Friday, 28 February 2014

Testimony on health effects of tar sands

Alberta doctor tells U.S.: Canada is ‘lying’ about tar sands’ health effects
American Senators told that oil sands are linked to a huge spike in cancer, despite Canadian government claims

26 February, 2014

A northern Alberta doctor warned U.S. Senators on what he says have been the devastating health impacts of the tar sands on families – effects, he says, that have been willfully “ignored” by the Canadian and Alberta governments.

I appeal to you to keep up the pressure – this is an ongoing tragedy.  A total disgrace,” said Dr. John O’Connor, Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

He sighted statistics for rare cancers – of the bile duct for example – that have shot up 400 times for what is considered normal for a tiny community, such as Fort Chipewyan – which is downstream, to the north of the oil sands.

These are published, peer-reviewed studies that indicate that the government of Alberta and Canada have been lying, misrepresenting the impact of industry on the environment,” said O’Connor.

The Alberta government has long denied cancer links with the province's multi-billion-dollar crown energy jewel.  It states on its website that there is "insufficient evidence to link the incidence of cancer in Fort Chipewyan to oil sands operations" and rates of cancer are "within the expected range."

O'Connor finds that hard to believe.

All of the scientific studies that have accumulated, it’s almost like they don’t exist,” he said.

A new study for example, shows Leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have spiked in the last 10 years -- especially among men who live downwind of pollution plumes from the oil, gas and tar sands facilities east of Edmonton.

The family physician was invited to brief two U.S. Senators who are against the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline – to carry bitumen from Alberta to Texas.

California Senator Barbara Boxer said the Alberta doctor is an important “witness” as to why the Keystone pipeline should be turned down, based on health concerns alone.

O'Connor said he came "with absolutely no political agenda" and simply as an “advocate for patients” because he feels his repeated calls for Canadian authorities to take precautionary health actions have been ignored.

In my experience, when pressure is exerted outside Canada, the government reacts,” he said

Fracking waste

Fracking Waste is Being Dumped Into the Ocean Off California's Coast

26 February, 2014

ReWire has reported previously on a form of oil well enhancement in California that doesn't get much attention from the press, namely, offshore fracking. At least 12 rigs off the coast of California inject proprietary mixes of potentially dangerous chemicals into undersea rock formations at high pressure. They do this in order to break those rocks up which makes it easier to pump out the crude.

That's the process commonly known as fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing. The fluid pumped into the wells usually gets pumped back out again as wastewater. And if you suddenly have an uneasy feeling about where those offshore rigs dispose of that wastewater, you may well be correct. About half of the state's offshore rigs pump at least some of their wastewater right into the Santa Barbara Channel.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, oil rig operators have federal permits to dump more than nine billion gallons of fracking wastewater into California's ocean waters each year. That's enough wastewater to fill more than 100 stadiums the size of the Rose Bowl brim-full of toxic waste. And CBD wants the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it.

In a legal petition filed Wednesday, CBD is urging the EPA to rewrite those federal wastewater dumping permits to keep fracking waste out of the ocean, and to develop national guidelines for offshore rig wastewater disposal that address the threat from fracking chemicals.

"It's disgusting that oil companies dump wastewater into California's ocean," said Miyoko Sakashita, CBD oceans director, in a press release. "You can see the rigs from shore, but the contaminated waters are hidden from view. Our goal is to make sure toxic fracking chemicals don't poison wildlife or end up in the food chain."

Fracking wastewater contains more than just the chemicals used by oil and gas companies to break up the rocks, including toxic substances like methanol, benzene, naphthalene, and trimethylbenzene. It can also include nasties that it picks up from those deep rock formations, including lead and arsenic. And while safely disposing of such substances isn't easy in the best of situations, ocean disposal poses special risks for those who play in, live near, or eat fish from the sea.

Not to mention the risks to the California coast's beleaguered wildlife -- an issue that's prompted staff with the California Coastal Commission to urge an end to fracking wastewater dumping.

"It came as a complete surprise to learn that oil companies are fracking in waters off the coast where I let my kids swim and play," said Sakashita. "The toxic chemicals used for offshore fracking don't belong in the ocean, and the best way to protect our coast is to ban fracking altogether."

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree

Trolls and Dirty Tricks

We've all experienced them. They make proper discussion difficult
Yes, There Are Paid Government Trolls On Social Media, Blogs, Forums And Websites
Michael Snyder

26 February, 2014

Do you want solid proof that paid government shills are targeting websites, blogs, forums and social media accounts?  For years, many have suspected that government trolls have been systematically causing havoc all over the Internet, but proving it has been difficult.  But now thanks to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and revealed by Glenn Greenwald, we finally have hard evidence that western governments have been doing this.  As you will see below, a UK intelligence outfit known as the Government Communications Headquarters, through a previously secret unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, has been systematically attempting “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse”.  This should be deeply disturbing to anyone that values free speech on the Internet.

It isn’t just that the British government is trying to influence what people are thinking.  The reality is that this is far bigger than a mere propaganda campaign.  As Greenwald recently noted on his new website, the “integrity of the Internet itself” is at stake…

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: themonitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

So what techniques are the British using to control and manipulate discourse on the Internet?  According to Greenwald, the documents that Snowden has uncovered show that they are willing to sink to despicable lows in order to get the results that they desire…

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques tomanipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.

The following is a list of Internet infiltration techniques that were listed on one particular slide that Snowden leaked…
-Infiltration Operation
-Ruse Operation
-Set Piece Operation
-False Flag Operation
-False Rescue Operation
-Disruption Operation
-Sting Operation

You can check out this slide for yourself right here.

There is also evidence that the Canadian government has been involved in this sort of thing as well.  The following comes from Natural News

You’ve probably run into them before — those seemingly random antagonizers who always end up diverting the conversation in an online chat room or article comment section away from the issue at hand, and towards a much different agenda. Hot-button issues like illegal immigration, the two-party political system, the “war on terror” and even alternative medicine are among the most common targets of such attackers, known as internet “trolls” or “shills,” who in many cases are nothing more than paid lackeys hired by the federal government and other international organizations to sway and ultimately control public opinion.
Several years ago, Canada’s CTV News aired a short segment about how its own government had been exposed for hiring secret agents to monitor social media and track online conversations, as well as the activities of certain dissenting individuals. This report, which in obvious whitewashing language referred to such activities as the government simply “weighing in and correcting” allegedly false information posted online, basically admitted that the Canadian government had assumed the role of secret online police.

You can see a video news report about this activity up in Canada right here.

Are you disturbed yet?

You should be.

So what kind of people are the governments of the western world targeting online?

Well, when it comes to the U.S. government, all you have to do is to look at their official documents to see who they consider the “problems” to be.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered ‘Potential Terrorists’ In Official Government Documents“.

Sadly, the reality of the matter is that the days of the free and open Internet are numbered.  The governments of the world are increasing their control over the Internet with each passing day, and eventually a time will likely come when we will not be able to communicate openly like this any longer.

Things have gotten so bad in the U.S. already that even Google is spooked

A recent court decision that endorsed a broad view of the Federal Communications Commission’s authority over the Internet has Google and other Web companies nervous.
In closed-door meetings with regulators and Capitol Hill staff, Google’s lawyers have said they’re worried how the FCC may use its newfound powers, according to multiple people familiar with the meetings.
The extent of the FCC’s authority over Google and other Web services remains unclear, and the current FCC has given no indication that it is interested in pushing aggressive new regulations. But the possibility that the commission could begin telling Google how to organize its search results or handle its users’ data is enough to spook the company’s army of Washington lobbyists.
And this is just the beginning.

If you think that the control freaks that are running things now are bad, just wait until you see the next generation of control freaks.

For example, there is one prominent student writer at Harvard that apparently believes that free speech at her university should be abolished and that any professor that does not advocate for her politically-correct version of “justice” should be fired

A student writer at Harvard University is raising eyebrows after publishing her belief that free speech on campus should be abolished and professors with opposing views be fired.
Sandra Korn, a senior who writes a column for the Harvard Crimson newspaper, thinks radical leftism is the only permissible political philosophy, and the First Amendment only hinders colleges from brainwashing students with her viewpoint.
Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice,” states the subtitle of her Feb. 18 column, in which she insists Harvard stop guaranteeing students and professors the right to hold controversial views and conduct research putting liberalism in a negative light.
If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals?” Korn asks.
This is what control freaks always want.

They always want to shut down those that are presenting opposing views.

They don’t believe in free speech and a “marketplace of ideas”.  Rather, they believe in shoving what they believe down the rest of our throats.

And now we have solid proof that the governments of the western world are paying people to manipulate discourse on social media, blogs, forums and websites.

So will there be great outrage over this, or will the apathetic public just roll over and ignore this like they have so many other times the past few years?

Internet Troll - Photo by JNL

We have all seen the following - something that the powers-that-be seek to exploit -

Read Glenn Greenwald's articleHow Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

Hear how NZ intelligence services are implicated in dirty tricks

Sea level rise in Indonesia

With Glaciers Undergoing Collapse, Sea Level Rise to Flood More Than 1,500 of Indonesia’s Islands, Capital City Over Next 50 Years

(Satellite rendering of the vulnerable Indonesia Archipelago — a system composing 17,000 islands. Image source: Commons)
26 February, 2014

From a climate-wrecking human warming spurring the melting of glaciers and ice sheets to the thermal expansion of the world’s oceans, sea level rise, to some degree or another over the next century is a given. How rapid this expansion progresses and how much land it devours will ultimately depend upon the amount of heat trapping gas we belch into the atmosphere and how sensitive the Earth’s climate system is to our increasingly traumatic insults.
Current conservative assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate a total of 90 centimeters (nearly 1 meter) additional sea level rise before the end of this century. Today’s rate of sea level rise gets us to about 30 centimeters over the same period, so the IPCC is projecting that the pace of rising seas will more than triple over the coming years and decades.

(Global Sea Level Rise from 1993 to 2014. Image source: AVISO.)
Despite the fact that the rate of sea level rise and related glacial melt would have to rapidly uptick to meet the IPCC estimate, it remains a conservative case. 
Temperatures, over the next century under business as usual fossil fuel emissions or a moderate mitigation scenario, are likely to increase by between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius. This range of global heating is enough to eventually melt all or nearly all the glacial ice on Earth. So the heat forcing to the world’s glaciers is expected to be extreme, a blow at least equaling the temperature change between now and the last ice age. A temperature change that took 10,000 years to complete now crammed into an exceptionally brief period from 1880 to 2100.
Under such an outrageous pace of warming, a warming that could propel Earth to near Permian and PETM temperatures within 85 years, it is likely that the rate of sea level rise could be double or more that of IPCC predictions, possibly equaling or exceeding peak rates of sea level rise during the end of the last ice age at 10 feet per century. So the range of increase may well be between 1 and 3+ meters, making the IPCC case quite an underestimation if business as usual fossil fuel emissions continue.

(Survey of scientist projections of sea level rise in centimeters by 2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP 8.5). Note that a majority of scientists project sea level rise in the range of 1 to 3 meters by 2100 with some scientists projecting as much as a 3 to 6 meter rise over the same period. Image source: Real Climate’s Excellent November Report on Sea Level Rise)
Stresses to glacial systems are already extreme even at the current human forcing of 400 ppm CO2, 1835 ppb methane, and at rising levels of a host of other greenhouse gasses. Current CO2 levels alone, during the Pliocene, were enough to establish seas as much as 75 feet higher than today. A fact that raises the question — if we already have 15-75 feet of sea level rise locked in, how swiftly will that rise occur? And the answer to that question depends on how rapidly the world’s largest glacial and ice sheet systems respond to human greenhouse gas forcing.
Very Large Glaciers Already on the Move
In a recent study one of the world’s largest ice sheets, the Pine Island Glacier, was found to be undergoing the first stages of an irreversible collapse. In other words, over the coming decades, the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is due to complete an unstoppable slide into the Southern Ocean. And loss of the Pine Island Glacier alone commits the world to about 1 meter of additional sea level rise.
Unfortunately PIG is the first of many glacial systems from West Antarctica to Greenland that are likely to suffer the same fate. For from these vulnerable regions, mass losses from glacial melt have more than doubled over the past decade. In total, by 2008, about 90% of the world’s glaciers were in retreat. And since that time, warming has continued to advance with melt episodes becoming ever-more predominant.
Melt lakes, many larger than 5 kilometers across, form over Western Greenland, August 4, 2013. Summer of 2012 saw Greenland mass loss hit 600 cubic kilometers. Image source: Lance-Modis.

Greenland, for example, has exhibited increasingly severe melt stress over past summers with large stretches of lakes, many measuring 5-10 kilometers wide, forming over an ever-less-stable ice sheet. A towering ice sheet that boasts an average altitude of two kilometers, Greenland’s vast glacial system contains an immense volume of frozen water. But as great and mighty as this mountainous pile of ice may seem, human caused warming continues to deliver a series of ever-more damaging blows. By 2012  Greenland had experienced a record wasting with 97 percent of its surface area showing melt during July and over 600 cubic kilometers of ice lost throughout the entire year. Yet as warmth continues to advance poleward, the 2012 melt season is likely to seem tame with far greater annual losses in store.
So there are many reasons to believe the IPCC estimates for glacial melt rates and related sea level rise, as with Northern Hemisphere sea ice losses, are too conservative and that science, in general, is still coming to grips with a dramatic and geologically unprecedented pace of change. That said, even IPCC findings are becoming increasingly stark.
Indonesia to Lose 10% of its Islands by Mid-Century
For if only the very conservative IPCC estimates bear out, we are still likely to see dramatic loss of lands and displacement of human beings.
A glaring example appears in new report from Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index which found that more than 1,500 islands in Indonesia would disappear after just a half meter of sea level rise. The study also found that the same amount of sea level rise would flood up to half of the capital city of Jakarta. Meanwhile, the 90 centimeters of sea level rise projected by the IPCC for the end of this century would put 42 million people along the coastline at risk of losing their homes.
Ancha Srinivasan, principal climate change specialist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) noted in an interview that:
This archipelago’s biggest threat is rising sea levels, where 42 million people living three kilometres from the coast are vulnerable if estimated sea level rise reaches up to 90 centimetres by the end of the century.
Indonesia is composed of over 17,000 islands, many of which are low lying or feature sprawling and vulnerable coast lines. It is located in a region of the world where ocean levels are among the most rapidly rising. It is among a growing number of islands and low-lying coastal regions that are under increasing threat from what would seem even a modest change in sea level.
But as we went at length to illustrate above, Indonesia and other regions may be lucky to see only a 90 centimeter rise. So these projected impacts, though seemingly stark, may be at the low end of what we are likely to experience. Add just one more meter and most of Jakarta is flooded while 42 million of Indonesia’s people are almost certain to be members of a vast global migration away from the world’s coastlines.

Stifling dissent

NZ Govt accused of oil and gas muzzle
The Government is being accused of muzzling New Zealanders with its decision not to allow the public to object formally to deep sea oil and gas exploration.

28 February, 2014,

From Friday all applications for offshore exploration will be scrutinised by the Environmental Protection Authority, which will have sole power to approve or reject them.

The Environmental Protection Authority now has sole discretion over oil and gas exploration permits.

But Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes says the Government is wrong to block its citizens from making submissions on exploratory deep sea oil drilling permits.

"The government has bent over backwards for the oil industry doing everything they can to make it easier to operate in New Zealand, including $46 million in tax breaks in the last year and $25 million in seismic surveys. And here they are directly limiting the public having a say."

Mr Hughes says the consequences of a spill from exploratory drilling would affect everyone.

But Environment Minister Amy Adams says the Government wants direct decision-making to be handed to the authority so the oil industry is not overly burdened with costs and delays.

She says the public will have a chance to make submissions on oil and gas drilling in New Zealand's exclusive economic zone.

Ms Adams, told Morning Report the right time for the public to make submissions is after exploration and before production.

The Environmental Defence Society says the Government has taken two steps forward by improving environmental oversight, but gone one step back by not allowing public consultation.

Chairperson Garry Taylor says the Government has been subject to lobbying and has created a favourable regime for the oil and gas industry.

"Deep sea drilling in New Zealand water is a new development and I'd have thought that given the risk of something going wrong that we should have best practice regulation."

More on Victoria fire - Morwell to be evacuated

Morwell mine fire: Speculation Premier will announce partial evacuation of town
There is growing speculation that the Victorian Government will announce a partial evacuation of some residents from the smoke-affected town of Morwell.

28 February, 2014, 13.35 NZT

Premier Denis Napthine is refusing to confirm or deny the speculation, except to say that he will be making an announcement in Morwell at 1pm (AEDT) with health and fire officials.

Dr Napthine says the Government has done enough to provide a break for residents trapped indoors by the smoke.

"We are running respite centres, we will be looking to have broader respite options over the weekend when families and people who are normally week day workers have the opportunity to get out of Morwell," he said.

The town has been in the path of a choking stream of smoke coming from a fire at the Hazelwood coal mine which has been burning since February 9.

Residents are complaining of headaches and trouble breathing.

People with chronic heart and lung conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, smokers and children, are being advised to stay indoors.

A Latrobe City Councillor says the State Government should be doing more to help the residents.

Councillor Graeme Middlemiss says the Government should pay to evacuate the most vulnerable people.

"I just don't know why we are leaving people in this atmosphere who are at risk from it," he said.

As recently as yesterday the Government was calling on Victorians to give up their empty holiday houses to give those in the path of the smoke a break.

The main health concern surrounds exposure to small particulates found in the air and smoke.

The invisible particles, known as PM2.5, can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs and respiratory system.

A study published in the British Medical Journal last month found only a small increase in this particulate matter can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and lung cancer.

The concentration of these particulates reached 280 micrograms per cubic metre in Morwell South on Thursday, more than 11 times Australia's daily threshold.

The study's lead researcher, Guilia Cesaroni from the Department of Epidemiology at Rome's regional health service, studied more than 100,000 people in five European cities over a decade.

"We found an association between increased levels of PM2.5 and mortality and also with incidence of lung cancer," she said.

Dr Cesaroni found an increase in annual exposure to PM2.5 of just 5 micrograms per cubic metre means a 13 per cent increased risk of heart attack.

She calls the Morwell reading of 280 micrograms per cubic metre "a huge level".

Dr Cesaroni says it would lead to more hospital admissions and, if the area is largely populated, "an excess in mortality" if the readings continue for a month or more.

"For sure there will be an increase in the annual average, but at the moment I would be more worried about the immediate effect," she said.

Hazelwood mine fire media conference, Morwell - 27/2/14