Fresh Blogs

Sounding the Alarm: The Negative Impact of Underwater Noise on Narwhals and the Arctic Ecosystem

Sounding the Alarm: The Negative Impact of Underwater Noise on Narwhals and the Arctic Ecosystem

The Inuit people of Pond Inlet, Nvt, have reported a decrease in the number of narwhals in their hunting grounds, making it harder for them to feed their families. This is believed to be due to the increasing noise from ships, which is disrupting the behavior of the marine animals.

Research has shown that narwhals are particularly sensitive to noise, and their numbers are declining in the Eclipse Sound on the northeastern end of Baffin Island. A report by the Fisheries Department suggests that this is likely due to the increased ship traffic from mining, cruises, ice breaking, and development, as well as other factors such as the presence of killer whales and natural movement in the region.

International guidelines for reducing underwater noise from ships have been revised to recognize the unique effects on the Inuit people, but environmental and Inuit organizations believe that stronger measures are needed. The International Maritime Organization's subcommittee on ship design and construction met in London last week and agreed on revisions to the 2014 guidelines, including updated technical knowledge and sample templates for underwater noise management plans.

However, these guidelines are still voluntary, and there has been little uptake by ship owners. The Clean Arctic Alliance, made up of 20 non-profit organizations, is calling for mandatory measures to reduce underwater noise in the Arctic.

Underwater noise has been linked to a wide range of negative effects on marine species that rely on sound, including behavioral changes, habitat loss, increased stress levels, and permanent injury or death.

Transport Canada has announced the Quiet Vessel Initiative, which will provide $26 million in funding over five years to test the most promising technologies, vessel designs, retrofits, and operational practices to make ships quieter. The Canadian government is also developing an Ocean Noise Strategy, which is expected to launch later this year.

In conclusion, the issue of underwater noise in the Arctic is a pressing matter that needs to be addressed to protect the local ecosystem and the livelihood of the Inuit people. Let's work together to find solutions and ensure a future where the Arctic remains a vibrant and thriving ecosystem for generations to come.


Date: February 5th, 2023

IMPAC5: A Gathering of Experts to Tackle Ocean Protection Challenges

IMPAC5: A Gathering of Experts to Tackle Ocean Protection Challenges

The International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) is set to take place in Vancouver, bringing together thousands of delegates from 123 countries to discuss the crucial issue of ocean protection. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray will be in attendance, with conference sessions beginning on Saturday and lasting throughout the week.

According to Ben Stanford, spokesman for the conference organizers, IMPAC5 is the first major international congress following the COP15 in Montreal, where a plan was set in motion to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030. The main focus of the conference will be on how to improve existing marine protected areas and ensure that their protected status is actually enforced on the water.

A key challenge that will be addressed at IMPAC5 is the issue of "paper parks" – protected areas that have no enforcement or regulation, resulting in activities like bottom trawling and oil and gas leasing within them. Alexandra Barron of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, one of the conference's co-hosts, states that a weak enforcement of regulations on the water is a challenge faced globally, not just in Canada.

The conference also aims to achieve several other goals, including a moratorium on deep-sea mining and a completion of the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty – an ongoing global negotiation aimed at setting basic rules for the sustainable use of ocean resources.

In December, delegates from around the world met in Montreal to agree on a plan to protect global biodiversity, including a pledge to put 30% of the world under some form of environmental protection by 2030. With experts gathering at IMPAC5, there is hope that positive progress will be made towards achieving this goal and safeguarding the future of our oceans.


Date: February 3rd, 2023

The Transition to a Greener Economy: A Worthwhile Journey

The Transition to a Greener Economy: A Worthwhile Journey

A new report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) sheds light on the progress and benefits of the journey towards a net zero emissions economy. The report, titled Mapping The Net Zero Economy, highlights the key findings that the drive to reach net zero involves over 20,000 businesses and is worth £71 billion, contributing to the creation of 840,000 jobs across a range of sectors, including renewable energy and waste management.

The report found that regions such as Tyneside, Teeside, Merseyside, the Humber, and Scotland have done better than average in the green economy, with stronger growth and higher-paying green jobs compared to London and the South East. The average wage in the green sector is £42,600, significantly above the national average of £33,400.

Peter Chalkley, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), believes that the net zero economy is addressing the issue of levelling up and the UK's productivity problem. He warns that if the UK does not build on the progress that has been made, it will miss out on opportunities and jobs.

The UK has been seen as a leader in green technology, particularly in offshore wind, but its position is being challenged by global competition for green funding. The recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the United States has changed the dynamic for green investment, as the bill sets aside $369 billion for action related to tackling climate change.

Chris Stark, CEO of the Climate Change Committee, believes that the UK needs to reignite excitement in the green economy to attract investment. However, restrictive planning regulations and inconsistent policies have been cited as barriers to private sector investment.

Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of trade association Energy UK, stresses the need to speed up the planning and consent process for renewables, network connections, and vehicle charging. Currently, it takes 12 years to build a wind farm in the UK, which should take only one year.

The UK government claims to be leading the world in tackling climate change, with plans to support up to 480,000 jobs by 2030 and drive £100 billion of private sector investment by 2030, backed by £30 billion in government funding since March 2021.


Date: February 3rd, 2023

Riding Towards a Greener Future: The Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles

Riding Towards a Greener Future: The Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are the future of transportation, offering us a cleaner and greener way to get around. But, as with any major shift, there are concerns and challenges to consider. Mining expert Teresa Kramarz is worried that the rapid push towards electrification might come with unintended consequences.

To make electric vehicle batteries, minerals like lithium, graphite, nickel, and cobalt are required. These minerals are often sourced from countries in the global south, and their extraction can have significant social and ecological implications. For example, lithium extraction can lead to the contamination of water supplies and impact ecosystems and their species. Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 70% of the world's cobalt originates, has been documented by the United Nations to have negative consequences such as pollution and destruction of ecosystems.

However, environmentalist Michael Schneider remains optimistic about the future of electric vehicles. He drives a fully electric Chevy Bolt and finds joy in the peace and quiet of the ride. He bought his first EV 10 years ago as an environmentally-conscious decision, and he believes that the manufacturing process will continue to improve and become more environmentally-friendly.

By 2035, the Canadian government hopes that every new passenger vehicle sold will be electric, with many of these vehicles and their batteries being built in Windsor. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes that buying and driving electric vehicles is "doing the right thing."

As we make this transition, it is important that we carefully consider the impact of the electrification of vehicles. We must de-carbonize, but we must also pay attention to how we do it, to ensure that the environment is protected, and the social and ecological implications of mineral extraction are addressed.


Date: February 1st, 2023

The Climate-Conscious Power Struggle: Keeping Your Lights On in the Face of Extreme Weather

Extreme weather conditions, intensified by climate change, are making the reliability of our electrical services less secure and more expensive. But there is a battle underway to prevent this from happening.

Can you imagine a storm so strong that it knocks down thousands of power poles and leaves communities in the dark? Unfortunately, this is becoming a more common reality in today’s world. In the summer of 2022, Hydro One reported a record-breaking 1,900 broken poles in Ontario due to intense windstorms, while Hydro-Québec had to replace 1,125 poles, 400 transformers, and 40 km of electrical cable. Even Hurricane Fiona caused over 2,000 damaged poles in Nova Scotia Power, resulting in the largest storm response in their history.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) conducted a study and found that weather is the primary cause of significant transmission outages in North America. Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, affecting the reliability of our power systems. As a result, many major electrical utilities are predicting a growing toll on their infrastructure and preparing for it. This preparation is resulting in a boom in the utility pole business, which could potentially show up on your utility bill.

Have you ever taken a walk and noticed the power lines around you? In older neighbourhoods, they are often strung from wooden poles, treated with preservatives to protect them from weather elements. Wooden poles have been a popular choice since their introduction in 1844 and are still used today, despite the availability of steel and concrete poles. Unfortunately, when extreme weather strikes, these wooden poles can become the weakest link in the system.

The leading manufacturer of wooden utility poles in North America is Montreal-based Stella-Jones Inc. They supply all major electrical utilities with more than one million poles annually, and their sales have more than doubled since 2013. This is partly because many of the poles installed in the decades around World War II are reaching the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced.

In conclusion, the challenge of ensuring reliable electrical services in the face of extreme weather is a complex one, but it is one that electrical companies and manufacturers are working to overcome. As we face a changing climate, it is essential to maintain our power infrastructure to ensure that we can keep the lights on in our homes and communities.


January 31st, 2023