Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the tag “environment”

God Has Made it Plain

“…What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20)

I highly recommend the PBS program Earth From Space which aired last evening on most PBS channels.

For all who missed watching last night, it is available for direct viewing.

Earth From Space

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/earth-from-space.html
Earth From Space
Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth. Aired February 13, 2013 on PBS

Program Description
“Earth From Space” is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine “waterfall” off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the sun’s heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.

None other than Divine creation could have designed such an amazing life sustaining sphere. Although the program does not directly say so, it is plain to see; This is not by cosmic accident!

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Obama Can Force Oil Sands to Clean Up Their Act

Keystone XL pipeline now awaits the decision from President Obama for the go ahead.

The pipeline, when completed would carry oil sands heavy crude oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It is well documented that the extraction and consumption of the oil would significantly worsen global warming and contribute to increasing overall environmental and ecological damage to a vast part of northern Canada.

Governor of Nebraska Backs Route for Pipeline
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: January 22, 2013

WASHINGTON — The governor of Nebraska on Tuesday approved a revised route through the state for the Keystone XL pipeline, setting up a decision for President Obama that pipeline opponents say will be a crucial test of his intentions on climate change. Read more…

Rants of a Christian Enviromentalist

I am an environmentalist. I believe all people have a role to play in protecting the environment and the eco-systems we live in. Even more so for us who claim a dedication to Christian principles. We were created by God to be stewards of all He created.

Earth

View from Space

Genesis 1: 28; And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”.

It is that word, “DOMINION”, which means REGENCY. God granted us regency in His creation. We, mankind, are to, use the land, the seas and all God has abundantly supplied but, we are to watch over it, take care of it, and return it to Him unsullied. God has asked us to be conservationists, environmentalists, ecologists and take care of this earth. Perhaps, at least in part, it is our failure to look after this earth that the final act of the creation story is to create a new earth, one fit for His Holy Kingdom.

I will admit, I get very judgmental over environment issues, especially towards those whose authority is to look after the affairs of our Country, Province/State, or community. Yes, I am referring to politicians  I live in Alberta, Canada and I realize that even though I am retired, much of the benefits I enjoy come from the resource revenues created by the Oil Sands industry. Some call it the Tar Sands, probably a more fit name but, that is another debate.

The last thing I want in this matter is to have the Oil Sands shut down. That would serve no one. What I would like to see is proper management applied to this resource. Both the Federal and Provincial Governments know the problems with pollution, they have conducted numerous studies, they know the solutions and yet due to heavy lobbying pressure by the oil companies involved, they choose to do nothing environmentally constructive. They boast about the monies the project brings in, they spread economic fear that unnecessary meddling will create economic disaster.

What I don’t understand is why the laws to protect the environment and ecology which are already in place are not enforced over the industries involved with the oil sands.

Several months ago a government authorized study conducted by the Univ. of Alberta confirmed that pollution, directly attributed to oil sands operations, is having a detrimental effect on the environment and the ecology in a wide path, mainly east,(prevailing winds) surrounding the Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo region. These reports were not released to the public and scientists who worked on the report were put under gag order. The report was eventually leaked by a subordinate several weeks later.

I wrote to my Member of Parliament, Blaine Calkins, on this matter and received this reply:

Dear Mr. Tilley,

Thank you for your letter concerning the recent study done by Environment Canada that confirmed the studies done by Dr. Schindler.

As Environment Canada noted in their report, the levels of containments found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development. Consequently, Environment Canada has decided to do further tests in an effort to better understand the levels of contaminants in the Oil Sands area.

“…the levels of contaminants found in the samples were consistent with contaminants that have been found in areas with no development.” Of course they are consistent – they are the same contaminants blown there by winds coming off the oil sands.
In other words; “We will continue to do nothing.”

I also asked him about the ‘Gag Order’ muzzling the UofA scientists, he replied:

With regards to your comments about monitoring reports being kept secret, and scientists being ‘gagged’, it simply isn’t happening. The process of making reports public is not new, and has not been changed by our Government.

OK, Let’s hear from the scientists themselves after the report was leaked. Watch the following news video.

Government Hides Proof of Oil Sands Contamination
http://www.albertaprimetime.com/Stories.aspx?pd=4450

Original Air Date: Monday, November 05, 2012
The public is learning Environment Canada knew of oil sands contamination and muzzled its scientists. What fallout will those revelations cause?

We speak with David Schindler, international acclaimed and outspoken environmental biologist from the University of Alberta.

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3

This week a new report was released by Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario This time the report was published directly to major news sources. This report confirms the findings of the previous UofA reports of last November.

Oil sands development polluting Alberta lakes: study 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/oil-sands-development-polluting-alberta-lakes-study/article7014184/

Oil Sands Polluting Area Lakes 
http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/393673-report-oilsands-polluting-area-lakes

Oil sands pollution ‘clearly evident’, government-funded study says 
http://business.financialpost.com/2013/01/07/government-funded-study-concludes-toxic-hydrocarbons-from-oil-sands-pollute-lakes/

Margaret Munro, Postmedia News | Jan 7, 2013

Leading federal and academic scientists have uncovered “compelling” evidence that Alberta’s oil sands operations have been sending toxins into the atmosphere for decades.

Industry’s role as a decades-long contributor of PAHs to oil sands lake ecosystems is now clearly evident
The team has found “striking” increases in contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the bottom of six lakes up to 90 kilometres from the massive oil sands operations in northeastern Alberta.

PAHs began to climb in the lake sediments in the 1970s and are now up to 23 times higher than 1960 levels. It says the increased PAHs coincided with oil sands development and the compounds have a distinct “petrogenic” fingerprint different from PAHs generated by natural phenomenon like fire.

Levels of the toxins have almost tripled since the 1960s in Namur Lake, the most remote lake tested. It is about 90 kilometres northwest of oil sands operations in a provincial park known for its fishing. The PAHs are up to 23 times higher in the other lakes, which are within 35 kilometres of the oil sands operations.

“Given the planned expansion of the oil sands, the trend will likely accelerate in future,” says co-author John Smol, a Canada research chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University.

Government and industry response is; “that many pollutants found in the lakes and rivers of northeastern Alberta are naturally occurring and leached from the bitumen deposits themselves.”

In other words; “We choose to do nothing.”

An Environmental Disgrace

The Oil Sands and Canada’s Environment

I came across this series of photos while reading an article in the Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ They are part of the Garth Lenz’ touring exhibition, “The True Cost of Oil”, which has played a major part in the fight against Alberta Tar Sands Mining.

As a Christian, I believe that environmental protection is an extremely important part in serving God. God made us stewards of this land and all the creatures that live on it. Without a clean and livable environment life, as we know it, can’t exist.

This presentation is directed at Alberta Canada’s oil sands. The single largest source of pollution in the world. Alberta contains only 3% of Canada’s fresh water, Yet, due to oil sands mismanagement, the oil sands pollute 22% of Canada’s fresh water, almost the entire Athabaska basin.

What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.

Here are several photos from the video presentation:

Click on photo for larger view.

Syncrude Upgrader and Oil Sands

Syncrude Upgrader and Oil Sands

The refining or upgrading of the tarry bitumen which lies under the oil sands consumes far more oil and energy than conventional oil and produces almost twice as much carbon. Each barrel of oil requires 3-5 barrels of fresh water from the neighboring Athabasca River. About 90% of this is returned as toxic tailings into the vast unlined tailings ponds that dot the landscape. Syncrude alone dumps 500,000 tons of toxic tailings into just one of their tailings ponds everyday.

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains

Boreal Forest and Coast Mountains / Atlin Lake, British Columbia | 2001
This area, located in the extreme northwest of British Columbia, marks the western boundary of the Boreal region. On the border of the Yukon and Southeast Alaska, the western flank of these mountains descends into Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest and British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Far from the oil sands, the greatest remaining coastal temperate and marine ecosystem is imminently threatened by the proposal to build a 750-mile pipeline to pump 550,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude to the coast. Once there, it would be shipped through some of the most treacherous waters, virtually assuring an ecological disaster at some point in the future.

Tailings Pond in Winter

Tailings Pond in Winter

Tailings Pond in Winter, Abstract #2 / Alberta Tar Sands | 2010
Even in the extreme cold of the winter, the toxic tailings ponds do not freeze. On one particularly cold morning, the partially frozen tailings, sand, liquid tailings and oil residue, combined to produce abstractions that reminded me of a Jackson Pollock canvas.

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001

Aspen and Spruce | Northern Alberta | 2001
Photographed in late autumn in softly falling snow, a solitary spruce is set against a sea of aspen. The Boreal Forest of northern Canada is perhaps the best and largest example of a largely intact forest ecosystem. Canada’s Boreal Forest alone stores an amount of carbon equal to ten times the total annual global emissions from all fossil fuel consumption.

Tar Sands at Night

Tar Sands at Night

Tar Sands at Night#1 | Alberta Oil Sands | 2010
Twenty four hours a day the oil sands eats into the most carbon rich forest ecosystem on the planet. Storing almost twice as much carbon per hectare as tropical rainforests, the boreal forest is the planet’s greatest terrestrial carbon storehouse. To the industry, these diverse and ecologically significant forests and wetlands are referred to as overburden, the forest to be stripped and the wetlands dredged and replaced by mines and tailings ponds so vast they can be seen from outer space.

Dry Tailings

Dry Tailings

Dry Tailings #2 | Alberta Tar Sands | 2010
In an effort to deal with the problem of tailings ponds, Suncor is experimenting with dry tailings technology. This has the potential to limit, or eliminate, the need for vast tailings ponds in the future and lessen this aspect of the oil sands’ impact.

Tailings Pond Abstract

Tailings Pond Abstract

Tailings Pond Abstract #2 | Alberta Tar Sands / 2010
So large are the Alberta Tar Sands tailings ponds that they can be seen from space. It has been estimated by Natural Resources Canada that the industry to date has produced enough toxic waste to fill a canal 32 feet deep by 65 feet wide from Fort McMurray to Edmonton, and on to Ottawa, a distance of over 2,000 miles.
In this image, the sky is reflected in the toxic and oily waste of a tailings pond.

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River

Confluence of Carcajou River and Mackenzie River | Mackenzie Valley, NWT | 2005
The Caracajou River winds back and forth creating this oxbow of wetlands as it joins the Mackenzie flowing north to the Beaufort Sea. This region, almost entirely pristine, and the third largest watershed basin in the world, will be directly impacted by the proposed Mackenzie Valley National Gas Pipeline to fuel the energy needs of the Alberta Oil Sands mega-project.

Black Cliff

Black Cliff

Black Cliff | Alberta Oil Sands | 2005
Oil sands pit mining is done in benches or steps. These benches are each approximately 12-15 meters high. Giant shovels dig the oil sand and place it into heavy hauler trucks that range in size from 240 tons to the largest trucks, which have a 400-ton capacity.

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter

Oil Sands Upgrader in Winter| Alberta Oil Sands | 2010
The Alberta oil sands are Canada’s single largest source of carbon. They produce about as much annually as the nation of Denmark. The refining of the tar-like bitumen requires more water and uses almost twice as much energy as the production of conventional oil. Particularly visible in winter, vast plumes of toxic pollution fill the skies. The oil sands are so large they create their own weather systems.

Boreal Forest and Wetland

Boreal Forest and Wetland

Boreal Forest and Wetland | Athabasca Delta Northern Alberta | 2010
Located just 70 miles downstream from the Alberta oil sands, the Athabasca Delta is the world’s largest freshwater delta. It lies at the convergence of North America’s four major flyways and is a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl and considered one of the most globally significant wetlands. It is threatened both by the massive water consumption of the tar sands and its toxic tailings ponds.

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3

Tar Pit #3
This network of roads reminded me of a claw or tentacles. It represents for me the way in which the tentacles of the tar sands reach out and wreak havoc and destruction. Proposed pipelines to American Midwest, Mackenzie Valley, and through the Great Bear Rainforest will bring new threats to these regions while the pipelines fuel new markets and ensure the proposed five fold expansion of the oil sands.

As Chief Spence Starves

An excerpt from:
As Chief Spence Starves, Canadians Awaken from Idleness and Remember Their Roots

This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.

The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.

Dominion of Canada

When Canada became an independent nation, the founding fathers adopted the title “Dominion of Canada”. The term was taken from Genesis when God said to Adam, “You shall have dominion over all of creation” God was saying to Adam, “I have appointed you to be the caretaker over the land which I have given you”. It was a vice-regency title given to Adam from God and the connotation for Canada as being part of the Realm of the British Empire.

The term “Dominion” can be traced to a suggestion by Samuel Leonard Tilley at the London Conference of 1866 discussing the confederation of five of the British North American possessions, the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island into “One Dominion under the Name of Canada”, the first internal federation in the British Empire. Tilley’s suggestion was actually taken from the 72nd Psalm, verse eight, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” This verse is echoed in our national motto, “A Mari Usque Ad Mare. latin for “from sea to sea”

By adopting the term Dominion, the founding fathers took on to themselves and passed on to us and all generations that follow the responsibility to be caretakers of the lands, the resources and ecology, the flora and fauna, the waterways, the land and the environment. To be a member of government is to shoulder that responsibility. It was written into the name of Canada – Caretaker. We are the caretakers of this land first before all other responsibilities, the onus is on us to make sure that Canada is passed on intact and viable for all generations that follow. Not only our children, but our children’s’ children forward to all generations.

The shame for Canada is that we have slowly but deliberately dissolved our responsibilities as vice-regents, as caretakers, and now only give lip service to care taking of our lands that make up this nation of Canada. So determined to not be labeled as “Caretakers”, our governments dropped the name Dominion Day and called July 1st Canada Day instead.

Alberta Oilsands #1 GHG Emitter

The Province of Alberta is ranked #1 of all jurisdictions, provinces and states, in North America for GHG emissions.
World wide, the highest source GHG emitter is the US military. The single entity highest source GHG emitter in the world is the Alberta oil sands.

The Governments of Canada and Alberta try to downplay the oil sands role as a GHG emitter.

This from: OilSands-GHG Emissions

“GHG Emissions – a shared challenge
Regardless of the source, GHG emissions are a shared global challenge. In 2009, GHG emissions from European electricity generation, which make up about a quarter of EU GHG emisions, were nearly 30 times greater than GHG emissions from the oil sands. On a per-country basis, GHG emissions from electricity generation were nearly seven times greater in Germany than emissions from the oil sands, while GHG emissions from electricity generation in the United Kingdom and Poland were each about three times greater.

Oilsands make up 6.5 percent of Canada’s emissions: 0.1 percent of global emissions.
Extracting bitumen and other heavy crude oil requires more energy than the production of lighter and more accessible forms of crude oil. This tends to make heavy oil production more emissions-intensive per barrel of oil produced.”

That is like saying, “My contribution to litter is so minor when compared to all the litter on the street, why should I recycle?”

Understanding First Nations

The Wet’suwet’en have said no! This is the final word that our people will say on this. This is final law and cannot be broken. My wish is that Government/Industry would learn about the Wet’suwet’en, and understand that they have no right to go against the Decree of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs/Clan/Members.
Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en First Nation

My first encounter with First Nations people in North Coast BC was in 1957 when I worked for a summer aboard a mission boat sailing out of Alert Bay. White people referred to the ‘natives’ collectively as Indians, all the same with no real identity. Quaint sounding names such as, Kwakwaka’wakw, were just map references with no connection with the people that lived there. Names such as Cowichan, Tzouhalem, Qualicum or Nanaimo. No one seemed to care what the meaning of the names were, they were just names.

Raven and Sisiutl, 1995 Richard Hunt

Raven and Sisiutl, 1995 Richard Hunt, Kwa-Gulth Arts Ltd.


The ‘Indians’ who lived in Alert Bay and had continuous dealings with and were forced to abide by white customs and rules seemed to have an underlying bitterness that whites just could not understand. Here they had all they needed. Houses built for them, schools, stores, a hospital; what more do they want? How ungrateful.

Visiting villages, Hopetown, Kingcome, and others, ‘Churched’ names for native villages, but the people were by far more friendly and welcoming away from the white culture. Attending ceremonies at their longhouses and listening to the stories of the elders I was too young and naive then to see the yearning in their hearts, like the longing for a lost treasure. I never understood this until my own father became ill. A man who had served all his life in the British Army in India and was forced to find a new life when India gained independence. At the age of 50, he never really fit in with Canadian culture and later when he took sick and was unable to work, that same look of longing was in his face. His stories of how it was had that familiar tone I had heard from the Elders in those native villages.

My impression of First Nations people changed dramatically, although even working in the North, my attitude was still generally based on encounters through the ‘white’ culture, how they were adapting. It wasn’t until the day our Dept. of Fisheries vessel was assigned to attend the opening of the Museum at Bella Bella, First Nations name, Heiltsuk, people of Wáglísla. When the missionaries came to convert the native population, they stole nearly all of the aboriginal tools and artifacts. Churches and museums and private collectors were now giving many of the stolen items back. Like a u’mista, a Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations term for ransom paid, the lost were returning.

An account of the Museum and Artifacts can be found here Looking for Bella Bella.

My lasting impression came from talking with the Chief at Bella Bella that day. No bitterness toward the people who had raided their village nearly 100 years ago but a very understanding, almost philosophical approach. He said, “If the church hadn’t taken these artifacts, they would have rotted away and we would not have them today.” The First Nations, just as all aboriginals, were and still are in tradition, a people of oral history, not souvenirs.

One concept that needs understanding by all Canadians; First Nations culture, passed down through the oral stories by the elders, is not just history. It is their roots, a people tied to the land they live in, the oneness of nature and peoples. Like religious doctrine it encompasses the past, present and future. To threaten the land is to threaten the peoples themselves.

Imagine if a corporation threatened to take away, destroy your belief system, be it Christian, Jewish, Islam, Tao, Hindu or any other. What would be the reaction for Canadians if in the event of a corporate mistake, our democratic governance would come to an end? An oil spill on the North Coast threatens the land of the First Nations, threatens the First Nations traditions, threatens the peoples themselves. No u’mista will bring it back. There is no ransom that can be paid. When a Chief makes a decree or an agreement, he speaks not only for his people today, he speaks for all the generations to come.

Panda Pipeline

Panda Pipeline.

Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline

I will admit that I am not against pipelines. Canada has thousands of kilometers of pipelines criss-crossing this great country of ours. I am against this Northern Gateway Pipeline. Not the pipeline as a means to deliver crude oil, but to the tanker traffic it would bring to the BC North Coast and the ecological, environmental and economical tragedy that will inevitably happen.

British Columbia would absorb all the risks involved with virtually no benefits. 40 permanent jobs, that’s it. Billions in ecological damage, millions in environmental clean-up. Enbridge states that when an oil spill does occur, it is not the oil companies liability. Canada would have to sue the shipping company for causing it. That is copping out.

Help put a Stop to the Northern Gateway Pipeline!

First:
The proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline requires overturning the current federal-provincial moratorium on oil tanker traffic along the coast of British Columbia, and will threaten fragile ecosystems, wilderness and landscapes, including the Great Bear Rainforest.

The Green Party of Canada has a petition to help stop the pipeline from going ahead. Download this petition, have as many people as possible to sign it, and mail it – postage free – to either her Ottawa or Sidney offices. With as few as 25 signatures, Elizabeth can present your petition to the government in the House of Commons.

Please return all signed petitions, postage free, to:

Hill Office
Confederation Building, Room 518
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Tel: 613.996.1119
Fax: 613.996.0850
Riding Office
1 – 9711 Fourth Street
Sidney, British Columbia
V8L 2Y8
Tel: 250.657.2000
Fax: 250.657.2004

Please email elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca or call 613-996-1119 if you have any questions.

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