CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Posts tagged "canada"

Canada. Now.

Judge called the Govenor’s actions to change the law illegal. Excellent coverage by the AP.

Highway to the Arctic Ocean, built on melting permafrost, slices through dozens of streams, ponds, and lakes. Why? In anticipation of the Arctic north thawing from climate change giving the Canadian government an edge on extracting natural resources.

Expose’ of this new highway boondoggle at The Globe and Mail.

Conservative government closed environmental libraries containing historic environment records. Scientists protest to no avail. Public silent.

Canadians have also fired thousands of scientists, gutted environmental laws, and replaced science posts with oil executives.

More tar sands environmental doom.

Researchers find 7,300-sq-mile ring of mercury around tar sands in Canada

Scientists have found a more than 7,300-square-mile ring of land and water contaminated by mercury surrounding the tar sands in Alberta, where energy companies are producing oil and shipping it throughout Canada and the U.S.

Government scientists are preparing to publish a report that found levels of mercury are up to 16 times higher around the tar-sand operations — principally due to the excavation and transportation of bitumen in the sands by oil and gas companies, according to Postmedia-owned Canadian newspapers like The Vancouver Sun.

Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk recently presented the findings at a toxicology conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The revelations add to growing concerns over the environmental impact of mining the tar sands. Many environmentalists charge that extracting oil from the sands will lead to an increase in carbon emissions, the destruction of the land, water contamination and health problems for Canadians. The debate over the tar sands crossed over into the United States when energy company TransCanada proposed building the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil to the southeastern U.S. for refining and distribution.

Kirk and her colleagues’ research shows that the development of the tar sands may be responsible for spreading mercury — which can cause nervous-system damage — far beyond the areas where drilling and transportation are taking place.

More than $100 million in cuts are underway at the federal department in charge of protecting Canada’s water and oceans, despite recommendations from top bureaucrats that it needs to increase spending for both environmental and economic reasons.

According to internal federal briefing notes obtained by Postmedia News, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is eliminating about 500 jobs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans related to Coast Guard services, patrols to stop illegal fishing activities as well as scientific research to promote conservation, protect endangered species, and prevent industrial water pollution.

The cuts, part of the federal government’s efforts to eliminate its deficit, cover 26 different areas of the department which has a workforce of about 10,000 employees. The downsizing also includes the shutdown of federal libraries and millions of dollars in reductions to climate change adaptation programs. In total, the department estimates it will cut about $80 million per year from its budget by 2014-15, and over $100 million per year in the following fiscal year.

Harper’s ultra-conservative government also makes oil and gas spill clean up plans secret. It seems Harper was but a martyr for the oil and gas industry, having nearly wiped out most of Canada’s environmental regulations and policies that affect oil and gas drilling.

One big concern surrounding end-pit lakes is that the contaminated water will spread through the boreal ecosystem, the tract of trees and marshland that stretches around the top of the world from Canada to Russia and Scandinavia. Boreal forests store almost twice as much carbon as tropical forests.

coalashchronicles:

Likely the largest spill of its kind in Canadian history, the massive leak of coal slurry into the Athabasca River near Hinton has caused damage to habitat and poses a risk to certain fish species.

One billion liters of coal slurry (about 260 million gallons) leaked into fragile streams and habitat in Alberta, Canada. Meanwhile, Canadian government just announced plans to expand number of toxic slurry ponds for tar sands.

A train hauling crude oil caught fire in Canada sparking debate about reliability.

Rail safety has become a central issue in Canada since the July disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a runaway train carrying crude oil exploded in the center of the lakeside town, killing 47 people.

But in contrast to Lac-Megantic, where the explosions razed dozens of buildings in the center of town, pictures from near Gainford showed Saturday’s fire was burning alongside a road in open country, with fields and forests on either side.

Still, Gainford residents were asked to leave their homes because of the risk of another explosion, and Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said the evacuation would continue for as long as needed – up to 72 hours. The main east-west highway traversing central Alberta was also closed.

In other words - pipelines really are the safer bet… Via Al Jazeera America

This overpass helps bears cross a highway in Canada.

Bear hair study in Banff proves animal highway crossings work

For three years, researchers from Montana State University spent their summers collecting bear hair. The samples, collected on both sides of the 50 mile stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway that cuts through Banff National Park, prove what the researchers had suspected: wildlife underpasses and bridges were helping enough bears move back and forth across the highway to keep the populations healthy.

The Trans-Canada Highway stretches nearly 5,000 miles acrowss the country, rolling through each of the nation’s 10 provinces and connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The 100 miles that pass through Banff National Park is a blip in the entire stretch of highway, but a potentially deadly obstacle for the wildlife that live in the park. Demand for a bigger, faster road system prompted a widening of the highway in the 1990s. During construction, engineers lined the highway with fencing and built underpasses and bridges for animals to cross, with the theory they would reduce collisions and provide animals safe passage. However, the decision was controversial as there was little data to backup the hunch.

High Country News

[A] community’s ability to react during a disaster is one thing. Minimizing the impact of a flood is another. Now, the province faces a potentially decade-long cleanup effort that could cost $5 billion by BMO Nesbitt Burns estimates.

Disaster risk management experts say the Alberta situation should serve as a wake-up call to municipalities across the country of the need to spend money and time mitigating the risks before disaster strikes, especially as climate change is predicted to bring bigger and more frequent severe weather events.

"We go from disaster to disaster … being sure that we protect a life so people are protected and then finding the best way how we pay for that," said Slobodan Simonovic, author of Floods in a Changing Climate: Risk Management. “But what we are doing is we are simply reacting to that, paying for that. We are not investing in the reduction or minimization of the future.”

'Tremendous increase'

On average, Canada gets 20 more days of rain now than it did in the 1950s. While flooding – the costliest natural disaster for Canadians – was once mainly a spring event due to the combination of frozen ground and rainfall, it’s now increasingly happening in the summer.

I completely missed the major flood in Calgary last month. City looks totally flooded my muddy river water. I’m not sure what happened at this point, but I suspect flash-storms, a fast river system (boxed in by old-school engineering), and poor drainage systems. I’ll investigate. 

Quite the story.