I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibilty

Last week I learned that a mechanism exists for voluntarily reporting on corporate social responsibility. Why would any business entity do this? Simple: reporting on the triple bottom line (fiscal; social; and environmental) assists a business in building goodwill and market share. Furthermore, a corporation might also undergo this process to be proactive - after all, reporting on environmental impacts may be legislated in the near future. About 23,000 corporations have filed reports at http://www.corporateregister.com/ . Hearteningly, the suggested format of the report includes energy consumption; greenhouse gas emissons; and biodiversity impacts. This gives one hope for the future .....Thank you Nick Shepard from http://www.eduvision.ca/ .

Queen of Green

The Queen of Green has recipes for cosmetics; gifts; toothpaste; candles and all kinds of environmentally friendly stuff and information at her site. Check it out! Plus her recipes will save you money .... a bonus!

Mining Pollution: Canada and the USA

A federal court recently ruled that Ottawa must (MUST!!!) dislcose the amount and kinds of pollution created by mining companies - including the corporations mining the tar sands of Alberta for oil. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/06/18/edmonton-oilsands-tailings.html Apparently, the data will be provided on line .... a boon to environmental activists! Now if that data includes CO2 emissons as well.... In contrast, the coal mining industry in the USA doesn't have to worry about the federal government disclosing the locations of coal ash dumps in America. The Obama administration is not releasing that information to the American population on the grounds of "national security." http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/18/coal-dump-location-obama-usa
And this decision is in spite of Obama promising less secrecy in government; a burst retaining dam on a coal ash dump in Tennessee; and the rift created between Obama and his environmental supoorters.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Plastic Bags; Disaster; and Hope

I read Bagging by Dan Savage at http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/06/09/bagging . I went to the link provided to read the statement by Achim Steiner (speaking for the UN) that: "single use plastic bags should be banned everywhere. " Next I googled "plastic in oceans" and was astonished, dismayed, horrified, and heartsick. Mr. Steiner is absolutely correct. The plastic in grocery bags and the like does not really biodegrade: it breaks into tinier and tinier particles after the larger chunks chokes turtles and other marine life. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090315224258.htm
Please note the quote from this site: "The frustrating, yet hopeful part aspect is that humans can easily begin addressing the solution, without major lifestyle changes. It's as simple as reducing packaging and moving towards alternative, biodegradable materials and recycling." On how many environmental efforts could we see results without suffering at all? PLEASE use a cloth bag and PLEASE lobby your politicians to force them to ban plastic and paper bags.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Learned a new word today: "grue." Apparently, an object is "grue" if it is green at this point in time but will be blue at some future time. (Mashup: green plus blue equals "grue.") Grue is a word coined by a philosopher (who else?) that "exposes a limit to the reliability of expectation based on experience: observations supporting a belief that something is green equally support its being grue." In other words, the word "grue" lays bare our expectations that life will continue as it always has. Individuals don't usually pay attention to deep time and our culture certainly doesn't take the long view ..... if a week is a long time in politics, then four years to the next election is eternity. In the case of the Easter Islanders, they kept chopping trees down - even though they must have seen they were down to the last hundred trees - the last ten - and then the last one. They were unable to change - and all the while disaster grinned at them from the stumps. And us? Will we be able to stop emitting carbon and heating the planet? Will we be able to love and respect Pachamama and all our relations?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Mormons at my Door

Two children from California(children to my eyes at least) rang my doorbell the other day. They asked if I were religous and what I knew about the Church of Latter Day Saints. I told them I was a spiritual person. I also told them that I had a very large animus against the Mormons . They gaped at me in astonishment as I stated that I would NEVER join a horrible homophobic religion that subjects gay children to child abuse. They protested, prettily, that the Mormon Church was not in the least homophobic! I mentioned that my closest friend, who knew at a very early age that he was gay, was damaged by the teachings of the church. He was told in sermons and church sponsored movie nights that being gay was wrong and sick and evil - and he had in fact, attempted to committ suicide as he believed he was evil after years of church attendance. They said they had NEVER heard of such doctrines . The two "elders" added that it was perfectly acceptable to be gay and a Mormon. Warming to their theme, they said "In fact, gay people will be heterosexual in the after life - if they behaved well in this life. But the Mormon church is against gay marriage." I firmly stated that their's was a disingenuous argument at best . I added that, since they had their feet on Canadian soil - and gay marriage had been legal for some time in Canada - they were pissing into the wind on the marriage argument. Their eyes widened - possibly at the swear word or perhaps at the legal facts of life. When I suggested that they should acquire critical thinking skills and a knowledge of history (especially their own history) , by attending university, they fled . Damn! They left before I mentioned the hetero normative paradigm is an instrument of oppression!

Tim McLean Should Not Have Died on That Bus

Cindy deDelley, Tim McLean's mother, the man who was brutally murdered on the Greyhound bus last summer, is understandably upset and angry. However, her fury is directed at the wrong target: she blames her son's killer, Vincent Li. Mr Li was found not crinimally responsible for the murder as he has schizophrenia. Cindy deDelley believes that Mr. Li should spend the rest of his life in prsion after (and if) he is successfully treated for his mental illness. Would she feel the same way in the following hypothetical situation? If a driver killed her son by running over him after having a heart attack, would Ms deDelley demand the driver be put in prison after he was treated in emerg? I don't think so .....

So why isn't her anger directed at the inadequacies of the mental health system? After all, it is that system that failed to provide Mr. Li with support and monitoring - it is that sytem that failed both Mr. Li and Mr. McLean. Why isn't Ms. deDelley lobbying for the improved delivery of mental health care; quicker and better access to pyschiatric help; and better public education on the nature of mental illnesses?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Climate Wars

Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer
2008 Random House Canada

Gwynne Dyer explores the connections between global warming and war in his latest book, Climate Wars. He asserts that, while writing his book, he discovered that global warming is happening faster than climate models predicted; we will be required to use geo-engineering on a temporary basis to halt climate change while we get our carbon emissions under control; and that, as the global temperature rises, the world will see more human catastrophes including wars – possibly even nuclear wars. Mr. Dyer also suggests that switching to fluorescent light bulbs to slow climate change has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. His book is depressing reading – but it is necessary reading.

Not convinced by the fact that Mr. Dyer has a PhD in War Studies from the University of London and therefore is eminently qualified to extrapolate future threats from current data? You are probably alone in your doubt: more and varied institutions and organizations are taking climate change seriously. For example, The Lancet recently published an article describing the “warming of Planet Earth” as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
In a report called The Right to Survive, Oxfam warns that climate change could “completely overwhelm current capacity to respond to emergencies” by 2015 if the threat of climate change is ignored.
No less august an organization than the World Bank mentions drought (caused and deepened by climate change) in the Middle East as intensifying water disputes between the Palestinians and Israel. “Water disputes” can easily lead to war as Gwynne Dyer describes on page 20 of his book.
Tempted to put your faith in climate change deniers funded by oil companies? View the following video on You Tube for a concise refutation of Canada’s premiere climate change denier, Dr. Ball.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUQAHVQ1Psc&feature=related This site also has a related video on Arctic ice melt …..

Climate change is happening and happening faster than predicted. Read this book and educate yourself on climate change. And then write your MP and lobby for legislation with teeth restricting carbon emissions. Do it soon!