Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Frack off!

With remarkable foresight, in March an NDP member of the Ontario legislature, Peter Tabuns, introduced a bill (proposed law) to ban fracking in Ontario.  (Fracking = hydraulic fracturing of the earth’s crust for gas and oil.)

With remarkable stupidity, the ruling Liberal government immediately denied any need for such a bill. There is no fracking yet in Ontario, said Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro, so there is no need for a ban.  More detail here.

Fracking cartoonWithout a ban, the door stays wide open. Wherever the door is open, oil and gas corporations walk right in and start drilling. And wherever frackers drill, disaster follows.   Ask people on what’s left of the ground in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, the Dakotas, south England…

Fracking consumes and poisons millions of litres of fresh water – for every well. The drillers inject a toxic brew of chemicals under high pressure to smash underground shale and force oil and gas to the surface. Fracking operations leak vast quantities of methane, a devastating greenhouse gas. They also set off earthquake epidemics where such incidents have been rare.  And then there are the pipelines to transport the gas/oil to refineries and ports, and with pipelines, spills and explosions.

Result: Immense profit for a few, incalculable harm for the rest of us and the earth.

Worldwide, as soon as people become informed about fracking, resistance grows rapidly, and people have won government bans and moratoria in many municipalities, provinces, states and countries. Check here for an up-to-date list.

Meanwhile in Ontario, the door – our door, by the way – remains wide open.

In a 2014 poll, 75% of Ontarians supported a moratorium on fracking.  As Peter Tabuns understands, the time to close the door is now, before it’s too late.

The bill to ban fracking is scheduled to come to a vote on May 7, a week from now.  Send a message to Premier Wynne, via a new email campaign from the Council of Canadians: Ban fracking in Ontario. Close the door now.

The underground story on fracking and the growing resistance is here, inside Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.


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Scotland the brave

Good news: Scotland freezes fracking.

Scots protest fracking

Scotland says: Don’t frack.  Photo: the-news-daily.com

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced that the moratorium would stand until “a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction” had been initiated and completed.

A week later, more good news: the Welsh government also voted to block fracking until it is proven safe for the environment and public health.  Note:  It cannot be proved safe, since it is everything but.

Neither of these initiatives is an outright ban, but in New York state, years of citizen campaigning led to a similar moratorium, and finally last month to a ban.

For a close look at the dirty business of fracking, see Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.

 


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“We talk through the wall”

“Now comes my favorite time of day in jail—the two quiet hours between breakfast and 7 a.m. before the television clicks on and we are ordered to make our beds and the loud day begins…”

Sandra Steingraber letter from jail, Nov 2104

Photo: Common Dreams

Biologist and author Sandra Steingraber hand-wrote this letter from her cell in a New York county jail, writing on scrap paper provided by a fellow inmate, a young mother jailed for stealing a pumpkin.

Along with other resisters, Steingraber was jailed for non-violent civil disobedience. They tried to block the driveway of Texas-based Crestwood Midstream, which is pursuing a lunatic scheme to store under high pressure toxic products of fracking/hydraulic fracturing – methane, propane and butane – in abandoned, crumbling salt mines adjacent to Seneca Lake.

So far in the Seneca Lake campaign, 59 people have been arrested. The majority await sentence.

They consider the cost of doing time very small compared to the cost of doing nothing.  Steingraber writes, “…Time offers the possibility of rededicating oneself to the necessary work ahead: dismantling the fossil fuel industry in the last 20 years left to us, before the climate crisis spins into unfixable, unending calamity.”

Read Sandra Steingraber’s eloquent account here, on EcoWatch via Reader Supported News.

More on the ominous links between fracking and climate chaos, and the powerful interests driving both, here.  (Scroll down to chapter 10, The Unsolved problem.)


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Whole food for free-range minds

Available September 4, 2014

Bold Scientists, front coverCritical comment:

“A gripping tale of heroic scientists working in the public interest despite powerful
opposition.  At once, both tremendously hopeful and profoundly disturbing.  The world
needs more bold authors like Michael Riordon.”

 Thomas Duck, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science,Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

“Silence is consent, my fellow scientists. Riordon’s profiles in courage encourage us to take our data and our voices into the gladiator’s arena and engage in the great moral and political battles of our time.  As Bold Scientists so clearly shows, it’s where we belong.”

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment; co-founder, Concerned Health Professionals of New York

The menu/chapters:

When the river roared.   First Nations, a long view.
Digging thistles.   An experimental post-oil farm.
A dialogue with the world.   Biology, from the ground up.
Blood on my hands.   Life and death in the garden.
Stolen children.   In El Salvador, war, genes and human rights.
The Cloud.   Watching Big Brother.
ODD.   Psychology and power
Awe.   The wisdom of a spider web.
Pesky data.   Under lakes, dark truths.
The unsolved problem.   Fracking: homeland insecurity.
When the lights go out.   Awakening in an ice storm.
No time for cowardice.   An elemental fight for science and democracy.

Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science

Now:

  • Pre-order it from independent bookstores and Chapters/Indigo stores across Canada.

After September 4th:

    • Purchase or order Bold Scientists from local retailers or libraries across Canada.
    • Purchase it directly from the publisher, Between the Lines, online (within Canada) at http://btlbooks.com/book/bold-scientists, or by phone toll-free at 1-800-718-7201.
    • Purchase online through Amazon.
    • Internationally, the book will also be available via Central Books Ltd:  orders@centralbooks.com / centralbooks.com. (Tel) +44 20 8986 4854.

Unspun science for dangerous times


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A multitude of threats

“The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.”

– President Barack Obama, February 12, 2013.

Not so fast.

fracking sign, no open flameFracking waste-water. Photo: SFAA News.

July 10, 2014, Concerned Health Professionals of New York released a report that sets the record straight on the hazards of fracking.  Sandra Steingraber, PhD, co-founder of  (CHPNY), explained to the press, “This compilation of findings brings together data from many fields of study, and reveals the diversity of the problems with fracking—from increased flood risks to increased crime risks, from earthquakes to methane leaks.  What this multitude of threats all have in common is the ability to harm public health.”   (From an EcoWatch report.)

In New York state, fracking – shattering the earth’s crust with a toxic mix of water and chemicals to extract gas and oil – has been held at bay so far by vigourous citizen opposition.  But as the industry spreads rapidly across North America and around the globe, it generates huge profits for corporations, and a tidal wave of misinformation from their enablers in government and the media.

Every place where fracking invades, public opposition springs up, but until recently it’s been hampered by lack of access to scientific data on the hazards. Now professional organizations like Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) and Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) are breaking through industry/government secrecy to liberate the necessary data.

An invaluable resource, the ground-breaking (in the best sense) new report from CHPNY can be read and downloaded here.

Dig deep into the science vs fracking story in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming September 2014 from Between the Lines.