Oil lobbies I usually spend November 16th with my youngest niece for her birthday — she's turning eight. But this year, I'll be standing up for her future at what I hope will be the biggest national rally Canada has ever seen. Over 100 communities from Victoria to Nunavut to Halifax have signed up for Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities events to "help build a united wall of opposition to dangerous pipelines, reckless tar sands expansion and runaway climate change." At rallies in Vancouver and other BC communities, opposition to pipelines — Enbridge's Northern Gateway in particular — will be a major force. The event is happening on the heels of BC and Alberta's premiers agreeing on a "framework" for moving the Northern Gateway project forward, in spite of mass (in fact, majority) opposition among citizens and a clear lack of answers on whether Christy Clark's five criteria were met, after she earlier rejected the pipeline based on those criteria. The timing will only add more fuel to the fire as we decide we've had enough of being ignored by our government leaders. I look forward to standing up with my fellow Canadians from coast to coast to coast in support of a clean energy economy, action on climate change, and renewed democracy. Please join me on November 16th in your community to defend our climate, defend our communities. Find and RSVP to your local event, join the conversation on Facebook, and most of all, invite your friends! I'm really proud to be contributing my design expertise to a very talented national team that has been working hard on this since long before I joined. Please do share our articles and images on social media to spread the word and, if you can, a little love, too. See you on the 16th. Defend our climate, defend our communities " />
November 8, 2013

Where will you be November 16th?

Oil lobbies

I usually spend November 16th with my youngest niece for her birthday — she’s turning eight. But this year, I’ll be standing up for her future at what I hope will be the biggest national rally Canada has ever seen.

Over 100 communities from Victoria to Nunavut to Halifax have signed up for Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities events to “help build a united wall of opposition to dangerous pipelines, reckless tar sands expansion and runaway climate change.”

At rallies in Vancouver and other BC communities, opposition to pipelines — Enbridge’s Northern Gateway in particular — will be a major force. The event is happening on the heels of BC and Alberta’s premiers agreeing on a “framework” for moving the Northern Gateway project forward, in spite of mass (in fact, majority) opposition among citizens and a clear lack of answers on whether Christy Clark’s five criteria were met, after she earlier rejected the pipeline based on those criteria.

The timing will only add more fuel to the fire as we decide we’ve had enough of being ignored by our government leaders. I look forward to standing up with my fellow Canadians from coast to coast to coast in support of a clean energy economy, action on climate change, and renewed democracy.

Please join me on November 16th in your community to defend our climate, defend our communities. Find and RSVP to your local event, join the conversation on Facebook, and most of all, invite your friends!

I’m really proud to be contributing my design expertise to a very talented national team that has been working hard on this since long before I joined. Please do share our articles and images on social media to spread the word and, if you can, a little love, too. See you on the 16th.

Defend our climate, defend our communities
March 25, 2013

Talking clean energy at the West Coast Oil Pipeline Summit

Vancouver Aerial by ecstaticistPhoto by ecstaticist via Flickr

British Columbians are waging a battle against two pipelines and a prospective future that puts at risk much of what we hold dear. There is a huge opportunity in this crisis, however, to supercharge our people power and fight not just for our rights, the environment, and democracy in BC, but to impact the course of future energy use in Canada and abroad.

Especially with the upcoming provincial election, the time is now to get British Columbians talking seriously about a clean energy direction for the future that helps us avoid oil sands expansion and a six-degree increase in global average temperature.

To help facilitate that, an amazing panel of speakers will be heading the West Coast Oil Pipeline Summit and gala dinner on April 19th. Amongst them, Mayor Gregor Robertson whose team at the City of Vancouver has been very outspoken against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and tanker expansion plans; Tzeporah Berman, environmental activist; City of Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan; and Chief Justin George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, who are directly across from the pipeline terminus at the Chevron refinery in Burnaby.

Say yes to beautiful BC. Say no to Kinder Morgan and oil sands expansion.

West Coast Oil Pipeline Summit & Gala Dinner

April 19th, 3pm to midnight

Sheraton Wall Centre, Vancouver

More info and registration at 2ggroup.ca.

May 21, 2011

Talking trash: Projecting Change Film Fest opens May 26, and plastic is a Texas-sized problem

projecting change

You might expect a film about a Vancouver couple who spend a year almost zero-waste and without buying any stuff to be a tale of unimaginable hardship and sacrifice. Indeed, the prospects of using the same toothbrush for 365 days, not replacing worn-out clothing, or making crackers from scratch are daunting but The Clean Bin Project‘s Jen and Grant take a delighted, energetic approach akin to Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon’s The 100-Mile Diet, but on the screen. The project was for them a competition for who could produce the least amount of garbage by year’s end (I won’t tell you who won), and involved learning about plastics, asking for their cheese unwrapped in their reusable container, and making the most of an old razor. Their enthusiasm was infectious. The 76-minute film is merely a glimpse at an entire year, but if it suggests anything about the 525,600 minutes they spent saving the planet, I think they enjoyed most of them.

Their artistically delicious film intersperses their own narrative of discovery — and occasional humourous disappointment — with the broader view of our consumption-based lifestyle and its consequences: successful community recycling initiatives; the Pacific Garbage Patch (which is twice the size of Texas); albatross death by plastic; landfills; and incomprehensibly large volumes of disposable stuff as depicted by Seattle artist Chris Jordan.

Continue reading Talking trash: Projecting Change Film Fest opens May 26, and plastic is a Texas-sized problem »

April 25, 2011

Joining 80% of BC residents, three North Vancouver candidates support oil tanker ban on BC’s north coast

Burrard Inlet(Photo by Gord McKenna via Flickr)

Every summer I swim in the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. My favourite spot is Cates Park (Whey-ah-Wichen, Faces the Wind), which is nearly opposite a Chevron oil refinery that is responsible for a slow leak discovered a year ago. This refinery is east of the Second Narrows bridge which, as the name suggests, spans a narrow crossing — and it’s a shallow one as well. The number, size and capacity of oil tankers passing through here is growing, with no decline in sight as our thirst for oil continues to increase. This worries me because it leaves us ever more vulnerable to a spill that would ruin a coastline inhabited by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation long before this place had a name, and enjoyed by Metro Vancouver residents and tourists alike. The beaches and waters are home to starfish, crabs, jellyfish, geoducks and many varieties of birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some other fish, a seal or even a whale. Eagles are frequent visitors.

We can’t afford an oil spill in Burrard Inlet, nor can we afford one anywhere along our beautiful coast. The consequences of the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska are still felt there. A spill of that magnitude hasn’t yet happened to us — neither in BC nor in the Saint Lawrence — and on Monday, May 2 we have the opportunity to uphold the decision the Liberals made in 1972 by voting for candidates who support this ban.

Continue reading Joining 80% of BC residents, three North Vancouver candidates support oil tanker ban on BC’s north coast »

March 12, 2011

What do climate change, farming and hipsters have in common?

wind farmPhoto by Snurb via Flickr

While searching for articles more in-depth on the first issue here, I came across some interesting finds. If you can read between the lines, you’ll figure out my headline. (Unintentional cheesy rhyming.)

The nuclear plant explosion caused by Japan’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake, and potential of further danger, reminds us just how risky and costly nuclear power is, says Greenpeace. Writes Ariel Schwartz for GOOD, “Nuclear power plants aren’t cheap, either. Reactors cost billions of dollars to build, which is why there are only 104 operating in the entire country [US] and why they’re all old — all of these plants began construction in 1974 or earlier.” And I think we can all agree a wind or solar farm is far more attractive than a nuclear power plant. Speaking of solar farms, this farmer is harvesting the sun along with his wheat.

Continue reading What do climate change, farming and hipsters have in common? »

March 8, 2011

Rising oil prices make local food and farmland even more crucial

Beets and carrots

Update March 9: Today’s ethical deal is 50% off two Vancouver Farmers Markets memberships!

Following several mentions at this past weekend’s Greenest City camp of how food prices have risen in the wake of higher oil prices, I was reminded again by The National‘s coverage tonight. They examined which commodities have spiked most, how our food spending compares to other nations and how to save money.

The prices for grains, dairy and sugar — the latter of which is non-essential — have risen by 10% to 30%, reaching in some cases historical highs. When comparing food spending — Canadians put 11% of their income toward it, whereas the Chinese spend 36% and in Yemen 80% — it’s important to realise that while our food spending has trended downward, our health costs have increased dramatically. This relationship between food and health spending has much to do with the quality of our food. So while the CBC’s reporter suggests 11% is a good number, I disagree.

Rising oil prices, a trend that will inevitably continue as supplies dwindle and economies recover, are a reminder of just how much energy goes into agriculture from the field to the plate. For Americans, the combined cost of transportation and energy accounts for more than 10% of the cost of US-produced food, with the majority of each dollar going to marketing. Factor in how much of our food comes from other continents — bananas, cocoa, sugar, seafood, rice — and watch that energy cost go up.

Continue reading Rising oil prices make local food and farmland even more crucial »

February 9, 2011

Still waiting for the Environment Minister to protect the environment

Fort McMurray Photo by sbamueller via Flickr

The Minister of the Environment oversees the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which states on its website: “Our role is to provide Canadians with high-quality environmental assessments that contribute to informed decision making, in support of sustainable development.”

The Agency’s commitment to sustainable development (SD) is ensconced in the preamble to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act), established in 1995:

…The Government of Canada seeks to achieve sustainable development by conserving and enhancing environmental quality and by encouraging and promoting economic development that conserves and enhances environmental quality. …Environmental assessment provides an effective means of integrating environmental factors into planning and decision-making processes in a manner that promotes sustainable development.

Sounds great! To BC citizens’ delight, they blocked the Prosperity Mine development in BC (Jim Prentice’s parting gift). But since new Environment Minister Peter Kent’s appointment, all I have heard him do is defend and spew lies about the oil sands.

“I have a feel for the sensibilities of the people, of the environment,” Mr. Kent says, yet he seems clueless that the majority of Canadians are concerned about climate change, something about which his government is clearly not. Otherwise the Conservatives would be taking leadership on greenhouse gas reductions and fighting climate change. Instead, they block international consensus in order to preserve the economy — an economy that cannot function without the environment. And why is the environment the last item on Kent’s website’s quicklinks list?

Does the Minister not know his own ministry’s mandate? Minister Kent is spending more time protecting the economy than the environment, though if he did his homework, he’d understand they aren’t mutually exclusive.

Well, at least there’s some good news, from the United States.

Related post: Alberta’s tar sands a humanitarian issue, too

75th graphicThis daily green blog challenge is in celebration of David Suzuki’s 75th birthday, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation. Please help me out by sponsoring me online now.

Note: I am writing solely on my own behalf, and do not claim to represent the David Suzuki Foundation or its views here.

February 1, 2011

Alberta’s tar sands a humanitarian issue, too

Tar sands, 1981Tar sands excavation north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, in 1981. Despite a recession, the project continues to expand. (Photo by CanadaGood via Flickr)

Update: Alberta continues fight against EU climate measures and Environment Minister Peter Kent outright lying to Parliament.

I was first introduced to the PR paradox of “ethical oil” when my friend Ben West at the Wilderness Committee went head-to-head with former tobacco industry lobbyist Ezra Levant in a debate on the subject. In this week’s Science Matters column, David Suzuki and Faisal Moola pull apart Levant and his fellow Conservatives’ argument, saying “the ‘ethical oil’ argument they promote has >holes as big as the ones in the ground around Fort McMurray.”

The environmental impacts alone should be a no-brainer. The razing of forests just to drill releases carbon dioxide — and if allowed to expand, an area of boreal forest the size of Greece will be industrialized with little hope of reclamation. The volume of greenhouse gases emitted prevent Canada from achieving any progressive, critical targets on GHG reductions and therefore thwart global efforts to reach consensus. The world’s largest construction project, the tar sands can be seen from space, but its effects are felt right here on earth, and no more deeply than by the First Nations downriver of the project, who are seeing higher than normal rates of rare cancers caused by toxic contaminants. Fish are turning up deformed, the water is polluted, the air is polluted. I see absolutely nothing ethical about this. It’s hypocritical for the Conservatives to suggest that oil from other nations be avoided because of human rights violations or lack of democracy. There is a human rights crisis going on in Prime Minister Steven Harper’s own back yard while his so-called “Environment Minister” Peter Kent claims our source of oil is ethical.

Continue reading Alberta’s tar sands a humanitarian issue, too »