The news on environmental damage from the oil sands gets worse and worse. Environment Canada scientists have found toxins in snow around the oil sands and in lake sediments up to 100 km away. Melt water from the snow was also found to be toxic to fish larvae, which may explain decreases in fish populations in tributaries to the Athabasca River and the deformed fish found in Lake Athabasca.
A new study from Environment Canada reveals that the spring snowpack in the Arctic is disappearing quickly. The lead author warns of "follow-on impacts on the Arctic climate system and the global climate system." Snow, being white, reflects sunlight away from the Earth. Less of it means more heat uptake in the Arctic permafrost, which scientists fear could lead to massive methane releases and runaway global warming.
A new study suggests that toxins 200 km downstream from the oil sands come from the environment and not oil sands development. We have heard such claims before, and there is already a devastating repudiation of the study's methods and conclusions published in the same journal (http://ow.ly/ely6y). What we clearly need is a comprehensive, public and INDEPENDENTLY-GOVERNED oil sands environment monitoring plan. Mr. Kent?
A new study reveals that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral over the past 27 years. The damage is attributed to "the cumulative impacts of storms, crown-of-thorns starfish (Cots) and two bleaching events". Bleaching is "due to rising ocean temperatures, and increasing acidification of the oceans, which reduces the corals' ability to build their calcium carbonate structures."
A new study says that fish species will shrink by up to 24% because of global warming. The lead author explains that "Rising temperatures directly increase the metabolic rate of the fish's body function... (and) this leads to an increase in oxygen demand for normal body activities. So the fish will run out of oxygen for growth at a smaller body size." Fish populations are also projected to move north 36km per decade.
David Barber, a veteran Arctic researcher and director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba, says what remains of the Arctic sea ice is now "rotten". Barber explains that “The multi-year ice, what’s left of it, is so heavily decayed that it’s really no longer a barrier to transportation... You could have taken a ship right across the North Pole this year.”