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October 2016 Newsletter


Sustainable Environment Network Society

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.

SENS NEWS               

1. Climate Justice in BC - Re-Imagining a Good Green Life: October 11th, 7 pm, Schubert Centre. Can BC become carbon-zero and generate 1000’s of good green jobs? Seth Klein (Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) shares key findings and policy solutions of the Climate Justice Project, highlighting how we can do this with fairness and equality.  SENS is co-sponsoring with CFUW, UBCO and other groups. Admission by donation ($5 suggested) to assist with costs. 

 2. Off The Grid: Thursday, October 27, 7 pm, Schubert Centre. Join us for an evening to discuss solar’s costs, types and benefits. Come early to check out the information tables!  Solar and earthship information to augment this evening is at the end of this newsletter. 

3. Sept 22 With Dr Warren Bell

 Vernon, as of June 6, 2016, is a Blue Dot City - all citizens have the right to a safe, healthy environment -   … some tidbits from Dr Bell’s presentation that you might wish to use for a letter of concern re: pesticide use in our fair city…

**Round-up’s active ingredient (glyphosate) is all that’s ever tested in research, however the inactive ingredients have been found to be 1000 times more harmful than just glyphosate. 

**The Gilles – Eric Seralini study on glyphosate and mammals was done, not for 3 months (by Monsanto) but for 2 years, and it found many more tumours appeared and also that there was serious kidney disease that showed up – in some tropical countries that use glyphosate this has been very evident. Bangladesh scientists did research and therefore the product was banned but the US and Monsanto applied pressure (or money?) and the government ban was overturned. The next election ousted that leader.

 **Chemical companies have known the bad effects of their pesticides for decades but have kept it under wraps and used ‘spin doctors’ to avoid such exposure, even putting “Monsanto stooges” into high level positions elsewhere to influence decisions.… 

**1995 Environmental Working Group found 285 chemicals in umbilical cord blood of babies. **The Zeka virus has been around for a long time without the appearance of the microcephaly babies. Why now? Spraying started in 2014 to control the mosquito virus…. Brazil, with government support, uses much GMO product… 

**Denmark is going totally organic… they recognize the need to work with nature using biomimicry, and to go organic to get normal food. 

** we need to limit chemical use and not do more research or make more of the over 85,000 chemicals we already have in use ( most NOT tested stringently). 

** Check out the 2012 September Review of Pesticide Health Effects for details. 

** We can’t just look after ourselves via local parochial preoccupations but we need a global perspective driving our local lives and actions.

 3. April 27, 2017: SENS executive have met and planned all months until next May, however we have nothing yet for April.. Got a great idea for a speaker or panel or debate or??? Let us know! jblissau@telus.net


1. Farmers’ Markets: Until end of October…

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

·       Coldstream: Wednesdays, 2:30 – 6 pm, in the park.

·       Armstrong: Saturdays, 8 – noon, Fairgrounds. 

2. Vernon's i-Walk Month: Vernon is celebrating Walking with three i-Walk School Celebration Stations, on Wed. Oct. 12th at Ellison Elementary; Thursday, October 13th at Harwood Elementary; and Friday, October 14th at Alexis Park Elementary. All stations will have free refreshments for students walking, biking, scootering or taking the school bus and a chance to win an i-Walk grab bag! 

3. Carpool Week: Make October your month to rejuvenate on your way to work. Sign up to carpool locally at carpool.ca and meet other neat people for great pre & post work chat and sharing! There are prizes too!

 4. Family Astronomy Night: Oct 8th @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Allan Brooks Nature Centre.  Join us on this International Observe the Moon night with local members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. They’ll answer all your questions during a short presentation beginning at 6:30, then point their telescopes toward the moon and other celestial wonders for an evening of family fun. In the event of rain, the presentation will be extended to include more fascinating information and focus on the Apollo missions. To end the evening the Society will tell a “bedtime” story about the moon. Admission is by donation. 

5. October’s Best Fest: Oct 29th @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Join us for our brand new closing event of season! Activities include pumpkin carving, kite building and flying, craft workshops, treats, games, prizes, a bonfire, a costume contest, and more! After dark we’ll light up our pumpkins for a spooky pumpkin walk with stories on the nature trail. Suggested donation of $10 per family includes take-home crafts and pumpkins. 

6. Murder and Maggots: Oct 12th @ 7:30 pm, OK College lecture theatre. This“ Science in Society” presentation by Dr. Anderson of SFU's School of Criminology features the use of forensic entomology in criminal investigations. $7 in advance from OSC (545-3644) or $10 at the door.     

7. North Okanagan Naturalists Meeting: October 5th, 7 pm, Village Green Hotel. Robyn Thornton will show her pictures from a recent visit to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

8. Recycling: If you have garage sale items you’d like to provide to a new home, OK Landing Association is holding a garage sale October 22, 8 – noon. Contact: Errol at errol2000@yahoo.com


1. Beehives and Elephants: In Africa, beehives are being used by farmers as a fence to keep out destructive grazing elephants. As an added bonus, the “elephant-friendly” honey sells at a premium and the bees pollinate the surrounding vegetation! To read the entire article, go here.

2. Solar Powered Creations: Check out this cool video!

3. Solar Industry Trends: In 2015, it was worth almost $23 billion US. By the end of 2016, it's expected to double... One of the trends driving that growth has been the falling cost of solar energy. The price of installing solar has dropped by more than 70% over the last 10 years. And thanks to new technology, installation is getting cheaper, too! A second major trend driving this is the quest to recharge electric cars in solar powered parking lots. Finally, the third major trend revolves around the idea of producing excess energy and selling it to the utility company. 

4. The Future of Humanity: How much of the fossil fuel in the world’s existing coal mines and oil wells can we dig, drill or burn to prevent global warming from cooking the planet? ZERO. Read on!

 5. Hippo-Roller: Check out this video to see how this simple tech is providing clean water for Africa!


1. Sockeye Salmon:This year’s run is the lowest in recorded history. Climate change and river/ocean warming, that encourages sea lice as well as low river flow, are to blame. Researchers also predict that these conditions will drive the salmon north. This migration/decline will seriously affect coastal ecosystems and wildlife (e.g. resident killer whales). Can salmon and their ecosystems survive? One recommendation is to move fish farm onto land… 

2. Air Travel: Aircraft emissions are not considered within climate change accords between countries, despite contributing 2 % of global emissions. However, a new deal to impose limits on aircraft emissions will be considered for approval at the UN International Civil Aviation Organization assembly early in October. As air transport becomes increasingly popular, experts project aircraft emissions could triple by 2050.

3. In Diversity There is Strength: This lovely little essay by David Suzuki lays out the fundamental scientific link between diversity in ecosystems, and diversity in human culture. It's a wonderful short read from a man who has had a major impact on the world both within and outside the world of biological science. 


1. National Energy Board Impartiality:  Read about how ECOJUSTICE is raising tough questions about the impartiality of the National Energy Board panel tasked with reviewing the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline project! 


1. B.C.’s Top 5 Water Challenges: The POLIS Project on Ecological Governance recently released this report, which documents dozens of examples of critical water issues unfolding in the province’s watersheds. Drawing on an extensive review of media, cases, and insights from attending over 100 recent water related events, the study identifies five key water challenges. They range from securing fresh water for ecological, community, and economic sustainability, to building a leading, robust science and governance framework.


1. Subsidies that Benefit Fossil Fuel Producers:  In a world that’s shifting to cleaner sources of energy, these subsidies don’t make sense!  Currently the federal and provincial governments give out about $3.3 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. When the Liberals were running for election in 2015, they promised to end fossil fuel subsidies. Let's ensure they stick to that promise. Support any provincial party in the next election that vows this. Also, check out this great website that explains these subsidies, debates them,  and explores solutions for Canadians and Canada’s economy. 

2. Green Finance In China: When in 2013, IISD and its Chinese partners began to look at how finance sector reform might speed the transition to green development, the Chinese were quick to act. In just a year they established the Green Finance Task Force and, in 2014, a Green Finance Committee. In October 2015, China announced that green finance would be a priority! China is, today, the unquestioned world leader in green finance. The country’s new  green era is well under-way. The consequences will be felt all over the world. 


1. International Criminal Courts: In a major shift of focus, the ICC will now, for the first time, consider cases of crime committed against the ecosystem. This falls in line with the actions of several nations and provinces around the world which have granted the ecosystem inherent rights, or have made the right to a healthy and diverse ecosystem a central position in human law. One band has decided to divest itself from fossil fuels (for “scientific reasons”). It’s a union owned bank with $4 billion invested. 

2. State of Provincial and Municipal Pesticide Regulations in Canada: On August 30th, CAPE released a new report on the state of provincial and municipal pesticide regulations in Canada. CAPE found that while seven provinces have cosmetic pesticide bans, only two provinces provide strong protection from toxic pesticides: Ontario and Nova Scotia. Three provinces - Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan - received failing grades. The report identifies and discusses best practices for both provincial laws and municipal bylaws. 

3. Peace of Mind For The Peace? A coalition of advocacy groups have raised $300K to help pay for Treaty 8 First Nations (up in BC's Peace River country) to mount a case challenging the Site C dam.



1. Revamp: Guy has just revamped his full coverage of the Climate Crisis and their solutions. 500+ slides. Feel free to use any or all when teaching or giving a talk. 


1. Canadian Species at Risk: Did you know that Canada has 40 IUCN Red List species that are now more endangered than the giant panda? Find out what the NCC is doing to protect these species by going here

2. A story of Good and Weevils: In B.C.’s West Chilcotin, a tiny bug is helping to control an aggressive invader. To learn more, go here

3. The Importance of Dead and Dying Trees: When thinking about healthy forests, it’s not often we include dead, dying or diseased trees. But any enlightened forest manager will tell you that they’re an essential part of a strong forest ecosystem, and a key characteristic of old-growth. Read on


1. Solar Water Heating

There are a few different ways to heat water with the solar energy. Using the summer sun to heat a pool makes perfect sense in the sunny Okanagan. The most economical method of heating a swimming pool is through the use of a floating, transparent, polybubble cover that traps the energy of the sun. Commercial solar swimming pool heaters can further enhance the heating of a pool, however, they are expensive and achieve about the same heating effect as a polybubble cover 

If you travel to the Mediterranean it seems as though every other house has a solar domestic hot water heater but in Canada they are a rarity. There are two reasons for this: first of all the lack of winter sunshine across most of Canada and the cost of purchasing and installing a heater. Some solar water heaters have a 20 year payback period, after which time the system will probably require replacement!
The solution could be to build your own heater which sounds difficult but actually is not. While teaching at PVSS we built a batch solar water heater out of two oil barrels mounted in a large insulated box that had a glass cover over its sloped south-facing side. In addition the glass cover was sealed-off at night, by raising a hinged reflective cover. Each barrel was painted with high-heat flat black paint and was 90% filled with water (to allow for expansion and contraction of the contents). A copper pipe carried cold water into a copper spiral in each barrel and then continued into the conventional hot water heater.
This very simple hot water heater, that was mainly constructed from recycled materials, supplied a family of four with about 60% of their annual needs for hot water. A heater of this design could very easily have a payback period of less than two years, which is a very attractive proposition.


Earthships are houses that are virtually self-sufficient in terms of energy, water usage and food production. The whole concept has been pioneered, developed and refined by architect Michael Reynolds in Taos, New Mexico. Reynolds prefers to call his work 'Biotecture', as it involves a lot more than traditional architecture. He has battled a great deal of resistance from those who write building codes and the establishment in general. After a long fight he has convinced the powers that be that this type of experimental housing offers a lot, including fighting global warming.
The houses utilize a lot of tires, bottles and cans in their construction; using up materials that fill landfills in many parts of the world. The walls are very massive being constructed of rammed-earth filled tires, which are plastered to make them attractive in appearance. The thermal mass of the walls and berming of the north-facing side of the house minimizes temperature swings and effectively insulates the houses. The whole of the south side of each house is covered with windows. The huge area of windows is sufficient to keep a house warm in the winter even when the temperature drops well below zero Celsius; hard to believe but apparently true! Behind the windows are large growing areas where fruit and vegetables are grown in abundance supplying as much as eighty percent of the food for the people living in the particular house. All water landing on the roof of the house is collected in two 5000 gallon tanks and is used four times over. The water is used for drinking and all other normal uses for water. Wash water from baths, showers and sinks passes on to the vegetable growing area where it is partially cleaned by the plants. Water leaving that area is used to flush toilets. The 'black water' leaving the toilets goes to a conventional septic tank. The water exiting the tank is used to water landscape plants, but not anything that might be eaten directly. Electricity is produced from photovoltaic cells that generate enough electricity to power the house..The whole house is insulated, apart from under the house, where the earth helps with heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.   ' Garbage Warrior',  which documents the world of earthships and Michael Reynolds’  development of the concept may be viewed on Youtube. 

Co- Edited with Egan Mandreck