climate change Archive

Waterless Tar Sands Extraction Misses the Point

March 23rd, 2011

Sar Sands Open Pit Mine Just in time for world water day, researchers at Penn State university have discovered a new “waterless” method for extracting oil from the thick mix of clay, water and bitumen that makes up the tar sands.

The current method for getting the oil out of the sand involves using huge amounts of both fresh water and energy. Hot water is mixed into the sand, which is then piped to an extraction plant and shaken up to release the bitumen. Some of the water from the process is recycled, but huge amounts are simply dumped into toxic lakes.

The new process, according to the Penn State scientists, uses ionic liquids – salt in a liquid state – to separate out the oil from the sand, and, since it doesn’t use water, doesn’t create the tailings ponds. It has been widely reported as cleaner and eco-friendly.

There is not, and never will be anything intrinsically eco-friendly about the tar sands.

Read the rest of this story at →

Canadian Parliament Supports Strong Copenhagen Target

November 26th, 2009

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”, was what Power Shift Canada told the Canadian Government loud and clear on October 24th. Since then, youth across the country have been rallying, calling and dancing to demand that the Canadian government adopt Bill C-311 (the Climate Change Accountability act) which would mandate targets to cut global warming pollution in line with science. “It’s time to listen,” we told them, and all these efforts have finally started to pay off. The minority Harper government used stalling tactics to delay a vote on that bill in committee most likely until 2010, but the Canadian parliament just passed a motion that Canada should put forward the first target from the delayed bill as the Canadian position in Copenhagen. It passed 137-124 with the united support of all three opposition parties:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canada should commit to propose at the Copenhagen conference on climate change

  1. reducing, through absolute reduction targets, greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries to 25% lower than 1990 levels, by 2020;
  2. the necessity of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the preindustrial era; and
  3. supporting the developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

The motion isn’t legally binding, unfortunately, like bill C-311 would be, but it does send an important and powerful message to the world: the current Canadian government’s position on climate change does not represent the will of the majority of Canadians, and the opposition parties are willing to unite against the government over this issue. This gives a huge boost to those countries who are willing to push forward towards an ambitious, binding treaty in Copenhagen, and they should take note: the Harper government is now totally wrongfooted on their climate policy, and barely hanging on to power by a thread. Lead, and Canada will follow.

Originally published at

Turn off your engine…

June 27th, 2008

…and take climate action:

Radical Energy Saving Action

December 7th, 2006

When the going gets tough, and people remain ambivalent towards the simple steps they can take in their lives to reduce their energy use, it seems there’s only one thing for it… It’s time to start breaking into people’s apartments, changing their light bulbs, dropping bricks in their toilets, and switching off their appliances by stealth, obviously! ;)

The Denial Machine

November 20th, 2006

Did you know that big oil companies throughout the USA and Canada employ the same Public Relations firms that were used by the Tobacco lobby in the ’60s to deny the link between smoking and Cancer? Did you realise that the Bush White House has been systematically suppressing reports on the science of climate change, and using executive power to edit language written by scientists, to create the illusion of uncertainty where there is none? Canadians, did you realise just how deep the links between the denial machine in the USA, big oil south of the border, and Stephen Harper’s government really go?

It’s not often that I am truly impressed by a piece of main-stream investigative journalism, but this documentary from the CBC’s hard-hitting Fifth Estate series is clear, well presented, and damning in the evidence it presents. Please, watch it, and get your friends to watch it too.

(Running time: 41 Minutes. Watch on Google Video.)

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