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The secret to fixing a pollution problem: Do something about it | – Environmental Defence

The secret to fixing a pollution problem: Do something about it | – Environmental Defence.

Canada has a problem. Our greenhouse gas pollution is soaring. With climate impacts hitting harder and closer to home (ice storms, polar vortexesfloods…), our country is recklessly racking up a huge carbon bill that will saddle future generations with a debt impossible to pay off.

In a new report prepared for the United Nations, for the first time Environment Canada did the number crunching all the way to 2030. We’ve known for awhile that our 2020 target has become a mission impossible. But this report also paints a sorry picture of 2030, where Canada still doesn’t have its act together and climate pollution, specifically from the tar sands, continues to skyrocket (check out this detailed analysis by the Pembina Institute).

The report reaffirms that the growth in pollution from the tar sands – if the tar sands are allowed to continue expanding as projected – will wipe out any progress made to reduce emissions in any other sector, including Ontario’s coal phase-out, B.C.’s carbon tax, or other provinces’ energy efficiency and carbon reduction measures.

The result is while some pull up their bootstraps and clean up their acts, soaring pollution from the tar sands will cancel out everyone else’s hard work. And this means if Canada is to meet a national goal to cut emissions, some regions and sectors will need to do more than their fair share because one sector – oil – is getting off scott-free.

We hear a lot of talk these days about pipelines as “nation building projects” and being in the “national interest.” But if tar sands expansion is allowed, made possible by big new pipelines, this is a recipe for dividing our country, not uniting it.

Here’s why: At some point, Canada will need to get serious about reducing emissions, and how the carbon pie is divided between regions will become important. We can expect regions to speak up loudly if they’re asked to do more than their fare share to reduce carbon emissions because the oil industry is being irresponsible.

All provinces have a stake in major pipeline proposals like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and TransCanada’s Energy East. There’s the tangible danger that these pipelines could spill tar sands oil into forests, farmland and drinking water sources. And then there’s the less tangible – but critical – impact they would have on the amount of carbon the country is pumping into the atmosphere and the impacts of climate change.

Will Ontario, British Columbia or Quebec be keen to do more than their fair share to cut carbon to make up for the impact of these pipelines? Doubtful. And they should not be asked to. All sectors and regions will need to reduce emissions. For the oil sector, that means keeping production at current levels and cleaning up existing operations – not expanding. It also means seeing the government put in place robust regulations on the oil sector that will see emissions go down, rather than up. Even the weak regulationsunder discussion now have just been punted  ‘a couple of years’ further down the road by the Prime Minister.

The idea that Canada may fail to rein in soaring emissions by 2030 may not seem like the brightest news to kick off the New Year, but there is an important caveat to this story. It can only come true if industry and government get their way when it comes to rapid and reckless tar sands expansion.

The good news is that new pipelines and oil projects aren’t getting a free ride these days. With ever-growing public concern about moving oil (by tanker, rail, or pipeline), a world feeling the early impacts (and paying the price) of a changing climate, and new conversations in the financial sector about the risks of investing in high-carbon fuels, the tar sands are facing a serious uphill battle.

The world is waking up to climate change and the environmental devastation of projects like the tar sands, and while our current government chooses to leave their head in the sand, Canadians are also standing up to demand the safe, smart, clean energy future we deserve.

Brazil floods, mudslides kill 41 – World – CBC News

Brazil floods, mudslides kill 41 – World – CBC News.

People collect discarded food drenched in mud and rain, outside a supermarket in the municipality of Itaguacu, Espirito Santo state, Brazil, on Dec. 25, 2013. People collect discarded food drenched in mud and rain, outside a supermarket in the municipality of Itaguacu, Espirito Santo state, Brazil, on Dec. 25, 2013. (Vitor Jubino, A Gazeta/Associated Press)
Brazilian officials say floods and mudslides have killed 41 people and driven close to 70,000 from their homes in two southeastern states.

The civil defence department in the state of Minas Gerais says the floods and mudslides caused by more than 10 days of heavy downpours left 18 people dead and forced 9,420 to flee their homes.

In Espirito Santo state, officials place the death toll at 23 and say that more than 60,000 were forced to seek shelter in public buildings or the homes of friends and relatives.

Troops are helping distribute food, water and medicine in Espirito Santo and Army engineers have been called in to help repair highways, roads and bridges damaged by the floods.

 

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian.

Allonby

Heavy seas and high tides batter the village of Allonby in Cumbria. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Two people were killed, dozens were injured and thousands of residents were rescued or fled from their homes on Thursday as the UK was battered by powerful winds and seaside communities were threatened by the worst storm surge for more than 60 years.

The government’s emergency Cobra committee met twice and local emergency plans swung into operation as the surge threatened to engulf areas of the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent plus parts of the north-west from Cumbria to Cheshire as well as communities in north Wales.

Emergency services and local authorities advised more than 15,000 people to leave their homes on the east coast of England. Some were due to spend a worrying night with relatives or in emergency rest centres, although many others refused to move, insisting they would stay to protect their properties.

By Thursday evening, more than 40 severe flood warnings – indicating danger to life – had been issued by the Environment Agency, which said the surge could be worse than in 1953 when more than 300 people died and 24,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

However, the agency was confident that modern flood defences including the Thames and Hull barriers and more efficient warning systems meant such disaster would be averted this time.

The Met Office said the winds were calming but the danger of a storm surge would remain into Friday and snow or ice could also cause problems in the north of England and Scotland.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s head of incident management, said: “Flooding of coastal communities along the eastern and north west coasts is expected into Friday. Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.”

The Ministry of Defence was represented at the Cobra meetings and military personnel were standing by ready to help with the rescue effort if needed.

The high winds (a gust of 142mph was recorded over high ground in central Scotland) brought down power lines leaving tens of thousands of households without electricity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.

There was also misery for travellers with train services and flights cancelled or delayed. Motorists faced hazardous driving conditions and ferries were disrupted.

According to the Met Office, the problem was caused by a combination of the strong winds, low pressure and high tides. The wind was strong enough to cause water to “pile up” on to some coastlines. Low pressure associated with an Atlantic storm allowed the sea surface to rise temporarily. This combined with high tides to create the surge. Parts of the North Sea are particularly prone to storm surges partly because water flowing into the shallower southern end cannot escape quickly through the narrow Dover Strait and English Channel.

It was the wind rather than the surge that led to the two deaths. One man was killed when he was struck by a tree blown down by the gusts as he rode a mobility scooter through a park in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in the early afternoon.

Earlier, a driver died when his HGV toppled on to a number of cars in West Lothian. Four other people were treated for minor injuries.

Other motorists had lucky escapes. In Birmingham, care worker Muhammad Sial described how his car was crushed by a tree moments after he got out of it. “I just got to the front door and turned to look back and the tree had smashed my car,” he said.

The wind was so strong that people were blown off their feet in some places. In Birmingham’s city centre, a pedestrian was taken to hospital with serious injuries after being hit by falling glass from a window. Two people were also hurt when the roof blew off one of the huts in the city’s popular German Christmas market. A few miles away in Walsall, West Midlands, neighbours had to lift a tree that had toppled on to a man. He was taken to hospital where he was treated for back and neck injuries.

There were some worrying moments for air travellers. A flight to Glasgow was forced to abort two landing attempts in Scotland before being diverted to Manchester. Passenger Hazel Bedford, a charity worker, said: “I’m feeling really lucky to be alive. An awful lot of people were being sick but the plane, it was incredibly quiet. All I could think of was my new year’s resolution this year, which was to write my own will, and I haven’t done it. I was absolutely terrified.”

In Rhyl in north Wales, 40 residents – and six dogs – were ferried to safety by teams from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and North Wales fire and rescue service. About 400 people in all left their homes in the resort.

As the violent weather moved south from Scotland during the day, police and other emergency services were trying to evacuate thousands of residents on the east coast. They were being asked to move inland and stay with relatives if possible – and local authorities were also opening emergency shelters in leisure centres and schools. Norfolk’s deputy chief constable Charlie Hall said: “We understand people may be anxious, but we would like to reassure residents that Norfolk has tried and tested flood response plans which are being put in place, in line with Environment Agency advice.”

Many said they would not leave. Anne Edwards, of Great Yarmouth, said: “We’re staying put. The house we live in was flooded in 1953 and there’s a four-and-a-half foot-high water line in the dining room from then. We always knew we might be at risk of flooding, so there is a camping stove upstairs and we have water and cans of food. I’ve got my wellies ready.”

In Sandwich, Kent, residents were sent a message by the Environment Agency reading: “Severe Flooding. Danger to life.” and adding: “Act now to protect yourself, family, neighbours, pets and valuables.”

Police in Jaywick, Essex, asked people who wanted to stay in their homes to sign a disclaimer acknowledging they had been advised to leave. Some said they were worried their homes would be looted if they left.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, urged people to listen to the emergency services and heed their advice. He said: “These storms are dangerous. I would urge everybody to pay close attention to announcements by the Environment Agency, the department for transport and local government.”

 

Tens of thousands flee southeast India floods – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

Tens of thousands flee southeast India floods – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Villages in Andhra Pradesh were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India [AP]
Days of torrential rains in southeast India have unleashed floods that have blocked roads, halted trains and forced the evacuation of nearly 70,000 people from hundreds of low-lying villages.

The Press Trust of India on Saturday cited Andhra Pradesh state officials as saying that 39 people had died in flood-related incidents since the rains began Monday.

Villages were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India. Many drowned when swept away by surging waters or were killed when weakened walls collapsed onto them.

Railway services have also been suspended along routes where tracks were damaged.

The local Disaster Management Department said evacuated residents were sheltering in 178 camps, while relief workers in boats and helicopters were working to help or rescue hundreds of thousands stranded by floods that have swamped both coastal and inland regions along rivers.

The region was hit earlier this month by a powerful cyclone that prompted authorities to evacuate nearly a million people in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states.

India’s Meteorological Department on Saturday forecast the rains to continue for at least another day.

 

Floods follow storm havoc in eastern India – Asia – Al Jazeera English

Floods follow storm havoc in eastern India – Asia – Al Jazeera English. (source)

Millions of people across eastern India are bracing themselves for more flooding as Cyclone Phailin’s effects continue to be felt along the coast.Emergency services are struggling to deliver aid as rising water levels sweep away roads.

Phailin menaced India for days, and while the states where the fierce storm made landfall were well prepared for its fury, the surrounding areas have been caught by surprise.

Across eastern Indian, 12 million people have been affected by heavy rain and flooding.

Al Jazeera’s Nidhi Dutt reports from eastern Midnapore, one of the worst-hit regions in West Bengal state.

 

Dozens dead in Philippines floods – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Dozens dead in Philippines floods – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

 

Rain pounds Manila as flood death toll climbs – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Rain pounds Manila as flood death toll climbs – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

 

CBC.ca – Image Gallery – Wild weather rolls across Canada

CBC.ca – Image Gallery – Wild weather rolls across Canada.

 

5,700 presumed dead in June floods in India – World – CBC News

5,700 presumed dead in June floods in India – World – CBC News.

 

News – China landslides and floods leave people, animals stranded – The Weather Network

News – China landslides and floods leave people, animals stranded – The Weather Network.

 

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