It's been another spill-filled summer in the spill-prone province of Alberta. With Alberta averaging over two oil spills a day over the past 37 years, there are many spills that we don't know about. However we do know about some and what we know is alarming. Here is a recap of just five of the spills to hit Alberta this summer.
This time last year, the world watched as the Arctic melt hit a record low and more ice disappeared than ever before. On September 15 Greenpeace has called for an international day of action to bring together the millions of people who have spoken up to protect the Arctic. Large-scale, family friendly bike rides -- we call them Ice Rides -- are being organized across the globe.
British Columbia currently faces a perfect storm of fossil fuel extraction and export projects colliding with the realities of a changing climate and rising inequality. Recent years have also been a time that has seen the emergence of mass social movements that are re-defining societies and challenging some of the most entrenched powers on our planet. From the Arab Spring to Idle No More, we are witnessing the rebirth of people power. Here in B.C., whispers of change have grown into a steady hum of organizing and mobilization as communities have come together to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, but now we are in need of growing this movement like never before. Here's why.
Gold mining is one of the most destructive things we do, and the reasons to worry about it are endless. Acid mine drainage -- a process through which non-usable materials found in gold deposits are exposed, acidified, and leached into the surrounding environment -- threatens water quality and is a common occurrence at gold mines worldwide. Other toxins like mercury are released through mining, further impacting local water systems. In a rainforest like Clayoquot Sound, water is the central element, and by jeopardizing it we jeopardize everything from salmon rehabilitation to cultural practices to recreational opportunities.
One of the great mysteries of contemporary capitalism is the fact that as a system it appears absolutely incapable of responding to the crisis of climate change. Why can't a system that made the automobile into an accessible mass consumer good provide us with clean and efficient mass transit, or at the very least electric cars? On this matter, the forces of the market are curiously silent.
Recently, a concerned parent pointed me to a film being shown to his child's sixth grade class, called The Story of Stuff. The movie, created in 2007, depicts a world in which big corporations, in cahoots with big government, pretty much destroy the entire planet and maliciously poison the environment for their own filthy ends. This is merely one example of how The Story of Stuff misleads.
Zebra Mussel filter millions of gallons of water; it's how they feed. The result, the once soup-like Great Lakes are now crystal clear. That doesn't mean the water is unpolluted, far from it. Their output is crystal clear, which for divers is a definite plus. So you see, from a certain perspective, what started as a natural disaster has a definite upside. Now, I know some might argue that learning to love environmental disasters requires a very self-centered attitude. What I celebrate, others revile. I look forward to figuring out what new and clever angle I can come up with the next time we lay waste to some pristine wilderness area.
Clayoquot Sound has become known around the world as a test area for conservation and for economic activities that don't undermine the environment. Yet little progress has been made in securing legislated protection for Clayoquot's ancient forests and in advancing the title, rights and community aspirations of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of the area.
We cannot see with the naked eye that Canadian children are born pre-polluted, but our latest results demonstrate just that. Our new report shows that even in the mothers' womb, the developing fetus is exposed to a slew of dangerous chemicals -- chemicals that might have health effects like cancer, lower IQ or thyroid problems later in life.
Canada has nearly 300 remote communities and off-grid sites. Close to 200,000 Canadians call these communities home and many rely on diesel powered electric generators to keep the lights on and drinking water flowing. While these systems are reliable, diesel generators are expensive to run. Enter: better renewable energy systems.
Economically and environmentally, natural gas makes sense as a fuel choice for transportation. A new waste or recycling collection truck powered by natural gas costs approximately 15 per cent more than a conventional diesel powered truck, but as natural gas has historically cost less than diesel, we expect a quick return on this investment.
The press release had a pretty stark headline: "Haida Announce Termination of Russ George." George was the guy who persuaded the small impoverished indigenous community of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii to part with over $2.5-million. He did so under the pretense that dumping iron in the ocean to stimulate a plankton bloom would net lucrative profits in the carbon credit market. Losing the rogue geoengineer may be good for optics, but it is a meaningless step unless the Haida also jettison his junk visions to manipulate the oceans and climate.
In essence, Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" thesis argues that the pursuit of self-interest in an open-access commons leads to ruin. Thus while people know that depleting a common resource can hinder societal wellbeing, without control and oversight, they will inevitably deplete it. I respectfully disagree.
The protection of at-risk species, once maintained so well by our government, has taken a backseat to business development. Now when habitat needs to be protected to ensure the survival of a species, government and industry often balk and backpedal. This signals a failure to understand that we depend on nature for our well-being and survival.