Archive for ‘Environment’

March 14, 2013

Press Release: Grizzly Bears on the Brink

Press Release from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Grizzly bears deserve immediate legal protection in Canada

Study finds many bear populations are on the brink of extinction

                                                            

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                             March 14, 2013

VANCOUVER – Grizzly bears could disappear from many parts of Canada unless action is taken to list them under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and initiate immediate recovery efforts, including protecting their dwindling habitat in some regions.

That’s the conclusion of a David Suzuki Foundation study that analyzed provincial and federal government data on the status of grizzly populations across Western Canada. The report, Securing a National Treasure, revealed that 16 subgroups are on the brink of extinction in regions where they once flourished. This includes nine groups in south-central British Columbia and Alberta’s entire grizzly population, which remains vulnerable despite a recent hunting ban.

“Grizzly bears are at risk of disappearing completely from many parts of Western Canada, including all of southern B.C. and the South Coast Mountains, as well as a few subpopulations in west-central Alberta, unless immediate action is taken to list and protect them under the federal Species at Risk Act,” said Faisal Moola, a scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “We must protect this iconic symbol of Canadian wilderness, which plays such a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem,” he added.

The Foundation’s report comes on the heels of an assessment by Canada’s expert science panel on species at risk, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which found that although healthy populations of grizzlies remain in much of Canada’s remote northern wilderness, southern populations in Alberta and B.C. are in trouble as a result of shrinking habitat and excessive human-caused mortality. For this reason, scientists have formally declared the animal a species of “special concern” that should be added to the official List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent received COSEWIC’s formal recommendation last fall and must now decide whether to legally list grizzly bears under the Species at Risk Act, reject listing, or refer the matter back to COSEWIC for further study.

“For the second time in 10 years, the federal government’s advisory panel on wildlife has strongly recommended legally listing and protecting grizzly bears,” Moola said. “Five different environment ministers, Liberal and Conservative, have failed to act on the scientists’ advice. We hope Canada’s current environment minister will listen to the experts and take action to save this iconic species.”

Canada’s grizzly bears are among the most vulnerable large mammals on the continent for a number of reasons, including low reproductive rates; increasing pressures from resource extraction, such as oil and gas development; climate change and death from sport hunting, control kills and poaching.

“First Nations have shared the land with bears for thousands of years,” said Douglas Neasloss, a renowned bear guide and leader with the Kitasoo/XaixaisBand Council in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. “We not only revere the animal in our culture but also depend on it as part of the sustainable tourism industry we are trying to create so that people from around the world can come to see bears in the wild,” he added. “We must implement legislative measures to protect and recover grizzly bears before it’s too late.”

The Species at Risk Act is the key legislative tool for protecting declining species, such as blue whales, caribou and rare plants like butternut trees in Canada. If grizzly bears are successfully added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk (Schedule 1) under the Species at Risk Act as a species of “special concern”, the government will have to initiate formal measures to protect and recover the species, including creation of a management plan and other conservation measures.

 

August 8, 2012

News Release: Federal Government Misleading Canadians…

…which isn’t news in itself, but the latest latest report from Environment Canada, as released by Peter Kent, the “Environment Minister”, suggests that… 

“This is the result of our government’s realistic, sector-by-sector approach to reducing emissions, while continuing to create jobs and encourage economic growth,” Kent told reporters Wednesday.

Of course, those of us who have watched the Conservatives since they gained the majority know that practically nothing they say is true, as this news release from the David Suzuki Foundation confirms:

 

Federal climate report misleads Canadians

Government is taking credit for provincial action

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     August 8, 2012

 

VANCOUVER – The federal government is misleading Canadians with its latest report on greenhouse gas emissions trends. Despite the claims made by Environment Minister Peter Kent, the government has done very little to achieve its weak targets.

“The federal government is attempting to take credit for climate change action taken by the provinces, while gutting and cutting programs and institutions that had been helping with climate policy,” says Ian Bruce, David Suzuki Foundation climate change and clean energy specialist.

As noted in the David Suzuki Foundation report “All Over the Map 2012: A Comparison of Provincial Climate Change Plans”, much of Canada’s emissions reductions can be attributed to provincial initiatives such as Ontario’s phase out of coal-fired power, Nova Scotia’s regulations to cap and reduce coal emissions, B.C.’s carbon tax incentive for clean energy, and Quebec’s public transit improvements.

Meanwhile, the government has cut institutions such as the national Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, and been criticized by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada for the lack of a clear plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In October 2011, the Environment Commissioner reported that the federal government’s strategy is “disjointed, confused and non transparent” and that the government’s policies are now projected to be 90 per cent weaker than they were in 2007.

The figures released today by the federal government are also based on revised baselines and accounting rules for greenhouse gas pollution.

“Rather than trying to put a positive spin on its lack of accountability on the environment, the federal government should join forces with leading provincial governments to help Canada become a world leader in solving global warming,” Bruce says. “With this summer shaping up to be the hottest on record, Canadians need and deserve real action on global warming, which would provide numerous economic and health benefits. The government must start representing the interests of all Canadians and not just the oil industry.”

 

 

 

January 10, 2012

Has Harper’s Conservative Government been Hijacked by Foreign Oil Interests?

Recently, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, wrote an open letter claiming that  “...foreign special interest groups (sounds like Assad?) are opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline. He is singing the tune of the absurd Ethical Oil group (who won’t reveal who they are supported by), not mentioning that Enbridge’s initial supporter for the pipeline was the Chinese company Sinopec; and that the oil will be shipped to a country whose human rights record can only be considered as unethical. As usual the Conservatives are displaying new and massive levels of hypocrisy.

Let Elizabeth May have a word: here is her Open Letter to Joe…

Dear Joe,

Your letter caught my attention.  I respect you and like you a lot as a colleague in the House.  Unfortunately, I think your role as Minister of Natural Resources has been hijacked by the PMO spin machine.  The PMO is, in turn, hijacked by the foreign oil lobby. You are, as Minister of Natural Resources, in a decision-making, judge-like role.  You should not have signed such a hyperbolic rant.

I have reproduced a short section of your letter. The idea that First Nations, conservation groups, and individuals opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline are opposed to all forestry, mining, hydro-electric and gas is not supported by the facts.  I am one of those opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.  I do not oppose all development; neither does the Green Party; neither do environmental NGOS; neither do First Nations.

I oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that the project requires over-turning the current moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the British Columbia coastline. The federal-provincial oil tanker moratorium has been in place for decades.  As former Industry Canada deputy minister Harry Swain pointed out in today’s Globe and Mail, moving oil tankers through 300 km of perilous navigation in highly energetic tidal conditions is a bad choice. In December 2010, the government’s own Commissioner for the Environment, within the Office of the Auditor General, reported that Canada lacked the tools to respond to an oil spill.  These are legitimate concerns.

Furthermore, running a pipeline through British Columbia’s northern wilderness, particularly globally significant areas such as the Great Bear Rainforest, is a bad idea.  Nearly 1200 kilometers of pipeline through wilderness and First Nations territory is not something that can be fast-tracked.

Most fundamentally, shipping unprocessed bitumen crude out of Canada has been attacked by the biggest of Canada’s energy labour unions, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, as a bad idea. The CEP estimates it means exporting 40,000 jobs out of Canada (figure based on jobs lost through the Keystone Pipeline). They prefer refining the crude here in Canada.  (The CEP is also not a group to which your allegation that opponents of Gateway also oppose all forestry, mining, oil, gas, etc is anything but absurd.)

The repeated attacks on environmental review by your government merit mention.  The federal law for environmental review was first introduced under the Mulroney government.  Your government has dealt repeated blows to the process, both through legislative changes, shoved through in the 2010 omnibus budget bill, and through budget cuts.  In today’s letter, you essentially ridicule the process through a misleading example.  Your citation of “a temporary ice arena on a frozen pond in Banff” requiring federal review was clearly intended to create the impression that the scope of federal review had reached absurd levels.  You neglected to mention that the arena was within the National Park. That is the only reason the federal government was involved.  It was required by the National Parks Act. The fact that the arena approval took only two months shows the system works quite well.

Perhaps most disturbing in the letter is the description of opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline as coming from “environmental and other radical groups.”  Nowhere in your letter do you mention First Nations.  (I notice you mention “Aboriginal communities,” but First Nations require the appropriate respect that they represent a level of government, not merely individuals within communities.)

The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to respect First Nations sovereignty and protect their interests.  It is a nation to nation relationship.  To denigrate their opposition to the project by lumping it in with what you describe (twice) as “radical” groups is as unhelpful to those relationships as it is inaccurate.

“Radical” is defined as “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.”  (Merriam Webster).

By that definition, it is not First Nations, conservation groups or individual opponents that are radical.  They seek to protect the fundamental nature of the wilderness of northern British Columbia, the ecological health of British Columbia coastal eco-systems, and the integrity of impartial environmental review.  It is your government that is radical by proposing quite radical alteration of those values.

Your government has failed to present an energy strategy to Canada.  We have no energy policy.  We are still importing more than half of the oil we use.  Further, we have no plan to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, even as we sign on to global statements about the need to keep greenhouse gases from rising above 450 ppm in the atmosphere to keep global average temperatures from exceeding a growth of 2 degrees C.  The climate crisis imperils our future – including our economic future – in fundamental ways which your government ignores.

By characterizing this issue as environmental radicals versus Canada’s future prosperity you have done a grave disservice to the development of sensible public policy.  There are other ways to diversify Canada’s energy markets.  There are other routes, other projects, and most fundamentally other forms of energy.

I urge you to protect your good name and refuse to sign such unworthy and inaccurate missives in the future.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth May, O.C.

Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands

Leader
Green Party of Canada

November 10, 2011

Denial Tango

Men With Day Jobs tackle climate change denial. (Hat-tip to Climate Progress)

July 21, 2011

Alberta’s threat to coastal British Columbia

National Geographic magazine is featuring an article that shows how Canada’s push to become a player in the world oil market will threaten key habitats along the British Columbia coast. Included in the threat? The Great Bear Rainforest, home of the Spirit Bear.

From the article Pipeline Through Paradise:

With the Northern Gateway proposal, the Gitga’at and the rain forest that surrounds them have been caught up in a great geopolitical oil game. The Northern Gateway isn’t just a pipeline. It’s Canada’s bid to become a global player in the petroleum market.

The proven reserves in Alberta‘s oil sands are second only to Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, yet the United States today is virtually the sole export market for oil sands crude. A Canadian company, Enbridge, wants to build a $5.8 billion ($5.5 billion Canadian) pipeline to transport oil 731 miles, from Alberta to Kitimat. The double-barreled pipeline would carry oil west and send condensate, a liquid used to dilute the thick crude and allow it to flow, east to Alberta. Giant tankers—some nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall, loaded with condensate or up to 2.15 million barrels of crude—would thread between a jigsaw of islands to and from Kitimat.

A West Coast oil port would open the Alberta oil sands to Asian markets, including China. Sinopec, China’s state-owned oil company, is among the Asian refiners and Canadian oil firms that have invested $105 million into moving the Northern Gateway pipeline through the planning and permitting stage.

Canada has been slow to deal with the reality of global warming due to the use of fossil fuels. It is a shame that both the federal and provincial governments are promoting oil when they have done so little to prevent the fallout of its consumption.

Read the full article online in Pipeline Through Paradise.

July 8, 2011

Symphony of Science: Children of Africa

Another production for the Symphony of Science series:

 A musical celebration of humanity, its origins, and achievements, contrasted with a somber look at our environmentally destructive tendencies and deep similarities with other primates. Featuring Jacob Bronowski, Alice Roberts, Carolyn Porco, Jane Goodall, Robert Sapolsky, Neil deGrasse Tyson and David Attenborough.”

Hat-tip to Bad Astronomy.

March 27, 2011

The Sunday Week Link Fest 2

A selection of good links that caught my attention in the last week:

Nature

Evolution
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