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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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Possible

It is possible to take the bus - or any other form of public transit - and do one's errands without noticeable suffering.

Last week, my partner and I fetched our groceries using transit.  We left our house at 10:25 am and walked  six blocks or so to the nearest bus stop.  We heard a bus grinding up Sixth Avenue and just missed it.  Refusing to run, we walked from Sixth to Third to catch for the next bus that runs up Fourth.  Well, Chris walked.  I scampered like a hamster on an exercise wheel to keep up.  Hey , you know what?  The buses run every fifteen minutes on a weekday while the university is in session.  (That means check your bus schedules in the summers!)   And everyone says this is inconvenient!!??!

We caught the 10:45 bus - were whisked up the hill while chatting to various folks - got off just before the grocery store and walked a block.   (Yes, you are seeing a pattern here. )   We whizzed through our shopping, caught the next bus downtown, walked to the United Church and dropped off a cheque,  rented three movies at Moviemart, dropped off a prescription at Manshadi Pharmacy, and walked home. I was fumbling with my door key at 12:04 at my front door.


Jesus, Joseph, and Mary - store owners overheat their buildings!  The interiors  felt really, really hot after all that walking.  

It doesn't take any more time to take transit but it does take forethought and organization.  One needs  to check the schedules and organize a great circle route while doing errands on the bus.  Taking public transit is good excercise too - at least for a pudgy, more than middle aged person.  OK - fat - but if I am able to do it, so can most.   Using transit saves one money.

A monthly transit pass in Kamloops per transit site costs:
Adult $53.00
Senior* $34.00
Student to Gr. 12** $34.00
Student, 4 month pass $100.00
University Student*** $43.00
ProPASS $528.00/year

http://www.transitbc.com/regions/kam/fares/default.cfm    And monthly transit passes are tax deductible in Canada!  Using a car costs you about $ 600 a month on average - about the same as the coasts of an annual bus pass in Kamloops!   Moreover, everytime you use transit, you lower your carbon footprint and help prevent climate change.

Why not try transit?  We plan to use it more - I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Resolutions Passed!

A big thank you to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kamloops that passed the following resolutions today!  Please fee free to borrow from the links or other information if you need  it.
Support guide for anti-pipeline resolutions

prepared by UU-SEA committee

Using this guide: Text of the “whereas” preamble is printed in red, followed by additional supporting information.  Footnotes (most with clickable web links) are at the bottom of each page. 

A.       WHEREAS the effects of climate change are real, and we must immediately lower  carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels;

Evidence for warming. “The idea that Earth is warming partly because of the emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is one of the most certain concepts in natural science. The idea that greenhouse

gases increase radiative forcing is an old idea that has withstood a variety of analyses to emerge intact

(an accessible history is available on the Web site of the American Institute of Physics at www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm ). The peer-reviewed papers that provide the evidence that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases over the twentieth century have led to increases in temperature and changes in rainfall, wind, humidity, sea level, ocean acidity, snow cover, etc. have been assessed rigorously through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a series of reports. No serious academic body, significant institution, or national government doubts the basic science (e.g., Somers 2009).”  [1]  

Effects: Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, and causing record low Arctic sea ice levels,  droughts, wildfires, earlier springs and later falls, and increasing acidification of oceans.  For more details on these effects, click on these links:

we should approve no new pipelines in the absence of a comprehensive federal carbon dioxide reduction plan;


Current plans: An international assessment of countries' performance in fighting climate change has placed Canada near the bottom (54th of 61) among the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.  Only Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkey, China, Poland and Russia were ranked lower. [2]  Our country’s current plans to reduce the “intensity” of emissions and store carbon dioxide are completely inadequate to the problem – they will do nothing to solve the problem of climate change.   The carbon in Alberta’s economically recoverable oil sands reserve would release 69 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide if it was all extracted and burnt - the equivalent of a hundred years of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. British Columbia has adopted a leadership role and it is essential that Canada do the same, to accept our moral responsibility and demonstrate leadership to the rest of the world.”  [3] 
B.      WHEREAS the other environmental costs and risks of these projects are unacceptably high; 

Spills: Enbridge pipelines have a history of spills with poor responses. The US National Transportation Safety Board went unusually far in criticizing the Enbridge response to its massive Michigan pipeline spill.  Citing pervasive organizational failures, failure to correctly identify deterioration of the pipeline and poorly trained staff in the Edmonton control centre who ignored safety procedures, the NTSB likened the Enbridge response to the Keystone Kops.[4]  Perhaps more seriously, Enbridge resisted pressure to include documents detailing the Kalamazoo spill and response until the review panel demanded this information be included.  Although the Michigan Kalamazoo River spill was the most serious of Enbridge spills, it’s important to note that it was not an isolated event.[5]  Kelly Marsh, a Kitimat millwright, crunched Enbridge's own numbers and found that the risk of at least one medium or large spill over 50 years is around 82%.  Even Enbridge acknowledged an 18.8 per cent chance of a full bore rupture during the expected life of the pipeline.  [6]   

Once a dilbit pipeline ruptures, it is no ordinary oil spill, especially if it comes in contact with water.  Because tar sands oil, or bitumen, is too thick to flow, it needs to be mixed with a thinner, or diluent.  The mixture is referred to as diluted bitumen, or dilbit for short.  When exposed to air, the diluent evaporates and the remaining heavy oil sinks in water, instead of floating on the surface, making clean-up very difficult . The EPA reported in October 2012 that large amounts of oil are still accumulating in three areas of the Kalamazoo River, and asked Enbridge to dredge approximately 100 additional acres. During the original cleanup effort, dredging was limited to just 25 acres because the EPA wanted to avoid destroying the river's natural ecology.  [7]

Tankers:  The waters of Douglas Channel (the waters where tankers would pick up oil form Northern Gateway's terminus) are very dangerous.  Mal Walsh, a Master Mariner with 40 years of experience in the international oil exploration and shipping industry, has called Enbridge's tanker routes “flawed and dangerous.” [8]   The tankers in Vancouver picking up oil from Kinder Morgan's terminus would sail through a very busy port, alongside heavily populated communities. The Kinder Morgan pipeline project would result in a quadrupling of tanker traffic from the Burnaby terminal.[9]  Officially, there is still a moratorium on oil tankers on BC’s west coast, although it is already being ignored.

Effects of pipeline building on pristine environment: The Northern Gateway pipeline threatens woodland caribou. Scientific literature suggests that “linear disturbances actually contribute to population decline,” said Elena Jones, a wildlife biologist with Resources North, a joint government-industry organization based in Prince George, B.C. She has studied caribou in the region for a decade. “They don’t co-exist well with development,” she said.[10]

Environmental deterioration through expanded tar sands: The  mined tar sands in Alberta are never as biodiverse as untouched land.  One study compared 20 reclaimed areas (with an average age of 16 years since reclamation) to 25 undisturbed sites.  Seventy per cent of the reclaimed sites were in poor ecological health: lower biodiversity, less-productive plants and more land exposed to erosion.[11]  Also, plant communities and carbon cycling in reclaimed wetlands around the world average about three-quarters of what they would if undisturbed — even after a century. And the colder the climate, the slower the recovery. In addition to site quality, the quantity of reclaimed land plays a role.  Year after year, we see the gap between disturbed land and reclamation increasing at an exponential rate. [12]

 Uncertain benefits: There is a solid body of evidence that suggests the benefits of pipeline construction are overstated.[13]  Moreover, "Enbridge gives a much rosier picture of growth in oil production in Canada in its pitch for the pipeline than it gave to its investors at a shareholder meeting." [14]   There is also doubt as to whether the pipeline capacity is even needed before 2025.[15]  In addition to all the environmental risks, economic risks in the event of a major spill are a real concern.  Questions have been raised as to whether the oil companies could be held liable if the insurance they carry proves inadequate.[16]  This may leave taxpayers are on the hook for the costs of any oil spills.   Finally, the energy return on investment for the Enbridge project is very low: we get 2.41 barrels of oil out for every 1 barrel of energy we expend getting the oil.[17]   Energy return on energy investment (EROI) is becoming an accepted approach to determining the viability of energy projects. In this case, we assert that such a high-risk project cannot be justified by such low returns. 

C.      WHEREAS we wish to demonstrate solidarity with the over 100 First Nations, the Union of BC Municipalities and many other groups who have publicly opposed these projects; 

A majority of folks in BC are opposed to the pipelines.[18]  First Nations are opposed.[19] ,[20]   The UBCM passed a resolution opposing pipeline projects like Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan's twinning that would expand tanker traffic in coastal waters.[21]  The municipalities of Burnaby and Vancouver are on record opposing the twinning, which would result in 5 times as many tankers in the port.[22]  The Vancouver Unitarian Church passed a resolution stating their opposition to the proposed pipelines.  Kairos holds that the Northern Gateway project is “inimical to respect for God's creation.”  They say the Gateway project poses threats of contamination, and  contributions to increased carbon emissions and in turn climate change, that would disrupt eco-systems critical to shared survival.[23]


1.       THAT we, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kamloops, oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, BC and the proposed expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby, BC; and

2.       THAT we encourage our members holding financial instruments containing Enbridge or Kinder Morgan stock to divest or cancel those financial instruments, informing the companies or managers of mutual funds of the reasons for these actions.


BE IT RESOLVED THAT the President of our Fellowship, with the help of the Social and Environmental Action Committee, communicate this resolution to elected officials, selected First Nations and journalists, as well as selected financial, environmental, social justice and faith groups in Canada, including the managers of the Canada Pension Plan.


[1] The Psychology of Global Warming: Improving the Fit between the Science and the Message by Ben R. Newell and Andrew J. Pitman, American Meteorological Society, August 2010
[2] Climate Change Performance Index 2012, Germanwatch (funding from European Union) http://germanwatch.org/klima/ccpi.pdf
[3] Guy Dauncey, Founder, BC Sustainable Energy Assoc. http://www.bcsea.org/blog/guy-dauncey/2012/06/13/alberta-oil-pipelines#_edn3
[4] National Transportation Safety Board press release, July 10, 2012  http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2012/120710.html
[5] A Decade of Enbridge Spills, Watershed Sentinel http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/enbridge-spills

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lessons Learned

No, I don't have a vote in US elections.  I'm a political junkie. And American elections matter to Canadians -  their political decisions affect us.    Bigtime, actually.    When Barack Obama won in 2008, I cried and wrote poetry because I was so relieved Mr. Bush was gone.  Yes, yes,  that euphoria has worn off - for me - and for progressive Americans.  But still, like most Canadians, I'm glad the president was re-elected.   And yes, there are  lessons to be learned from the events of the past week and a bit.  Here they are  - in no particular order:
  • Women matter.  Making pig ignorant comments about "legitimate rape" and "rape pregnancy is a gift from god"  terrifies most women.  Having someone run for the Republican nomination  who complains about public access to contraception is off putting, to put it mildly.    Yes, I mean you, Mr. Santorum.  Women vote.   And don't really want to live under a regime that resembles an Atwood dystopia. (BTW,  sorry, pigs!)
  • Spewing porkies about gay marriage harming straight marriage is less effective than it was - if that campaign is countered with time, money, and energy. Being out and proud matters:  it's harder  for folks to believe mindless fear laden drivel when they know people in the LGBT community.  Hurrah to Washington, Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota!   Date for first gay marriages in Washington is December 9th - if you get your marriage license December 6th. 
In any election campaign, point out the bigoted and hateful things candidates say.  Make sure the electorate knows the horrible truth .  Write letters to the editor, tweet, Facebook, and blog if you don't have the money to advertise/
  • Young folks voted.   Perhaps not with the same euphoria they had in 2008 - but they voted.  Maybe Canadian progressive activists should be working on getting the youth vote out.  Hell, maybe we should be working on getting any vote out!  "Only 38.8 per cent of Canadian youth (eligible voters aged 18-24) cast a vote in May, in contrast with only 37.4 per cent in 2008." http://www.ipolitics.ca/2011/11/24/canadas-youth-vote-edges-up-in-2011-but-still-a-drag-on-the-total-turnout/       "Young people cast ballots , about 50-per-cent voter turnout in that demographic. " (Page A 9, Globe and Mail, Thursday, November 7, 2012.)   Look at that difference!  If young Canadian voters turned out in the same numbers as Americans did,  the Right Honorable Mr. Harper might not be re-elected.
  • The zeitgeist has shifted regarding taxes. Proposition 30 passed in California.  Even  many high income earners voted yes. (  Page A13, Globe and Mail, Thursday, November 7, 2012.) Voted yes to tax increases, that is.   
  • Climate change matters.     "The long term picture offers less scope for confidence.  There have been three extraordinary weather events in the past two years in the Northeast.  As storms become more severe and the limitations of the country's antiquated infrastructure become more apparent, power will gain ground as a political issue.  Voters will favour officials who promise to regulate unresponsive monopolies.  "  ( Page B20, Globe and Mail, Thursday, November 7, 2012.)  Wow - the business pages of a conservative newspaper are mentioning extraordinary weather.
The last lesson:  working on any social justice or environmental issue is working on them all.  We each can only do what one person can do  but we can do something.    We're all in this together - each of us matters.  Our efforts matter - especially now - always have - but now that the zeitgeist is shifting and climate change denial is almost impossible to sustain - they matter more than ever.

As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.                                                                                                                                               

Friday, November 2, 2012

Romney Vs. Hurricane Sandy

And what is the difference between helpig families and preventing and mitigating climate change?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There's a Thing Called Climate Change That maybe We Should Worry About

All it took was s superstorm and climate change is mentioned in the North America media - mentioned as a BIG problem.   Under the title "It's Global Warming, Stupid."   In the MAINSTREAM media!   
Global warming “particularly affects formation of heat waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity,” Munich Re said.... In his book The Conundrum, David Owen, a staff writer at the New Yorker, contends that as long as the West places high and unquestioning value on economic growth and consumer gratification—with China and the rest of the developing world right behind—we will continue to burn the fossil fuels whose emissions trap heat in the atmosphere.
President Obama received an endorsement from someone who is hardly his natural ally, Mayor Bloomberg,  thanks to climate change.

Mr. Bloomberg, a political independent in his third term leading New York City, has been sharply critical of Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the president’s Republican rival, saying that both men had failed to candidly confront the problems afflicting the nation. But he said he had decided over the past several days that Mr. Obama was the better candidate to tackle the global climate change  that he believes contributed to the violent storm, which took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and caused billions of dollars in damage. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/nyregion/bloomberg-endorses-obama-saying-hurricane-sandy-affected-decision.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 

So, thanks to an unprecedented storm, we can see a crack in climate change denial.   Let's take advantage of said crack to prevent the extremely stupid Northern Gateway pipeline; the proposed twinning of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline;  et. al.  

What can you do?

Donate to organizations fighting the pipelines.  Write letters to your MPs and MLAs outlining your opposition.  Drive less.  Volunteer with environmental organizations.  Meditate.  Talk to your neighbours.   Talk to your boss - climate friendly initiatives save money.  Lobby your pension plan - ask them to de-invest in Enbridge et al.

And keep working - hope is a moral imperative!

PS   (For an analysis on the reasons North America lags the world in climate change action, please read Why Is North America Behind The Curve On Climate Change and Energy? at http://www.desmogblog.com/2012/10/18/why-north-america-behind-curve-climate-change-and-energy )

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Turn a Blind Eye

I often read news sources located outside North America in my search for news on climate change.   Some examples of the results:
In Rajasthan, nearly 22.97 million hectares of land are under varying degrees of degradation and desertification. In an effort to end this, the Arid Forest Research Institute in Jodhpur has suggested mega shelter belts in western parts of the state apart from developing intensive green belts along all the roads or canals.  "The climate change has already started showing its effect. Rajasthan is likely to be one of the worst-affected. Proactive measures to mitigate climate change have to be taken now as biotic measures take a long time to bear fruit.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/Mega-shelter-belts-proposed-in-western-Raj-to-contain-climate-change/articleshow/16985812.cms

Computer models have accurately forecast conditions on Mars and are valid predictors of climate change on Earth, US and French astronomers said on Tuesday. These computer programs predicted Martian glaciers and other features on Earth's planetary neighbor, scientists found. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-10-17/science/34524229_1_climate-change-climate-models-earth-and-mars

In what could change the contours of climate change negotiations, India and China have successfully brought together a disparate group of developing countries to take on the EU and its new-found friends — small and least developed countries.  In a just concluded meeting of the new formation called the 'Like Minded Developing Countries on Climate Change' in Beijing, the group came out with a strong statement backing India's demand for integrating equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility into any new regime. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-China-team-up-with-developing-nations-at-climate-talks/articleshow/16921888.cms

The correlation between warming surface waters and tropical cyclone intensity has been scientifically verified. While it's unclear if climate change is causing an uptick in natural disasters, we cannot deny that the percentage of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased since the 1980s. We can't expect to bury our heads in the sand and avoid loss of property and life. As Mayor Bloomberg of New York City said, "We face two urgent challenges. First, we have to shrink our carbon footprint to slow climate change. Second, we have to adapt to the environmental challenges that are already beginning to take place." Last week, New York City Council unanimously passed legislation - the first to be enacted by any state or local government in the US - to make climate change mitigation and adaptation central to its city's planning. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/201299201250421417.html
Sometimes it's good news - often it's depressing news.    The really interesting part is how little of it makes it into the Globe and Mail orthe Financial Post.  Part of the reason Canadians are sunk deep in denial is due to the media silence on climate change.     Keep writing letters to the editor; talking to yoru neighbours; and nagging your elected represenatives.  Go to protests - get involved!

Postscript:  Australians live in denial too.

The Climate Institute says government and business have much to do to protect Australia's infrastructure from damage in natural disasters..."We need to recognise that we've got to deal with what's coming."  http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/business-govt-must-protect-infrastructure/story-fncynkc6-1226504977361

Saturday, October 27, 2012

US Geological Survey

From the US Geological Survey's website:
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.  http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3436
Whaddya mean - when this region begins to thaw? Ask the Inuit and Dene in the north - the permafrost is already thawing! 

At his home in Arviat on the western shores of Hudson Bay, the snow is arriving later and melting sooner. Hunters are falling through the ice or becoming trapped in slush. Polar bears are so desperate for food that they are raiding the town’s garbage dumps.


Or watch the video below.....

And just in case you have forgoten that what happens in the Arctic affects us in the south,  George Monbiot described the effects of Arctic melt on our food supply here.


The jet stream is a current of air travelling eastwards around the upper northern hemisphere. It separates the cold wet weather to the north from the warmer, drier weather to the south. Wobbling along this ribbon are huge meanders called Rossby waves. As the Arctic heats up, the meanders slow down and become steeper. The weather gets stuck.    Stuck weather is another way of saying extreme weather. If the jet stream is jammed to the north of where you are, the weather stays hot and dry, and the temperature builds up – and up. If it’s lodged to the south of you, the rain keeps falling, the ground becomes saturated and the rivers burst their banks. This summer the UK and the US seem to have found themselves on opposite sides of stuck meanders, and harvests in both countries were savaged by opposing extremes of weather.

Spewing more carbon into the atmosphere is going to kill off the human species.   Selling more oil faster is just plain suicidal. The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is an EXTREMELY stupid idea - speeding up the export of oil from the tar sands will ACCELERATE climate change.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Speaking of Undemocratic

I went to a talk by Maude Barlow (among others) in Kamloops last night.  One of the items in her speech caught my attention:   the impacts of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Protection and Promotion Agreement   on the citizens of Canada.  And it's not just the left that is wondering why there's no public scrutiny and discussion on the impacts of this deal.

In one week’s time, unless something strange happens, a far-reaching Canada-China investment agreement will take effect. It’s one of the most important commercial agreements Canada has signed since NAFTA. But whereas NAFTA could be terminated on six months’ notice, this deal locks in the signatories for a minimum of 15 years.It’s tantamount, you might say, to a commercial bill of rights for China in this country – an economic meshing on our part with the authoritarian Asian giant, giving it potentially considerable weight in the pace and scale of our resource development.
The problem is, few know much about the deal. It’s being rammed through the parliamentary system without scrutiny, foisted on the business community, the opposition parties and the country with hardly a word of debate or a vote. Our role is to accept it on faith – to take the government’s word for it. But how are we to know if the pluses outweigh the negatives without public examination? This agreement didn’t even make it into one of those democracy-shredding omnibus bills the Conservatives have become so fond of.    
 Lawrence Martin and Maude Barlow aren't the only people worried about this deal.  Gus Van Harten is urging the premier of BC  to stop this deal.
 I wrote to Premier Clark by email on Oct. 10, 2012 urging her to take action to stop the federal government from ratifying the Canada-China Investment Treaty (aka FIPA) on or about Oct. 31, as planned, until the treaty's constitutional and other implications could be assessed properly and resolved.  Under the Canadian constitution, the federal government is incapable of unilaterally implementing international treaty obligations in areas that fall within provincial jurisdiction. Nor is it acceptable for the federal government to use its treaty-making powers to do an end run around the federal-provincial division of powers or in a way that diminishes Canadian federalism and democracy.      http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/24/BC-FIPA-Response/
Andrew Nikiforuk, the author of The energy of Slaves reviewed in my previous post, says:

Appallingly, the treaty would give Sinopec, one of the big Chinese backers of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the right to sue the government of British Columbia if it blocks the project. Sinopec could also demand that only Chinese labour and materials be used on the pipeline. Moreover the treaty gives Chinese state owned companies "the right to full protection and security from public opposition."The agreement, like all bad deals, comes wrapped in totalitarian paper. The deal does not require provincial consent. It comes without any risk-benefit analysis. And it can be ratified into law without parliamentary debate.  http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/

I'd suggest we all contact Terry Lake and Christy Clark asking that they seek an injunction to stop this deal from passing as the federal government seems to be implementing a treaty obligation that trespasses on provincial jurisdictions.   If you're worried about the pipelines proposed by Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, please write!    If you're worrid about democracy, please write!

Moreover, please write to the Conservative members of the federal committee demanding that Parliament seek a debate and vote in the House of Commons before this deal becomes law on November 1, 2012 .  That's NEXT week, for Pete's sakes! 

Petrostates and Slavery

A long selection of quotes  is listed below:

Canada is losing ground in a key global measure of gender equality, sliding out of the world’s top 20 chiefly due to a lack of female representation in politics. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/canada-slips-in-gender-equality-rankings/article4634420/

The Liberals and NDP have been trying since 2010 to have the Tories release their cost breakdown for the planes and have been rebuked at every turn, until Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s bombshell report earlier this month.
“Ministers systematically, since 2010, gave this House information which has proven to be incorrect, inadequate, partial and, in some cases, untrue,”  http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1168971--hiding-f-35-fighter-jet-costs-shows-conservatives-in-contempt-says-rae
A top lawyer at the world's largest civil liberties organization warns that Canada's increasing participation in the so-called "War on Terror" has jeopardized democracy. http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Rights-Justice/2012/08/16/War-on-Terror-Democracy/

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative cabinet fairly erupted in indignation this past week as Canada took a knock from a United Nations envoy for turning a blind eye to the poverty, inequality and, yes, the hunger in our midst....These are not transient problems. They are deeply-rooted, systemic and point to “a broken social protection system and the failure of the state to meet its obligations to its people,”
Is there a connection?   You bet there is.

I just finished reading The Energy of Slaves by Andrew Nikiforuk (Greystone Books, 2012.) 
"All petrostates dusplay similar traits.  Oil booms engender not only spending mania but poor statecraft, ineffectual tax regimes, political extremism, and long periods of authoritarian rule.  "(page 182)    They are characterized by military spending, a concentration of power,  increased income inequality, and a reduction in gender equity.

Read the book - it's hugely interesting. And depressing.  And think about Canada ....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Look What I Missed!

An assault on our right to freedom of expression in Canada:
Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice activists have returned to SkyTrain stations to distribute their free newspaper. ....
This is news because three people were arrested on August 31, 2012 for handing out free newspapers in compliance with the rules posted publicly by Translink.   They were released without charge as they were following the rules.   Apparently handing out free newspapers is a crime.  The BC Civil Liberties Association wants an investigation. They

 accused TransLink of violating basic free expression rights by arresting a group of political activists outside the Metrotown SkyTrain station and confiscating 150 copies of their publication, which discussed “international political issues.”
Sheesh! We don't want anyone  handing out free information in a democracy!   Next people will start to think!

And  Enbridge called Northern Gateway a " nationbuilder." 

.... oil is Canada’s most important export, and the oil sands are a tremendous driver of the Canadian economy and right now we are tied to one market only … And that is in a market that has served us well over time and but is maturing, and most people would see as declining, particularly as domestic production grows. Clearly, it’s in Canada’s interest to access new, large and growing markets, and those are the markets in the Pacific Rim.

!!!!!  Not a word about climate change or the economic effects thereof in that quote. Speaking of those effects:

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/26/climate-change-damaging-global-economy

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.
 Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum this summer.

Graphic and quote (in italics) from:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19496674

Prof Wadhams calculates this absorption of the sun's rays is having an effect "the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man".

NSIDC sea ice extent map The sea ice extent at 26 August (white) is markedly different from the 1979-2000 average (orange line)

The Cambridge University expert says that the Arctic ice cap is "heading for oblivion".
 Maybe we should do something about our output of greenhouse gas emissions - or we'll be headed for oblivion.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I'm going on holidays and will not be posting until September 20, 2012. 

The title reference is to the band, of course!

It is a perogative of privilege to take a vacation.  Or to live in comfort....................amongst much loved artifacts and books.
Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels.  The developed world has caused  most of climate change to this date.  We in North America hog most of the world's resources. 
Are we prepared to relinquish our privilege and prevent climate change?  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Edible Landscaping

I posted on Vancouver's plans to plant more trees several days ago. To refresh your memory:
Plans call for the first batch, including some fruit and nut trees, to be split roughly equally between parks, streets and private property. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/forests-not-just-for-tree-huggers-in-vancouver/article4498724/
Weaving edible plants into the landscape is an old idea made new. Rosalind Creasey has been preaching and practicing edible landscaping for years.  I bought her book, Edible Landscaping, back in the Dark Ages.   1982 to be exact......

This is a pic of the plants to the right of my front gate.  I planted rhubarb in this location  this spring as it is in front of a Yellow Ribbon cedar I water quite a bit; transplanted alpine strawberries raised from a packet of seed twenty years ago in front of the rhubarb that have since flung themselves around the yard indiscriminately;  and filled in with some parsley seedlings . It looks very  pretty;  I've eaten  LOTS of parsley from two plants all season, and I'm anticipating picking rhubarb early next spring.

Maybe I'll even have rhubarb  to preserve.  MMMnnnnnnn!  I feel like a Gwen Stefani song at the thought:  yummy from head to toe!  Ding ding!

Rosalind has a website devoted to edible landscaping - with lovely, lovely pictures of mouthwatering gardens. You'll find it at:


Check it out - you'll be enchanted, I promise.  You'll be inspired to grow your veggies and fruit.   Food doesn't get more local than out of your garden or your balcony - and by growing your own food , you'll reduce your carbon footprint,    prevent climate change, and improve your mood.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Good News...

Water is scarce in Peru - and getting scarcer.  Climate change is melting glaciers in the Andes and therefore, worsening water woes.  
Like the poles, the Andes are unusually sensitive to climate change, with areas above 12,000 feet expected to experience particularly strong rises in the mercury. In the last 25 years, average recorded temperatures on Antisana have already jumped by 1 degree Fahrenheit.     http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120716/the-vanishing-andean-glaciers   

This isn't the good news:  please watch the video below.


Isn't that an innovative solution to water shortages?

Moreover, the Nature Conservancy is working to mitigate water shortages in the Andes. It

is supporting the creation of Aquafondo, the Lima Water Fund, together with Grupo GEA and the Fondo de Las Américas (FONDAM). Similar to the Quito and Bogotá water funds the Conservancy has helped establish in Ecuador and Colombia, the Lima Water Fund will use contributions from major water users in Lima to finance conservation projects  that protect and restore the rivers and watersheds that the city depends on.
One could donate to the Nature Conservancy to aid this work - no?
 And we , especially in Kamloops, could use less water here at home.
 Kamloopsians are the most profligate water uses in BC : reducing consumption would reduce pressure on our ecosystems.  Just a thought ......

If humans consume more water than is
naturally replenished in our ecosystem,
we are behaving unethically.  What makes us the most
important species on the planet - except hubris?

What we do to others, we do to ourselves.