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

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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

Environment minister “denies” interview with ozone scientist

Peter Kent in Parliament

Peter Kent in Parliament

Published 01/12/2012

Environment Minister Peter Kent has repeatedly said the government does not muzzle its scientists. But Kent’s office stopped David Tarasick, an Environment Canada researcher, from talking to journalists about a report on last year’s unprecedented Arctic ozone hole, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News under the Access to Information Act.

It’s the latest case uncovered by Postmedia News where ministers’ offices or the Privy Council Office have prevented federal scientists from talking to the media about their science.

The documents also say Kent’s office and the Privy Council Office, which reports to the prime minister, decide when and if Environment Canada scientists are allowed to brief the media about anything from wildlife to water quality.

Last fall, Kent was adamant in the House of Commons that ”we are not muzzling scientists.” And the minister reported to a parliamentary committee in May that “circumstances simply did not work out” to allow Tarasick to give interviews when a study he co-authored on the Arctic ozone hole was published in Nature, a leading science journal. Continue reading