By Scott Harris
First published in the Chronicle Journal June 2016
From May 16-20th, our community hosted nearly 400 biologists, policy-makers, First Nations, environmentalists, forestry, oil and gas interests to discuss the most recent scientific findings on the decline of woodland caribou across Canada. An evening, organized by our local Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, was dedicated to sharing information with the general public. At that session, Paul Kennedy, the moderator of CBC’s Ideas, referred to woodland caribou as the “canary in the coalmine”, suggesting that the disappearance of this species from parts of northern Ontario and our Lake Superior shores, and across Canada, may signal a decline in the general health of the boreal forest. More »
First posted in the Chronicle Journal Sunday, May 15, 2016
The world’s best scientists, across a broad range of disciplines, have advised us that we humans are responsible for a spike in global temperatures not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.
They state that digging up and burning, in a couple of hundred years, solar energy stored as coal, gas and oil over hundreds of millions of years as the reason.
They have equated the addition of resulting greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide, to the detonation of 400,000 atomic bombs daily, 365 days a year.
And so they have asked us to reduce our “carbon footprint,” as ice-core samples have established a direct link between carbon in the atmosphere and global warming. More »
Is democracy still alive? Can ordinary citizens still make their voices heard? A look at initiatives in recent decades here in Northwestern Ontario strongly suggests that the answer is yes.
In 1980, when Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., proposed a high-level nuclear waste storage facility in Atikokan, Environment North and other citizen organizations studied the proposal and believed that not enough was known about the safe transport and storage of the waste to justify the risk it posed.
A petition that called for public hearings had 24,000 signatories. Test-drilling was halted and the hearings were eventually held in the 1990s. More »
Don Clarke’s CJ article “For those who worship climate change”, Thu Oct 16, 2014, and Herman Dost’s “Nothing we can do about climate change”, Mon Oct 20, 2014 make me resort to metaphor.
Had they taken the time to read the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report , or even the Summary, I don’t believe they would have made such comment.
Yes, the earth does go through cycles of warming and cooling. These typically develop over thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of years and yes, there are aberrations like the 700-year-old medieval blip. More »
Curious bit of logic from Warren Kinsella (Pipeline Opponents Go Against Grain — column, July 26). He blames anti-pipeline environmentalists for the backlog of Canadian prairie wheat waiting for transport to market. He states that limited rail capacity due to an increase in oil transport by train, in the absence of pipelines, is the reason.
Citing the Lac Megantic tragedy as a reason to support new tarsands expansion, and the pipelines that would carry its oil to market, Kinsella states: “A pipeline like Keystone would move enough oil, in a single day, to avoid having to make use of 4,200 railway cars to move the same amount. Lac Megantic provides a compelling argument for finally doing so.”
He fails to mention that the Lac Megantic explosion had nothing to do with the tarsands. More »
Fossil fuels are the skeletal remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. It took eons for geologic processes to concentrate their carbon into coal, gas and oil, but it’s taking only a few hundred years, a mere blink in time, to release it. Seems a risky thing to be doing, as this song suggests.
Feel free to sing this to the tune of Randy Travis’ Diggin’ Up Bones: More »
Can we afford new pipelines?
Go to the CBC’s Pipeline Map to find National Energy Board (NEB) figures. They state that between 2000 and late 2012 more than 1,000 pipeline ruptures, leaks and explosions have happened across the country. In fact, in spite of supposedly more sophisticated pipeline diagnostic equipment, the rate of overall incidents has doubled in the past decade. The brand new Canadian section of the Keystone XL1, predicted to spill no more than once every seven years, has leaked 12 times in less than a year. More »
One alternative to free-market capitalism is degrowth, which Louis Marion in A Fitting Idea for Fateful Times describes as “a rallying cry for the preservation of our world.” Richard Heinberg in The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Reality thinks the limitless growth paradigm of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits. He believes that resource depletion, environmental impacts and crushing levels of debt force us to question the validity of capitalism.
Degrowth advocates, as the term suggests, even see “sustainable development” as a contradiction in terms, “a way to maintain profits and avoid making substantive changes to our habits.” More »
So it’s OK for John Baird to “quietly” allow Canadian gun dealers to sell fully automatic assault weapons, banned in Canada, to Colombians (Canada Opens Colombia to Gun Sellers — story in Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, Jan 3, 2013). It’s OK for Canada to contribute to mayhem in far-off places, as long as there’s a buck to be made at home. I’m guessing we’re already selling these Newtown specials to certain gun-happy Americans. More »