Sierra Club Blog Posts

This page shows a collection of all of Sierra Club Canada's blog posts, shown in chronological order. To view the full post, click on its title.

Now that would be a great legacy!

Dear Premier Stelmach,

A decade ago I sat through several presentations on the Alberta Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) approach, adopted and employed by your government, to deal with flaring and natural gas venting.

CASA was established in March 1994 as a ‘new’ way to manage air quality in Alberta. Composed of representatives of industry, government and non-government organizations, the body was tasked with finding a solution and the government would act on their recommendations. And it worked - all expressed great admiration for the approach, process and outcome.

I'm wondering why your government abandoned it.

The government’s recent announcement of a new ‘monitoring panel’ is worrying. Starkly different from the open and inclusive CASA approach, the panel is dominated by industry and excludes key stakeholders, including local residents.... Read more »

Love that Tars Sands project

My good buddy Brad asked me to expand on a comment I made in the Globe and Mail last week. I said governments have “never seen a tar sands project they didn’t love”. Or something like that. He thought it would make a great blog theme.

I’ll get to it.

I just saw that Imperial Oil (the Canadian branch of the world’s biggest oil company ExxonMobil) made a huge profit last year, and it took me off on a different tangent … or maybe not.

Every year the federal government loses more than a billion dollars because of preferential tax benefits to oil and gas companies. It’s a huge subsidy for one of the most profitable industries in the country.... Read more »

Heart breaking, but shocking?

Watching the news from Australia and Brazil last week left me heartbroken. People who have spent their lives creating homes and communities have watch helplessly as everything has been swept away.

In little more than a blink of an eye their worlds have changed forever.

Recent severe rain storms, first in Pakistan and now in Australia and Brazil, have caused unprecedented flooding.

Now I know we can't scientifically link these huge storms to global warming, but on the other hand we can't scientifically prove they weren't caused by it either.

We can look at the climate models, and see they predicted just these kinds of weather events.

In November I did an interview with a radio station in Iqaluit. The topic was the Iqaluit goverment’s announcement of its intention to create a marine protected area in the Arctic.... Read more »

Forget about the Saudis. Let's clean up our own backyard!

We have a new environment Minister and, as usual, a new spin to go with him. He wasn't in the job a whole day before he starting talking about "ethical oil" - an oxymoron to most of us, but a popular line in right-wing circles these days.

The next day the Prime Minister made it official when used the same phrase.

Like any good diversionary tactic it has all of us scrambling to come up with the right arguments to refute the notion that there is such a thing as ethical oil, and do the tar sands qualify?

Lookout! It's a debating trap designed to change the argument from what's wrong with the tar sands to what's good about them. A clever trick - but that's all it is.... Read more »

Nuclear Power Debate

From: John Bennett, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada
Sent: January 5, 2011
To: Lorne Almack
Subject: Re: Nuclear Power Debate


It's your view that is stuck in the past and certainly not based on objective facts. Ontario's thirst for electricity is not growing and the cleanest, most reliable and least expensive source of power is not nuclear but efficiency/conservation. Surely nuclear power's multi- billion dollar cost over runs, premature breakdowns and the unknown costs of storing and protecting nuclear waste for thousands of years needs to be considered.... Read more »

International Stop the Tar Sands Day 2011 - Here we go again!

EL REMATE, GUATEMALA - I guess my timing on this one could not have been better. Harper and new Environment Minister Peter Kent announce Friday that the tar sands are ethical oil and have gotten a bad rap. Derek announces Sunday the date for International Stop the Tar Sands Day 2011.... Read more »

Are we the grinch?

Canadians are receiving their annual Climate Change Christmas present at the United Nations, a place we were once revered. This year it's coming via Mexico, and as usual it's a lump of coal.

I can’t help but wonder...are Canadians being given a lump of coal, or are Canadians giving the world a lump of coal?

For most of us, this time of year is about being generous and giving of our time and resources to others.  All across the country we are helping with toy drives and hampers for families in need. We watch movies about hope, redemption and family.
... Read more »

Miracles never cease

I cheated this year and opened my first present a little early. I was kind of suspicious. It arrived all wrapped up in blue, so to speak, and came in the form of an email; but when I opened it up, I couldn’t believe anyone could be so kind.

It was an excerpt from Hansard (the official record of the House of Commons). As you might imagine, I've been a little down lately, stuck up here in Ottawa with all the action at the United Nations negotiations down in Cancun, Mexico (I never seem to get to go when they are in a warm country!). I have been rigorously reviewing all of my email scans for tidbits from the negotiations, hoping something important happens, while at the same time not wanting to miss out on being there when it does.
... Read more »

How WCO uses scientific uncertainty. The example of infrasound and the wind power debate


Infrasound is referred to by acousticians as sound that is below 20 hertz (Hz), the approximate value for the lowest audible frequencies.  20Hz is not necessarily the threshold for low frequency audible sound with experimental data showing individuals with thresholds at 4Hz in sound proof rooms (Watanabe and Møller 1990 in Leventhall 2006), or as low as 1.5Hz wearing headphones (Yeowart, Bryan et al. 1967 in Leventhall 2006).  Infrasound then, is somewhat difficult to define as “non detection” depends heavily on who is being subject to the sound, as well as the overall intensity of the sound itself.  Furthermore, recent research presented in “Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines” by Salt and Hullar (2010) suggests that certain inner ear problems may cause increased sensitivity to infrasound.

 ... Read more »

Tocco Da Casauria- A Wind Power Success Story

The wind power developments in Tocco Da Casauria, a small mountain town in Italy, are an excellent example of how wind energy can be successful both in supplying reliable, clean, energy and in engaging broad community support at the same time.  So how is it that wind power is so well received in this small town of about three thousand people?  We can begin to explain this by explaining Tocco's economic situation, ample natural endowments of wind, as well as by exploring how benefits are reaped for the entire community from profits from wind power. 

 ... Read more »

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