Carol Linnitt's blog

Will Alberta’s Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Caribou Be Enough?

Woodland Caribou

When the Alberta government released its draft plan to save the province’s dwindling caribou populations from local extinction earlier this month, it was heralded as a major step forward — but big questions remain.

The biggest one: after years of failing to intervene in the caribou crisis, will the new plan be enough to bring them back from the brink of extinction?

It was great news for northwest populations where big protected areas are needed and there’s still time there to ensure caribou recovery,” conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell from the Alberta Wilderness Association told DeSmog Canada.

But when it comes to the Little Smoky range, it’s still not enough, Campbell said.

The problem is the underlying causes of predation are still allowed to worsen in the next five years by restarting logging and by implying energy infrastructure can still go ahead,” she said. “We can’t support the plan continuing to destroy habitat.”

Josh Fox Finds 'No End to Human Innovation' in New Climate Doc

When you stare at climate change, sometimes climate change stares back.

So what happens when one refuses to look away?

That’s the challenge taken on by filmmaker Josh Fox in his new film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

Like its title, the film is a long and artful look at an almost too-familiar topic, but one that takes you to unexpected places.

Fox, celebrated for his award-winning documentary GASLAND that charted the impacts of prolific fracking in the U.S., including near his home in the Delaware river basin, begins How to Let Go of the World by celebrating a local success against the gas industry in Pennsylvania.

But his celebration, which is marked by some impressive dad dancing, is cut short by the realization that a beloved family tree has been overtaken by woolly adelgids, an insect infestation prompted by the warmer winters of climate change.

We’re Easily Confused About What Experts Really Think, New Research Shows

I’m not a scientist. And chances are, neither are you.
 
That likely means we both find ourselves deferring to the opinion of others, of experts who know more about complex matters — like health or nuclear safety or vaccinations or climate change — than we do.
 
But heck, even scientists have to rely on the expertise of others (unless they’re some sort of super scientist with infinite knowledge of all things. Ahem, Neil deGrasse Tyson).
 
But for the rest of us intellectual Joes, we rely heavily on what we think the experts think. As it happens, figuring out what the experts think isn’t so easy, not even in those instances where the majority of experts agree on a subject.
 
Take for example, the issue of climate change, which is just what cognitive scientist Derek J. Koehler had in mind when he launched a recent pair of experiments designed to investigate what factors might contribute to our collective failure to grasp expert consensus.

Naomi Oreskes: A New Form of Climate Denialism is at Work in Canada

No one has a better handle on the effect climate deniers have on the socio-political stage than science historian and author Naomi Oreskes.
 
Her book Merchants of Doubt charts the path of many of the world’s most notorious deniers, skeptics, shills, PR men and experts-for-hire. Plus, as a trained historian and professor of earth and environmental sciences at Harvard, Oreskes has the ability to take a 10,000-foot view when it comes to climate politics and the turning tide of public opinion.
 
Oreskes recently visited Vancouver to discuss climate change and climate denial in Canada at a talk organized by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  
 
For Oreskes, understanding how climate denial is active in places like Canada involves acknowledging the expansiveness of climate change as an issue, one that cuts across boundaries between government, society and market power.
 
We asked Oreskes what she makes of Canada’s current political situation — a situation in which our  prime minister announces impressive climate targets on the world stage but then quietly approves B.C.’s first LNG export terminal on a Friday afternoon.
 
“Of course there is a long road ahead,” Oreskes said. “[Climate change] is a very big issue that reaches into economics, politics and culture.”

Canada-U.S. Plan to Nearly Halve Methane Emissions Could Be Huge Deal for the Climate

Obama and Trudeau at White House

At the Canada-U.S. bilateral talks last week President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an ambitious plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...
40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...

The announcement came as welcome news to many environmental groups concerned about the high global warming potential of methane. The gas is 25 to 34 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a century.
 
Methane is a component of natural gas and the recent fracking boom in both Canada and the U.S. has dramatically increased methane emissions from gas production and transportation as well as fugitive emissions leaked from processing stations and pipelines.
 
Scott Vaughan, executive director of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and former Canadian environment commissioner, said the cross-border plan to limit emissions is “really impressive.”
 
“The announcement, if implemented, will lead to reducing [absolute] emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector by about 20 per cent,” Vaughan told DeSmog Canada.

Pacific Northwest LNG Review a 'Failure of Process': Fisheries Biologist Michael Price

In an open letter to Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, a group of scientists publicly challenged the integrity of an environmental assessment reviewing the impacts of a major liquefied natural gas export terminal on the west coast of British Columbia.
 
The Pacific Northwest LNG plant, a controversial $11.4-billion export terminal, is proposed for Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. The terminal is slated to be built next to Flora Bank, a unique eelgrass rich intertidal zone scientists have termed a salmon superhighway.
 
According to salmon ecologist Michael Price with SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, and signatory of the open letter, the environmental assessment of the project represents a “failure of process.”
 
“There’s certainly a frustration with [the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency]. We feel CEAA has not incorporated the best available science.”

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