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