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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Royal Engagement and the Eco-Home

Well, you would have to be living under a rock if you have not heard about the story of the decade for Royal watchers with the announcement that Prince William will be getting married to Kate Middleton in 2011. A royal wedding for a future king doesn’t come along very often. Much of the world will probably be watching the event next spring or summer. Besides being the Royal event of the decade this story holds some eco-friendly interest.

Prince William’s father is in the process of spending between eight and nine million pounds turning a once run-down estate into an eco-farm, including the creation of a ‘green mansion’ earmarked for William’s and Kate’s use. The property, which is under construction, will be a model of eco- friendliness and will include a reed-bed sewage system, wood chip boiler, solar panels and walls lined with insulating sheep’s wool.

Construction on the six-bedroom home is likely to begin later this year. The plans include the incorporation of the most up-to-date green standards. The property will also include a chapel plus a rainwater reservoir and stables. The 8,500 square-foot, two-story home would feature solar-powered heating and insulation made of sheep’s wool. It would also include a grand dining room, a tree garden, and a hall lined with Greek columns.

As for the home’s environmental standards, there was great input from the Prince of Wales who is passionate about the environment and has a long-standing interest in architecture. This being England, there will be plenty of rain and a 200 L rainwater reservoir will recycle and then provide rainwater to the house and grounds. There will be energy-efficient lighting and a boiler using wood chips from trees on the estate. Water saving and low-energy appliances will also be included throughout the property.

For those of you, like myself, that do not live in a mansion or will likely want to spend several million dollars to build one – I am including some tips that you can use to make your own homes eco-friendly.

To Save Energy:
• If you are not using it, turn it off;
• Try to find and enable energy saving settings on all appliances;
• Unplug anything that takes energy even when it is turned off
• Plug equipment into power bars and turn them off until needed.

Sometimes it may seem difficult to go green especially for those who have a lot of other things to do within a 24 hour day. However, you can play your effective role in being eco-friendly by doing the same old activities in a different more conscientious style, keeping in mind that being environmentally friendly is not as difficult as people think it is.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chignecto Game Sanctuary

Scientists have been saying for years that we need to protect more land to conserve wildlife and maintain natural ecosystems. The laws for the current game sanctuary protect the animals from rifle hunting and trapping but the land that they live on is not protected from mining and clear cutting. Thus the ecology of the land that the animals need to survive is slowly being destroyed. The proposal from Cumberland Wilderness encourages the protection of both.

The sanctuary will remain intact once the wilderness protected area is created over this land and the crown lands surrounding the sanctuary. The sanctuary will then hold laws that protect both the animals and the land they live on. Wilderness protection does allow long gun hunting but in the sanctuary hunting will be restricted to bow hunting only as it is now. There are many stakeholders involved with the future of the Chignecto Game Sanctuary. A blended approach is needed with ideas from all of the stakeholders interests included.

Better protection for the area does not mean that citizens and tourists will be excluded from the wilderness area. In fact parts of the Wilderness Protection Act want and allow more tourism potential and educational awareness in the form of hiking trails and other outdoor adventures.

The proposal from Cumberland Wilderness keeps 70% of the snowmobile trails open and these trails would be grandfathered in so that they will remain as usable trails. However, the Department of Natural Resources and the people that already use the trail system want to keep all of the trails open. Their interests should also be included in this blended approach. Perhaps having the Wilderness protection and all the trails that are already in existence “grandfathered in” would be the way to go?
Areas designated under the province's Wilderness Areas Protection Act are off limits to logging, mining, and industrial development, but still available for most forms of outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and eco-tourism.

Section 23 (3-5) of the Wilderness Protection Act says that snowmobiles may be permitted on designated trails if the trail was in existence at the time of wilderness designation; the trail is an essential link to a more extensive snowmobile network outside the wilderness areas; and the continued use will have minimal environmental impact. Atvs may be used to gain access to recreational activities such as hunting, fishing only if no other alternative exists.

Under the Act, Section 17, the prohibited activities would be those used for commercial resources such as mining, forestry (clear-cutting), pipelines, drilling etc. Other activities that are prohibited may include: more roads, railways, altering the surface of the land and littering.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day, held each year on November 11, is a day of commemoration for the individuals who lost their lives in the First World War. During this time of remembering, many nations also choose Remembrance Day to honour all the individuals that have died during times of war. One the eleventh day, of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour we shall remember.

This year, I will think of the importance of the day, respecting the tremendous sacrifices that all troops give when offering their lives for the freedom of others...sadly thinking of the people around the world who are still fighting over resources, land, and past grievances. I will think of the possible wars to come because there will be so many eco-refugees moving from place to place due to the lack of water, good farmland and the rising sea levels.

As well as remembering past wars, it is important that we work to ensure there are no more future wars. War has an enormous impact on the planet – socially, morally, psychologically, financially and also a devastating environmental impact. We’ve all seen pictures of the horrific battlefields, with scarred trees, burned oil fields, destroyed crops and bomb craters, but there is so much more to it than that.

The earth’s environment is battered by war, its preparation, practice and aftermath. It is destroyed as an act of war; it is used as a weapon of war; and its destruction is expensive and sometimes irreversible. Its involvement with war is often secret, widely ignored, and easily forgotten.

This year the United Nations designated November 6th as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. This day was set to educate people about the damaging effects of war and armed conflict on the environment.
The assembly considered that that any environmental damage in times of armed conflict impairs ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict has finished. During this designated event People learn and share information about the dangers of new technologies in war such as depleted uranium ammunition, which poses unknown threats to the environment. People around the world are also made aware that all efforts must be taken to limit environmental destruction caused by conflict.
“Lest We Forget”.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Is There A Link Between Climate Change and the Flu?

The Flu and climate change may be related. One of the many impacts of climate change can cause damage to human health. Climate change is a direct result of unsustainable development and environment degradation and the emergence and spread of diseases which may have roots in the combination of water polution and food production.

The term ‘climate change’ conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous diseases.

Seasonal influenza seems to be a cold weather illness. This is because the flu virus is transmitted through airborne respiratory droplets that have been introduced into the air through coughs and sneezes. When a person that has the flu coughs or sneezes, they propel the virus into the surrounding air which the people around them can then breathe in.

Influenza viruses can only remain airborne in atmospheric conditions of low humidity, and are more common in the colder months. When the humidity increases, water molecules in the atmosphere cling to airborne flu viruses and cause them to drop to the ground, where they cannot be breathed in.

There has been a new study done by Oregon researchers that has found a significant correlation between "absolute" humidity and influenza virus survival and transmission. When absolute humidity is low – as in the peak flu months of January and February – the virus appears to survive longer and the transmission rates increase.

Climate Change may have contributed to the accelerated occurrence of pandemics, but it is more likely the size and deadliness of the recent 100 years of pandemics that may be attributed to global activities such as the economy, war and pollution.

Different internet sites quote differing statistics so these are just approximate. The Spanish Flu (1918) — actually started in the United States and recorded approximately 50 million deaths worldwide. The Asian Flu (1957) — approx. 2 million deaths worldwide and the Hong Kong Flu (1969) — approx. 1 million deaths worldwide.

The Hong Kong Flu lingered around for 20 years (1969 to about 1992), but it was not a pandemic by definition. However, within the last 10 years, there has been three new potential pandemics (Avian Flu 2004; SARS 2005; and the Swine Flu 2009). The reason is unclear, but fortunately, knowledge and quick actions were taken to slow the spread.You may want to consider some of these statistics regarding the effects of climate change when you get your flu shot this year.

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