When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an "extremely rare" occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here. He failed to mention the 46 "dangerous or unusual occurrences" that B.C's chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites.
Those who don't outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can't or shouldn't do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, "No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country." But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies.
Although the conservation challenge is daunting, nurturing functioning ecosystems offers hope. Healthy oceans ensure we can continue to enjoy seafood -- and they're more resilient to increasing human impacts. If the global fishing industry wants to ensure its survival, it should advocate for marine ecosystem conservation.
Climate change is an environmental crisis like nothing we've ever faced because it transcends environmentalism -- it is not a fight against pollution, but a fight against polluters. It is a struggle to change the economic and political systems that uphold business as usual. The climate movement needs more out of each us -- we can't simply click, sign or wish this problem away.
In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a "war on cars." Of course, there is no war on cars -- but there should be. Combatting pollution and climate change, reduced dependency on private automobiles will lead to healthier people, fewer deaths and injuries and livable cities with happier citizens. And that's worth fighting for!
I was raised on a dairy farm in Belledune, a small community on New Brunswick's North Shore. By the time I showed up to school in the fall of 1968, the schoolhouse was bordered by a smelter on one side and a fertilizer plant on the other. I started hearing a little voice inside me saying, "Do something!"
The ecological and physical consequences of blowing our carbon budget, from disappearing coastlines to a melting arctic, are stark but often hard for someone like Minister Flaherty to understand. This ignorance, willful or accidental, is dangerous because it is also obscuring major economic consequences.
Canada is blessed with some of the last vestiges of pristine nature on Earth -- unbroken forests, coastlines and prairies, thousands of rivers, streams and lakes, open skies, abundant fresh air. We are also defined by our Constitution. Our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But it doesn't mention the environment. How can we fully enjoy our freedoms without the right to live in a healthy environment?
Our days on tour are long and can be gruelling, but we are fuelled by the mutual satisfaction that we are engaged in extremely important work and that our message is being heard. Personally, I feel excited and energized and have just come off of what I would describe as one of the best summers of my life.
I do not think society has been as intentionally naïve with the effects of first and second hand smoke as it has been with air pollution. Municipalities are making it much harder to smoke on outdoor patios as well. Needless to say, smokers do not attempt to minimize the effects of smoking, nor are tobacco manufacturers able to market their products freely.
While its easy to finger regimes with questionable human rights records it is somewhat challenging at times tallying up the environmental record of sun destinations. This topic weighed heavily on my mind this year during four months spent in one of the most desirable destinations on the planet -- the Maldives.
The world's leading scientists agree that carbon pollution from burning these fuels is rapidly heating the planet. This scientific reality creates a challenge for people still bent on increasing carbon pollution for self-enrichment: they need to convince us that the bad they are perpetrating is somehow good.
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.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has released an important scientific report on the body burden of environmental chemicals in the adult First Nation population in Canada. The report, First Nations Biomonitoring Initiative, fills a significant gap in existing research. Certain chemical levels were found to be significantly higher in the First Nations populations.
When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.
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.
If a new Pembina Institute report released this week is any indication, we Albertans have happily, if unwittingly, kept the wool pulled down over our eyes when it comes to acknowledging the primary fuel that powers our lives. To wit, fully 64 per cent of the electricity generated in Alberta comes from burning the most inefficient and dirty of all fossil fuels: coal.