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Bill Nye Confronts Justin Trudeau Over Kinder Morgan Pipeline
At a recent sit-down at the University of Ottawa, TV personality and science advocate Bill Nye confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his approval of the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"I've been to Fort McMurray, Alberta. It really is an amazing place in the most troubling way," the Science Guy said, likely referring to the area's notorious tar sands. "But this pipeline ... tell us about the Kinder Morgan pipeline."
"Nevertheless, there's this enormous fossil fuel industry," Nye said. "Tell us about that."
"First of all, I agree," Trudeau replied. "There is tremendous potential for renewable energy ... However, we can't get there tomorrow, right? We're not going to get there tomorrow. So, we are going to have a transition phase while we develop alternatives to fossil fuels."
Trudeau touted that his government is working on other environmental initiatives such as establishing a national price on carbon and a $1.5 billion ocean protection plan. All those initiatives, he said, are "pieces that go together."
However, he ultimately defended his approval of the pipeline expansion, insisting "the environment and the economy need to go together."
"We have to make responsible choices that's going to move us in the direction of gettin off our massive dependence on fossil fuels and do more renewables," Trudeau said.
"The way to do it is to move forward responsibly in both protecting our environment and protecting the jobs and the economy that still is reliant on fossil fuels and will be for another number of years."
In November 2016, Trudeau approved a $7.4 billion expansion of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that would increase the transport of Alberta tar sands oil from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
Pipeline opponents and environmentalists have denounced Trudeau's action, especially when the Liberal leader's environmental platform states, "We need to take real action on climate change." Greenpeace Canada estimates the Kinder Morgan pipeline will unlock the climate impacts of 2,700,000 million cars every year.
After the chat, Nye told reporters that he accepted Trudeau's defense of the pipeline.
"It's your country, Canada's going to do what it's going to do," Nye said. "And the prime minister had a very well-thought-out answer that it's for economic development in the short term."
However, he pointed out: "The pipeline is, in the big picture, bad."
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.