Train carrying fresh water derails, contaminating Alberta’s oil sands

Fort McMurray, AB – A freight train carrying over 50,000 litres of fresh  has derailed, devastating several open pit mines and tailing ponds in the Fort McMurray area.

No injuries were reported when 12 cars of pristine river water from British Columbia jumped the tracks and plunged into an open pit being mined for heavy crude and bitumen.

However, at least three of the double-hulled containers ruptured on impact covering the mine in a chemical known as dihydrogen monoxide or H20. Helpless  workers looked on in disbelief as a small pond of water began to form over their work site.

Officials from  highways, environmental services, hazardous materials, emergency services, the Canadian Association for Petroleum Producers, and CP called for an immediate evacuation for area residents affected by the water spill. MORE

Could hi-tech Netherlands-style farming feed the world?

As the global population swells, so does the need for food. Could a Netherlands approach to farming that doesn’t rely on soil, sunshine, water and pesticides be the answer?

Tulips growing in front of a traditional windmill in Holland (picture-alliance/Svetlana)

The small, overcrowded, low-lying Netherlands might not sound like the answer to feeding a world whose population is predicted to rise to 9.6 billion people by 2050, but farmers and agronomists there would beg to differ.

The country known best globally for its traditional tulips and wooden footwear, is the second largest vegetable exporter in the world — with exports totalling €6 billion annually. Onions, potatoes and some southern climate vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and chiles are among its top selling products.

The Netherlands is growing them with far less water and pesticides than if production was happening in the soil or open air.

They do it using greenhouse technology, termed ‘precision farming’, that some in the Dutch food industry claim is the most advanced in the world. MORE

Most marine refuges in Canada don’t meet global standards: study

Most marine refuges in Canada don’t meet globally accepted protection standards — some of which this country had a hand in creating.

That’s the finding of a new report published Wednesday by SeaBlue Canada, a coalition of six national conservation organizations that includes the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre, Oceans North, West Coast Environmental Law, and the World Wildlife Fund Canada.

While Canada has come a long way in a short time, having designated 7.9 per cent of its oceans as protected since 2015, the report shows stronger standards are needed to better protect biodiversity. SeaBlue found that only 40 per cent of the areas closed under the federal Fisheries Act met the highly protected marine refuge criteria. The other 60 per cent need improvements to meet international standards.

Even when measured against Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s own guidance, 27 per cent of marine refuges were unlikely to meet the criteria to be counted as protected. MORE

What happened when Oslo decided to make its downtown basically car-free?

It was a huge success: Parking spots are now bike lanes, transit is fast and easy, and the streets (and local businesses) are full of people.

[Photo: Åsmund Holien Mo/Urban Sharing]

If you decide to drive in downtown Oslo, be forewarned: You won’t be able to park on the street. By the beginning of this year, the city finished removing more than 700 parking spots–replacing them with bike lanes, plants, tiny parks, and benches–as a major step toward a vision of a car-free city center.

Without those parking spots, and with cars banned completely on some streets, few people are driving in the area. “There are basically no cars,” says Axel Bentsen, CEO of Urban Sharing, the company that runs Oslo City Bike, the local bike-share system. The city’s changes are designed, in part, to help improve air quality and fight climate change, but the difference in the quality of life is more immediate. “The city feels different faster than you can feel the difference in [cleaner air],” he says. “You can see that you’re actually reclaiming the space and can use it for other purposes than parking cars.”

But while business owners initially worried about the city creating a ghost town that no one would visit, the opposite seems to be true; as in other cities that have converted some streets to pedestrian-only areas, the areas in Oslo that have been pedestrianized are some of the most popular parts of the city.  MORE


Ontarians are voicing dissent by the thousands. Take Action!

While the provincial government continues to roll back progress made on environmental protection, Ontarians have made it clear that the vast majority want decisive climate action.

Before the government passed the legislation to eliminate the cap-and-trade system, a consultation process received 11,000 comments with more than 99 per cent in support of putting a price on harmful emissions and maintaining the cap-and-trade system that supports investment and clean energy job creation. Thank you to those who submitted comments. It’s unacceptable for the government to scrap a program that has such overwhelming public support.

You have another chance to tell the government that its new weakened environment and climate plan fails to protect Ontarians from climate risk and sets us on a dangerous path of missed economic, energy and job-creation opportunities. TAKE ACTION!

NB: This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on January 28, 2019

CARBON FOOTPRINT: Environmentalists Take 1,500 Private Jets To Davos, Switzerland, ‘Climate Change’ Gathering

Photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

A handful of the world’s wealthiest and most successful people are gathering in Davos, Switzerland, this week to discuss how to make the world a better place — and, in particular, how to address the “urgent” threat of climate change — but they’ll take more than 1,500 separate private jets to get to the tony ski resort.

No one is acting as if we were in a crisis. Even most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy. – Greta Thunberg

Davos, an exclusive winter playground for the rich and famous, hosts the annual World Economic Forum, and the event attracts only the “global elite,” according to — a guest list of 3,000 celebrities, government officials, foundation heads, investment bankers, intellectual luminaries, CEOs, and deep thinkers.

Tickets to the event cost around $50,000, not including the cost of travel. MORE


Four provinces outperformed the rest, all while pricing carbon pollution

Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. led in economic growth

Rooftop solar panels in Leduc, Alberta. Photo: David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

Beyond all the bluster, what does the evidence say about the relationship between economic performance and carbon pricing? As it turns out, we have a pretty good case study here in Canada.

In 2017, pricing carbon pollution became mainstream economic policy in Canada. Comprehensive carbon pricing systems are already in place in Canada’s four largest provinces, representing 86 per cent of the population. Ontario and Quebec have a cap-and-trade system linked to California, Alberta’s carbon levy increased from $20 per tonne to $30 per tonne on January 1, and British Columbia has a carbon tax at $30 per tonne (scheduled to increase to $35 per tonne in April).

The data soundly refute the misconception that a carbon price hurts economic competitiveness and growth.

In 2017, Canada led the G7 (a grouping of seven of the world’s largest advanced economies) in economic growth. It was our country’s best year for job gains since 2002. Unemployment is at a four-decade low. In short, it was a year of economic success for the country. MORE