Dumpster Diving and New Findings on Tar Sands Pollution

This week Dr. David Schindler speaks about his latest findings which were published just last week. His research team looked at air and water pollution surrounding tar sands mines and found that contrary to the claims of industry and government, mining is having serious impacts on the Athabasca water shed. We also hear from an Edmonton dumpster diver who tours Terra Informa through the offerings of local garbage bins. And as always, we start things off with a wrap up of the news headlines from the past week

Photo by Mike Sheehan

Environmental News Headlines

First up, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is calling for government scientists to sit down with dissident academic David Schindler to review his controversial claims about Albertaís environment.

Environment Canada has completed regulations that will require an average renewable-fuel content of five per cent in gasoline as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A campaign to boycott tarsands-sourced gasoline among several large chain stores has fallen flat after clothiers The Gap, Timberland and Levi Strauss withdrew their commitment from the agreement.

And finally, Edmonton, a city that boasted one of the first municipal composting plants in North America will soon be getting a trash-to-biofuel plant.

Dr. David Schindler on Water Quality in The Athabasca

The controversy over the impact that the oil sands has on the watershed of the Athabasca seems to get muddier and muddier (pun definitely intended). There seems to always be two entirely different sets of data. Whether its cancer rates in the population downstream from the production sites, the amount of birds landing on tailings ponds or the level and source of contamination of the Athabasca water shed; there always seems to be two different and contradicting sources of data. One of these being p ublished in academic journals by University experts and the other held confidentially and jointly by industry and the government. When government scientists disputed David Schindler’s claim that the oil sand mines were increasing water pollution in the Athabasca watershed to potentially lethal levels, Doctor Schindler had to test their claim. The government officials had stated that these increased levels of pollution were due to naturally occurring deposits of tar sand at the surface, not the disruption of the natural land by the mine sites. On Monday August 30th, David Schindler published a new report that tested the claim of the government scientists and held a press conference at the University of Alberta. Terra Informa was there to catch Dr. Schindler’s explanation of his results.

Dr. David Schindler is a University of Alberta professor in Ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry and experimental ecology and holds a number of honorary degrees and awards from across Canada. From 1968 to 1989, he founded and directed the Experimental Lakes Project of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and his work has been widely used in formulating ecologically sound management policy in Canada, the USA and in Europe. David Schindler’s newest report on the Athabasca watershed was released on August 30th, 2010.

Dumpster Diving

Bin-diving, containering, D-mart, dumpstering, tatting, or finding “recycled” food – call it what you will, it’s a trend that’s catching on. Falling under the umbrella of “Freeganism”, dumpster diving is for some not only a necessity, but a political act. It is an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. And what better way to minimize your consumption of resources than to eat someone else’s garbage? Terra Informa Correspondent Marcus Peterson ventured out into the field on an expedition to find out what diving is all about.

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