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Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) Newsletter

February 2012 Newsletter +  


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 ***


February 23, 7 pm, Schubert Centre. Sustainable Transportation: Road congestion and Planning For 2030. Whether walking, biking, carpooling, or bussing this concerns all of us in the community from children to seniors. Learn of successes, locally and around the world, that make for happier, healthier communities. Join us. Provide your input!

In Memorium – Rita Campbell: Rita, a life-long member and valued director of SENS, was actively involved in its inception in the early 70’s first with paper and glass recycling, then with running the local recycling depot, which SENS operated under its previous name (North Okanagan Recycling Society). Rita was a powerful advocate for recycling and for the environment. We will miss her.

Food As An Economic Motor: This January 26 event, initiated and facilitated by SENS director Huguette Allen (it attracted over 100 locals), was reported in both the Lumby Times and Vernon’s Morning Star. http://www.lumbyvalleytimes.ca/ **If you attended and left your e-mail address but did not receive any e-mails after, either your security is too high, or you did not print your e-mail clearly enough, so please contact me (jblissau@telus.net)!


1. Winter Markets: The Green Croft Market will be held every Wednesday, 2 - 6 pm, at Coldstream Women’s Institute Hall across from the school. The Enderby Market will be on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month (Feb 10, 24, Mar 9, 23), 2 pm - 5.30 pm, at the Enderby Senior Citizen Complex. The Armstrong Market is every Thursday, 1 – 5 pm, at Odd Fellows Hall, Bridge St.

2. Fresh Outlook Foundation: More than 250 speakers and industry experts will be present for their 5th annual conference, Monday, February 27 to Thursday, March 1 in Kelowna. Details in this PDF.

3. BEE S.A.F.E Movement: This new and local (Lumby) initiative aims to promote a secure local food economy that is safe for bees, people, and the environment. The group hopes to educate and inform through films, workshops, and networking. BEE S.A.F.E. is looking for donations to help fill its bare office and also is seeking volunteers to assist at their new offices. Email Carla or call 250-547-6292. Also be sure to check out the My Valley Sun (MVS) story about BEE S.A.F.E.

4. Local Food Website: Check out the new Zcom Eco-village site and read the MVS feature on it. 

5. Cosmetic Pesticides Consultation: An all-party committee looking into cosmetic pesticides in the province received over 8,700 submissions, the most a B.C. parliamentary committee has ever received. From this and stakeholder feedback, the committee expects to table its report of recommendations during the spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly. For more information, please visit the Committee's website

6. Stop Vernon from Using Lethal Traps: There are humane ways to deal with wildlife that are more effective, safer, and less expensive. A ban would avoid needless suffering to animals and avoid killing non-target animals like pet dogs and cats. Council will only pass a ban if enough people show up for support for the Feb 13, 1:30pm presentation to Vernon council on this issue.  

7. School Travel Plans: Vernon City Staff are currently working with Silver Star Elementary and Hillview Elementary as well as Beairsto parents to plan safe routes for their students. Past improvements to school routes have seen sidewalks and pedestrian lights, widening of road shoulders, and a pedestrian bridge added to various roads.

8. Getting Back to Gaia-Anticipating the Growing Seasons: Feb9, 5 pm, Bohemian Café, 524 Bernard, Kelowna. Reserve ahead at www.okanaganinstitute.com/register.php $2 at door.

9. Information Technology- Hot Topic For a Warming Planet: Science In Society speaker series featuring Bill St. Arnaud, Green IT specialist, Wed., February 15, 7:30pm, Vernon’s Okanagan College Lecture Theatre. Tickets: $5 from the Okanagan Science Centre in advance or $7 at door.


1. Speaker at 100 Mile House, Feb. 7: World renowned author, educator and speaker, Richard Heinberg will be giving a public presentation at 7 pm. In it, expect to hear his “wry, unflinching approach based on facts and realism [as] Richard exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future.” Also be sure to check out this recommended u-tube clip: 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds.  

2. ISA Virus: The Cohen ISA virus hearing made it clear that the salmon farming industry has grown beyond the control of government. In order to keep the fish markets open, the industry (in collusion with the DFO) lied to its buyers by claiming all ISA tests were negative, smeared the scientists who did get positive results, and gate-kept negative data. Apparently, our governments can't afford to protect wild salmon in the face of global fish farm market pressures! To read more, check out this blog and this wild salmon website.

3. Misleading Cell Phone Study: According to this article, a Danish Cohort study into cell phone radiation exposure was highly flawed, “not supportable by the obtained flawed data, and the study’s conclusions are misleading. They are leading the public to believe that the cell phones are safe, when no such claim can be made.”

3. Enbridge Oil Spills: According to this eye-opening article, Enbridge, the proposer of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, readily admits that they can’t stop spills; only try to minimize the consequences. The only question before us is how bad will it be when the inevitable happens. “In [B.C.’s] case, by the nature of the location the resultant spills will create appalling, ongoing and long-term consequences. We simply cannot let this happen.” Check it out!

4. Obesogens: The new theory into obesity (overeating is still not advised though) is that everyday chemicals are making us fat. For more, read this article. More details below, too.

5. Free Online Book on Smart Meters: This book comprises 265 pages of research and current knowledge of health & environmental effects from the smart meters. It’s highly recommended!

8. Gutting The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: This 1995 act was intended to engage the public and to promote sustainable development by forcing federal authorities to ensure that environmental assessments were done. There is a move by our federal government to reduce the scope and effectiveness of the CEAA. Please write to Environment Minister Peter Kent, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6 or Peter.Kent@parl.gc.ca to express your concerns about the government’s intention to weaken the assessment laws and undermine sustainable development in Canada. Also cc to Prime Minister Harper, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, and the opposition parties’ environment critics, as well as your own MP. Engage your MP in discussion on this issue too, as most of them know little about it and don’t realize its importance. More, plus a raging grannies video at www.miningwatch.ca

9.Protection of Bendor and Cayoosh Mountains: This pristine, natural area, west of Lillooet and north of Pemberton, is of vital importance as a connecting link for wildlife, and contains many of the 2000 BC species of plants and animals that are at risk – especially grizzlies. There are plans for logging, mining, and an all season destination resort. Click on ‘wildlands’ at this site: www.wildernesscommittee.org or view www.statimc.net for maps, then write Premier Christy Clark, Box 9041, Station Prov Govt, Victoria BC, V8W 9E1 premier@gov.bc.ca to ask that these 2 mountains be protected within St’at’imc Tribal Parks.

10. Smart Meters: informational presentation, February 6, 7 pm, 2913 29th Avenue.


1. Resolutions that Help Save the Environment: Here is a list of the top New Year resolutions that you can pledge, and be proud of your commitment next year! Also check out www.cereplast.com.

2. Recycling Survey in B.C.: A study is underway into what happens to recycled materials province-wide. It will get a sense of the current state of the recycling infrastructure in B.C., including how much it costs to recycle all of the material that currently goes through the system. See full story.

3. E-Waste Décor; A Chilean recycling company, Recycla, donates pieces of old tech so that Alonso, a graphic designer, can create stools by pouring epoxy resin into a mold filled with the e-waste. Legs are made from cast aluminum. Each piece is original and dyes can also be added to the resin to add color. See Full Story.

4. Innovative composting in Kitsilano, Vancouver: Kitsilano’s Trafalgars Bistro and adjacent bakery Sweet Obsession are able to prevent 100 percent of their organic waste and about 98 percent of their remaining waste from making its way to the dump using a new composting machine in action. See Full Story.





1. Help Stop the Northern Gateway: Tell B.C. Premier Christy Clark to keep our coast tanker-free. Please e-mail Premier Clark and ask her to oppose the Northern Gateway tanker-pipeline project. Our coastal economies, ecosystems and cultures are not worth risking for the benefit of Big Oil.


1.Obesogens (chemicals that cause obesity): Globally, more than 1 in 10 of the adult population is obese and 33% of the world’s children are overweight. See www.hivehealthmedia.com/world-obesity-stats-2010. The Harvard School of Public Health found that the prevalence of obesity among babies had risen by 73% since 1980. This points to chemicals that have appeared over the past 40 years. Such chemicals (eg Bisphenol A) program the bodies of these babies to produce more fat cells. A recent CBC The Nature of Things program on this: https://bitly.com/A2E3m.

2.Natural Gas – Worse Than Coal? Shale gas, which is released by fracking – injecting water mixed with toxic chemicals into the ground and hoping it doesn’t re-emerge in the groundwater – is worse than coal as a cause of global warming. The extraction and distribution of natural gas also releases raw methane, and molecule for molecule, over 100 years, methane traps 33 times more heat than CO2. Methane’s life in the atmosphere is ten years so, over 20 years, it traps 105 times more heat. Also, new research shows that shale gas operations may be releasing as much as 5.9% of their volume as methane. See: www.bcsea.org/past-webinars

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck

Mid-February 2012 Newsletter +  


SENS Mid-month News:

  1. Friday, February 17, 7 pm, prize-winning film “One man, one cow, one planet” (http://onemanonecow.com/ at Cherryville Community Hall. Free, with discussion to follow. Tea and coffee by donation.

  2. Sustainable Transportation - A panel discussion on what our future will look like:  Thursday, February 23, 7 - 9 pm, Schubert Centre. More cars? Road congestion? More bypasses? Does a 'more cars, more roads' transportation plan work for youth, seniors and people with disabilities? Does it work for the rest of us, even? What are the alternatives? Hear from City staff and council, BC transit, cyclists, seniors and youth advocates about how we can accommodate all residents  in the future and how the Official Community Plan fits in. Learn of successes here and around the world that make for a happier, healthier community.  We need your input!  Sponsor: Sustainable Environment Network Society (www.sensociety.org).

  3. Webinar: Transportation without oil – 23 steps to a sustainable future: Tuesday, Feb 21, noon – 1 pm. Register ASAP as space is limited - https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/597229346

PC users need windows 7, Vista XP or 2003 server

Mac-based users need mad OSX 10.5 or newer

  1. Guest Professor Series: Watersheds, Food Security and Climate Change Science: Monday, February 27, 7 pm Schubert Centre. UBC Prof, Hans Schreier exposes nasty facts about environmental pollution and how to manage water when demands come from various users, and looks at food security in a waste and climate stressed world. Admission by donation.

  2. Tar Sands and Proposed Gateway Pipline – Public Forum: February 29th, 7 pm, United Church Hall, Salmon Arm….co-sponsored by SEAS, KAIROS, and the Okanagan/Shuswap NDP Riding Association. Videos and a power point presentation will cover many of the issues including the environmental, economic and social impacts from the existing tar sands and the potential impacts from the planned tar sands expansion and the proposed tar sands pipelines across British Columbia and the oil tanker traffic on the coast. The presentation will include materials from the Pembina Institute, the Dogwood Initiative and other organizations.

  3. Bee Movie Screening – “Queen Of The Sun: What Are The Bees Telling Us?” – March 1, 6:30 – 9pm, Vernon Towne Theatre. Tickets, $5. Fundraiser for Cedar Bridge School, a waldorf initiative school in Whitevale. See www.queenofthesun.com for details.

  4. March 3, Annual Seed Swap/Sale (and many tables of local farm/garden items for sale, too!) Enderby’s Secondary School, 9 – 2:30pm(?) Bring your own coffee mug! – more details to follow – and watch the local paper!

March 2012 Newsletter +  


MARCH 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 ***


March 22, Schubert Centre – FREE! SENS Seed Swap and Sale, AGM, and Speakers: 6:30 pm - Seed Swap (bring envelopes!)Bring plants too?; 7 pm – SENS AGM; 7:15 pm - Gord Hiebert on Permaculture; 7:30 pm - Dave Doncaster on GM Foods and Your Health. Discussion encouraged.

What Makes A Community Resilient? Across the world, communities are facing peak oil, climate change and shaky economic times, and are starting to think about how best to transition into greater resilience and lower fossil-fuel energy dependence. Come out and provide your input at an introductory “Transition Towns” video and sharing night, March 8, 7 pm, Schubert Centre.  We want to hear your positive vision for how Vernon and surrounding areas can make the transition... Practical action ideas welcome! Vernon In Transition (www.facebook.com/VernonTransition)


1. Winter Markets: The Green Croft Market will be held every Wednesday, 2 - 6 pm, at Coldstream Women’s Institute Hall across from the school. The Enderby Market will be on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month (Mar 9, 23), 2 pm - 5.30 pm, at the Enderby Senior Citizen Complex. The Armstrong Market is every Thursday, 1 – 5 pm, at Odd Fellows Hall, Bridge St.


2. Courses for Water Harvesting in B.C.: Courses in Composting, Forest Gardening, and Syrup Production are being offered by the Okanagan College, Kal Campus under the Horticulture heading. Check out this brochure for more information.

3. Excellent Local Magazine:North of 50” is on-line for subscribers at $12 per year. Check it out, and then order your monthly copy!

4. Enderby’s Annual Seed Swap/Sale: (and many tables of local farm/garden items for sale, too!) Enderby’s Secondary School, March 3, 10 – 2:30pm. Bring your own coffee mug!

5. Hikers! Kal Lake Park Unexploded Explosive Ordinances Public Information Session: Tuesday, March 6, 7 pm, Schubert Centre. Briefing on history of military history in the Park, risks, how to stay safe, and DND’s future plans.

6. “Match Madness” Month: Check out the activities at www.carpool.ca and use the site to register to become a carpooler, play transportation trivia, share stories, pictures and more. You’ll be entered to win numerous prizes!

7. Food Action Volunteers Required! Are you a tech-savvy food enthusiast who wants to make a difference in the community? The Food Action Society is looking for volunteers to be a member of our Website and Social Networking Committee and oversee the development of the Food Action website, particularly its interactive features: the Local Food Directory and Map, the Food Events Calendar, and the Local Food News Bulletin. No time for the Committee? We are also looking for volunteers in the short term to help us update our Local Food Directory/Map. Check our website: www.foodaction.ca Reply to: mary.stockdale@gmail.com or douggyg@gmail.com

8. Short Film Competition: The Regional District of North Okanagan and City of Vernon are hosting the 2nd annual Inquisitive Clips Short Film Competition.  This year, the theme is “Water in your Backyard.” Entry rules and requirements can be found here: www.vernon.ca/inquisitiveclips

9. Environmental Leadership will be honoured in 2012 through both the City and RDNO in a variety of categories. Know of an outstanding green leader or a local eco-initiative? Applications at www.vernon.ca/sustainability and www.rdno.ca

10. Seniors Green Survey: SFU gerontologist, Gloria Gutman, is conducting a survey of individuals over the age of 55 on their attitudes in respect to the environment. To participate in the survey go to www.envirosurvey55.com The survey will be on line from February 1 - March 31, 2012.

11. Canada Water Week, March 19 – 25: Info here: http://twitter.com/#!/CanadaWaterWeek. An average Canadian consumes almost 6400 liters of water daily – and 90% is due to food, clothing and electricity choices – for example, a pair of jeans may have come from heavily irrigated cotton fields thousands of km away…how are you reducing your local household water use?

12. Fueling Conflict: Numerous Canadian Corporations are involved in the Shwe Gas Project in Burma and these corporations are invested in by our Canadian Pension Plan. However, these corporations are complicit in human rights abuses in Burma. Provincial finance ministers can call on the Canadian Pension Plan to divest these support shares if given motivation. Details and action letters through Canadian Friends of Burma: www.cfob.org

13. Award for Local “Waste” Use: Click here to read about the winner of the FCM Sustainable Communities award for the Shuswap.


1. Support for Land Conservation: Click here for more information. Here too!

2. Food Security News: For news, check out www.bcfoodsecuritygateway.ca.

3. Scientists ‘Muzzled’: The Canadian government is being accused of "muzzling" its scientists. Communication of vital research on health and environment issues is being suppressed as a result. Read the entire article here.

4. Smart Meters On YouTube: Check out this great video slamming these dangerous devices.

5. Water Conservation in China: Saving water seems to be the new M.O. in China. Just last year, it invested 345.2 billion yuan ($54.75 billion) in water conservation projects. This investment, including funding for rehabilitation of reservoirs, and improvements in agricultural irrigation and water conservation infrastructure, provided safe drinking water to more than 84 million residents.

6. Switch Off The Lights: A new invention out of UBC could harness the natural light of the sun and use prismatic light guides to reflect and transport that sunlight into building interiors…bye-bye electric lighting! Full article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/switch-off-the-lights-here-comes-the-sun/article2317875/


1. Peeling Back the Pavement: This handbook on rainwater management is now out. It outlines the problems with conventional stormwater management and examines solutions for moving toward sustainability. Rethinking the way we deal with rain and snowmelt in our cities is one example the handbook tackles. It also has a comprehensive blueprint that outlines the steps communities can take to move from the current system of stormwater management to one that focuses on rainwater. Download it as a PDF here.


1. Misreading Research: Excerpt: “When it comes to science reporting on environmental causes of cancer, calls for precaution regarding potentially harmful substances are being lost in media reports that misinterpret or minimize important findings. ... Readers can be misled by titles that present an absence of information as reassurance. … When facts are misrepresented ignorance rules the day, and the public shoulders the consequences.” For the entire article, go here.

2. Fracking and Cancer: Fracking for shale gas to extract natural gas combines several techniques, and releases many toxic chemicals into air, water and soil at every step of the process. For example, air sampling from an area near fracking operations found four known carcinogens as well as toxins known to damage the nervous system and respiratory irritants. “Fracking and shale gas pose serious and irreversible multiple health risks, including cancer, respiratory damage and endocrine disruption that can lead to birth defects and increase cancer risks… [T]here is abundant evidence of exposure to carcinogenic substances from these operations.” For the entire article, as well as nine points on fracking and cancer, go here.

3. The ‘Dirt’ On Incinerators: Incineration is the most polluting and risky waste disposal option. Residue from mass burns is large, hazardous, and toxic. Despite this fact, Metro Vancouver may be next! The reason: Subsidies. The incinerator industry is salivating at the prospect of using public gas tax funds to pay for their incinerators. Subsidies also come in the form of lucrative Power Purchase Agreements. Ultimately, subsidies for incineration only serve to distort the market, displace truly “green and clean” forms of energy such as wind and solar, stunt local job creation and reward a dirty industry that mostly exports their profit. Please review PCN’s incineration “tool kit” to become better informed, take action, and let your political representatives know that you oppose incineration of solid waste in RDNO. For entire article and links, visit here.


1. Protecting Orca Habitat: In a recent judgment, the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld a ruling that confirmed the federal government is legally bound to protect killer whale habitat. This win means that protecting their habitat is no longer a matter of choice for politicians – it’s the law. Not only that, but the ruling will help protect more than 90 threatened or endangered marine species who also depend on the killer whale habitat to survive. For the full story, click here.

FROM GUY DAUNCEY’S ECONEWS (www.Earthfuture.com):

1.Healthy Cycling In Holland: 40% of primary school and 75% of secondary school kids bike to school… their parents know it’s safe. Groningen’s main railway station has parking for 10,000 bicycles. Groningen was a car-dominated city, but in 1972 council changed the planning emphasis, making the city centre the ‘living room’, and integrating town planning with transport policy. Now, 78% of residents and 90% of employees live within 3km of the city centre and 60% of all trips are by bicycle.

2. Local and Global Subsidies: www.iisd.org/gsi Public funds are supporting the gas/oil industry at about $3 billion yearly, yet those companies are operating at a large profit. Why? Ask your MP!

3. NATURE’S SOLUTIONS: March Editorial by Guy Dauncey

So here’s the carbon problem, in an organic walnut shell. Every year, we add 10 billion tonnes (10 gigatonnes, 10 Gt) of carbon to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, making cement and cutting down the Earth’s ancient forests.

This is mostly carbon that’s been stored underground for hundreds of millions of years, that we are releasing in a single splurge of industrial euphoria.

In the atmosphere, it is additional to the natural carbon cycle, which has been recirculating the carbon from plants, forests and ocean organisms for as long as they have been on Earth.

 Before we started our industrial age adventure the atmosphere contained 560 Gt of carbon. Today, it has over 800 Gt, increasing by 5 Gt a year. The other 5 Gt of carbon are being absorbed by the ocean, causing it to grow more acidic every year, with ominous consequences for the coral reefs and other marine life.

 We need to tackle the problem from both ends. We need to stop the flow of carbon from below by building a global civilization that can do whatever it needs without requiring any coal, oil or gas. That’s completely possible - we just need to get on with it.

 And from above, we need to suck 400 Gt of excess carbon out of the atmosphere and bring it back to the soil and trees where it belongs.

 There have been various complicated proposals to do this, ranging from seeding the ocean with iron dust (which would make it even more acidic) to building synthetic trees that would convert the carbon into sodium carbonate, to be stored away underground in old oil wells.

 Nature has been recirculating carbon for hundreds of millions of years, however, so it already has the solutions we need. We need to listen to the soil experts, not the oil experts.

 In the forests, the older a forest, the greater is its capacity to store carbon. Best is to protect as much as possible as wilderness and parks, but where we do need to harvest timber, the longer the harvest rotation, the more carbon can be stored. In the Pacific Northwest, a 160-year rotation will store 590 tonnes per hectare, compared to 363 tonnes in a 40-year cycle. Compared to clear-cutting, variable retention silviculture in old-growth zones stores 111 more tons of carbon per acre. (All references are in my book The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, see www.theclimatechallenge.ca).

Globally, if nations could adopt a Forests Solutions Treaty designed to maximize carbon storage, the British climate scientists Tim Lenton and Naomi Vaughan found that the Earth’s forests could draw down 50 to 100 Gt of carbon by 2100.

Next, there is farming. The Rodale Institute has found that organic farming stores 2 tonnes more carbon per hectare than conventional farming, because organic farmers pay so much more attention to building the soil. If there was a global Organic Farming Solutions Treaty by which all farmers agreed to go organic on 1.5 billion hectares of cropland, this could draw down up to 30 Gt of carbon a year, or 200 Gt by 2100.

As a side benefit, they would increase their yields, eliminate the danger from pesticides and GM crops, grow much healthier food, restore wildlife and biodiversity, and earn more money. Not bad for a solution to one of the world’s biggest problems.

So finally, we turn to the Earth’s grasslands, which have been storing carbon for as long as animals have been grazing on them. Here the story is fascinating, for the real guardian of the grasslands carbon is the wolf.

When wolves are around, grazing animals cluster together for safety. In so doing, they heavily impact the soil and fertilize it with their manure, creating the perfect environment for seeds to take root – and the roots of prairie perennial grasses can go seven metres deep, storing carbon all the way.

When the wolves are killed, as farmers have done all over the planet, the grazers turn into picky delicatessen eaters, and never impact the soil – they just scratch and scuff the surface. The native grass seeds fail to take root, and the carbon is lost.

Restoring the wolves would be ideal, but when farmers and herders graze their cattle in a way that replicates their original behavior, keeping them clustered tightly through rotational management intensive grazing, the old patterns are restored and the carbon returns. Australian farmers call it carbon farming, and they’ve discovered that it also stores more water in the soil, making it a useful response to drought.

Globally, if the world’s grasslands farmers all did this on the world’s 3.4 billion hectares of grasslands, storing an additional tonne of carbon per hectare per year, they could draw down 350 Gt of carbon by 2100.

Taken together, these three methods could in theory draw down 600 Gt of carbon by 2100, which is much more than we need – and in practice, there is a limit to the soil’s biological ability to store carbon.

But it’s there, staring us in the face. We just need to pay heed to Nature’s solutions and respect her wisdom.

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck

Mid-March 2012 Newsletter +  

SENS Mid-March News

1.Thursday, March 22 Schubert Centre – FREE! SENS Seed Swap and Sale, AGM, and Speakers:  6:30 pm - Seed Swap (bring envelopes!)Bring plants too?; 7:15 pm – SENS AGM; 7:30 pm - Gord Hiebert on Permaculture; 7:45 pm - Dave Doncaster on GM Foods and Your Health.  Discussion encouraged.

2. BEE Safe Weekly Workshops: Stay tuned at www.Beesafemonashees.org .   Or, contact them at 778-473-3029 or by email at jane@beesafemonashees.org .   Please let them know if you can offer workshops.

3.Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM World Water Day keynote speaker: Yehalem Metiku. Mary Irwin Theatre, Rotary Centre for the Arts -- 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna. 
Free admission but  online registration is required. 

Ethiopian scholar Yehalem Metiku is this year’s keynote speaker for World Water Day activities. He is Ethiopia's representative for Partners in the Horn of Africa, a locally based non-governmental organization that works with communities in Ethiopia on sustainable agricultural projects.

Metiku will speak about the water and food security challenges faced by Ethiopia and about the types of projects now underway. Such projects (small-scale irrigation and water-quality improvement) arecrucial in Ethiopia, given the regular occurrence of drought which is likely to grow worse over coming decades due to climate change. Find out more at Sustainability Office website. UBC-O is sponsor.

4.Friday, March 23, 7 pm, Revenge of the Electric Car movie night: 7pm, Okanagan College Theatre, Student Services Buildings, Okanagan College KLO Campus, Kelowna. Discussion led by local electric car experts after the movie.  Raffle prizes provided by Leo’s Videos. Entry with donation; free for students. Sponsor BC Sustainable energy Association, Okanagan Chapter.

5.Monday, April 2, Schubert Centre, 7 pm. Tarring the Spirit Bear: Pipelines, People &Profits:  What do Nigeria & Norway have in common with Canada? Specializing in Environmental & Natural Resource Economics, Professor Janmaat (PhD) challenges Canadian resource policy. He argues for the sustainable management of finite resources like the tar sands. He questions whether the true costing of the Northern Gateway is adequately considering the value of lost ecological services. Admission by donation. GUEST PROFESSOR SERIES is hosted by the Okanagan-Shuswap Green Party.

April 2012 Newsletter +  

If you have difficulty reading this newsletter as e-mail, view it instead at http://sensociety.org/v6/?q=201204.

APRIL 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 ***


April 26th – Health In the Home: This important panel tackles the question, “Is your household making you sick?”, and discusses various culprits (e.g. computers, microwaves, radon gas, household chemicals, and food toxins). Discussion encouraged. Bring a carload!

Over 160 attendees were at SENS’ March seed and plant swap/sale and AGM, with speakers on permaculture and GM foods and health. Thank-you for your support!


1. BEE Safe(Securing a Food Economy) Weekly Workshops: Info: www.Beesafemonashees.org . Or, contact them at 778-473-3029 or by email at jane@beesafemonashees.org . To subscribe to their newsletter: beesafemonashees@gmail.com . Please let them know if you can offer workshops. BEE Safe is a branch of SENS.

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. Food Export/Import in Canada: Check out this excellent, short video about how much we have lost in food security.

4. Shoots ‘n Blooms: April 22, 2 – 4 pm, Pilgrim’s Produce Organic Farm in Armstrong (1568 Eagle Rock Road). Food Action Society of the North Okanagan (FASNO) is staging a spring event with coffee, food, live music, animals, artisans, growers, producers, demonstrations on permaculture, square-foot gardening and growing micro-greens!

5. World Water Week: Takes place from May 13th – 19th. Take the Community Water Challenge NOW! for a chance to win a helijet trip or hotel stay at the Vancouver Fairmont Waterfront. For more, go to www.drinkingwaterweek.org.

6. Calling for Environmental Leaders:  RDNO Environmental Leadership Awards and City of Vernon Sustainability and Seed Awards have been created to reward community members for their hard work and dedication. If you know of individuals, groups or organizations that are eligible for the awards please nominate them by Earth Day, April 22nd, 2012. For forms and additional details, go to the City’s website and RDNO’s website.

7. Arsenic Life and Open Science: Thursday, April 12th, 7:30 pm, Kal Campus lecture theatre. Dr Rosie Redfield, UBC microbiologist, discusses the role of social media in science, relating to arsenic being discovered in bacteria. Tickets are $5 from OSC or $7 at the door. For more, go here.

8. Avoiding the Middleman: In the northern Greek town of Katerini, one man did just that, organizing the direct sale of food (tons of flour and potatoes) from farmers at low prices to consumers. The man, Elias Tsolakidis, has organized a group of volunteers to oversee the sales and hopes to eventually see a vast European network. This could work in Vernon too…

9. Slaughterhouse Concerns: In Grindrod, the recent acquisition of a small slaughterhouse by a big company has raised serious concerns for neighbouring residents. One fear is that it will now expand, becoming a mega-feedlot and meet processing plant. Another concern is that this dangerously adds to the risk of waste water spillage into the Shuswap Watershed. To learn more about this risk, here’s a link and a YouTube video. You can also watch the CHBC news report on the Grindrod issue. Please become more aware about this and spread the word.  

10. Operation Clean Sweep, April 23rd30th: This is Pitch-In Canada Week. What will you do before, during, and after, to keep your neighbourhood or shoreline clean? Restore natural habitat? Set up a composting program or plant trees? Register at www.pitch-in.ca  or “go it on your own”!

11. “Eat Your Forest” Workshop: May 12th – 13th, 9 – 5 pm, $200 (+HST) includes tea, coffee and healthy lunches. Book now at www.elementecodesign.com!


1. Better Buildings: The University of Waterloo’s latest “Alternatives Magazine” includes many good articles on “Better Buildings”, tackling issues like getting more mileage from your home and retrofits. You can subscribe to an on-line copy here. A sample article on why every building is a long term contract : www.alternativesjournal.ca/articles/beyond-energy-efficiency

2. Non-GMO Shopping Guide: Download this handy guide here.

3. You and Your Microwave: Excerpt:Most people think that microwave ovens do not have any negative health consequences. After all, if they did the government would not allow this product on the market. Think again.” Read the entire article here.

4. Canadian Water: The Harper Conservatives broke yet another promise to Canadians, killing Bill C-267, a bill that would have banned bulk exports of Canada’s fresh water. The house is now considering a similar bill, Bill C-383, which if passed will only protect 10% of Canada’s fresh water resources. Write your MP to demand that the Prime Minister support amendments to Bill C-383 to incorporate key elements of Bill C-267 to ban inter-basin transfers.

5. ‘Gutting’ Habitat Protection: According to a retired fisheries biologist, the Harper government is planning to gut the powers in federal legislation intended to protect fish habitat, making it easier for projects such as Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline to clear federal hurdles. This would cause untold suffering to the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems. It would also threaten long-established coastal industries such as commercial and sport fisheries, ecotourism, and fish processing plants. The NDP has rightly accused the government of systematically dismantling environmental protection and regulation so that they can push through their agenda of pipelines, oil super tankers, mega-mines and other projects that harm the environment. Read the entire article here.

6. Invasive Species: Asian carp have migrated up the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and have advanced to within 90 kilometres of Lake Michigan. This poses a serious threat to the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and to both commercial and sport fisheries. Barriers would be needed to keep the Asian carp out, and so Ontario has pledged to work with federal and local governments to do just that. For the entire story, click here.

7. Pesticides Banned Due to Bee Deaths: The German government has provisionally banned a family of pesticides conclusively linked to the massive die-off (50-60%) of honeybees in a southern state. The pesticides banned are all neonicotinoids, which are highly toxic to the nervous systems of any insect that comes into contact with them. To read the entire article, go here or here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/science/neocotinoid-pesticides-play-a-role-in-bees-decline-2-studies-find.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss


1. Local Jobs through Recycling: With 1,100 workers, the Georgia-Pacific plant in Muskogee is the city's largest employer. The plant buys recycled newsprint and turns it into pulp for making many products, such as printing paper and paper towels. But the ultimate by-product? Jobs. This is way better than going the incinerator route, making ten to one more jobs! Read the full story.

2. Surrey’s Biofuel Future: Surrey has big plans to ultimately create a system that will use organic waste (kitchen and yard waste) to create methane that will fuel a fleet of compressed-natural-gas-powered waste collection vehicles. The city, until it can have the proposed system up-and-running, will rely on conventional natural gas to power the vehicles. For more, read the full story.


1.Help Stop the Gutting: As mentioned above, Harper is set to pull teeth from the Fisheries Act (IF he hasn’t already by tacking it into the Omnibus Budget Bill presented on March 29th). IF any time remains please voice your disproval to MP Randy Kamp, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans at 604-466-2761 (B.C. office) or 613-947-4613 (Ottawa office). Then contact your MP (use this link to find their number) and repeat your concerns. If you are too late, please call Mr. Kamp and your MP anyways and let them know you won’t be voting Conservative in the 2015 election. And brace yourself; Canada is going to get a whole lot dirtier as we wait!

2. Protecting Deep Sea Habitat: Living Oceans has a new agreement with the bottom trawler industry that improves their practises and protects the ecosystems of valuable, sensitive corals and sponges. Living Oceans thanks you for your support.


1. Infographics: For the latest news on pipelines, the threat to sage grouse, and human health in Sarnia (home to oil refineries), visit here.

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck

June 2012 Newsletter +  

If you have difficulty reading this newsletter as e-mail, view it instead at http://sensociety.org/v6/?q=201206.

JUNE 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 ***


1. No evening events until the end of September. Enjoy a safe and happy summer! Also, the next newsletter will be sent some time during the summer.

2. Bike to Work Week (BTWW): It ends June 3rd. Send all your cycling (or walking distances) per day to Julia at jblissau@telus.net Sunday evening, June 3rd.


1. BEE Safe (Securing a Food Economy): June 16 garden tours? - visit www.Beesafemonashees.org.

2. 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
  • Armstrong Caravan– Sundays, June 17th, July 1, August 5, Sept 2, 10– 2, 4886 Salmon River Rd

3. Sustainability/Environmental Leadership Awards: The City of Vernon and RDNO will be presenting these awards, June 4, 7 pm, Powerhouse Theatre, as part of Environment Week. Attend and celebrate with the award winners AND view numerous great ‘short’ films produced and entered by local and talented film-makers for the 2nd annual Inquisitive Clips Film Competition.

OTHER Environment Week Plans: Sunday, June 3, Tree Care workshop, Xerindipity Garden, 1 pm.

Wednesday, June 6, Clean Air Day – Free transit all day. Free breakfast at the new downtown exchange 6:30am – 9 am. Check out the routes and new schedule times! Thursday, June 7, 10 – 2. Styrofoam Round-up, Vernon Wholesale Club and Lumby Super A parking lots. Friday, June 8, 3 – 7 pm, Local Food Day – celebrate at Farmers’ market, Sport Chek parking lot.

4. Tree Smarts Workshop: As part of Environment Week, the City of Vernon is hosting a Tree Smarts workshop (June 3rd from 1 to 2 p.m.) at the Xerindipity Gardens. Come out and learn about proper tree care from species selection, planting, and ongoing maintenance. Bring your questions and take home free seedlings for your yard too! Seedling choice is on a first-come first-served basis.

5. BX Creek Wetland Creation and Interpretive Trail Project (ABNC): This project is now complete and the site (located east of 20th Street, behind Rona and Walmart, and north of 48th Avenue) is green and healthy. You’re invited to visit this riparian ecosystem, using the project’s interpretive trail and tying this to hands-on experiences, such as invasive weed pull events. The Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society is looking for volunteers for upcoming events (project coordinator, info@abnc.ca.)

6. Growing Up Wild Workshop, June 6, 9am – 3:30pm, People Place, $40: Produced by Wild BC for those who work with age 3 – 7 kids.  coordinator@noecdcoalition.ca or 250-549-9178/250-938-5450.

7. Sewage Treatment Solutions: RDNO appears to have chosen to send excess treated waters to our lakes should the need arise. Check out some alternatives here (old video), here, and here!

8. 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.


1. Sounds of Spring: Click here to hear the sound of the spring peeper's call.

2. Energy Conservation: Here are excerpts from a Globe and Mail review of the book “The End of Growth”: “[Mr. Rubin] argues that sustained high oil prices mean that advanced economies are gearing down into a new era of slow – or no – economic growth. Citing research to show that some of the happiest people on Earth live in slow-growth economies, [he makes a strong case] … that in the long run, the environment and its citizens might be better with [the transition].” Read the full article here. As well, check out excerpts from the book itself.

3. Antibiotics Use Linked to Asthma: A study released by UBC microbiologists in March indicates that widely used antibiotics may increase incidence and severity of allergic asthma in children. For the entire article, click here.

4. Welcome to the Age of Man: Check out this 3-minute film that charts the powerful growth of humanity up to the Rio+20 Summit. It was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference.

5. Getting it Done: Excerpt: “Cities around the world have been taking concrete steps to reduce their environmental impact. So have many businesses. The message is clear; when it comes to planning for sustainability, they’re not waiting for governments to set the agenda.” Order the magazine “Canadian Wildlife” to read this great article.


1. World’s 1st Zero Waste City by 2020: San Francisco is home to a massive mandatory composting program (biggest in the U.S.), giving a major boost to local organic food farmers who use the city’s nutrient-rich compost as fertilizer. Coupled with the city’s regulation for city-wide source separation of all organic materials, the city has reduced the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to nearly 12% below 1990 levels and has a nation-leading 78% waste diversion rate.

2. Zero Waste for Kit Kat: Chocolate junkies who call zero waste their cup of tea will be pleased to learn that the world’s largest confectionary plant is now a zero-waste operation. The Nestlé plant in the U.K. that churns out Kit Kats and Aero bars has achieved a zero waste milestone!

FROM CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment)

1. Flame Retardant Fake Out: 25 years ago, scientists set fire to a designed room packed with flame retardants and then measured how much the chemicals slowed the blaze. The chemical industry claimed the results showed that flame retardants gave people a 15-fold increase in time to escape fires. But the lead scientist said industry officials "grossly distorted" the findings. The small amounts of flame retardants in typical home furnishings offer little to no fire protection! This is but one example of how the chemical industry has manipulated scientific findings to promote the widespread use of flame retardants and downplay the health risks. Read the full story.

2. BC’s Green Light For Pesticide Use: Health professionals, academics, scientists and well-informed citizens who spoke at hearings were considered to be “anxious, over-wrought teenagers with passion” compared to fatherly ‘scientific evidence’ provided by pesticide manufacturers and industrial users who stressed the important environmental benefits that result from maintaining healthy lawns and gardens. They reassured the committee on the safety side too. “He who pays the piper calls the tune”.

3. Wild Salmon At Risk: The DFO has covered up information on wild salmon virus outbreaks incoming from farmed salmon and refused to allow independent tests for proof of ‘safety’. The BC government has backed off on Bill 37 but hasn’t removed it from consideration. They planned to end all disease reporting from any location where animals are kept (land or sea), and to fine and jail people who, for whatever reason, report a disease outbreak to anyone - anti-whistleblower legislation! Mid-May, a large fish farm dumped farm salmon carcasses, dead from a lethal virus outbreak, in a landfill right next to a major salmon spawning area -- boating them up the waterway leading to this site and then pumping them out of the boat into the landfill, with bloody effluent splashing all over the place into the water. …sign this petition to be sent to the supermarkets selling salmon culled from viral outbreaks.

4.Chernobyl of 1986, Revisited: The "official" position of smooth reassurance (with not a little corporate boosterism) has gradually been whittled away, leaving a much starker and more challenging picture of what happened… The article can be found on the I-SIS website at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Chernobyl_Deaths_Top_a_Million.php


1. Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer: According to the scientific literature, extremely low frequency (ELF) fields contribute to breast cancer and for childhood leukemia (less so). It is important that men and women with a family or personal history with breast cancer to avoid these fields. These fields are generated by devices like power lines, transformers, and substations outside the home as well as plugged-in and turned-on appliances (e.g. your computer). Electrical wiring within the home can also be a source of EMFs. For great tips on how to limit your exposure, read the entire article here.

2. Greening Your Beauty: Toxic chemicals (from toothpastes to soaps) are being introduced to the environment every time they are washed down the drain. The Sierra Club Canada is therefore urging everyone to avoid toxic chemicals by becoming a critical shopper. To help make this green makeover possible, they’ve made a Healthy Beauty for Life Cosmetic Kit. It contains cosmetics and personal care products, information, samples, and coupons from our eco-friendly, non-toxic partner companies. To learn more about the Kit, visit their website! Read the full story here.

3. Dandelions and Dietary Health: Dandelion is a strong antioxidant, containing vitamins, potassium and other important minerals. In addition, recent (hopeful) evidence shows that dandelion extracts can suppress the growth and invasive behaviour in several types of cancer.
Before you start munching those weeds though, it’s probably best to wait for results from the upcoming clinical testing on patients. For the entire article, go here.


1. Speak Out – June 4th: The 400+ page 2012 “budget” bill is very bad for the environment, removing many protections and trying to muzzle opposition. But Ecojustice and their allies in the environmental community will not be silenced. Join them and raise your voices on June 4th by taking part in a symbolic show to darken websites. Check out the campaign website to learn more and get involved. Take action now! Listen to Elizabeth May on Bill C- 38: http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2012/05/30/elizabeth-may/#

More on Bill C-38 … brings in sweeping changes to many environmental laws, devastating years of work for environmental protection…….repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing it with a completely new version of environmental assessment, while undermining the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Species At Risk Act, thus dramatically reduced the scope of federal engagement in environmental protection.

Under the new law, if a project wipes out whales, eagles, caribou and bears as well as forests, wetlands and coastlines it will not register as a negative environmental impact. The Fisheries Act, as changed, will no longer mandate protection of fish habitat.

The House has remained silent on the destruction of our natural resources and their sale to private industry.

Take a minute to tell your MP that silence is an unacceptable response to the destruction of Canada’s natural environment.  Write or call your MP today and ensure this issue gets the attention it deserves.

Consider signing this petition that asks the Senate to protect the rights of charities to speak out. http://petition.liberal.ca/stop-conservative-attacks-charities/?utm_source=charities&utm_medium=email&utm_content=charitiesfwd&chid=18934


1.Snapping Turtle Extinction: They’re listed as an endangered species yet 2/day are allowed to be caught by hunters and fishers in Ontario. Write: www.action.davidsuzuki.org/snappers

2. Queen of Green: Take the “What’s Inside? That Counts Cleaning Survey” to help the Foundation advocate for more transparent labeling on cleaning products: www.davidsuzuki.org

Recipes for cleaning: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2011/QueenOfGreen-Green-cleaning-recipes.pdf


1. Cycling in Copenhagen: Copenhagen has built such a strong cycling culture. 80% of the city’s residents ride a bike once a week and 32% of all trips are by bike (37% of commuter trips). The city bike-planners’ goal is to increase ridership for all trips, increase family ridership, and make it easy to go all the way from A to B, even when it is difficult (e.g. in winter). Ultimately biking is safer, saves money for everyone, and is good for the environment. For more details, go here.

2. Bees and Pesticides: Two studies published in Science appear to demonstrate that the guilty culprit of the Colony Collapse Disorder in bees is a sub-lethal dose of neonicotinoid pesticides. Please help save the bees by emailing the Hon Gerry Ritz (federal) and Hon Don Macrae (B.C.) Ministers of Agriculture, and ask for an urgent review of the use of the these pesticides! Without the bees, all agriculture is at risk. For more details on the studies, go here.

3. The Conservative Mindset: What drives conservative thinking? It’s not just politics. Studies show an actual physiological reason, rooted in their genes. Conservatives tend to be less open to change and to rate higher on conscientiousness, order and structure. Basically anything that makes Conservatives feel threatened (e.g. crime) or uncertain about the future (e.g. switching to non-traditional fuel sources) may stiffen their resolve to oppose change. In order to successfully sway the Conservative mindset one needs to present policy proposals and solutions in a calm, polite and orderly manner, so that they appear safe and reassuring. Also, one needs to remind conservatives whenever their policies will result in more untidiness and disorder, not less (eg. a ‘tough on drugs’ regime will cause more lawlessness and disorder, so the best way to a clean and tidy future is to legalize drugs and sell them from well-lit government controlled stores, rather than the crime-infested havens of gun-toting gangsters).

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck