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!

Search This Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Lands in Atlas

We're discovering and naming new land  - thanks to of climate change.  Mapmakers have deemed a new island that popped up due to ice melt  large enough to be named and included in a new atlas.  You can buythe atlas  at
http://www.timesatlas.com/TimesAtlasRange/Pages/AtlasDetail.aspx?IDNumber=63021 for 110 British pounds on sale.
No , I have not purchased it: I read about it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/15/new-atlas-climate-change .  Naming a new island isn't the only thing that has changed.  From the Guardian:
Sections of the Rio Grande, Yellow, Colorado and Tigris rivers are now drying out each summer. In Mongolia, the Ongyin Gol has been redirected to allow gold mining, while the Colorado river these days does not reach the sea most years. "We are increasingly concerned that in the near future important geographical features will disappear for ever. Greenland could reach a tipping point in about 30 years," said Jethro Lennox, editor of the atlas.
How long is Canada going to do absolutlely nothing about climate change?
Forever, if we don't generate the political will to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Climate change is a pyschological issue - not an environmental issue.   Win -win solutiosn exist ( you save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions) but collectively we don't implement them.   Denial is such a cozy blanket .....
Check out the site below and be arrested in Ottawa on September 26, 2011 (after taking the train to get there!)  if you're tired of writing letters.
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/krystalline-kraus/2011/08/activist-communiqu%C3%A9-ottawa-tar-sands-action-call-out-%E2%80%93-sept

UPDATE:
Apparently the atlas is published by Rupert Murdoch - and is inaccurate.  Quelle surprise!   However, climate change is happening in the Arctic - and Canada should be taking steps to prevent and mitigate climate change.  Even if Rupert Murdoch's empire publishes inaccuarate information. ....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The March of Folly

What happens when ideology trumps science - and common sense?  Armageddon, apparently.


An update from the Texas Forest Service yesterday, Sept. 7, 2011.

"Yesterday Texas Forest Service responded to 19 new fires for 1,490 acres, including new large fires in Red River and Rusk counties. In the past seven days Texas Forest Service has responded to 172 fires for 135,051 acres."  http://tfsweb.tamu.edu/main/article.aspx?id=12888
Oooooh.  Scary stuff.  And look at their drought index:  Texas is dryer than clothes hung out to dry on a windy summer day.








No wonder fires are  burning and have been burning for a long time. 



"Wildfires are burning across central Texas right now, the product of an historic drought and high winds from Tropical Storm Lee. An estimated 3.6 million acres have been scorched since November, with the flames approaching the city limits of Austin; damage is expected to exceed $5 billion. In the macro-sense, this is climate change-caused problem, with Texas' climate set to become dryer and dryer over the ensuing decades, making extended droughts the new norm."
Please note that's November  of 2010 !!!!  These Texas fires are not merely nature gone mad:  humans have contributed to the outbreak.  How?  That's where belief systems came in ....
"Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, scoffs at the notion of human-induced climate change, even suggesting recently on the campaign trail that scientists are manipulating data to make money. He also has declared a weather-related state of emergency every month since December. Meanwhile, Texas' state climatologist has warned that his fellow citizens should get used to this climate of extremes."


Not only does Mr Perry scoff at the reality of climate change while Texas dries out around him, and refuse to discuss action on climate change, he has slashed firefighters' budgets.
"The state of Texas has been battling wildfires for almost a year now. The wildfire season began in November last year, and Gov. Rick Perry and cash-strapped state lawmakers took a stance against raising taxes and against putting their hands too deeply into the states rainy day fund. So in order to save some money, Perry and GOP allies slashed funding for the agency responsible for fighting wildfires ‑ in the midst of a historic wildfire season that's seen more than 2 million acres burned by fire. The Texas Forest Service is slapped with about $34 million in budget cuts over a two-year period, which is roughly a third of the agency's total budget."
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/210134/20110907/texas-wildfires-2011rick-perry-cut-firefighters-budget-texas-forest-service.htm


Why on earth slash government budgets for essential services when one could raise taxes?  Belief systems - less government good - taxes bad.


Perhaps someone should hand Mr Perry a copy of The March of Folly by Bbarbara Tuchman. 



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Great Green Transportation Tune-UP

Great Green
TRANSPORTATION  TUNE-UP
Travel $marter, Live Better
The Kamloops 350 Environmental Association, is partnering with the City of Kamloops and BCSEA to present the Great Green Transportation Tune-up from September 26 to October 1, 2011. 
The Great Green Transportation Tune-Up is a week of events that provides Kamloops residents with many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. By promoting vehicle efficiency, removing barriers to transit use and providing fun ways for citizens to "test-drive" alternative modes, the Tune-Up will increase overall awareness of the issues and facilitate an eventual transition to a sustainable transportation future. 

The Great Green Transportation Tune-Up will:
·         Encourage residents to increase the efficiency of our vehicles through maintenance, trip reduction strategies and carpooling,
·         Increase familiarity with our City's transit options by providing incentives and free access,
·         Promote alternative modes of travel; including walking, cycling, and other "clean " ways of getting around, and
·          Give residents a chance to dream a bit about what an ideal future Kamloops transportation system might look like.

Activities include:
·         The Reel Sustainability Film Fest on Friday, September 23 to Saturday, September 24, 2011 at TRU. (There are too many movies to list individually.)
  • How to Boil A Frog will be shown Tuesday , September 27 in the evening - downtown at the Paramount or at TRU. (venue uncertain at this time.)  
  • BCSEA will present a panel discussion on "The Future of Transportation" at TRU on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.  Panelists are John Kenney and Erin Felker.
  •          The Transit Treasure Hunt - participants become eligible for prizes as they travel the City by bus all week, picking up clues as they go.
  •          Tire pressure checking mobs will distribute vehicle efficiency information at parking lots everywhere.
  •          The Green Your Transportation Pledge - if you reduce your vehicle use by car pooling, biking, walking, or taking transit for one week, you will be eligible for prizes. 
  •          Cool Wheels - a  show featuring hybrid & electric cars, and one solar car,  as well as scooters and bikes.
  •          The Transportation Imagination Station -   a place where people can describe their vision of a sustainable Kamloops.
  •          Bike , Bus or Boogie challenge - a multi-modal challenge where each participant uses a different means of transportation to complete a set of errands.
Check it out at     http://www.kamloops350.com/

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Jack Layton: 1950 -2011




    May your vision not perish from the earth: may love, hope and optimism increase.  Rest in peace.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Problems with Agriculture

    I recently posted - muttering to myself- about the lack of discussion on climate change in the media.  As I stated earlier, Al Jazeera ia an exception.  Dahr Jamal wrote an aricle on July 4, 2011 entitled The Decline of Agriculture?  You can find it at http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/07/201173114451998370.html
    Ze starts with a warning from the Food and Agriculture Organisation about the delterious effects climate change will have on agriculture and hence, on human eating. The FAO warned that climate change will reduce food production, and therefore, cause millions of people to go hungry - or starve.  (The author also quotes the US National Climate Data Center as saying that April 2011's weather extremes were unprecedented.  Don't worry , the relevance of this point will be apparent later on.)
    Ze then moved into a discussion of current agricultural practices.  Our industrail agribusiness methods are apparently quite disastrous.  Dahr Jamal quotes Dr. Bomford, a plant and soil scientist, as saying
    Clearing land for farming releases carbon into the atmosphere and that contributes to climate change.  Then by farming it, using cultivation causes soil to be lost in wind and erosion, and that topsoil took thousands of years to from.  One extreme weather event can cause us to lose thousands of years of soil.
    Please see the comment above on April's weather extremes and picture such extremes becoming the new normal as predicted by climate change models. Goodbye soil.  Goodbye cheap plentiful food.
    Cultivation istn't the only problem with our agriculture. Our use of fertilizers derived from petroleum is also problematic. Dr Ryerson is quoted as follows:
    The world's agricultural systems rely substantially on increasing use of fertilizers.  But now, the world's farmers are witnessing signs of a declining response curve, where the use of additional fertilizer yields little additional food product. At the same time, fertilizers and intensive cropping lower the quality of soil. These factors will more and more limit the possibilities of raising food production substantially and will, at a minimum, boost relative food prices and resulting hunger for many.
    Looks like starvation is on the menu for many of us as food isn't going to be!   Weirdly, our penchant for large agribusiness - huge industrial farms - isn't a logical choice when one considers productivity. The bigger the farm , the less productive it is. Astonishing fact, isn't it?  "Vandana Shiva....points to reams of studies by universities, the UN and FAO showing that the most productive form of agriculture is not our modern, tractor-serviced, big field monocultures, but multilple crop..., manual labour intensive smallholdings."  (page 170, Good News For A Change, Suzuki and Dressel.) In  fact, the UN came out with another report called Agroecology and the Right to Food which urged that we shift towards agro-ecology in order to deal with the problems of hunger, climate change, and poverty.
    As defined by the UN, agroecology "applies ecological science to the design of agricultureal systems taht can help put an end to food crises and address climate change and poverty challenges.  It enhances soils productivity and protects crops agaisnt pests by relying on the natural environment such as benefical trees, palnts, animals, and insects."   Sounds like organic gardening to me.  But whatever agroecology sounds like, it is a multiple crop system that relies on manual labour - and it is incredibly productive. 
    Even more weirdly, governments have ignored the facts and chosen to subsidize agribiz instead of small family farms. Even worse, in Canada the federal government has had a settled and considered policy of squeezing small holders out of existence.  "During the late 1960s, the federal government instigated a major study into the future of Canadian agriculture. The study concluded that there were too many farmers in Canada (emphasis mine) and recommended that approximately two-thirds of them be eventually eliminated (page 94, Writing Off The Rural West, editors Roger Epp and Dave Epson..)

    So the Canadian government chose to encourage large farms that require massive inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; that destroy the soil; increase greenhouse gas emissions; and are actually less productive than small holdings.   These existing  problems with agribusines are now exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    The Arrogance of the Elite



    A succinct (relatively) video from the UK Guardian explaining the triggers and consequences of phone hacking by the News of the World.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    A Green Roof

    A green roof has many advantages.  Advantages of a green roof include that they:
    • are aesthetically pleasing
    • reduce city "heat island" effect
    • reduce carbon dioxide impact
    • reduce summer air conditioning cost
    • reduce winter heat demand
    • lengthen roof life by two to three times
    • remove nitrogen pollution in rain
    • neutralize acid rain effect
    • reduce noise
    • reduce stormwater runoff
    • provides songbird habitat (list  from http://horticulture.psu.edu/cms/greenroofcenter/history.html )
    Carbon sequestration may be one of the most important effects of a green roof.
    Using plants to do this is referred to as terrestrial carbon sequestration. Through the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in biomass. If net primary production of these ecosystems exceeds decomposition, then these systems become at the very least a short term sink for carbon. http://www.hrt.msu.edu/greenroof/
    So, if you are building or renovating, consider installing a green roof.  Your new abode might look
    like this! (  It is the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.  Yes, that is a building under that greeneery!)  Even if it doesn't, you will have created a positve example  and energy in the world.




    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Climate Change Bad and Getting Worse

    Al Jazeera and the UK Gaurdian seem to be the only media outlets that talk about climate change. Al Jazeera points out that it is bad and getting worse:
    So far human greenhouse gas emissions have raised the temperature of the planet by one degree Celsius.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/2011622132049568952.html
    The Al Jazeera article goes on to list impacts felt RIGHT NOW - including high food price - floods -wildfires - loss of biodiversity - and  acidifying oceans. Meanwhile, the UK Guardian has created a huge FAQ on climate change in the hopes of educating people.  Find it at  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/series/the-ultimate-climate-change-faq

    Media in Canada don't seem to pay attention to climate change - and  Canada's politicians do nothing.  The Conservatives  do nothing - and are reviled for it - but the Liberals signed the Kyoto Accord and then did dick-all as well.   Why?   Well , Stephan Dion was soundly punished at the polls for presenting a green platform that took climate change seriously.  Therefore, presumably our politicains do nothing because we don't really want them to take action.  We  aren't  exactly rioting in the streets,are we?  ( Well, we're not rioting  because we're worried about the impacts of climate change.)

    Denial ain't just a river in Egypt!   And arguing with people in denial ends up reinforcing their defenses - what's a poor activist to do?  Work through ready made communities - church groups - chambers of commerce -  etc and tailor your message to the group.

    And work on yourself - meditate - and work on seeing everyone in the world as connected to everyone and everything - and as worthy of your love. Then, when you carry out your activism, you will do so with loving kindness  and compassion.  I think it's the only chance we've got.....

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Low Arctic Sea Ice

    Arctic Sea ice volume in 2010 was the lowest on record, with 60% missing in September 2010 compared to the average from 1979-2010


    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Oceans of Trouble



    Think of the collapse of the cod fishery in Newfoundland - and then say the imminent crash of the oceans doesn`t matter to humanity.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Canada's Use of Agent Orange

    Listen carefully - Canada didn't ban the use of Agent Orange until 1985!



    Video from Al Jazeera - an excellent source of news.

    And , apparently, Agent Orange was used country-wide.  Whatthehell???!!!!  I had an epiphany - and posted about it - early last year. 

    A repost of what I wrote then seems to be appropriate today.

    I witnessed a soul retrieval healing for a friend recently. While my friend and the healer were journeying, the beat of the drum proved almost hypnotic. I wrote the following:


    The healer suggested "outside, in nature find a stick...."
    Are we not nature?
    Not if we live in a linear world - a poverty stricken world without mess, change or growth.
    And we do everything we can to destroy life and growth: spiders, bacteria, mice ....
    We clean furiously,
    lay traps,
    sweep away cobwebs...
    and we spray pesticides and weedkiller outside.
    We detest life. We detest change.
    We wish to end the cycle of life - death - life.
    Oh - to be a machine......
    We are not machines.
    We are life. Stardust . Divinity. Energy.
    We scintillate and shimmer and dance and coruscate and change and
    die and are born once more.
    From this we create balance.
    We are ordered tension.
    Crystals growing - decaying - shifting - changing.
    When we prevent change we prevent life.
    We wish to die - permanently.
    That is why we try to kill Gaia.
    We desire sterility.
    Complete.
    Utter.
    Final.
    END.
    No change. When we achieve that, we too will be gone.
    We want that. We hate ourselves.
    If we learn to love ourselves, we will save the world.
    She is a part of us - we are a part of her -we need her.
    So -
    when we are healed of self hatred, we will be healed of world hatred.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Environmental Regulation

    Environmental regulation is often cast as a burden on business. Clean air standards smother firms in red tape and stifle economies already facing tough times, opponents say. But what if environmental protection actually boosted economic performance? A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that reducing ground-level ozone (a main component of smog) significantly improved worker productivity. “Our results indicate that ozone, even at levels below current air quality standards in most of the world, has significant negative impacts on worker productivity, suggesting that the strengthening of regulations on ozone pollution would yield additional benefits,” the authors note.

    How big are those benefits? A back of the envelope calculation suggests that a 10 ppb reduction in the EPA’s ozone standard would translate into an annual cost savings of $1.1-billion, Mr. Neidell said.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/why-environmental-red-tape-may-be-good-for-business/article2042951/

    Economic benefits from smog free air at ground level?  Who'd have thought clean air could improve productivity?

    Perhaps  Robert Owen would have thought so. - he bought a mill named New Lanark quite some time ago.  A couple of hundred years or so....
    New Lanark became celebrated throughout Europe, with many leading royals, statesmen and reformers visiting the mills. They were astonished to find a clean, healthy industrial environment with a content, vibrant workforce and a prosperous, viable business venture all rolled into one. Owen’s philosophy was contrary to contemporary thinking, but he was able to demonstrate that it was not necessary for an industrial enterprise to treat its workers badly to be profitable. Owen was able to show visitors the village’s excellent housing and amenities, and the accounts showing the profitability of the mills.
    His ideas didn't spread even though he prospered while and becuase he treated his employees well .( For one thing, he paid them in coin of the realm instead of in tokens.   For another , he didn't employ children of three.) 

    Often, ideology trumps our own interests - and we behave in self-defeating ways.

    It would be in our long term  interests to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Why don't we?

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    We Can Do Things Differently

    We can do things differently - we've proved that in the past. 

    The British made the slave trade illegal.  In 1807.  And abolished slavery in most of the Empire in 1833.  Of course, the pro-slavery lobby worked furiously to prevent this.

    Arguments made then against abolishing slavery have a curiously modern tone.
     The most approved Judges of the Commercial Interests of these Kingdoms have been of the opinion that our West-Indian and African Trades are the most nationally beneficial of any we carry on... That Traffic alone affords our Planters a constant supply of Negro Servants for the Culture of their Lands in the produce of Sugars, Tobacco, Rice, Rum, Cotton, Fustick, Pimento and all our other Plantation Produce: so that the extensive Employment of our other Shipping in, to and from America, the great Brood of Seamen consequent thereupon, and the daily bread of the most considerable of our British Manufactures, are owing primarily to the Labour of Negroes. http://gallery.nen.gov.uk/audio78797-abolition.html
    In other words, the writer of the pamphlet arguing for slavery felt that British manufacturing was uneconomic without the slave trade.   Of course, he was wrong.

    The folks arguing that it is uneconomic to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are wrong as well. 
    Current economic difficulties presented an opportunity not a hurdle to move towards a low carbon economy, said Lord Stern, an economist at the London School of Economics who authored an eponymous report in 2006 on the costs of climate change. "The case for urgent action is not just powerful, its also attractive," he said, adding that emerging countries such as China had increasingly grasped this while others, like the US, were moving backwards. http://euobserver.com/884/31778

    So please reduce your own greenhouse gas emissions.  Educate others - with loving kindness.  And lobby your politicians.

    PS I started thinking about doing things differently when I read the following article in the Globe and Mail. 
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/radar-like-inner-vision-helps-blind-learn-to-navigate-beyond-preconceived-limits/article2035203/
     Daniel Kish has no eyes, but can ride his bike down the street and walk through an unfamiliar airport on his own. 

    OK - Now I'm Depressed.



    The video is from Al Jazeera.  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/05/2011530195212675595.html

    Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.  The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" – is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/29/carbon-emissions-nuclearpower?intcmp=122
    Sigh ......well, no point in being depressed.  It won't help. 

    So ------Write your Congressperson - MP - Senator - and tell them this is a serious problem and we expect decisive leadership - not a craven grovelling at the feet of the fossil fuels industry. 

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Slave Lake

    The fire storm that decimated Slave Lake was incredibly traumatic for the residents. 
    "It looked like the whole town of Slave Lake was on fire," said Courtorielle, who grew up in Slave Lake. "It was like it was out of a horror movie. I have never in my life seen anything like this."  http://www.edmontonsun.com/2011/05/16/resident-recalls-fleeing-slave-lake

    It has happend before - in BC - in 2003.


    Photo appropriated from http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2003/2003-08-25-01.html

    And it will happen again. And again. and .... you get the idea.  Climate change models suggest that boral forests will be more susceptible to fire as the climate heats up.


    The forests are getting warmer and drying out, becoming more fire-prone; they’re being hit by more lightning storms, which start 35 per cent of fires; and they’re being attacked by the mountain pine beetle, which is migrating steadily eastward, killing trees and making them more flammable.  “I think it’s consistent with what we expect from climate change. We’ve already seen increases in fire activity in Canada,” said Mike Flannigan, a University of Alberta wildland fire professor and Canadian Forest Service researcher.Almost annually, we’re crossing new [fire] thresholds,” said Brian Simpson, director of B.C.’s Wildfire Management Branch. “All the numbers speak to it.”h
    ttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prairies/slave-lake-shows-the-increasing-risk-of-serious-forest-fires-experts-warn/article2030715/page2/

    So what's the solution?   
    Population sprawl, the pine beetle and climate change are all affecting the fire season, Mr. Simpson said. And bigger fires release more carbon, fuelling a degrading cycle. Slowing climate change is the best long-term solution, Dr. Flannigan said. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prairies/slave-lake-shows-the-increasing-risk-of-serious-forest-fires-experts-warn/article2030715/page2/
    The Alberta governemnt  still seem to be living in denial, however .


    Officials in Alberta, however, aren’t so quick to link their increasing forest fire problem to climate change.
    “I wouldn’t relate [Slave Lake] to a situation where we’re suggesting that climate change is an issue going forward. I’d relate it to a one-off,” said Mel Knight, Alberta’s Minister of Sustainable Resource Development.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/prairies/slave-lake-shows-the-increasing-risk-of-serious-forest-fires-experts-warn/article2030715/page2/
     
    One - off situation, huh?    Does the fact that the Alberta government uses the royalties from oil and gas skew their view?  How many folks have to be evacuated in the nick of time before denial becomes impossible? 

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    The New Normal

    Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a "new normal" of extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government planners said on Wednesday.

    It's a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we're seeing," climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters. "We are used to certain conditions and there's a lot going on these days that is not what we're used to, that is outside our current frame of reference," Hayhoe said on a conference call with other experts, organized by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.Hayhoe, other scientists, civic planners and a manager at the giant Swiss Re reinsurance firm all cited human-caused climate change as an factor pushing this shift toward more extreme weather.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/floods-droughts-extreme-weather-us_n_864046.html
    So when will we, as a society , act on ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions?    Are we just going to keep living in denial?

     Write your Member of Parliament and ask them to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.  Hell, ask them to start riots in the streets  - we should be very concerned about the world our children will live in.

    Maybe This is Why the Canadian Government Does Nothing

    That’s because global warming has the potential to be a boon for profit seekers. The reason: a hotter climate could undermine crops, leading to smaller harvests and higher prices.  By studying temperature and yield records from 1980 to 2008, the team of academics from Columbia University and Stanford University estimated that the global trend to warmer temperatures has led wheat yields to be 5.5 per cent lower than they would have been had the climate been stable, and corn yields to be 3.8 per cent lower.

    The reduction spread out over the world was the equivalent to losing the annual corn harvest from Mexico and the wheat harvest of France.  There was upside for Canadian farmers from the research. In their number crunching, the researchers noted no effect on yields in Canada and the U.S., because temperatures haven’t risen in those countries as they have elsewhere around the globe. “Pretty much every climate model says that [North American farmers] will get warming too,” but it has not yet been affected by the trend, Dr. Schlenker said.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/warming-trend-could-prove-boon-to-canadian-farming/article2015895/
    Some boon - higher food prices - more hunger.  And, as a commenter on the Globe and Mail site said  "The economic consequences of the instability created when other nations face declining crop yields and difficulty feeding all of their citizens is more likely than not to offset any benefits. One only has to look back to the the economic meltdown two years ago to see how bad things "over there" can cause havoc here."

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    The Ethics of Climate Change

    I am a Unitarian Universalist.   Recently , our minister preached  - yes, big surprise - that's what ministers do!  She explored  the subject of " neighbours."

    Well, I believe that we are all connected - people, animals, insects, viruses, plants, fungi, stars - you get the idea.   So my answer to the question "Who is  my neighbour? "   is -  everyone and everything.  Therefore, it behooves me to look after my nieghbour - or not to actively harm them.   Therefore, I must  act to prevent  climate change as well as work to persuade others of the necessity of acting.

    I'm not the only person who has arrived at this conclusion.
    Climate change is changing our world. Not only is it changing our physical world, but also our intellectual, social, and moral worlds, in ways that we could not have imagined a  generation or two ago. The science of climate change, and the political impasses associated  with dealing with it, demonstrate that we are in a profoundly unsafe, interdependent, and uncertain world....[Therefore] be willing to take an ethical stand on climate change.  There is no place to hide form this....Regard economics as being about provisioning - that is, the way socities organize themselves to provide for the sustaining and flourishing of life. http://www.e3network.org/papers/Ethics_and_the_Economist_033111.pdf
    So what do I do to live ethically and to prevent and mitigate climate change?

    Little and big - in no particular order:
    • I walk to work.  If you cannot do that, take transit.  Or car pool! If everyone drove to work with one aother person, you'd reduce vehicles on the road by one -half and greenhouse gas emissions accordingly.
    • I shop at the local farmers' market and freeze and preserve food  for the winter.  Trucking and flying goods generates a lot of greenhouse gases.
    • I am a vegetarian.  Eating meat raised in the agri biz is not only cruel to animals, and  destructive to the environment,  but the industry  generates almost 20 % of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
    • I buy fair trade food.  (OK - it's trucked in  -but at least shade grown coffee doesn't destroy the environment. And as soon as I find coffee that arrives om the Bluenose, I'll buy that.)
    • We have cut our electrical bill to one- half its former total by turning off lights/ appliances/ clock radios  and installing CFLs.  We replaced our washer , dryer , and dishwasher with European models that use very little electricity or water.
    • We(me and my partner)  turn our heat backto 15 C at night and up to 17 C during the daytime.  Walking around in a sweater isn't a hardship.  And snuggling is fun!
    • We installed a solar hot water heater.   Lots of susnshine in the Interior of BC.
    • We don't fly anywhere.
    • I write letters to politicans and urge them to to take action on climate change ( and perahps salvage Canada's reputation in the process.)  
    • We donate to climate action groups.
    • We help organize climate change rallies and vigils - in fact, we volunteer a lot of time.  Not only do we work for a good cause, we enlarge our community of friends.  And have fun.
    • I educate myself  on the issue and on the psychology of climate change denial.
    • I meditate to grow my loving kindness and to generate more love in the world.
    Anyone can do some of these things.  I / we didn't begin by doing all of them at once. Just begin! 

    If you can only choose one, please choose creating more love in the world - for yourself as well as all others. After all, Gandhi said  "Be the change you want to see in the world."   I say once we learn to love the world and ourselves, we will not destroy it  - we will  create a velvet climate revolution.

    PS The picture was taken at a candlelight vigil for the Copenhagen Conference - the action was suggested by the folks at
    http://www.350.org/             Check the website out - lots of ideas for actions in the fall of 2011.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Look Your Last On all Things Lovely


    Globally warmer seas, rising carbon dioxide emissions and local factors like over-fishing have pushed the threat level on the world's coral reefs into the danger zone, environmental advocates said on Wednesday. "Mounting pressures on land, along the coast and in the water converge in a perfect storm of threats to reefs," Jane Lubchenco, administrator at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said at a briefing. "Since the last 'Reefs at Risk' report ... threats have gone from worrisome to dire." "It's pretty clear that reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, is absolutely necessary if we want any hope of preventing a lot of the dire situations that are presented in the report," Lubchenco said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/23/us-climate-reefs-idUSTRE71M5TL20110223
    Looks like we won`t have coral reefs in our future unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    We're Going to Court

    More accurately, the BC provincial government is going to face off with the Canadian federal government. The federal government wnats to shut down the safe drug injection site on the DowntownEasatside  - Insite.

    Located in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the Insite facility has a dozen cubicles where approximately 800 addicts per day come to inject themselves. The addicts arrive with their own drugs, unimpeded by the police, who have agreed to give them safe passage in and out of the clinic. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-ottawa-head-to-top-court-over-supervised-injection-site/article2016011/
    But Insite works !  Not only does it save the lives of injection drug users, it provides addictions counselling and referrals to detox.
    Marjorie Brown, the legal counsel representing the BCNU at the Supreme Court, noted Insite users are 30 percent more likely to access treatment than drug users who do not use the facility.
    http://www.straight.com/article-391894/vancouver/bc-nurses-argue-support-insite-supreme-court
    And Insite prevents HIV infections.  In fact,
    A report released by B.C.'s chief medical officer in March recommended that efforts to prevent HIV infection among injection drug users, such as supervised injection services, be expanded. http://www.straight.com/article-391894/vancouver/bc-nurses-argue-support-insite-supreme-court
    So Insite prevents deaths from drug overdoses,, helps prevent the transmission of HIV (and subsequent cases of AIDS,) and provides referrals to detox.  Why does Mr Harper's government want it shut down?
    ...federal prosecutors insist that the Supreme Court must not let provinces meddle with federal criminal law powers by creating a legal oasis for people who voluntarily consume drugs.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-ottawa-head-to-top-court-over-supervised-injection-site/article2016011/
    In other words, saving lives is much less important than ensuring that the federal government's jurisdiction over criminal legislation is upheld.

    Addiction is an illness - not a moral failing. Laws are made for people - and both they and a government's area of jusidiction can be changed . Let`s hope the Supreme Court sides with the province of BC in this case.
    UPDATE:
    Five former mayors of Vancouver, plus current Mayor Gregor Robertson, have united in a heartfelt call to the Conservative government to end its strong opposition to the city’s Insite facility, North America’s only supervised injection site.  “Since opening in 2003, Insite has proven – beyond a doubt – its worth to our community,” says their open letter, signed by former mayors Sam Sullivan, Larry Campbell, Philip Owen, Mike Harcourt and Art Phillips.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-politics/feds-urged-to-drop-anti-insite-stance/article2017218/

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Food Budget Ever Expanding?

    Spending more money at the grocery store?  Notice that your food budget is consuming more of your income?  It's not your imagination....
    Prices for food purchased from stores rose 3.7% in March [2011] , the largest year-over-year advance since August 2009. This increase follows a 2.0% gain in February [2011].   http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/cpi-ipc/cpi-ipc-eng.htm
    You can blame climate change food price increases.

     new research joins a small number of studies in which the fingerprint of climate change has been separated from natural variations in weather and other factors, demonstrating that the effects of warming have already been felt in the world..... scientists found that global wheat production was 33m tonnes (5.5%) lower than it would have been without warming and maize production was 23m tonnes (3.8%) lower. Specific countries fared worse than the average, with Russia losing 15% of its potential wheat crop, and Brazil, Mexico and Italy suffering above average losses. ...The losses drove up food prices by as much as 18.9%. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/05/food-prices-global-warming?intcmp=122

    I predict food prices will continue to increase.  We don't seem to be worried about climate change - at least not enough to take  steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions .  So cliamte change will bite harder and harder - and food wil increase in price drastically.  Chew on that thought while you complain about your budget.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Voting System Problems



    A visual representation of First Past the Post voiting systems - and a reason Mr harper won the election on May 2, 2011.  The Conservatives won 167 seats (out of 3080 with 39.6 % of the popular vote.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    A Comment By a Friend

    May 2nd was a great night for the NDP: JackLayton  finally got  his break.  It was a great night for democracy: Elizabeth May now has a chance  to be heard.  (Just try excluding her from the debates now!)   And perhaps the Greens will  get more members elected next time around.   BUT !!!! What were the voters thinking to  to give Harper a Majority?  The voting public must Really not give a shit for social justice,the environment, or our global reputation. ,  We could easily be an innovator  in green solutions and we're falling behind  the US and China.  SAD, So SAD.....



    I for one feel a deep sense of shame being a Canadian - I feel this is not a day to be celebrate.  We have truly chosen an elected Dictator.  Can you say  "Drill, Baby ,Drill?"  I truly feel we have elected  a Republican- style Government.  W only need look south of the 49th to see the results of the policies in place to get a glimpse of the path we have chosen......

    SAD, So SAD.....

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Save Your Energy



    It's a British made video - but a fun way to learn about conserving energy. 

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    A Week is A Long Time In Politics

    I've never seen anything like the turnaround in the polls for Jack Llayton and the NDP party.  (Well - maybe once - the Progessive Conservatives did get their asses kicked in 1993.  Remember when Jean Charest and Elsie Wayne could hold caucus meetings in a phone booth?)

    But why now?  Rick Mercer has been wondering the same thing - and puts it down to TV.
    At first I believed Jack’s new-found success among anglophone voters in Quebec could be attributed to the fact that in the French language debates his translator sounded like Sean Connery, but clearly it’s more than that. And while the crowds are larger than Jack is used to, Jack is doing exactly what he has done for almost a decade. I watched him get a rock-star response at a Sikh Khalsa Day celebration in Toronto, I saw him talk blue-collar issues for a boisterous crowd in Saint John, N.B., and finally parlez-vous them into a frenzy in Gatineau, Que....And Jack Layton is a great campaigner but a good speech in Gatineau doesn’t put the NDP in first place in Quebec. Jack made that happen on French debate night. Again, it’s the air war.
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/28/is-stephen-harper-a-hologram/
    I don't think it is only TV though.  The Conservatives underestimated the voters - you and me.
    Many pollsters, and some insiders from other parties, entered this campaign sharing the belief that the vast majority of voters aren’t really in play.Then, after the leaders’ debates, all hell broke loose. Starting in Quebec, then spreading to other provinces, support started shifting toward the NDP – not just in tiny blocs, but in large numbers. If the polls are to be believed, millions of voters have moved to a party that was assumed to have hit its ceiling in the last campaign.  It is not Conservative voters, primarily, who have shifted. In Quebec, where Mr. Layton has for years been courting left-of-centre and soft nationalist voters, the NDP capitalized on fatigue and annoyance with the Bloc Québécois. Elsewhere, the gains have mostly come at the expense of the Liberals and the Green Party.  But the Conservatives, who thought they had this election fully gamed out, have not been nimble enough to respond. They have watched as anti-Harper support has consolidated behind the NDP, putting in jeopardy some of the seats they were counting on, and until the last few days seemingly refused to believe it was happening. And because they didn’t think it was worth speaking to most self-identified supporters of other parties, they’ve been unable to woo many of the disaffected Liberals leaving that party in droves..... And in future campaigns, all parties will know better than to treat us as quite the automatons the Conservatives thought we were.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/why-this-campaign-has-been-a-boon-to-democracy/article2004853/
    The  shift in polling patterns  happened after the debates -  so perhaps Rick Mercer is correct about the "air war.".   But some of the effect has  to have been achieved by the Conservatives themselves - not talking to supporters of other parties - not permitting people without an approved Facebook profile into Conservative rallies - working from fear rather than from hope.

    And, perhaps the many times the Liberals propped the Conservatives up by voting with them has come back to bite them  or maybe Jack Layton just seems -  well - warmer and nicer and more hopeful than the other two.

    I hope this trend holds - I'd love to do a conga line chanting Harper's gone, Harper's gone a la 1993!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Another Reason Not to Vote Conservative

    If you needed another reason not to vote Conservative in the May 2nd federal election, here's one.

    There’s a hole in the Conservative platform…a hole so big, you could fit Canada’s oil and gas sector or every single one of our fossil-fuel power plants into it. The hole is projected to get bigger, and will be large enough to fit every single car, truck, SUV, train, bus, and ATV in Canada into it by 2020. These are not figures from David Suzuki. They are taken from speeches by Conservative Environment Minister Peter Kent and reports provided by Environment Canada earlier this year. ...The Conservatives are clearly aware of this hole in their platform, but they have failed to introduce any substantial new programs to close the 178 Mt gap....The Conservatives need to answer one of two questions on costs which they have not included in their platform. Either they must address the costs of meeting our targets, or the costs to our export industries and our international reputation if we don’t meet them.


    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/the-economists/theres-a-dirty-secret-in-tory-greenhouse-gas-plan/article1999296/
    Who is this pinko author? He is an Assistant Professor at the Alberta School of Business. He blogs on energy, environment, and oilsands issues at http://www.andrewleach.ca

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Steve it's Time to Leave

    Watching a Train Wreck


    Over the six years Alex Gardner monitored Canada's Arctic glaciers and ice caps, he says they lost almost as much water as there is in Lake Erie.

    The ice loss has increased sharply "in direct response to warmer summer temperatures" since 2004 — so sharply that Gardner and his colleagues say the Canadian Arctic Archipelago was the single largest contributor to global sea-level rise outside Greenland and Antarctica between 2007 and 2009.

    He says that in 2009, the ice-loss rate was four times larger than estimated by NASA for the mid- to late-1990s.  ..

    "It's like watching a slow train wreck," says Gardner, noting that millions of people around the world could be displaced in coming decades as ice melts and sea levels rise.

    Gardner, ... says it might be possible to avoid the worst outcomes by coming up with a "more responsible" way of managing the economy.

    "Canada still has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world, so I would say we are failing on that," he said.
    http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Melting+Arctic+could+nearly+fill+Lake+Erie+Study/4649174/story.html
    Watching a train wreck indeed......

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Changing Minds Part 2

    The short answer: use peer pressure.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1076.html
    Recent research suggests that much of our consumption stems from a deep desire to fit in, to do what others do. While Murtagh has been finding ways to be diplomatic with neighbours who don't want to walk their children to school, she has been documenting similar attitudes in working parents across the UK. In a 2010 study published as a working paper at the University of Surrey6, Murtagh, and colleagues Birgitta Gatersleben and David Uzzell surveyed parents who earned at least £25,000 per year and lived in suburban or urban locations. In their sample, participants made 80% of their trips by car (compared with a national average of 71%) and 52% of their trips to school by car (also higher than the national average of 43%). More than 70% said that being a driver was important to their identity, behind being a 'parent' and 'worker', suggesting their decision to drive is partly governed by how they think others perceive them....although peer pressure may prompt us to continue driving, it can also provide the necessary incentive to switch to more sustainable behaviour. In a study motivated by reports of the enormous popularity of the Toyota Prius hybrid car in the US, even after tax rebates there ended, Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota and colleagues found that status-seeking motivates individuals to buy greener products more strongly than any desire to save energy and reduce emissions. Writing in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010, the team reported the results of a series of experiments on the motivators behind shopping behaviour7.       ....All this suggests that we have barriers to deal with in ourselves. Some social scientists now argue that understanding how we care on an emotional level, known in the field as 'affect', is the only way to motivate society to change its energy use. “If we are recognizing a gap between what people say and what they value,” says Renee Lertzman, a climate and behaviour consultant at Portland State University, “we want to understand what's going on with people: conflict dilemmas, contradictions, ambivalence.” In other words, we need to psychoanalyse people a little bit, she acknowledges, and understand the gloomy, melancholy side of how people are facing climate change.

    The slightly longer  answer:   use peer pressure; target your audience, understand them and their values, and use language they understand in an effort to get them to change driving habits  or to conserve energy.

    Changing Minds

    People do change their minds occasionally. About what to wear - or where to holiday. Changing one's mind seems to be a rarer thing on issues where people are heavily invested emotionally. Think abortion.... Or climate change.Mother Jones has an interesting article on this at

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney?page=4

    The writer of the article describes how an emotional investment can skew our reasoning by discussing relationships. Ze says

    We all understand these mechanisms when it comes to interpersonal relationships. If I don't want to believe that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that my child is a bully, I can go to great lengths to explain away behavior that seems obvious to everybody else—everybody who isn't too emotionally invested to accept it, anyway.
    Ze goes on to demonstrate, that, since this emotional skewing happens to everyone,  it is virtually useless to argue with people over the facts .

    Take, for instance, the question of whether Saddam Hussein possessed hidden weapons of mass destruction just before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. When political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler showed subjects fake newspaper articles (PDF) in which this was first suggested (in a 2004 quote from President Bush) and then refuted (with the findings of the Bush-commissioned Iraq Survey Group report, which found no evidence of active WMD programs in pre-invasion Iraq), they found that conservatives were more likely than before to believe the claim.

    Uh huh.  The stronger the evidence against their belifes, the more the subjects clung to their beliefs.  Gad -  what's a poor climate change or environmental activist to do in that case ? Arguing doesn't change anyone's mind. Presenting  facts entrenches beliefs! Aaagggh! One ray of hope remains:
    Conservatives are more likely to embrace climate science if it comes to them via a business or religious leader, who can set the issue in the context of different values than those from which environmentalists or scientists often argue.

    So sell climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas emission reduction to deniers on the basis of their values - using someone they already respect as a spokesperson if possible. Couch measures in patriotic language and present said maeasures as business opportunities.

    Another ray of hope. sometimes people change their minds on the basis of their experiences. A conservative Christian campaigner against gay amrriage in the US changed his mind and recanted his opposition to gay marriage.
    between what I had witnessed on the marriage tour and RJ’s post about marriage equality, I really came to understand that gays and lesbians were just real people who wanted to live real lives and be treated equally as opposed to, for example, wanting to destroy American culture. No, they didn’t want to destroy American culture, they wanted to openly particulate in it. I was well on my way to becoming a supporter of civil marriage equality. My name is Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican and I now support full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less.
    http://louisjmarinelli.com/politics/i-now-support-full-marriage-equality

    The trick is gonna be changing enough folks' minds -  in time.   Tick, tock, tick, tock.......

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    More Gloom - But From Jeffrey Sachs this Time

    Jeffrey Sachs spoke at the University of Toronto.
    Something very dramatic is happening,” he warned a rapt audience. “We’ve entered a new global scenario with respect to food, hunger and conflict … an era where things are likely to get tougher, not easier, in terms of production,” he said. “We’re hitting boundaries that are very important to understand and very important to counteract.”  Chief among those is the fact that global demand for food – and the agricultural commodities used to produce it – is outpacing the growth of supplies. The onset of climate change, which affects everything from the water supply to crop yields, is a ballooning wedge that will continue to force those trend lines in opposite directions, Dr. Sachs said.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/renowned-economists-outlook-darkens-on-global-food-prospects/article1957725/

    And from the March 25, 2011 edition of the Economist:
    Peak, rather than average, temperatures are what matter most to maize. Days above 30 degrees C are particualrly damaging. In otherwise normal conditons, every day the temperature is over this threshold dimishes yields by at least 1 5. Moreover, days where the ttemperature exceeds 32 degrees C do twice the harm of those at 31 degrees C. And during a drought, things are worse still.   page 91
    What does this mean?  It looks like climate change has an viscious effect on crop failure: the hotter it gets the less food we get  - on an exponential scale.  It's going to be tougher to produce enough food to feed all of humanity.  That's you and me, folks.  Oh we won't starve in the rich countires.  Our food will be very expensive, that's all.

    But what can we DO?  Well, there is a federal election looming on the horizon.  Educate your friends.  Go to candidate forums and ask questions.  Write letters to the editor.  Email leaders of the parties.  Vote strategically.  Tell everyone you want Canada to live up to its promises regarding money for small holders. 
    We've been failing badly on keeping our promises as Dr Sachs points out.

    Dr. Sachs is particularly incensed by the failure of G8 countries to come through on a $22-billion pledge made in 2008 to establish a World Bank fund to help smallholder farmers. Improving the livelihoods and farming practices of smallholders across a host of poor countries is seen by many economists as a critical approach to tackling hunger.Dr. Sachs said G8 countries are guilty of merely feigning support.  “The G8 lied. It made the promise but didn’t follow through,” Dr. Sachs said. “Your Mr. [Stephen] Harper is so big on accountability, but there is no accountability whatsoever and there is no money in the bank.”   Although Canada is a small country. Dr. Sachs said Canada bears a share of the responsibility for the fact that wars are getting more investment than agriculture, the boosting of which is a well-known ground stone of development.
    Kick up a fuss!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    In the Opinion of the Writer

    My neighbours are up in arms and furious with the City of Kamloops. Why?

    The City is proposing to rezone six properties within the city as affordable housing. If you haven't heard about this, I've provided a link to an article in the Kamloops Daily News below.
    http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20110315/KAMLOOPS0101/110319851/-1/kamloops0101/public-hearing-to-look-at-rezoning-for-affordable-housing


    The City is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm at Kamloops Convention Centre, Ballroom "C" (1250 Rogers Way) on this issue.

    One of the lots proposed for rezoning is in my neighbourhood. My acquaintances say publicly that many people use this site, 697 Cowan, as a recreational area. Well - maybe. I've never seen anyone use it as anything but an area to walk their dogs - and judging from my shoes, leave their dog's shit in.

    However, I have been told privately, and most emphatically, that social housing for low income people drives down property values and drives up crime. And that surely I don't want "those " people living in my neighbourhood!

    Firstly, crime rates do not increase in the areas where social housing is built. That is a myth - an outworn, hoary, fallacious myth.
    Affordable housing can help a community maintain a stable population by making it easier to retain people who already live and work there. In fact, a Denver study shows that "…there was no statistically significant evidence that supportive housing development led to increased rates of reported violent, property, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct or total crimes. These findings were equally true of supportive housing for perceived "dangerous clientele" ex-offenders, people with mental illness and recovering substance abusers." Source: "Impact of supportive housing on local crime rates" - HUD, Urban Institute, Wayne State University - 2002 http://www.cagh.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=84

    Neither do property values decrease.

     Studies have shown that housing developments which are well-designed do not have a negative effect on neighbouring property values. In fact, some developments may actually increase property values." (Source: "Impact of Non-Market Housing on Property Values" - BC Government - Feb. 2000 -http://www.housing.gov.bc.ca/housing/00_Jan_PropVal.http://www.cagh.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=84

    So , actually, I do want "those " people living in my neighbourhood. They will not have a negative impact on my neighbourhood in any way. They will probably enrich it - by open-midedness if nothing else.  And most importantly, I want an equitable and just society where the inherent worth and dignity of every person is recognized. I want everyone to have a home. And, most fervently,  I wish my neighbours would start seeing through the eyes of loving kindness rather than fear. If you support this rezoning project, please send the mayor and council an email telling them so. Better yet, go to the rezoning hearing and tell them in person.  I've listed email addresses below for your convenience.

    mayor@kamloops.ca

    nbepple@kamloops.ca

    jdecicco@kamloops.ca

    jharker@kamloops.ca

    tlange@kamloops.ca

    jofee@kamloops.ca

    mspina@kamloops.ca

    pwallace@kamloops.ca

    dwalsh@kamloops.ca

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    More Good News on Food

    Low-input farming projects, not reliant on chemical fertilisers and pesticides, have brought significant increases in food production in Africa, south-east Asia and South America, according to a UN report.  Small-scale farmers can double food production within 10 years in Africa by using ecological methods rather than chemical fertilisers. In a review of agroecological farming projects, which focus on a minimal use of external inputs, like chemical fertilisers, in favour of controlling pests and disease with natural predators, mixed crop and livestock management and agroforestry (interplanting of trees and crops), the report found average increases in crop yield of 80 per cent in 57 less-industrialised countries. In Africa the average increase was 116 per cent....  Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, degrades soils, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice anymore today.  Schutter said in the long run agroecological farming would build long-term resilience for countries and make them less reliant on expensive imports based on oil and gas, chemicals and pesticides.
    http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/805229/agroecological_farming_can_double_food_production_in_africa_over_next_10_years.html

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Like to Eat?

    If you like to eat, we best do something about our 'lifestyle" in North America.
    The UN on Thursday expressed alarm at a huge decline in bee colonies under a multiple onslaught of pests and pollution, urging an international effort to save the pollinators that are vital for food crops. Much of the decline, ranging up to 85 percent in some areas, is taking place in the industrialised northern hemisphere due to more than a dozen factors, according to a report by the UN's environmental agency. They include pesticides, air pollution, a lethal pinhead-sized parasite that only affects bee species in the northern hemisphere, mismanagement of the countryside, the loss of flowering plants and a decline in beekeepers in Europe.  "The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.  "The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees," he added.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/UN-alarmed-at-huge-decline-in-bee-numbers/articleshow/7676603.cms
    Remember my post on the fertile soils (terra preta)  created by First Nations people in the Amazon?  The same soils that have maintained their fertility for  hundreds of years without fertilizers made from oil while being fantastically productive?  We could create the same kind of soils in Canada. and farm and garden organically.   Then, perhaps we wouldn't destory the ecosystems upon which we depend.  Our survival will be measured and secured by these kinds of step - seemingly small, labour intensive, steps that one can take ina community garden.

    "But in a sense they are an indicator of the wider changes that are happening in the countryside but also urban environments, in terms of whether nature can continue to provide the services as it has been doing for thousands or millions of years in the face of acute environmental change," he added.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/UN-alarmed-at-huge-decline-in-bee-numbers/articleshow/7676603.cms








     

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Climate Change is Really Happening - and Really a Problem

    What makes me think climate change is a real problem?  Besides those people with the funny degrees in climatology, that is. 

    Well, climate change keeps getting mentioned in all kinds of places by all kinds of people as a serious problem.

    From The Economist a surprising admission:
    It is healthy ....to recognise that even in an age of high technology, our propserity and well-being depend upon our natural environment, which furnishes us with air, water, food and teh natural resources on which indutry relies.
    In other word, the economy is a subset of the environment - not the other way around.

    Then there was the entire issue they dedicated to climate change back in the spring of 2010.  The article concluded:
    The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science.  They are wrong when they presen that as a reason for inaction.
    The US Navy seems to be worrying its head about climate change as well.
    "Even the most moderate predicted trends in climate change will present new national security challenges for the US navy, marine corps, and coastguard," said Frank Bowman, a retired US navy admiral and co-chair of the committee that produced the report....The report, four years in the making, reflects growing concern in US military and strategic circles about the security implications of climate change.  In addition to the looming security challenges in the Arctic, the report warned that $100bn in navy installations were at risk from rising sea levels.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/10/arctic-struggle-climate-change
    Insurance companies are fretting about climate change too.
    In 1990, when the first report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out, Swiss Re decided that sea-level rise, desertification, and other risks of climate change are real. If the company failed to take them into account, it risked losing money. Now, Swiss Re is in the vanguard of companies and organizations that are raising the alarm about climate change. Last year, it released a detailed scientific rebuttal of the arguments climate skeptics make against anthropogenic warming.
    http://blogs.physicstoday.org/thedayside/2011/01/climate-change-insurance-companies-and-criminals.html

    So why isn't the Canadian federal government instituting carbon rationing? The public doesn't want them to, that's why.   That's right - you and me - we're the problem.  We think climate change doesn't affect us  - and maybe we don't worry a lot aobut our kids or grandkids.

    Well - we're wrong about not being hurt by climate change.
    Extreme rainstorms and snowfalls have grown substantially stronger, two studies suggest, with scientists for the first time finding the telltale fingerprints of man-made global warming on downpours that often cause deadly flooding. Two studies in Wednesday's issue of the journal Nature link heavy rains to increases in greenhouse gases more than ever before.Both studies should weaken the argument that climate change is a “victimless crime,” said Myles Allen of the University of Oxford. He co-authored the second study, which connected flooding and climate change in Britain. “Extreme weather is what actually hurts people.”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/extreme-weather-getting-worse---and-climate-change-to-blame-studies-say/article1910066/

    Maybe you and me should write to the Prime Minister and instruct him to take some significant steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.