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.

Conservative Candidate, Mel Arnold, Hit Hard After Questioning Man-made Climate Change on CBC

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.”

Enbridge, Canadian Government on Trial as Major Legal Challenge Against Northern Gateway Pipeline Begins in Vancouver

Starting today the federal government will face 18 separate challenges against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver.

A consolidated group of environmental organizations, one labour union and First Nations are fighting the approval of the project on the grounds that the federal government violated First Nations rights, failed to protect species at risk and did not consider the full impacts of an oil spill in its decision.

Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre and counsel for appellant B.C. Nature, said the case demonstrates the importance of due process when making decisions on major infrastructure projects like oil and gas pipelines.

This case has the potential to affirm how important it is to have a robust federal environmental assessment law that holds project proponents to account,” he said.

Challenges presented by First Nations appellants will be presented over the next two days, Tollefson explained, with environmental groups following. The trial will stretch over six days, the longest a case has ever been before the Federal Court of Appeals.

Half of Albertans Think Oilsands are Large Enough, Majority Want Stronger Climate Policies, According to New Poll

A poll of more than 1,800 Albertans conducted by EKOS Research Associates shows more than half the population wants the province to take stronger climate action by introducing policies that limit carbon emissions.

The poll, commissioned by the Pembina Institute, also found 50 per cent of Albertans are in support of a broad price on carbon that would apply to both consumers and producers. Support for a price on carbon jumped by another 10 to 20 per cent if the money generated from the tax were to go towards carbon reducing technologies or projects.

Results also show a large portion of Albertans (66 per cent) want to diversify the province’s economy rather than up the competitiveness of the oil and gas industry (29 per cent). Forty-eight per cent of Albertans who took the poll said they feel the oilsands are large enough or should be downsized.

It’s encouraging to see such strong support among Albertans for action on climate change,” Simon Dyer, Alberta regional director for the Pembina Institute, said.

This poll shows that the public is open to many of the solutions being considered, such as an economy-wide price on carbon pollution, or phasing out coal power and replacing it with renewables.”

Environmental Issues Demand Work Across Party Lines: Interview with GreenPAC's Aaron Freeman

Aaron Freeman has been working on environmental policy, in one fashion or another, in Canada for 25 years — long enough to witness what he calls the steady decline of environmental priorities in Ottawa.

And yet the majority of Canadians claim they care deeply about the environment and expect governments to act on major environmental problems like climate change. So how to resolve the disconnect?

Freeman launched GreenPAC, a non-partisan political action committee, in March as a way of mending the divide between environmental concerns and environmental action at the political level.

Recently GreenPAC released a list of environmental champions from across the political spectrum and urged Canadians to support their campaigns.

DeSmog Canada asked Freeman to break down how he sees strong support for environmental candidates making the difference when it comes to making environment a top priority in Ottawa once again.

GreenPAC Moves Beyond Partisan Divide With Endorsement of 18 Environmental Candidates from Across Political Parties

There are 18 political leaders notable for their contribution to the Canadian environment and worth voting for in the upcoming federal election, according to GreenPAC, a non-partisan political action committee.

The group called upon the opinion of an expert panel in identifying the candidates who come from across the political spectrum.

We need a force that is politically relevant in our electoral system that sends a strong message to parties that environment matters — that it matters politically. And right now we don’t have that,” Aaron Freeman, GreenPAC founder and president, told DeSmog Canada.

The way to do that is by embedding leadership in all political parties,” he said.

Freeman said translating Canada’s broad support for environmental issues into support for key candidates in an important way to make environment a political priority in Ottawa.

We’re in the business of recruiting, nominating, electing and supporting environmental leadership,” Freeman said. “So we are building a conversation, we’re building a community of people in different parts of the country who want to do that, who want to build leadership at the local and national level.”

Fraser Institute and Other Right-Wing Charities Underreporting Political Activities to CRA: Broadbent Institute Report

A new report from the Broadbent Institute is raising questions once again about the political activity audits conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and whether or not the agency has unfairly focused on charities with missions that don’t align with the interests of the federal government.

The report finds nine out of 10 prominent right-wing charities claimed zero per cent of their budgets were used for political activity in the most recent fiscal year. The final filing for the tenth organization has yet to be submitted or made public by the CRA.

The report is an update of a similar October 2014 investigation, which discovered all 10 charitable organizations reported zero political activities between 2011 and 2013. That investigation led the Broadbent Institute to call for an independent inquiry into the CRA’s audits to ensure charities under investigation aren’t the target of political attack.

The new report, which reviews the 2014 filings of the 10 organizations in light of their public activities, renews calls for an independent inquiry “to ensure transparency and fairness in the CRA’s decision-making.”

David Schindler: Canada Spending its Way into Dangerous Water Debt

It’s no surprise, after California’s five-year drought that is now creeping northwards, experts have water on the mind.

The drought-plagued forests that burned across the continent this summer offered a glimpse of our future world, according to retired scientists David Schindler, who told an audience last week that the ash-laden air and sepia skies of summer 2015 are to become the new normal in a hotter and drier world.

Schindler, a Rhodes Scholar and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences, spoke at The Walrus Talks in Victoria, an event that brought together authors and experts all with stories to tell about our most overlooked resource: water.

When I agreed to give a Walrus Talk last spring on the topic of climate warming and fresh water I couldn’t have known that the summer of 2015 was going to be a poster child that would display most of these symptoms that I’ve been studying for 25 years or more,” he said.

In this part of B.C. you enjoyed the summer of water rationing and red suns set in a grey sky with air quality that you normally wouldn’t see outside of Beijing. You’re getting a good idea of quality of life that we’re facing ahead if we continue to operate as business as usual.”

“War on Science” Top of Mind for Candidates and Public at Science and Technology Debate

A one-of-a-kind debate in Victoria this week brought science and technology to the minds of federal candidates who all, despite their differences, agreed vociferously on one thing: Canada needs to be freed from the “war on science.”

The Divestment Movement Has Unexpectedly Exploded into the Trillions of Dollars and Here’s Why

At this time last year, building on the momentum generated by Climate Week and the New York People’s Climate March, divestment advocates made an ambitious announcement: a plan to triple the $50 billion in assets individuals and organizations had pledged to divest from fossil fuels by the time of the 2015 Paris UN climate negotiations.

That was an ambitious plan.

But in the year since, according to a new report from Arabella Advisors, the divestment movement exploded in scope and scale increasing fifty-fold, bringing the total combined assets of those divesting to an incredible $2.6 trillion.

It’s safe to say that no one, not even the most optimistic divestment dreamers, could have anticipated this outcome.

So what’s behind the global momentum for divestment?

Alarming Levels of Air Pollution Identified Across Alberta, Fossil Fuels the Culprit

alberta air quality, pollution, fossil fuels

The results of a new national air quality survey released Wednesday shows levels of fine particulate pollution and ozone exposure in Red Deer, Alta., exceed safe standards. And four of the province's six air zones, including the Upper and Lower Athabasca and North and South Saskatchewan, all home to major oil and gas projects, are fast approaching those limits, according to the province.

Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks, said the results of the air quality assessment are “concerning.”

We can’t keep going down the same path and expecting a different result. Our government has a responsibility to protect the health of Albertans by ensuring air pollution from all sources is addressed. Without action, Alberta is on track to have the worst air quality in Canada in the coming years.”

The province announced it will immediately work to implement plans developed under the Canadian Air Zone Management Framework and is considering tougher regulations for the oil and gas industry as well as for vehicles. Increased air monitoring initiatives are also being considered.