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Archive for May, 2011

Earthgauge news for the week of May 29

Anti-logging activist murdered in Amazon – Al Jazeera English
An Amazon environmental activist and his wife were killed late on Monday and the crime is being investigated as a possible assassination to silence the outspoken forest defender, according to police.

A US Smart Grid Would Save Energy Consumers 2 Trillion Over the Next 20 Years – Global Green World
There’s a lot of yelping these days about the cost of renewable energy technology but in some cases the investment is just a fraction of the payback. For instance, with a nation wide smart grid in the United States, new estimates say the U.S. could save up to $2 trillion over the next twenty years with an investment of $476 billion.

Analysis: China drought ignites global grain supply concerns – Reuters
A prolonged drought in China could hit grains output in key growing regions, further squeezing global supplies and putting upward pressure on prices

Big Oil Companies Face Growing Concern On Fracking – World Environment News

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting a mix of water, chemicals and sand into the earth to break up shale rock, in order to release oil or natural gas. Environmentalists say it can contaminate groundwater with dangerous chemicals. Large blocks of investors in the two biggest U.S. oil companies on Wednesday demanded more disclosure about the environmental risks of extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing.

Categories: News

Amazon rainforest destruction rising sharply

The BBC is reporting that deforestation in the Amazon has risen sharply over the past month.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the figures were “alarming” and announced the setting up of a “crisis cabinet” in response to the news.

From BBC article:

“the latest data shows a 27% jump in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011.

The biggest rise was in Mato Grosso, which produces more than a quarter of Brazil’s soybean harvest.

Some environmentalists argue that rising demand for soy and cattle is prompting farmers to clear more of their land.

But others see a direct link between the jump in deforestation and months of debate over easing an existing law on forest protection.

“You have 300-400 lawmakers here in Brasilia sending the message that profiting from deforestation will be amnestied, that crime pays,” Marcio Astrini from Greenpeace told Reuters.

It is estimated that one in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon Rainforest. This constitutes the largest collection of living plants and animal species on Earth.

Indigenous resistance to Canadian mining in Panama

May 18, 2011 4 comments


What is going on in Panama? And just what exactly are Canadian mining companies doing down there?

Dana Holtby and Rosie Simms, two McGill students currently studying in Panama, wrote an article in March and another recently about ongoing  indigenous resistance to proposed international mining projects in the Central American country. It’s a fascinating story that has a strong Canadian connection so I talked to them to find out more about it. Click the audio player above to hear our interview on Skype.

Having spent over a year in Panama myself, I know that strange things can happen there when big money resource projects are at stake. Case in point: two Spanish journalists and human rights activists residing in Panama were recently detained without charges, allegedly bullied and then kicked out of the country for documenting and supporting Ngäbe Indigenous protests against the Cerro Colorado mine in Chiriquí.

Indigenous and environmental groups throughout Panama have been staging massive protests against reforms to the mining code, approved by President Martinelli in early February. Agence France-Presse reported  that clashes between protesters and police erupted around the country when demonstrators set up blockades along the Pan-American Highway and demanded that Martinelli reverse the legislation.

And the Canadian connection? Here’s how Holtby and Simms explain it in their articles:

Read more…

Earthgauge news for the week of May 16

Record flooding around the world (including Canada) linked to global warming – CBC News
Extreme rainstorms and snowfalls have grown substantially stronger, two studies suggest, with scientists for the first time finding the telltale fingerprints of man-made global warming on downpours that often cause deadly flooding. Two studies in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Nature link heavy rains to increases in greenhouse gases more than ever before.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) paper warned that if the world continues to use fossil fuels, iron ores, wood and other resources at the current rate then supplies will begin to run out. Ultimately it means “de-coupling” economic growth from an increasing use of resources by allowing the economy to grow through more efficient use of fossil fuels and other materials. “Global resource consumption is exploding. It’s not a trend that is in any way sustainable,” said Ernst von Weizsäcker, co-chair of UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

Volkswagen to make electric cars in China – Reuters
Top European automaker Volkswagen AG said on Wednesday that it plans to build electric cars in China under new brand Kaili, becoming the first foreign automaker to announce concrete plans to make electric cars in the country.

Native groups protest Enbridge pipeline – Vancouver Sun
Aboriginal groups in Western Canada have united against a proposed bitumen pipeline to British Columbia’s northern coast, saying the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project has no future without the approval of communities along the route. Meanwhile, Enbridge is reporting yet another leak to their Norman Wells pipeline in the Northwest Territories.

France Moves To Ban Shale Gas Drilling : NPR
Lawmakers in France’s lower house of parliament have voted to ban a controversial gas and oil drilling technique. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is widely used in the United States, but environmentalists say it can pollute ground water.

Shale gas fracking linked to drinking water problems
Scientists at Duke University have found a link between shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania and New York State and contamination of area drinking water with, in some cases, enough methane to make the water flammable.

Renewables could meet global energy needs by 2050 – Economic Times
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power could provide up to 80 percent of the global energy needs by 2050, an intergovernmental panel report on climate has said.

US House Approves Bill Seeking To Speed Up Offshore Drilling Permits – WSJ.com
Only a year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to impose deadlines on the Obama administration to issue offshore drilling permits, as Republicans renewed calls for greater amounts of domestic oil production amid rising gasoline prices.

Trees May Grow 500 KM Further North By 2100 – Reuters
Trees in the Arctic region may grow 500 km further north by 2100 as climate change greens the barren tundra and causes sweeping change to wildlife, a leading expert said. “Changes seem to be happening even more rapidly than we had anticipated just 10 years ago,” Aevar Petersen, chair of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), told Reuters from Greenland on Thursday, where foreign ministers of Arctic countries agreed steps to bolster regional cooperation.

Hydropower’s Resurgence and the Controversy Around It – NYTimes.com
Huge, controversial dam projects have recently made headlines in Brazil, Chile and Laos. Many developing countries, hungry for energy to supply their growing economies over the long term, are determined to keep building more modest-sized dams too. A $7 billion project to dam two of the world’s wildest rivers for electricity has won environmental approval from a Chilean government commission despite a groundswell of opposition.

Categories: News

2011 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Commitment to the Environment Award Winner – Laure Waridel


At the request of Alternatives Journal, I had the privilege of speaking recently with Laure Waridel who is this year’s winner of the Earth Day Canada Outstanding Commitment to the Environment Award.

Laure Waridel was one of MacLean’s magazine’s 25 young Canadians who are already changing our world. After attending the Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992, Waridel helped found Equiterre, a Quebec non-profit organization with a mission to build a grassroots movement that promotes individual and collective choices that are sustainable and socially responsible. She is an inspiring social entrepreneur, activist, writer, environmentalist, and radio and TV commentator.

Her books to date include ‘Coffee with Pleasure: Just Java and World Trade‘, ‘Achetez c’est voter‘ and ‘L’envers de l’assiette‘. In 2008, Equiterre introduced the Laure Waridel Bursary for students committed to pursuing and disseminating research on environmental and social action. This year the bursary is worth $9000. It recognizes Waridel’s outstanding contribution to advancing and disseminating research on the environmental and social issues promoted by Equiterre with a view towards sustainable development.

Laure hold a degree in sociology and international development from McGill University and a Masters degree in law and environmental studies from the University of Victoria. She is currently doing a PhD at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

To download the interview, right click here and select ‘Save as’ or ‘Save target as.’

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