Tag Archives: Sustainability

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


COP 15, Dr. Suess Style

23 Dec

A very interesting reflection on what happened in Copenhagen. Check it out! You will laugh and cry…

Dr. Seuss\’s Copenhagen by Marcus Brigstocke

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: http://www.sierraclub.ca/climatecrisis/?p=1004 

CBC Article: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2009/12/09/copenhagen-oilsands-protest.html#socialcomments-submit (I’ll warn you now that the comments from Canadians pretty much show exactly why our Country isn’t backing down)


Harper Plans to Attend COP15

26 Nov

All along Stephen Harper has said he has no plans to attend this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. Instead, Environment Minister Jim Prentice would represent Canada in Copenhagen. Suddenly, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, two leaders who until recently weren’t planning on attending, will be in Copenhagen to represent their Nations. Under this new pressure, Stephen Harper, thankfully, has decided to grace COP15 with his pressence. I could take this opportunity to demonstrate how yet again Canada has opted to follow in the footsteps of the US as opposed to being a World Leader on its own. However, I am so happy that Stephen Harper has realised how important his being in Copenhagen is, I will drop it. Thank you Stephen Harper! I will see you in Copenhagen.


What is Sustainability Anyway?

24 Nov

Sustainability. The notion of sustainability has quickly become integrated into the vocabulary of corporations, world leaders, environmentalists, and society as a whole – but what does sustainability truly mean? With no concrete definition of what sustainability is, and an established standard of how to measure progress towards environmental sustainability, this concept seems to lack the teeth required to really make a real impact on the world.

Perhaps one of the main reasons why sustainability has not become a driving force in today’s world is because there too many definitions out there with different visions and agendas. The lack of agreed definition, objectives, and path to achieving sustainable development has meant that the term “sustainability” can, and has been, stretched to mean almost anything. Sustainable development can mean all things to all people, which is probably why it has found such widespread support. Environmentalists, international government organizations, corporations, business associations and governments all endorse this concept. But what definition does each group subscribe to? Consider the following examples of different definitions various groups feel what sustainable development:

World Bank:

[M]eeting the needs of the future depends on how well we balance social, economic, and environmental objectives–or needs–when making decisions today.

Shell Canada:

Integrate economic, environmental and social considerations in our decision-making across all of our business activities. It means addressing both short-term and long-term needs.

Federal Government of Canada

To satisfy human needs and improve the quality of human life. At the same time, development must be based on the efficient and environmentally responsible use of all of society’s scarce resources – natural, human, and economic.

As can be seen, the above commitments to “sustainable development” not only have different focuses, but they fall short of concrete commitment and action required to meet the demands needed to preserve a healthy environment for future generations. Before society continues to use the term “sustainability”, it is crucial that an official definition for “sustainability”, and a standard to measure progress in sustainability be established. Sustainability must not only be incorporated into all aspects of life, but these actions must be aligned towards a common vision for it to be most effective.

Children of Children

23 Nov

The thought of climate change creating havoc, leaving an unbalanced ecosystem, and perhaps at some point in time, one last remaining animal, is very depressing. The unbalanced ecosystem will have destroyed food resources, and infrastructure in the developing world will have collapsed. Cars, pianos, houses, clothes, tables, computers, and dead bodies will be strewn across the streets amid floods and hurricanes and storms and earthquakes. Masses of humans will have become environmental refugees, but safe places of refuge will be too few and far between. Over time people will die of famine and poverty, disease and murder. At some point, there may be one last remaining animal. Not necessarily human, but at least one last remaining creature. It might not even be a mammal, or an amphibian or reptile. It might just be a jellyfish or some deep-sea creature. Nevertheless, the idea of only one living creature is a depressing thought. But facing depressing, or at least disturbing, frightening, and downright dangerous scenarios is necessary.

Star Wars. Batman. The Lord of the Rings. In picking out three of the highest-grossing Hollywood film franchises, there is an apparent common theme. It is one of heroism, where people in a state of danger or peril – not just to themselves but to all those around them – display unparalleled courage. The “heroes” exhibit self-sacrifice and place their own lives in danger – all in the hope of saving, esssentially, the world. In all three franchises, the heroes experience unimaginable terror, fear, danger, peril, sacrifice, and loss. That these themes appear significantly in popular culture suggest that heroism is of cultural value – at the very least – in North America, although heroism is even more prevalent in myths and fables, which exist in all cultures.

Yet there remains excessive apathy and opposition against any meaningful progress in sustaining life on earth.  There are two levels of opposition – one in which climate change is denied outrightly, and the other layer whereby the methods of dealing with climate change are hotly contested. Being that it is 2009, I simply have no patience for the former, given all of the scientific evidence accumulated to this date. As for the latter, well, at the very least, it’s on the right track. I would much rather have a raging debate between equally invested and interested parties than a large population of apathetic citizens or, as I like to call them, pathetic excuses for consuming food, occupying space, and sharing oxygen with my friends and I.

Through my ring of fire I throw those that do not demonstrate intelligence in making climate change a priority in their lifestyles or career, those that know of the importance but could not be bothered, and those that simply do not care. Perhaps the magic of hollywood is such that one really suspends disbelief during a film that they cannot take the morals and values out of them – the same morals and values that can be found in literature, in the fables that we read as children. The idea of heroism, of stepping up to the plate instead of cowering in the corner, appeals to most audiences in my estimation.

However, people appear to be so content with dragging their feet on the issue. Even if I were to throw out all of the science for a moment, one would think that even the selfishness would drive people to become engaged in sustainability. Have they no desire nor will to live comfortably? The luxuries found in North America will rapidly disappear in form or in the way they are delivered within the next decade – they already have, as reflected in food and gas prices. Has this no impact? Even the most crudely selfish person ought to preserve their luxurious (read: excessive) lifestyles by engaging in sustainability. No? What about the child-raising kind of person? Is it really so, that those that embody procrastination cannot find it in their hearts, when staring into their child’s eyes, the vital importance of sustainability? Even our very own children, for crying out loud.

From Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca) and Forest Ethics (www.forestethics.ca), two of the leading environmental groups in Canada, came Moms Against Climate Change, a group born out of the idea that the survival of our children is at stake.

Their campaign video can be found at http://www.takeactiononclimatechange.com, as well as YouTube.

This video is fantastically filmed and edited. The thought of children speaking up and protesting is a welcome juxtoposition. Against a backdrop of the melancholic – and appropriately selected, considering the lyrics – “Celebration Guns” by Canadian indie rock band Stars, the montage of children protesting ought to send alarms to adults of our irresponsibility. Perhaps it is the peroccupation that adults have with, well, their occupations, and other responsibilities, that they forget about sustainability, a decidedly future-oriented aspect. But the future is closer than we thought, as climate change worsens more than expected, and if the future is not secure, of what relevance are our daily duties?

Ironically, despite being less intelligent and less knowledgeable, it is children who can point out the obvious things which adults have overlooked. Children, being uninitiated with the struggles of our daily lives as we shuffle back and forth between stressful workplaces and stressful homes by way of stressful commutes, have the ability to see simple things for what they are. The equation goes like this: If the future, both near and far, are not handled carefully now, then nothing inbetween now and the “near future” will be of relevance. Giving up is not an option; that would be the equivalent of suicide, a result of mental disorder, of which I would not charge all of society. The only solution to this equation is complete focus and attention spent on sustainability across all industries and sectors.

Perhaps the only amendment I would make to the video is that a) many kids, even at their young age, have already figured out that which is so blatantly obvious, and b) the effects of climate change are happening now and and will increase exponentially in the next few years, so unless you are on your death bed, you should damn well be selfish enough to think, “hey, maybe I should do something afterall, even if I’m a douchebag and I don’t care about anyone but myself.”

The video tickles with the idea that, yes, if children knew of the grave situation we are faced with, they would be all over it like vultures on the last animal on earth. Humans need to step up to the plate and face the large headache of implementing sustainability across all industries and sectors in a proper manner. If not, pretty soon, there will be the death of the the last animal on Earth. Only then will sustainability not matter. Only then will danger need not be faced.

Now THAT’s Leadership!!!

16 Nov

This is where the EU stands on Copenhagen:

  • Aspires to play “leading role at Copenhagen
  • Will cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30% if other big emitters take tough action
  • Wants rich nations to make 80-95% cut by 2050
  • Wants poorer nations to slow emissions growth
  • Says they face costs of $150bn per year by 2020, of which EU will pay $7bn-22bn from public finances
  • The world’s third-biggest GHG producer (11.8% of global emissions, 4,641mt CO2 equivalent)
  • Emissions per head: 17th in the world (9t of CO2 equivalent)
  • GDP (2008): $18.3tn
  • Amount of GHG emitted per $1m of GDP: 315t
  • Kyoto: Signed – has to get average emissions for 2008-2012 8% below 1990 level

Lets hope that the EU really does act as the leader and knocks some sense into Canada, the US, China, India, and the Gulf States. Currently it’s 5 against 1…