New York Times writer credits Vancouver Observer investigation into oil sands spying

In an op/ed piece "Is Canada Tarring Itself?" - a famed US author links to Vancouver Observer's work exposing the Harper government's extensive spying of groups opposed to the oil sands.

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Likewise in January, the Vancouver Observer broke the explosive story about Chuck Strahl's conflicting roles as both head of Canada's spy watchdog agency, as well as paid duties as a corporate consultant to Enbridge.  He later resigned from SIRC under a deluge of criticism from mass media and the public. 

NYT cartoon RCMP tarred

New York Times cartoon -- Kristian Hammerstad

Leslie said the pipeline emanating from the tar sands are critical in shaping the challenge of global warming.

"It really makes Canada the most contentious battle ground in terms of climate change in the world."

"This is the battle... that will have some say on whether or not the world gets serious in addressing climate change."

He added, President Obama's decision on Keystone XL, expected later this spring, will also be crucial in the battle against rising greenhouse gases.

"It's an awfully big [decision] - because environmentalists have put so much into fighting Keystone - so a loss would be pretty hard to bare.  The same is true of people who are in favour of Keystone.  It would be a major setback for whoever loses."

Oil industry response

In response to the New York Times critique, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said the op/ed contains "factual errors" - including claims that the oil sands causes cancer.

The industry lobby group pointed to Alberta’s chief medical officer of health who released a cancer report for Fort Chipewyan on March 25 that said the overall cancer rate in the community is not significantly higher than expected.

It also played down oil sands role in global warming, stating the industry's operations account for 0.14 per cent of global GHG emissions.  The measurement does not include emissions from the fuels that are eventually burned from oil sands bitumen, such as gasoline and jet fuel.

Alberta oil sands pollution - Kris Krug

Alberta oil sands pollution - Kris Krug


Humanity warming the planet

On the same day of the New York Times piece, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a new "physical science" chapter of its new Fifth Assessment Report.  

It states that new climate extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, have already caused harm to ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure, and negative impacts on human health.

It adds, the "science now shows with 95 percent certainty that human activity is the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century."

"Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system," states the report.

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."

IPCC report Fifth Assessment - Physical Science

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