1. 1 min Kids Sue Over Climate Change (Nov. 14, 2016)
This is a great article! Mostly because it gives you a link to an Oregon District Court legal decision where a group of kids aged 8 – 19 have made it one more step in their legal battle against the US federal government regarding climate change. While a bit of the decision deals with technical arguments, the very interesting element starts about half way through when the judge starts to discuss the public trust argument the kids present. They say that the “defendants have known for more than fifty years that the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels was destabilizing the climate system in a way that would “significantly endanger plaintiffs, with the damage persisting for millennia” and that this is in violation of the government’s obligation to hold certain natural resources in trust for the people and for future generations. The Judge agreed that the kids can sue on this basis. This is one to watch! There is a call by POLIS and others for public trust to be used to hold Canadian governments accountable to protect water and other resources. Also, other countries like Ecuador allow nature itself to sue for damage created to it.
2. 3 mins Subsidies Drastically Undermine Carbon Pricing (Nov. 15, 2016)
Subsidies, the ever-growing elephant in the energy room, has been quantified in this article. “Fossil fuel subsidies to oil and gas producers in Canada total $3.3 billion annually. This amounts to paying polluters $19/tonne CO2 to pollute.” Political commitments to remove these subsidies to the fossil fuel industries have been made. As we continue the transition to a renewable energy society, there are 3.3 billion reasons these significant subsidies. As the article points out, leaving the subsidies in place will completely negate the recently announced federal carbon tax, making the transition to renewables that much more difficult. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that there will be a carbon tax and the subsidies removed- now, as it has been said, so let it be done.
3. 20 min video W5 Investigates: The Rising Value and Volatility of our Fresh Water (Nov. 16, 2016)
In Canada we say water is our most valuable resource, yet we allow vast amounts of water to be permanently withdrawn from aquatic ecosystems literally for chump change, not just for bottled water but also resource development. Canadians are increasingly vocal about their concern that the politicians are not protecting the public trust. In Canada there is minimal mapping and understanding of the groundwater and aquifers in Canada. The W5 episode explores the problem of Nestlés bottled water industry, the water taken out and the very minimal amount paid. The two questions raised are should industry be charged a lot more for the water, or should such withdrawals even be allowed? The public concern is only going to intensify. The W5 episode will not be the last coverage of this growing problem. Politicians everywhere should be paying close attention, protecting the public trust is an inviolate principle of our democracy.
4. 3 mins Toxins in Drinking Water (Nov. 14, 2016)
The Daily Mail in UK reports in this article that more than 28,000 people in New York and more than 70,000 people in Philadelphia have been ‘exposed to cancerous toxins in drinking water’. The chemicals PFOS or its close chemical cousin, PFOA, are used in fire-fighting foam and non-stick coatings. There are lawsuits. It’s understandable that people are afraid. But…as many authors have written, we have a system in Canada does not apply the precautionary principle in approving chemicals, which means that Health Canada ensure that a proposed new chemical is safe when mixed with the thousands of other chemicals already approved and in use that are now prevalent out in our water, air and land. Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood wrote an excellent book on this subject, as has Sandra Steingraber, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie and Theo Colborn.