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.
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.
On July 28, 2010, after years of pressure from many countries, the United Nations General Assembly declared access to clean water for drinking and sanitation to be a universal human right. But many places in the world struggle to guarantee this human right. Access to water is no longer just a third world problem.
Georgian Bay Forever maintains that we need climate-resilient structures strategically placed to control the water levels throughout the basin. Such structures will mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Premier Wynne and her reelected government can act to prioritize research into engineering measures to mitigate declining water levels, which will only get worse with climate change.
Low water levels will persist into the foreseeable future and this will mean significant environmental and economic costs for the region. Seasonal variations are natural and healthy. But when the starting point has moved to an all-time low, a one-time increase is not cause for celebration, especially when forecasts still leave the lakes well below average in Michigan-Huron.
Many of us cannot wait for Mother Nature and journey to one of a plethora of pleasant places famous for their warmth. Amongst the most popular destinations, including Florida, California and the Caribbean, exist some of the most desirable beaches where millions congregate to take in the joys of sun, sea, sand, and unfortunately germs.
Drought and fracking have already caused some small communities in Texas to run out of water altogether, and parts of California are headed for the same fate. As we continue to extract and burn ever greater amounts of oil, gas and coal, climate change is getting worse, which will likely lead to more droughts in some areas and flooding in others.
My community is largely based in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, 200 km downstream from current tar sands development. It's a place of great beauty and history, but we are now at risk from irreversible impacts that will permanently change our lands and our lives forever. The immediacy of the crisis demands attention, which is why I am so honoured to be on tour with Neil Young and Diana Krall as we travel across Canada to raise awareness and resources to defend ourselves from wanton development and interests that don't seem to care about our rights or our community.
We Canadians have a special relationship with snow and ice. We ski in it, skate on it, play in it, shovel it, drive through it, sometimes even bicycle through it and suffer through it for many months of the year -- some of us more than others, depending on what part of the country we call home. But how much do we know about it?
A new study out this week suggests that a third environment could become the next hotbed for antibiotic resistance. This one, however, may take the world by shock and signal that the end for antibiotics is indeed nigh. That resistance contributing environment is you, the human; specifically, your gut.
Across the world, vast areas of oceans and lakes are running out of oxygen, making it nearly impossible for marine life to survive. In the 1960s, there were 49 dead zones throughout the ocean; today there are more than 400 and the number is still growing. When water becomes too low in oxygen, or "hypoxic," marine life flees and everything that is too slow or cannot move will die, creating a dead zone. This will not go away on its own.
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.
Thousands of us undoubtedly spent this Canada Day weekend playing in or simply lounging by our abundant oceans, lakes and rivers. Water is part of our national identity. Canada contains as much as 20 per cent of the entire world's fresh water supply. It's our birthright and our national treasure. But we might not be as rich as we think. The granddaughter of oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau told us we're headed for a water crisis because we're not taking care of our inheritance.
Rob Stewart's whole life changed the day he found the "curtain of death." In 1999, Stewart was 22 and enjoying a carefree existence as an underwater photographer and filmmaker. "I was selfish before. I was just travelling, photographing animals, thinking I had the best job in the world," he told us.