Monday, March 24, 2008

We can’t handle the truth? Ottawa environmental edition

It’s not clear if they’re just putting it on the bottom of the inbox pile, or digging a hole in the backyard and burying the evidence, but regardless Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is suggesting that the federal government is doing its best to keep a climate change report from the eyes and ears of the Canadian public.

Cullen explained for the Daily News his concerns about the moves of the Federal government who he believes are playing down the findings of their own commissioned report.

The report called Impacts to Adaptation, which we featured here on Podunk last week, outlines a number of concerns for our environment. Included in the report of interest to the North coast area are items of for the fishery and of coastal erosion, particularly worrisome for the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Cullen’s impressions of the federal government’s handling of the report were the front page story of Monday’s Daily News.

Nathan Cullen says feds tried to keep a lid on contents of a worrying report
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, March 24, 2008
Pages one and three

The federal government is trying to hide a report that warns Canadians to start preparing for climate change now, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.

Called From Impacts to Adaptation, the report was authored by more than 150 of Canada's leading scientists and outlines some specific impacts of climate change on the Northwest region. These range from likely dramatic coastal erosion and the loss of highways on the Queen Charlotte Islands to increased mountain pine beetle activity and expected changes in fisheries, all of which could impact economic and social activities throughout the region.

"Let's take a look at how this was released to understand the government's priority on this," said Cullen.

"They put this out on their website at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, hoping there would be no coverage of it at all in the press and it would just slide below the radar.”

But when Canadians do get the chance to read through the report, they will be alarmed,” he claimed.

“this is what we have been saying for years: that the effects of climate change and the cost of dealing with those effects, are far greater than trying to not have climate change happen in the first place,” said the NDP’s environment critic.

“This is their own study. The fact they are delaying their response is frustrating. I think it is irresponsible and immoral to put our country and communities at jeopardy just because of some ideological defence of the oil sands in Northern Alberta.”

Making changes now to prevent climate change from worsening should be the government’s priority, but Cullen said Canada does not have a good record when it comes to supporting positive changes related to climate change.

“I’ve got more than two dozen climate change projects in this region alone seeking funding and they can’t even get the ear of the federal government. A region like ours that has seen the pine beetle come through, that has seen the changing weather, I think we are the canary in the coal mine,” he said. “This analysis was an excellent report from 150 scientists across the country saying these are some of the considerations and scenarios we have to take into account for our economies and our communities. This is huge.”

In the report, the Northern Queen Charlotte Islands, with its sand dunes and bluffs, were officially listed as one of the two geographic areas that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels in the province (along with Roberts Bank in the Fraser Delta region). In addition, any economic activity based on salmon and forestry could be seriously impacted by climate change, the report warned.

Pacific salmon and western red cedar have shown abrupt changes in abundance and distribution in response to past relatively minor climate changes.

So far, forestry and tourism have also been impacted across the region with the Mountain Pine Beetle arriving this year in Terrace, the furthest west it has been spotted along Highway 16, as well as being seen on parts of the Central Coast two years ago. Recently, the Conservative government was labeled an enemy of science by the prestigious British Journal, Nature.
In the Feb 20. edition, an article noted that Conservatives showing a “manifest disregard for science,” remained skeptical about the science on climate change and backed away from Canada’s Kyoto commitment.

In January, the article claimed, the feds muzzled Environment Canada’s scientists, ordering them to route all media inquiries through Ottawa.

To rub salt into the wound, the prime minister and members of the cabinet failed to attend a ceremony to honour the Canadian scientists who contributed to the international climate-change report that won a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, the article added.
Labels: environmental concerns

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