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Harper Continues Attack On Science 2 October 15

The Harper government has shutdown another science library. The Lethbridge Agricultural Centre's library is the most recent casualty in Harper's war on science.

The Lethbridge library was part of a networked association of Agriculture Canada libraries. Linked through a central database, the libraries could order books from each other. Locally, Lethbridge provided service to Agriculture Canada staff, Alberta provincial staff and the public. College and university students used the facility as did local historians.

"The Harper government continues to target government science at every turn," Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of Public Service (PIPSC) said in a release. "It is time Canadians understood the cumulative loss to federal science, in particular – of a government whose priorities are clearly out of step with both public scientists and the public interest."

Harper has shut down 16 research libraries during his time in government. While the closures have attracted some media attention and news stories, there have been few detailed reports.

The National Farmer's Union (NFU) issued a statement saying the closure of the Lethbridge Library was just the latest in a long line of government libraries, where collections were tossed into dumpsters, burned or went to landfills.

View September 22, 2015 National Observer article
View May 19, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View May 20, 2013 ScienceBlogs article
View May 2013 Academic Matters article
View February 29, 2012 report
View Harper's War on Data special report

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New First Nations Alliances 2 October 15

On September 30th, First Nation Chief representatives from Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec visited Musqueam Territory, to appear before the 47thAnnual Chiefs-in-Assembly of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The delegation spoke with BC Chiefs about forming a national alliance to confront tar sands pipelines, including the TransCanada Energy East pipeline.

The chiefs voted unanimously at the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs conference to develop strategies to work together to oppose Energy East, which they see as an unacceptable risk to their lands and waterways. A first-of-its kind "Indigenous Treaty" is also in the works to tackle oil sands expansion in general.

On the Prairies, where First Nations are facing two pipelines —Energy East and Enbridge's Line 3 replacement —Manitoba's Grand Chief says Indigenous peoples oppose the projects over "climate chaos" and water contamination concerns.

"We know the climate is changing. You don't need a scientist to tell you that," said Grand Chief Nepinak, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "We can feel that when we go outside. The forest fires across the land."

"If we move forward with Mr. Harper's natural resource development strategy, which would mean new pipelines across the territories, which would mean an expansion of the tar sands, we're not doing anything for our future generations."

View October 1, 2015 Natinal Observer article
View October 1, 2015 National Observer article
View September 30, 2015 The Canadian Business Journal article
Visit Pipe Up Against Enbridge website

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Divestment in the Trillions Now 25 September 15

The number of institutions, individuals, and various funds divesting from the fossil fuel industry and invest in renewable energy and climate solutions has exploded, growing 50-fold in just one year and representing $2.6 trillion in assets, according to a new analysis released by Arabella Advisors. To date, 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals across 43 countries representing $2.6 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.

"This movement has struck a chord with people across the world who care about climate change, and convinced some of the largest and most influential institutions in the world to begin pulling their money out of climate destruction." - May Boeve,

Since the campaign began in earnest less than three years ago, the report shows, more than 400 institutions and over 2,000 individuals have pledged to divest from companies that derive profits from coal, oil, or gas.

Presented just months ahead UN climate talks in Paris and conducted by financial researchers at Arabella Advisors on behalf of the 'Divest-Invest' campaign—an effort driven by a coalition of climate action and public advocacy groups—the findings of the analysis reveal enormous strides over a relatively brief period for the idea of transitioning investments as part of the fight against human-driven global warming.

View September 23, 2015 Common Dreams article
View September 23, 2015 The New York Times article
View September 23, 2015 Huffington Post article
View September 22, 2015 DeSmog Canada article
View Measuring the Growth of the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment and Clean Energy Investment Movement

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Pope Francis On The Planet and Poverty 25 September 15

Pope Francis addressed the UN just two days before the final approval of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and just 10 weeks before the Paris climate summit- COP 21. The new SDGs and the growing momentum on climate change center on the idea that economic growth and environmental protection are inextricably linked; they are in essence two sides of a coin.

Pope Francis' encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si, makes the case for "the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet" and speaks of the pope's conviction that "everything in the world is connected."

"The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation," Pope Francis says in the encyclical. At his White House speech on September 23, he built on this theme, speaking of our need to invest in our "common home". Failure to protect God's good creation for future generations is a sign of moral and social failure, according to Francis.

The Pope praised the U.N. as an instrument for protecting the environment, alleviating poverty and furthering peace and reconciliation. But he warned the UN against practicing a kind of cultural imperialism that fails to respect the autonomy of poorer countries, particularly in matters of sexuality and the family.

"A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged," Pope Francis said.

View September 25,2 015 Time article
View September 23, 2015 World Resources Institute article
View September 23, 2015 The White House media release
View Conference of Parties 21 information page
View Encyclical Letter - Laudato Si of the Holy Father Francis - On Care For Our Common Home

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Canada Last On Environmental Protection 25 September 15

Canada has fallen behind in a global ranking on international development initiatives and ranks last when it comes to environmental protection. The Washington-based Center for Global Development assesses 27 wealthy nations annually on their commitment to seven areas that impact the world's poor. Canada came 13th in this year's Commitment to Development Index (CDI) survey. Denmark led the list, followed by Sweden and Norway, with Japan and South Korea at the bottom.

Canada dropped from 12th place last year and did far worse in the environmental protection category, where it ranked 27th. Every other country made progress in this area except Canada, the centre said in a report on the rankings.

Canada "has the dubious honor of being the only CDI country with an environment score which has gone down since we first calculated the CDI [in 2003]," the report said. "This reflects rising fossil fuel production and its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only treaty governing the emissions of heat-trapping gasses. Canada has dropped below the U.S. into bottom place on the environment component."

Owen Barder, a senior fellow at the centre who prepared the index, said in an interview that the environment category has become one of the bright spots in the survey. "Environment is the one part of our index that has really seen improvement and Canada has been the only country that's fallen," he said. "My expectation would have been that Canada is environmentally friendly, Canadians all seem to take the environment seriously."

View October 22, 2014 Huffington Post article
View November 18, 2013 The Globe and Mail article
View November 18, 2013 Epoch Times article
View The Commitment to Development Index

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The LEAP Manifesto: A Way Forward For Canada 18 September 15

In the middle of a federal election, Canadian artists and activists are calling for shift in the country's economy to a sustainable system weaned off fossil fuels. The LEAP Manifesto – spearheaded by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, offers exactly the kind of dialogue needed for Canada to move forward.

The Leap Manifesto – a wide-ranging document signed by more than 100 prominent progressive Canadians – lays out an ambitious plan to end fossil fuel subsidies, increase income taxes on corporations and the wealthy, cut military spending and implement a progressive carbon tax.

Signatories include actors Donald Sutherland, Rachel McAdams, and Ellen Page; musicians Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Alanis Morissette; and writers William Gibson and Michael Ondaatje, along with major environmental groups and labour unions.

"We start from the premise that Canada is facing the deepest crisis in recent memory," the manifesto states. Calling Canada's record on climate change "a crime against humanity's future", it urges a rapid shift over the next two decades to a fully sustainable energy economy.

From the LEAP Manifesto;
‘We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the opportunities of this transition are designed to eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy's fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher-wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.

Canada is not this place today – but it can be.'

The Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another calls on government to honour indigenous rights and move toward a clean economy fuelled by renewable energy. According to the manifesto, this can be achieved in around three decades by moving away from industries like mining and oil extraction and instead focusing on environmentally-friendly technology.

Visit The LEAP Manifesto website
View September 17, 2015 The Guardian article
View September 16, 2015 CBC News article
View September 15, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View September 15, 2015 The Guardian article
View September 15, 2015 CBC News article

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Shoal Lake Road Almost 18 September 15

The Shoal Lake 40 First Nation has been under a boil water advisory for nearly two decades due to a dam that pulls tainted water away from an aqueduct and streams it towards the reserve. The aqueduct supplies nearby Winnipeg residents with fresh, clean water.

To make matters worse, the Ojibway community has been cut off from the mainland for nearly one hundred years and is forced to cross the lake year-round. The journey becomes precarious as the seasons change, and nine people have slipped through winter ice and died in the last 15 years.

The Manitoba government and City of Winnipeg have agreed to spend $10 million apiece to build a road to the community, but they are waiting for the federal government to come forward with cash.

Premier Greg Selinger said it is time for the federal government to come forward.
"We've been drinking water from there for over 100 years," Selinger said.
"It only seems reasonable that they have clean water and road access as well.
"Let's cut to the chase - it will be in the (provincial) budget."

Selinger also said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has told him she will find a way for her province to be supportive as well.

View September 16, 2015 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network article
View September 12, 2015 CTV News article
View September 12, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View August 10, 2015 The Globe and Mail article

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Nexen Fracking License Nixed 18 September 15

British Columbia's Environmental Appeal Board has overturned a water licence granted to a company for shale gas fracking in northeastern British Columbia, ruling the licence was based on bad science and bad faith.

The long term water licence granted in 2012 allowed Nexen Inc. to pump 1.4 million cubic metres of water a year from Tsea Lake and Tsea River, located about 100 kilometres northeast of Fort Nelson. The Tsea River watershed is within the First Nation’s traditional territory. During the appeal hearing, the First Nation provided evidence that some of its members hunt, fish, trap, gather plants, inhabit cabins, and travel in the Tsea River watershed on a seasonal basis, as their families did in the past. In addition, the Tsea Lakes are within a trapline area that is registered to members of the First Nation, who operate different portions of the trapline.

In its ruling, the Environmental Appeal Board of B.C. said the science behind the licence is fundamentally flawed. It also ruled the province acted in bad faith when it did not properly consult with the Fort Nelson First Nation, breaching a constitutional duty to consider potential adverse effects of the water licence.

View September 8, 2015 CBC News article
View September 6, 2015 Calgary Herald article
View September 29, 2013 The Common Sense Canadian article
View February 9, 2013 Huffington Post article
View B.C. Environmental Appeal Board Decision NO. 2012-WAT-013(c)

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Coal Ash All Radioactive 4 September 15

Scientists have known for years that coal — and its burned byproduct, coal ash — contains radioactive elements. In 2009, for example, a group of researchers at Duke University — including Avner Vengosh, professor of earth and ocean sciences — measured high levels of radioactivity in coal ash from a spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant.

High concentrations of radioactive contaminants have been found in coal ash produced in North America's three largest coal-producing regions -- the Illinois, Appalachian and Powder River basins.

Until now, environmental protections focused on a variety of other contaminants commonly found in coal ash, and other forms of coal pollution. But a recent study by researchers at Duke University show that radioactivity levels are worryingly high.

"Until now, metals and contaminants such as selenium and arsenic have been the major known contaminants in coal ash," Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment,explained in a press release. "This study raises the possibility we should also be looking for radioactive elements, such as radium isotopes and lead-210, and including them in our monitoring efforts."

View September 2, 2015 Climate Progress article
View September 2, 2015 Environmental Science & Technology article
View September 2, 2015 United Press International article
View August 26, 2010 Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice and Sierra Club report
View December 13, 2007 Scientific American article

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Canada Leads World In Deforestation 4 September 15

Global Forest Watch Canada has released the first ever Canada-wide assessment of human impacts on our landscape. Using government data and satellite imagery, the report maps the human footprint on all Canadian provinces and territories. The report reveals a disturbing trend: high levels of human fragmentation in most eco-zones, including the Boreal.

"Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000," Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said. "There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests," he said. "Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests."

Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares – about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.

View September 3, 2015 Global Forest Watch blog post
View August 21, 2015 CBC News article
View September 16, 2014 The Common Sense Canadian article
View January 14, 2014 Greenpeace article
View November 12, 2009 CBC News article
Visit Global Forest Watch Canada website

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Obama Challenges Sounds Alarm on Climate Change 4 September 15

Speaking to representatives of numerous governments at the GLACIER Conference of Arctic nations in Anchorage, Alaska, Obama made extremely blunt statements about how bad climate change is going to get if we don’t do something about it, and criticised the slowness of governments to act thus far.

"We’re not moving fast enough. None of the nations represented here are moving fast enough," Obama said, sounding like your loving but constantly disappointed uncle in one of his rare moments of anger:

"This is within our power. This is a solvable problem if we start now. We’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally, and within each of our own body politics, that we may have the political will – finally – to get moving.

"The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the (climate) deniers is passed. The time to plead ignorance is surely passed. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They are on their own shrinking island. If we were to abandon our course of action ... we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.

"Any leader willing to take a gamble on a future like that – any so-called leader who doesn’t take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke – is not fit to lead."

View September 2, 2015 The Globe and Mail article
View September 1, 2015 Junkee article
View September 1, 2015 NBC News article
View August 31, 2015 The New York Times article
View August 26, 2015 Renew Economy article

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Energy East Risks Too Great 15 August 15

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says the environmental risks of the $12-billion Energy East pipeline project outweigh the potential benefits, and warns it will drive up natural gas prices.

"What we have found is there is an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the project and the expected benefits for Ontarians," said OEB vice-president Peter Fraser as he released a report on Energy East.

TransCanada's Energy East pipeline project would convert an up to 40-year-old natural gas pipeline to carry crude oil from Alberta to Ontario, connecting it with new pipeline through Quebec and on to Saint John, New Brunswick. It would be the largest oil pipeline in North America, transporting 1.1 million barrels of oil every day – primarily for export. After 15 months of consultations with people in communities along the Ontario route of the pipeline, the Ontario energy board found residents are worried about leaks.

"The top concern expressed was the risk of an oil spill as the pipeline runs near or across many waterways," Fraser said. "Our advice is that for the existing pipeline, when it is too close to environmentally sensitive areas, it should be rerouted unless it can be justified by TransCanada as necessary."

Greenpeace welcomed the OEB's conclusion that the risks of the pipeline project outweigh the benefits. "Given the new realities of low oil prices and a global push for action on climate change, this project is high risk and low reward for the entire country and not just Ontario," said Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart.

View August 13, 2015 The Hamilton Spectator article
View August 13, 2015 Winnipeg Free Press article
View August 13, 2015 Star 93.3 article
View June 12, 2014 The Council of Canadians report
View August 1, 2013 CTV News article

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Manitoba Wildlands2002-2014