Come Visit my Online Store

Visit My Website

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays 2010

The Holiday season has arrived and thoughts have turned to parties and gift-giving. But for the eco-conscious people in your life there is the wonderment of how they can party and keep their carbon footprint low. The drama continues because people already feel pressure during the Holidays. The roads are more crowded causing more air pollution, the malls are crowded and there is the expectation to be nice to people you don’t necessarily like or agree with. (Green is seen as the new Grinch).

One of the first rules of environmentalism is to reduce consumption and buy less. However, to some ears, the call for less excessive consumption during the holidays sounds almost un-human. Here is a good Green thought - If you are going to buy gifts – Buy Local.

Canadians create up to 60,000 tons of packaging waste during the holidays so it is wise to do what you can to avoid extra packaging. You can try making homemade gifts. Even if you're not a crafty person, you could make coupons that promise friends and family the gift of your time — like a dinner, a massage or something that reflects your skills.

You could also buy as many organic, local ingredients for your holiday feast as you can afford. As we plan to sit down with family and friends to give thanks for all that we have, perhaps the biggest “Thank you” should go to Mother Earth for putting up with our blunders. Earth really has taken a lot of abuse from us humans and yet keeps providing for us and all the other species. It’s not an easy task and it keeps getting harder.

Other environmentally conscious ideas could include: wrapping your gifts in reusable bags, recycled magazines, fabric, newspaper, or turning paper bags into wrapping paper. Get even more creative by using old maps, posters, kids' coloring book pages, or sheet music to wrap gifts. Canadians go through 40 square kilometres of forest in wrapping paper each year!

As a final suggestion you can buy cards printed on recycled paper, handmade papers, or paper made from materials like hemp. Three of Hallmark’s lines have recycled content: Shoebox Greetings, My Thoughts Exactly, and Comedy Club. If you have a computer you can send e-cards instead of paper cards. By the way, Hallmark has e-cards as well. You can buy cards that donate a portion of proceeds to a good cause. At the end of the day you can reuse any paper cards you received by cutting them up to make gift tags for next year.

We live in a world where climate change, deforestation, holes in the ozone layer, water scarcity and air pollution are growing sources of concern. Finding a solution as individuals and as nations against the environmental crisis, even at this time of the year, has never been greater.

I am wishing the best for all of your Holiday celebrations. Therefore, those of you that celebrate Christmas have a happy, healthy and very Merry Green Christmas and for those of you that celebrate a holiday of a different name – Happy Green Holidays and health and happiness to all. For this is the season to celebrate that which you cherish the most: your faith in that which is greater than you, including Mother Earth.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Climate Change Conference - Mexico December 2010

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in CancĂșn, Mexico, from November 29th to December 10th, 2010. The expectations for the conference were slim following the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which was put forth at last year’s conference in Copenhagen.

However, the Climate Change Conference in Mexico ended with the adoption of a balanced package of decisions that will put all of the governments on a path towards lower emissions in the future. The decision will also support and enhance action on climate change in developing nations such as China and India.

According to the Russian contingent there seems to be an "inconvenient" truth, in the ongoing lack of awareness in all nations regarding global warming. It is noted that in most countries the domestic problems take the forefront of decision making. In this day and age, the financial crisis, which affects nearly the entire industrialized world, gets the priority while attempts to adopt a binding global treaty to reduce climate change becomes discouraging.

A key working group under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change came up with a six-page text last year in Copenhagen. The draft formed the core of a new global agreement to combat climate change beyond 2012, when the present framework, the Kyoto Protocol, expires.

At the end of this year’s Climate Change Conference in Mexico there were some key elements that were put in place:

• Parties meeting under the Kyoto Protocol have agreed to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty.

• A new “Cancun Adaptation Framework” has been established to allow better planning and implementation of adaptation projects in developing countries through increased financial and technical support, including a clear process for continuing work on loss and damage.

• Governments agree to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support.

• A total of US$30 billion in financing from the industrialized countries to help support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise US$100 billion in long-term funds by 2020 was included in the decisions.

The next Conference of the Parties is scheduled to take place in South Africa, from
November 28th to December 9th, 2011.

Manufactured Landscapes

Manufactured Landscapes is a filmed documentary regarding how our industrialized society has changed the landscape of the planet. According to the photographer, Edward Burtynsky the film shows nature being transformed through industry.

The film follows Burtynsky through China and exposes the effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution and the dumping grounds of its waste. It allows the viewer to comprehend what the industrialized society of today has done to the environment and landscape of the earth we all share.

Since so much of what people in North America buy is made in China the film is correctly focused on China. We can all certainly agree that the emerging economies of China and India will create a huge demand on environmental resources. This demand will begin to strip the earth of its natural resources; and when resources become scarce…the end result is typically war. There have been many wars fought over resources throughout the ages.

What about e-waste – Did you know that most recycled electronics and copper wire ends up back in China? This film will probably change your perspective on waste and waste management. That can of pop you just finished drinking – will you throw the can in a recycle bin? Where does it end up after that? What about your old cell phone or computers? What actually happens to them after you drop them off to a recycling centre that is holding a special pick-up for e-waste? You will have to watch the documentary to find out.

The film itself has very little dialogue. The images themselves should say it all. After all, a picture says a thousand words. The film will continue to display landscapes of assembly lines, mines, and mine tailings, dams, trash heaps, recycling yards, quarries, refineries and piles of industrial and e-waste. It is up to the viewer to decide how they feel about the images that will be forever imprinted on the brain.

You are probably asking yourself why you want to see a film showing piles of what we call garbage. This documentary should at the very least make you analyze the waste you throw away. We have all partaken in the output of waste on a daily basis. If we continue to use up natural resources to provide materials for our consumption and just leave behind piles of waste – what will the landscape of the future look like?
I extend a promotion for everyone to take the time to see this film. On Friday, December 10th at 10:00 a.m. there will be a screening of this documentary at the movie theatre.

See you there.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Senate Kills Bill C-311

In a snap decision, November 16, 2010, the Canadian Senate killed the Climate Change Accountability Act by a vote of 43-32. This vote caught the Liberal senators off guard and not enough of them showed up to vote and possibly save the Legislation.

The Bill had already spent the past year bouncing between the Parliament and the environment committee. The elected House of Commons passed the Bill in May and then it went to the Senate for final approval.

The way this vote was carried out was an insult to all Canadians and our democracy. The vote was called without notice and without debate. The Senate killed the Bill before they studied it or even called for independent expert witnesses.

The Act would have committed Canada to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 205 and a 25% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. Stephen Harper’s government claims the cost of reducing emissions will be economically devastating. Since the government could not defeat the Bill in Parliament they relied on the Senate to defeat it. Economists from the World Bank have concluded that the failure to reduce greenhouse gasses will have catastrophic economic and environmental consequences.

Our government dismissed its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol, which was an international climate change agreement that originally Canada and 186 other countries ratified. Now this defeat of the Climate Change Accountability Act – shows why Canada has earned the dubious reputation of obstructing progress at international negotiations regarding climate change, even though Canada is probably more vulnerable to the effects of climate change that any other industrialized nation.

In Nova Scotia, the effects of climate change would be particularly devastating as most of our infrastructure and communities are along the coastline, which would be hard hit by the rise in water levels. Even the marsh area surrounding the Town of Amherst could be hard hit by the rising waters.

Using an unelected body of government to kill a bill that was passed by a significant majority of the members of Parliament and was supported by a petition signed by more that 150,000 Canadians shows a lack of respect for Canadians that do care deeply about climate change. It was irresponsible and will leave the burden of this decision on the shoulders of our children.