Oil sands

Scientists have called into question the viability of wetland ecosystems recreated on land used for oil sands mining in Canada, saying they do not function as well as before, Yale Environment 360 reported. None of the areas reclaimed by oil companies have yet been certified as meeting government standards, and reclamation efforts can cost as […]

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Pollution The disposal of wastewater created during the mining of bituminous tar sands is a growing problem for Canada’s oil industry, which must store the water in vast reservoirs, and the industry is planning expansions that could turn Alberta into the largest man-made lake district in the world, Bloomberg News reported. Environmentalists worry that the […]

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Climate Change The next report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to contain stronger warnings about the security of the world’s food supply, The New York Times reported, citing a leaked version of the report. Previous releases from the IPCC reflected hope that the increased plant growth prompted by […]

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Water Contamination Work to replace and upgrade Chicago’s aging water pipelines could cause levels of lead in the city’s drinking water to spike, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing a recent study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many old pipelines connecting houses to the main water system are made out of lead, and disturbing them […]

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Climate Change Record low sea ice levels were recorded in September 2012, 18 percent lower than the previous record set in 2007, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Climate change is making the Arctic warmer, and the melting sea ice contributed to record high global sea levels last year, […]

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City Water A ruptured water main in a residential neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro caused the death of a 3-year-old girl and injuries to 16 others, NBC News reported. The pipe exploded and flooded the neighborhood, destroying houses, but the cause is unknown. South Africa plans to pump acid mine drainage from old gold mines […]

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Canada Oil Sands An unknown volume of water has been released from a holding pond at Suncor Energy’s oil sands project in Alberta, Reuters reported. The water was released into the Athabasca River, though it is unclear if the water contained toxic materials. China Water Pollution Another wave of dead animals has hit China’s waterways, […]

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Canada Oil Sands An unknown volume of water has been released from a holding pond at Suncor Energy’s oil sands project in Alberta, Reuters reported. The water was released into the Athabasca River, though it is unclear if the water contained toxic materials. China Water Pollution Another wave of dead animals hit China’s waterways Sunday, […]

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Oil sand mining operations in Alberta, Canada have been shown to cause increased levels of the toxic pollutants polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in nearby lakes, according to a study from a team of Canadian researchers, reported The New York Times. The research tested sediment deposits from six lakes surrounding Fort McMurray dating back about […]

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Push-back on the transportation of tar sands equipment through a wilderness corridor reflects civic resistance to North American fossil fuel boom.

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Energy and Climate The world’s top scientists are urging governments to look at water and energy as a single, linked issue and say that growing demands for both resources is one of three major global dilemmas, the Guardian reported. How dirty are Canada’s oil sands? Reuters looks at Europe and Canada’s battle over how to […]

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Dr. Subir Bhattacharjee in his laboratory at the University of Alberta

Subir Bhattacharjee — a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta and one of Canada’s top water quality experts — tells Circle of Blue about the water cycle of the tar sands while he attends a high-level conference in Alberta, Canada.

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Energy South Africa may invest $78 billion in new nuclear power plants, a hydropower project and a coal-fired power plant in order to keep up with energy demand, Business Week reported. A European Union expert committee failed to reach a decision on a proposal that would label fuel from tar sands as highly polluting, pushing […]

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Droughts South-East England is officially in a state of drought, the Press Association reported, citing the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Guardian has mapped out the affected regions. As rivers and reservoirs in England and Wales are running low after two dry winters, water industry executives have again called for regulatory reforms […]

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that shale gas production would undermine the still-emerging renewable energy sector in the United States, according to Yale Environment 360. Meanwhile, two groups of scientists at Cornell University are dueling over whether the climate impact of shale gas is bigger or smaller than coal’s, Associated Press […]

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The Japanese government plans to open a robot-run super farm in the tsunami-hit Miyagi prefecture, Wired UK reported. The so-called “Dream Project” will feature unmanned tractors and robotic farmers, and will channel back the carbon dioxide produced by the machinery to crops to boost their growth. Canada’s natural resources minister accused opponents of a project […]

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Unlike the other oil-rich, water-poor Gulf states, by 2024 Qatar plans to produce up to 70 percent of its food domestically, by spending massively to boost crop yields and convert semi-desert into farmland, Reuters reported. But many economists and agricultural experts say Qatar’s plans do not make economic sense. There isn’t enough research on the […]

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Environmentalist Bill McKibben talks to the Guardian about tar sands, Obama and the fight over climate change on the eve of the final hearing on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Zebra mussels and agricultural runoff are wreaking havoc on fish populations in the Great Lakes, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a recent study by […]

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Severe water shortages due to the La Nina weather pattern are threatening island communities in the South Pacific. Six months of low rainfall have left Tuvalu and Tokelau in a state of emergency and relying on bottled water. Officials also worry that the lack of rain will damage crops and spur a food shortage, according […]

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More Africans have access to mobile phones than to clean drinking water, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Why isn’t basic infrastructure keeping up with South Africa’s technological revolution, and are other African countries following in these footsteps? Asia The president of a major Chinese company warned that Myanmar’s decision last week to halt construction […]

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