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With the swearing in of Donald Trump as president of the United States last January, political analysts foresaw a marked regression in American environmental policies. The nomination of climate change...
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"Trucking it thousands of kilometres across the country creates needless pollution."
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Most Canadians have never been to the North, much less the remote Peel watershed, but many are enchanted by it, nourished even by the idea that we still have vast, unspoiled natural areas where wildlife and biodiversity continue to evade the touch of humankind. Places like the Peel are becoming increasingly rare as humans -- the most demanding species ever to live -- continue to erode the intact wilderness on which we depend for clean air, water and food.
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Water on First Nations reserves is a federal responsibility, but "severe underfunding" (in the government's own words) for water treatment plants, infrastructure, operations, maintenance and training has led to this deplorable situation. Canada has no federal standards or binding regulations governing First Nations' drinking water.
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Humans are one species among countless others to which we are connected and on which we depend. Viewed that way, everything we do has repercussions and carries responsibilities. That we are part of a vast web is a biocentric way of seeing that we've followed for most of our existence. But in assuming the mantle of "dominant" species, we've shifted to thinking we're at the centre of everything.
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The longer we delay addressing environmental problems, the more difficult it will be to resolve them. Although we've known about climate change and its potential impacts for a long time, and we're seeing those impacts worsen daily, our political representatives are still approving and promoting fossil fuel infrastructure as if we had all the time in the world to slow global warming.
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As the human population continues to grow and consumerism shows no signs of abating, the technosphere expands, causing pollution, contamination and resource depletion, further upsetting the delicate natural balance that keeps our planet habitable for humans and other life forms.
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Climate change is no longer a suspected diagnosis. It's a health emergency that is already causing systemic damage to the health and well-being of many around the world. Consequences reach beyond borders: climate-related drought and crop failure has been implicated as an exacerbating factor in the conflict in Syria. So what does it mean for Canada?
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About four million Canadians -- including more than a million children -- lack food security, defined as reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Sadly, it's not just humans who are affected by mismanagement of food systems and the ecosystems of which they are a part. Wildlife feel the impacts as well.
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Climate change is amplifying a long list of stressors salmon already face. Sockeye salmon are sensitive to temperature changes, so higher ocean and river temperatures can have serious impacts. Even small degrees of warming can kill them. Low river flows from unusually small snowpacks linked to climate change make a tough journey even harder.
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As promising as solar and electric planes may be, these technologies still have a way to go and won't likely usher in a new era of airline travel soon. That's unfortunate, because aircraft are major sources of pollution and climate-altering greenhouse gases, contributing the same amount of emissions as Germany, about two per cent of the global total. As air transport becomes increasingly popular, experts project aircraft emissions could triple by 2050.
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Industrial activity has profoundly affected the Blueberry River First Nations in northern B.C. In much of the territory, which once supported healthy moose and caribou populations, it's difficult if not impossible to walk half a kilometre before hitting a road, seismic line or other industrial infrastructure.
As a teenager, I felt all giddy whenever I got new makeup -- I couldn't wait to try the newest cosmetic brands and make my friends a tad envious. Of course, I didn't know it then, but every time I washed the makeup off my face, I was participating in a vast system of global environmental pollution.
Ontario's health-based air quality standard for benzene is set to become law on July 1, 2016. Yet Ontario's Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is working to accommodate a request from two of the province's largest industrial benzene emitters -- the petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries.