Category Archives: environment

Arctic is 36 degrees warmer than Normal

The Arctic is 36 degrees warmer than normal. The Arctic sea ice that forms this time for year is not forming. Levels of sea ice should be increasing – it is not.

I suspect we have hit a point of no return, we just don’t know it yet. The full implications are not really known or understood. The importance of water levels, a productive Arctic and the implications for the rest of the planet in terms of environmental stability and ecosystem health are just not known. We will get a really good understanding of how Arctic Sea ice had affected our climate, in its absence.

Yet, as with all difficult things, governments will stick their collective heads is the sand and pretend that it is not happening. The creation of jobs, pipelines and more flavors of ice cream being more important than protecting the home that we live in. People can not or will not see the danger, because it does not impact their daily lives. But, life goes on as usual until it can’t.

Chinese hoaxes aside the thing about reality is that you can not chant, prayer, ignore or disbelieve it away. Science is our only way of rationally grasping what our limited sense and memory can not integrate. Ignoring reality as measured by our imperfect science is like sticking your finger in your ears and screaming.

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Hope

Hope

Canada recently elected a new leader – another Trudeau.
After such a hopeless time under Harper, we finally had a change – I hope.
I remember when Jean Chretien signed Canada up for the Kyoto Protocol.
To my utter horror, Steven Harper widthdrew Canada from the treaty.
This act summed up the Harper regime.
Harper was only thinking of the here and now.
There are people that said he was a good PM.
He had kept Canada stable during volatile economic times.
However Harper’s vision of the future included muzzling the truth.
He did not allow Canada’s scientist to publicly speak about their work .
This was a government that knew the truth and decided nobody else needed to concern themselves.

Based on data for the first 10 months of the year, “We feel very confident… that 2015 will be the warmest year on record…What we call a cold year now would have been considered a record warm year before 1997,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization.

This world no longer has time to act like ostriches.
Harper and leaders like him may be good in the short term.
But they have no vision for the future.
I think in these modern times, where the call to do more shopping seems to be an act of valor, we need to realize the last thing the world needs is one more shopping mall.

We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children

Thinking ahead seven generations should be mandatory for any undertaking.

Saving this world for our children is something worthy to aspire to.
I hope with the climate talks in Paris we can have hope again.
I hope that my child can live in world where people are not living in poverty and ignorance – both material and spiritual.
I hope that my child can live in world that has room for tigers and bears, trees and beauty.

Ethical Meat

This story was about the increasing number of hunters wanting to hunt for food.

Kesia Nagata is uncomfortable buying commercially produced meat. “It looks all flabby and grey and not at all appealing,” she says. As a Buddhist-raised, recovering vegetarian, the grisly reality of feed lots, slaughterhouses and the shrink-wrapped denial represented by the neatly packaged meat in her grocery store weighs on her soul.

I want my meat to be grass-finished, and killed as ethically as possible,” she said. “As much as I firmly believe in the necessity of animal protein and saturated fats, the commercial stuff is all toxic.”

B.C. is experiencing a hunting resurgence, fuelled in part by interest from young urbanites like Nagata and her brother, according to hunting instructor Dylan Eyers of Vancouver-based EatWild BC

Apart from the not so subtle anti-vegetarian slant, this article is good. While I believe you can have a good diet without animal protein, understanding – intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually is a lot more honest than buying grocery store meat.

The biggest problem I have with factory meat is the degrading conditions the animal were raised in. The conversion from animals to “meat on the hoof” is also the same mentality that allowed for the gas chambers in Nazi Germany. In hunting for your own meat, you have taken the effort to learn the apporpriate skill, you have seen the animal in the eye and have made a conscious choice to kill it. You know what you are doing at every moment, unlike when you pick up factory meat neatly wrapped in plastic and styrofoam.

There are also places like Polyface farms that are trying to raise animals ethically.  This addresses the other issue. What happens if there is too much demand on natural systems. Raising  and slaughtering domestic animals ethically is another solution. I suspect there would be a greater tendency to support such a system if the full economic cost of our subsidized meat were know or paid.

Landfill Orchestra

We were listening to CBC radio yesterday when we heard a story about kids forming an orchestra in the slumps of Paraguay

The town of Cateura was built virtually on top of a landfill. Situated along the banks of the Paraguay River, the landfill receives over 1,500 more tons of solid waste each day. Poor management of the waste has caused critical pollution to the most important water source in the country and threatens the health of it’s residents.

There are seven different neighborhoods built around the landfill, accounting for over 2500 families living in close proximity to dangerous waste.

Most of the families, including children, are employed by the landfill as recyclers. The poverty has forced children to work in the landfills, neglecting any education that might lead them to a better life.

Their teacher, Favio Chavez decided to provide something positive in their lives. He decided to try and create musical instruments from the one resource in plenty, after seeing a violin made from garbage.

The music the children produced was beautiful. When we watched the trailer for the documentary it was plain to see how proud and happy these children were and how basic their instruments looked.
Landfill Harmonic film teaser on Vimeo

It was wonderful and inspiring to see children striving to create meaning in their lives in a place built on garbage. The teachers and children did not see the lack of funds or instruments as a wall stopping them from achieving their goals, only an obstacle to surmount. They were able to accomplish so much from the refuse of society and create beauty from it

How often have I used the lack of funds, proper equipment, time or talent as an excuse for not starting something. These children and their parents and teachers have done something amazing- they have not let circumstances ,societal expectations or apparent resources define what they are capable of.

Joining the Conversation

I listened to Marcin Jakubowski TED talk. He was a graduate physics student that found that he did not have any really useful skills. He started a farm, and bought a tractor. His tractor broke down, so he got it fixed; it broke down again and he found he was broke.

He went on build his own tractor and other farm machinery. From his farm, he and others have gathered to develop other machinery to power civilization.

Open Source Ecology is a global network dedicated to accelerating the growth of the next economy, an open source economy, that optimizes both production and distribution while promoting social justice and environmental regeneration. We are building the Global Village Construction Set, a high-performance, modular, do-it-yourself, low-cost platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.

Here are a group of people, stepping outside the “box”. They are deciding to dedicate their lives, to promote what they think is important. They are participating in life, joining the conversation of what it means to be human and to try and live on this world lightly rather than blindly following the world trashing script the rest of us have been handed.

They are choosing to be citizens rather than mere consumers.

Dying coral after BP -“Cleanup”

The LA Times Reported: A colony of hard coral at a depth of more than 4,000 feet was sloughing off tissue and producing mucus, while a nearby community of soft corals had extensive bare areas. A type of starfish associated with the coral was also in bad shape.

…academic researchers on the federal ship Ronald H. Brown were surveying coral communities they have studied for several years. Most showed no changes from previous visits.

But when the ship crew focused underwater cameras on colonies seven miles southwest of the BP leak, images of stricken corals, covered with a brown substance, popped up on the screen.

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Cost of Garbage

Violent clashes persisted Saturday night into Sunday between police and people living on the outskirts of Naples, where the dump near the small town of Terzigno opened last year as a stop-gap solution for rubbish from Italy’s third largest city.

For more than a week, protesters in Terzigno have torched vehicles, burned Italian flags and hurled stones at police, all to protest against the stench and filth at a local dump and plans to open a new one in the Mount Vesuvius national park.

People in Italy are mad about the garbage lining the streets. They are mad because to solve problems of Naples, the government has opened up temporary dump sites near smaller towns. Understandably people there are less than happy about the “temporary” solution.

What is happening in Italy is a complex interaction between government and organized crime. But, this story illustrates disconnection with our actions – We do not realize the true cost of Garbage.

More and more of it is being produced. I don’t seem to remember so much plastic refuse as a kid. Usually if I buy some sort of electronics goods there is a fortress of plastic surrounding a very small amount of material. This seems such a way so much plastic some much cardboard just prevent stealing ? But, there are alternatives – Companies have made efforts towards responsible packaging.4

Wrapping food in plastic seems so nonsensical. I try and pass on plastic boxes – but of course during blueberry or strawberry season it is hard. I like the cardboard boxes you can get at farmer’s markets though. Of course I still put my fruit into the convenient plastic bags. I try and reuse the bags, but that still means I create waste.

I was thinking about getting a new flatscreen television. But, our CRT television works just fine. It seems a shame to get rid of a working television just because I want something a little bit newer. What I gain by upgrading is very little considering how much waste that I produce. I think this obsession with new and cutting-edge or keeping up with fashion is wrong. It’s simply wrong. There is a cost of buying new stuff, there is a cost with creating new garbage. We just don’t realize what this cost is. After listening to “The story of stuff”, the true costs become more real.

This is why the crisis in Italy is so telling. The cost of garbage is apparent. It’s out in the streets stinking, smelling and generally making people unhappy, unhealthy and furious with their government.

But, it does illustrate the true cost of garbage. This stuff has to go somewhere. Either gets burned and goes up in the air or gets buried. Garbage just doesn’t disappear.

When we were living in Goose Bay, there was a garbage strike. Garbage was not picked up for weeks. The garbage left out in bags on the street. Goose Bay is in northern Labrador. There is very little surrounding it except for trees. Bears live in the forest. Well most of time. When there was free garbage available they decided to meander into town and help themselves. The town authorities wisely told us to supervise children and keep pets indoors. We should be trying to head towards a point where we are not creating garbage rather than trying to find more carpet to sweep it under.

“Zero impact” should be our goal. Not only regarding garbage but chemicals, pollutants, carbon dioxide and anything and everything that could possibly hurt us. This may seem like an idealistic goal. But, it is what nature intended . Energy and materials in nature or in a closed system. Everything is used and everything is recycled. This is the kind of cyclic processing that we require in our modern society. It is some sort of unattainable dream? Possibly, the way we live. It is incredibly hard to live a sustainable non-impact lifestyle. But, the cost of doing otherwise is a great deal more catastrophic than we were led to believe. With our garbage hidden away from us we have no idea the cost of our daily business.

Follow-up on Syncrude Duck Deaths

Syncrude has received the verdict for failing to protect wildlife – 1600 ducks died in a poison filled bitumen lake when they landed after a winter storm..

Syncrude face[d] one count under Section 155 of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act for allegedly failing to ensure that hazardous substances directly or indirectly not come into contact or contaminate any animals, plants, food or drink.
It is also charged with one count of violating the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act for depositing or permitting the deposit of a substance harmful to migratory birds in waters or an area frequented by birds.

The original estimate was 500 hundred ducks, but I suspect the company underreported the amount dead in an attempt to control the spin. There were some irregularities at the time of the incident:

The relevant government agencies had to learn about the incident from an anonymous phone call, 2 hours before the company called the incident in.

Gaudet said a company operator first discovered the ducks around 9:30 a.m. Monday. The report was called in to the company’s environmental office, then relayed to the province’s fish and wildlife office by noon. The province had already received an anonymous tip about the ducks by that time and had left a message with Syncrude, Gaudet said.
The company was supposed to call Alberta Environment immediately.
When asked why Alberta Environment wasn’t called right away, Gaudet said the company called the regulators it thought were best suited to handle the situation.
As for the timing of that call, Gaudet said: “Our initial activity is to get out into the field to witness and assess, and then to get to Alberta Environment or Fish and Wildlife or Sustainable Resource Development immediately to report it. I think, in this instance, a couple of hours to verify the numbers, to assess the situation, to get my environmental team on the ground was well worth it. I’d hate to be reporting in an unsubstantiated or a minor event that needs a major response.

I wonder why the anonymous phone call was made. Why was it anonymous ?
1) The secrecy of the call would suggest that this incident had happened before. People do not make anonymous calls the first time an unforeseen tragedy occurs.
2) It was rather serious in nature; if the caller could determine how serious the incident was on his/her initial survey, why did it take the company more than 2 hours to “assess” the situation. I suspect they were assessing the need to admit the truth.
3) The company was planning on not reporting the incident. More importantly, there were serious repercussion for the caller if the company found out

The findings of the trial can be summed:

Provincial Crown prosecutor Susan McRory said in her closing argument Thursday that there was no evidence to support Syncrude’s contention that it was late in deploying the bird deterrents because of a spring snowstorm.
She rejected the argument that the incident was unforeseen, an act of God or beyond the control of Syncrude, noting that two other oilsands companies, Albion Sands and Suncor, both had their bird deterrents deployed well in advance.
**”In contrast to the other companies in the area who had policies and procedures in place to ensure an early deployment, in the year before the alleged offense Syncrude had reduced staff, days of operation and their inventory of equipment.”

Team members later told investigators they were short-staffed and under equipped to do their jobs . The unit that had once boasted 14 members in two, seven-member teams to ensure seven-day-a-week bird deterrent coverage, was down to eight workers due to retirements — and one of them was off with an illness. No one worked April 18th, 19th or 20th.
The reduction of staff was not initially reported to Alberta Fish and Wildlife either.
Matthews told investigators he didn’t think the reduction of his team was a concern.
“We felt we could look after the work that we had to do with the people that we had. Our records for the previous years indicated that we were doing a good job.”

But employees said they had just one truck to use to deploy duck deterrents — down from three they normally had at their disposal — and due to safety rules they could only load five propane-fuelled cannons on the truck at any one time.
“If we had more vehicles, we could have done more,” team member Fred Cardinal told investigators.
If there was to be a race against the clock to get deterrents deployed in advance of the arriving birds, the company was ill-prepared to get the job done, the Crown argued at the subsequent trial.

“In the face of complaints by staff on April 17, 2008, that birds were landing in the tailings pond, Syncrude didn’t assign the problem the priority it deserved, nor did they have the resources to respond,” said provincial Crown prosecutor Susan McRory.
But even those deployments were delayed two days because the bird deployment team ran out of the common, nine-volt batteries that were required to fire the $700 noise cannons. (These small, inexpensive batteries are what most people use in smoke detectors.)
“We were going to set up more cannons, but we ran out of batteries,” team member Gordon Grandjambe told investigators. “We set them up, but we didn’t put the batteries in there. We had no batteries.”

For some time, Syncrude had been operating a boom on the settling basin to contain the bitumen mat, but that practice was curtailed in 2005 or 2006, according to Matthews. Fish and Wildlife was not advised of the change.

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Update to Lucy’s Story

Lucy was examined by a third party veterinarian.

Dr. James Oosterhuis, a lead researcher with the Colyer Institute in San Diego, examined Lucy on Thursday along with zoo veterinarian Milton Ness.

“Her [Lucy’s] current respiratory problems preclude any thought of moving her, and, in fact, it would [be] life threatening for her to be placed under that kind of stress,” Oosterhuis said in a letter to the zoo.

An endoscope was used during the examination to look at the elephant’s trunk. It showed Lucy had severe swelling around the trunk and nose, making it hard for her to breathe through her trunk. While she can take in air through the mouth, stressful situations make it harder for her to breathe, according to a news release issued by the city.

On Monday, Zoocheck’s Julie Woodyer said Oosterhuis’ assessment does not settle the issue for them. She points to the case of Maggie, the elephant from the Alaska Zoo, who was moved from Anchorage to a sanctuary in California in 2007.

The zoo consulted 11 experts in making its decision to move Maggie. Oosterhuis was the only expert who said she shouldn’t be moved, Woodyer said.

I think this re-examination stresses the importance of dealing with Lucy’s medical conditions before moving her. The fact that Dr.Oesterhuis did not think that Maggie should have been moved does not negate the seriousness of Lucy sinus infection.

Lucy:Freeing an Edmonton Elephant

Title: Lucy:Freeing an Edmonton Elephant

There has been a lot of recent controversy regarding Lucy, the elephant at the Edmonton valley zoo. Lucy, was brought to the zoo as a one year old orphan in 1976. She had been kept with Samantha, an african elephant from 1989 till 2007. Samatha was then sent to a breeding program leaving Lucy alone.
Elephants are extremely social animals

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