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September 2015 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.

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

Information contained in this newsletter may not imply approval by SENS directors.



1. Environmental All Candidates Forum: September 24th, 7 – 9:30 pm, Vernon Schubert Centre. What questions do you have fo the 4 candidates? Answers to 5 queestions that SENS sent to candidates in August will be posted at the back for all to read and will soon be on the SENS website.

2.Pesticide pamphlet: This SENS-produced pamphlet is now available under ‘projects’.


1. Farmers’ Markets:

  1. Coldstream: Wednesdays, 2:30 – 6 pm.

  2. Vernon: Mondays and Thursdays, 8 am – 1 pm, Kal Tire Place.

  3. Enderby: Friday, 11 am to 1pm behind City Hall.

  4. Armstrong: Saturdays, 8am – noon, Armstrong fairgrounds.

2. Separated Bike Paths: According to new stats from Vancouver, cycling is up 30% due to the presence of these paths. Have YOU tried the paths at the side of 20th Street and 29th Street yet? Glorious shade and front yard flowers… Let your council know how great they are! Here's a CBC article too!

The Copenhagenize Index 2015 is a comprehensive inventory and ranking of the world’s 20 most bicycle-friendly cities. Vernon has a long way to go but with rising urbanization we need modern mobility solutions that look more at bicycles as opportunity and not as a problem to be dealt with.

From their website: Copenhagen is top bike friendly city in the whole world. Their modal share (numbers cycling) leaped from 36 to 45 % between 2012 and 2014. Infrastructure and political will is very important. Bike share programs have not worked but innovation, investment and improvement do work.

Plenty of research shows the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits of urban cycling. Studies from Denmark tell us that for every kilometer cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23 cents, whereas for every kilometer driven by car we suffer a net loss of 16 cents.

The Copenhagenize Index is based on serious advocacy, bike facilities, social acceptance, and a general perception that cycling is safe. A city gets extra points for a higher modal percentage—the share of residents who get around by bike as opposed to car or public transit—and for a 50-50 gender split among cyclists.

Infrastructure is key. In Denmark and the Netherlands, a set of rules has evolved over a century. Tried and tested and proven to work, this established best practice is the model for cities everywhere. It includes making protected, one-way bike lanes that aren’t shared by cars, buses, or pedestrians. It means designing streets to limit the number and speed of cars in city centers, making public spaces safe and welcoming for everyone, not just drivers.

Vernon, let’s do it!

3. Kamloops Pesticide Ban Passed: Next year, residents of Kamloops will no longer be able spray their lawns or ornamental shrubs with cosmetic pesticides, thanks to the city's new and highly praised ban. The proposed ban, which will see a complete ban on all cosmetic pesticide use, applies to residential spaces and hopefully will include municipal or city spaces as well (to be voted on at a later date). For a full account, read this.

4. Keeping Nature In Our Future: The Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) has a set of interactive displays about habitats, nature, and the importance in protecting it, that will start travelling to community events and farmers markets throughout the Okanagan Region this fall and throughout next spring, summer, and fall. When not on travel, the displays will be housed in the Allan Brooks Nature Centre's Mobile Nature Trailer.  The OCCP is looking for volunteers to staff the display at events. If you are interested in volunteering, go here. The first event will be the IPE in Armstrong (Sept. 2 - 6, 2015). Please drop by if you’re attending the fair.

5. New B.C. Mine? According to this article, a proposed new mine near the Alaska boundary was recently given a permit to operate by the B.C. government. The operator will be the company that owns the Mount Polley mine that had the tailings pond disaster last year...

6. Community Invasive Plant Weeding Day, Lumby: Thursday, September 3, 9:30am at Faulkner and Bessette St access to Salmon Path. Bring gloves, pruners. 250 809 1980 or info@osstewardship.ca

7. Shuswap River Power Boat Restrictions: Check out SENS’ facebook page for details on this issue and what you can do.

8. Visioning Vernon at our Library: Interested in being a panelist, or attending and providing input? Contact Kristy, 250-542-7610 ext. 6822.

September 19th    Community Building: Coming together in the age of (dis)connection How would YOU would like to see the community grow?

October 17th    Sustainable Development: Growing resilience

November 21st    Food: Local, sustainable, attainable Would YOU talk about the emergency food side of things, about growing in your backyard or about farmers’ markets (year round?)?

9. BC Climate Change Action Survey: Despite BC’s endorsement of LNG(fracking) and signed contract with Petronas (Malasian oil/gas Co) They are asking for your comments on what’s to be done about climate change. Survey is here: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/climateleadership/

10. Final Tally For Bike to School and Work Week: Despite storms at Community Bike Fest and Wrap-up Barbeque, a total of 678 riders registered (up 143% from 2014) who logged 2,098 individual trips (up 193%) travelling 14,034 Km saving 3,045 Kg GHG’s. 153 riders were new to cycling.


1. Orcas and Family: Here's a thoughtful TED talk on ending whale captivity. Check it out!

2. Call to Stop New Oil Sands: Over 100 leading scientists have called for a moratorium on new oil sands development. Consensus statement says the science is clear: there can be no more oil sands development if we are to solve the global climate crisis! The document’s authors launched a website (www.OilSandsMoratorium.org) and they also discussed how a transition to low-emission energy production is possible for Canada without a dramatic reduction in economic growth. In order to see such action though, we must first kick Harper out of office...

3. Science Under Siege: All three parts of this great CBC Ideas documentary are available here.

4. Graphene Breakthrough: Here's a must-watch video on this miracle material!

5. Help Stop Nuclear Dumping: A federal review panel has just approved a ludicrous plan to dump nuclear waste just 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron, key to the great lakes system supplying drinking water to 40 million people. Dumping nuclear waste next to the largest freshwater system on Earth is a short-sighted gamble! We need to be protecting our invaluable natural resources like the Great Lakes, not letting corporations contaminate them. Please sign this petition telling our Environment Minister not to approve this horrid plan!

6. Climate Scientist’s Warning: Leading climate scientist James Hansen recently gave an alarming warning that limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius may not prevent a catastrophic sea level rise that would leave major cities from Miami to Mumbai at risk of drowning. The only way to avoid catastrophic flooding of global areas is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least three per cent each year and make fossil fuels more expensive by imposing a global carbon tax.

For the full article, go here.

7. Habitat For Bats: "[GM] has found a unique use for the discarded cases of its Volt batteries ... turning them into shelters for bats—and [other critters]." For the full story, go here.

8. Plants to Help Save Bees: Here's a handy illustration of Bee-saving plants you should have in your garden!

9. Seed Bombs: Nature Conservancy has a short u-tube on how make ‘em.

10. Nitrates and Groundwater Uranium: This study makes the connection between nitrates and naturally occurring uranium in groundwater.

11. Forest Diversity Benefits: Government law makes it illegal for forest companies to allow mixed stands of trees and thus requires elimination of aspen trees with herbicides. When a fire occurred in May of this year near Prince George (Little Bobtail Lake) the older stands that still had aspen were much less damaged because aspen doesn’t burn as readily as conifers.


1. Loblaws Bans Microbeads: Loblaws is pledging to eliminate microbeads and two harmful chemicals known as phthalates and triclosan from its cosmetic and household products by 2018. For more information, go here.

2. Corals are Already Adapting to Global Warming: Here's a bit of good news! Researchers at the University of Austin have found that some coral populations already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes.

3. The U.K.'s First Wild Beaver Birth in 400 years! A female from the first wild beaver colony in England has given birth to at least two young. Beavers were hunted to extinction in England and Wales for their valuable fur and oil during the 12th Century. Check out the adorable video of the kits (Baby Beavers) here!

4. The Ron Mayo Collection: BC Nature is pleased to announce the Ron Mayo videography collection is now available online. In honour of him and the legacy he leaves behind, BC Nature is featuring the incredible collection of natural videos that he captured of the Bella Coola region during his lifetime.


1. Inconvenient Indians: The U.S. government is about to let a giant international mining company dig up a beautiful stretch of national forest held sacred by the Apache tribe. But if we stand with Apache leaders, we can help block this disgraceful deal and send a message to governments around the world: "indigenous lands and culture are not for sale". Please sign

2. Pledge to Save Elephants: We are literally killing them to extinction. 100 elephants a day are dying -- just to produce ivory trinkets. But now there’s reason to hope: China just announced it will phase out its ivory industry and eleven U.S. states are calling for a ban on ivory trading. In light of this, Avaaz hopes a flood of campaigns in the U.S., Thailand and Vietnam will help kill this practice for good. Please click here to help fund this species-saving work!


1. Microbeads Ban? According to this press release, the feds are poised to ban them…


1. Vote for a Sustainable Canada: It’s a federal election year… Time to address Canada's sustainability deficit and climate change? Here's 13 key questions to ask  politician hopefuls.


Healthy Environment: Nature does benefit human health. A Toronto study indicated that adding 10 or more trees to a city block offered benefits equivalent to earning $10,000 more per year, being 7 years younger (!) or moving to a neighbourhood with $10,000 higher median income. There were also reduced rates of heart conditions, cancer, mental health problems and diabetes.


1. Ecological Determinants of Health: Here's an interesting paper on the topic of the ecological determinants of health. Hopefully it will begin a conversation, stimulate debate and ultimately motivate the public health community to action. Here it is in brief too.

2. Corporate Forces; Anyone who wonders why Barack Obama hasn't done more to address environmental issues just has to read a few lines in the article at the URL below to understand how powerful the forces in the largest corporate bastion in the world have been working overtime to stop any erosion of their profitable status quo. ALEC is one giant piece of the background puzzle.

ALEC is funded by the Koch brothers who have large stakes in Albert oil and gas ( BC too?) ALEC give yearly to the Fraser Institute.

3. Corporation Bribery In Saskatchewan: This article is about a couple of giant companies, Cameco and Areva, who have divided a small community by showering it with legal (and probably illegal) bribes. Only in the Canada of Stephen Harper and Brad Wall -- and following on many decades of abusive exploitation of First Nations and Métis -- would this be acceptable.

4. Make Cameco Pay Up: Here's a petition to pressure Cameco, one of the largest uranium mining companies in the world, to pay the $1.5 billion in back taxes that it owes, and to pressure the Canadian government - the CRA - to collect it! Please sign it.

5. Where Fish Spend Their Time: Using acoustic telemetry, IISD scientists have found a remote method of figuring out where fish spend their time. Watch this video to learn how they implant specialized tags in fish to understand their movements.


1.Climate Talks: Here are 4 videos to help you understand the background of Climate Talks. The next one is December, 2015 in Paris.

* History of Climate Governance: Watch video here.

* Pillars (mitigation, adaptation, implementation) of Climate Governance. Watch video here.

* Science and Economics of Climate Governance: Watch video here.

* State of Play at Paris Negotiations. Watch video here.

2. Canadian Lakes: The International Institute for Sustainable Development has had to take over monitoring of our Canadian lakes after the previous team (ELA) was dumped by the government (mostly for being critical of Tar Sands pollution). They're tackling a wide range of topics, from investigating mercury and nanosilver additions, studying algae and the potential impacts of climate change, to testing the ability of manmade “floating wetland” platforms. Check out the IISD-ELA website, their 2014/2015 annual report, and subscribe to the Headwaters newsletter for more!

Co-edited with Egan Mandreck