Carol Linnitt

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Carol Linnitt is Managing Editor and Director of Research for DeSmog Canada. Carol is a writer and researcher focusing on energy development, environmental policy and wildlife. She joined DeSmog in June 2010 as a researcher, focusing much of her time on the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing.

Carol is the lead author of DeSmog's original report Fracking the Future: How Unconventional Gas Threatens Our Water, Health & Climate. Her work also led to the DeSmog micro-documentary CRY WOLF: An Unethical Oil Story and the Cry Wolf investigative series.

Carol began her environmental career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity.

Carol has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural resource conflicts and Aboriginal rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Victoria in the English and Cultural, Social and Political Thought programs.

Geothermal Could Put Thousands from Alberta’s Oil and Gas Sector Back to Work

Abandoned oil and gas wells in Alberta are on the rise — but where many see a growing liability, Alberta’s fledgling geothermal industry sees massive opportunity.
 
“We’ve got these old wells that we know are hot and we’re going to fill them with cement and walk away,” says Tim Davies, CEO of geothermal company Turkana. “It’s just stupid.”
 
There’s currently no permitting framework for geothermal in Alberta, leaving the renewable energy out of play.
 
“I own the well, I own the land and I own the oil. But I can’t own the heat,” Davies said. “There’s just no mechanism for that in place.”
 
“The oil business has drilled 400,000 wells in Alberta alone,” Alison Thompson, president of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, told DeSmog Canada. “They’ve already found all the hot water the province has.”

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.”

Naomi Oreskes: A New Form of Climate Denialism is at Work in Canada

No one has a better handle on the effect climate deniers have on the socio-political stage than science historian and author Naomi Oreskes.
 
Her book Merchants of Doubt charts the path of many of the world’s most notorious deniers, skeptics, shills, PR men and experts-for-hire. Plus, as a trained historian and professor of earth and environmental sciences at Harvard, Oreskes has the ability to take a 10,000-foot view when it comes to climate politics and the turning tide of public opinion.
 
Oreskes recently visited Vancouver to discuss climate change and climate denial in Canada at a talk organized by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  
 
For Oreskes, understanding how climate denial is active in places like Canada involves acknowledging the expansiveness of climate change as an issue, one that cuts across boundaries between government, society and market power.
 
We asked Oreskes what she makes of Canada’s current political situation — a situation in which our  prime minister announces impressive climate targets on the world stage but then quietly approves B.C.’s first LNG export terminal on a Friday afternoon.
 
“Of course there is a long road ahead,” Oreskes said. “[Climate change] is a very big issue that reaches into economics, politics and culture.”

Weaver Calls for B.C. Moratorium After Study Links Fracking, Earthquakes

Natural gas operations

The results of a new study linking hydraulic fracturing or fracking to induced earthquakes in B.C. and Alberta is reason to immediately halt the controversial extraction technique from being used in gas fields in B.C. according to Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
 
“I am calling on both the government and the official opposition to join me in supporting a moratorium on horizontal fracking in British Columbia,” Weaver said in a statement released Tuesday. “Other jurisdictions, like Quebec, New York, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, have already suspended the practice and B.C. should follow suit.”
 
The study found a direct link between fracking and earthquakes in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin over the last 25 years. The group studied more than 12,000 wells and seismic events larger than magnitude 3.0.
 
The new research, published in Seismological Research Letters on Tuesday by a group of Canadian researchers, concludes that 90 per cent of seismic activity in the region was the direct result of fracking operations.

Federal Justice Minister Says Canada’s Reputation at Stake Over Site C Dam in Newly Surfaced Video

At a 2012 Paddle for the Peace event the new federal  Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould said the destruction of the Peace Valley for the contentious Site C dam threatens Canada’s reputation on the world stage.
 
In a video recently published on the Common Sense Canadian, a site co-founded by Rafe Mair and documentary filmmaker Damien Gillis, Wilson-Raybould said Canada’s “reputation is at stake with approval of these projects like Site C, like the Enbridge pipeline.”
 
“Our reputation as a caring and considerate environmentally friendly nation internationally is going to be questioned,” she said. “Running roughshod over aboriginal treaty and rights, including treaty rights, is not the way to improve that reputation.”
 
Some Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. are vocally opposed to the Site C dam, which will flood more than 5,000 hectares of farm land, swamp indigenous archaeological sites and permanently destroy land First Nations use for hunting, fishing and collection of traditional medicines.

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