climate change

Thu, 2014-04-24 14:24Indra Das
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New Poll Finds Most B.C. Residents Want Shift From Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

A wind turbine, clean energy, BC

A new poll released Thursday finds that more than three quarters of British Columbia residents want the province to shift away from producing, using and exporting fossil fuels and to embrace cleaner sources of energy.

The online survey, conducted by Strategic Communications Inc., found that 78 per cent of British Columbians agree that B.C. should transition away from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy to prevent climate change from worsening, compared to 17 per cent who disagree.

“As climate science continues to demonstrate, climate change could have devastating impacts on both the environment and the economy,” said Kevin Sauve, spokesperson for the Pembina Institute in B.C.

“It's encouraging to see that British Columbians are on the same page. Not only do they understand the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels but see economic benefits in developing cleaner sources of energy as well.”

Thu, 2014-04-17 11:44Erika Thorkelson
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Increased Mosquito Habitat One Among Many Climate Change Impacts Threatening Public Health

climate change, mosquito

In May 2000 in the town of Walkerton, Ontario, heavy rains swept water containing the O157:H7 strain of E. coli bacteria from a nearby farm into a well of drinking water. For almost two weeks, the two city workers in charge of water quality claimed that there was no danger. Meanwhile, 2300 people fell inexplicably ill and seven died.

City managers Stan and Frank Koebel both faced criminal charges for their part in the slow response to the outbreak. In his report, Justice Dennis O'Connor lambasted the provincial cuts to the Environment Ministry, which lead to the incompetence on the ground level. It was a disaster that could have been prevented had the public officials in charge acknowledged the problem and acted earlier.

At the ICLEI Livable Cities Forum in early April, Public Health Agency of Canada researcher Manon Fluery invoked the specter of Walkerton as a way to illustrate the growing public health risks associated with climate change. Rising water levels, she said, could lead to a growth in gastrointestinal illnesses related to water borne diseases. Extreme weather events that batter aging infrastructure could lead to cross contamination between sewage and drinking water.

Fri, 2014-04-11 10:56Carol Linnitt
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27 B.C. Climate Experts Rejected From Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Hearings

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

This week a group of climate experts published a letter detailing the climate impacts of the proposed tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline which carries oilsands diluted bitumen and other fuels from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The group represents 27 climate experts – a mix of economists, scientists and political and social scientists – from major British Columbian universities who were recently rejected from the pipeline hearing process because they proposed to discuss the project’s significance for global climate change.

According to Simon Donner, associate professor from the University of British Columbia and climate variability expert, “the government is ignoring the expertise of not just scientists, but policy analysts and economists.”

You'd have an easier time finding a seat at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals than an expert who thinks the energy policy is consistent with Canada meeting this government's own promised emissions target,” he told DeSmog Canada.

For Donner, the exclusion of climate experts from National Energy Board (NEB) pipeline hearings throws the legitimacy of the environmental assessment process into question.

The NEB and the federal government want to make a decision about the environmental and social impact of the pipeline expansion without considering one of the biggest long-term threats to the environment and society – climate change,” he said.

Tue, 2014-04-08 09:21Indra Das
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More Than 100 Scientists and Economists Call on President Obama to Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL protest

More than 100 scientists and economists “concerned about climate change and its impacts” signed an open letter Monday calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast, mainly for export.

The signers “urge [President Obama and Secretary Kerry] to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.”

The letter, signed by prominent leaders in science and economics, is the latest addition to an already strong and growing opposition to the Keystone XL project in the U.S., including 2 million public comments sent to President Obama and a previous open letter signed last month by over 200 business leaders and entrepreneurs asking for the rejection of the pipeline.

Mon, 2014-04-07 15:31Brendan DeMelle
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Years of Living Dangerously: Watch the First Episode Here

Looking for something inspiring to watch tonight instead of Game of Thrones? Check out this sneak peak of Years of Living Dangerously, which will premiere on Showtime on Sunday, April 13 at 10pm. Years Of Living Dangerously is a 9-part series produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub along with former 60 Minutes producers who have 18 Emmys between them. Showtime and the producers were gracious enough to provide the first episode in full on YouTube.  

Mon, 2014-04-07 12:09Erika Thorkelson
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Insurance Industry Calls for Cooperation on Climate Change

Calgary Flood

In the aftermath of last year’s flood in Southern Alberta, insurance companies had a public relations nightmare on their hands. Residents were facing massive rebuilding costs and banks were suddenly holding mortgages for useless properties. Yet much of the damage was uninsurable because it was caused by “overland flooding,” a hazard that insurance companies in Canada have never covered. Calculations for applying existing insurance on sewer back-up damages led to erratic settlements, leaving residents of communities like High River frustrated and angry.

Speaking at the Livable Cities Forum last week in Vancouver, Barbara Turley-McIntyre, head of sustainability and citizenship for The Co-operators insurance company, painted a picture of lives ground to a halt by a disaster that some forethought might have prevented.

She believes that it’s time for collaboration on analysis and mitigation of risks associated with climate change. “We need to be able to understand what the risks are so we can do a cost-benefit analysis and as a society put our dollars where they’re going to protect your homes and communities,” she said.

Sun, 2014-04-06 12:27Carol Linnitt
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Sheldon Solomon: Climate, Terror and Being “Tranquilized by the Trivial”

Climate, IPCC, terror, death, Sheldon Solomon, photo by Jeffrey Smith

After the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, professor Sheldon Solomon, experimental social psychologist and co-creator of ‘terror management theory,’ suggested human responses to news of impending social and ecological collapse have nothing to do with climate science and everything to do with death.

The prospect of violence, drought, famine and species extinction – all prominent aspects of the recent IPCC report – force individuals to confront feelings of mortality which we try to suppress by doubling down on our cultural worldviews. That means our own fear of death makes us more likely to strengthen and affirm our belief systems. So if you already don’t agree with climate science, the latest IPCC report isn’t likely to change that.

In fact, says Solomon, it’s “tough to get people to dispassionately and rationally consider the facts.” This may actually be more true for “very educated and scientifically literate people,” he says.

Thu, 2014-04-03 10:25Raphael Lopoukhine
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Five Canadian Communities Fighting Climate Change That You've Probably Never Heard of Before

Dawson Creek Grain Elevator

When you think about what Canada is known for on the international stage these days, fighting climate change is not exactly near the top of the list. Without credible plans from Ottawa and many provincial capitals, Canada’s climate-fighting reputation is up in smoke or, as the Economist put it, the moose has lost its sunglasses and Canada is “uncool.”

But when you look beyond the headlines, there is another story — one in which the vast majority of Canadian communities are committed to fighting climate change.

DeSmog Canada reached out to experts across Canada to get their opinions on which municipalities are leading the fight against climate change. Immediately, it became clear we could easily list Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver and tell great stories about these innovative cities.

Vancouver, for instance, nominated most often by the experts, is reforming its bylaws, permits, regulations and policies in an effort to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Whether it is energy, food, grants, efficiency, jobs, bikes, procurement or construction, Vancouver has a sustainability policy, subsidy or project. Add in the work Surrey, Burnaby and the City of North Vancouver are doing to evolve from Vancouver bedroom communities into sustainable urban environments and the story could start and end in the Lower Mainland.

But we wanted to look beyond the big players to find the other guys — the innovative communities you probably haven’t heard about yet. Drum roll please …

Tue, 2014-04-01 11:57Carol Linnitt
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All the Positive and Helpful Things in the IPCC Report No One Will Talk About

climate change, IPCC

If you’ve come across any of the recent headlines on the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, you’re probably feeling pretty low. The doom and gloom levels were off the charts. And understandably so. Major nations across the globe – especially Canada – are dragging their heels when it comes to climate change action. Canada, sadly, doesn’t have any climate legislation.

But maybe that’s because Canada was waiting for a group of the world’s most knowledgeable scientists to come up with a report for policy makers — you know, something to outline useful guidelines to keep in mind when looking to get your country out of the climate doghouse.

Well, Canada, you’re in luck. Here are some of the IPCC report’s most useful guidelines for responding to the multiple and growing threats of climate change:

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:31Carol Linnitt
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New IPCC Report: Climate Hazards a “Threat Multiplier” and the World is Not Ready

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Human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.” IPCC WGII AR5

Every five years or so thousands of scientists from around the world release a major report on the state of climate science. These reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are the most definitive source of information for understanding not only the planet’s geologic and climatic history, but how humans are now influencing earth’s systems, most notably by altering the composition of the atmosphere.

The second part of the most recent report, released today in Yokohama, Japan, focuses on the impacts of climate change and how well governments are adapting to those impacts. This newly-released portion of the report, from the IPCC’s Working Group II, does not bode well for the future of people on this planet. The report predicts massively negative effects on crops, extinction of species, devastating heat waves, acid oceans and geopolitical conflict.

And that’s being called a “conservative” outlook.

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