About this site

The environment, Nature and beauty from a Scottish perspective.

Knowledge is power......but beyond that I don't have a particular agenda to push here. I don't necessarily have answers to the questions our environment is demanding of us.....but I do have the desire to get more people talking about environmental issues even if we don't all see eye to eye.

Problems are unlikely to be addressed let alone resolved unless folk know what is going on around them. And to that end, information & debate are ultimately better than ignorance or sticking our heads in the sand.

PLUS....it's a beautiful, awe-inspiring and sometimes terrifying planet. Put some time aside to marvel at it.

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    'Muzzling' of Canadian scientists moves Canada closer to pariah status

    Harper muzzling scientists

    "There will be fallout for anyone talking to you…..My prospects for doing any work for Environment Canada are now zero"

    So said Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in response to the news that government scientists are not allowed to speak to the media without the express permission from Prime Minister Harper’s office.

    This news broke in November last year and I’ve been meaning to write something about it ever since.  It was the latest in a sorry saga of environmental woes from Canada, which has seen its proud, progressive role as a global champion of the environment all but destroyed. 


    Tags Alberta Arctic British Columbia Canada Canadian Environment Network Canadian Youth Delegation Ellesmere Island Enbridge Franke James Keystone Northern Gateway Peter Kent Pipeline Prince Rupert Russia Stephen Harper Stephen Leahy Tar sands Yukon Yukon News economy energy environment environment canada gag order industry oil ozone science tarsands

     Source Guardian

    'Land of the Lost Wolves' on the BBC: Review


    This one snuck up on me this week…..which is hardly surprising given the snowy excitement and power cuts of the past week…..but I was fortunate enough to catch the first of a two-part documentary called 'Land of the Lost Wolves' last night on the BBC.

    It follows a team of scientists / wildlife photographers / all-round ‘is there anything they don’t know’ backwoodsman types as they try to ascertain whether wolves are truly recolonising the Cascade range in Washington State from their strongholds over the border in Canada.


    Tags BBC Cascades Gordon Buchanan Scotland Washington State Wolf Wolves Yellowstone animals conservation environment huskies keystone nature rewilding sea otter wildlife Canada United States documentary TV

    Obama announces new environmental review of Keystone Pipeline

    Keystone pipeline

    HUGE news from the US yesterday.  The U.S. State Department has ordered an in-depth environmental assessment of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline route.

    President Obama was due to make a decision on whether to approve the project next month, but this announcement will now delay any decision for up to 18 months.


    Tags environment keystone tar sands tarsands tar sands action Obama State Department Bill McKibben Canada Alberta oil energy Joe Oliver United States Fuel Directive Ogallala Aquifer pollution Nebraska Stephen Harper Rabble.ca Alison Redford Transcanada news pipeline science

     Source cbc.ca

    Pinstripes stay po-faced as oil orgy surprises London energy summit

    Oil Orgy

    I’m not sure whether two people constitutes an orgy but……who cares, maximum points for originality and effort!

    Activists today surprised the London Energy Round Table, a summit held in London by ‘leaders in the energy industry’ to discuss Canada’s relationship with the European Union.

    The protesters stripped down to their Maple Leaf and Union Flag underwear, covered one another in oil and then started groping and kissing in a ‘provocative oil orgy’.  Said orgy successfully symbolises the slimy, sleazy love-in currently being undertaken by the Canadian and UK governments in an effort to derail the EU’s new Fuel Directive.

    The Directive will assign Canadian ‘tar sand’ oil, bitumen, a higher environmental price owing to the wholesale destruction of habitats that follows in its wake and the amount of water and carbon used in its production and burning.  However, the UK and the Netherlands are opposing the Directive.  Hmm.  If you’re not sure why that might be the case, just think BRITISH Petroleum and Royal DUTCH Shell.

    UK Tar Sands Network campaigner, Emily Coats said:

    “We interrupted the Energy Round table today because the UK and Canadian government flirtations are developing into friends with benefits.  This seedy relationship puts profits for the oil industry and banks ahead of much needed legislation which will curb emissions from transport fuel in Europe.”

    Since PM Cameron’s visit to Canada last month, the UK government has been echoing the position of the Canadian government that the EU is ‘unfairly discriminating’ against the Canadian tar sands. Contrary to Canada’s claims that the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) will discriminate against the tar sands, the current FQD proposal also includes values for other unconventional oil feed stocks, such as shale oil.

    Climate Campaigner, Peter Templeton added:

    “The UK government is supporting sleazy Canadian lobbying efforts and today’s Energy summit shows just how intimate they have become to promote the tar sands industry,”

    In the summit’s own words, its purpose is to:

    '….assess important developments in the Canada EU relationship and share strategic thinking on the commercial opportunities that are presented by Canada’s emergence as an energy 'superpower”

    ….or to put it another way, ‘get stinking rich’.

    Canada UK oil friendship

    Related Stories

    Tags Alberta BP Canada EU Emily Coats Fuel Directive Keystone London Peter Templeton Shell UK Tar Sands Network bitumen energy environment lol news oil pipeline tar sands tarsands oil orgy

     Source no-tar-sands.org

    European ban on tar sands moves a step closer

    BIG news, this.  The European Commission has this week included tar sands oil in its new Fuel Directive, assigning it a ‘dirtier’ label than that of conventional crude oil.

    If the Directive becomes law, it will all but rule out imports of tar sands products into Europe unless those extracting them can clean up their acts……which doesn’t seem likely given the enormous amount of water required for extracting those products, and the blanket deforestation and toxic pools left in the industry’s wake.

    I have to admit though, I didn’t expect this to be the headline news this week.  I rather assumed that intense lobbying from Canada in recent months would have had some impact on the nature of the Fuel Directive and would have swayed the Commission somewhat……but Europeans are famously stubborn ;-)

    BUT……this still doesn’t mean the Directive will definitely be implemented.  The Commission is only the executive body of the European Union.  It proposes new legislation to the EU, where member states themselves are then asked to vote on whether to pass it.

    And that, is by no means certain.  The spineless old UK is up to its eyeballs in Canada’s tar sands, with its oil companies investing in the venture and its banks propping them up.  No surprise therefore that both the UK and the Netherlands have voiced opposition to the EU Fuel Directive over the past year.  Anything to do with BP and Royal Dutch Shell having sticky Canadian oil fingers?  Surely not!

    RBS tar sands protest

    The proposals have now been sent to EU member states who will meet in four to six weeks to vote on the proposal. It will then go to the European parliament for final approval.  Expect some frantic last-minute lobbying on both sides of the argument.

    I took these photographs at the Co-Operative’s Tarnished Earth exhibition in Edinburgh Botanic Gardens last month, which will be in Swansea from 7th October.  The original photos were taken by Jiri Rezac.

    The top photo is one of the many scarecrows standing where forests once stood.  They are installed to frighten off migratory birds, which pass overhead as they have done for thousands of years.  When they land, they risk landing in toxic lakes and becoming covered in oil.  It’s a dark business if you ask me.

    Anyway I’ll give the last word to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate change commissioner:

    "With this measure, we are sending a clear signal to fossil fuels suppliers. As fossil fuels will be a reality in the foreseeable future, it’s important to give them the right value.”

    Related Stories


    Tags Alberta BP Botanic Gardens Canada Co-operative Connie Hedegaard EU Edinburgh Europe European Commission Jiri Rezac Keystone Netherlands Norman Baker Shell Swansea UK bitumen deforestation energy environment fuel directive news oil pipeline pollution science tar sands tarsands Tarnished Earth

     Source Guardian

    Today’s the day. Is Ottawa ready for the tar sands protest?

    Ottawa tar sands protest

    The extraction of ‘tar sands’ oil, located beneath Canada’s boreal forest, has become one of the most controversial and galvanising environmental issues in the world…..and today, Monday 26th September, sees Canadians converge on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest against their country’s energy policy.

    People turning up are likely to have any number of gripes against the Canadian Government, but they are all being aired under the general ‘tar sands’ banner. 

    Those living in the oil region itself are likely to be protesting, as they have witnessed first hand the destruction of their habitats and way of life, the deterioration of their ecosystems and the violation of First Nation treaty rights that reach back to Queen Victoria’s time.

    Environmental critics inside and outside Canada are likely to be protesting, questioning how on earth the country can meet its world environmental obligations when it is increasing its operations in the tar sands region, extracting and burning an ‘especially dirty’ fossil fuel.

    Ecologists and wildlife interest groups are likely to be protesting, angry that the mass deforestation and toxic waste pools left in the oil industry’s wake are destroying migration routes, threatening populations of caribou with extinction and have now most recently led to plans for a wolf cull……in order to protect those caribou threatened by man-made habitat loss.

    Americans are likely to be protesting too, as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline extension will, if approved by President Obama, carry Canadian oil from the tar sands across the width of the United States and prompt fears of leaks and pollution incidents.

    White House tar sands protest

    They will all be participating in mass civil disobedience, of the same kind that was seen in front of the White House in Washington, DC last month.  There, over 15 days, protesters sat in silence in front of the famous building, home of President Obama, and prompted a steady stream of arrests.  1252 people in total had been arrested when the protest concluded.

    Protesters in Ottawa who do not want to get involved in civil disobedience have been assigned a spot on the ‘safe’ side of barriers outside the Canadian Parliament by local authorities, but those who ARE willing to risk arrest by marching through police barriers have said if that’s what it takes to make their message across, then they’ll do it.

    The RCMP have not said what would happen if protesters stray beyond their allotted area.  “We’re going to do what we have to do to ensure everyone is safe,” they said.

    The protest will certainly make the headlines in Canada and is likely to have a local effect on public opinion, but even if it doesn’t succeed in getting the Harper government to think again, some believe there are other options for hampering the tar sands exploitation.

    An article in the Huffington Post explains:

    The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, which represents some of the oilsands workers, says it believes the permit for the (Keystone) pipeline is no longer valid, and may challenge the right of TransCanada to go ahead.

    The National Energy Board permit for the pipeline in Canada was conditional on construction beginning in March 2011, said lawyer Steven Shrybman.

    But the union has found no sign of construction having begun, he says. Shrybman said he may raise the issue with the NEB, or take the arguments to the Federal Court to prevent the pipeline from going ahead.

    With the US Government expected to make a decision about the Keystone before the end of the year, things are coming to a head.

    Photograph: Powless (via Flickr)

    Related Stories

    Tags environment Canada Ottawa Ontario protest demonstration pollution oil energy tarsands tar sands Keystone pipeline Alberta First Nations Obama Stephen Harper Greenpeace deforestation habitat loss caribou wolf Huffington Post news science

     Source huffingtonpost.ca

    The Co-Operative’s Tarnished Earth exhibition currently in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens, which is FREE and runs until the end of September.
If you’re in town and looking for an hour or two to fill, you could do a lot worse than popping down to the Botanics, grabbing a coffee (and cake!) and spending some time looking at these startling photos and reading the blurb below each one.
I promise you it gives an eye-opening account of what Canada is up to in its wild, hitherto pristine boreal forest.
See previous blog entries about Tarnished Earth.
See Related Stories about tar sands, Canada and the Keystone Pipeline.

    The Co-Operative’s Tarnished Earth exhibition currently in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens, which is FREE and runs until the end of September.

    If you’re in town and looking for an hour or two to fill, you could do a lot worse than popping down to the Botanics, grabbing a coffee (and cake!) and spending some time looking at these startling photos and reading the blurb below each one.

    I promise you it gives an eye-opening account of what Canada is up to in its wild, hitherto pristine boreal forest.

    See previous blog entries about Tarnished Earth.

    See Related Stories about tar sands, Canada and the Keystone Pipeline.

    Tags Tarnished Earth environment Edinburgh Co-operative Canada Beaver Lake Cree Alberta oil energy Keystone Tar Sands Tarsands deforestation pollution Botanic Gardens Exhibition

    Climate Adaptation: Saskatchewan premier raps pipeline critics

    "The premier said Canada’s image and the country’s trade relationship with the United States are not being helped by some of the debate."

    Hmm.  Some might say Canada itself isn’t exactly helping Canada’s image.


    “Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says it’s time to push back against what he called myths being perpetrated about Canadian oil and a controversial pipeline that would ship oil from Alberta to Texas.

    The premier said Canada’s image and the country’s trade relationship with the United States are not…

    Tags Keystone XL pipeline al gore canada climate change cognitive dissonance keystone xl oil oil sands pipeline saskatchewan tar sands Keystone

    Reblogged from  

    The Nobel Peace Laureates’ letter to President Obama - in full

    Keystone pipeline

    I’ve reproduced the Nobel Peace Laureates’ letter to President Obama in full in case you want to read it.  It’s not very long actually and is worth reading, as it sums up the Keystone situation quite well.

    I’m sure this isn’t the kind of publicity the President wants at the moment…..


    Tags environment Peace Laureate Nobel Keystone Pipeline oil energy tar sands tarsands Canada Alberta United States USA Obama White House Dalai Lama Desmond Tutu Mairead Maguire Betty Williams Adolfo Pérez Esquivel Rigoberta Menchú Tum José Ramos-Horta Jody Williams Shirin Ebadi Ireland Argentina South Africa Tibet Guatemala East Timor

     Source The Huffington Post

    Dalai Lama urges Obama not to approve Keystone pipeline

    I don’t think anyone saw this one coming……but His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the latest high profile critic of the Keystone Pipeline.

    He is one of a group of nine Nobel Peace Laureates (including Archbishop Desmond Tutu) who have written a letter to President Obama, urging him to honour the environmental pledges he made back in 2008 and reject the Keystone extension.

    See the most recent stories about the Keystone Pipeline.

    Tags Alberta Boreal Canada Dalai Lama Desmond Tutu Keystone Nobel Obama Peace Laureate Pipeline White House energy environment news oil tarsands tar sands

     Source The Huffington Post

    "the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil"

    Obama - hope to help

    "Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil"

    So said Barack Obama in 2008 when he was campaigning to be President.  He also said:

    “Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children … this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”

    Hmm.  Consider these quotations set against the backdrop of the imminent US Govt decision on whether to approve the Keystone Pipeline extension.  Whether to plunder yet another oil resource, whether to endorse the rampant destruction of Canada’s boreal forest, whether to exploit what many see as an especially dirty form of oil, and whether to knowingly take that oil from a country that is demonstrating scant regard for its treaties with indigenous populations in the process.

    Tar Sands Action, who organised the 15 days of sit-ins in front of the White House recently where 1253 people were arrested, are gleefully using Obama’s 2008 pledges in the next stage of their campaign against the pipeline.  Bill McKibben said:

    "And we’re not going to do him the favor of attacking him. Instead, we’re going to pay him the dangerous compliment of taking his words from 2008 seriously."

    They’ve not yet disclosed the nature of this next stage, but it will be set for 7th October as that is the date of the last State Department hearing in Washington, DC.

    Related Stories

    Tags Alberta Canada Keystone News Obama Pipeline President Tar Sands Tar Sands Action USA United States Washington White House demonstration environment pollution protest tarsands oil energy

     Source tarsandsaction.org

    Yep, those masters of the dark arts, ‘Ethical Oil’ are back again.  This time using Saudi women as a ploy to justify Canada’s environmental pillaging.

    This advert is apparently running on the Oprah Winfrey network, appealing to women to aid their Saudi sisters by…….well actually, it’s not trying to aid them at all.  It’s just using them, pure & simple.

    It makes me want to vomit.  Where on earth are the ‘ethics’ in this kind of spinmastery?  As this article in Mother Jones says:

    "If you care about women’s liberation in Saudi Arabia, you should support women’s liberation efforts in Saudi Arabia. Saudi women shouldn’t be used as a ploy to draw support for dirty oil extraction in Canada."

    If you’re unfamiliar with the ironically-named Ethical Oil’s shenanigans, take a look at this story:

    Aboriginal? Female? Gay? Unemployed? Great! You’ll love our oil!

    PS - There’s an Oprah Winfrey Network!??  WTF!!??

    Tags Oprah Winfrey environment tar sands tarsands Canada Alberta Ethical Oil oil energy Youtube Saudi Arabia Mother Jones news wtf Keystone

     Source Mother Jones

    1009 people arrested……with one day to go!

    Tar Sands Action

    It’s an impressive number of people, really.

    1009 people have now been arrested for sitting down peacefully and quietly in front of the White House over the last two weeks.

    The protest, organised by Tar Sands Action, is hoping to persuade President Obama NOT to approve the Keystone Pipeline extension that will carry oil from Canada all the way through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Sit-ins have been arranged every day for the past 13 days, and today will be the last of the protest.  Tar Sands Action are hoping for a big turn-out to round-off what has been an effective way of raising public awareness.

    Related Stories

    Tags Tar Sands Action environment White House Washington United States Canada Alberta Keystone Pipeline Tar sands tarsands pollution news Obama protest demonstration

     Source tarsandsaction.org

    Daryl Hannah arrested at White House oil protest

    Daryl Hannah arrested

    Yep, she of Bladerunner, Kill Bill and Wall St fame was arrested this week after she refused to move from the pavement in front of the White House.

    Daryl Hannah was arrested along with many other protesters as part of a two-week sit-in to protest against the Keystone Pipeline, currently undergoing an environmental impact study and which Obama will have to approve or reject in the coming months.

    The pipeline will carry oil from the controversial ‘tar sands’ in Alberta, Canada all the way down through the United States and on to the Gulf of Mexico.  Its planned course through Nebraska will take it through the eastern side of the Ogallala aquifer, an immense underground watersource that straddles eight states and provides water for millions of Americans.  As you can imagine, many people living in the central third of the United States are understandably nervous about the effects an oil spill would have on their drinking and irrigation source.

    Such fears are bad enough but are perhaps eclipsed by the scale of destruction currently underway in order to extract this oil from Canada’s pristine boreal forest.

    Related Stories

    Photograph: PacificCoastNewsOnline.com

    Tags Daryl Hannah Tar Sands Tar Sands Action tarsands Keystone pipeline oil energy Canada Alberta Ogallala Aquifer Nebraska Gulf of Mexico environment pollution Obama protest demonstration Bladerunner Kill Bill Wall St news

     Source Guardian

    Canadians plan tar sands protest in Ottawa - 26th September

    A Canadian group consisting of The Council of Canadians, Greenpeace Canada and the Indigenous Environmental Network are organising a sit-in protest in Ottawa on 26th September.

    This is the invitation on their website:

    On September 26th we need you to come to Ottawa to join a historic action to oppose the tar sands. In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper government that we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he’s taking this country.

    In the U.S., people by the thousands are taking a stand. From Aug 20th to Sept. 3rd, thousands are pledging to risk arrest in daily acts of civil disobedience to convince President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring dirty tar sands oil to the U.S. On September 26th, we will stand up to Prime Minister Harper to pressure him to stem the tar sands industry at its source.

    Tar sands mining and other extreme forms of energy extraction like Arctic drilling, shale fracking, and nuclear power generation send us in the exact opposite direction that we, as a civilization, must go to ensure global survival. If we burn the tar sands, we blot our nation’s reputation; if we leave that carbon in the ground, we’ll do the world an enormous favour.

    On September 26th we are asking you to come to Ottawa to participate in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen.

    Be a part of turning Canada away from the toxic tar sands industry. Help forge the future we all want to live in.

    If you are interested and willing to take action email ottawaaction@gmail.com or go to www.ottawaaction.ca to sign-up today. It will be a powerful day, and more powerful if you’re a part of it.


    The Council of Canadians
    Greenpeace Canada
    Indigenous Environmental Network

    Tags Tar sands tarsands environment Alberta Canada Stephen Harper Ottawa sit in protest Greenpeace Council of Canadians Indigenous Envrionmental Network United States demonstration news energy oil Keystone Pipeline

     Source ottawaaction.ca