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Wed, 2012-10-17 16:41Guest
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TransCanada Whistleblower Confirms Why His Company Can't Be Trusted On Pipeline Safety

This is a guest post by Janet MacGillivray, Legal Coordinator and Campaign Strategic Advisor with Tar Sands Blockade.

Today, former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes blew the whistle on his company's incompetent pipeline inspectors and non-compliance with Canada's welding regulations. In an exclusive television interview with CBC News, Vokes detailed his extensive efforts to warn his employer that it was acting irresponsibly and that a pipeline disaster could result.

As someone who just recently signed up to take action against TransCanada's irresponsible Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, this revelation confirms that all those concerned with this dangerous TransCanada project are right to fight it. Vokes' brave step forward to reveal the company's negligence will provide even more inspiration to those working to ensure that TransCanada's Keystone XL dreams remain a fantasy.

Sun, 2012-09-23 07:00Guest
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No Price Tags on West Coast Paradise

Sockeye by Steven Russell Smith Photos

This is a guest post by Nikki Skuce, and originally appeared in the Edmonton Journal.

In Edmonton this week, experts and lawyers have gathered again at the Joint Review Panel hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline and tanker project. They’ll challenge and defend percentages, growth, probabilities. They’ll speak about projections and expectations. They’ll talk about cost versus benefit.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, a fragile ecosystem is very much alive. Its emerald green islands slope into the Pacific Ocean. Eagles soar over Douglas Channel, feeding off migrating salmon. The rare spirit bear forages on a beach for clams and cockles, unaware that its future is being debated in an Alberta hearing room.

Anyone paying attention to the panel’s hearings that resumed two weeks ago in Edmonton has probably noticed a lot of numbers being thrown around. The current hearings focus on the pipeline’s economics, which don’t always add up — price differentials, job numbers, refinery capacity, liabilities. But while Enbridge and other economic experts haggle over numbers, it seems obvious that some things can’t be assigned a dollar value. Some things are priceless.

The Great Bear Rainforest is an international treasure, home to magnificent cedar trees and the spirit (kermode) bear. Its waters are teeming with life — humpback, orca and fin whales all feed there.

Mon, 2012-09-17 03:00Guest
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Chronic Soapbox for Smears Against Climate Scientists

This is a guest post by Prof. Scott Mandia, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences and Assistant Chair of the Physical Sciences Department at Suffolk County Community College, Long Island, New York, USA.

In July, 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) allowed one if its bloggers, Peter Wood, to equate the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal to the email investigation conducted by Penn State of noted climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann. I, along with many others, sent letters to CHE requesting a retraction and public apology.

Several of those letters appear below with permission from the authors to repost here:


Dear Dr. Semas,

Why has Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) allowed one of its bloggers, Peter Wood, to smear noted climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann? Woods’ latest post, “A Culture of Evasion”, quite inappropriately compares Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child rape case with that of its investigation of stolen emails that included messages from Dr. Mann. (Previous posts by Wood also maligning Dr. Mann include “Bottling Up Global Warming Skepticism” and “Climate Thuggery”.) Multiple international investigations, including one from  the National Science Foundation, have carefully reviewed Dr. Mann’s email messages and have found no misconduct whatsoever. (For more on these investigations see http://bit.ly/hxdKKJ)

Thu, 2012-09-13 17:12Guest
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Looking Back At The Wall Street Journal's Coal Op-Ads

Cross-posted from Media Matters with permission, view original here.

A Media Matters analysis reveals that The Wall Street Journal's editorials on acid rain mirrored misleading talking points featured in coal industry advertisements running elsewhere in the paper in the 1980s. The Journal also heavily promoted the claims of one particular industry consultant that was on the wrong side of science on acid rain, secondhand smoke and climate change. Years later, as industry groups orchestrate efforts to cast doubt on the science demonstrating health and climate impacts of fossil fuel use, the Journal continues to aid their efforts.

An American Electric Power ad that ran in The Wall Street Journal in 1979 downplays the environmental impacts of coal The Wall Street Journal Echoed Misleading Acid Rain Claims From Coal Industry Ads

In the winter of 1981, the Coalition for Environmental-Energy Balance, a front group for the coal industry, ran several advertisements in The Wall Street Journal defending the industry's emissions of sulfur dioxide, which were contributing to acid rain. The ads cast doubt on the threat of acid rain, warned about the cost of regulation, and claimed that calls for action to address sulfur dioxide emissions were politically motivated. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board used these same rhetorical tactics to forestall action on acid rain, as a previous Media Matters analysis found.

Wed, 2012-09-12 16:14Guest
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What's The Fracking Problem With Natural Gas?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Manager Ian Hanington.

At least 38 earthquakes in Northeastern B.C. over the past few years were caused by hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, according to a report by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Studies have found quakes are common in many places where that natural gas extraction process is employed.
 
It’s not unexpected that shooting massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the earth to shatter shale and release natural gas might shake things up. But earthquakes aren’t the worst problem with fracking.
 
Hydraulic fracturing requires massive amounts of water. Disposing of the toxic wastewater, as well as accidental spills, can contaminate drinking water and harm human health. And pumping wastewater into the ground can further increase earthquake risk. Gas leakage also leads to problems, even causing tap water to become flammable! In some cases, flaming tap water is the result of methane leaks from fracking. And methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!
 
Those are all serious cause for concern—but even they don’t pose the greatest threat from fracking. The biggest issue is that it’s just one more way to continue our destructive addiction to fossil fuels. As easily accessible oil, gas and coal reserves become depleted, corporations have increasingly looked to “unconventional” sources, such as those in the tar sands or under deep water, or embedded in underground shale deposits.

Wed, 2012-09-05 13:52Guest
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What If TV Weathercasters Told The Truth About Climate Change?

This is a guest post by Heather Libby.
 
It's been a pretty epic summer. Not really for me (mostly I've been working) but for the planet. You've probably noticed, but the weather outside is getting pretty…freaky. 
 
The USA is in the middle of its worst drought in twenty years (and in some states, since the Dust Bowl). There's an ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa, and food shortages in the Sahel. There've been floods and landslides in BC, the UK, Nigeria and Japan. There were days where a months worth of rain fell in less than 24 hours in southern Russia. In Siberia, there were forest fires so large, it's estimated they've burned nearly 100,000 square KM since June (even making my home Vancouver's air hazy for several weeks earlier this summer). I made a map of all the extreme weather events I knew about for my job at TckTckTck, which you can see here if you'd like to know more/get depressed.
 
I'd expected to hear more about these extreme weather events in the news, and in my ideal world, they'd even include a little context about why they were happening. But nearly all the news and weather reports I watched said the same thing: 
“Tragic disaster.” 
“Isolated event.” 
“We can never know what is causing this.”
 
 
In response, I collaborated with my friend Kai Nagata on creating some smart, eco and socially conscious web videos. As you can imagine, I found our first one, 'WeatherGirl Goes Rogue', very therapeutic:

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