Summer 2012 Newsletter

SUMMER 2012

The Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) Newsletter

Environmentally active for over 40 years!

Support Us! You can become a member (Family - $20.00, Individual - $15.00, Basic - $5.00), attend our monthly meetings (the 4th Thursday usually), donate, and/or volunteer. Mailing address: SENS, c/o the Boys and Girls Club, 3300-37th Ave., Vernon, V1T 2Y5. Website: www.sensociety.org

*** SENS provides tax-deductible receipts for donations ***

SENS STUFF

1. September 27, 7 pm, Schubert Centre - Food Preserving, root cellars, canning, drying and more!

2. Democratic Debate under Threat: Environmental charities are being targeted under Bill C-38 – The “Budget” Bill. Citizen groups will likely be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines. Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input. Well-funded backroom lobbyists and political operatives will have greater influence. (Source: CBAN.ca)

3. Pesticide Spraying Stopped: After great public pressure, the Ministry of Forest has cancelled the Spray program in the upper Shuswap. As a result, 20,000 Litres of Pesticides will NOT be sprayed! Please take a minute to email Lorraine MacLauchlan of the Ministry to thank her and also urge her to switch their Spray Programs to environmentally sound and safer "Ecosystem Health Restoration Programs" (EHRPs). For more about EHRPs, visit www.sensociety.org. For the whole story, go here.

LOCAL STUFF

1. Farmers’ Markets:

  • Armstrong – every Saturday, 8 am – 12 noon, IPE Fairgrounds (BC’s oldest, started in 1973!)

  • Lavington – every Sunday, 9 am – 1 pm, at Jeffer’s Park on School Road

  • Cherryville – every Saturday, 9 am – 1 pm, by the Highway

  • Vernon – every Monday and Thursday, 8 am – 1 pm, behind Westbilt Centre

ALSO: Fridays, 3 – 7 pm, north of Sport Chek, Village Green Mall

2. Green Drinks: Second Monday of every month at Sir Winston’s Pub. Find out more at http://greendrinks.org/vernon and on this Facebook page.

3. Eco-sanitation Solutions: Check out this video and these links (1and 2)! Wouldn’t it be cool to have a sustainable, low cost and proven to work facility like this in Vernon? SENS director Huguette Allen is working on it…

4. Bike to Work Week Results: A total of 516 team members registered this year (compared with 346 team members in 2011). Of those, 198 were new participants (a 41% increase from 116 in 2011). Over 1,810 cycle trips were made during the entire week, compared with 1,155 trips last year (a 36% increase).  This year, cyclists travelled 18,983.4 km, which is an increase of 29% (13,337 km in 2011). This translates into a 28% savings of CO2 emissions. 

5. More Recyclables: You can now recycle even more materials (e.g. flashlights, chandeliers, table lamps, electric household small appliances, and electric outdoor power equipment) for free. Check out www.RCBC.bc.ca, www.opeic.ca, www.electrorecycle.ca, and www.lightrecycle.ca for details and drop-off locations.

6. The State of Canada’s (& Vernon’s) Birds: This first-ever report shows dramatic changes in Canadian bird populations. Drawing from over 40 years of data, it summarizes the status of bird populations for eight regions. Insect-catching birds are decreasing (40% on average). Other species (e.g. raptors and waterfowl) have increased as a result of successful conservation efforts. This report offers great insight on changes in the ecosystems we depend on.

MATERIAL CONTRIBUTED BY MEMBERS AND READERS

1. Chemical Trespass Learning Resource: Use this great learning guide for students and teachers on how to identify and eliminate toxic chemicals in the home and in the environment.

2. Peak Oil Opinion: SENS had a speaker talking about "Peak Oil".  Here’s an interesting article that suggests we aren’t going to hit that peak anytime soon. Bad news for the environment…

3. GMO News: Apparently, livestock fed GM Soy have developed serious health problems, suffering from higher disease rates, death rates, and birth defects. In other news, SemBioSys, a Calgary based company has gone out of business and the GMO mosquito is also on hold in Florida. Meanwhile, as Roundup fails, farmers aren’t happy to see their pesticides cost more than doubling and their profits going directly in the pockets of Monsanto and Dow Chemicals.

4. Damning Report on GMO Food: A damning new evidence-based report about GMOs has just been published. The report effectively debunks the basis for GMO crops and shows that GMOs are associated with hazards to health and the environment (duh), fail to tackle world hunger, and distracts from its real causes. It also notes that traditional plant breeding outperforms GM. Damning indeed! For the original article, go here.

5. Acceleration of Climate Change: According to new data, China's carbon emissions (already surpassing the U.S. as the world's top greenhouse gas polluter at nearly ¼ of the mankind’s emissions) could be nearly 20% higher than previously thought, suggesting the pace of global climate change could be even faster than currently predicted. Source: The Guardian (UK)

6. Value of Bike Lanes recognized: Vancouver City council has voted unanimously to make the two separated bike lanes on Hornby and Dunsmuir streets that run through downtown Vancouver a permanent fixture. The reason: they have been a success with fewer collisions and more people (women too) cycling. For the entire story, go here. More for Vernon too, please!

7. On The Proposed Enbridge Pipeline: According to one of our SENS members, who looked at the

water crossings of the proposed pipeline, in the event of a rupture: (1) access will be severely limited for any cleanup effort; (2) if it occurs near a stream, the current would carry oil downstream for many miles in areas with NO access for removal/containment devices; and (3) removal and disposal of contaminated material would be extremely difficult if not impossible, and even tiny spills would cost millions to clean up. Obviously, while tanker traffic is a major hazard, a pipeline rupture is equally if not more of a problem!

RECYCLING COUNCIL OF BC

1. Quebec’s Green Future: By 2020, Quebec wants to divert all residual materials from landfills in order to recycle, produce energy, or dispose of the waste. To reach this goal, Quebec recently adopted a sustainable development strategy and created a Green Infrastructure Fund. The City of Saint-Hyacinthe received some of this "green money" to expand its existing wastewater treatment plant and has upgraded to an anaerobic digester to provide pipeline quality bio-methane.

Read the entire article here.

2. Recycling Cigarette Butts in Canada: In collaboration with Canada's largest tobacco manufacturer, Toronto-based TerraCycle has launched a free program to collect and recycle cigarette waste (butts, foils, and packaging) from Canadian landfills. For more, go here.

FROM CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment)

1. Coal vs. Wind Power: The fact is that coal-fired plants are inherently harmful while wind turbines are not. They make toxic byproducts (e.g. carcinogens), cause acid rain, mining it is harmful too, and they are massive sources greenhouse gas emissions. The technology cannot be made safe. On the other hand, when properly sited, wind power is essentially benign. Going coal-free is a triple winner: It saves lives, prevents thousands of respiratory illnesses, and reduces health care costs by millions of dollars. For the entire article, go here.

2. 8 Hour Sleep Myth: Studies show that sleeping a full 8 hours in a row may be unhealthy. For the whole story, go here.

3. B.C. Pesticide Report Response: A B.C. Special Committee report is coming under fire for recommending against a ban on the sale of cosmetic pesticides. The opponents say the recommendations are misguided and that it puts blind faith in Health Canada’s flawed Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Pesticides pose a clear risk to human health and the environment. Residents of B.C. do not need to accept this! Let your MLA know that you expect higher standards of health and safety in this province. Ask them to support the bill introduced by the NDP for a ban on cosmetic pesticides in B.C. Read a similar article here.

4. Bill C-38 Deconstruction: Check out this blazing 33 minute deconstruction, by Elizabeth May, of Bill C-38, the so-called Omnibus Bill. This exposé shows how Harper is set to make a mockery of parliament and destroy the environmental protections we built up over the last 80 years.

5. Tanning Beds vs. Natural Sunlight: According to a 2010 study, if you use a tanning bed once between the age of 18 and 25, you've increased your risk of melanoma by 41 per cent. In contrast, natural sunlight generates Vitamin D in our skin. Gradual low-intensity exposure is good for us. Find out more about the dangers of tanning in this CBC health story.

6. GMO Cover-up Exposed, Charges Laid: Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged for concealing their own study, a study in which cows died after eating their genetically modified corn, after a German farmer unsuccessfully sued the corporation for the deaths of his cows. Ah, sweet justice! To read the report, go here.

7. We’re All Terrorists: A recent story shows that the Canadian government has expanded their terrorist concerns to include “activist groups, indigenous groups, environmentalists and others who are publicly critical of government policy”. Talk about an extreme way to muzzle free speech!

8. Reclaiming our Democracy: If we want the government to change its course, as it careens towards fascism, then there are really only two alternatives. One is to give the Harper government tons of bad PR. How Harper backed off his punitive refugee policy is a great example of this.

The other alternative to visible confrontation is legal action. As we’ve seen with numerous environmental victories, taking the government to court is working… for now.

9. Asbestos Industry Revival: Bad News: Quebec recently decided to bankroll a revival of the Canadian asbestos industry. Sadly this means Canada is going back to the sale of a recognized carcinogen that countries around the world are moving to ban. The only silver lining to this news is that trading asbestos is unsustainable! Eventually even the developing countries will wise up and stop buying this fluffy death. For the entire article, go here.

10. GM Crops Toxic to Ladybugs: A new study confirms that the Bt toxin present in GM crops kills the larvae of the two-spotted ladybug. Researchers also showed how pro-GM experiments claiming to refute their results were designed not to find the effect. Read the entire report here.

11. Fossil Fuel Divestment: This electrifying article has devastating numbers and advocates the divestment from fossil fuel companies -- and compares this to the success of the divestment in South Africa. This is one step that will strike the fossil fuel industry where it hurts -- and pays attention: the insatiable corporate bottom line.

FROM DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION

1. Tell Stories, Share Stories, Protect Oceans: The Foundation is holding a contest with lots of prizes for your ocean story and will even provide help for you to tell that story! pacific@davidsuzuki.org

FROM GUY DAUNCEY’S ECONEWS

1. EROI (Energy Returned for Energy invested) For Oil, Wind, Solar: EROI is a measure of how much energy you have to use to get energy. In the early days of oil you needed the energy from one barrel of oil to extract a hundred barrels, for an EROI of 100:1. All the easy oil has gone, so now one barrel only gets you 14 barrels. In Alberta’s oil sands, because so much energy is needed to extract the oil from the tar, one barrel gets you only 3 barrels. And by the time it has been shipped to China it will only give you 2.4 barrels. Details at www.bcsea.org/past-webinars.

So what’s the EROI for wind and solar? For solar PV, the US Department of Energy calculated that over a 30-year lifetime solar PV will produce 26 to 29 years of net energy, translating into an approximate EROI range of 8 to 27. For wind, the European Wind Energy Association calculated that an offshore turbine covers its energy investment in 6.8 months, land-based in 6.6 months, giving an approximate EROI of 35 to 55 for a 20-30 year lifespan.

2. WORLD PROBLEMS AND ‘THE BENEFIT CORPORATION’: Our civilization is using a legal framework for business that requires a company to maximize its returns to its shareholders. In the movie The Corporation this kind of behaviour was correctly labeled as psychopathic. A director’s legal duty to maximize a company’s returns requires decisions to be made which offload costs and damages onto workers, local communities, the environment and the atmosphere if they can get away with it. The B Lab, a non-profit, saw the problem and wanted to fix it and so created the Benefit Corporation, a new legal framework which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. A certified B Corporation adopts a new legal structure which expands the definition of fiduciary trust and corporate accountability so that they require a company and its directors to make decisions that are good for society, not just for their shareholders. It also requires it to publish an annual Impact Report and to appoint an independent benefit director. In a regular company, when an owner wants or needs to sell, he or she is obliged to take the highest price regardless of how evil the buyer might be, or if they want to fire all the workers and strip the assets. Being a certified B Corporation means that a company can only be sold to a company that accepts its mission unless there is a 2/3rds super-majority of shareholders. So how is it going? Seven states in the US (including New York, California and New Jersey) have adopted laws creating benefit corporations, and 533 companies have become certified B Corporations across 60 different industries, including 48 in Canada. These include Salt Spring Coffee and Living Forest Communities, which is building an eco-hamlet at Elkington Forest on the Trans-Canada Trail south of Shawnigan Lake.

How does a business become a B Corporation? There’s a five-step process that begins with taking an impact assessment in which your business must score at least 80 points out of a possible 200. It’s all laid out at www.bcorporation.net.

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck