Showing posts from October, 2012

Haida Gwai Earthquake Raises New Questions for Enbridge

B. McPherson

The 7.7 earthquake off the BC coast on Saturday night raises new questions about the safety of bringing more supertankers to Kitimat. Enbridge Corporation is in the process of trying to get approval for a twinned pipeline through BC for its Tar Sands bitumen.
When the earthquake hit the islands of Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands) there was little damage done and no fatalities. The islands are sparsely populated which helped lower the danger. The massive earthquake shook the ground hundreds of miles away in Alberta.
We usually see a tsunami accompany such a large land slip. Destructive tsunamis hitting the coast of Japan in 2011 showed the world the destructive power of the ocean. The BC earthquake generated tsunami warnings and alerts, but generated only small waves along the coast and Hawaii.
The coast of British Columbia is the most active in N. America and part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. This is the area that Enbridge wishes to build its …

Thousands Tell Big Oil Where to Put Their Pipeline

B. McPherson

Scenes from Monday's Demonstration

Thousands of British Columbians told Enbridge and KinderMorgan what to do with their pipeline plans. Braving blustery weather and rain, people converged on the BC Legislature lawns to hear speakers and show their solidarity in opposition to Big Oil and their pipeline plans.
Organized by a group called Defend our Coast and working with other environmentally active groups as well as First Nations and labour groups, people from all ages turned out to express their opinions. The youngest came in strollers and the oldest came in wheel chairs. The peaceful, orderly crowd stood listening to those whose lives have already been affected by the Alberta Tar Sands, how pollution and oil spills have killed the land where they live and how we need to stop the pipeline building through our land.
The organizers emphasized the necessity of a peaceful, respectful gathering and that is what they got. The crowd was overseen by police and security statio…

Haida Gwaii Ocean Experiment Controversial

B. McPherson
Tinkering with the ocean's fertility can bring unintended consequences.

The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation has paid about $2 million to dump 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean 300 km offshore of the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlottes) Islands. This has resulted in a giant algal bloom that can be seen from space.
The algae treat iron as a fertilizer and can divide rapidly when given enough nutrients. The experiment has been deemed a success by the salmon restoration corporation and reckless by others. The logic that an algal bloom would enhance salmon health is unclear, as salmon are carnivores.
Iron sulphate has been proposed to geoengineer the world’s oceans to push the algae to grow more rapidly, absorb more carbon out of the air and help stave off global warming. On a very simple level, this might sound like a good idea, but when an algal bloom(huge numbers of single celled plants) dies, they are decomposed by oxygen eating bacteria. The removal of …

Warmer World Means More Disease

B. McPherson

If you swim in warm, fresh water experts recommend nose plugs. Our home planet is warming. Not by much so far, only a degree or two. But already we are seeing an increase in distribution of diseases that are thought of as ‘tropical’. North America and other temperate developed areas have enjoyed freedom from many parasites and microbes that plague the warmer climates.
This summer a microbe found in warm water, soil, hot springs has attacked people. In Pakistan, they are trying to track down the source of a brain eating amoeba. Sounds like something from a grade B movie. Not at all. In the US there are fatalities from this common microbe. Two children in Virginia died last August of the parasite after jumping into a warm lake. The meningitis the amoeba causes rarely gets far enough up the nasal passages to cause trouble, but the USDA has reported 32 infections over the past ten years. Once contracted the microbe causes death in 98% of victims.
Caution is urged for people wh…

Europe’s Nuclear Power Plants in Urgent Need of Upgrades

B. McPherson
This report is very worrisome. 

A leaked report on the state of Europe’s nuclear power stations has pointed out the urgent need for upgrades that could cost the countries up to $32 billion to complete. The report also pointed out widely varying standards of safety among the 14 member states that participated in the stress tests which are designed to highlight weaknesses in the safety of the electrical plants.
A worrisome aspect of the leaked report is they revealed that enforcement of current safety standards was needed. Currently 12 of the member states have failed to meet safety standards. Four reactors were found to have less than one hour of before catastrophic damage if their electrical power were interrupted. The report also cited plants in Spain, France and the Czech Republic that lacked adequate earthquake detectors.
France is heavily dependent on nuclear generated electricity, producing 80% of their needs this way. Of the 58 power stations in the country, none met…

BC Rivers Day Last Sunday in September

B. McPherson

Pardon the sun spot. This scene was too good to pass up. People in British Columbia celebrate the importance of rivers on the last Sunday in September. This annual event was started in 1980 spearheaded by Mark Angelo who became a missionary for rivers around the world. Around 77 000 people in BC were expected to participate in river activities yesterday. There was no agenda – picnic by a river, float down a river, pick up heavy duty garbage from a river – your choice.
I was privileged to be invited to participate with a group that was going to float down the Nanaimo River on Vancouver Island. A couple of kayakers accompanied those of us who were on an inflatable raft. This river has rapid and swift water in places, but we wisely put in where the river flattens out and drifted much like the autumn leaves.
The chum salmon were waiting in the deep areas for more water to come down so they could make their way to their spawning grounds. These mature salmon(aka dog salmon, ket…