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Your ‘Diet’ Food is Making You Fat

29 May

This article from the Huffington Post a little while ago puts very cleary the risks associated with the average North American diet of processed foods. The article isn’t brief, but I found that I felt a need to read the entire thing. We are made to believe that foods with sugar are bad for us and will make us fat. What we are never told, is that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the sweetener used in almost every processed food to replace natural sugar, is even worse for us. Not only does it have a increased negative impact on our weight, but it comes with a host of other issues from lack of nutrients and energy in our bodies to the monopolization of the agriculture industry and hazardous Genetically Modified Foods.  Coincidently, along with the Post article, I also came across an article from the CBC about the high percentage of Canadians with high blood pressure, another symptom of HFCS.

From the Huffington Post:

Study after study are taking their place in a growing lineup of scientific research demonstrating that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all it’s myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.

And fructose in any form — including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose — is the worst of the worst! Continue reading

A Talk with Galen Weston – CEO of Loblaws

14 Dec

This morning at the contact group on the Annex 1 parties emission reduction meeting, we bumped into Galen Weston, the CEO of Loblaw Companies Limited. He graciously accepted a quick interview following the session however he did not allow us to take video. When asked about his role at the conference as an advisor to Jim Prentice, he told us that he was there to listen to feedback from people like us and provide his opinion on matters as the head of the largest grocer in Canada. So, we discussed Canada’s low targets with him, the possibility of Canadian leadership at this conference, and the issue of financing for other less developed countries for adaptation and technology transfer. 

When we asked him about the tar sands in Alberta, his response was that they are not going to be closed down because of their enormous money generating capacity, so it is best to look for the most environmentally friendly way to continue oil extraction and put a regulatory framework in place for oil companies to adhere to. He mentioned the urgency for this to take place as the developments are occuring so quickly and haphazzardly right now because oil giants know that stricter regulations are on their way. He gave a pretty standard doom and gloom answer about losing all jobs in canada if we attempt to move for a green energy economy and likened it to slow European growth over the past decade. Also, some of the difficulty with slowing down tar sands development lies within our political system, as the provinces have a lot of power over energy policy and therefore Alberta will need to get on board (obviously unlikely). 

We heard more about creating a new carbon market and trading emissions credits and he expanded a bit on how a framework for this in Canada will make it easier to have long term investment in green energy projects. Investment is already coming as we know that legislation is on it’s way he said. 

We talked with him also about the need to have the U.S., China, India, and Brazil brought into a new agreement as they are accounting for somewhere in the range of 90% of new emissions. 

As any advisor to a Conservative government would be expected to say,
“Don’t underestimate the market’s power to make change” was heard at least once. And it is difficult to disagree with this statement when we’ve seen Loblaws take reusable shopping bags and organic foods to the forefront of the Canadian food industry.

Tar Sands Protest

11 Dec

Just a video of the Tar Sands protest here in Copenhagen. Sarah, Sylvie and I are behind the banner.

Canadian Delegation Orders Youth to Tear Down Oil Sands Display at Climate Negotiations

10 Dec

This is quite disturbing. Our UWSP delegation was not involved in this and as far as I know, none of us even had the chance to SEE this display at the conference because it was so short lived. this is directly quoted from the Sierra Club Canada blog “Climate Crisis – Countdown to Copenhagen”:

In a blatant attempt to cover up Canada’s dirty little secret – the Alberta Tar Sands – the official Canadian Delegation successfully filed a complaint to the UNFCCC secretariat about a photo display put on by Canadian Youth. The display featured several large photos of the Alberta tar sands project with captions describing the multitude of environmental and human health effects of the project and even went so far as to say that Alberta has a right to emit because it’s a fossil fuel producer. The photos were on display for less than one day.

This followed on the heels of a youth meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner which youth described as shocking and heartbreaking. Tears were shed as the minister refused to acknowledge the impacts of the tar sands. When an indigenous youth from Fort Smith Alberta asked his opinion of the two-jawed fish found in the Athabasca River, he replied that these things happen in nature and that there is no link to downstream effects of the mega project.

Canadian Youth Delegate Christel Hyshka had this to say, ‘‘Minister Renner tried to convince us that Alberta was a climate leader, but there is no denying that the oil sands are the fastest growing source of emissions in Canada, and that its unrestrained development will make meeting any significant greenhouse gas reduction target nearly impossible for our country. They acknowledge the risk, but are unwilling to take responsibility. Quite frankly, as an Albertan I’m embarrassed that this is a message they are bringing to the international stage”.

Canada is not acknowledging the impact of the tar sands. Sarah, Sylvie, and myself were involved in a protest yesterday regarding the tar sands in Alberta. It garnered what seemed like a fair amount of media attention (though you can’t see any of us in the photos). The CBC was there to pick it up. 

Sierra Club Blog Post: 

CBC Article: (I’ll warn you now that the comments from Canadians pretty much show exactly why our Country isn’t backing down)

How Long Does it Take to Edit one Paragraph?

8 Dec

I just sat in on a portion of the Ad-Hoc Working Group for the Kyoto Protocol meeting  on potential consequences of the Kyoto Accord. Allow me to illustrate the content of the past 45 minutes of my life.

The chair of this meeting intended to discuss consequences. Immediately Sweden proposed (with the backing on a number of other countries) that the text from the last meeting be read again before getting to any talk of consequences.  Paragraphs 1 to 3 were skimmed very quickly, paragraph 4 on the other hand, was a different story. It read like this:

The AWG-KP further noted that [striving to minimize] [minimizing] the adverse impacts of mitigation actions is a common concern of both developing and developed countries. It reiterated that there could be both positive and negative consequences of mitigation actions and agreed that [its work on this issue should focus on minimizing negative potential consequences for Parties] [[attention] [a core aspect of the work] should be paid to [minimizing] [how to minimize] potential negative consequences for developing countries.] The AWG-KP further noted that the work on potential consequences will need:

  1. To support and complement efforts to mitigate climate change;
  2. To benefit from experiences of Parties and lessons learned;
  3. [To take into consideration the role of national [climate] policies and measures in terms of potential adverse social, environmental and economic impacts on other Parties, especially on developing country Parties];
  4. [To [blanace the consideration of] [consider both] negative and positive potential consequences].

(Document FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/12/Rev.2 16 November 2009 – Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol, Tenth Session Copenhagen, 7-15 December 2009, Item 3 of the provisional agenda)

After back and forth suggestions from Sweden (to condense the text) and South Africa (To not let anything important get cut), the 45 minutes ended with more bracketed options, and South Africa’s point of placing brackets around the entire paragraph as they stated that they would like to remove all original text and rewrite the paragraph. Needless to say, I did not stay for the discussion of the following paragraphs. I wonder how the Kyoto accord was ever written? From my experience today, it seems as though countries will bicker about whether they should THINK about doing things or ACTUALLY do things  for ever with the only conclusive result being that there is no conclusive result. I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong.

So far, from what I’ve seen at COP today, things are moving slowly, if they’re even moving at all, and with regards to the above mentioned group, things are moving backwards. I’ll end with a poll.

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

7 Dec

Not five minutes ago, Sarah, Alice, Olivia, Emily, Sylvie, and I walked out of our first conference event. Held by both UNICEF and the FAO, the Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges session welcomed ambassadors from the Children’s Climate Forum – mostly young children from developing countries –  such as South Africa, Zambia, Haiti, Bangladesh, Kenya, Maldives, and Senegal – to speak about issues regarding climate change. It is amazing how children can put things so simply and effectively. It is amazing how children are making decisions that their parents and elders do not make.

The children were asked to identify barriers they face in their home country and bridges they can build to overcome them. Here’s a sample:

  • Barrier: ignorance
  • Bridge: show the impacts climate change is having at home.
  • Barrier: failure to listen to children
  • Bridge: provide opportunities for youth to speak out such as the Children’s Climate Forum

The children were also asked about what role music can play for fighting climate change. Answers spoke of music as a universal language, able to cross borders with ease and unite different cultures. Additionally, music can be the dissemination of information through entertainment as opposed to through sources like speeches or documents and thus, has the ability to reach more people. On a side note, it was said that planting trees in African countries have purpose aside from those environmental – they provide shade, and through this they act as a gathering place as people escape the heat of the sun. People are united through the natural environment.

How we can change the mentality of adults was another question asked. It was suggested that people be shown the changes that have occured in their own country as a result of climate change. What existed at a time past that is no longer there? Show that this river has trickled to a stream. Then show people how to reverse the effect or prevent it from happening again.

The youth ambassador from Maldives brought us some interesting news as well that we had not yet heard. This small developing country of 300,000 people is striving to become the first carbon neutral country in the world, and while this represents a very small portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it also represents a huge step and shines as an example of what a (developing) country can do.

There is no global action without local action. A take-home message in this session was to respect commitments, no matter what size. Humans take steps.

The quote of the day has to go to the ambassador for Angelique Kidjo of Cape Town, the ambassador for UNICEF, who said, “YOU CAN’T MAKE MONEY WITHOUT THE EARTH”. Simple, effective, 100% truth.

All in all, planting trees was a repeated idea of this session. In Canada, we take trees for granted. Trees are nice to look at. They are pretty to walk beside. We often forget about their ecological function and how important they really are. Trees can absorb water and therefore minimize the impacts of floods  and decrease risk of landslides. Trees (such as mangrove forests) act as barriers from intense winds, tsnuamis and other severe storms induced by climate change. Trees improve soil conditions enabling farmers to feed the word. Trees absorb carbon dioxide improve air quality for all to breathe. The list goes on. One simple act of planting trees goes a long way. Let’s not forget that.

IN REFLECTION, here are some issues to consider:

  • Transgenerational communication and values
  • Human desire to share experiences (e.g. childhood): “I am only seeing fragments of the beauty of my country”
  • Immigration issue where people go, where they choose to go, and if they have the choice to leave

Again, we  see how social and environmental issues are parallel.

– Tyler, Sarah & Alice

Phone Booth Library

30 Nov


Phone Booth Library from: Treehugger, 2009

Treehugger posted this little gem today on their website about a town in the UK called Westbury-sub-Mendip, which was about to lose its last remaining classic red telephone booth. So what do the citizens do to save this historic (be it very small) structure? They turn it into a book exchange. The concept is a simple as it comes. You bring a book that you’ve read and exchange it for one you haven’t yet read. The honesty system applies. This fantastic idea both reuses the old booth, but also encourages the reuse of books. Nothing wasted here.