Canada seen as big loser if world gets serious about climate change

Rruck dumping oilsands into a hopper at Suncor's base plant oilsands upgrading facility north of Fort McMurray, Alta.  ~ RYAN JACKSON / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Dumping oilsands into a hopper at Suncor’s oilsands upgrading facility north of Fort McMurray, Alta.
~ RYAN JACKSON / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Published: January 7, 2015

Most of Canada’s oil riches should stay the ground, according to an international study that has deemed 75 per cent of Canada’s oil and all the Arctic’s fossil fuels “unburnable.” Continue reading →

Cracks in natural gas ‘bridge’ to clean energy future

 The proposed Woodfibre LNG Project processing and export facility, to be located near Squamish, BC ~Woodfire LNG

The proposed Woodfibre LNG Project processing and export facility, to be located near Squamish, BC ~Woodfire LNG

B.C. Premier Christy Clark sees a big role for natural gas in the “clean energy future.” So does Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and probable candidate for president, who likes to describe natural gas as a “bridge” to a greener economy.

A study released Wednesday casts more doubt on such sunny forecasts.

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Oil and gas emissions can create ‘extreme’ ozone pollution, study finds

The Syncrude oil sands extraction facility is seen near the town of Fort McMurray, Alta., ~ MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images/Files

The Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alta. ~ MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Emissions wafting out of oil and gas operations can trigger “extreme” ozone pollution events that rival those seen in congested cities such as Los Angeles, according to an international study.

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Chicks starving in Newfoundland as warmer sea water imperils food supply for birds

Northern gannets are pictured in flight. Warming sea water is threatening the species. ~ DAVE FIFIELD

Northern gannets are pictured in flight. Warming sea water is threatening the species. ~ DAVE FIFIELD

Northern gannets are good parents. The seabirds mate for life, lay just one egg a year and dutifully feed and protect their chick until it leaves the nest in September.

But this year, thousands of gannets on Newfoundland’s south coast – on North America’s most southern gannet colony — abandoned their nests during the last few weeks of August. Many of the hungry chicks soon began tumbling off rocky cliffs and into the sea.

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Changing climate at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood

Floodwaters inundate a farmstead near Gainsborough, Sask.  ~ CP Don Healy

Floodwaters inundate a farmstead near Gainsborough, Sask.
~ CP Don Healy

Published July 6, 2014

Smith Creek in southeastern Saskatchewan normally runs dry in July. Last week it hit an all-time high and the stream gauge that scientists have been monitoring for decades is now under water.

So are countless homes and farms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba where the province has declared a state of emergency and called in the military to help deal with the stunning summer flood.

“It’s utterly unprecedented,” says John Pomeroy, director of the centre for hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan. While as horrified as anyone by the flooding he is perhaps not quite as surprised. Continue reading →

Academics take issue with ‘flawed’ pipeline policies and leadership

Protesters in Vancouver rally against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

Protesters in Vancouver rally against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

Published: June 25, 2014

VANCOUVER — A Canadian-led group of academics has taken to one of the world’s top science journals to call for a moratorium on new oilsands and pipeline projects.

The group, led by ecologist Wendy Palen at Simon Fraser University, says Canada and the U.S. should halt approvals until oilsands developments are “consistent” with the government’s own commitments to cut carbon pollution.

“Anything less demonstrates flawed policies and failed leadership,” they write in Thursday’s issue of the British journal Nature. Continue reading →

California’s thirst is moving mountains

A sign explaining Dead lawn in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

A sign explaining Dead lawn in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.
PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Published: June 23, 2014.

California may be in the midst of a severe drought, but plump, juicy strawberries and raspberries continue to roll north by the truckload.

And they are still affordable despite predictions of price shocks for Canadian consumers who gobble up California fruits, veggies and nuts worth close to $2.4 billion a year.

The drought is severe — reservoirs are at record lows, wetlands are parched and rivers are so short of water that young salmon are being trucked hundreds of kilometres to help them out to sea.

But water is still flowing on many Californian fields’ thanks in large part to groundwater. Farmers are expected to make up about 75 per cent of this year’s shortfall by drilling ever deeper into the water sitting in aquifers beneath the state’s fertile Central Valley.

But there are ominous signs of overuse. Water levels are dropping. And the water withdrawals are so massive they are moving California’s mountains, according to a recent study that underscores how dependent farmers — and consumers — are on groundwater that is running low in many thirsty regions of the world. Continue reading →