CARIBOU: Scientists refute forest industry claims

By Julee Boan

First Published in the Chronicle Journal Nov 27, 2017

In an era of “alt facts,” perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised with the content on the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) new website, “cariboufacts.” It was designed to “inform” forest industry workers of the current state of caribou science and motivate them to write letters to the federal government to protect their interests. Their argument? Recovery planning for boreal caribou is moving ahead without enough information.

While it isn’t clear if the website caught the attention of forest industry workers, it certainly caught the attention of scientists. In a fairly unprecedented move, some of the most prominent caribou scientists in Canada submitted a point-by-point rebuttal of FPAC’s website. While it now appears FPAC has since made changes to their website (the sufficiency of which have yet to be determined), the damage is already done. Forestry workers who submitted letters to government did so with misleading, and in some cases, incorrect information.

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We were played; But we should own the game

By Peter Lang

First published in the Chronicle Journal Oct 13, 2017

MAKE no mistake about it, we were played, big time, by TransCanada Pipelines (TCP) and Big Oil producers over the Energy Ease pipeline proposal. And while Energy East is now cancelled, we, the little people, should still try to understand what happened. For it’s never over when the game is for big profits.

When they told us that the re-purposing of the existing mainline gas pipeline was to supply Eastern Canada with domestic oil from Alberta our tendency was to approve the conversion from natural gas. But then we discovered that the ‘oil’ was actually dilbit (diluted bitumen), and that the Eastern Canada refineries really didn’t have the capacity or the massive capital needed to refine dilbit. By their ‘tidewater marketing scheme’ TCP really wanted to export it.

Read moreWe were played; But we should own the game

Ice is nice

By Scott Harris

For The Chronicle-Journal Oct 12, 2017

THAT’S what they say. Who are they? Well, geophysicist Henry Pollack for one.

In his book A World Without Ice, Pollack explains the delicate geological balance between the Earth and its ice, and why it is important that we humans pay attention to this balance, especially since human activity is accelerating the planet’s race toward a tipping point with respect to its ice.

Ocean floor core samples reveal that the last time Earth was free of ice was 55 million years ago, when the greenhouse gas methane warmed the atmosphere, melting the polar ice sheets and reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar energy back into outer space.

We currently live in what scientists describe as a Goldilocks environment, not too hot and not too cold. As we look for life on other not-so-fortunate planets, we can see clearly that indeed we are a Goldilocks planet – not too close to the sun to lose all of our water to evaporation, or far enough away to be just another snowball rocketing through space.

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Why council must oppose pipeline

By Ruth Cook

Special to The Chronicle-Journal May 27, 2017

On Monday, May 29, Thunder Bay’s city council will once again consider a resolution asking members to vote in principle against the TransCanada /Energy East Ltd.’s Energy East Pipeline. This resolution has been deferred for two years due to concerns about lack of complete information (as well as unforeseen administrative delays).

A group of representatives from five local groups has been working on understanding the implications of the Energy East pipeline for five years now, and are adamantly opposed to the development of such a pipeline.

The Energy East pipeline would be the largest oil pipeline in North America. It is to be partly newly constructed, and partly be repurposing an old natural gas pipeline. The part passing through Northwestern Ontario is the old to-be-converted pipe, some of which has been in the ground for 50 years.

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Are we hard-wired to ignore climate change?

By Lucy LaFramboise, Environment North board member

First published in the Chronicle Journal April 22, 2017.

Something to Think About

“How is it possible, when presented with overwhelming evidence, even the evidence of our own eyes, that we can deliberately ignore something – while being entirely aware that this is what we are doing?”

George Marshall, an environmentalist and leading expert in climate change communications explores this in his book Don’t Even Think About It, Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change. For this book he has interviewed people as diverse as Nobel Prize winning psychologists, scientists and Tea Party members.

Marshall says that we engage with the world on both a rational and emotional basis. The rational part of us hears the facts and theories but they don’t always engage us enough to act. Climate scientists are perplexed by this so they double down and show more facts. However, it is the emotional part of us that spurs us to action but our emotional brains are not effectively engaged to deal with climate change. To counter this scientists need to get the facts out in a more user friendly way and become more personable themselves.

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A Lappe consensus on Energy East pipeline

By Peter Lang

First published in the Chronicle Journal January 24, 2017

In contrast to the Common Voice forum at the Oliver Road Community Centre on the subject of “significant water crossings,” there was a consensus outcome at the Lappe meeting on Saturday morning, Jan. 21. Despite slippery road conditions about 15 people attended. While the first part of the meeting was a prepared presentation to set parameters for the discussion, instead of breakdown, this time the meeting achieved consensus. And to make it clear that the meeting wasn’t ‘stacked by the pipeline opposition,’ this consensus arose from a group where only a few knew each other prior to the meeting.

Essentially, after it became obvious that virtually all of us were opposed to the Energy East pipeline proposal itself, we held a vote — and all but one agreed that the CVNW consultation process was flawed.

Read moreA Lappe consensus on Energy East pipeline

Converting gas pipe to tarsands is unproven process

By Tom Cook

First published in The Chronicle Journal January 21, 2017

The proposed Energy East pipeline is to carry tarsands bitumen 4,500 kilometres from Alberta to New Brunswick for export. Of this, approximately 3,000 kilometres will be 50- to 60-year-old natural gas pipeline through Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario to Cornwall. There will be new sections in Alberta and from Cornwall to New Brunswick.I have several reasons to be concerned with the 3,000-kilometre old section.

First, it’s been buried in the ground since 1954 or so. To me that looks like 60 years. How do we know that it’s not all rusted on the outside?

Second, it was made to carry a gas, not a liquid. To transport bitumen which is full of sand, thinned 25 per cent with lighter gases like naphtha and benzene, so it will flow, is a whole different thing.

Read moreConverting gas pipe to tarsands is unproven process

If there ever was a time . . .

By Scott Harris

First published in the Chronicle Journal January 18, 2017

Right-wing Fraser Institute’s Ken Green champions the “rule of law” vs “special interests” (Protesters Aren’t in Charge – Guest Column, CJ, Jan. 16). He states that pipeline protesters should take heed.

He qualifies that civil disobedience “is most appropriate when a group faces oppression without representation.” How better to describe future, unborn generations, a group which has no voice, which nevertheless has a right to a tolerable climate, but whose present-day governments don’t see it that way.

Read moreIf there ever was a time . . .

Narrow scope of forums shows task force bias

By Peter Lang

First published in the Chronicle Journal January 17, 2017

Having followed the Energy East pipeline issue for a number of years, I believe that the very narrow scope of the upcoming Common Voice forums, as noted in The Chronicle-Journal, Jan. 2, clearly shows its bias. To suggest that our main concern for the Lake Superior watershed boils down to identifying ‘significant waterways’ and installing supposed state-of-the-art valves is simplistic and foolish.

First and foremost: The stretch of pipeline slated for conversion from natural gas to tarsands bitumen is decades old, and has already suffered a long, documented list of leaks and explosions. From the Ontario Energy Board hearings, and from various Canadian Transportation Board investigations we have learned that those incidents most often resulted from a combination of stress corrosion cracking, and aged, defective coatings. If safety was their overriding concern, why isn’t Common Voice demanding a brand new pipeline to safeguard our region?

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Common Voice Northwest out of turn on pipeline

By Tom Cook

First published in the Chronicle Journal January 13, 2017

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the Jan. 2 article about Common Voice Northwest and their Energy East forums. Who is Common Voice Northwest?

They are a Thunder Bay-based non-profit group which was formed via a collaboration of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) and the regional chambers of commerce. NOMA is an ‘old boys’ network’ of representatives from Northwestern Ontario municipalities to share information and concerns, and to promote business in the area. Their president is Mayor Dave Canfield from Kenora and board member, Coun. Iain Angus from Thunder Bay is executive director of Common Voice Northwest.

Unfortunately, NOMA sometimes makes pronouncements such as support for the Energy East Pipeline proposal which has not been supported by either Thunder Bay city council or Kenora city council. Given this situation, I have some concerns about a possible bias in Common Voice Northwest research.

Read moreCommon Voice Northwest out of turn on pipeline