Green News

Canadian scientists urge: vote for the environment

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/08 at 11:36 AM
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More than 120 of Canada's top global warming scientists joined to call for "strategic voting" in next week's federal election. An open letter was sent to major newspapers across the country on Tuesday, in which the Conservative governments' record on climate change was heavily criticized. 

The letter is signed by Canada's top climate experts, many of whom contributed to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that earned a Nobel prize. It outlines the urgent need for the federal government to take action and pleads with voters to take the environment seriously.

"While it's clear the public accepts that global warming is a threat, it seems people have simply no idea how serious this issue is," the scientists write. 

The scientists believe that "the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere has already reached levels that will cause significant effects to the Earth's ecosystems". 

"Global warming is a problem that must be dealt with now, before it's too late," says the letter. "Any further delay will only increase the risks of damage and costs of action."

The letter criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to focus on emission intensity, not emissions reductions.

"Reducing emission intensity means that you continue to pollute, but do so more efficiently," it says.

"The overall net effect of the federal regulation would be to allow a tripling or more of greenhouse-gas emissions from the oilsands sector by 2017, and possible continued increases after that. Frankly, no matter how you try to spin it, that is not a reduction."

The scientists support the implementation of a carbon-tax like that proposed by the Liberals, and/or a cap-and-trade system such as the one offered by the New Democrats.

"The carbon tax provides price certainty, is easier to implement, more transparent, easy to make revenue-neutral and less open to abuse," the letter says.

Andrew Weaver, a major contributor to the 2007 IPCC report, helped co-ordinate the letter's distribution. He said that it was meant to highlight the risks posed by the Harper governments policies.

"I think extraordinary times take extraordinary measures," said Weaver in an interview. "Scientists don't agree on a lot, but there is a real great sense of urgency within our community and we have witnessed Canada move from a position of international leadership to a position of international obstructionism over the past few years and we're worried."

The letter has been posted online, in English and French, at: site.climateletter.org.

About the author: Environment Smart

You Have a Choice: Stop Harper!

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/08 at 10:51 AM
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The call continues to ring out for Canadians to vote strategically for the environment. The latest action comes form AVAAZ to make the

Stop Harper Pledge:

"I pledge to vote smart to help prevent a Harper majority government from devastating our climate. If the election in my riding is close and could elect a Conservative, I will come together with other Canadians across party lines, vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate, and encourage my friends and family to do the same."

Several artist have united in this cause to record the musical message "You Have a Choice". Give it a listen and then make your pledge to vote smart.

Ricken Patel and the Avaaz Canada Team recommend the following websites to help you with strategic voting:

For an outstanding guide to how to vote strategically where you live, visit this great website:
http://www.voteforenvironment.ca
For a great analysis of the Parties' environmental records:
http://elections.desmogblog.com
And here is another good strategic voting environmental website:
http://www.voteforclimate.ca
If you want to double-check that who you should vote smart for, this is a highly impartial guide from Greg Morrow, who does not support strategic voting:
http://democraticspace.com/blog/strategic-voting-guide

About the author: Environment Smart

Composting Tea

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/07 at 10:55 AM
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Our family has been progressively more proficient at composting. We used to have just a big pile of leaves composting on top of an old log. As this pile composted, it became our vegetable garden and a new compost pile was started. The open pile was not something we could use for our food scraps (visiting raccoons), so we got a compost bin with a lid. Our town provides the bins for a small fee of $5.00 each spring. Our next step is to build a proper enclosure for our compost pile. We found some great compost bin design ideas that we will use for this.

With all of this increased interest in composting, we are continuously looking for information to help us move forward. Today we learned that we can add bread to our composter, as well as some of our toilet paper rolls. More interesting, however, is composting tea. A lawn-care specialist friend of ours had once mentioned using compost tea as a fertilizer. He is always experimenting with alternative methods to replace the use of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides.

We did not realize that compost tea is not difficult to make ourselves. We found some instructions today. You basically steep your compost in water. We will be trying this and will keep you posted on our success.

About the author: Environment Smart

Calculate your carbon footprint

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/04 at 11:59 AM
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Here are two websites that will help you to calculate your carbon footprint.

Earth Lab offers a basic calculation. A simple profile is built as you answer a few questions. This determines your carbon footprint rating. I was a bit surprised to see that I still rate a bit above the Canadian average. This may be because there are several things that we do at home that there seemed to be no questions for (ie. our own vegetable garden, dual-flush toilets, general low water consumption, purchase of fewer packaged goods).

Eco Action is a government of Canada environment website that offers a variety of carbon calculators. Here you can calculate your fuel, water and energy consumption at home and as an organization. There are also several very useful and educational tools on this site that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. I was impressed with the amount of information available through the Eco Action tools and calculators

 

About the author: Environment Smart

Stationary that blooms

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/03 at 11:21 AM
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Blooming StationaryNow here is a creative way to recycle paper.

There are a number of stationary businesses that have embedded their wrapping paper and greeting cards with seeds that can be planted. WishBuds and  Botanical Paperworks are only two such businesses.

The paper that WishBuds uses is handmade and is manually embedded with wildflower seeds. The paper is made from linen or cotton and decomposes when placed in soil. The seeds found in the paper are a mixture of many varieties. Some of these are clarkia, corn poppy, bird’s eyes, snapdragon and catchfly. According to WishBuds, the seeds are randomly spread throughout the layers of the paper so that "one or many of the varieties may grow as the seeds are randomly spread throughout the layers of the paper". The Botanical Paperworks website shows how the process works. 

Just plant and water the paper and it will bloom.

If you are a DIY kind of person, then you can easily make your own blooming paper. Just follow the instructions for handmade paper and carefully embed the seeds when the paper is dry. There are also many paper-making kits available. Botanical Paperworks offers one, but you can also visit your local art and crafts store or hobby shop, or have a further look online.

 

About the author: Environment Smart

UNEP helping young consumers be more eco-friendly

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/02 at 11:35 AM
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youthXchange Training Kit coverUNEP and UNESCO have just released the new and updated edition of their popular YouthXchange. The YouthXchange Training Kit serves as a guide to eco-friendly living for young consumers.

This 2008 release is the second edition (first edition 2002) of the YouthXchange Training Kit produced by UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). UNEP describes their publication as a "train the trainer tool that aims to promote sustainable consumption patterns among young consumers worldwide".

“YouthXchange is one of the most important youth activities connected to UNEP’s sustainable consumption and production work - it provides us with content that we are able to convey to other young people, empowering them to make different choices in their daily lives and be actors of change,” says Gabriela Monteiro, a UNEP Tunza Youth Advisor.

Included in this updated guide is a chapter on how to find a balance between the desire of today's youth to look "cool" and fashionable while maintaining an awareness of the impact of their consumption on such areas as climate change. 

“Through their (youth) purchasing patterns, life-style choices and networks with schools and universities to clubs, the music scene and sports they can also influence the wider world - influence that will be vital for moving communities, companies and countries to back a new UN climate change deal in Copenhagen’s UN Climate Change Conference in 2009”, says Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

“This initiative, which fits within the framework of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014), seeks to raise the awareness of young people and make responsible consumers of them,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO.

Through the YouthXchange program, UNEP and UNESCO collaborate to help young people to make their everyday actions part of their aspirations for a better world. 

About the author: Environment Smart

Environment to ensure majority federal government

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/01 at 11:24 AM
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Voteforenvironment.ca is a project designed to try to oust the Conservative government and bring in a majority government that will put environmental issues in the forefront of its platform.

According to the voteforenvironment.ca movement, "We believe that the Harper Government’s collusion with the Bush White House to obstruct progress on climate change at recent international summits does not reflect how Canadians want their leaders to behave on the world stage. The Harper and the Conservative Party are simply not in step with what scientists say is needed, with Canadians' concerns, and with economic benefits of dealing with climate change."

"If those of us who care about the environment don’t work together across party lines, the pro-environment vote will be split as it was in the last election and Harper will be re-elected."

The voteforenvironment.ca site calculates what the likely vote totals would be for each party based on today's polling. Visiting the site regularly will allow you to follow what the trend is for your riding. The idea is that this will help you to vote strategically to form a majority government that will be environmentally proactive regardless of your plolitical affiliation.

"Government change not climate change
Vote smart so the majority wins"

About the author: Environment Smart

Flat Screen TVs May Be Damaging the Environment

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/30 at 12:21 PM
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May of us have recently purchased a new HD flat screen TV, as our old CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs are being fazed out. Did you realize, however, that this increase in demand for flat screen TVs has been making an impact on global warming? 

The manufacturing of flat screen TVs uses a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride. Due to the popularity of these TVs, the annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, yet at this time it is not certain how much of it is being released into the atmosphere by the industry.

 

Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine has been studying the issue. Prather's research reveals that "production of the gas, which remains in the atmosphere for 550 years, is "exploding" and is expected to double by next year. Unlike common greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), emissions of the gas are not restricted by the Kyoto protocol or similar agreements". 

There is hopefully some action being taken to curb these emissions. According to Reuters, more than 190 nations have recently "agreed to work out a broad new pact to succeed Kyoto". 

"I think it's a good idea" to add new gases to a group of six already capped by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for slowing global warming, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters.

"It makes sense to address all gases that lead to climate change," he said on the sidelines of the August 21-27 talks in Ghana meant to help work out details of a new treaty to combat global warming due to be agreed at the end of 2009.

 

About the author: Environment Smart