Wildfires, logging affect key fungi in pine forests: studies

Disturbances by humans or nature change the balance of fungi in soil, potentially making it harder for seedlings to regenerate

Wildfires, logging affect key fungi in pine forests: studiesDisturbances can hit Alberta’s lodgepole pine forests hard – including life under the soil, new University of Alberta research shows. Fungal communities that nourish pine tree roots are being altered by both human-made and natural disturbances, which can stress forests and make it tougher for pine seedlings to regenerate, said Jean Rodriguez Ramos, a PhD…

Alberta’s desperation opens the door to environmental ruin

The government of Premier Jason Kenney has decided to end a 44-year moratorium on open-pit coal mining in southern Alberta

Alberta’s desperation opens the door to environmental ruinDesperate times sometimes lead to catastrophic measures. In Alberta, the beleaguered provincial government is in a financial situation that could be characterized as desperate, suffering from the double-whammy of collapsed resource revenues and, of course, the massive spending required to address the social wildfire known as the COVID-19 pandemic. The desperate measure that the United…

Who will lead Alberta to a new energy future?

How well prepared is Alberta for the disruptive change coming to the province’s energy sector?

Who will lead Alberta to a new energy future?This past week has seen further waves buffeting the oil industry. Millions of people around the world marched on Friday demanding climate action, and British Columbia won a court ruling that temporarily blocks Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps legislation. Against this backdrop, the recent Energy Disruptors conference in Calgary was timely indeed. The event brought about 1,500 energy…

Alberta Energy Regulator overhaul a dangerous game

Weaken the regulatory framework at your peril. Sloppy regulation begets sloppy industrial operation. And that drives investment away

Alberta Energy Regulator overhaul a dangerous gameGrant Sprague and Bev Yee, Alberta deputy ministers of energy and environment respectively, are very capable senior bureaucrats. Here’s hoping they bring to bear all their skills for the review of the Alberta Energy Regulator. They should keep in mind that the review ought not to be the witch hunt the current political framing suggests…

Albertans can’t hide from climate change as election debate rages

Many politicians would rather look to the past than mobilize to fight our greatest challenge

Albertans can’t hide from climate change as election debate ragesThe Alberta provincial election is a case study of the collective Canadian avoidance of climate change. Albertans are told to focus on either cutting various government programs or making deficit expenditures on new social programs, arguing about the pros and cons of taxes (especially carbon taxes), and a generalized hope for a return of high…

Preserving Bighorn too important for political squabbles

Natural beauty distinguishes Alberta from so many places. Let’s follow the will of the majority and protect this beautiful region

Preserving Bighorn too important for political squabblesIt’s disappointing to see that the Alberta government's proposal to create new protected areas in west-central Alberta has led to a partisan political brawl.  Over the last week, the government cancelled public information sessions for the Bighorn Country proposal because of reports of intimidation and threats by opponents to the proposal. The local MLA, Jason…

Connecting the dots in the summer of smoke

Right across Canada, dramatic signs of climate change are casting a pall on the landscape

Connecting the dots in the summer of smokeThe last five summers at Skelhp, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, have been progressively drier. We’ve had one significant wildfire nearby, in Sechelt Inlet, which wafted ash in a big brown plume over our regional air shed. The smoke from this fire three years ago caused us to close all the windows in the July heat…

The flap over tailings pond bird deaths lacks perspective

It’s just plain crazy to let ‘I-hate-oilsands’ activists frame our national energy agenda based on an immaterial number of bird deaths

The flap over tailings pond bird deaths lacks perspectiveA few months back, the latest story of bird deaths in the oilsands went national. About 100 birds had died at the Fort Hills oilsands mine operated by Suncor. According to reports, the mine was not yet operating but bird deterrent systems (including cannons, radar scanners and scarecrows) were functioning. Mystified by the event, Suncor…

Ontario, Alberta carbon tax schemes defy economic common sense

Carbon taxes should replace, not add to, existing environmental regulations and subsidies

Ontario, Alberta carbon tax schemes defy economic common senseIn an episode of the television program Seinfeld, the bungling George Costanza tells his friends that he’s concluded that every instinct he has is always wrong. So Jerry suggests George should always do the opposite of his first instinct: “If every instinct you have is wrong, the opposite would have to be right.” Somebody ought…

Staking out the moral high ground in the energy debate

Othering can help understand energy discourse in Canada – and its tension and polarization – in a sector where natural sciences sensibilities ought to prevail

Staking out the moral high ground in the energy debateUnderstanding “othering,” a theoretical notion studied in the social sciences, could help the petroleum sector connect with Canadians. Othering is about declaring something or someone to be the ‘other’ and, in so doing, reduce that other’s ability to enjoy the same virtues to which you have laid claim. “Othering is the process of casting a…