Sandra Finley

Dec 052019
 
Add the following to the TALLY:
It will cost more than $80 million to clean this up.
EXCERPT:

The Alberta Energy Regulator suspended all of Houston’s licences for wells producing natural gas containing toxic hydrogen sulphide on Aug. 30 after the company warned it would have to shut down all of its oil and gas operations due to its financial distress.

Last month, the AER ordered all of Houston’s licences suspended and noted it hadn’t paid $1.34 million in levies it owed to the orphan well fund.

It said Houston had advised it no longer had any employees.

The company’s production is about 95 per cent natural gas, mainly from wells in southeastern Alberta.

Dec 022019
 

NOTE:

  • Carney is a Canadian who went to Wall Street (an investment banker with Goldman Sachs Group).  Then was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada;  followed by Governor of the Bank of England.
  • He will now take over as UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.
  • Postings related to Carney are at bottom.  He has kept his name clean.  HOWEVER
  • While in London, Carney made compelling statements about the need to clean up offshore banking.  As far as I am aware,  there has been no progress on that file and the international corruption of which it is part.
  • He has connections to the “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative” (ICI).   It is a RE-BRANDING of capitalism in the wake of the 2007-08 Wall Street meltdown and the anti-capitalism sentiment engendered.
  • To the extent that Carney is a tool of the Financial Industry, adept at making it APPEAR that serious problems are being dealt with head-0n, he will be beneficial to the powers-that-be.
  • Over-burdened with claims related to climate change, the Insurance Industry world-wide lost a billion dollars last year.  The insurance industry is a component of The Banksters.
  • I would like to think that Carney will do a good job in his new role.  But after a review of the Related Postings at the bottom,  I think I should “get real”.  He will do a good job for the power elite.
  • It will be beneficial for all the Corporatocracy to have a representative at the Centre.   Average people will once again be betrayed by nice talk but little effective action in halting the destruction of the capability of the planet to support the existence of human beings.   Not unless we are willing to rise up, mobilize and make change at the local level.

= = = == = = = = = = = =

Bank of England governor steps down in January and will replace Michael Bloomberg  (as UN special envoy for climate action and finance)

by Sarah Butler

Mark Carney has been appointed as UN special envoy for climate action and finance as he prepares to step down as governor of the Bank of England in January.

Carney replaces billionaire Michael Bloomberg in the part time pro bono climate action role after the former New York mayor stepped down to focus on the US presidential race.

The governor has been signed up to galvanise action among financial institutions ahead of the 26th round of global climate talks in November 2020. His main focus will be on mobilising private finance to invest in schemes that will help achieve the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C.

Michael Bloomberg, left, and Mark Carney.

His remit will include building frameworks for financial reporting and risk management.

Carney said the new role, for which he will be paid a token $1 a year once his term at the Bank of England ends, would provide “a platform to bring the risks from climate change and the opportunities from the transition to a net-zero economy into the heart of financial decision-making.”

He said: “The disclosures of climate risk must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed, and investing for a net-zero world must go mainstream. The Bank of England, the UK government and the UK financial sector can play leading roles in making these imperatives happen.”

Carney has previously spoken out about the need for change, warning in October that the global financial system was backing carbon-producing projects that would raise the temperature of the planet by over 4C.

Carney is due to end his six-and-a-half-year stint at Threadneedle Street at the end of January but the government has postponed the announcement of a successor until after the general election.

Carney has twice extended his term but the Treasury has indicated it is confident that the new government will be in a position to make an appointment from a slate of candidates soon after the election on 12 December.

The shortlist is thought to include Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority; Minouche Shafik, head of the London School of Economics; Shriti Vadera, chair of Santander UK; and Ben Broadbent and Jon Cunliffe, both deputy governors at the Bank.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

 

Banksters: Index

2017-05-25 Larry Summers – Dominic Barton connection. “Inclusive Capitalism Initiative” as “re-branding”. Summers bad news (corrupt), Canadian financial matters, advisor to Liberals.

An email thread collecting the connections.  Good content but only if you have time.

2016-04-04 The Panama Papers: world reacts to huge offshore tax files leak, The Guardian.

Steven Hiatt leads a discussion on A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption.

The authors tell how multinational corporations, governments, powerful individuals, banks, other financial institutions, and quasi-governmental agencies operate to enrich small elites and corporate coffers while often impoverishing masses of people and creating debt and dependency that economically enslave countries for generations. Editor Steve Hiatt, who has worked as an editor and writer for several Bay Area companies, including Apple Computer, Netscape, Progressive Asset Management, and Stanford Research Institute, talks this evening with two of the book’s contributors, Antonia Juhasz, who writes of “Global Uprising: The Web of Resistance” and Ellen Augustine, who writes on “The Philippines, the World Bank, and the Race to the Bottom” –

Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, 2016, by Joyce Nelson, Watershed Sentinel Books, Comox, BC

2015-03- 06 Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre

2014-06-03 ICI (“inclusive capitalism initiative) Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney wouldn’t take a pay cut, so why talk up inequality? Financial Post

2014-05-27 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s speech given at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism

2014-05-27 ‘Inclusive capitalism’ the big new thing? from DW, German international broadcaster. (Dominic Barton)

Dec 022019
 

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s speech given at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, London on Tuesday 27 May 2014.

 

(Carney – Canadian, went to Wall Street, then Governor of Bank of Canada, then Governor of Bank of England,  and December 2019 to UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and finance.)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1ZFZGWNw7U

Full Speech

 

http://www.pressprogress.ca/en/post/ex-bank-canada-governor-mark-carney-blastsradical-fundamentalist-capitalism

Clip of his speech.

 

May be of interest:   http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3141570/EXCLUSIVE-INTERVIEW-Bank-England-Governor-Mark-Carney-British-financial-royalty-pedigree-match.html

 

Dec 012019
 

Australia joins the list of countries where legal action is being pursued against Bayer-Monsanto over Roundup.

Other Countries: 

. . .  some local governments have stopped using it altogether. Germany has banned it from 2023 – a date that environment minister Svenja Schulze said was “as early as European law allows”.   . . .  

Austria outlawed it in July (2019) and a group of mayors in France have ditched it too. When the European Union sought to extend its use for five years from 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron instead pledged to ban it within three years, although he later said that a total ban would not be possible in that timeframe. France will cut glyphosate use by 80 per cent by 2021, with 10 per cent of farmers being granted an exemption. Italy is restricting its use too.

 

Sydney Morning Herald,    By Darren Gray

Should you really be worried about using Roundup?

If you’re a gardener or a farmer, you may well have weedkiller on your property. And, whether it’s in a spray bottle you bought at a hardware store or in a large drum from a farm supplier, it may well contain glyphosate,  the biggest-selling herbicide in the world. The brand name might even be Roundup.

Farmers say glyphosate is cheap, safe to use (when you follow the instructions) and works. It slashes farmers’ diesel bills because they don’t need to plough their paddocks repeatedly to kill weeds, and it helps protect soil moisture levels.

Farmers knock out weeds in order to grow better and bigger crops – weeds compete for moisture and nutrients in the soil, and for sunlight. Gardeners must dodge their wanted plants and make sure glyphosate touches weeds only.

Domestic gardeners use hand-held pumps to dispense glyphosate on to weeds while people with bigger gardens or in commercial horticulture operations might dispense it from a knapsack worn on their back.

On broadacre grain farms, it is typically dispensed by boom sprays towed by tractors and might be used months or days before grain crops are sown. In some cases, it is also used by local councils and other land managers to kill weeds on public land.

Where did glyphosate come from?

Glyphosate was developed in the early 1970s by US company Monsanto, with Roundup sold from the mid-70s. Roundup came off patent in about 2000 and many other herbicide manufacturers started making their versions. Bayer is today the owner and manufacturer of Roundup. The German-headquartered, global pharmaceutical and agricultural company acquired the brand in 2018, when it bought Monsanto for $US63 billion ($A93 billion). With this purchase, it has inherited an ongoing legal headache.

One of the Australian suppliers of glyphosate herbicides is Nufarm. The company warned in June that it was at risk of litigation because it was a supplier of glyphosate-based herbicides and, on September 30, told investors that the chemical continued to be under “intense legal and community pressure”.

But Nufarm CEO Gregg Hunt said he had been reassured by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s position released in April that there was no causal link between glyphosate and cancer. He said the chances of Nufarm being involved in any legal action was “very low” because it only had a very small market share in the US compared to industry leader Monsanto.

 

How is it used?

But the chemical is facing huge challenges around the world.

In the United States, courts have been asked to consider claims from thousands of plaintiffs who blame their non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system) on glyphosate-based weedkillers made by US company Monsanto – particularly, Roundup. In three cases so far, cancer sufferers have been awarded vast sums in damages.

In Australia, the first such claim for damages was lodged with Supreme Court of Victoria this year and a second action is set to be launched.

Victoria’s environment department recently reviewed the use of glyphosate weedkillers on public land. The review found that it was safe for such products to continue being used, as long as proper safety protocols and internal procedures were followed. A department spokesperson said that this advice was supported by “WorkSafe Victoria, the workplace health and safety regulator in Victoria”.

However some local governments have stopped using it altogether. Germany has banned it from 2023 – a date that environment minister Svenja Schulze said was “as early as European law allows”.

So precisely what is glyphosate and should we be concerned?

 

What is glyphosate and how does it work?

Glyphosate is a synthetic chemical that combines aspects of two naturally occurring types of chemicals – phosphates and amino acids – in a liquid form to deadly effect on plants. Also in the mix is a surfactant, a form of detergent, which dissolves the wax on leaves and enables the chemical to get into the plant’s internal mechanisms, says Adelaide University molecular pharmacologist/toxicologist Ian Musgrave.

Dr Musgrave says glyphosate inhibits something in plants known as the shikimic acid pathway, an enzyme pathway found only in plants and some bacteria.

“Two things happen. They can’t make proteins any more, and they can’t make an essential vitamin any more and so that means they can’t grow and then eventually curl up and die,” he says.

Glyphosate doesn’t kill plants immediately, says Ian Rae, honorary professorial fellow in chemistry at the University of Melbourne. Instead, it is “more deep-seated”.

“It gets into the plant’s system and kills it.”

Farmers knock out weeds in order to grow better and bigger crops – weeds compete for moisture and nutrients in the soil, and for sunlight. Gardeners must dodge their wanted plants and make sure glyphosate touches weeds only.

Domestic gardeners use hand-held pumps to dispense glyphosate on to weeds while people with bigger gardens or in commercial horticulture operations might dispense it from a knapsack worn on their back.

On broadacre grain farms, it is typically dispensed by boom sprays towed by tractors and might be used months or days before grain crops are sown. In some cases, it is also used by local councils and other land managers to kill weeds on public land.

This man with cancer received a huge payout from Bayer. Watch a judge deliver the US court’s decision.

The 2 minute video won’t copy.  My posting about “this man with cancer” is at

Weeds are annoying. What’s the harm in it?

In the United States, courts have ordered Bayer to pay damages to three plaintiffs, including $US289 million ($426 million) to the first plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bayer has appealed the Johnson decision, and signalled it will appeal the other two.

In Melbourne, a landscape gardener who has non-Hodgkin lymphoma and who was explosed to glyphosate over 20 years, has started legal action against Monsanto. In a Supreme Court writ filed in March, Carbone Lawyers claimed Monsanto “knew or ought to have known that the use of Roundup products were dangerous for the plaintiff … in particular causing DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, cancer, kidney disease, infertility and nerve damage among other devastating illnesses.”

Carbone Lawyers was also set to launch proceedings in a second case.

 

The effects of glyphosate on humans are not the only concern. Germany will limit its use before its ban kicks in, along with limitations on the use of pesiticides, as part of its Action Programme for Insect Protection. The government says these chemicals kill bees and other insects, which are critical to the natural ecosystem.

The ban has been opposed by farm groups and the German Chemical Industry Association has accused the government of “embarking on a confrontation course with European law”.

Bayer says the ban ignores “the overwhelming scientific assessments of competent authorities around the world that have determined for more than 40 years that glyphosate can be used safely”.

But Germany is not the first European nation to ban glyphosate – Austria outlawed it in July and a group of mayors in France have ditched it too. When the European Union sought to extend its use for five years from 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron instead pledged to ban it within three years, although he later said that a total ban would not be possible in that timeframe. France will cut glyphosate use by 80 per cent by 2021, with 10 per cent of farmers being granted an exemption. Italy is restricting its use too.

 

 

 

Is it banned in Australia?

No, although Fairfield City Council in Sydney has phased out Roundup, while some other Sydney councils have pledged to conduct reviews. Victoria’s Moyne Council, in the state’s south-west, has stopped using Roundup alongside other herbicides. Victoria’s environment department reviewed the use of glyphosate”as a matter of precaution”.

Australian farmers and farm groups are vigorously defending glyphosate, worried about what would happen if sentiment against the product rose further and they faced added restrictions.

Graingrowers chairman Brett Hosking says glyphosate has “drastically” reduced diesel use on farms, as farmers steer away from heavy cultivation of soil.

 

“Glyphosate gives us the ability to still control those weeds and conserve the moisture, conserve the nutrients in the soil, but we don’t actually disturb the soil structure,” he says.

Environmentalists are calling for a ban. Anthony Amis, from Friends of the Earth, believes this will happen, in a staged approach. “The pressure is definitely building,” he says.

He has concerns about insect habitats too. He says that the spray can drift away and hit other plants in the landscape, which then die and reduce insect habitats.

A roadside in WA.

A roadside in WA.Credit:Emma Young

 

What do regulators say?

Registered products containing glyphosate are “safe to use according to label directions”, says the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The authority says it has reviewed more than 1200 scientific studies from around the world on glyphosate “to ensure the accuracy of its assessment”, including a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), which said glyphosate was a probable carcinogen to humans.

The APVMA said it was crucial to recognise that IARC’s work was a “hazard assessment” and did “not include risk assessment and risk management”.

Farm groups and Croplife Australia, which represents agricultural chemical producers, point to the long-running US Agricultural Health Study that looked at the risk between glyphosate exposure and non‑Hodgkin lymphoma. Croplife says the US National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and others have investigated data from more than 89,000 farmers and their spouses and “found no association between glyphosate and non‑Hodgkin lymphoma – regardless of the exposure level”.

 

In August, the US Environmental Protection Agency said it would “no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer – a false claim”. It also said it disagreed with IARC’s assessment of glyphosate, had reviewed a more extensive dataset than IARC and determined glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.

But cancer epidemiologist Bruce Armstrong, emeritus professor University of Sydney, says he recently saw signs in Perth warning of glyphosate being used to spray weeds in public areas, including by a local council.

“I think they (local councils) should stop using it where, at the moment, there is a practical alternative,” he says. “And they need to look at all of their uses and ask the question, ‘Is there a way in which we can avoid needing to use this’?”

 

Are there alternatives to glyphosate?

There are alternatives, some more potent, some less. One of the more potent options, according to Dr Musgrave, is a herbicide called atrazine, which is used in Australia under “very strict restrictions”.

Mr Hosking says atrazine remains in the soil for longer than glyphosate, and doesn’t kill as broad a range of weeds.

Another option used by some home gardeners and organic farmers is steam blasted onto weeds.

At home, there’s another alternative, which is free but involves plenty of elbow grease. It’s called weeding, which is something that can be done by hand, or with the assistance of tools such as pitchforks and trowels. This is a realistic option for active home gardeners but, for those with health concerns or very large gardens, weeding may not be feasible.

Dec 012019
 

Clive James passed away Nov 24, 2019.

An internet search throws up numerous tributes.

James penned:   Stop worrying.  Nobody gets out of this life alive!

The 2014 interview of Clive James by Michael Enright (CBC The Sunday Edition), was re-broadcast on December 1st, 2019.  Humour and insight:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-57-the-sunday-edition/clip/15749253-remembering-clive-james-and-jonathan-miller

Wikipedia overview:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_James

James read this poem in the 2014 interview by Enright:

 

“Holding Court”,  2013

 

Retreating from the world, all I can do

Is build a new world, one demanding less

Acute assessments. Too deaf to keep pace

With conversation, I don’t try to guess

At meanings, or unpack a stroke of wit,

But just send silent signals with my face

That claim I’ve not succumbed to loneliness

And might be ready to come in on cue.

People still turn towards me where I sit.

 

I used to notice everything, and spoke

A language full of details that I’d seen,

And people were amused; but now I see

Only a little way. What can they mean,

My phrases? They come drifting like the mist

I look through if someone appears to be

Smiling in my direction. Have they been?

This was the time when I most liked to smoke.

My watch-band feels too loose around my wrist.

 

My body, sensitive in every way

Save one, can still proceed from chair to chair,

But in my mind the fires are dying fast.

Breathe through a scarf. Steer clear of the cold air.

Think less of love and all that you have lost.

You have no future so forget the past.

Let this be no occasion for despair.

Cherish the prison of your waning day.

Remember liberty, and what it cost.

 

Be pleased that things are simple now, at least.

As certitude succeeds bewilderment.

The storm blew out and this is the dead calm.

The pain is going where the passion went.

Few things will move you now to lose your head

And you can cause, or be caused, little harm.

Tonight you leave your audience content:

You were the ghost they wanted at the feast,

Though none of them recalls a word you said.

 

Nov 282019
 

Brian Eno's Assange-themed Christmas card

 

At 3pm on 3 December, Brian Enos will pull the sheets off an oversized digital Christmas card (pictured) outside the Home Office’s Westminster premises, featuring a snap of white-haired WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and emblazoned with the cheery message: “This Christmas journalism is on trial.”   . . .

At the event, Joe Public will be able to add a personalised message to general pleas not to hand Assange over to the US justice system, which will then flood Priti Patel’s inbox.

An electronic version will pummel Home Office email accounts on 19 December, the date of Assange’s next court appearance.

Jules is currently serving 11 months in HMP Belmarsh for skipping bail in June 2012

The rape allegations were last week dropped due to “weakened evidence”, according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority, meaning the US could book him on a one-way flight across the Pond.

Assange’s extradition hearing is set to take place 24 February, which he tried and failed to delay.

Nov 282019
 

No fines for misusing information in political campaigns,

because privacy commissioners don’t have power to impose penalties.

Andrew MacLeod

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at amacleod@thetyee.ca

 

Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien worked on the joint investigation with BC’s commissioner. Their offices need the power to make orders and levy fines, he said Tuesday. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

Privacy watchdogs for Canada and British Columbia have found that Victoria company AggregateIQ broke federal and provincial privacy laws in its work on political campaigns in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

But the company will not face any fines or penalties despite misusing the personal information of millions of people, according to a joint report released today by Daniel Therrien, the federal privacy commissioner, and Michael McEvoy, B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner.

 

Neither B.C. nor Canada’s laws allow for such penalties.

There were “no fines because we do not have the ability to levy fines,” McEvoy said in a news conference.

“The deterrents are not strong enough,” he said, noting that B.C. and Canadian law were written before Facebook existed. “The world has changed dramatically since that time and the laws need to keep up, including in the need for penalties in cases like this.”

AggregateIQ Data Services, Ltd. develops advertising to be used on sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and then targets messages to audiences who are likely to be receptive, a practice known as “micro targeting.”

The Canadian and B.C. commissioners’ joint investigation began after Facebook revealed the personal information of 87 million people, most of them in the United States, had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a digital advertising company alleged to have close connections with AIQ. About 600,000 Canadians were affected.

There had already been questions about AggregateIQ’s role in the Brexit vote, which saw Britons narrowly vote to leave the European Union. Campaign disclosures showed that Vote Leave campaigners had spent £3.5 million — about $5.75 million Canadian — with the Victoria company. That was more than the Leave side paid any other company or individual during the referendum campaign and about 40 per cent of its total spending.

The Tyee reported in 2017 on the links between AggregateIQ and SCL Group, whose website says it has worked to influence election outcomes in 19 countries. Cambridge Analytica, SCL’s associated company in the U.S., had worked on a wide range of campaigns, including Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

The commissioners’ report released found that in some campaigns AggregateIQ was aware of the level of consent people had provided for use of personal information and stayed within bounds.

But frequently that wasn’t the case.

“For most campaigns, the investigation finds that: (i) the consent relied on by AIQ did not address all of the work performed by AIQ; or (ii) AIQ was unaware of how, or whether, individuals had consented to the use of their personal information,” it said.

They also found that AggregateIQ had not done enough ahead of a 2018 data breach to secure people’s personal information.

The company’s files covered millions of people and included sensitive information such as “psychographic profiles, ethnicity and religion, political donation history, birthdates, email addresses, magazine subscriptions, association memberships, inferred incomes, home ownership information, and vehicle ownership details.”

The report noted that data easily crosses borders, thus raising questions around which jurisdiction’s privacy laws apply. The commissioners looked at whether AggregateIQ took measures to ensure it had the legal authority to use and disclose information it had about voters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We have found that, in the context of certain of its work related to the Brexit referendum, it did not,” they wrote. “We reach the same conclusion regarding AIQ’s work in support of a United States political campaign.”

It’s widely known that AIQ used psychographic profile information that Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections got through a third-party app on Facebook, they wrote.

“Even where the information was collected in a different jurisdiction, whether that be the U.K. or the U.S., AIQ is still required to meet its obligations under Canadian law with respect to its handling of that information in Canada,” they said.

The commissioners made two recommendations for changes at AIQ.

One was that AIQ take steps to make sure its collection and use of people’s personal information on behalf of its clients is consistent with federal and provincial privacy laws. “Where the information is sensitive, as with political opinions, AIQ should ensure there is express consent, rather than implied,” they said.

They also recommended “AIQ adopt and maintain reasonable security measures to protect personal information, and that it delete personal information that is no longer necessary for business or legal purposes.”

 

Aggregate IQ’s Jeff Silvester said in an email that the company was happy to cooperate fully with the investigation and help the commissioners and their staff members understand the “real-world” application of privacy laws.

“While this investigation imposed a tremendous burden on a small company, and took a very long time to complete, the privacy issues engaged by a new and internationally-connected economy are important,” Silvester said.

“This is why we have been sharing our experience of navigating the complexities of cross-jurisdictional information and privacy laws with other organizations through private meetings and public speaking opportunities.”

 

AIQ has already implemented the recommendations the commissioners made, he said.

In a previous investigation into Facebook released in April, the commissioners found that Facebook had committed serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws and had failed to take responsibility for protecting Canadians’ personal information.

Facebook had publicly acknowledged the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a major breach of trust, but refused to implement the recommendations the commissioners made to address the deficiencies, they said.

Federal commissioner Therrien said his office is preparing to take Facebook to court to enforce orders against the company.

 

Talking about the report on AIQ, McEvoy said, “Companies that operate on a global scale cannot simply pick and choose the rules they wish to follow.”

Both he and Therrien called on politicians to pass stronger laws to protect people’s personal information.

Therrien said privacy laws need to apply to political parties across Canada.

Commissioners’ offices need the power to make orders and levy fines, he said, and to inspect organizations to make sure they are complying with privacy laws.

A spokesperson for the B.C. citizen’s services ministry said staff are reviewing the report and that “all feedback from the Commissioners would be considered as part of any future reviews of the Act.” [Tyee]

Nov 112019
 
Less than 6% of groundwater is replenished within 50 years

Last Updated: November 18, 2015

AFGHANISTAN-DAILYLIFE/
Internally displaced Afghans collect water from a public water pump next to their tents at a refugee camp in Kabul in January. Billions of people around the world rely on groundwater for drinking, washing and farming. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

 

The water that supplies aquifers and wells that billions of people rely on around the world is, from a practical perspective, mostly a non-renewable resource that could run out in many places, a new Canadian-led study has found.

While many people may think groundwater is replenished by rain and melting snow the way lakes and rivers are, underground water is actually renewed much more slowly.

In fact, just six per cent of the groundwater around the world is replenished and renewed within a “human lifetime” of 50 years, reports University of Victoria hydrogeologist Tom Gleeson and his collaborators in a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience today.

That water tends to be mainly found within a few hundred metres of the surface, where it is most vulnerable to being contaminated by pollution or depleted by higher temperatures and reduced rainfall as a result of climate change, the researchers found.

tap water
More than a third of the Canadian population relies on groundwater, including the entire population of P.E.I. and some fairly large urban centres such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph in Ontario. (iStock.com)

“Groundwater is a super-important resource,” Gleeson said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s used by more than a third of the world’s population every day for their drinking water and it’s used by agriculture and industry.”

More than a third of the Canadian population relies on groundwater, including the entire population of P.E.I. and some fairly large urban centres such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph in Ontario, Gleeson added.

Because groundwater is so important to billions of people around the world, Gleeson and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Calgary, and the University Gottingen were interested in finding out how much groundwater there is in the world and to get an idea of when it will run out.

Nuclear clues

Scientists had previously made a rough estimate of the amount of groundwater in the world, but no one knew how much is renewable and how quickly it’s replenished.

Gleeson and his colleagues came up with a way to figure out what groundwater was less than 50 years old. In the 1960s, during the Cold War, a number of countries were doing above-ground nuclear testing. This introduced a radioactive form of hydrogen, called tritium, into the world’s water supply.

Groundwater map
The researchers found that the world’s groundwater wasn’t evenly distributed. There was less groundwater, especially younger groundwater, in more arid regions. (Gleeson et. al/University of Victoria)

The researchers figured that groundwater with high levels of tritium was renewed since the 1960s. Groundwater with negligible levels was older.

By looking at 3,500 measurements of tritium in groundwater from 55 countries and using computer models to trace the flow of groundwater around the world, they were able to estimate how much groundwater was young and renewable and how much was older.

They also confirmed the total quantity of groundwater around the world using a variety of data like the permeability of rock to the flow of water and how much water could be stored in different places, based on how porous the rock there was.

A look at previous estimates of total groundwater showed the crude calculations were not far off.

“When we actually went back and traced what the actual calculation, it was literally two lines of text that someone could do at a bar,” Gleeson said. “But the amazing thing was that they were right.”

His team came up with almost exactly the same number.

Plentiful but finite

They estimated that the total amount of groundwater in the world was 22.6 million cubic kilometres — enough to cover all the land on Earth to a depth of 180 metres. The amount that was renewable was no more than 1.3 million cubic kilometres or less than six per cent. But the researchers said that was likely an overestimate due to the types of rock in the areas where most of the measurements were taken. Correcting for that suggested that the actual amount of groundwater renewable within 50 years was likely only 0.35 million cubic kilometres, or enough to cover all the land on Earth to a depth of three metres.

Tom Gleeson
‘Groundwater is a super-important resource,’ says Tom Gleeson, the University of Victoria hydrogeologist who led the study. ‘It’s used by more than a third of the world’s population every day for their drinking water.’ (University of Victoria)

The good news is that the amount of renewable groundwater on Earth is quite large —- three times larger than all other fresh water contained in lakes and rivers on Earth, the researchers reported.

But it isn’t evenly distributed. There was less groundwater, especially younger groundwater, in more arid regions.

Gleeson said in places like California and the U.S. Midwest, people are already using “non-renewable” water that is thousands of years old and in places such as Egypt, they’re tapping into water that may have last been renewed a million years ago. Such old water isn’t just non-renewable on human timescales — it tends to be saltier and more contaminated than younger groundwater.

In addition, overusing groundwater, either old or young, can lower subsurface water levels and dry up streams, which could have a huge effect on ecosystems on the surface, Gleeson added.

He hopes the study will help remind and motivate people to manage their groundwater resources better. “And realize that it’s finite and a limited resource that we need to respect and manage properly.”

Clarifications
  • An earlier version of this story referred to most groundwater as being non-renewable, but didn’t specify clearly enough that it was non-renewable on the scale of a human lifetime, rather than on a geological timescale. In addition, it stated that groundwater could run out, but didn’t initially clarify that that was on a human timescale and only in some locations, not worldwide.
    Nov 18, 2015 11:11 AM ET
Nov 052019
 
Image: SumOfUs/Flickr

Ontario’s environment minister, Jeff Yurek, plans to announce the provincial government’s decision on water bottling permits by mid-December. The announcement comes after the government’s extension of a moratorium on new and expanded permits, put in place by the Liberal government in 2017. Doug Ford’s government extended the moratorium until January 1, 2020.

Doreen Nicoll

 

Ontario’s environment minister, Jeff Yurek, plans to announce the provincial government’s decision on water bottling permits by mid-December. The announcement comes after the government’s extension of a moratorium on new and expanded permits, put in place by the Liberal government in 2017. Doug Ford’s government extended the moratorium until January 1, 2020.

Activist groups like Guelph-based Wellington Water Watchers (WWW) want Yurek to require all permits to take water for bottling to undergo an environmental assessment process. According to WWW, the current review process for water bottling permits is inadequate.

WWW also believes the scope of the current review process utilized by the Ministry of the Environment is too narrow and fails to recognize water as a public trust; does not guarantee Indigenous consent consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); disregards the increasing threat of climate change; inadequately assesses the cumulative impact of water taking on groundwater; ignores the environmental impact of discarded plastic bottles; and neglects the health risks of microplastics in drinking water.

In addition, the Environmental Registry of Ontario limits public participation to a 90-day online consultation. This process prevents face-to-face discussion between members of the public and political representatives.

WWW is calling on the Ontario government to suspend the current review process for applications to renew water bottling permits to allow for a full public debate on the social and environmental impacts of water bottling and to ensure the government requires environmental assessments of all applications to renew permits to take water for bottling.

WWW is hosting four information sessions in November to focus “all eyes on Nestlé” and its corporate mandate. Representatives from groups affected by Nestlé water extraction in France, Brazil and the United States will speak about their experience protecting water from bottling in their communities.

Speakers at all four events include Bernhard and Renee-Lise Schmitt, founders of Collectif Eau 88 in Vittel, France, and Franklin Frederick, Brazilian political and environmental activist now living in Switzerland.

Collectif Eau 88 has been fighting for the agricultural life of Vittel since Nestlé corporation began purchasing land surrounding the town’s wells to establish rights to the water. The price of land increased to levels that put it out of reach for young farming families.

Nestlé eventually offered the land back to farmers free of charge, but required farmers to follow complex rules that prevented their accessing water beneath the land. Farmers were expected to truck in water to irrigate their crops and keep livestock alive.

Lax local laws in Vittel meant Nestlé has been able to draw 800 million litres of water annually for the past 30 years. The aquifer has been unable to replace the 3.5 centimetres of water removed annually, and both locals and Nestlé agree that the groundwater will be drained from Vittel’s aquifer within the next 20 years.

Initially, the French government considered building a pipeline from a neighbouring community to bring water to the citizens of Vittel. That plan would have allowed Nestlé to continue draining the aquifer. However, on October 1, the French government announced it would limit Nestlé’s water extraction in Vittel and plans to cancel the water pipeline. The French government also imposed a moratorium on all pending applications by Nestlé.

The persistent opposition of Collectif Eau 88 is responsible for this partial victory. The government has signalled it will prioritize drinking water for residents. Water currently withdrawn from the aquifer will be reduced by at least one trillion litres per year, which means Nestlé will have to reduce its water mining. Ongoing consultations between the French government and Collectif Eau 88 will result in a strategy to ensure the aquifer remains sustainable.

Nestlé’s global plan involves buying land and building bottling plants in economically depressed areas. These are typically rural communities where the potential for jobs incentivizes communities to overlook environmental consequences. In the end, many of the jobs created are temporary, as the extraction process is mechanized.

Brazilian water activist Franklin Frederick arrived in Switzerland several years ago as part of an assignment by the Catholic Church in Sao Paulo to secure the support of Catholic and Protestant churches in Switzerland in a campaign against Nestlé water bottling operations back home. Frederick discovered Nestlé and the Swiss government were collaborating and working against non-profits opposed to Nestlé’s water extraction and bottling operations.

To learn more about the impacts of Nestlé’s privatization of water attend one of the following WWW information sessions:

  • Monday, November 11, Waterloo, The Atrium, Renison University College, 240 Westmount Rd. N., 7 to 9 p.m. (RSVP here)
  • Tuesday, November 12, Toronto, Wilson Hall Lounge, 2nd Floor Wilson Hall at New College, 40 Willcocks St., Toronto, 7 to 9 p.m. (RSVP here)
  • Wednesday November 13, Hamilton, St. Joseph’s Church Hall, 280 Herkimer St., 7 to 9 p.m.  (RSVP here)
  • Thursday, November 14, Guelph, Trinity United Church, 400 Stevenson St. N., 7 to 9 p.m. Additional international speakers will present at this event only. (RSVP Here)

All four events will be live-streamed on Facebook. For more information email: wellingtonwaterwatchers@gmail.com

Doreen Nicoll is a freelance writer, teacher, social activist and member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.