Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy Environment Week! Sustainabile choices gaining traction

Happy Environment Week! Please take part in the commuter challenge, if you haven't already!
  • Week-long event during Canadian Environment Week (June 2  8, 2013)
  • Is a friendly competition between Canadian cities and workplaces
  • Encourages Canadians to leave their cars at home
  • Rewards walking, cycling, carpooling/ride-sharing, taking transit and telecommuting
  • Celebrates active and sustainable transportation
  • Is nationally hosted by Sustainable Alberta Association
  • Is locally hosted by City Coordinators who support workplaces

How it works

  • You register your workplace and/or yourself before the Commuter Challenge week (started in January 2013)
  • You walk, cycle, carpool, take transit or telecommute during the event week
  • To be included in the final results you need to make at least one sustainable commute during Commuter Challenge week; of course you can commute sustainably every day 
  • You log your commute here starting June 2, 2013
  • Registration and logging will be accepted until Wednesday, June 12, 2013
  • While logging see your impacts adding up
  • Tracked impacts are emission reduction, calorie consumption, distance and fuel cost savings
  • Results are updated daily so you can see which workplaces and cities have the highest percentage of healthy commuters
  • To increase the fun you can also encourage your coworkers to take the challenge
Download this coordinator kit for more information:
CommuterChallengeCityCoordinatorKit2013_English

In the spirit of Environment week: I've been happy to read that the media, the economy and consumers are finally understanding the true benefits to viewing our global economy as one big house of cards--and ultimately understanding how a sustainable system works.

The british are making the obvious choice, official!
I have long been deeply concerned about the effect our modern, highly industrialised approach is having on nature's capacity to sustain life on Earth. There is a growing set of alarming problems which, if not addressed with real urgency, will severely affect nature's capacity to keep her life support systems running and thus guarantee the well-being of billions of people around the world.
It is worth bearing in mind that bodies like the UN have produced countless reports showing the damage we have so far been responsible for. In the last half century alone, not only have we depleted over a third of the world's farmable soil, we have so intensified the way we produce food we are now using far more water than we did, even though there is less fresh water available.
In that same 50 years we have also burned down over a third of the world's tropical rainforests and are still doing so - despite the fact that they are actually the lungs of the world. An area the size of a football pitch goes up in smoke every four seconds - that's over 26,000 football pitches a day! As a result, we have destroyed more than 80,000 species on which, did we but know it, we depend for our long term health and welfare. Everything is interconnected.
Thus, because these forests produce billions of tonnes of rainwater every day, we now risk big consequences for our ability to grow all the food we will need to feed what will soon be a global population of nine billion people. And all of these problems are being compounded by climate change, an effect the experts ominously call "a threat multiplier." For many years I have sought to highlight that this all adds up to something far more than an "environmental crisis." We are fast engineering a global economic crisis.
This film demonstrates the work of those initiatives I have set up through which I aim to bring together leaders of organizations and government and those from the corporate world to share their knowledge and forge practical solutions. They range from trying to establish more sustainable fisheries and better ways of managing farming within tropical forests, to the creation of more sustainable approaches to food production and more local forms of food distribution, not to mention clever financial mechanisms that enable global corporations to do things differently for the good of the Earth and for their profits. This is the work of my International Sustainability Unit and of the British Asian Trust.
The film also profiles the Cambridge Programme for Sustainable Leadership, of which I have been patron for 20 years, and the work of a project I established in 2004, called Accounting for Sustainability. This works with the corporate world and within government to ensure we are not battling to meet the challenges of the 21st Century with the decision-making techniques and corporate reporting systems of the 20th Century. If we are to guarantee the well-being of our grandchildren and their grandchildren, then genuine sustainability has to become embedded in the DNA of business and government. As this film shows, without a resilient approach to business and economics, I am afraid we run the risk of bequeathing those who follow us something far worse.
Kudos to HSH the Prince of Whales for (hopefully) starting a chain of action away from an unsustainable and collapsed global economy. Makes me proud to be a product of a Nation of the Monarchy to read this enlightening reality that really needed global leadership to implement. It's one thing to be patriotic and proud of your country--but it's yet another to be ignorant to the idea that a healthy planet and economy require us to think as global citizens (rather than Nationalist citizens). And Prince Charles clearly understands this.

My fingers are crossed that this will move ahead, and bring in the best Environmental this planet has ever seen!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Alberta's Oil Sands, and the Risks associated with Keystone XL


Source TransCanada and Los Angeles Times

Keystone XL pipeline (running from Alberta to ship into the USA) has really been hitting major headlines lately. Of course, Alberta MP Allison Redford is pushing it harder than Salt'n'Pepa did B-side of "Tramp" in '87. She "threatens" [this is my word] USA claiming that that rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration would undermine the economic relationship between the countries... Redford has touted and bragged about her province's $15-tonne tax on carbon for heavy emitters, but her government has also quietly admitted it's falling far, far behind on its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Fred Chartrand  
She's clearly not looking out for the best interest of Albertans (or Canadians) and guess what? They finally realize it! Her popularity is plunging, and approval ratings for oil-lobbyist in a sheep's clothing are at an all time low. Then again: since when to Canadian's really have a say in how their government is run, anyway EH?

I mean: only a year ago Redford promised a three-year, $650-million investment in capital projects for colleges and universities across the province... but by the time Redford rolled out this year’s provincial budget, she had in fact cut the investment in post-secondary capital to $282 million and she slashed $147 million from the post-secondary operational budget. Quite the "progressive" conservative.

What else are progressive conservatives good at? Helping their friends at Big Oil, Inc. After all: Alberta has the world's third-largest reserves of oil. Timing of the Keystone XL project approval conveniently falls within our Conservative Majority reign over trading. The proposed pipeline would carry oil from the Alberta oil sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. So why wouldn't the MP of Canada's biggest oil production province paint the Keystone project as vital not only to Alberta but to Canada’s "national interest"?

Keystone XL Pipeline

A new report by the Cornell University Global Labor Institute concludes exactly what opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have been saying the entire time on jobs and energy security: Jobs claims are overstated and the so-called "energy security" arguments in support of the project are, more or less, fudged.

The idea of energy independence clearly resonates with the American public, and the paid advertisements depicting Canadian Tar Sands as the source of "ethical oil" (and therefore a better option than oil from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia) plays to that sentiment. But KXL is a global project driven by global oil interests. Tar Sands development has attracted investment capital from oil multinationals--with Chinese corporations' stake getting bigger all the time. If approved, KXL will be almost certainly be constructed by temporary labor working with steel made in Canada and India. Much of the Tar Sands oil will be refined in Port Arthur, Texas, where the refinery is half-owned by Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. And a good portion of the oil that will gush down the KXL will, according to some studies, probably end up being finally consumed beyond the territorial United States. Indeed, the oil industry is also trying to build another pipeline, Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway, to carry Tar Sands oil across British Columbia for export to Asian markets, although this pipeline also faces serious public opposition. Clearly, Tar Sands oil and energy independence really do not belong in the same sentence. [source]
Whether you support the unsustainable oil-industry or not, the clarity is beginning to surface among the public--despite Big Oil's attempt at corrupting the media, and misappropriating data figures. The proposal's big benefits focus on arguing that the project would create jobs and economic benefits, while having few environmental risks. Of course: hey don’t claim that the project would be good for water resources, but it's quite clear that any benefits outweigh the risks... for anyone but the oil industry.

I used to think this was a USA (requiring petroleum) vs. Alberta issue but I've come to realize that the American's aren't okay with this idea... labeling Canada as the culprit of many oil spills in the past. It's becoming quite clear to me that the oil lobbyists in the USA have much more control on policies that I had originally suspected. The pros vs. cons on this project proved I had underestimated their power. A bill is currently before Congress that would explicitly remove the presidential permit and put the decision in the hands of pro-pipeline U.S. senators. How is that even allowed? Clearly someone with Big Oil strings attached to big people can propose something like that before congress.

Oil spills via pipelines are one of the biggest risks associated with the Keystone XL project. TransCanada and team are making this risk seem like it's just opposition "fear tactics." "Oh it's very rare..." and "We're taking all precautions necessary to prevent a spill..." is what you tend to hear by pro-KXL project pushers and it was almost beginning to make me question the HIGH RATE of spills I've been reading about... almost...

Last week's news shocked me...



"Enough is enough! How many of these accidents do we need to see before we get serious about phasing out our dependence on this dangerous industry. We have a choice to make between charting a course for our future and our children's future. Saying no to the Keystone XL, Enbridge Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and other proposals means saying yes to safer, healthier communities and getting serious about green jobs that we can feel proud of." -- Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for Forest Ethics Advocacy

Heather Libby outlines the complete timeline here. Mind-blowing, isn't it? That our economy is SO DEAD-SET on ensuring it relies on such a filthy, unsustainable, non-renewable resource. Technology to move past this industry really is there: but lobbyists will crack their whip to make you think otherwise.

This journal entry was written spur-of-the moment to create awareness on the topic, and have you question where your purchasing motivations are. I hope I have opened some more eyes to this issue...



Monday, February 25, 2013

The Horse-Meat Controversy

I'm currently meatless and beginning my week 2 of 4 in protest of this issue. I'm sure you've heard about horse-meat being found in beef products labelled as "beef". There's also skepticism about the issue being "potentially" an issue in North America as well. I'm throwing in my (more than) 2-cents on how I feel, the issue, the news coverage--and of course--the big picture in regards to a sustainable food industry.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today made a statement to the Assembly to update members on the incident regarding the discovery of equine DNA in beef products. ~ Monday, 18 February 2013

...She said: “My Department delivers meat hygiene official controls on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in approved slaughterhouses, and other establishments. Senior officials from my Department and FSA maintain regular formal and informal contact to ensure consistent and effective delivery to the agreed standard, and the FSA performs regular checks and independent audits to ensure the quality of work delivered on its behalf...She said: “The horsemeat controversy has now become a pan-European investigation. An intense investigation into the traceability of the adulterated processed meat products is still underway, and the FSA is working closely with the respective authorities. [Northern Ireland Executive: statement - portion]

 The culprit of the news outbreak


One of the world's best known food companies, the Switzerland-based Nestlé is the latest in a string of businesses that have detected varying amounts of horse—from traces of DNA to 100% meat—in products labeled as "beef." Nestlé admits that it's just a labeling-issue, not a food-safety issue.

The patties had been processed at two plants in Ireland—Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods—and Dalepak Hambleton in the UK. The source of contamination is thought to be from horse-derived high-protein powders from Spain or The Netherlands, not from fresh horse meat, say Irish beef processing group ABP, owner of Silvercrest and Dalepak. Testing is still being done to find out how the contamination took place.
[Serious Eats: Jan 18, 2013 - 3:45 PM]

Where is this happening?

January 18, 2013 the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) revealed that they found horse DNA in frozen beef burger patties sold in the UK and Ireland by major supermarket chains Aldi, Iceland, Lidl, and Tesco. 9/10 patties tested had very low levels of horse DNA, but the patty from Tesco tested for 29% horse DNA.The latest news on the topic in Europe now includes Swedish furniture giant Ikea®--after authorities confirmed Monday that horsemeat had been detected in frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold in 13 countries by the retailer. People love those meatballs, but the outrage continues because apparently they love horses too (but not cows?).

A problem the same in western culture, and my opinion

Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, said while the findings posed no risk to health they did raise concerns.
"While there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products, due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horsemeat in their production process."
He said it was not part of Irish culture to eat horsemeat: "We do not expect to find it in a burger; likewise, for some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable."
[Guardian UK]

A butcher selects horsemeat at his horse butchery shop
in the old city of Nice, France.
Photograph by Eric Gaillard, Reuters
As you may know; I was raised in a German-influenced household and I've visited the country six times. I'm a wildlife activist, and not an animal-activist and I view all of natures creatures equally.

I have in fact consumed horse meat and it's not out of the ordinary in this culture. I personally enjoyed it. I would enjoy any meat (with the exception of human meat) if it was sustainably raised, butchered ethically and safely.

So, the only issues that I can see so far are:
  1. Consumer purchase ethics: there is lack of transparency in the labeling side of things. A consumer has the right to be aware of what they are purchasing. Aware of what they're consuming is another story--western culture lives a lot of their meat-eating lifestyles in an "ignorance is bliss" category anyway--all mass-manufactured meat used in mainstream and fast food facilities is questionable in source and safety. If you're surprised to read this, you need to re-visit your awareness and go to this post for more information.
  2. Consumer safety: antibiotics that aren't safe for human consumption could be inside the meat source. The concern is that there may have been an oversight in introducing horse meat, from unregulated sources, into the meat products. Phenylbytazone "bute", can be given to horses, and it is perfectly legal. However it is not legal (for many reasons) not for horses intended to be slaughtered for human consumption.
Why do consumers in Western culture see one of these creatures more "cute" or
"appetizing" than the other? I can't tell you, because I don't agree.


cute little ponies vs. daisy the cow?
In all honesty: I know many meat-eaters that won't consumer certain meats because they believe they are more "cute" than others. I find this stance hypocritical. This is why I cannot relate, support or even begin to discuss the topic of emotional attachment to "horses" versus "beef". Every animal is precious and sacrifices it's life for a meat-eater; and if a meat-eating-consumer cannot face this fact, perhaps they shouldn't be eating or purchasing meat at all. *steps off soap box*

Nestlé and the relationship with a sustainable food industry

Their history of consumer boycott is nothing new. The company is notorious in this regard. While Nestlé is the "big name" in the spotlight of accountability; there are many other company names ringing around the topic. Silvercrest is one of the plants whose frozen burger patties were found to contain horse DNA over two weeks ago. Names, names dropped everywhere. Where do we hold accountability? Well: Nestlé is a Swiss multinational nutritional, snack food, and health-related consumer goods company headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It is the largest food company in the world measured by revenues. Their list of products and companies is so grand and extensive; I question what product on your grocery shelf ISN'T owned by this company!
Don't be surprised if one of your favourite brands is guilty by association.

Nestlé is another corporate giant that has their hands in as many identities but in the end the money consumers spend on these products ends up in the hands of Nestlé shareholders, executives and the Big Food Industry. As I have mentioned several times---big companies aren't healthy for any industry. Especially the food industry. The bigger the company, the less diversity--and in the big picture--the less choices available for the consumer, and the less accountability or competition held towards the supplier... and standards fall.

Why it might be a good thing

I'm hoping that consumers that are blissfully-ignorant and/or continue to support and purchase from big unsustainable merchants like Wal-Mart, or fast food companies like Burger King, will step back after hearing this story and re-consider their priorities and support the appropriate sustainable and local meat suppliers. The meat industry is--and has been for a while--in serious trouble (XL Foods is another perfect example) and it is up to YOU as the consumer creating demand to change it. It's in your hands, believe it or not!

Added resources:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Idle No More Movement and how it Affects YOU

Happy New Year! Well, I'd like to say it's really "happy" new year but our Nation is in a sad state. I'm personally happy, grateful and embracing each moment--but I feel that my patriotism is being abused. Even if you don't reside up here in Canada, I'm sure you've come across talk of the Idle No More movement.
In my last post of 2012 I expressed my very passionate voice on how I feel that our Conservative Government is on a mission to silence science with the goal of appeasing the petroleum industry. That post also includes a list of what the Harper Government have "accomplished" so far in their anti-science-environmental-strategy encompassing deregulation, cutting information and research and targeting dissenting voices.

Here's a refresher:

  • Repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening the federal environmental assessment process--making the evaluation process almost completely non-existent.
  • Eliminated the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
  • Amended the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act. Primarily to allow the National Energy Board to assume jurisdiction of endangered species or navigable waters in the way of any pipeline--see my post on Northern Gateway Pipeline.
  • Severely weakened the Fisheries Act in the areas of habitat protection and eliminated the marine contaminants program. This is a major industry that much of our Nations' economy relies on!
  • Killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act COMPLETELY, replacing it with the Navigation Protection Act--names are close enough that they hope you will not notice--which effectively makes major pipeline and interprovincial power line projects exempt from requirements for proponents to prove they wouldn't damage navigable waterways.
  • Reduced federal protection of waterways from THOUSANDS to HUNDREDS of water bodies and rivers.
  • Parks Canada is no longer required to conduct periodic environmental audits or management plan reviews.
  • Eliminated funding COMPLETELY for the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment.
  • Eliminated support for the Experimental Lakes Program. (Please support ELA here!)
  • Eliminated funding for a dozen Arctic science research stations. Closed the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory and the Yukon Research Lab.
  • CRUDELY attacked environmental and First Nations organizations for critiquing resource development.
  • Provided the Canada Revenue Agency with an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities. NOT KIDDING.
  • Provided oil companies with unprecedented access to senior government leaders.
  • Muzzled--and even defamed--government scientists who have been conducting research on various climate and environmental issues.
  • Provided unprecedented support to industries to exploit natural resources with minimal environmental oversight

What does this have to do with Idle No More?


It has EVERYTHING to do with the movement. Whether you agree with me or not, Aboriginals have a culture and history of Stewards of the Land and of Nature. Natural resources, pristine wilderness and vast biodiversity are what makes Canada, well, Canada.

I honestly believe that Stephen Harper is relying on Non-First-Nation Canadian-support against the Idle No More movement to help him overcome any opposition to any of his recent overhauls--including Bill C-38. And with the lack of support from non aboriginals? They're letting him win. I applaud the Idle No More movement for putting their foot down, rallying together in large groups NATIONALLY and saying "enough is enough"! These people will no longer stand idle to the abuse of the Conservative party and their plan to sell Canada and the natural resources we should cherish off to other international business'.

I read a great piece today that really simplified the whole issue for me--and hopefully for others that can't see past skin-colour. It's called "Still Don't Know What #IdleNoMore Is About? Here's a Cheat-Sheet" by Gyasi Ross Author; attorney; member of the Blackfeet Nation. Here's my favourite portion of the article:

It's About: PROTECTING THE EARTH. First and foremost, the #IdleNoMore movement is about protecting the Earth for all people from the carnivorous and capitalistic spirit that wants to exploit and extract every last bit of resources from the land. Therefore, anybody who cares about this Earth should be interested in the #IdleNoMore movement. ...It was a response to Canada's Bill C-45, which overhauled the Navigable Waters Protection Act and removed protections for many waters that go through First Nations. Changing the Act literally moves the emphasis of the protection -- it morphs from protecting the waterways to protecting the navigation on those waterways. Now, instead of 30-some thousand lakes being protected under the old Act, only 97 lakes will be protected. As Canadian Parliament Member Kirsty Duncan eloquently states, "The days when Canadians take an endless abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered..."

These mobilized Native people wanted to ensure that children two, three and 12 generations from now would have clean water. The children that will benefit from the Native mobilization are not just Native children it's for all children. Lakes and rivers tend to be either clean or dirty for Native and non-Native children alike.
It's not a Native thing or a white thing, it's an Indigenous world-view thing. It's a "protect the Earth" thing. For those transfixed on race, you're missing the point. The #IdleNoMore Movement simply wants kids of all colours and ethnicities to have clean drinking water. It's also not a "Canada" or "United States" thing.
There is so much about this article I want to quote over, and over again!

Other strong environmental activists have also expressed their support; including one of my favourite people (whom I had the honour of seeing this year), Maude Barlow: national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, who is mailing her Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal back to Gov. Gen. David Johnston on Monday to protest his attitude toward the Idle No More movement.
“Chief Spence and her people are sounding the alarm in a way all our environmental groups have not been able to do,” she said. “The Harper government is putting our land, water and air at risk by taking away the rules and tools that protect our environment.
“I am deeply grateful to the Idle No More Movement and I think every Canadian has to stand up and say thank you to them and support them.” Read more here
It is quite clear that Stephen Harper is treating his title of Prime Minister as a CEO of "The Business of Canada" instead of leading our economy, our people and our identity into a more sustainable direction. Remember: sustainable-choices are in best interests for us now, and for the future. It's becoming more and more apparent that this concept doesn't interest King Harper and he'll stop at nothing to please his business interests.

This is why I encourage you to join, stand with and/or behind this movement. Do you oppose Bill C-45? Then support #IdleNoMore. It can make great strides with democratic support and unity. Without hope, there is no path to change. I hope that Idle No More will succeed in bringing important issues to the table.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Harper Government's battle against Environment

Just today; Elizabeth May posted a very enlightening article to her facebook feed. I hadn't planned on posting until 2013 but this topic is too important to put-off for a couple weeks.

I cannot get over how much my patriotism has dropped recently--and I know, for a fact, that even some Tory-supporters have lost respect for their party since Stephen Harper's fascist take-over and HOC majority. Not only does the Harper Government put the Alberta Oilsands as their number-one priority--they've almost officially put out a war on science altogether.

Don't believe me? Here is a list--thanks to The Star Phoenix--of what the Harper Government have "accomplished" so far in their anti-science-environmental-strategy encompassing deregulation, cutting information and research and targeting dissenting voices:

  • Eliminated Canada's international commitment to mitigate climate change, including the repeal of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
  • Eliminated energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy funding and strategies, while continuing subsidies to fossil fuels--especially in close connection with Alberta.
  • Eliminated funding COMPLETELY for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
  • Eliminated the climate adaptation research group COMPLETELY within Environment Canada.
  • Eliminated scientists in Natural Resources Canada COMPLETELY to study ice core data.
  • Repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening the federal environmental assessment process--making the evaluation process almost completely non-existent.
  • Eliminated accepted criteria for compulsory environmental assessments, leaving such reviews to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and political appointees that have no knowledge or background in Environmental studies whatsoever. I mean: look at our "Environmental Minister" for feck sakes--he's a JOURNALIST!
  • Eliminated the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
  • Amended the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act. Primarily to allow the National Energy Board to assume jurisdiction of endangered species or navigable waters in the way of any pipeline--see my post on Northern Gateway Pipeline.
  • Ended monitoring of smoke stack emissions. YEAH no need to monitor those, eh?
  • Severely weakened the Fisheries Act in the areas of habitat protection and eliminated the marine contaminants program. This is a major industry that much of our Nations' economy relies on!
  • Killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act COMPLETELY, replacing it with the Navigation Protection Act--names are close enough that they hope you will not notice--which effectively makes major pipeline and interprovincial power line projects exempt from requirements for proponents to prove they wouldn't damage navigable waterways.
  • Reduced federal protection of waterways from THOUSANDS to HUNDREDS of water bodies and rivers.
  • Parks Canada is no longer required to conduct periodic environmental audits or management plan reviews.
  • Eliminated funding COMPLETELY for the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment.
  • Eliminated support for the Experimental Lakes Program. (Please support ELA here!)
  • Eliminated funding for a dozen Arctic science research stations. Closed the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory and the Yukon Research Lab.
  • CRUDELY attacked environmental and First Nations organizations for critiquing resource development.
  • Provided the Canada Revenue Agency with an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities. NOT KIDDING.
  • Provided oil companies with unprecedented access to senior government leaders.
  • Muzzled--and even defamed--government scientists who have been conducting research on various climate and environmental issues.
  • Provided unprecedented support to industries to exploit natural resources with minimal environmental oversight
Tumors developing in wildlife associated directly
with Alberta Oil Sands demostrates the major
threat to our biodiversity


Bill C-38 is probably the first thing King Stephen Harper hopes that Canadian's will forget in time for the next election in 2015. It passed through parliament like a hot knife through butter--even with legitimate questions raised by Canadian citizens and MPs alike. There have been omnibus bills before, they say; all’s fair in love, war and politics, they say; why, it’s just Elizabeth May’s slumber party, that’s all.

Even our own Natural Resources Minister--appointed by Stephen Harper--has outright come out and said that Environmentalists threaten to hijack the system. Seriously Joe Oliver? How do you sleep at night. Anyone with HALF a brain can see the only "system" you and your Conservative crew care about is the "system" feeding the facade of Canadian security that relies completely on Alberta oilsands. THAT will only get worse if our Nation doesn't choose to invest in sustainable energy choices.

In an interview on CBC News Network, Oliver said radicals are "a group of people who don’t take into account the facts but are driven by an ideological imperative."
Environmentalist David Suzuki said he was "puzzled" by Oliver's language.
"Environmentalists want to 'live within our means,' 'save some for tomorrow,' think about the 'legacy we leave for our children.' That strikes me as a pretty conservative approach," Suzuki said in a statement sent to CBC's Evan Solomon.
"We have become so powerful and demanding that we are negatively impacting air, water, soil and biodiversity, the very source of our lives and livelihood," the scientist and broadcaster said. "That's what environmentalists are concerned about and the minister's diatribe prevents us from having this important discussion of values and balance."
Dig deeper into these articles and the motivations are clear. The "official" justification is to "create jobs for Canadians". I'm insulted, Joe Oliver. Are redneck oil-working positions the only thing Canadians are capable of? Canadians are innovative! We're passionate! Sadly, we're also passive. We all need to stop bending over for the mercy of the Conservative Government running this no-longer-democracy and speak up! It may not be ideal holiday-meal-conversation; but I encourage you to talk to your friends families about your concern over your break. Ask questions! Let's win Canada back for us, and for future generations.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Health of the Food Industry entering 2013

Genetic Modification and trusting our food industry regulators


Looking into a fresh-new year, we'll still have an ongoing battle with Monsanto and their mission to dominate ownership of essential foods; and alter their genetic structure in ways we're already having difficulties keeping up with. In fact, slow food advocates rejoiced in recognition that an investigation was being launched against Monsanto; only to be told that the Department of Justice "Mysteriously" quits this anti-trust investigation. Without any sort of action whatsoever. Smells fishy to me (and apparently others like grist and mother jones), you?

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to me that the agency had "closed its investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the seed industry," but would divulge no details. "In making its decision, the Antitrust Division took into account marketplace developments that occurred during the pendency of the investigation," she stated via email. I asked what precisely those "marketplace developments" were. "I don’t have anything else for you," she replied.  Monsanto, too, is being tight-lipped—a company spokesperson said the company had no statement to make beyond the above-linked press release.
Here's the above-linked press release mentioned. David Snively, Monsanto’s executive vice president even has the confidence to say the "issue is behind them". HA! Think again. Activists see otherwise and are committed to ensuring the issue will not be dropped.

Activists aren't going to bend over, including those who prepared this movie. Called "Genetic Roulette" by Jeffery M. Smith. As well as many others who will refuse to drop the subject--like you and I!


I trust that people with minds--and independent news sources like Grist that really need your support--will continue to spread awareness and have consumers ask questions. One of my favourite Canadians (whom I recently managed to get a book signed from) has some great points about Monsanto's affects on sustainability as well:

“Because we aren’t certain about the effects of GMOs, we must consider one of the guiding principles in science, the precautionary principle. Under this principle, if a policy or action could harm human health or the environment, we must not proceed until we know for sure what the impact will be. And it is up to those proposing the action or policy to prove that it is not harmful.” David Suzuki via Red Green and Blue
Letting go is not an option when it comes to what we ingest in our bodies, and support with our hard-earned money. Sustainability is becoming more and more a hot topic and fundamentally the solution to the health of all food industries.

Sustainable Ethical Meats


Well, since the XL foods scare that got me all up-in-arms this year; I sadly don't have any quantitative data or information to give you confidence that this will not happen again or that progress has been made. I have to admit that I don't see anything beneficial to the sustainability of the meat industry taking place until the Harper Government (formerly, the Government of Canada) is out of majority in the House of Commons.

Please do your best to purchase your meats as local as possible. Mass manufacturing--and by consumers choosing to purchase and thereby, supporting the companies that do this to our meat industry--is dominant and will not change until we as consumers demand differently. In addition to being crowded, dirty, inhumane, and brimming with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, produce thousands of gallons of liquid waste with a stench that wafts through the air in the surrounding communities practically daily. (Grist) One of the most influential culprits that would suffer from a legitimate consumer boycott is Smiley Face Giant Wal-Mart. In just a few short years, Walmart has become the most powerful force in our food system, more dominant than Monsanto, Kraft, or Tyson. I've boycott them strictly for the last 5 or-so years and I encourage you to do the same!


UPDATE: DECEMBER 6, 2012
According to CBC news, Researchers and forecasters with a legitimate track-record of predicting price hikes say Canadians should expect the price of meat to increase by as much as 10 per cent next year. Why? Well: researchers at the University of Guelph don't outline this as it seems to be part of their 'trade secret' (IE Macroeconomics, the invisible circus created by the IMF) but I personally see this as a good thing. Hopefully this means that people will demand less meat in 2013. Why people think they need to consume meat every single day? Well, I'll save that for another blog post...

Looking at 2013 with a smile

As always, I'll tout my favourite conclusion: Without Hope, there is No Path to Change. Change begins with you and I. Technically speaking: a supply of an industry (or industry practice) cannot survive if there is no demand for it. I encourage you to continue thinking this way with each purchasing decision you make. If you have suggestions for a sustainable topic for me to write about, include a comment!

Hope you have a wonderful, joyous and healthy holiday--all the best in the new year!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sustainability and 2012's 2nd Omnibus Bill

Well, it looks like politics is blog-worthy yet again. I can't express enough how disappointed, terrified and weary I am of our current Conservative Majority in the House of Commons in Ottawa. In addition to Conservative party-members choosing to actually award convicted harassers for being apparent “heroines of humanity” based on their own [IMHO very wrong--but not a technically "sustainable" topic so we won't go there] personal beliefs--they're attempting to pass another very serious bill that will change more than 40 existing Acts--and all without transparency, of course. The new bill C-45 has important implications that will definitely effect the sustainability of our environment, our economy, and our Nations' leadership direction.

Previous Bill 2012 C-38

I remember this bill, and it's media coverage very vividly. I remember the heart-wrenching feeling that electing this Majority government was one of the worst voter-decisions in Canadian history. I remember speaking with friends of mine--who work in environmental science--who were seriously outraged by the negligence involved in passing this bill.
What I am asking is where the hell are professional philosophers in the current political and environmental mess that is Canada? 
For try as I might, I could find no commentaries by bona fide philosophers on the infamous Omnibus Budget Bill (Bill C-38), the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area, characterizing environmentalists as proto-terrorists>, changes to the Fisheries Act, the elimination of Canada’s Ocean Contaminants Program, or opposition of first nations to the Northern Gateway Pipeline
~ Andrew Park, "It's the Ecology, Stupid; Where are the Philosophers?"
That's me, on the far-right!
I attended a large rally to ask for transparency on the matter, and thought maybe the worst was over and our policy makers and scientists in charge of sustainability would be able to tackle this to the best of their abilities. I had hope and faith that this would not destroy the compassion that Canadians have for protecting our environment.

I thought we were at the peak of Canada's destruction of Environmental policies...

 

Bill 2012 C-45


Tabled here, the second Omnibus Bill intended to be passed in 2012 is advertised by the Conservatives as a bill to enact the remainder of the 2012 budget objectives. It is 400-something pages long, and contains significant changes to more than 40 existing Acts, including the controversial elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

The bill kills off independent tribunals that examined things such as hazardous materials in the workplace and set the rates for employment insurance premiums, while making workers pay taxes on their employers' contributions to group health and accident insurance plans.
It also sharply reduces project approvals required under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, sets time limits on worker complaints under the Canada Labour Code and makes additional changes to an Environmental Assessment Act that was essentially rewritten by the Conservative government last spring. ~ CTV

My friend on twitter, Eric Reder, brought this to my attention. I have to admit, I've been a bit sick lately but I've still be following and reading the news. None of this was covered, and it feels as though --just like Bill C-38-- the bill is being gently passed in a non-chelant way that really questions the democratic structure, and long-term sustianability, of our Nations government. As The Wilderness Committee brilliantly stated:
"The introduction of over 100 pieces of Canadian legislation in only two bills is an assault on democracy. Disguising sweeping cuts to environmental regulations is an assault on nature, and on the environment that provides us clean air and clean water, and life itself."
What really gets me (as a non-fascist): is that we require the Conservative party's "permission" to have the opposition express concern on this. How is this democratic? Please tell me. I'd really like to know.

And so would others who retweet it in concern. Our government has to be "willing" to accept amendments to this bill. Like, REALLY? I'm certainly not a rah-rah NDP or Liberal supporter but Primary Opposition views on this seem like common sense.

"The problem with the Conservatives is it's always a take it or leave it approach," Mulcair said.


That's not an approach, that's a Dictatorship. And it's not Canadian.
I wonder: what on EARTH is the point of having other MP's that aren't conservative-minded even sitting in seats on the House of Commons if the Conservative's continue to do this? I'm being serious. This is exactly what people mean when they say our current majority Government is an Assault on Democracy. In all fairness: that's exactly what this is. I feel like

I'm living in a Nation where we're all supposed to line up and get permission to ask questions about national issues? Our government could at least have the decency to not treat their people like idiots and keep us informed. Skeptics and critics suggest the "devil is always in the details" -- and at 457 pages, the omnibus legislation includes lots and lots of them, obviously. Let's see how this sweater unravels...