Feature Writer
Chris Turner is author of the bestsellers The War on Science and The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy. His reporting on energy and sustainability issues appears regularly in The Walrus, the Globe and Mail and Canadian Geographic.

Is carbon fibre Alberta’s next profit gusher?

As the oil sands become a harder sell, bitumen may find profitable future in carbon-fibre-framed EVs

The Prius Prime is Toyota’s first plug-in electric hybrid car for the mass market in the United States and a flag-bearer for the company’s future. In June, the Japanese automaker announced plans to have all-electric versions of every vehicle in its lineup and draw half of its sales from a mix of electrified vehicles by 2025. Building all those EVs introduces new design challenges for automakers. The batteries are by far the most expensive parts in an EV, so this places a premium on reducing the car’s overall weight; a lighter car means fewer batteries required to make it race down the highway and a lower sticker price. And so it’s notable that the Prius Prime’s rear hatch differs from those of standard Priuses in one important aspect: it’s made from carbon fibre.

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Two shores away

Tension between resource extraction and environmental stewardship remains at the heart of the Canadian experience.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last November that his government was approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, it was bound to be a bombshell. The pipe would send hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil sands bitumen from Edmonton to the port of Vancouver each day – this at a moment when oil sands production and the pipelines that move it have become the proxy for a debate about climate change and the fossil fuel industries not just across Canada but worldwide.

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Transit done right

By Chris Turner
Cities worldwide could learn a thing or two from Bogota, which has developed a rapid bus transit system that works.

LONDON – The city of Bogota, Colombia’s sprawling high-altitude capital, has a problem most metropolises would envy: an abundance of inexpensive electricity.

The vast mountain range that surrounds the city abounds with fast-moving water, and hydropower is far cheaper in Colombia than any other fuel source. So it just makes sense that the municipal government would want to swap expensive, polluting oil for streams of electrons in its transportation system.

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Environmental management

By Chris Turner
Muzzled scientists, junked science.

In March, an Ottawa Citizen reporter named Tom Spears sent a routine request to the National Research Council (NRC). Spears had noticed a joint research project in which the NRC and NASA were studying that quintessential Canadian topic of snow – specifically, what causes it to fall in the quantities and densities it does – and he was hoping to interview a scientist working on the project to gather some more detail. It was a straightforward scientific slice of life story, revealing a little of the trench work carried out mostly without fanfare by the 23,000 scientists on the federal government’s payroll; the NRC’s own media officials characterized it as a “positive/informative” story.

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