollution of air and water as well as inadequate emergency preparedness and shoddy record keeping.

Environment Canada indicated warning letters are effective in gaining industry's attention. Prosecutions, on the other hand, are both expensive and time consuming. Yet, the released documents suggest that when it comes to monitoring and enforcement of industry's actions, the government may not be acting in the public's interest.

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