Monday, December 23, 2013

Is the Harper Government Guilty of Ecoside?

"A lengthy 2008 guide to “Meeting the Media” instructs DFO employees to “refer to the Department or the Government in your answers and do not use the personal pronoun ‘I’. After all you’re a DFO spokesperson and not an opinionated commentator.” (The guide is included in a report from Democracy Watch.)"   from: Crimes Against Ecology: is the Harper government guilty of ecoside?

Good morning again!

Last week I received the latest issue of Alternatives Magazine.  Always a good read, and covering a wide range of environment and social issues, this issue particularly has my attention.

One of the feature articles is Crimes Against Ecology: is the Harper government guilty of ecoside?

Canada became the only country to withdraw from the UN anti-drought convention in March 2013.   from: Crimes Against Ecology

Author Laura MacDonald has put in a huge amount of research and has linked articles or reports relevant to everything mentioned in the six categories of charges.  

Environment Canada scientists were shadowed and monitored by media-relations handlers at the International Polar Year conference in April 2012.     from: Crimes Against Ecology

The charge categories are:
- Promoting willful ignorance by eliminating advisory bodies and restricting data gathering.
- Preventing knowledge from reaching the public by muzzling government scientists.
- Systematically dismantling decades of environmental protection legislation.
- Limiting scientists’ ability to provide perspective by reducing environmental research funding.
- Undermining conservation and monitoring efforts by cutting funding, staff and programs.
- Obstructing and threatening environmental education and advocacy efforts.

In April 2010, 86 workers were laid off at the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, the country’s national science library and leading publisher of scientific information.    from: Crimes Against Ecology
Most of the situations listed are things I never heard of ... possibly because I don't follow every environment site around ... but just as likely that the Harper government does a good job of keeping these incidents from getting out to media.

In November 2012, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency successfully lobbied to have the research lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College-University of PEI stripped of its international credentials for revealing evidence of infectious salmon anemia in BC salmon, thereby threatening export.                from: Crimes Against Ecology: is the Harper government guilty of ecoside?   [My comment: the government said the revelation would threaten exports.]

And some of them I had heard about.

Canada became the only country to withdraw from the UN anti-drought convention in March 2013.      from: Crimes Against Ecology

I hope I channeled Rick Mercer not too badly in a rant about the situation just above:

MacDonald tells us that the constitutions of 100 countries already recognize that people have a right to a healthy environment. Both Ecojustice  and the DavidSuzuki Foundation  are working to have this right  enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I hope you've got some time to read through the Crimes Against Ecology article and to explore the Alternatives Journal site.  You might find the site is one you want to visit regularly, or even treat yourself and subscribe to the journal.  It's a keeper in its paper format!  And I'm not just saying that because I'm such a paper lover!

As always, thanks for letting me speak and for reading.

As always, very best regards.  I hope you have a Christmas that isn't over busy, some time with friends or family and head into the New Year well.

Why's Woman

From its website:
A\J, or Alternatives Journal, is Canada’s Environmental Voice, delivering in-depth news and bright ideas about national and global environmental issues. Featuring thoughtful analysis by the nation’s foremost environmental thinkers, plus profiles of inspiring leaders and sustainable living ideas to steal, A\J offers a vision of a more sustainable future and the tools needed to take us there.
Published since 1971, A\J is Canada’s oldest environmental magazine, and is the official publication of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada.  

Dried Pears and Global Warning

Good morning everyone,

I hope this note finds you well, and if you are living in an area hit by the ice storm, that your trees and home are intact.

My husband and I listened to the news this morning, snug in bed, and when it was over simultaneously said we were really lucky to be living in London, and that the ice missed us and our trees.

Some years ago, a wet, physically heavy, deep early snow came down and tore down major trunks on our mulberry tree, which was still in leaf.  Many trees around the city lost branches and trunks because of this leaf/snow weight. 

This past summer we had harsh lesson on the need to thin bumper crop apples.  We'd been saying to each other that there might be too many for the branches to hold as they ripened ... and overnight there was a really heavy rain - who thinks about rain falling having weight?! - and a major trunk cracked off.  We cut and pruned and picked off great quantities of apples.  Then went after thinning the pears from the pear tree as well.  A lot of work!  And a lot of guilt about not pruning the apple in a timely way.  We know how to delay pears from ripening, and apples keep well, so were able to spread the sauce making and the slicing/dehydrating over a week or so.  Plus we have one of the brilliant and sturdy slicer/peeler/corer gadgets that Lee Valley sells. We got some great lessons in timely fruit tree care, buckling down to work through a problem, and the reward of a winter's worth of dried and freezer fruit.

So, altogether lucky.  We have pears and apples and the trees are o.k. for next year (for now).

We realize this ice storm is the sort of weather anomaly that will happen more often in future.  In our region we may not be flooded out, as will Halifax, New York, and Florida, but weird weather things are going to have bad effects, more often. 

A few years ago I'd put a lot of copied articles about climate change in a binder, and when I looked at the spine tab I realized I'd printed Global Warning.  Every time I look at it, or add another article, I don't change it.

The binder reminds me of why I'm involved in local environment actions.  Sweet dried apples and pears are my reward.

Very best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Neonicotinoid pesticides ... why can't we just stop?

Some how, over the last few weeks, I became involved with a couple of people who wanted to present to our municipal advisory committee on agriculture information about the dangers of neonicotinoid peticides for honeybees and other pollinating insects.  These pesticides also have bad effects on other invertebrates (earthworms) and birds, and a report just came out about their bad effects on people. 

Well, I've done a lot of reading, read a bunch of reports, and helped make a presentation to that advisory committee.  Nothing.  The advisory committee did the same as it did in September, when someone else made a presentation.  The people on the committee listened, politely, ... asked a few questions, and thanked us for the report. 

The advisory committee response was exactly what I'd expected it would be.  And it lines up with other agencies in Canada as far as the nothingness of the response. 

Canada's federal level Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency put out an interim report mid-September ... a few recommendations about keeping down the dust that came off the pesticide coating during planting, comments about better labelling, and farmers following them, and suggestions for something that's called "integrated pest management" (which does have its good points, if they were adhered to).  And then it called for comments in the next 90 days.  So, we're just now passed that period of comment.  Apparently, the PMRA had a huge number of comments come in.  Good organizations like the Ontario Beekeepers Association and the National Farmers Union commented, both recommending that the neonicotinoids not be used.  The Ontario Bee Health Working Group - which should be a major voice - is working on its own report (due out probably not before March) and didn't comment on the PMRA interim report.

I'm told that farmers tend to order their 2014 seeds in mid October of the year before.

Do you see the timing problem?  The gap between meetings and reports, and something being done?

Sounds like neonicotinoid pesticides will be used in all their forms during the 2014 planting season, at the same rate as they've been used.  Oh, and about that use ... for example, 100 percent of not organic corn planted is of neonicotinoid coated seed; altho' perhaps only 20% at most of fields might have insect pests, 100% of the seeds have a poison coating.  That's serious insanity, in my opinion.

Meetings and tracking down reports, and finding how to counter people's excuses for not applying something called "the precautionary principle" takes a lot of time.  I wish I could just use the old-style parental "because I said so" and have people stop using bad pesticides, and stop doing a lot of other bad things.  I wish people who end up on committees could/would in their collectivity just decide that they don't need to have 15 definitive studies to take an action ... that they'd look at the information available, the questions it causes, and say "know what? ... we don't know everything yet, but what we do know sounds an alarm ... we've got a problem that's going to be bigger than we ever suspected. Let's stop doing the thing that seems to be causing the problem, now."

I've got several simultaneous beliefs ... which is why I have to give my over-full brain a shake sometimes.

I believe someone has to go in to the agriculture advisory committee and "witness" what they are doing and saying.  I use "witness" in the sense I learned it in a peace group ... that evil has to be seen, even if there's no chance of it being reported to an authority that can stop the evil.  My cynical self phrases this as "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I also think there is a time when a person has to step away from the table - from the endless conversation - and just go do something.  My cynical self whispers to be cautious on this, however, ... figuring that the "they" one turns away from will go and do something worse the moment one's gone.

The one thing I am certain about: it takes more bravery and determination to step outside the system and the rules of engagement that have been written by the system. Written in invisible ink, and the page is locked in a bottom drawer in the basement of City Hall, in a room designated Janitorial - Keep out.

All for now.

Best regards, as always,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kirk Douglas' Birthday Wishes - let's all wish the same

Good morning everyone.

I hope this note finds you well.

I just happened upon this blog post from Kirk Douglas, actor.  Depending on how young you are, you might not know who he is.  Look him up. He's done a lot of films you've heard of and might enjoy.

Douglas just celebrated a big birthday.  And he had some big wishes to make in the following post, which I happened upon on the Huffington Post.

Very best regards to you ... and I hope all his wishes come true for you and those you care about.

Sincerely and with best regards, as always,

Why's Woman

From Kirk Douglas

 Today is my 97th birthday. I am a lucky man. I've been married to my wife, Anne, for 60 years and she continues to captivate me. 

When you get to be 97, you can reflect on the lessons you've learned in almost a century of life. Mark Twain said, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I won't pretend that getting older is easy. But I find that it's given me a perspective that I lacked when I was younger. I was always running everywhere -- from meetings to movie sets, from shooting films all around the world to serving as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department in over forty countries. Staying still was something I did not do well. 

Now, I treasure the quiet times: reading books that make me think about new ideas; watching my roses bloom; gazing at the palm trees shimmering against the afternoon sky; seeing the simple path of a cloud across the sky; and especially sitting with Anne in front of the fire at sunset -- the Golden Hour. 

So I asked myself, what do I want for my birthday? There's nothing I need, other than good health for my wife and my family. 

Suddenly it occurred to me that I knew exactly what I wanted -- a better world for my grandchildren.
But have you ever tried to put 97 candles on a cake? You can't. So I put 10 candles to represent the 10 decades of my life. Here are my birthday wishes:

  • A world where weapons, big and small, are symbols of weakness, not strength
  • A world where religion informs values, not governments
  • A world where the air is breathable, the water drinkable and the food is healthy and plentiful
  • A world where poor people are the smallest percentage of the population
  • A world where education and health care are available to everyone
  • A world where prejudice based on race, religion and nationality is non-existent
  • A world where smoking tobacco is considered a ridiculous practice from a bygone era
  • A world where all diseases are curable and physical pain is no longer a part of life
  • A world where we control technology, not the other way around
  • A world where greed is never considered good
Excuse me -- I have a lot of candles to blow out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our right to a healthy environment ... doesn't exist ... yet

Good morning everyone,

I hope this day finds you well.  

My email this morning had its usual: 30 items, 20 of which I could dispose of immediately.

And amongst those to read, one particularly important one that I'm just going to copy below. It comes from the David Suzuki Foundation, with two links to information reminding us that we do not have a right to a safe environment and why we should.

With Canada continuing to be one of the fossils at climate talks (COP19), making your name known as someone who cares about the future gets ever more important.  The future is based in the present. For many of us that means doing things now that will make the present and future better. For those with the patience and tolerance for frustration, making a healthy future means getting involved in making legislation and policy that affects our health now, so we can go forward. I have limited patience and a low frustration level ... my own forays into policy involvement are a battle with myself to sit through meetings or read papers.

 So when a simple thing to do comes my way, I'm grateful ... in this case, grateful to the David Suzuki Foundation for the information and the chance to add my name to others' and to know that others are out there.

Well, after reading all that ... thanks ... and here's the info.

 Best regards,

 Why's Woman

From the David Suzuki Foundation

Fifty-three percent of Canadians think we have the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat clean food.  But they're wrong.

Unlike more than 100 countries around the world that guarantee their citizens the right to a healthy environment, Canada has no such law. We think it’s time to finally make the image of Canada and the reality of Canada one and the same. That’s why we’re building a movement to see the right to a healthy environment become a fundamental Canadian right. Watch the video now.
Right to a Healthy Environment video
That’s what this is all about: creating something bigger than all of us so we can protect the one thing that matters most, the health of our communities and our children.
Watch the video now and then join thousands of Canadians who want to finally guarantee our right to a healthy environment.

Let’s get started. 

P.S. Last Friday on CBC’s The Current, renowned environmental lawyer David Boyd introduced the idea of amending our Constitution to guarantee the right to a healthy environment for all Canadians. During his interview he described what this would mean and why we need to act now. Listen to it here.