While the climate discussions in Lima are focusing on what nation states need to do to reach a binding climate agreement a year from now, what is missing is a discussion about how corporations are not held accountable for the climate damage they cause in developing countries -- damage that those countries are held accountable for.
We have found that 86 per cent of species considered to be at risk of extinction in Canada are either deteriorating or failing to recover. Despite the fact that many of these species should be receiving protection, the government has largely failed to identify the critical habitat necessary for the species to recover, and as a result this habitat may be going unprotected. This is bad news for biodiversity.
The approved EA measures are very complex, and will include freezing in place the huge underground dumps of arsenic trioxide which pose the greatest health risk. It is likely to take 25 years to freeze it all. The freezing system will have to be actively operated, forever. The arsenic will stay poisonous -- it does not improve with time.
Science is a profession of discipline and process. Scientists live in a world of constant questioning: they observe, analyze, theorize and test, and then do it all over again. Guided by facts and data, they strive to drill through uncertainty and draw solid, evidence-based conclusions. That's why a blog I discovered recently is so interesting: it asks climate scientists to step outside of their professions, and speak as mothers, fathers, grandparents and children -- in short, to speak as humans.
Some might describe it as the genius of capitalism; the ability to adapt on the fly according to the circumstances. Hence the drive to technological fixes in alternative energy generation, storage, and distribution. While the existential threat to the species is a clear and present danger, capitalism's ability to adjust is subject only to the limitations of the human mind.
With more and more attention focused on global environment and climate change, stakeholders (citizenry at large) are hungry for actionable solutions and real commitments. As companies start to more and more define their supply chains with sustainability as a core value, transparency and accountability in these efforts will be increasingly critical.
Politicians are free to ignore the science, safety and history of hydraulic fracturing. But if the incoming New Brunswick government sticks with its election promise, it will outlaw (temporarily, at least) one of the more innovative ways to extract oil and gas in the 21st century. The science and risk-reward ratio are both on the side of hydraulic fracturing. The potential for a more dynamic economy is staring New Brunswick politicians in the face.
While it will be a huge task, people in different countries must form some sort of power base that can challenge corporate power and also influence the signing of a world climate agreement. For our part in North America, it's unfortunate that the NGO environmental sector is so seriously split that it can't be called a movement.
This is a wake up call for Canadians to realize that our water supply is not infinite, that there are people right here in Canada who lack access to it, and that what little we do have is going towards digging holes in the ground or exporting meat to France. It's a wake up call for Canadians to ask ourselves are we willing to give up one of the basic necessities of life to make a quick buck?
So long as all of that good work in the U.S. can be undone by backward Canadian decision-making, we'll never make true progress. That's exactly why it is so critical for Americans, Canadians, First Nations and Tribes to come together to stop fossil fuel exports from the west coast of North America -- particularly through the waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, collectively known as the Salish Sea.
Frankly I think it's at least partially our fault as an environmental movement that this framing has stuck. We haven't focused enough on specific solutions over the years. We have opposed bad ideas like pipelines with vague notions of carbon taxes or non-specific alternative energy projects. We have rarely proposed or even broadly supported specific alternative projects.
The expensive, one-day summit -- corporations are picking up a lot of the cost -- will be a self-serving exercise for both the UN and the corporations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will issue meaningless platitudes. The invited government representatives will denounce global warming in general ways. And as usual, the culprits -- the air-choking corporations -- will not be named.
Last week, Canadian beekeepers filed a class action lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court (Windsor) against two massive chemical companies, Bayer AG and Syngenta AG, for over $400 million in losses allegedly caused by neonicotinoid pesticides to Ontario bees. This is the first Canadian class action lawsuit filed for harm to bees caused by these widely used pesticides.
We are, above all else, biological beings, with an absolute need for clean air from the moment of birth to the last death rattle. We are about 60 per cent water by weight, so we need clean water to be healthy. We eat plants and animals for our nourishment, so whatever they're exposed to ends up in our bodies. We need clean soil to give us clean food. These are basic, biological facts and should be the prism through which any decision is made at individual, corporate or government levels. Protection of air, water, soil and the web of life should be the highest social, political and economic priority.
It's one thing to seek to learn from a disaster and it's another thing to incite emotional responses to promote hasty, unwise public policy actions. Despite the fact that virtually nothing was known about the cause of the Mount Polley leak, only two days after the spill, the David Suzuki Foundation had set up an automatic petition portal on their website calling on the province to institute a moratorium on new mine approvals, a suggestion that would imperil a substantial part of B.C.'s economy.