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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Monday, March 25, 2013


What in hell is the federal government advertising? 

The latest annual report on advertising by the federal government has been posted here. In the fiscal year of 2011-2012, the Harper government spent $78.5 million on advertising, which is actually the lowest total since the Conservatives formed government. http://www2.macleans.ca/tag/government-advertising/
The tar sands , among other things.   Pardon me - responsible resource development.

Natural Resources Canada ran extensive focus groups last summer to fine tune an ad campaign designed to convince Canadians of the industrial benefits and environmental stewardship of the energy sector — particularly the oilsands. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, meanwhile, is running its own campaign called "Responsible Canadian Energy" that plumbs the same themes. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/natural-resources-minister-aligned-priorities-with-pipeline-lobby-documents-195632671.html?device=mobile

One of the key concerns for the federal government in a multimillion-dollar Natural Resources advertising campaign was the negative publicity around the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, according to internal government documents.

Jesus - I don't even need to comment.  Could the right Honorable Stephen Harper be any cozier with the fossil fuel industry? I shouldn't ask rhetorical questions....

Tailings ponds from oilsands production are leaking and contaminating Alberta’s  groundwater, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was told in an internal memo obtained by Postmedia News. The memo, released through access to information legislation, said that federal government scientists, including Quebec City-based research geoscientist Martine Savard, had discovered evidence of the contamination in new research that rejected longstanding claims that toxins in the region of the Athabasca River were coming from natural sources. “The studies have, for the first time, detected potentially harmful, mining-related organic acid contaminants in the groundwater outside a long-established out-of-pit tailings pond,” said the memo from deputy minister Serge Dupont, dated June 19, 2012.  http://o.canada.com/2013/02/17/oilsands-tailings-leaking-into-groundwater-joe-oliver-told-in-memo/

They didn't advertise that, did they?

Update: Perhaps they could advertise the following - maybe for speed of cleanup or speed of notifcation.....

Officials from Suncor Energy Inc. and Alberta Environment are scrambling to test for contaminants after the discovery Monday that industrial waste water from the oil sands giant’s base plant was leaking from a ruptured pipe into a pond close to the Athabasca River....People living and working downstream of the plant, including First Nations communities, have been notified of the release, Ms. Seetal added. Water in the outflow pond is already treated. But she didn’t have specific details about the content of the untreated industrial waste water, which is used in Suncor’s extraction and upgrading processes. 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Discussion on The Restriction of Plastic Water Bottles

There is always a tension between individual rights and collective rights.
We restrict all kinds of behaviour by law: even though I can make all kinds of money manufacturing and selling crystal meth, the law prohibits me from doing so.  Ditto the manufacture of child porn:   very few people question our laws on child porn .  (Except for Tom Flanagan!)   Slavery isn't legal either.  Here in Canada, we have restrictions on hate speech. Most people would agree with restrictions on       first three:  I'm guessing or hoping  most folks would frown on urging people to kill  LGBT people because their existence is an abomination. We also regularly send folks to a forensic psychiatric hospital in spite of said folks express wishes!

Once we admit that some actions and behaviours are not socially acceptable, and should be sanctioned, the discussion then becomes one of where the sanctions  should be drawn.   We may differ on where that line should be, but will agree that a line should be drawn somewhere that restricts  freedoms.
I think that the issues of environmental degradation/ destruction and climate change are of the same calibre as slavery and child abuse. Humans stand a very good chance of destroying our natural environments as the climate warms: once we do that, then it’s goodbye Charlie for humans.  ( Please watch the video in the immediately preceding post or read Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer for information on how bad things will get if we continue with business as ususal.) 
Even if one privileges humans over everything else, the choices we make, are causing the climate to change .  We are therefore are killing people right now with our choice of business as ususal : climate change is eroding land in Bangladesh; South Pacific islanders are buying land on larger continents so they’ll have somewhere above water to live; and people are dying of droughts in the Horn of Africa.  I think we have a moral responsibility to alter our choices and actions if our current ones are devastating other people.
So, although banning plastic bottles at the students request at TRU may seem like a small step that arbitrarily wipes out freedoms, I don’t think it is. Plastic bottles are manufactured with oil – are unnecessary for our  health as we have clean drinking water in Kamloops – and their ban would be small step on the road we have to take if we are to survive. If nothing else, the discussion on plastic bottles acts as consciousness raising and symbolizes our collective determination to cut down on affluenza.