We love covering local stories on Earthgauge and this week, we get just about as local as we can, focusing on some compelling environmental research taking place at Carleton University in Ottawa. We also take a look at the environmental provisions of last week’s federal Budget 2013. We have 3 interviews on today’s show:
- Glennys Egan on the environmental and human impacts of urbanization in Kenya
- Brendan Haley on the tar sands “staples trap”
- Andrew Van Iterson on the environmental measures in Budget 2013
We also have our usual update from Kathy of Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.
Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download.
Part 1 – Budget 2013
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To kick off the program this week, I speak with Andrew Van Iterson who is the manager of the Green Budget Coalition. Environmental funding in last week’s 2013 federal budget had very little in the way of environmental provisions. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a government-funded venture capital firm that invests in environmental technology firms, will get $325 million over eight years and there is some funding for municipal projects, notably the City of Ottawa’s new wastewater holding tanks. But the green measures are pretty slim beyond that. The Green Budget Coalition, founded in 1999, brings together sixteen leading Canadian environmental and conservation organizations, which collectively represent over 600,000 Canadians, through our volunteers, members and supporters. They make an annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.
Part 2 – Glennys Egan
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Next up Earthgauge contributor Juanita Bawagan speaks with Glennys Egan who is a Masters student in the African Studies program at Carleton whose research is based on issues of urbanization in Kenya. She has recently been in Kenya working with a community organization through Street Kids International based in a Nairobi slum and she tells Juanita about her research and experiences there, and the environmental and human impacts of urbanization in Kenya.
Part 3 – Brendan Haley
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In the second half hour, I speak with Brendan Haley who is a PhD student at Carleton’s School of Public Policy and Administration and a fellow of the Broadbent Institute. He co-authored a recent study called ‘The Bitumen Cliff’ warning that the poorly regulated bitumen industry is creating a double threat to Canada: a so-called “staples trap,” with an economy over-reliant on bitumen exports, and a “carbon trap,” locking Canada into fossil fuels instead of adapting to climate change. The report was co-authored by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Polaris Institute.
Earthgauge Radio airs every Thursday morning at 7:00 AM on CKCU 93.1 FM in Ottawa and online around the world at www.ckcufm.com. Ottawa’s only radio program dedicated exclusively to environmental news and commentary from Ottawa, across the country and around the world. Podcasts on iTunes and right here on earthgauge.ca.
Last week I was interviewed by Daryn Caister of The Green Majority, which is a weekly environmental news program produced live at CIUT in Toronto and broadcast on campus and community stations across the country. During the interview we talked about my visit to Washington, DC for the most recent massive Keystone XL pipeline protest on February 17, 2013 and some larger issues around Keystone and climate change more generally.
You can hear the interview at the following link:
The Financial Post is reporting that the chief executive of Total SA, Christophe de Margerie, has said energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters, marking the first time an oil major has publicly spoken out against offshore oil exploration in the region.
According to a 2008 study by the US Geological Survey, the Arctic contains just over a fifth of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and gas resources. The melting of the polar ice cap has made the area more accessible to the majors than ever before.
Click the audio player to hear my interview with the award-winning journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of several books including ‘Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent‘ and his latest, ‘Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests‘.
In our interview, we discuss his latest book in which the author exposes some startling connections between beetles and humans and investigates the continent’s massive forest die-off. We also discuss an emerging concept in economics called Energy Return on Investment. As it turns out, as fossil fuel supplies dwindle, we are using up more and more energy just to extract each barrel of oil. He explains why this is potentially a very serious problem for our economy and our environment.
Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning Calgary journalist and author of several books. Over the past two decades he has tackled subjects ranging from education and economics to the environment, in the process winning a Governor General’s Award (for Saboteurs) and the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award in 2009 for ‘Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.” He is a regular contributor and writer in residence for the online news publication The Tyee and his work has appeared in Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Chatelaine,Equinox, both national newspapers and other publications.
Right click here to download the interview.
Check out this great new video from the Post-Carbon Institute explaining why they feel the mantra of limitless economic growth is coming to an end and what this will mean for the economy, your family and you.
The Center for Investigative Reporting has put together an interesting 5 min video explaining the true cost of gasoline to the American public. While gas may be hovering around $4 a gallon in the U.S. in recent weeks (still well below the price in Canada and European countries), the video explains how Americans are really paying closer to $15 a gallon through costs such as health impacts due to auto pollution, the clean-up costs for spills and accidents, and reduced crop yields due to pollution. Worth a view.
Hot off the press, the International Energy Agency has just released the 2010 edition of its World Energy Outlook. The report projects global energy production and consumption out to 2035 based on three scenarios: current policies; policies promised since the agreement of the Copenhagen Climate Change Accord last December; and the IEA’s best case scenario of limiting carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (we are currently sitting at roughly 390 ppm and rising fast).
There’s a lot to chew on in a report of this magnitude. And although you can’t actually read it without paying a fee, you can read an executive summary and early excerpt by clicking here and scrolling down to find the download.
It is worth noting one quite startling assertion in this year’s report: the IEA maintains that abolishing fossil fuel subsidies would in fact boost the world’s economy, environment and energy security. And to what extent are fossil fuel industries subsidized you might wonder? According to the IEA, which is the respected energy watchdog to 28 industrialized countries, such subsidies were estimated to be $312 billion in 2009 compared with $57 billion for renewable energy. Fossil fuel subsidies are on course to reach $600 billion by 2015.
In this age of energy insecurity, air pollution, oil spills and climate change, it is simply incredible to think that we are spending 6 times more on subsidies to the oil, coal and gas industries than we are on clean, renewable energy technologies.
Without taking any other action to mitigate climate change, the IEA estimates that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies alone by 2020 would cut global energy demand by 5 percent and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 6 percent.
So what are we waiting for?
The Guardian newspaper in the UK is reporting that Scotland could theoretically generate all its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. A bold claim indeed. And whether this objective can actually be accomplished is another matter.
Industry is anxious about how easily and quickly these goals can be reached and a government study said these ambitions “were not easy to achieve”. But at least the country is setting its sights high and creating a plan to develop its onshore wind, offshore wind, hydro and biomass industries. This is the future of energy. So where is Canada’s national green energy plan?
Or so says Peter Maass who is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of the new book by the same name, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil. Maass is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and he has also written for The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside and Slate. His first book, about the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s, was entitled Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War.
Crude World examines how oil has wreaked devastation around the world while enriching the few. He spent 8 years traveling the globe to discover the true costs of oil production both to the planet and to the countless millions living in poverty in rich oil producing regions.
Click the audio player above to hear my interview with Peter Maass or to download the interview, right click here and select ‘Save As’ or ‘Save Target As’. Don’t forget all earthgauge interviews are available as podcasts on iTunes.
Here’s the promo blurb for the book: Every unhappy oil-producing nation is unhappy in its own way, but all are touched by oil’s power to worsen existing problems and create new ones. Crude World explores the troubled world oil has created—from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela and beyond. The book features warlords in the oil-rich Niger Delta, petro-billionaires in Moscow, Americans in Baghdad, the gesticulations as well as the politics of Hugo Chavez, and officials in Riyadh who avoid uncomfortable questions about Saudi reserves. A journey into the violent twilight of oil, Crude World answers the questions of what we do for oil and what oil does to us.
I also recommend checking out Maass’ latest article for Foreign Policy journal, which examines the connection between oil, war and American military spending. A key question the story asks is this one—“To what extent is oil linked to the wars we fight and the more than half-trillion dollars we spend on our military every year?” The quick answer is, it’s strongly linked, and it costs a lot.
Interview with Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
What else remains to be said about the worst oil spill in US history and one of the worst the world has ever seen? We know now that BP grossly understated the size of the spill, which some now say may be leaking up to 100,000 barrels of crude a day into the Gulf of Mexico (BP originally pegged the leak at only 1000 barrels a day). There has been speculation that this may put the brakes on further offshore drilling in difficult or dangerous regions such as the Arctic but Rolling Stone is reporting that BP is still planning to start drilling in the Arctic this fall and nothing is being done to stop them. In any case, if this is what it takes for us to realize that the time to break our oil addiction is long overdue, the Gulf region is paying an enormous ecological and social cost on humanity’s behalf. The threat of catastrophic climate change hasn’t woken us up to the perils of continued fossil fuel extraction and consumption; will an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions finally do the trick?
And what of the local impacts? There has been much finger-pointing and BP bashing (deservedly) but less has been said about the important environmental justice considerations of the spill. I spoke recently with Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. She discussed the devastating impact that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is having on the local environment and people of Louisiana. As with many such environmental catastrophes, Dr. Wright explains how those being disproportionately affected by the spill tend to come from lower income communities – who are also the least able to cope.
Right click and select ‘Save file as…’ to download. interview with Beverly Wright of DSCEJ