Fort McMurray wildfire burning so hot, only weather can stop it – Technology & Science – CBC News

The raging wildfire that has forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alta., and engulfed parts of the community is the kind of blaze that firefighters dread, but could become more common, according to experts.  Alternatively described by officials as “catastrophic,” a “multi-headed monster” and a “dirty, nasty” fire, the blaze is at least 10,000 hectares in area and has destroyed more than 1,600 structures. It could threaten the entire community, they said.  LIVE BLOG | Up-to-the-minute updates from Fort McMurray Wildfire rages in Fort McMurray as evacuees settle in Edmonton 2 babies born in Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation camp The wildfire became so intense Tuesday that the heat limited air operations over the affected areas. More than 150 firefighters are battling it on multiple fronts, with hundreds more from other provinces expected to arrive in the coming days.  Temperatures are expected to remain high, with a glimmer of hope on the horizon as a cold front approaches. It could, however, bring lightning with it, possibly starting more fires. It is a nearly impossible situation. The wildfire is an extreme example of the power of Mother Nature, but offers some interesting lessons about the science of wildfires.  ‘A perfect storm’ of fire The conditions that preceded the start of this fire were quintessential wildfire conditions: a seemingly endless supply of dry fuel on the forest floor and in the canopy, and intense heat. All that was needed was a spark, and whether it was caused by human error or lightning (an investigation is underway), once the spark was there, the fire became a beast.  “You hate to use the cliché, but it really was kind of a perfect storm,” says Mike Wotton, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service and professor at the University of Toronto.   An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press) 1 of 15Hide captionToggle FullscreenAt beginning of image galleryShow Next Image (2 of 15) “There was a mild winter and not a lot of meltwater from the mountain snow pack. Now, a stale air mass has been sitting over Alberta, and it led to very low humidity. Then there was an early, hot spring, and everything got very dry. Then on top of that, it got windy.” The fire, burning between 800 C and 1,000 C, was first spotted when it was about 500 hectares in area (with each hectare about the size of a rugby pitch). It became what’s called a crown fire, which occurs when the tops of conifers, which tend to burn more easily than deciduous trees, become engulfed and the flames spread through the canopy.  “That’s when you start to see the 100-metre-high flames,” said Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The fire was likely moving at a speed of up to five kilometres per hour and quickly became difficult to manage.  ‘Like spitting on a campfire’ Many fires in the Boreal forest are extremely unpredictable. The fire front, the area where it’s burning most intensely, is so hot, that crews can’t attack it from the front. Sometimes the fire front can be hundreds of metres long, according to Flannigan, so crews have to work at its flanks. Aerial attacks become less effective because they aren’t hitting the core of the fire.

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Source: Fort McMurray wildfire burning so hot, only weather can stop it – Technology & Science – CBC News

Trudeau calls on Canadians to help enact Paris Agreement

Prime Minister Trudeau is calling for Canadians to take an active role in implementing the global climate change deal reached this weekend in Paris.

Source: Trudeau calls on Canadians to help enact Paris Agreement

Trudeau fights to keep Indigenous rights in Paris climate deal | National Observer

The Canadian government is one of the only rich countries fighting for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in the Paris climate accord against the resistance of U.S. and European Union powers, according to several sources. The news came as Indigenious peoples from the Arctic to the Amazon launched a flotilla of kayaks in downtown Paris on Sunday to paddle their point to “keep fossil fuels in the ground” and to urge state governments to respect their collective Indigenous rights. The Trudeau government is, said a prominent a First Nations leader, acting with great leadership, and in sharp contrast to the previous Harper regime and other wealthy countries now. “Canada has taken a very supportive role in Paris which is absolutely welcome given where we have been over the last decade on this issue. The only recourse we have had is to the courts,” wrote Grand Chief Edward John with the First Nations Summit on Monday.

Source: Trudeau fights to keep Indigenous rights in Paris climate deal | National Observer

New Study Shows Here’s How Canada Could Have 100% Renewable Electricity by 2035 | DeSmog Canada

Canada could become 100 per cent reliant on low-carbon electricity in just 20 years and reduce its emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a new study shows.

The report calls for bold policies to be adopted immediately in order for Canada to transition to a sustainable society.

“Twenty years ago Canada was a leader on the climate change file. But today our reputation on this issue is in tatters,” James Meadowcroft, political science professor at Carleton University and one of the report’s authors told DeSmog Canada. “It is time for us to get serious and take vigorous action to move towards a low carbon emission economy.”

The report is a collaboration between 60 Canadian scholars and outlines a 10-point policy framework to achieve dramatic emission reductions. At the top of the list is the need to put a price on carbon which was unanimously recommended by the report’s authors.

via Here’s How Canada Could Have 100% Renewable Electricity by 2035 | DeSmog Canada.

Doctors see health and hope in Burnaby Mountain protests | Vancouver Observer

Reposted from Vancouver Observer:

“Climate change is the biggest public health threat of the 21st century.  The Lancet said it first in 2009.  Since then, British Medical Journal, the Canadian Medical Association Journal the Journal of the American Medical Association, and others have urged MDs to take action to treat and prevent the increases in heat-related illness, air-pollution-related problems and mental and stress-related disorders that have been predicted.

Unfortunately, climate change wasn’t well covered in medical school—so as a group, physicians have been slow off the mark in responding to the climate crisis. As with all of medicine’s most profound issues, however—we have the blessing of the best teachers of all—our patients.

Remarkably, our patients have recently been putting on a clinic on climate and community health in the most unlikely of locations– up Burnaby Mountain.  They stood up for the health of the planet and the people whose lives depend on it. They stood in recognition of the right of communities to set aside conservation areas where people can enjoy the well-documented health benefits of exercise and the contemplation of nature.  They stood for the idea that the health of children is as important as the health of today’s ruling generation.

As doctors, we have been inspired.  The medical literature has been telling us that we must attend to this Code Green outside of the hospital with all the urgency we would lend to a Code Blue within it.  And now our patients have done just that.

In thanks, let us now add our voices to the climate-health efforts with three major reasons for hope:

1-Tackling climate change will have substantial health benefits.

A transition to clean energy and carbon pricing will decrease emissions as well as the costs and health impacts of air pollution, which is currently responsible for 1 in 8 deaths worldwide.  Active commuting will help decrease chronic disease. Distributed renewable energy generation and local food will create jobs, reduce poverty (and its indisputable effect on health), and help make our society more resilient to adverse weather events.

2-Treatment is possible….” Read on

via Doctors see health and hope in Burnaby Mountain protests | Vancouver Observer.

Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News

To understand what’s going on requires a short primer on how medical research is funded in Canada.

Most of the country’s health scientists apply for funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which receives just over a billion dollars a year from Ottawa for health science research.

About half of that money is awarded through an open competition, in a process so competitive that only around 15 per cent of those who apply are successful in securing research grants.

And scientists were already upset about new rules in that open competition. It overhauled a long standing peer review process where scientists met to discuss which grants were the best candidates for funding. It also set aside almost half of the money to fund a small number of large labs or collaborations, leaving the rest of the scientists to compete for limited funding opportunities.

‘Many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.’

– Rod McCormick

Those changes had already “imposed significant anxiety and confusion among researchers,” according to one letter sent to the head of CIHR.

Now, adding to that confusion, is a new series of changes that will affect the structure of the CIHR’s 13 research institutes, which specialize in areas such as aboriginal health, child health, gender studies, nutrition, and aging.

The institutes each have their own independent advisory board, and they award grants based on priorities they establish within each institute, to focus on specialized areas of research.

Or at least that’s how it used to be.

Now, in a decision making process described as “shrouded in secrecy,” the CIHR is implementing changes that risk pitting one institute against the other as their budgets are cut in half.

The other half of the money is being pooled into a common fund, and to access that money the institutes will have to compete with each other, and the scientists will have to knock on doors to find matching external funding.

It’s a requirement that has raised particular concerns at the Institute for Aboriginal People’s Health, where researchers fear they have few options for finding those matching funds.

“Unfortunately for aboriginal people, we don’t really have many organizations we can leverage with,” said Rod McCormick, who holds the B.C. Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. “I don’t think it’s a secret that the Harper government wants us to get our funding from resource industries. But many of these resource industries are the cause of many of our health problems so to get funding from them would be problematic.”

via Scientists will be forced to knock on doors under health research grant changes – Health – CBC News.

John Ralstan Saul calls for all Canadians to be idle no more | On First Nation Issues, Events, And Environmental Issues On The West Coast And World Events.

John Ralston Saul at home: ‘Just transfer the power and money, and get on with it.’Joe Friesen | The Globe and MailIn the winter of 2012-13, John Ralston Saul watched as the Idle No More movement swept across the country, bringing thousands of aboriginal people into the streets to draw attention to a wide range of issues.When the round dances stopped and the media moved on, he decided to write something – a pamphlet or manifesto that would help explain to a non-aboriginal audience what had just happened. According to Mr. Saul, when aboriginal leaders speak, many Canadians tend to misinterpret what they are saying.The result is his new book The Comeback, the story of a movement that has been building from a low point a little more than a century ago to where it’s now poised, he says, to reclaim a central place in Canadian affairs.The author begins by dismissing sympathy, the lens through with which many Canadians view aboriginal issues. That’s just soft racism, he argues. Sympathy is fine as a point of entry, but it obscures why things are the way they are.“The actual problem is they have rights, and they’ve been removed,” he says during a conversation in his Toronto living room this week. “If they had their rights back in the full sense of the word, you wouldn’t have to feel sympathy. Sympathy is a way of not dealing with the central issues of the treaties.”The treaties are at the heart of The Comeback. The opening page is dedicated to an image of the Peace of Montreal of 1701, signed by the Iroquois, more than 30 other first nations and New France, which Mr. Saul calls the beginning of the Canadian idea of “treaty.” These agreements to share the land are what make modern Canada possible. “We are all treaty people,” Mr. Saul says. “Every Canadian is a signatory to those agreements, and those agreements have a meaning.”

via John Ralstan Saul calls for all Canadians to be idle no more | On First Nation Issues, Events, And Environmental Issues On The West Coast And World Events..

Canada sets lowest standard at World Conference on Indigenous Peoples – Aboriginal – CBC

Matthew Coon Come is the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Eeyou Istchee and the chairperson of the Cree Regional Authority.The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples WCIP, an historic two-day meeting, began on Sept. 22 at the UN General Assembly in New York.I and other indigenous leaders attended the meeting with heads of government, ambassadors and ministers. We went there to witness and contribute to a new chapter of our history. We went to celebrate indigenous peoples’ human rights and new and renewed commitments by UN members states in international law.Canadas aboriginal well-being efforts insufficient, UN envoy says Visit CBC Aboriginal for more top storiesMatthew Coon Come is the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Eeyou Istchee and the chairperson of the Cree Regional Authority. CBCUnfortunately, Canada’s prime minister did not attend. Nor did any minister from Stephen Harpers government. Since its election in 2006, the government has refused to acknowledge within Canada that indigenous peoples’ collective rights are human rights.The idea for WCIP arose in 1993 at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. However, it was indigenous leader Evo Morales who worked to achieve the WCIP.  Upon his election as president of Bolivia in 2006, he pledged that he would propose a WCIP.  It was the impetus of Morales that resulted in the UN General Assembly officially agreeing to hold a WCIP in 2014.The highlight of this conference was the General Assembly’s adoption by consensus of an outcome document, which includes the commitments of UN  member states on a wide range of issues. Key matters are addressed such as indigenous youth, health, language and culture, access to justice, and violence and discrimination against indigenous peoples and individuals, in particular women.Only Canada questioned free, prior and informed consentThe centrepiece of the document is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In his opening remarks, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared,“I am proud that the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during my first year in office … that set minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples. … And we are joining forces with indigenous peoples to reach our common goals.”Regretfully, Canada was the only state in the world that chose to request an explanation of vote. In regard to the outcome document, Canada claimed it cannot accept the two paragraphs on “free, prior and informed consent,” which is widely accepted in international law.Canada implied consent may constitute some kind of absolute “veto,” but never explained what the term means. Canada also objected to the commitment “to uphold the principles of the declaration,” since it was somehow incompatible with Canada’s constitution.Arguments contradict own endorsement of UN declarationThese arguments are false. They contradict Canada’s own endorsement of the UN declaration in 2010, which concluded: “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the declaration in a manner that is consistent with our constitution and legal framework.”Canada failed to disclose this conclusion to the General Assembly. In so doing, Canada has misled the General Assembly, member states and indigenous peoples globally. Canada has failed to uphold the honour of the Crown.This repeated failure to consult violates Canadas duty under Canadian constitutional and international law.- Matthew Coon ComeSuch actions against the human rights of indigenous peoples betray Canada’s constitution. Good governance is not possible without respect and protection for indigenous peoples’ human rights. Harmonious and cooperative relations — which is also highlighted in the UN declaration — require no less.For years, the Harper government has refused to consult indigenous rights-holders on crucial issues, especially when it involves international forums. This repeated failure to consult violates Canadas duty under Canadian constitutional and international law.In his opening remarks, Ban declared to indigenous peoples from all regions of the world, “You will always have a home at the United Nations.” Yet in our own home in Canada, the federal government refuses to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights.For thirty years, the James Bay Crees have always defended and advanced indigenous peoples’ rights at the UN and other international forums. And we will continue to achieve success.Canada’s low standards have not and cannot prevent the increasing influence of the UN declaration in Canada and worldwide.

via Canada sets lowest standard at World Conference on Indigenous Peoples – Aboriginal – CBC.

Government orders federal departments to keep tabs on all demonstrations

The Government Operations Centre is seeking your assistance in compiling a comprehensive listing of all known demonstrations which will occur either in your geographical area or that may touch on your mandate,” noted the email, leaked to the Citizen. “We will compile this information and make this information available to our partners unless of course, this information is not to be shared and not available on open sources. In the case of the latter, this information will only be used by the GOC for our Situational Awareness.”

via Government orders federal departments to keep tabs on all demonstrations.