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Earthgauge News – Oct. 15, 2017

October 16, 2017 2 comments

Edition #2 of the new podcast Earthgauge News for the week of Oct. 15, 2017.

A weekly Canadian environmental news podcast featuring the top environmental stories from across Canada and around the world.

Join us here every week or subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher.

Earthgauge News

October 11, 2017 Leave a comment

The inaugural edition of our new podcast Earthgauge News! A weekly Canadian environmental news podcast featuring the top environmental stories from across Canada for the week of Oct. 9, 2017.

Join us here every week or subscribe in iTunes or your favourite podcast catcher.

Will John Kerry reject Keystone XL?

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

A very interesting post today by Joe Romm at ThinkProgress.org. Based on the recent comments of the new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, Romm is speculating that Kerry “shows no sign whatsoever of backing down from the moral urgency that has made him a true climate champion.” Click the video link above to see Kerry’s first big foreign policy speech in which he says the following:

We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.

As Romm writes, “Does this sound like a man who is going to launch his term as Secretary of State approving the expansion of one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuels in the world? His repetition of the word “courage” makes it sound like he is talking directly to the President.”

Remember that the U.S. State Department, under Kerry’s leadership, must give its approval to Keystone XL (because it crosses an international border) before the project can proceed.

New details of Canadian government’s tar sands cheerleading campaign

May 16, 2012 Leave a comment

This article is not new but I felt it was important to mention it given the shocking length to which our federal government is willing to go to lobby on behalf of the tar sands. As you likely know, the European Union has proposed classifying crude produced from Alberta’s tar sands as much dirtier than other fuels. The Canadian government is well known to be fighting this move but now an examination of hundreds of pages of documents obtained under access to information legislation in both Brussels and Ottawa show just how extensive the government’s lobbying efforts have been.

Remember, lobbying efforts by corporations are nothing new. What’s important to keep in mind here is that this is a sovereign state fighting on behalf of some of the largest corporations in the world. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The governments of Canada and Alberta, along with Canadian companies, have wooed dozens of European parliamentarians, offered trips to Alberta and sponsored conferences in an effort that Chris Davies, a British Liberal Member of the European Parliament and a backer of the EU proposal, said “has been stunning in its intensity.”

Satu Hassi, a Finnish MEP for the Greens and another backer of the EU proposal, said the thing that sets Canada’s campaign apart is not its size but its official backing. “There have been massive lobbying campaigns by the car industry, by the chemicals industry, banks, food giants, etc. But so far I have not seen such a lobbying campaign by any state.”

Emails from Canadian diplomats and other documents show Canada feared negative publicity could hit tens of billions of dollars of investment in its industry by such European majors as Royal Dutch Shell, BP, France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil.

“The oil sands are posing a growing reputational problem, with the oil sands defining the Canadian brand,” London-based Canadian diplomat Sushma Gera wrote in a confidential e-mail on August 20, 2010, which like many of the documents acquired through Freedom of Information legislation has been redacted. “With (a) recent increase in the NGO campaigns targeting (the European) public, we anticipate increased risk to Canadian interests much beyond the oil sands.”

Last year, Natural Resources Minister Joe Olive sent a letter to European officials implying that if Europe pressed ahead with tagging tar sands dirtier, Canada would take its case to the World Trade Organisation.

Global greenhouse gas emissions linked to economic growth

May 5, 2012 Leave a comment

“A new study from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research suggests that a transformation of the world’s economies or a limit to economic growth may be needed to curb the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.”

This comes from a recent article about the fundamental incompatibility of an economic system based on endless growth and the problem of climate change. And therein lies the fundamental paradox of our times. Our modern, industrial, capitalist economy depends upon endless growth to function. We celebrate every uptick in the growth rate and fret when growth is “sluggish”. Yet as this study demonstrates, more growth leads to more greenhouse gas emissions and consequently an accelerated rate of climate change. So we can have one or the other, it seems, but not both. What will it be? More growth or less climate change?

“The researchers found that for each trillion in U.S. dollars that global GDP deviates from the trend, there is an accompanying deviation in CO2 levels of about half a part per million (ppm), reported LiveScience.

Noting that the study “more or less” echoes 1972’s “The Limits to Growth,” author and environmental activist Bill McKibben told HuffPost in an email, “We should change the meaning of ‘business-as-usual’ to focus on building more resilient, localized, community-focused economies, instead of the sprawling ones that for the last few decades have been awarding their bounty to the 1%.”

Climate Change And Sustained Economic Growth Link Observed In New Study.

Canada’s coal industry pressured government to weaken regulations

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the coal industry would try to exert pressure on the federal Conservatives but the fact that their efforts were so successful speaks volumes about who has the ear of this government (hint: it’s not environmentalists).

Briefing notes prepared by Environment Canada in September show that  proposed regulations to crack down on pollution from coal-fired power plants offered an 18-month deferral on enforcement of the regulations “because of the interventions made by ATCO,” an Alberta-based energy company.

Here’s an excerpt from the Postmedia article:

The regulations, if finalized, are slated to come into force by July 1, 2015, but ATCO was seeking the deferral “to the end of 2016,” to protect its existing “Battle River 3” generating unit.

“ATCO’s views had an influence on the proposed regulations as published,” said the briefing note, produced a few weeks after Environment Minister Peter Kent unveiled his plan.

Tim Weis, director of renewable energy and efficiency at the Pembina Institute, said any further efforts to weaken the regulations would be favouring profits over public health.

Canada’s coal industry pressured feds to weaken regulations, records say.

U.S. Geological Survey confirms fracking causes earthquakes

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

When I talked with Mark Ruffalo last November – whose organization organization Water Defense is trying to bridge the movements working to stop mountain top removal, hydro fracking and tar sands mining – he said that we had entered the era of “extreme energy”. As supplies of conventional fossil fuels dwindle, we are employing increasingly extreme methods to extract energy resources from the earth.

I was reminded of Ruffalo’s comments today when I read this article, which discusses two separate studies confirming a link between the practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and earthquake activity. Here is an excerpt:

Energy companies are increasingly using the technique across Canada, where there is already regular seismic activity and an ever looming threat of various sized tremors. The process involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture rock to obtain oil and natural gas.

The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release its findings Wednesday that a “remarkable” increase of quakes in the U.S. midcontinent since 2001 is “almost certainly” the result of oil and gas production.

Opposition to fracking has ramped up since the release of the 2010 documentary “Gasland,” which shows residents of small town Colorado setting alight tap water they charge was soured by nearby oil industry activity.

Fracking causes earthquakes, studies confirm – Technology & Science – CBC News.

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