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Friday, July 30, 2010

Local Flooding a Symptom of Climate Change

According to Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment, climate change is more than a warming trend. The increasing temperatures will lead to changes in many aspects of our weather, such as wind patterns, the amount and type of precipitation, and the types and frequency of severe weather events that may be expected to occur in our province. Such climate change could have far-reaching and unpredictable environmental, social and economic consequences.

In Canada such environmental stresses could cause problems with where we grow our food and how we transport it; deep changes in infrastructure, community designs and cause regional vuneralbility. We are not prepared for any of this!!
Any politician that is listening to not only the scientists but also the local people will know what will happen if the dykes on the tantramar marshes give way to Bay of Fundy. Most of the marsh will be under water and Nova Scotia could become separated from the mainland for a period of time possibly forever.

Most scientists feel that there will be up to a metre rise in the oceans during our lifetime. This will also cause a rapid change in our coastal areas, our geography and could hold significant consequences. This is a period when Mother Nature takes over and should be a matter of urgency with all three levels of government.

Just last week, after the flooding in Nappan, the County Council decided it will be calling on the province to replace the existing aboiteau on the Nappan River with a new, larger structure that would be able to handle an increasing amount of water. Some people in the area felt that the debris in the area of the dam caused the flooding; however, if you think about it – the flood waters brought the debris to the dam area.

During the storm that ensued on July 10th, more than 90 mm of rain fell on the area. There were flood alerts issued the night before, by Cindy Day, during the CTV news, for Cumberland County. The localized flooding closed the Smith Road and flooded farmer’s fields stranding cattle.

In the past the rebuilding and the maintaining of the dykes was the job of the federal government; however, in 1967 the responsibility of maintaining the dykes and aboiteaux was deemed solely that of the province. Last week, Doug Bacon, the farmer whose cattle became stranded, and area resident Ben Griffin spoke to the County Council urging them to lobby the province to widen the aboiteau and to urge the federal government to again become involved in maintaining the dykes on the marsh near Amherst.

A United Nations climate report last year described Nova Scotia and New Orleans as areas that have important highway and rail infrastructure located on or behind dyke systems that will provide progressively less protection unless raised on an ongoing basis. Strengthening our dyke system may be the only way to avert disaster in the future so we will not leave our children with a mess to clean up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Green Travel

The next couple of months will mark the time that Nova Scotian’s travel and visit areas of our own Province. Like any other consumer item, travel comes with many choices which may include ecologically friendly and/or green travel. As public concerns regarding global warming increase, travel companies and tourist attractions are trying to embrace environmentally friendly practices to accommodate the growing number of tourists that are making “greener” travel choices.

The first stop for most visitors to our Province is the Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre at the border of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This is the true “Gateway” to the Province.
I encourage residents of the County to visit this Centre and the friendly staff who can answer any of your questions about the Province, including environmental matters. While at the Centre you should visit their flower garden. The garden itself is huge and holds many types of flowers and plants. Behind the Centre is the site of the Acadian Village “Beaubasin” and the former Fort Lawrence.

Current green-travel initiatives have grown out of ecotourism, sustainable tourism and nature tourism. Ecotourism is in fact growing at three times the rate of traditional tourism. In the past the Department of Tourism for Nova Scotia has put out an ecotourism guide for the Glooscap Trail which begins in Amherst and follows the trail through Advocate and Parrsboro and on to Truro. There is a complete description of the ecology of each area you would be travelling through and some of the attractions along the way. You could request this guide from the Department of Tourism or check the visitor centres.

To be able to visit places that are environmentally friendly you need to make careful choices and be able to ask many questions regarding green initiatives. You may want to hold off and travel during the off-season to avoid over-crowding of natural sites and the depletion of natural resources; you should try to eat in locally owned restaurants and see if these restaurants serve locally harvested food; and leave excess packaging of store bought travel articles at home where you know they can be recycled;

Some other ideas to make your travel more environmentally friendly include: Unplugging some of your appliances at home to save energy while you are away. When visiting a park area, never leave your own paths and do not disrupt or remove anything. Leave everything exactly how you found it so that others may enjoy the park in the future. If you are camping, please leave the park better than you found it. Carry all trash out with you, do not burn or bury your trash, and double check the campsite to make sure that nothing gets left behind.

If anyone in the local area wants to highlight their travel environmental or ecological practices to the readers of the Amherst Daily News, please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address below. I hope everyone enjoys their summer travels.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her columns. You can contact Lisa at: Follow her on her website at: or view her blog at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Daily Toxins

This past weekend my mother and I took a day trip up to the Bouctouche area. One of the many places we stopped at was the Olivier Soapery where they make soap from pure products. They hand craft their soaps from the pure products such as olive oil, cocoa butter and bees wax. Then they add petals of various flowers to give the soap colour as well as a special smell.

One thing the ladies at Soapary mentioned is that the word “Natural” or the word “Pure” on a product label does not always mean the product is safe or even made from natural ingredients. They have a saying at the Soapary – If you do not put a product that is found in various skin care products in your mouth – Don’t put it on your skin.

While we were there they made soap with just the three ingredients listed above and then just added boiling hot water with sea salt to create the chemical process needed to form soap. They added petals of flowers and then poured the mixture into moulds, which would have to set for six days.

They gave us a fact sheet, which shows various chemicals that are used in other soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, and toothpaste. Some of these ingredients are incredibly harmful and could cause cancer. Have you ever bothered to read the ingredients on the package labels of the various cosmetics you may use during the day??

According to the fact sheet they supplied us with – the commercial cosmetic industry says that it is safe to put toxic chemicals into our personal care products because the amount in each product is to small to matter. Really?? Try to think of how many products you use in a single day; toothpaste, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body lotions, shaving lotions and makeup.

Unlike food and drugs, cosmetics and body care products are not approved for safety by any North American government agency before they are sold. The European Union now bans 1,100 chemicals from personal care products unlike 11 ingredients banned or regulated for use in the United States.

Since I am so sensitive and allergic to many perfumes and certain smells I thought I might have a problem at the soap factory; however, I was surprisingly not as affected as I thought I would be. This may have to do with the lack of chemicals used to create the soaps. One smell that always gets to me is the antibacterial hand cleansers that every place I go seems to have installed. I can not use them and I know immediately when someone in my vicinity has used some as I immediately begin to sneeze and cough. The Soapary does offer various (non chemical) products that act as antibacterial and provide better cleanliness. Perhaps we all need to re-think the products we are putting on our bodies as well as in our bodies.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her columns. You can contact Lisa at: Follow her on her website at:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Healthier Office Spaces Benefit Everyone

Healthier Office Spaces Benefit Everyone

Gardening for Local Food Production

Community gardens promote healthy communities and provide food security for many low income persons. Community gardens strengthen community bonds and create recreational and therapeutic opportunities for the people of the community. They can also promote environmental awareness and provide community education. One of the goals to create healthier communities is to improve nutrition and access to food for the community as a whole.

A community garden has the potential to address much larger issues such as food security. In order for a community to enjoy food security it must have access to adequate amounts of safe and nutritious foods that are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

Food security encompasses the safety, quality and sustainability of our food supply, and access to a healthy diet. When thinking about food security in relation to your community, ask yourself some of the following questions:

• Does your community have access to local-grown nutritious food?
• What happens when families can't afford to buy nutritious food?
• What role do community gardens and community kitchens play in enhancing people's ability to eat well?
• Do we have a sustainable agricultural system?

By making sure that all people, at all times, have access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, appropriate foods, produced in an environmentally sustainable way and provided in a manner that promotes dignity, we will have obtained the first steps of food security.

One purpose of a community garden is to provide fresh local produce to community organizations who help serve those in need. The community garden in Amherst is a product of many community organizations that help provide for those in need; such as, the Poverty Action Committee, the Cumberland Food Network, Maggies Place, and the local food bank, just to name a few.

We still have a few spaces left if you would like to grow food for yourself and for others less fortunate. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of the Amherst Community Garden.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her columns. You can contact Lisa at: Follow her on her website at: or view her blog at