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Interview with John Bennett of the Sierra Club

December 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Click the audio player to hear my interview with John Bennett, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, about the federal government’s proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Bennett explains why so many people and organizations, including the musicians Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Feist as well as Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown and Mountain Equipment Co-op, are speaking out against the government’s proposed changes to Navigable Waters legislation.

Sarah Harmer appeared on Parliament Hill last week to join with those raising concerns about the Harper government’s second omnibus budget legislation C-45, which includes changes that will limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers and 97 lakes. Last week the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s largest recreational and outdoor supply company, told a Senate committee studying the changes that many Canadians relate to the outdoors through their recreational use of water. They fear the changes will affect their ability to use lakes and rivers, however small, for outdoor activities. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation. However, Bennett and a growing chorus of vocal critics say the changes will decimate environmental protections for the vast majority of Canadian waterways.

Right click here to download the interview.

Earthgauge Radio November 29, 2012: International climate science, Ottawa climate politics, and the growing movement to protect Canada’s waterways

November 29, 2012 2 comments

This week on Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about climate change and the protection of Canadian waterways. Right click here to download the show. I have 3 features on the program today:

The Doha Climate Change Conference (COP-18) kicked off this week in Qatar. In a year in which we have witnessed more devastating storms such as Hurricane Sandy and the greatest extent of Arctic sea ice melt ever observed, one could not be blamed for wondering if the world is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophic climate shift. Even the World Bank said last week that a world where temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius “must be avoided”, but can it be? Well, a top British climate scientist seems to have good reason to doubt this and he claims scientists haven’t been telling us the whole truth about climate change.

So to begin today’s edition of Earthgauge Radio, we take a listen to excerpts of an astonishing speech by Kevin Anderson who is Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain. Thanks to our friend Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock in Vancouver, we hear a breakdown and analysis of Anderson’s speech to the Cabot Institute from Bristol, England on November 6. An advance warning folks: what he has to say may shock and upset you. The subtitle for the talk is “Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope” and Dave Roberts of Grist wrote two articles about the implications of this talk, which he called “The Brutal Logic of Climate Change” (this one and this one). But as delegates and officials around the world are meeting in Doha as we speak to try to find a way to keep the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, it’s time for a reality check from one of Britain’s top climate scientists. Is this 2 degree target realistic? Is it even possible? Anderson lays out the evidence for us and it is not pretty.

Also on the show today, we hear from John Bennett of the Sierra Club who will tell us why so many people and organizations, including the musicians Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Feist, are speaking out against the government’s proposed changes to Navigable Waters legislation. Harmer appeared on Parliament Hill this week to join with those raising concerns about the Harper government’s second omnibus budget legislation C-45, which includes changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation. Critics say the changes will decimate environmental protections for the vast majority of Canadian waterways.

Finally on the show we discuss a startling revelation that has come to my attention thanks to some industrious individuals in Ottawa who have been following the city’s climate change plans and specifically its Greenhouse Gas Roundtable which appears to have stalled for the time being. It has come to light that the husband of the Chair of the City Environment Committee, Maria McRae, has written repeatedly about climate change as a “non-existent threat” and a hoax. Now we all know the growing mountain of evidence and research supporting the reality of human-caused climate change is now virtually incontrovertible  and becoming more so with each passing year (see here, here and here). Still, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how uninformed it might be. There are still people who believe the earth was created 6000 years ago after all.

Councilor McRae may well have her own views on this matter and there is no evidence I’m aware of to suggest she doesn’t accept the science of climate change, but at the same time she has been accused by some of being obstructive when it comes to the city’s environmental initiatives in general and particularly on the climate change file. As she is directly involved with guiding the City’s climate policies, should the fact that her husband has repeatedly denied the reality of climate change on his blog be a concern to citizens of Ottawa who have been frustrated with the city’s apparent slow progress on the climate change file? Well to find out I speak with Joan Kuyek who is a constituent of Councilor McRae in the River Ward. She has been following this issue closely.

We’ll also have our usual update this week from Ecology Ottawa on local environmental events and campaigns.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and www.earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check us out on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.

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