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Even small reductions in warming matter to the Arctic

A difference of half a degree Celsius would make a huge difference in the future of the Arctic. A carbon sequestration project in Iceland offers hope of keeping warming under control.

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Canadian biofuel plans derailed

Iogen cancels a pioneering facility to turn crop waste into ethanol. A leading biofuels company whose products have powered Formula 1 racing cars has hit a major bump in the road. Canadian company Iogen Energy in Ottawa announced on 30 April that it has shelved plans to build a large-scale facility in Manitoba to produce fuel ethanol from cellulose, the long molecular chain of sugars that forms the fibrous material in plants. Instead, the company will “refocus its strategy and activities”, leading to a smaller development programme and the loss of 150 jobs, its joint owners Royal Dutch Shell and … Read more…

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Mixed Reviews for Quebec’s Plan Nord

The government of Quebec (Canada) has launched its multibillion-dollar Plan Nord, which will open the vast northern reaches of the province to mining and energy development–and protect 50% of the territory from economic development. The 1.2-million-square-kilometre region—twice the size of France—is known for its wild rivers, biodiversity, diverse ecosystems and a large swath (about 20%) of Canada’s boreal forest. Boreal forest covers more than 25% of Quebec. More than 120,000 people, including 33,000 aboriginals also live in the region. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said yesterday the government will invest CDN$80 billion into mining, forestry, transportation, energy development and tourism over the … Read more…

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River metals linked to tar sand extraction

Researchers find that pollutants in Canada’s Athabasca River are not from natural sources. Oil-mining operations in Canada’s main tar sands region are releasing a range of heavy and toxic metals — including mercury, arsenic and lead — into a nearby river and its watershed, according to a new study. Research published online yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 13 elements classified as priority pollutants (PPEs) by the US Environmental Protection Agency were found in the Athabasca River in the province of Alberta1. Seven of these were present at high enough concentrations to put aquatic … Read more…