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January 2015 Newsletter

JANUARY 2015

SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT NETWORK SOCIETY NEWSLETTER 

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 (Sustainable Environment Network Society), c/o the Boys and Girls Club, 3300-37th Ave., Vernon, V1T 2Y5. Website: www.sensociety.org

This newsletter is being sent out for your interest. Information contained within does not imply approval by SENS directors.

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

SENS NEWS

1. Do It Yourself (DIY) Solar Energy Projects: January 22, 7 pm. SENS Director John Barling will provide helpful information on the ease of DIY and the costs for swimming pool and water heating, cabin photo-voltaics, solar greenhouses, cooking in the sun, and food drying. Planning for specific workshops to follow. Everyone welcome! Bring your questions and ideas!

LOCAL STUFF

1. Farmers’ Markets:

·       Coldstream: Fridays, 2:30 pm – 6 pm.

·       Armstrong: Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, Odd Fellows Hall, Bridge Street.

·       Lumby: Daily, 10am – 5pm (except Sundays noon-5), Arbour Park Mall on Hwy 6

Organic produce, both GMO and pesticide free. Contact: 250 547-7808.

2. Green Drinks:  Monday, January 12, 5 – 7 pm, Sir Winston’s Pub. Everyone's welcome! Contact Matt (250 275-1471 ext 3) if you’d like to sponsor and speak in a future month. 

3. Liveable Communities Details:  City staff last year asked the public for input on alternative transportation for Vernon's Pedestrian-Bike Master Plan. When asked which bike infrastructure they'd like to see built first: 54% favoured separated multi-use paths; 20% favoured pedestrian & bike corridors; and only 13% favoured on road bike lanes.   

4. Cycling In Cities: In general, cycling increases employee productivity (by 52%), lowers employee health care costs (again by 52%), and its health benefits far outweigh the risk (9:1). Employees take 32 % fewer sick days. At the same time, bike lanes are boosting retail sales, tourism, and property values. More research results:  Cyclists spend 40% more than drivers at local retailers. Protected bike lanes in Memphis generated 15 new businesses, plus a 50% increase in business and 30 renovations. A new bike lane in Calgary caused a 430% increase in cyclists in 2 months. One bike lane in New York increased cyclists 177% and decreased commercial vacancies 47%. It was also noted that people on foot and bicycles visit stores more often and spend more per month than drivers. As well, more young people in cities are choosing to cycle, not own and drive cars. Given all this, Vernon and area really ought to do more to support cycling! Thank-you to Mia Kohout CEO and Editor- in-chief of Momentum magazine, for these valuable facts.

 5. Youth on Farms: According to a new UBC report, "young British Columbia farmers who don’t own land and don’t have enough money to buy a farm are finding creative ways to get their hands on the acreage they need." The report documents options like incubator farms (community-based land leasing), land linking (mentoring), and co-operative farming (land sharing), and identifies the needs and challenges for new farmers. "Helping new or prospective farmers is vital to maintain and improve B.C.’s local food system." Otherwise, we import or starve!

6. Community Kitchens: Mark those calendars!  Dish themes: Jan 22 & 23 – Mexico, Feb 12 & 13 – Stews, Mar 12 & 13 – Ukrainian, Apr 23 & 24 – Get kids in the kitchen, May 21& 22 – Japan, June 18 & 19 – Summer Salad.  Register 1 week ahead at vernoncommunitycooking@gmail.com  $1 per portion to take home. The program still needs  9 x 9” and 9 x 13” glass casserole dishes, measuring cups and spoons, large, heavy bottomed soup pots, large mixing bowls, immersion blenders… 

MATERIAL CONTRIBUTED BY MEMBERS AND READERS

1. Weather Trends: This slick site takes time snapshots and shows the estimated wind trails, at 3 hour periods based on the public weather data. You can also see temperatures trending too. Neat!

2. B.C. Caribou Videos: Here's three informative videos on these animals! 

3. Nature Fun for Kids: As this Globe & Mail article notes, playing in nature is very beneficial for kids.

 4. Insect Farming Industry: With limited land for the unsustainable beef industry, it's time to consider insect farming to secure food for all. It's inexpensive to raise protein-rich bugs in a small space, sustainable, and offers a healthily alternative to beef. It even helps combat global warming! It may take a few decades, but it’s the way of the future. For more, go here.

 5. Not Shopping: Check out this great anti-consumer book! It contains some very positive thoughts (e.g. ‘You are what you choose NOT to buy’) and the author's did-not-buy-it paintings. 

6. Alive Magazine Research Findings: Here are some research findings: (1) Productivity jumped 15% when green plants were added to a non-green plant office work space; (2) Eating baked or broiled fish 1x/week increases memory function and cognition; and (3)  Eating vegetable protein is not a factor in bringing on diabetes; eating animal protein is...  For the rest of the findings, go here

7. Action on Chevron’s Mess: Chevron (Texaco) has, for over 28 years, knowingly dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon. This has devastated thousands of lives and poisoned the rainforest. These are crimes against humanity! As such, indigenous and farmer communities are taking their fight to the International Criminal Court (ICC). While the case is before the ICC, help put Chevron's bosses under massive pressure to comply and pay damages to those affected (estimated at $9.5 billion). Sign the SumOfUs petition

8. Help Stop Doritos: "That sound you [hear] when you bite down on a Doritos? That’s the sound of rainforests being 'crunched' to make way for massive, [slavery-run] palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia." This is fuelling the extinction of many endangered species (e.g. orangutans, etc.) and global warming! Tell Doritos-maker PepsiCo to change their ways. If brands like PepsiCo show producers that they're interested in conflict-free, responsible palm oil, we're likely to get a permanent halt to deforestation...Thanks to SumOfUs for this information.

 9. B.C.’s Carbon Tax: Since 2008, we in B.C. have been nudged into making small decisions that lower our C-tax burden. And it's working! Fuel use and per person GHG emissions have both dropped 17%. Meanwhile, B.C.’s economic performance (GDP) did not change from that of the rest of Canada. In fact, because of the C tax, B.C. has the lowest income tax burden in Canada! And now we're being asked to support a transportation tax... Well, given the success of the C-tax, sign me up! For a related article on C-tax effectiveness, go here

10. Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC):  Money Sense magazine has ranked NCC the top environmental charity in Canada for the 5th consecutive year.  www.natureconservancy.ca

11. BC Nature Info: a) Geothermal offers cheaper, cleaner alternative to Site C Dam: Read Here

b) Scientist research indicates that Canada's laws fail to protect endangered species - 86% of our country's at risk species stay at the same risk level or have deteriorated over time. "Extinction is forever ... If something goes extinct, this is millions of years of evolution that we're losing."  (Quirks & Quarks interview with research scientist, Dr B Favaro).

c) "Chinook salmon could be wiped out by 2100, new study claims" - Read Here

12. Book Review: “Think Like A Commoner” (David Bollier): The Commons are “things that are owned by no-one but shared by all with social protocols for sharing”.  This 2014 book explains how present day ignorance of the commons enables private plunder of common wealth all over the world.  Some examples of this common wealth: air, parks, water, coastal fisheries, internet, seeds, farm gate sales(!), information, knowledge, traditions, creativity, songs…The author details current day examples where ordinary people, by using the commons (but not for profit) benefit everyone  (eg GNU/Linux). He shows how false information (“Tragedy of the Commons”) has made people think that the commons don’t work because people are self-interested (not cooperative and don’t share well) despite many hundreds of years of the commons still working well in such countries as Switzerland (since 1200!). He gives the historical background for how enclosures of the commons in medieval times by kings and nobles took away independence and self-sufficiency as people lost use of shared lands, forests and waters. They became ‘wage slaves’ in industrialized cities or beggars. This land grab is happening today in Africa, India and Latin America. Government works with corporations to allow theft of the commons using such terms as “progress, development and efficiency” – but we all end up the poorer for it. We become individual consumers, not communities with shared long term non-market interests. Corporatization of food means, for example, that we’ve lost the 650,000 different local varieties of apples of 100 years ago as companies support only a few for export – it’s all about profit for them! Local food tradition cuisine is lost to homogenous fast food chains. Privatization of roads, water, bridges. means monopoly prices can be charged. Public-private deals mean politicians avoid having to raise taxes to pay for infrastructure, however, if turned over to private interests, the billions that the public has put into this over many years is lost, quality of service is lost, good local wages are lost, and locals pay more via, toll roads, meters, etc.  Government subsidies can guarantee a company gets profits, without legal liability or operating risks. Everything must have a monetary value so that some group can make money from it. There’s lots more, short read, loads of intriguing examples. It’s in our library system… 

FROM INTERPARES (www.interpares.ca)

1.Open For Justice: Interpares has joined with the Canadian Network of Corporate Accountability to demand the establishment of an Ombudsman and legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been harmed by Canadian mining operations overseas. 

2. Gold Mines: 4 of 10 in eastern Burma were ordered to close, compensate farmers, and restore destroyed streams & fields. They were drying out water supplies and releasing untreated cyanide. 

3. No More Hunger/Poverty: Deccan Development Society (DDS) in India has, for 30 years, helped one region become a model of self-sufficiency and food security through cooperative farming. Interpares is now helping these women farmers to show west African farmers how they did it. 

FROM DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION

1. Right to Clean Drinking Water is Needed: Excerpt: "Many[Canadian] communities, particularly northern and Aboriginal, suffer from poor access to healthy and affordable food, clean water, proper housing. and other necessary infrastructure ... The right to a healthy environment needs to be recognized by all levels of government in Canada — and ultimately, in our Constitution." To read the entire article and David's ironic example of this suffering, go here.

FROM CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment)

1. Ontario Vows to Reduce Use of Neonic Pesticides: The Ontario government says it intends to reduce the use of bee-killing "neonic" pesticides by 80%. This is a major victory! But CAPE's fight is not over yet... It will continue to keep pressure on the government to ensure they follow-through on their commitments and, ultimately, work towards a total (100%) ban! Go here for the CBC story. 

2. How Much Water is There? This startling image from the U.S. Geological Service shows the relative amount of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. There's not very much! Can we really afford to lose even more of this to fossil fuel and other industrial development? 

3. Seawater into Fuel: Here's a game changer! The U.S. Navy, wanting cheap and easy to obtain fuel, has successfully managed to turn seawater Into fuel. This could save planetary civilization!

4. Robotic Bees??? Here's an interesting, if worrisome idea. Apparently, the pesticide industry's solution to that pesky neonic bee-killing issue, are... robotic bees! But as this balanced article   points out, "Let's work on saving the real bees before we enlist swarms of robot pollinators." 

5. Germany on the Move: According to this article, the biggest utility company in Germany is leaving fossil fuels behind and switching over to renewables. 

6. Water Shortages: Here's an optimistic piece that suggests that, despite some government indifference to the drawing down of the planet's resources (e.g. water, trees, fish, etc.) and despite their stonewalling of any opposition, "sanity will [eventually] prevail, and when it does, ... we'll pull back from the yawning abyss." Fingers crossed! 

7. Health + Hope: Here's a nice story relating how doctors are seeing health and hope in the Burnaby Mountain protests. 

8. Fracking Harm: Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy released a working paper analysis, of approximately 400 peer-reviewed studies to date on the impacts of shale gas development. Key highlights: 96% of all papers on health indicate risks/adverse health outcomes; 95% of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants; 72% of original research studies on water quality indicate contamination or risk thereof. A second Physicians group released similar information. View this great story from Albany Times Union, NY. 

FROM ECOJUSTICE

1. Protecting Our Arctic: Canada’s Arctic is under threat! Right now, four well known oil companies are asking the National Energy Board for permission to drill deep water oil wells in the Arctic, with an exemption from the Same Season Relief Well (SSRW) policy. SSRW basically states that Energy companies need to prove that they can stop a ruptured well by drilling a relief well in the same season. If this exemption is granted, it would be a fatal blow to environmental protection and set a reckless precedent. Please help Ecojustice fight to stop this exemption. The entire article is here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck