Canada Has Highest Greenhouse Gases Per Capita In The World; Canadian Activist Looks At China, Canada, and The U.S.

Beijing’s 21-million residents live in a toxic fog of particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, mercury, cadmium, lead and other contaminants, says a new article by Canadian academic and environmental activist David Suzuki on pollution. Mainly, it is caused by factories and coal burning.

Schools and offices regularly shut down when pollution exceeds hazardous levels.

“People have exchanged paper and cotton masks for more elaborate, filtered respirators,” according to the article.

Cancer has become the leading cause of death in Beijing and throughout the country, states the article in The Georgia Straight.

According to Bloomberg News, Beijing’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that, although life expectancy doubled from 1949 to 2011, “the average 18-year-old Beijinger today should prepare to spend as much as 40 percent of those remaining, long years in less than full health, suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis, among other ailments.”

China’s government estimates that air pollution prematurely kills from 350,000 to 500,000 Beijing residents every year.

The documentary film Under the Dome, by Chinese journalist Chai Jing, shows the extent of the air problem. The film was viewed by more than 150 million Chinese in its first few days, apparently with government approval. Later it was censored, showing how conflicted authorities are over the problem and its possible solutions. The pollution problem also demonstrates the ongoing global conflict between economic priorities and human and environmental health.

Rather than seeing China’s situation as a warning, many people in Canada and the U.S. – including in government – refuse to believe we could end up in a similar situation here.

Some Canadians and Americans even say that China as a reason for Canada not to do anything, arguing that what we do or don’t do to confront climate change and pollution will make little difference because our contributions pale in comparison to countries like China and India.

David Suzuki states that half of Canadians live in areas where they are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, “Short and long term exposure to air pollution are estimated to result in 21,000 premature deaths in Canada in 2008 as well as 620,000 doctor visits, 92,000 emergency department visits, 11,000 hospital admissions and an annual economic impact of over $8 billion.”

Of course, air doesn’t stay within national boundaries. The global atmosphere is being loaded with the sum of all nations’ activities.

Canada may contribute less than two percent of overall global emissions, according to the article, but it has the highest emissions per capita—more than the U.S. and Russia and close to three times the global average.

Even with a small population compared to many countries, Canada is in the top 10 for overall emissions.

We can and should do more to curb pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, states the article, especially as demands from industry and a growing population continue to increase.

That means making homes and workplaces more energy-efficient and driving less. “Transportation is a major contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But, despite the fact that a large percentage of the emissions and pollution come from SUVs, trucks and vans, sales of those vehicles are rising while car sales are decreasing,” according to the article.

As individuals, we can take action to reduce pollution and emissions, but greater gains should be made at the policy level. Creating good transit and transportation infrastructure that gets people out of their cars is a huge step, as is offering incentives to improve energy efficiency in homes and buildings. Regulations to limit industrial pollution are also necessary.

We may never experience the kind of deadly pollution China is struggling with, but we can do a lot to make sure our air, water and soil are as clean as possible, now and into the future. We must do our part.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
(Updated article)

Did Governor Chris Christie Cut A Deal With Exxon?

Christie

There is a controversy out of New Jersey which continues to get more interesting by the day, according to MSNBC.  Years ago, after decades of misuse, Exxon had damaged more than 1,500 acres of wetlands in northern New Jersey.

The state of New Jersey filed an $8.9 billion lawsuit about a decade ago.  The case progressed in the state’s favor — Exxon’s culpability was finally effectively decided.  The only remaining question was how much the oil giant would pay in damages.

Last week, however, New Jersey settled the case.

Why?  After seeking $8.9 billion — $2.6 billion for environmental restoration and $6.3 billion for compensatory damages — the state agreed to accept just $250 million. That’s roughly 3% of the original amount.  Most of that total would go towards closing the governor’s budget shortfall, rather than environmental repair.

New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D) said to MSNBC, “We want to find out who engineered this. Was it the attorney general’s office? Was it [the state’s Department of Environmental Protection] or was it maybe someone in the governor’s office?”

The New York Times seeks to answer that question as well:

“For more than a decade, the New Jersey attorney general’s office conducted a hard-fought legal battle to hold Exxon Mobil Corporation responsible for decades of environmental contamination in northern New Jersey.

“But when the news came that the state had reached a deal to settle its $8.9 billion claim for about $250 million, the driving force behind the settlement was not the attorney general’s office — it was Gov. Chris Christie’s chief counsel, Christopher S. Porrino, two people familiar with the negotiations said.”

Christie’s chief counsel “inserted himself into the case, elbowed aside the attorney general and career employees who had developed and prosecuted the litigation, and cut the deal favorable to Exxon,” according to Bradley Campbell, the commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/nyregion/christies-office-took-over-exxon-settlement-ex-official-says.html?_r=1

U.S., China Reach Deal for New Targets on Capping Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The United States and China, the world’s two largest polluters, have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. President Obama unveiled the deal at a news conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The United States will double the pace of carbon emission reduction, the president said, to 26% to 28% of its 2005 level.

China intends to peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030, and increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20% by 2030, said Obama, in what the White House called the first ever Chinese agreement to set a ceiling on its CO2 limits.

China climate deal

Republican Party criticism quickly followed, as Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the next majority leader, called it “unrealistic.”

President Obama: “Today I can also announce that the United States has set a new goal of reducing our net greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. This is an ambitious goal, but it is an achievable goal. It will double the pace at which we’re reducing carbon pollution in the United States. It puts us on a path to achieving the deep emissions reductions by advanced economies that the scientific community says is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change.”

Right-wing media portrayed the achievable goal as an  “avalanche,” “onslaught,” or “deluge” of “costly new” regulations.

Bill Nye The Science Guy Accused Of Being A Bully

It is an absurd twist that scientists are being accused of “bullying” business and economic interests – as opposed to the other way around.

Here are some photos of the current drought in California at Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake.  The “before” pictures are from 2011, the “after” pictures (on the right) are from this year.

California-Severe-Drought-Bidwell-Marina1 

California-Severe-Drought-Folsom-Dam1

California-Severe-Drought-Green-Bridge1

No Criminal Charges Filed For Tesoro Pipeline Blow-up

TesoroRefinery1The U.S. Department of Justice says it will file no criminal charges after investigating the April 2010 explosion that killed seven workers at the Tesoro refinery at Anacortes, Washington.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in Seattle said Friday, August 15 that the decision to close the case without charges was shared with victims’ relatives earlier in the day.

Federal criminal investigators and prosecutors examined whether federal criminal environmental and worker safety laws and regulations had been violated.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its final report on the blast in May.  It blamed the facility’s safety culture, industry standards and state and federal oversight for the catastrophic rupture of a heat exchanger at the refinery.

The board called for better standards for the use of carbon steel and called on the state of Washington to adopt more rigorous safety management standards.

“I believe this investigation, as well as those conducted by other agencies, have prompted changes in how the industry conducts itself,” Durkan said.

The Justice Department investigation included interviewing current and former workers, reviewing thousands of documents, and consulting with industry experts, she said. Investigators and prosecutors also reviewed investigative reports prepared by other investigative authorities, including the Chemical Safety Board.

The April 2, 2010, blast about 70 miles north of Seattle was the deadliest refinery incident in the U.S. since a 2005 explosion killed 15 people and injured 180 at a BP PLC refinery in Texas City, Texas.

Tesoro and the refinery’s previous owner, Shell Oil Co., agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the families of six victims for $39 million, and the families are also suing an outside firm that they say gave Tesoro bad advice on the mechanism that failed in the blast.

Tesoro is appealing a $2.4 million fine from the state Department of Labor and Industries.

David Beninger, a lawyer who represents the families, claimed that his clients were OK with the decision not to file criminal charges.

“They knew the feds all along were not looking at, or able to prosecute for, the homicide or deaths of their loved ones,” he said.

But Hershel Janz, the father of 41-year-old victim Lew Janz, said he would have liked to see a criminal prosecution.  “This doesn’t surprise me. Nobody’s taken responsibility for the deaths of seven people, including my boy, and I don’t expect anybody to,” he said. “They die at these refineries, and they’ll continue to die.”

 

White House Gets Solar Panels – For Second Time

jimmy carter solar panels

The White House announced on May 9th that they have completed their rooftop solar-panel project.

According to Market Watch, the new system will provide 6.3 kilowatts of power to the family quarters. The White House estimates that the solar panel installation will pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.

The new panels are the second set of solar panels that have graced the top of the White House.

President Jimmy Carter had installed a thermal hot-water heating system in the late 70’s, but it was later removed by President Ronald Reagan.

President George W. Bush had some solar panels installed on other buildings on the White House grounds in 2003.

http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2014/05/09/obama-administration-installs-solar-panels-on-white-house-roof/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carter-white-house-solar-panel-array/

http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/835-measuring-the-sustainability-of-business-from-economism-to-earth-systems-science

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Sources Claim Keystone XL Pipeline Delayed

keystonexl1

It looks like a win for landowners and those concerned with the environment (and actually a win for everyone).  The State Department and White House decided to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

The State Department said it needs more time to prepare its recommendation to the president because the pipeline route is mired in uncertainty.  A legal dispute is underway in Nebraska over the route and it is unlikely to be resolved before next year.

The project has caused problems for landowners due to Transcanada’s confrontational, bullying tactics.  They have been attempting to take the land under eminent domain even before the project has been approved by the government. They have tried to impose terms landowners don’t like.

Other issues include the fact that the pipeline would cross a huge, major underground water supply in Nebraska and that the production of this type of tar sands oil makes a large quantity of greenhouse gasses.

President Obama has said he would approve the project only if it could be proven not to worsen emissions of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-obama-administration-keystone-xl-pipeline-delay-20140418,0,6905254.story#axzz2zHgovBdH

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2014/04/18/obama-keystone-xl-pipeline-congress-canada/7874199/

http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/04/18/keystone-xl-pipeline-will-not-be-completed-this-year-sources-say/