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U.S. ads call for Alberta boycott

Kim Guttormson, Calgary Herald
E nvironmental groups are taking another whack at the oilsands, trying to capitalize on fallout from the BP oil spill to discourage tourists from visiting the province.

Billboards in four American cities compare oil-covered birds in the Gulf of Mexico with dead ducks in a Syncrude tailings pond. The ads, calling the oilsands the “other oil disaster” and asking would-be visitors to rethink a trip north, spurred immediate reaction from politicians and the oil and tourism industries.

“The Alberta government needs to think about the fact that in the coming years they have the potential to become the environmental South Africa of the Western Hemisphere,” said Michael Marx, executive director of Corporate Ethics International, which is leading the campaign, referring to the former apartheid regime. “Over time, when the potential tourists, who tend to be wealthier and better educated, see what’s going on in Alberta, they’re not going to want to support it.”..
(15 July 2010)

Population explosion scrutinised as scientists urge politicians to act

Steve Connor, The Independent
Britain’s premier scientific organisation has launched a two-year study into global population levels. A growing body of scientists believe the time has come for politicians to confront the problems posed by the future increase in human numbers.

The Royal Society has established a working group of leading experts to draw up a comprehensive set of recommendations on human population that could set the agenda for tackling the environmental stress caused by billions of extra people on the planet.

Sir John Sulston, the Nobel laureate who took a leading role in decoding the human genome, will lead the study. A failure to be open about the problems caused by the global population explosion would set back human development, he warned.

“We really do have to look at where we are going in relation to population. If we don’t do it, we may survive but we won’t flourish,” Sir John said. “We will be examining the extent to which population is a significant factor in the momentous international challenge of securing global sustainable development, considering not just the scientific elements but encompassing the wider issues including culture, gender, economics and law.”..
(12 July 2010)

US Company Set to Ship Billions of Gallons of Water from Alaska to India

Jaymi Heimbuch, treehugger
India is hurting for water. With rapidly growing populations of people and a rising middle class that is mimicking the wasteful water consumption habits well known here in the United States, coupled with poor water management practices, India is set to be one of the first parts of the world hit by a major water crisis. Still, does that mean shipping water from Alaska all the way to India is a smart solution? One Texas-based water supply management company, S2C Global Systems, thinks it is — at least, it’s smart for their bottom line, if not for the environment. They’re all lined up to ship billions of gallons of water annually from an Alaskan city to India, and other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Circle of Blue brings our attention to a press release on the company’s website.

Sitka, Alaska will sell water from its Blue Lake Reservoir for a penny a gallon to Alaska Resource Management, a company formed by S2C and True Alaska Bottling, will export as much as 2.9 billion gallons each year, providing the city with as much as $26 million annually. It could earn as much as $90 million annually if it can sell off the rest of its maximum water right of 9 billion gallons.

According to Circle of Blue, “This will be the world’s first large-volume exports of water via tanker: companies have tried unsuccessfully for more than two decades to break open the bulk water export market. Past attempts have been thwarted by daunting logistics, concerns about natural resource sovereignty and commodification as well as the availability of cheaper local sources.”…
(12 July 2010)

The drowned world

Paul Kingsnorth, Dark Mountain Project
Here in Cumbria, in the far north west of England, we’ve been experiencing what are called ‘extreme weather events’ for nearly a year. Compared to what, say, the Caribbean coast experiences every year, these ‘events’ are pretty small beer, but for England, a country whose landscape is a lot more modest than its politicians or its football team, they count as extreme.

Last autumn we had the biggest floods in living memory. People were helicoptered out of their houses and entire towns disappeared under eight feet of burst river. Then we had the hardest winter for decades, in which the roads were sheets of ice for weeks and I regularly had to ask the farmer to tow me up the hill with his tractor because my van wouldn’t make it. Now we are in the middle of the driest summer since 1929.

While this is bad news for my struggling broad beans, it does allow a rare glimpse of a drowned past. The levels of Haweswater, the easternmost lake of the Lake District, are currently exceptionally low, and this has brought the ghost village of Mardale Green up into the light for the first time in decades.

The story of Mardale Green has entranced me since I first heard it as a child, when I walked in the valley. Haweswater is today a long, empty stretch of water in a valley whose only outstanding features are spiritless squares of plantation pines. In some lights it’s an eerie place; you can feel some kind of loss there, an emptiness that hangs around in the air. There’s a reason for this, and it’s below the water’s surface. This lake did not used to be here…
(July 15, 2010)