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Sat, 2012-12-15 07:00Nathanael Baker
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Gary Braasch Photos: The Shrinking of India's Precious Gangotri Glacier

Photography is a key tool used by scientists to monitor and analyze the physical effects of climate change on the planet.  More than that, images are an essential tool for informing the public of what is happening – as they say, pictures tell a thousand words.

Gary Braasch is a photojournalist who has captured the extraordinary images of climate change for the last 11 years through his organization World View of Global Warming.

Braasch's most recent expedition took him to the Himalayas, where he documented the state of the Gangotri Glacier.*

Gangotri, India's second largest glacier, has been retreating for more than a century.  Now, this key source of fresh waters shrinks by 18 meters per year.

Below are a few samples of Braasch's striking and revealing photographs. Alongside some of the images, I've also inserted quotes from Braasch explaining more about the photo and how it fits into the climate change story.

Fri, 2012-08-17 15:02Nathanael Baker
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Just 2% of Canadians Deny Climate Change Occurring, Poll Finds

Originally published on EnergyBoom.com

A recent survey conducted by Insightrix Research, Inc. has found that only 2% of Canadians believe climate change is not taking place.

The online poll, commissioned by IPAC CO2 Research Inc., a Saskatchewan-based center studying carbon capture and storage, asked respondents where they stood on the issue of climate change.

32% of participants said they believe climate change is occurring as a result of human activity, and 54% said they believe climate change is happening because of a combination of human activity and natural variation.  Meanwhile, 9% believe climate change is the result of the natural climate cycle.  Far in the minority were respondents (2%) that believed climate change is a hoax.

Conversely, in the United States climate denial represents a much larger chunk of the population, as a recent survey shows. 15% of Americans believe climate change is not occurring.

Much like the United States, Canadians' opinions on climate change vary depending on the region.  The Insightrix survey found that residents in the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) are least likely to believe humans are changing the climate, while those living in the Maritimes, Quebec, and British Columbia are most likely to hold the belief. 

Tue, 2012-07-10 13:34Nathanael Baker
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Scientists Storm Ottawa After Harper Government Cuts Environmental Protections and Research Again

Canadian scientists are taking to the streets in protest of the Harper government's latest cuts to scientific research and its increasingly backward environmental policies.

Over the last several weeks, the government has shut down major research institutions such as the iconic Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), eliminated funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science, and passed a budget bill which cuts government jobs for scientists and scraps pollution control programs.

The Harper government has made no bones about the energy future it envisions for Canada.  Alberta's oil sands lay at the center of not only the government's energy plan, but also its economic plan.  Now, it is becoming abundantly clear that if environmental protections get in the way of this plan, they wil be removed.  Hence Canada's withdrawl from the Kyoto Accord and its awful record at international negotiations on a new, legally-binding climate pact.

Fri, 2012-06-22 15:29Nathanael Baker
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BC Premier Clark Redefines Natural Gas as "Clean Energy" to Serve Political Interests

Christy Clark, the premier of British Columbia, has joined the ranks of public officials the world over, which have clouded the definition of “clean energy” by using the term to seve their own interests.

In an effort to make good on her promise that the three new liquified natural gas plants under development along BC's northwest coast would be powered by clean energy sources, Clark has announced a new classification of the term “clean energy” in British Columbia. 

According to the Premier, only natural gas that is used to power the LNG plants will be classified as “clean energy,” while keeping the classification of all other natural gas in the province the same.

The province's Clean Energy Act of 2010, includes language that would allow natural gas to be redefined as a clean energy source under certain circumstances.

Speaking at an energy conference in Vancouver, Premier Clark said, “This is consistent with our comprehensive natural gas strategy and it's also consistent with our efforts to use renewable energy.”

Fri, 2012-03-09 14:44Nathanael Baker
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Fracking: Ohio Establishes Tough Regulations After Disposal Wells Cause 12 Earthquakes

State officials have determined that at least 12 earthquakes that occurred in Ohio last December were caused by the injection of brine into hydraulic fracturing disposal wells.  As a result of its findings [pdf], the state has established the nation's “toughest regulations” for the fracking disposal wells.

Brine is a toxic by-product of the fracking process.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the safest way to dispose of it is to store it in underground wells.  However, as residents of Youngstown, Ohio discovered, this technique can cause seismic shifts – the largest of the 12 earthquakes registered 4.0 on the Richter scale.

Originally, geologists were skeptical the earthquakes were caused by the drilling of disposal wells and the subsequent injection of brine; but, after conducting in-depth research, they concluded this process did indeed facilitate the quakes: 

“After investigating all available geological formation and well activity data, ODNR [Ohio Department of Natural Resources] regulators and geologists found a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced. Specifically, evidence gathered by state officials suggests fluid from the Northstar 1 disposal well intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress causing movement along that fault.”

So, the state has decided to adopt strict regulations in regards to brine disposal wells. Today, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced a set of regulations which it believes will eliminate any future occurrence of fracking induced earthquakes. 

Thu, 2010-12-02 15:48Nathanael Baker
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Salt Lake City Oil Spill: Chevron Pipeline Leaks Thousands of Gallons for Second Time in Six Months

After a Chevron oil pipe has leaked crude oil near the Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah for the second time in six months, city and state officials are calling for the oil company to shut down the pipeline indefinitely.

The leak which, was reported by Chevron employees at 11:30 PM on Wednesday, spilled an estimated 100 barrels of oil.  Emergency response crews, with the help of oil booms and earthern berms, were able to stop the flow of oil 50 feet before it reached the nearby Red Butte Creek.  

In June, the same section of the pipeline failed leading to 800 barrels of oil leaking into the community.  The oil contaminated three waterways: the Jordan river, Red Butte Creek, and the Liberty Park pond.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allowed the pipeline to resume operations only eight days after the initial spill.  The DOT determined the pipeline was safe after Chevron conducted five tests of the compromised section.

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