SNAPSHOT: A Year of Climate Extremes

 
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2018 was another year of hell and high water as the extreme weather impacts predicted by decades of climate science and advocacy continued to accelerate. The rolling series of storms, floods, wildfires, severe heat, and drought produced a constant stream of headlines from around the world, making the human and ecological devastation of extreme weather one of the toughest but most important aspects of the climate change story.

The year opened with daunting but hardly surprising reports that an unstable global climate did record damage in 2017, with all the evidence pointing to the need for faster action on greenhouse gas reductions. Insurers warned of a $1.7-trillion gap in severe weather coverage over the next 10 years, while the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences said investments in climate resilience pay off sixfold. In the run-up to a landmark report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September, stressing the urgency of a 1.5°C target for average global warming, a small avalanche of studies and reports showed that the 2.0°C “guardrail” previously suggested by climate science would be insufficient to hold off severe impacts around the world.

While much of the news coverage of extreme weather focused on impacts in developed countries, governments and climate justice advocates continually reminded the rest of the world that the poorest countries and regions are almost invariably the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As the 2018 United Nations climate conference in Katowice approached, the Climate Vulnerable Forum held a “carbon-free” virtual forum that demanded 1.5°C action for the world’s most vulnerable nations.

Severe Storms and Floods

At one time or another in 2018 just about every part of the world saw the extreme impacts of severe storms and flooding. While not every storm (or wildfire, heat wave, or drought) could be linked directly to the climate crisis, it’s settled science that climate change “loads the dice” for extreme weather events, making them more frequent and severe. The year also saw improvements in the science that allows attribution of specific events, pointing toward an emerging opportunity for litigation and liability focused on climate polluters.

The local impacts of severe storms and floods were chilling, and often heart-rending. A flash flood in Jordan in late October killed 18 people, most of them children and teachers on a school trip. A mudslide in Montecito, California, left 17 dead, 40 missing, and the immediate area looking like a First World War battlefield. An intense hurricane literally wiped a small Hawaiian island off the map, and Typhoon Mangkhut killed 64 in the Philippines before continuing on to southern China and Hong Kong, just a couple of weeks after another typhoon sent an empty fuel tanker careening into a bridge in Japan. Floods and landslides killed 200 people in Japan, even as the country missed an opportunity for a shift to renewable energy, and Fiji entered a frightening new era of extreme weather. Late autumn storms killed six people across northern Italy and flooded 70% of historic Venice.

In Canada, British Columbia endured heavy flooding in mid-May as it prepared for the approaching wildfire season. New Brunswick warned of possible municipal sewage contamination as floodwaters hit record levels, and a review of historical records showed the country’s weather getting wilder. One of a half-dozen tornadoes that suddenly hit Ottawa September 21 turned a beloved, wooded neighbourhood into a logging camp, and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op pointed to the need and opportunity to build a more resilient, distributed local electricity system.

A Harvard University study concluded that 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane María in 2017—73 times the official estimate from the U.S. government under Donald Trump—and hurricanes cost the Caribbean $3 billion in tourist revenue in 2017.

Boston confronted two “100-year storms” within weeks. Hurricane Florence bore down on North Carolina, a state that had previously tried to legislate sea level rise out of existence, eventually turning North and South Carolina into an archipelago until drenching floodwaters dissipated. The experience prompted North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to set a 2025 deadline to reduce his state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

Less than a month later, a super-heated ocean boosted Hurricane Michael into a 250-kilometre-per-hour monster that churned through an impoverished part of the Florida Panhandle. Gaps in emergency response had some survivors worried that “they’re doing us like they did New Orleans.”

Fire and Heat

At mid-year, wildfires and heat emergencies were sweeping North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Eurasia, with the constant stream of news showing signs of finally burning climate denial to the ground.

Veteran climate hawk and meteorologist Eric Holthaus pointed to the firestorms sweeping much of the western United States as evidence that a new era of “fire tsunamis” has begun. “You can imagine standing in front of a tsunami or tornado and trying to stop it from destroying homes,” incident commander Ben Brack told the Denver Post. “A human response is ineffective.”

“The official term for the hellish meteorological event that hit La Veta [Colorado] is a ‘firestorm,’ a self-propelling explosion of flame generated by strong and gusty winds from a particularly intense fire over extremely dry terrain,” Holthaus explained. “When a fire gets hot enough, it can generate its own weather conditions and wind speeds can approach hurricane force, drying out the surrounding land.” U.S. firefighters got their first taste of a “fire tornado,” and a similar incident grabbed a responder’s hose and pulled it 100 feet in the air before letting go. “Sorry for the profanity,” wrote Vanderhoof, B.C., firefighter M.C. Schidlowsky at the end of an incident video on her Instagram feed.

A climate impact assessment pointed to wildfires as one part of the “apocalyptic threat” California faces if climate change is not brought under control, after an earlier assessment found that the state’s private utilities lost $20 billion in value after a prior round of blazes. Within months, both assessments were out of date, as the Camp Fire near Sacramento became the worst conflagration in California history, killing at least 85 people and destroying 14,000 homes.

British Columbia declared a(nother) state of emergency in late August in response to an epic wildfire season, as smoke from the province’s more than 600 fires worsened air quality in many parts of Canada. Analysts and activists connected dots between a year of severe climate impacts and energy policies destined to make the problem worse—including Ottawa’s decision to buy a leaky, 65-year-old pipeline from Houston-based Kinder Morgan.

An after-action review found that the emergency response to the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 largely neglected nearby Indigenous communities, even as it relied on some of them to shelter evacuees. Studies found that drought and heat make it tougher for forests to regenerate after a fire, that intense, repeat wildfires pollute rivers and threaten water supplies, and that homes destroyed in fires produce a disturbing spike in airborne toxic compounds. Fire, drought, and insect infestations were putting large swaths of the Canadian boreal forest at risk, and a new round of boreal mapping pointed toward future increases in all three.

Extreme Temperatures and Drought

Drought, extreme heat, and, sometimes, extreme cold showed that climate change is about a far wider range of localized effects than just “global warming.” The Washington Post captured a snapshot of the story at mid-summer: from scorching high temperatures in the Middle East and Southern California, to 51.3°C heat in Ouargla, Algeria, that set a record for all of Africa. North America set or tied temperature records in Montreal; Ottawa; Los Angeles; Denver; Mount Washington, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont. A northeastern “heat dome” brought stifling temperatures above 100°F to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. While “no single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming,” the Post wrote, “collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.”

In Siberia, while actual weather observations are scarce, modelling put the temperature above 32°C July 5, more than 22°C above normal. “It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,” wrote meteorologist and blogger Nick Humphrey.

Record highs were recorded in Glasgow, Belfast, and Shannon in Ireland; Castlederg in Northern Ireland; Tbilisi, Georgia, and Yerevan, Armenia, in Eurasia; several locations in southern Russia; and in the Middle East in Quriyat, Oman. And experience in Iran showed that it didn’t take record high heat to trigger public protests, a violent response, and at least one strange burst of paranoia from a senior public official.

European cities were on track for more severe climate impacts. Studies linked a winter deep freeze across much of North America to climate change and found a strong correlation between Arctic warming and wacky winter weather, while a massive storm pushed temperatures at the North Pole 30°C higher than normal. The world’s oceans marked the warmest recorded temperatures in 2017.

Farmworkers in the United States were dying of heat-related illness, and 70 people in southern Quebec, most of them impoverished, died in a summer heat wave. An Omani fishing village endured a record 24-hour period in which the low temperature was 42.6°C, and a heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, killed at least 65 people. A study found that 3.0°C average global warming would lead to a fivefold increase in heat waves in Africa. A sweltering summer left 72% of Britons concerned about climate change; Alaskans faced severe impacts due to surging Arctic temperatures; Colorado ski operators stood to lose billions of dollars due to warmer, drier winters; and an early snow drought was expected to cut reservoir levels, resulting in billions in costs across the western United States.

Cape Town, South Africa, was on track to run out of water on April 22, until the imminent threat of Day Zero prompted residents to cut their per capita consumption by half.

Human Impacts and the Way Forward

Droughts and floods drove global hunger to a 10-year high, wiping out previous gains and prompting United Nations agencies to call for greater emphasis on climate resilience. A migrant caravan from Central America heading toward the United States was driven primarily by climate-induced drought, and millions around the world were being displaced each year by climate impacts, while the Trump administration scaled back its quota for incoming refugees. The poorest and most marginalized bore the brunt as air pollution killed eight million people per year, and many young adults faced a wrenching ethical dilemma as they weighed whether to become parents.

Analysis showed that the economic costs of climate change will hit hardest in India and the United States, placed the annual cost of unchecked sea level rise at $27 trillion by 2100, and stressed that compensation for loss and damage—the unavoidable costs that vulnerable countries and regions face due to climate disasters—must push beyond market-based measures like insurance.

Puerto Rico was in the midst of a major mental health crisis a year after Hurricane María, and Fort McMurray faced higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress after its 2016 wildfire. British Columbia unveiled a mental health plan for 2017 wildfire evacuees just as its 2018 wildfire season kicked off, and the overwhelming devastation from Hurricane Florence hit poor and rural North Carolinians the hardest. Australian farmers demanded practical solutions to the climatic changes they could see unfolding before their eyes, local solar installations pointed toward a better way to rebuild Puerto Rico, and a study found that a suite of urban solutions could free billions of people from climate impacts by 2050.

Media largely missed the memo on the urgency of the IPCC report on 1.5°C pathways, a new Canadian climate atlas showed that the crisis is real, and Texas fossils—without a trace of irony—sought federal government funding to protect their vulnerable, greenhouse gas-producing operations from climate change.

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First in China, now in Italy, satellite data are pointing to a predictable but still dramatic connection between the coronavirus and climate emergencies—as countries curtail economic activity in a bid to slow the growth of a global pandemic, they’re also reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, at least temporarily.

Benefits of Telecommuting May Outlast Virus Outbreak

Work-from-home policies being implemented around the world in an urgent effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 could create a significant long-term boost to climate action plans, both by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building future resilience.

Airlines Face Steep Revenue Loss, May See Tougher Carbon Targets Due to Coronavirus Crisis

Apart from massive revenue losses due to cancelled air tickets, international airlines might face an additional challenge in the wake of the coronavirus crisis: because of the way the industry’s half-hearted carbon reduction plan is designed, declining demand in 2020 may force companies to push for deeper emission cuts in future years.

Climate Crisis Response a ‘Cautionary Tale’ for Health Organizers

The fight for climate action offers a “cautionary tale” for policy-makers looking to accelerate their efforts to #FlattenTheCurve on COVID-19—as well as on how to best stimulate the global economy in the pandemic’s aftermath, reports the New York Times.

‘Silver Linings’ in Pandemic Response Could Support Action on International Crises

Amid a worsening global pandemic, a couple of authors are taking a step back to look at how the coronavirus could (eventually) change the world for the better.

Market Analysts See Growing Demand for Toxic Fly Ash

Earlier Leaves Mean Warmer Air

Tropical Forests Lose One-Third of Carbon Storage Ability, Could Soon Become Carbon Source

Tropical forests have lost much of their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the air, and could begin turning into net carbon sources in the next 10 to 15 years, according to an alarming new study published last week in the journal Nature.

Countries Are ‘Way Off Track’ from Meeting Climate Targets, Latest UN Assessment Warns

Ocean and surface temperatures last year were the highest on record, average global temperature was 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, the Earth lost more ice than it gained for a 32nd year in a row, and sea levels hit an all-time high, prompting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to declare humanity “way off track” from getting climate change under control in his foreword to the World Meteorological Organization’s latest annual climate assessment.

Quebec to Double Climate Spending Through 2026, But Details Still to Follow

The Quebec government released a budget yesterday that doubles spending on climate change to C$6.2 billion over six years, beginning in 2021, using surplus power from provincial utility Hydro-Québec to drive a 37.5% emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2030. But details of the plan are still months away, and two major environmental groups say it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Prince George School Evacuated after Latest Canadian Train Derailment

In yet another Canadian freight train derailment, 27 cars left the tracks near Prince George, British Columbia last week, forcing the evacuation of a local elementary school and leaving a nearby creek contaminated with petroleum coke.

Baltimore Case against Big Oil to Proceed in State Court

Baltimore citizens seeking to hold Big Oil liable for the devastating consequences of its activities had cause to celebrate last week when an appeals court denied the industry’s bid to have the case moved to a more sympathetic federal court. The suit is one of several under way that target the “elaborate disinformation campaign” intended to suppress public knowledge about the climate-destroying impacts of fossil fuel burning. 

Climate Gentrification Threatens Miami Neighbourhood

The impoverished but vibrant neighbourhood of Little Haiti in Miami is falling prey to the forces of climate gentrification, as wealthy Floridians begin fleeing their beachfront homes in response to rising sea levels. Anxious to preserve the Haitian soul of their community and keep property values within reach, locals are fighting back.

Public Opinion, Limited Finance Drive Vietnam to Curtail Coal Development

Facing a rapidly shrinking pool of willing lenders and growing opposition from a population concerned about air quality, Vietnam may be putting the brakes on further coal plant development. The policy is not certain, however, as the pressures of economic development become daunting roadblocks to an energy shift in the country.

Former New Mexico Inmates Form Wildland Firefighting Company

A group of former inmates at Los Lunas prison in New Mexico have formed a wildland firefighting company, using the training and experience they gained while they were incarcerated.

Alaskan Native Diets at Risk as Warming Turns Shellfish Toxic

Peace Institute Briefs UN on Peace and Security Risks in Somalia

U.S. Military Sees ‘All Hell Breaking Loose’ as Climate Changes

Warming Climate Means Longer Takeoffs, Fewer Passengers Per Plane

Pronghorn, Sage Grouse Won’t Survive Trump Plan for Wyoming Gas Wells

40 Sent to Hospital After Heavy Rain, Erosion Trigger Mississippi Gas Leak

New Hampshire to Probe Sea Level Threat to Coastal Highways

Buffett Fund Backs Out of Quebec LNG Project as Hearings Begin, Community Opposition Mounts

U.S. investment legend Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway industrial conglomerate has decided not to sink C$4 billion into Canada’s next controversial fossil pipeline, the GNL Québec pipeline and liquefied natural gas terminal in the Saguenay region, just as environmental hearings and grassroot opposition to the project begin gearing up.

‘Think Green’ Stickers in Alberta Mask Extreme White Nationalist Message

An ostensibly pro-environment message on a poster showing up on lamp posts in downtown Red Deer, Alberta links back to an extreme white nationalist website that was already on the radar of anti-racism campaigners, reports the Edmonton bureau of the Toronto Star.

Australia Working Toward Net Zero Despite Federal Stonewalling

Continued attempts by Scott Morrison’s government to downplay the climate crisis and obstruct solutions in Australia are proving to be increasingly out of step with public opinion, as state and local governments—as well as business interests, environmentalists, and ordinary people—fight to decarbonize the country by 2050. 

Equinor Scuttles Offshore Drilling Plan for Great Australian Bight

Norwegian colossal fossil Equinor announced late last month that it is abandoning a US$200-million plan to drill for oil in the deep waters of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park, the third retreat for a parade of oil and gas explorers that also includes BP and Chevron.

Bahamas Fights to Rebuild after Devastating Hurricanes

Six months after Hurricane Dorian came roaring ashore in the Bahamas, locals are still struggling to repair their own shattered lives, depending on each other and the ongoing commitment of international charities. Meanwhile, government efforts are focused on rebuilding the island nation’s tourist economy.

Australia bushfires volunteer firefighter

Above-Average Heat, Drought-Fueled Fire Risk On Tap for 2020

Despite the absence of El Niño conditions this year, many parts of the world will still see above-average temperatures through 2020—proof that climate change caused by human activity is now as powerful as El Niño itself, says the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Canada Can’t Wait 10 Years for New Flood Maps, Insurers Warn

Myanmar Villages on Front Lines as Sea Levels Rise

New Brunswick Iron Plant Raises Emissions Alarm

Cities Look to ‘Synthetic Mangroves’ to Counter Rising Seas

California Utilities Plan $10-Billion Investment to Stop Grids from Sparking Wildfires

Researchers Look at ‘Social Tipping Dynamics’ for Climate Stability

2018 Pipeline Explosion Near Prince George Revealed “Shocking” Safety Breaches

The Lheidli T’enneh First Nation has responded to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) report on an October 2018 Enbridge pipeline explosion near the community’s borders, saying the report contains “shocking” confirmation of serious safety breaches.

CCPA: B.C. Must Plan for Managed Decline Before International Fossil Markets Scale Back

British Columbia may be running out of time to plan for a managed decline of its fossil fuel industry, given the prospect that the Asian governments the province is counting on to buy its products may soon be making their own transition to a green economy, warns a new report issued this week by the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

10-Month Deadline Makes Netherlands a ‘Test Case’ for Rapid Decarbonization

The Netherlands has become a reluctant test case for how quickly a government can cut its carbon emissions when it’s required to, after the supreme court ruled late last year that the country must cut its greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by the end of 2020. 

Coastal Cities Must Fight or Flee as Global Waters Rise

With global sea levels expected to rise an average of one to four feet by 2100, cities like San Francisco, Manila, and Boston are set to become case studies in how urban planning decisions will create varying impacts across economic classes in an increasingly watery world.

Scandinavia Looks to Solar in ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’

Northern regions as far as the Arctic Circle are increasingly turning to the power of the midnight sun to keep their communities humming, feeding hopes that carbon neutrality by 2035 may be within reach.

Edmonton Diner Adds Carbon Footprint Rating to Menu

An Edmonton diner has begun estimating the carbon footprint of the various meals on its menu, using calculations produced by the non-profit Northern Climate Stewardship & Sustainability Society.

Fossil Front Groups Placed Facebook Ads Denouncing Indigenous Blockades

‘Courageous Journey’ Connects Science to Justice

Globe Editorial Urges Ottawa Not to Let Ford Loosen Pollution Regs

Tesla Clears Forest for German Gigafactory

Federal Regulator Undercuts New York’s Renewables, Storage Plans

Three Northern Alberta Towns Plan ‘More Holistic’ Response to Climate Change

Tamil Nadu, India Bans New Oil Production to Protect Farming

Drawdown’s Latest ‘Tools of Possibility’ Show Path to 1.5°C, with 1,570 Billion Tons of Emission Cuts by 2050

Humanity can prevent or draw down 1,570 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2020 and 2050 to approach a 1.5°C threshold for average global warming, or 992.77 billion tons to settle around 2.0°C, by adopting a menu of 82 practical solutions ranging from onshore wind to utility-scale solar, from reduced food waste and plant-rich diets to tropical forest restoration and clean cookstoves, according to the 2020 update of the popular Drawdown list.

Alberta Announces $100M Loan for Orphan Well Clean-Up

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage have announced a C$100-million loan to help the province’s Orphan Well Association clean up another 1,000 abandoned oil and gas production sites, while creating 500 jobs for unemployed oilfield service workers.

Once-Mighty Colorado River Loses 1.5 Billion Tonnes of Water Since 2000

A vanishing snowpack—courtesy of climate change—is shrinking the Colorado River, and with 40 million Americans and $1 trillion in economic activity in the balance, researchers are urging policy-makers to draft new usage agreements that take a vastly lower flow into account.

Coronavirus Already Hampering Preparations for High-Stakes UN Climate Conference

The coronavirus is already impeding preparations for crucial United Nations climate negotiations at COP 26 later this year, with travel restrictions getting in the way of key meetings and governments’ time and resources drawn away by a looming global health crisis.

California Judge Scorches PG&E’s Wildfire Plan

Poland ‘Thinking Big’ About Banning Coal Stoves and Burners

Local Communities On Their Own as B.C. Sea Levels Rise

Climate Brings New Challenges for Young Farmers

U.S. Insurers Should Support People, Not Fossils

Polar Bear Dens at Risk as Fossils Eye Exploration in Alaska National Wildlife Refuge

The airborne imaging fossil companies use to help them avoid polar bear dens when they’re exploring in the Arctic actually detects the dens less than half the time, a new study shows. That means producers won’t be able to help killing mothers and cubs of an iconic and threatened Arctic species if they drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Condemnation Rains Down After Online Images Depict Attack on Thunberg, Violence Against Blockaders

Two separate online images from Alberta are earning widespread condemnation, prompting even the Kenney government to insist the province can and must do better. One of the images portrayed a sexually graphic attack on #FridaysforFuture founder Greta Thunberg. The other showed a train driving through a crowd of blockaders.

Calgary Pipeliner Left to Wait as U.S. Regulator Delays Decision on Oregon LNG Terminal

The Calgary-based pipeliner behind a proposed US$10-billion liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon is facing what the Financial Post calls a “surprise setback”, after the Trump-appointed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to delay its decision on the plan to send Canadian gas to Asian markets.

Ontario Climate Hawks Join City Council to Oppose Fracked Gas Pipeline Through Hamilton [Sign-On]

The City of Hamilton and Ontario climate organizations are mobilizing against a 10-kilometre pipeline that would carry fracked gas from the United States and increase the province’s reliance on carbon-heavy natural gas power plants.

Antarctic Island Loses 20% of Annual Snow Cover in Sudden Warming Event

New NASA satellite imagery released February 21 points to a startling, sudden warming event near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the part of the continent closest to South America, where high barometric pressure and changes in wind patterns drove dramatic melting on Eagle Island.

Brazil Fires Top Climate Policy Staff, Calling Paris Commitment Into Further Doubt

The environment ministry in Brazil has fired the director and deputy director responsible for its climate change programs, at a moment when the international community is looking more closely at the climate impact of the country’s moves to clearcut the Amazon rainforest. 

UK May Pay Farmers to Store Floodwaters on Their Land

The Boris Johnson government’s new environment secretary is suggesting the UK pay farmers to store water on their property to protect nearby communities from flooding.

Warming Climate Drives Novel Viruses

Great Bear Rainforest Faces Delays on $25M in Offsets

Canadian Farmers Band Together for Climate Solutions

Airtight Buildings Could Trap Toxins Indoors

McKinsey Advises Mining Execs on Climate Risk, Decarbonization

Alberta Delays Report Showing Warming, Climate Impacts Above Global Average

The Alberta government dragged its feet for six months before releasing a report it previously commissioned from climate scientists Katharine Hayhoe and Anne Stoner that shows the province warming faster than the rest of the planet due to human activity, with “profound impacts on the province’s economy, infrastructure, and public health,” Global News reports.

World Bank Support to Guyana Megaproject Undercuts Promise to Stop Funding Fossils

The World Bank is undercutting its own carbon reduction commitments and putting entire Caribbean ecosystems at risk by directing US$55 million to support fossil fuel extraction off the coast of Guyana, campaigners at Sassenberg, Germany-based Urgewald charged yesterday, after a Guyanese high court cleared the way for colossal fossils ExxonMobil, Hess, and CNOOC to continue drilling.

Shift Fossil Subsidies Into Orphan Well Reclamation Jobs, Green MPs Urge Morneau

The federal Green Party caucus is calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to redirect fossil fuel subsidies to fund orphan well reclamation that would create jobs in the country’s fossil regions and ease the transition off oil and gas, iPolitics reports.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_in_India

Coal Mines Deliver Debt Slavery and Death in Southwestern Pakistan

Bitterly dangerous working conditions, corrupt and callous authorities, and indentured servitude are the harrowing realities of the orphaned children and desperate men who labour without hope in Pakistan’s coal mines.

Devastating Locust Swarms Tied to Climate Change

Devastating locust swarms in East Africa are being linked to climate change-driven cyclones, while response to the crisis is being stymied and the threat of food insecurity grows. 

Democrats Propose Three-Year Ban on New U.S. Plastics Plants

Democrats in the House of Representatives are calling for a three-year moratorium on new plastics plants across the United States, while the National Academy of Sciences studies the health and climate impacts of a massive buildout in the country’s plastic manufacturing capacity.

Rainless February Points to Droughts, Early Wildfires for California

Four States Along Missouri River Team Up to Combat Flooding

Pacific Ocean Acidification Dissolving Dungeness Crabs’ Shells

Wine Shortage Ahead if 2.0°C Wipes Out 56% of VIneyards

New Quebec Gas Pipeline, LNG Terminal Would Emit 1.8 Billion Tonnes Over 25 Years

A controversial gas pipeline and liquefaction project in Quebec’s Saguenay region that could produce 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon pollution over 25 years is just three weeks away from entering hearings before the province’s environmental review agency, the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).

Windsor Aims for Deep Energy Retrofits in 80% of Homes by 2041

The City of Windsor is closer to adopting a deep retrofit program to slash energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in 80% of its housing stock by 2041, following a unanimous standing committee vote last week.

U.S. Fossil Pulls the Plug on 124-Mile Constitution Gas Pipeline

Climate campaigners are chalking up another win in New York State this week, after Tulsa, Oklahoma-based fossil giant Williams Companies pulled the plug on its proposed 124-mile Constitution gas pipeline and wrote off the US$345 million it had already spent on the project.

French Ski Resort Brings In Snow By Helicopter, Draws Fire from Local Green Groups

The Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort in France’s Pyrenées Mountains brought in about 50 tonnes of snow by helicopter earlier this month, after 10°C temperatures threatened a premature end to the annual ski season.

60% of Global Companies Face Climate Risk, S&P Finds

Air Pollution Crosses State Lines, Causes Premature Deaths Across U.S.

Urban Trees Will Help Cool Boston, If They Survive

Madagascar Sets Plan to Plant 60 Million Trees

Arctic Changes Have Little Effect on Mid-Latitude Temperatures

Tyendinaga blockade

Blockades Continue, Businesses Seek Compensation as RCMP Continues Patrols on Wet’suwet’en Territory

With the RCMP closing its outpost but continuing its patrols on Wet’suwet’en territory, Tyendinaga Mohawks facing a deadline to end their rail blockade in Ontario, and businesses demanding compensation for lost freight access, the community members at the heart of the fight against the Coastal GasLink pipeline say they’re a long way from signalling an end to a growing country-wide protest.

Highly Toxic ‘Invisible Oil’ Made BP’s Deepwater Horizon Spill Even Worse

“Invisible oil” from BP’s horrific Deepwater Horizon catastrophe carried an even bigger, more damaging environmental footprint across the Gulf of Mexico than originally reported, according to new research published as the tenth anniversary of the epic oil spill approaches this April.

Antarctic Temperature Hits Record 20.75°C

North Darfur Water Project Brings ‘First Climate Change War’ to an End

#ImperialOilKnew It Was Contributing to Climate Crisis

Japan Experts Want to Dump Fukushima Water into the Ocean

Climate Triggers More Temperature Inversions, ‘Super-Pollution Events’

Channel Tunnel Faces Regular Flooding Without Climate Action

Climate Stability Depends on Fixing Supermarket Refrigeration

Climate Made 2018 Kerala Flood Easier, But Long Term Looks Worse

Coronavirus Drives China’s CO2 Emissions Down 25%

A huge economic slowdown driven by the coronavirus has reduced China’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 100 million tonnes, or 25%, and the country’ energy demand and industrial demand may not yet have hit bottom, according to a new analysis released this week.

Oil Train Derails, Leaks Crude in Northwestern Ontario

Yet another oil train has derailed along the CN Rail line, with 30 cars off the tracks and five of them leaking crude oil near the northwestern Ontario town of Emo, near Fort Frances.

Climate Change Blamed for Penguin Colony Collapse

Warming Drives Evaporation, Depletes Groundwater Across U.S.

Warming to Produce More Violent Crime in U.S.

Trump’s USDA Acknowledges Climate Disasters, But Critics Are Skeptical

35 Vintage Photos Show Polluted LA of the 1940s

Climate Could Drive Up U.S. Lyme Disease by 92%

Report on Oil Pollution, Birth Defects Receives Scant Attention in South Sudan

BW Signs On to Responsible Mining Initiative

Delayed Coal Closures Harm Minority Communities’ Health, Indiana NAACP Warns

The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging Indiana legislators to defeat a bill that would harm the health of low-income and minority communities by the extending the operating life of nearby coal plants.

World’s Biggest Iceberg Heads for Open Water

10 U.S. Refineries Exceeded EPA Limits for Carcinogenic Benzene in 2019

Toronto Neighbourhood Wants Nearby Nuclear Fuel-Maker Shut Down

Florida to Protect 20,000 Acres in Everglades from Oil Drilling

Changing Climate Disrupts Mexico’s Annual Monarch Butterfly Migration

Coral Reef Fishes Unaffected by Ocean Acidification

‘BPA-Free’ Plastics May Still Not Be Safe

Tiny Produce Stickers Create Big Problems for Food Waste, Climate Change

Climate Change Could Make RSV Infection Less Severe

Discovery of Buried Uranium Compound Raises Concerns on Nuclear Waste

Air Pollution Impacts Cost $8 Billion Per Day, Greenpeace Study Shows

The health impacts of air pollution cost countries US$8 billion per day, according to a study released this week by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Massive Study Links Gender-Based Violence to Climate Change, Environmental Degradation

Climate impacts and environmental degradation are driving an increase in violence against women and girls, while gender-based exploitation obstructs efforts to address the combined crisis, according to a massive study released late last month by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Carbon Storage Speeds Up in Boreal Forests, Declines in Tropics as Deforestation Takes Its Toll

The world’s boreal forests are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at faster rates, at the same time that tropical forests are becoming less effective as a carbon sink, according to a new study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

‘Rip-Roaring’ Bomb Cyclone Pushes Flight from New York to London Two Hours Early

A record-fast flight that travelled from New York to London in just four hours and 56 minutes, arriving nearly two hours ahead of schedule, has emerged as the latest result of “bomb cyclone” conditions brought on by climate change.

CCS, Hydrogen Won’t Be Ready by 2050, UK Academics Warn

Neither carbon capture and storage (CCS) nor the hydrogen economy can scale up fast enough to play a significant part in decarbonizing the UK economy by mid-century, a consortium of government-funded academics warned last week.

Pacific Islanders Look to the Past to Safeguard Their Future

IEA: Electricity Emissions Hold Steady in 2019 as Developed Countries Dump Coal

Global carbon dioxide emissions from electricity unexpectedly held steady in 2019, at 33 billion tonnes, after increasing over the two previous years, even though economic activity increased by 2.9% over the same period, the International Agency reported yesterday.

Halifax Takes Top Honours in National Climate League 2019 Standings

Halifax took top honours in four categories and eight Canadian municipalities were singled out for recognition last week as the National Climate League released its coveted Season 2 standings.

Antarctic Research Station Temperature Reading Hits Record High of 18.3°C

An Argentine research station in Antarctica logged an ominous new temperature record last Thursday with a reading of 18.3°C/65°C—warmer that day than Orlando, Florida, balmy enough to walk around in a t-shirt, and less than a month after a British endurance swimmer and oceans advocate swam a glacier in a Speedo bathing suit.

kangaroo wildfire Australia

Australia ‘Megafires’ Hit Wildlife Harder than Regular Blazes

The unprecedented speed and ferocity of Australia’s “megafires” wiped out far more animals than a normal fire would, and those that survived face a perilous future within ecosystems that were already broken by drought before they were incinerated by flames.

Norway May Redefine Northern ‘Ice Edge’ to Limit Oil and Gas Drilling

Norway is working on a creative way to limit oil and gas drilling in the offshore areas under its control: it’s considering redefining the “ice edge” that determines how far north fossils can go to pursue exploration activities.

Latest Saskatchewan Oil Train Derailment Spilled 1.2 Million Litres

Colossal Fossils Step Up Deepwater Drilling Activity

National Climate Plans Need Free-Flowing Rivers

Extreme Heat Drives North American, European Bumblebee Species Toward Extinction

Extreme heat waves brought on by climate change have already driven some North American and European bumblebee species to the edge of extinction, according to a new study published last week in the journal Science.

Warming Speeds Up Ocean Currents Far Sooner Than Climate Models Predicted

Just over three-quarters of the world’s oceans have sped up in the last decade, in what the Washington Post calls a “massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced”.

Garneau Orders Slower Speeds After Second Oil Train Derailment in Two Months

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has ordered all large trains carrying dangerous goods to slow their speeds along federal rail lines for 30 days, after a second crude oil train in two months derailed near the Saskatchewan hamlet of Guernsey.

Cape Breton’s Donkin Coal Mine Reports 11th Rockfall Since 2017

The Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton is reporting its eleventh rockfall since it opened in February 2017, about 20 metres away from where miners were last working.

Redirect Military Spending to Climate Action, Sanders Argues During Democratic Debate

The back-and-forth among seven Democratic candidates during a high-stakes presidential primary debate in New Hampshire Friday evening veered into the connections between the climate crisis and the United States’ massive military budget and trade relations.

Australia bushfires volunteer firefighter

‘Absolute Welcome Disruption’ as Torrential Rains Help Quell Australian Bushfires

Hot, dry, windy conditions in the Australian state of New South Wales have given way to torrential rains that have reduced the number of active bushfires from 60 to 42, but raised the prospect of flooding and landslides for parts of the country’s east coast.

Coronavirus Drives Sharpest Oil Demand Drop Since 9/11

Oil consumption in China is down 20 to 25% this month and at least one market analyst firm has cut its projection for global oil prices, as the coronavirus drives the biggest demand shock fossils have seen since the 2008 economic crash, and the most sudden one since 9/11.

China’s Belt and Road Plan Chokes the Mekong River

Tab for Flood Protection Runs NYC into the Billions

National Parks in Canadian Rockies Report Bird Populations Doing Fine

Trump’s ‘Clarified’ Policy Ends Penalties for Bird Deaths

Climate Change Fuels Locust Crisis in East Africa

Ottawa River flooding

Updated Climate Risk Plan Will Withdraw Disaster Aid for New Homes in Flood Plains

Canadians building or buying new homes in areas at high risk for flooding will no longer have access to federal disaster relief under a new insurance plan set to take effect in the next three years, The Energy Mix has learned.

India Threatens to Shut 15 GW of Coal Capacity Due to Air Quality Concern

India’s Central Pollution Control Board is threatening to shutter 14 coal plants representing about 15 gigawatts of generating capacity and assess penalties against their operators, after they missed two deadlines to reduce particulate and sulphur dioxide emissions.

56% of Americans Cite Climate as Top Concern as Anxiety Crosses Party Lines

More than half of Americans see climate change as the most important issue facing society today, according to a December, 2019 Harris poll released this week by the American Psychological Association.

Senegal’s ‘Venice of Africa’ Loses Ground Against Rising Seas

Warm Winter Deprives Moscow of Snow, Brings Bears Out of Hibernation

Nashville Solar Farm Raises Sheep to Restore Soil, Biodiversity

Two For One: Mangroves Can Store Carbon, Save Economies

Appeal Court Rejects First Nations’ Trans Mountain Challenge

The Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Coldwater First Nations vowed yesterday to continue their fight after the Federal Court of Appeal unanimously rejected their challenge to the federal cabinet’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Wilkinson Wants More Detail After Teck Promises Net-Zero by 2050

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says he’s waiting for more detail before deciding whether Teck Resources’ promise to make its operations net-zero for emissions by 2050 will influence cabinet’s decision on the company’s C$20.6-billion Frontier tar sands/oil sands mine proposal.

Saugeen Nation Sends OPG Back to Square One, Voting 86% Against Nuclear Waste Site

The 4,500-member Saugeen Ojibway Nation has voted by an 86% margin to reject Ontario Power Generation’s plan for a radioactive waste repository at the Bruce nuclear station in Kincardine, about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron, prompting OPG to launch a search for a new location and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley to declare a “huge victory”.

African Development Bank Hires Ottawa Lobbyist, Seeking Funds ‘to Develop Climate Capacity’

The African Development Bank has hired an Ottawa lobbyist to reinforce its quest for funds to help the continent “develop the capacity to address climate change”, iPolitics reports.

Agroforestry Can Reduce Wildfire Risk for Mediterranean, Australia

Bringing together crops, trees, livestock, and local farmers in a land management system based on agroforestry can significantly reduce wildfire risk in the Mediterranean, as well as places like Australia, according to research recently published in the journal Agroforestry Systems.

Trillion-Tree Initiative Could Distract from Climate Action, Analyst Warns

Constraints of time and space, the likelihood of accounting boondoggles, and the fact that forests are inherently unstable climate sinks, ever more so as the planet warms, could make the World Economic Forum’s newly-announced Trillion Tree Initiative a dangerous distraction from what really needs to be done to rein in the climate crisis, the MIT Technology Review warns.

Week 2, January 13: A Green New Deal

In Week 2 of Guy Dauncey’s 26-week climate emergency transition plan, Canada introduces a Green New Deal in partnership with business, labour unions, First Nations and non-profit societies to manage a 20-year transition off fossil fuels in a planned, coordinated manner.

Lawyer Under House Arrest Beat Chevron in Court, but ‘Lost Everything’

Yeb Saño: Tar Sands/Oil Sands Morally Responsible for Death, Destruction

Lithium Extraction Robs Chilean Communities of Water

Climate Emergency Could Cut UK Fruit Production by 28%

Sweden Races to Save Reindeer Threatened by Warming Climate

Brass Say U.S. Military Unprepared for Climate Change

Wind turbines

‘Rare, Happy News’ from Climatologists: Worst-Case Warming Now ‘Increasingly Implausible’

It doesn’t make the climate crisis any less urgent, but there’s a growing view among scientists that humanity’s decarbonization efforts so far have dodged the worst climate outcomes projected in the last global assessment report in 2014.

Canada to Enact Single-Use Plastics Ban in 2021

The Trudeau government will move ahead with a ban on single-use plastics next year, after a federal science report found more than enough evidence that plastics pollution causes harm, with 29,000 tonnes of plastic garbage ending up as litter in 2016.

Scientists Say World’s ‘Riskiest’ Glacier May Be Melting at Faster Rate

Scientists are becoming concerned that the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, considered the “most important” and “riskiest” glacier in the world and sometimes known as the “doomsday” glacier, may be melting at a faster rate, due to water at the base of the ice that is above the freezing point.

Climate Targets Impede ‘Maximization’ of Carbon Reductions, Monbiot Warns

Rather than setting climate targets that become the minimum politicians strive for, it’s time to adopt a “maximization” strategy to get the climate emergency under control, argues British author and activist George Monbiot, in a post for The Guardian that points to the UK’s widely-cited Committee on Climate Change (CCC) as an example of failed incrementalism.

Developing Countries at Greatest Risk as Biodiversity Loss Threatens 50% of World GDP

Biodiversity loss is now one of the top five risks to the global economy, with more than 50% of worldwide GDP significantly dependent upon natural ecosystems that are being rapidly destroyed by climate change, deforestation, and disease, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that stresses the threat to developing countries.

Coastal Village in Wales Sees Home Values Plummet as Sea Levels Rise

The seaside village of Fairbourne in northwest Wales expects to be the first community in the United Kingdom to fall victim to sea level rise, and locals say their homes are already plummeting in value as a result.

‘Politics of Hope’ on Climate Could Also Turn the Tide Against Ultra-Right

A foreign policy specialist is arguing that progressive forces can drive down greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, revive public faith in the possibility of a better world, and halt the rise of the ultra-right, all by zeroing in on self-styled populists’ utter failure to respond credibly to the climate crisis and contrasting that gap with the potential for a global Green New Deal.

Climate Activist Flags Racism in Being ‘Erased’ from Davos News Photo

Labrador Cultural Centre Learns to Build on Melting Permafrost

CAPE Documents Health Effects of Fracking, Calls for Immediate Ban

Birth defects, cancer, neurological issues, and psychological effects are among the documented impacts of natural gas fracking, prompting the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) to call for a ban on the practice in a literature review released this week.

Radioactive Fossil Wastewater Still Flows, 40 Years After Damning Insider Report

Nearly 40 years after the American Petroleum Institute (API) warned industry officials that oil and gas wastewater is “significantly” radioactive, regulation remains non-existent, callously leaving largely unaware industry workers and the broader public exposed to life-threatening toxins.

https://pixabay.com/en/plastic-bottles-fishing-net-netting-388679/

Fracking Industry Driving Massive Boom in Plastic Production

Ignoring a shocking carbon footprint, a broken global recycling system, and ever-growing public outcry, the fossil and petrochemical industries are banking big on plastics, pouring billions into new production facilities as a hedge against the coming crash of the internal combustion engine.

San Francisco Declares Market Street a Car-Free Zone

San Francisco has gone through with a plan to ban cars along Market Street, one of the busiest and most hazardous thoroughfares in the city’s bustling downtown—and has earned what a leading urban affairs newsletter calls a “remarkable level of local support” for doing so.

Alberta Cold Snap Kills Off 95% of Mountain Pine Beetles

Auditor Tells Travel Manitoba to Factor In Climate Risk

Ozone-Depleting Emissions Also Driving Up Arctic Warming

Climate Crisis Means Shrinking Populations for Caribbean Countries

Decommissioning Fukushima Will Take 48 Years, Tepco says

JP Morgan Chase tower divest

Shunning Big Banks Could Change the Game for Climate Action

As the window for addressing the climate crisis narrows, Americans must stop parking their money in banks that prop up fossil fuels, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben and Hip Hop Caucus President Lennox Yearwood argue in a recent opinion piece for the New York Times.

Emails Show Trump Appointees Using Wildfire Data to Justify Increased Logging

Obedient to Donald Trump’s inclination to prioritize industry over the public interest, political appointees in the U.S. Department of the Interior manipulated wildfire emissions data into a narrative that presented more logging—rather than climate action—as the best way to prevent future fires.

Ocean Heat Wave Drove ‘Unprecedented’ Whale Entanglements Off California Coast

An ocean heat wave in the mid-2010s drove whales closer to the California coast, where an “unprecedented” number of them became entangled in fishing gear, according to a new study in the journal Nature Communications.

Child labour artisan mining Congo cobalt

Surging Mineral Demand Produces Sharper Focus on ‘Ethical’ Batteries

Blockchain-enabled transparency, rigorous third-party mining standards, local production, and recycling are among the strategies in play to create batteries that are planet- and people-friendly—a tall order, given that the supply chains supporting the EV revolution remain linked to environmental degradation and human suffering.

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Climate Campaigners Raise Flags Over Press Freedom Award for Chevron Lawyer

Anti-fossil campaigners are crying foul after the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) chose to honour Chevron lead attorney Ted Boutrous for his work to protect First Amendment freedoms.

Green Roofs Would Save 770 Megatons of Carbon by 2050

Green roofs rank #73 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. By the year 2050, an increase in green and cool roofs could save 0.77 gigatons of carbon at a net cost of US$1.39 trillion, while producing $988.5 billion in savings.

Ecuador Communities Push Back on Palm Oil

Countries’ Credit Ratings at Risk from Sea Level Rise

Alaska Faces Climate Catastrophe But Can’t Quit Big Oil

Floating Dairy Farms Could Help Cities Prepare for Sea Level Rise

Does Climate Crisis Call for Rationing?

BREAKING: Fossils’ ‘Snake Oil’ Will Accelerate Arctic Warming

While fossils joke about taking “snake oil” mainstream to keep ship engines running, the Clean Arctic Alliance is warning that a new low-sulphur fuel formula meant to meet new international standards will accelerate Arctic warming and ice loss by releasing new stores of black carbon, or soot, into the atmosphere.

Researchers Predict Near-Record Annual Increase in Atmospheric CO2

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are on track for one of their largest annual increases since record-keeping began in 1958, driven in part by the bushfire calamity sweeping Australia, the UK Met Office reported last week.

New Decade Opens with Cascade of U.S. Coal Plant Closures

The new decade is opening with a mounting cascade of plant closures in the United States coal industry, with investors abandoning ship, revenue being driven down by record-low gas and renewable energy prices, and communities asking increasingly tough questions about the economic, environmental, and health impacts of the coal-fired generating stations in their midst.

Michael Chong, MP

Demands for Climate Action Put Pressure on Conservatives in Canada, Australia

From Canada to Australia, the resistance to climate action generally associated with conservative governments may be showing early signs of burning to the ground—though CBC isn’t minimizing the challenges the next Conservative Party of Canada leader will face reconciling the urgency of the climate crisis with a largely westernized political base.

Fracking Tied to Two Central Alberta Earthquakes in 12 Months

Two earthquakes in central Alberta in 2018 and 2019 were caused by nearby shale oil fracturing operations, a research team from the province’s geological society and energy regulator has concluded.

Wildfires Causing Permanent Change in Canada’s Boreal Forest

Canada’s vast boreal forest, one of the largest remaining intact ecosystems on Earth, is beginning to show signs of permanent damage and dissolution due to wildfires—which are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

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Decades-Old Environmental Action Handbook Pivots to ‘Permanent System Change’

Three decades after 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Planet first took America by storm, its bestselling author is still pushing simple steps to help people reduce their environmental footprint. But he’s also urging his readers to go after the legislative, institutional, and structural changes that will be needed to enforce better climate and environmental performance.

Climate, Fake News, Threat of Nuclear War Push Doomsday Clock Back to 100 Seconds

Pyrenees Glaciers Set to Disappear in 30 Years

2100 Mapping Project Shows U.S. After Climate Change

Hurricane Denial Puts Lives in Danger

Climate Change Produces Chaos in Bering Sea Fishery

multi-storey Volkswagen parking lot

Record $196.5M Fine in Dieselgate Scandal Points to ‘New Era of Environmental Protection’

A record-setting C$196.5-million fine levied against Volkswagen after it pleaded guilty to dozens of charges in the epic Dieselgate scandal, heralds a “new era of environmental protection,” according to judge who heard the case.

Ex-Alberta Liberal Leader Declares Tax Revolt Over Deadbeat Fossils’ $173M Debt to Rural Municipalities

A former opposition politician in Alberta is calling for a tax revolt after Premier Jason Kenney sided with deadbeat fossils against the rural municipalities they’re depriving of C$173 million in local tax revenue.

Spain Adopts National Climate Emergency Declaration

Spain adopted a climate emergency declaration earlier this week, with officials promising to send legislation to the national parliament in the next 100 days to drive action on the crisis.

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57% of Australians See Direct Effects of Bushfires as Power Grid Faces Peak Cooling Demand

With more than half the population directly affected by raging bushfires, a record-hot summer is producing frequent power outages on an electricity grid powered largely by the coal industry that Australia’s climate-denying government is still striving to defend.

Trump Policies Hand Poor, Non-White Areas the ‘Brunt’ of Climate Impacts

Critics are warning that the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the environmental review process for pipeline and highway megaprojects will hit poor and minority Americans hardest.

Utah State Capitol

Conservative U.S. States Take Tentative Steps, But Won’t Call it Climate Action

Across major swaths of the United States, legislators in some of the country’s most conservative enclaves are making tentative moves to take action on the climate crisis—though many of them are still unwilling to call that crisis by its proper name.

2015-16 Ocean Heat Wave Drove Mass Starvation, Death for a Million North Pacific Seabirds

An ocean heat wave in 2015-16 produced the biggest-ever mass mortality event for an avian species, disrupting food supplies for common murres in the North Pacific and killing as many as 1.2 million of them.

‘Words Make Worlds’: Holthaus Issues Call to Imagine, Create a Radically Positive Future

As the climate crisis deepens, we must be “radically imaginative,” telling ourselves and each other stories of fiercely visionary, loving, and productive collective actions that will help end the climate emergency, veteran meteorologist and climate hawk Eric Holthaus writes in The Correspondent.

Flooding from Glacial Lakes Could Devastate Downstream Communities

Maldives Can’t Wait for Cheap Financing as Sea Levels Rise

California Won’t Let Insurers Drop Coverage in Wildfire Areas

Day Five of Snow Emergency Sees Lines Form Outside NL Supermarkets

$119B Seawall Might Fall Short of Protecting New York

Oil and Gas Air Pollution is Visible from Space

New Canadian Climate Institute Warns of ‘Harsh Realities’ Ahead

The new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), an independent think tank that begins life with C$20 million in federal funding over five years, is warning of the harsh realities and global economic shifts the country will face as the climate crisis evolves.

From Newfoundland Snowstorms to Australian Bushfires, Climate Means the ‘Exceptional Becoming Normalized’

From an epic snowstorm blanketing Newfoundland to devastating bushfires and flash floods in Australia, climate change is the common thread that is turning the exceptional into the “new normal”, a Calgary-based climatologist told CBC News this week.

Political Dysfunction, Economic Turmoil Exacerbate the Climate Crisis as Disease and Famine Spreads

Late 2019 saw the calamitous rise of both dengue fever in Honduras and hunger in Zimbabwe, events that demonstrated how government dysfunction, poverty, and political and economic turmoil leave both public officials and citizens unable to respond adequately to the accelerating impacts of the climate crisis.

Countries Can’t Turn Back Climate Refugees Whose Lives Are at Risk, UN Committee Rules

Countries can no longer send climate refugees back to nations of origin where the climate crisis might threaten their lives, according to a ruling by the United Nations Human Rights Committee earlier this month—even though the Kiribati resident who filed the original case lost his bid for relocation in New Zealand.

Carbon emissions from a coal plant in Germany

Former Coal Commissioners Slam Germany’s Phaseout Plan

Former members of Germany’s coal commission are accusing the national government of breaking the compromise behind its much-acclaimed agreement to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2038, producing a final plan that must now be updated to achieve quicker emissions reductions in line with the country’s climate targets.

Nottingham Delivers Home Comfort, Rooftop Solar in Drive to Be UK’s First Carbon-Neutral City

Nottingham, England is setting out to transform housing, transportation, energy use, and waste management in a bid to become the country’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028, a full 22 years before the UK hopes to hit the same target.

Australian Indigenous Knowledge Holds Potential for Climate Mitigation, Economic Growth

Australia’s Indigenous peoples have been living peaceably, and sustainably, with their fire-prone environment for 65,000 years, and so the nation at large—particularly the urban areas and the south, where fewer Indigenous people live—has much to learn from them about how to survive the bushfires of the 21st century.

88 Big Emitters Cause Majority of Ocean Acidification

UK’s Sizewell Plant to Become ‘Nuclear Island’ as Sea Levels Rise

Private Water Contractors Profit from Mounting Scarcity in Nepal

U.S. Judges Toss Landmark Youth Climate Case, Send Plaintiffs Back to the Ballot Box

After a five-year push just to secure a trial date, the landmark Juliana v. United States youth climate justice case is hanging by a thread, after two out of three judges who heard the case before the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that it didn’t belong in court.

Scientists Declare 2010s the Hottest Decade, 2019 the Second-Warmest Year on Record

NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have declared the 2010s the hottest 10 years on record, with 2019 the second-warmest ever, findings confirmed by climate-related devastation around the globe.

45 Million in Southern Africa Face ‘Critical Levels of Hunger’

Climate-induced drought and severe flooding, coupled with economic woes, have left 45 million people across Southern Africa facing critical levels of hunger and in desperate need of support from the international community, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warns.

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Microsoft Pledges $1 Billion to Become Carbon-Negative by 2030

Software giant Microsoft is embarking on a four-year, US$1-billion effort to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, aiming to remove more CO2 than it emits by 2030 and offset all its historic emissions by 2050.

credit suisse Federer protest

Swiss Judge Acquits Credit Suisse Protesters for ‘Necessary, Proportional’ Response to Climate Crisis

A judge in Lausanne, Switzerland has acquitted a group of youth protesters on trespassing charges and waived fines of CHf 21,600 (US$22,200) per person, ruling their actions were “necessary and proportional” to the “imminent danger” of climate change.

Geothermal Would Save 16.6 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050

Geothermal places #18 on the Drawdown list of climate solutions. If it could increase its share of global electricity generation from 0.66 to 4.9% by 2050, geothermal would prevent 16.6 gigatons of CO2 emissions, at a net cost of $US155.5 billion but net savings of $US 1.02 trillion.

Vanishing Mountain Ice Threatens Water Supplies for 1.9 Billion

Shoreline Erosion Hits Lake Erie

Stricken Fukushima Plans Renewable Energy Hub

Buffalo, NY to Become Climate Haven?

How Warming Has Changed the World Since You Were Born

Global Business Leaders Cite Climate as Decade’s Biggest Risk

Global business and political leaders have declared climate change the decade’s biggest risk, in the latest edition of an annual survey issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Carbon emissions from a coal plant in Germany

Greek Court Strikes Down Environmental Permits for Two Coal Plants

Greece’s top administrative court, the Greek Council of State, has struck down the environmental permit for a proposed new coal plant, Meliti II, and cancelled the permit for a station that is already in operation, Meliti I, following a lawsuit launched by ClientEarth, WWF Greece, and Greenpeace Greece.

Fracking Undercuts Colorado Coal Community’s Shift to Organic Farming, Renewables, Tourism

A rural Colorado community that turned to organic farming, renewable energy, and tourism to help it break its dependence on coal mining is now looking over its shoulder at oil and gas fracking projects that could undercut its hard-earned gains.

Centuries-Old Soil Practices Mean Those Organic Vegetables May Not Be Vegan

Thanks to widespread use of animal manure to build soil fertility, especially on organic farms, very few vegetables are actually vegan—a reality that has some calling for an acceleration of “veganic” farming, and others saying depleted soils demand regenerative practices that include productive use of waste from grazing animals.

Government Data Shows Brazil Amazon Deforestation Up 85% in 2019

2019 Heat Waves Kill 900 UK Pensioners in Their Homes

Kenya Sees Higher Communicable Disease Rates Due to Climate

Extreme Floods Leave Residents of Congolese Capital Underwater

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau Ryerson University

Morneau Cites Climate as ‘Central Focus’ of 2020 Federal Budget

The climate crisis will be a “central focus” of the 2020 federal budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told students at Toronto’s Ryerson University Monday, during a kick-off event for this year’s pre-budget consultations.

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False Alarm Draws Attention to Delayed Pickering Nuclear Shutdown, Triggers Surging Demand for Emergency Iodide Pills

Millions of people across Ontario woke up in a panic early Sunday morning, after an emergency alert falsely announced an incident at the Pickering nuclear station east of Toronto.

Bushfires Burn Morrison’s Popularity to the Ground, But New Policy Pronouncements Fall Short

Public outrage and grief over a raging, climate-fuelled bushfire crisis have finally begun burning Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s popularity rating to the ground, as members of his governing Liberal coalition divide into camps over his hints at more aggressive carbon reduction targets.

Biggest-Ever Arctic Expedition Seeks to Understand Changing Ecosystem Before it Collapses

The world’s biggest-ever Arctic study expedition is being stunned, stymied, unnerved, and occasionally exhilarated, as a rotating team of more than 300 researchers operating from a German icebreaker scramble to understand the complex, changing ecosystem at the heart of the climate crisis before it collapses.

Single-Species Plantations Store Less Carbon, Less Reliably Than Mixed Natural Forests

Regenerating natural forests or replacing them with multi-species native tree plantations could store more carbon than plantation monocultures, while supporting biodiversity conservation and other ecosystem services, according to a manuscript accepted for publication last month by the journal Environmental Research Letters.

U.S. Coal Plant Shutdowns Save More Than 26,000 Lives

EPA Ignores Health Benefits of Coal Rule It’s Working to Undercut

IRENA Reports on Sustainable Energy for Refugee Settlements

South Portland Needs Emergency Plan for 100 Coastal Oil Tanks

Siemens headquarters Joe Kaeser Adani Australia

Australia in Photos: Siemens Backs Massive Adani Coal Mine as 30,000 Protest Climate Inaction

German industrial giant Siemens decided earlier today to back Australia’s intensely controversial Adani/Carmichael coal mine. The announcement came days after 30,000 people braved driving rain in Melbourne protesting their country’s refusal to recognize devastating wildfires as a climate disaster or take action on the broader climate crisis.

All-Female, All-Indigenous Fire Brigade Defends Remote Settlement in Southeast Australia

With their community tinder-dry, and most of their menfolk disinclined to pitch in, it is the women of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust in southeast Victoria, Australia who are rallying to protect 5,000 hectares of forest, 200 permanent residents, and a wealth of sacred artifacts from the region’s terrifying bushfires.

Stop Indigenous Evictions at Coastal GasLink Site, B.C. Human Rights Commissioner Urges

Canada must stop the eviction of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc protesters blockading the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia, guarantee that no force will be used against them, and prohibit the use of lethal weapons on the site, B.C. Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender said Friday.

Gwich’in Urge Major U.S. Banks to Refuse Future Arctic Oil and Gas Investment

The Gwich’in Steering Committee in Alaska is setting its sights on a small number of major U.S. banks that could ultimately determine whether fossil companies drill for oil in the exquisitely sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Tribes in India Clash With Government Over Tree Planting on Indigenous Land

Neat rows of saplings dot the grass on a new plantation about 750 miles south of India’s capital, New Delhi. Here, in the Ambagad Chowki Forest Range, the young teak trees are part of a nation-wide effort to significantly reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 2030. The campaign requires any government or private project involving forest clearing to include plans to plant a new forest in some other part of the country. This patch of saplings is one of thousands now growing along the edges of this forest range.

World’s Biggest Fund Manager BlackRock Joins Climate Accountability Campaign

The world’s biggest investment fund manager, BlackRock Inc., announced last week that it is joining Climate Action 100+, a two-year-old campaign pressing the world’s biggest corporations to take action on the climate crisis.

BC Hydro Dismisses Concerns About Fracking-Related Earthquakes Near Hydro Dam Sites

BC Hydro is dismissing concerns raised by a dam safety specialist who repeatedly warned about the risk of fracking-induced earthquakes in a region that is home to some of the province’s biggest hydroelectric dams, according to internal documents obtained by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Canada, U.S. Report Rising Cost, Frequency of Climate-Fuelled Disasters

Canada and the United States are both beginning to count up the rising annual cost of climate-fuelled natural disasters, with Canada placing the tab at more than C$430 million and the U.S. reporting a doubling in the number of billion-dollar climate- and weather-related events in the last decade.

Trump Middle East Strategy: Trade Blood for Oil

Long before an early January geopolitical crisis led to an errant missile attack on a civilian airliner, with 176 lives lost, Donald Trump was making it clear that his Middle East strategy amounted to trading blood for oil.

Fort Mac Homeowners ‘Very Much Underwater’ as Foreclosure Rate Rises

Cleanup Among the Highest Costs in Fossil Bankruptcies

Arctic Marine Traffic Hits Unprecedented Levels

Britain Reaches Africa’s Annual Carbon Emissions in Two Weeks: Oxfam

Don’t Let Fossils Manipulate You, NAACP Urges Local Chapters

Climate Denial, Disinformation Obscure the Cause of Australia’s Bushfire Disaster

Australia’s climate denial machine is kicking into high gear, with Scott Morrison’s Liberal coalition government and Rupert Murdoch’s media empire trying to separate the agony of the country’s continuing bushfire disaster from the climate crisis as its key underlying cause.

New Trump Regulation Would Take Climate Out of the Discussion on New Infrastructure Projects

The Trump administration is planning revisions to the U.S. National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to remove the requirement for federal agencies to take the climate crisis into account in their assessments of new pipelines, highways, and other infrastructure projects.

PG&E Wants 20 New Microgrids Before 2020 Wildfire Season

Mammoth California utility Pacific Gas & Electric is scrambling to get new microgrids in place at 20 of its power substations ahead of this year’s autumn wildfire season.

U.S. Agency to Approve 690-MW Nevada Solar Farm Despite Conservation Concerns

Germany Already at 1.5°, Faces Need to Adapt

Climate Exacerbates Gender Inequality

Wireless Industry Assesses Climate Impacts

Sustainable Rice Needs Financing to Secure the Future

kangaroo wildfire Australia

Bushfires Devastate Australian Biodiversity, with Species Extinction Likely

With six million hectares burnt and counting, Australia’s bushfire disaster is a climate emergency that also reveals the country facing a major extinction crisis.

Canada Faces Similar Wildfire Risk to Australia, as Alberta Lays Off Specialist Firefighters

With heat waves and extended drought making Canada vulnerable to massive wildfires like the ones now sweeping Australia, Alberta has cut funding and jobs for about 63 specialized remote-region firefighters—and British Columbia is “poaching” some of them to join its own wildfire prevention and response team.

UN Human Rights Panel Calls for Pause on Trans Mountain, Site C, Coastal GasLink

The committee that monitors a United Nations convention to end racial discrimination is calling on Canada to cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Site C hydro megaproject, and the Coastal GasLink pipeline until they receive approval from all affected First Nations.

Amazon Staff Face ‘Formal Corrective Action’ for Challenging Company’s Climate Performance

While pledging aggressive action to reduce a carbon footprint that approaches that of Denmark, Amazon is policing climate activists on its payroll, recently threatening to dismiss several employees who’ve publicly called on the sprawling tech giant to do more, including severing its ties with Big Oil.

Climate-Driven Temperatures Will Kill More in 2100 than Infectious Diseases Today

Climate-driven temperature shifts will kill more people in 2100 that infectious diseases do today, making health and safety impacts an important factor in calculating the social cost of carbon, says University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone, co-director of the university’s Climate Impact Lab.

Canada’s New Building Code Aims for ‘Culture of Thinking About Resiliency’

Canada’s updated national building code this year is set to begin addressing the climate crisis for the first time, with further refinements to follow in revisions scheduled every five years.

Russia Sets Adaptation Agenda, Plans to ‘Use the Advantages’ of Changing Climate

Russia is planning to “use the advantages” of a changing climate at the same time that it adapts its economy and populations to climate impacts, according to a government document posted last weekend.

stromatolite fossil biomimicry

Biomimicry Designs Suggest Semi-Serious Solutions for Coastal Cities Facing Sea Level Rise

Threatened with implacably rising tides and temperatures, even as they face massive influxes of people seeking refuge from a hostile hinterland, the architects of coastal cities in a climate-changed world might want to give biomimicry a try, giving specific consideration to shallow-water biochemical structures called stromatolites.

Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management Would Save 6.19 Megatons of Emissions, Sequester 849.4 Gigatons of Carbon, by 2050

Indigenous Peoples’ Land Management ranks #39 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by 6.19 gigatons and sequester 849.37 gigatons of carbon by 2050.

Minnesota Court Forces New Wisconsin Gas Plant to Probe Climate Impacts

Wildfire Smoke Gets Deadlier

Australia bushfires volunteer firefighter

24 Dead, Coal Seam Ignites as Terrified Evacuees Flee Australian Bushfires

Terrified Australians fled to the water from a beach where they had taken refuge from raging bushfires, authorities reported at least 24 people dead and several times as many missing, ecologists estimated that 480 million animals had been affected, and the 15 million acres burned so far exceeded the size of Switzerland, as the ravaged states of New South Wales and Victoria moved into the heart of annual wildfire season. Two new coal seam fires were travelling underground and expected to burn for months, and coal-friendly Prime Minister Scott Morrison was driven away by hecklers when he tried to visit a front-line community described by one evacuee as “hell on Earth”.

Record Flash Floods Kill 60, Displace 400,000 in Jakarta

Jakarta’s most intense flash floods since record-keeping began more than 20 years ago have killed at least 60 people and displaced more than 400,000.

Yurek Cancels Eastern Ontario Wind Farm Despite Looming Fears for Electricity Supply

The Doug Ford government’s abrupt cancellation of an eastern Ontario wind power development is running headlong into concerns about the reliability of the province’s electricity supply over the next two to four years.

‘Groundbreaking’ Supreme Court Ruling Mandates Fast Carbon Cut in The Netherlands

Dutch campaigners are declaring an “immense victory for climate justice” after a strongly-worded supreme court judgement December 20 upheld governments’ human rights duty to protect citizens from climate change and ordered The Netherlands to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by the end of this year.

Austria to Set 2040 Carbon Neutral Target as Greens Join Coalition Government

Austria is poised to become a European “forerunner” in climate protection and set a 2040 carbon-neutral target after the centre-right People’s Party (Oe Vp) and the Greens announced a coalition government last Thursday.

Bioenergy Faces Scrutiny Over Coal Plant Conversions, Forest Loss

Bioenergy entered 2020 facing renewed scrutiny over its potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with scientists in Europe and the United States warning that coal-to-biomass power plant conversions could actually fuel the climate crisis.

‘Normal Weather Doesn’t Exist Anymore,’ Says Veteran CBC Climatologist Dave Phillips

From an overheating Arctic to a frigid B.C. Lower Mainland and Maritimes, from a parched (then drowning) Prairie region to an epically deluged Eastern Canada, the fingerprints of the climate crisis were all over the extreme weather events experienced by Canadians in 2019, says legendary Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips.

As Amazon Rainforest Approaches a ‘Tipping Point’, Scientists Say There’s Still Time to Act

An interlinked and frightening triad of rising temperatures, escalating deforestation, and wildfire is pushing the Amazon rainforest ever closer to a “tipping point” that will effectively destroy much of the precious ecosystem that is also one of the world’s critical carbon sinks, two renowned rainforest experts warn.

Tropical Staple Trees Would Save 20.19 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050

Tropical staple trees rank #14 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. This option could eliminate 20.19 gigatons of atmospheric carbon dioxide at a cost of $US120.1 billion, producing savings of $627 billion.

Bank of England Sets Climate Stress Test

Russia Imprisons Peaceful Protester Inspired by Thunberg

Brazilian Amazon Sees Doubling of Deforestation Rate for November

The Amazon suffered more than twice as much deforestation last month as it did in November 2018, a savage uptick which will bring Brazilian rainforest destruction in 2019 to an area nearly as large as Puerto Rico.

South Korea Temporarily Shuts 10 Coal Plants, Dials 41 Others Back to 80% Output

A sputtering coal industry has taken yet another hit, with South Korea temporarily shuttering 10 of its 60 coal-fired power plants in a bid to curb air pollution, reports Reuters.

Peatlands Restoration Would Save 21.57 Gigatons of Carbon by 2050

Peatlands restoration is ranked #13 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It can avoid 21.57 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. While data are too variable to permit a global accounting of costs, those hundreds of millions of acres of protected lands will permanently secure 1,200 gigatons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

NY Transit Agency Launches Flood Control Tests

Researchers Spot Changes in Oldest Arctic Ice

Melting Permafrost Turns Arctic into Net Source of Greenhouse Gases

As scientists grow ever more certain that the Arctic is becoming a net contributor to climate change as its carbon- and methane-heavy permafrost melts, the 35 million people who call the polar region home fear exposure to heavy metals and dangerous pathogens, while witnessing a collapsing food chain.

House of Commons Motion Backs a Green New Deal for Canada

The first motion filed in the reconstituted House of Commons calls for MPs to endorse a Green New Deal for Canada.

Climate Crisis Could Drive $20 Trillion in Losses, Trigger Global Financial Meltdown

Climate change is the next economic threat that could trigger a global financial meltdown by destroying up to US$20 trillion in market value, independent journalist Nick Cunningham writes for Oilprice.com.

Scientists Urge ‘Peak Meat’ by 2030, But Farm Rep Sees More Complex Picture

Having all but the poorest countries on Earth achieve “peak meat” consumption by 2030 will be critical in the fight to keep global temperatures from rising beyond the relative safety of the Paris targets, say 50 scientists in a letter to The Lancet Planetary Health Journal.

One Scottish Peat Fire May Have Released Six Days’ Worth of National Emissions

California Battery Incentive Pivots to Wildfire, Blackout Resilience

U.S. Declared ‘Climate Criminal’ as ‘Stalemated’ COP 25 Limps to a Close

Reporters on the ground described two weeks of stalemated United Nations climate negotiations limping to a close, a diplomat branded the United States a “climate criminal” for its stance on the crucial issue of loss and damage, and the hundreds of youth, Indigenous, and other community representatives onsite talked about the grassroot action back home that will continue to spur faster, more ambitious climate action, as COP 25 entered its final hours in Madrid.

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Decision on Teck Frontier Mega-Mine Will Test Canada’s Climate Action Commitment

The massive Teck Frontier tar sands/oil sands mine in Alberta is emerging as an early test of the re-elected Trudeau government’s climate commitment, with a cabinet decision due in February and campaigners gearing up to oppose a megaproject that would run through 2067 and increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by six million tonnes per year.

Swiss Parliament May Instruct Central Bank to Divest Fossil Assets

The newly-constituted parliament in Switzerland, elected in a fall vote in which the climate crisis took centre stage, may soon instruct the country’s central bank to drop all fossil fuel assets from its US$800-billion investment fund, Reuters says in an exclusive report this week.

Minority Communities Face Greatest Risk as Atlantic Coast Pipeline Pushes Into Rural America

Promising jobs and property tax revenue, owners of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are pushing ahead against grassroots resistance and expert testimony, both maintaining that such gains are outweighed by the potential for great harm to be borne mostly by rural, African-American, and Indigenous communities, as well as delicate ecosystems.

U.S. Heat Waves Cause 25,000 More Premature Births Per Year

An estimated 25,000 babies per year were born prematurely in the United States over a 20-year span due to heat waves, according to a study last week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Long History of Waste, Shrinkage Due to Climate Change Put Majestic Colorado River At Risk

One hundred years after politicians ignored warnings that even the majestic Colorado River could not sustain all the demands on its water from seven different states, policy-makers are still ignoring the science—a path that is particularly unwise in a climate emergency, Grist reports.

District Energy Systems Gain Ground Despite High Up-Front Cost, Low Gas Prices

Community-based district energy systems are spreading across Canada despite steep up-front costs and tough competition from cheap natural gas, with innovative examples popping up in Vancouver, Yellowknife, Charlottetown, and more than 2,600 other places in between.

Thunberg Named Time Magazine Person of the Year

For speaking truth to power, and inspiring millions of people of all ages around the world to do the same, 16 year-old #FridaysForFuture founder Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Saskatchewan Train Derailment Leaks 1.5 Million Litres of Crude

Vancouver Port Expansion Raises Air Quality Concerns

Minnesota Regulator Sees Little Impact on Lake Superior from Line 3

Colorado Rethinks Dam Safety

Logging Costs Ontario 650,000 Hectares of Forest, 16.5 Mt of Carbon Storage Over 30 Years

Despite persistent claims that Canada has a near-zero deforestation rate, Ontario alone has lost an expanse of productive forest equivalent to 10 times the City of Toronto in the last 30 years, along with 16.5 million tonnes of carbon storage capacity, according to a new report released last week by the Toronto-based Wildlands League.