Watch the CTV video of Kevin Newman and Green Party leader Elizabeth May here: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=861995
EMay: I think it’s too soon to say – I’ve been talking to members of the Senate and the Congress here in Washington during my visit over the last number of days and there’s a lot of increased enthusiasm about what President Obama said in his inauguration address about the need for the US to seize leadership on the climate issue, to embrace clean tech, to do much much more to bring down green house gases. And John Kerry was, before being appointed Secretary of State, a prominent critic of the XL pipeline . So I think we’re a long way from knowing which way this is going to go.
KN: So you’re saying Secretary of State, Kerry, can’t stay true to himself and approve this pipeline.
EMay: Well, that’s a good way of putting it- I mean John Kerry has been on his own for years, I’ve seen him in climate negotiations when he had no other reason to be there except that he was concerned and committed. He showed up in Copenhagen, he showed up in Bali. This is a man who understands the climate issue and now he’s led by a President who’s says the United States is going to take the lead because we owe it to our children we owe it to our grandchildren and the United States is not going to stand by and watch other countries seize the technologies that get us past fossil fuels. I don’t see John Kerry being at all happy with the prospect of approving Keystone XL – particularly when we know there will be, next weekend, a large demonstration in Washington DC, opposing the Keystone pipeline. It is not going to be a decision that will sit well with John Kerry if he ends up feeling that he needs to approve it.
KN: But you know – I’ve been reading a couple of recent quotes from the Washington Post e.g. who recently in an editorial said “ignore the activists who have brazenly chosen to make Keystone XL a line- in-the -sand issue” and then there’s a publication Nature-which I think we can both agree is a pretty substantive magazine with scientific peer reviewed findings and it says “The administration should face down critics of the project, ensure that environmental standards are met and then approve it.” Now those are progressive publications. Doesn’t that give Obama some political cover?
EMay: It gets hard to do that when Canada doesn’t have a real climate plan. If Canada was coming – I go back to when Mulroney was the architect of an acid rain plan that worked and the approach was come to the US with clean hands, show the US that we’re taking the appropriate steps in Canada and then asking them to do the same.
In this case what Stephen Harper’s done is to destroy most of our environmental laws, cancel our commitments under Kyoto, behave as a rogue nation in world, and actually have no domestic plan to meet even the weak target that Stephen Harper has set. So how then do we tell Barack Obama- Accept our bitumen crude- We’re going to be good actors on climate. We don’t have credibility to say that which actually undermines the case that the keystone XL pipeline should be approved.
KN: Alright Elizabeth May – thanks for being with us.
EMay: Thank you so much.
With the new year comes a great opportunity to kick old habits and make new improvements. We have created a few suggestions on what you may want to work on this year in terms of the environment. It doesn’t need to be extravagant but small steps add up so let’s start collecting now! It takes 20-30 days to make something a habit see how many you can make stick!
- Drive Less. Maybe you take the train to work once a week. You’ll find it makes for a speedy commute when traveling in rush hour. Get to know your neighbors and carpool! Or in the warmer months ride your bike! Think of all the people sitting in traffic on the way to the gym only to ride a stationary bike…
- Shop Less. Think of what you really need. Consumerism has a huge impact on our plant so why not make this the year you try out a thrift shop, or host a clothing exchange with all your stylish friends?
- Eat Less Meat. Producing meat that’s fit for consumption is hard on the earth, a good way to reduce this is to eat less of it, maybe you become a weekend vegetarian or entertain guests with vegetarian meals to show them how delicious it really is! The market posts seasonal recipes and this is a great place to start!
- Use Less Paper. Use email whenever possible, school, work, invitations – think of whether paper is necessary. Take the single sheet challenge when drying your hands in public washrooms; here’s how.
- Stop Wasting Energy. If your phone is charged… unplug the charger! Look around and see what is patiently waiting in standby and wasting energy in the process. Just unplug whatever is not in use and that’s it! Take it a step further and air dry your clothing!
- USE your reusable bag. Keep one in your car, attach one to your water bottle, put one by your wallet so you don’t leave the house without it. When used these bags are great! If you commit to bringing it with you to the store we will reduce a lot of waste.
- Get more involved with Sierra Club. Join us for a hike or outing, volunteer with us, come to our Sierra Speak Out Sessions, we have things to do every month and we would love some more faces on our outing check out what we’re doing this month!
- Commit to our ‘Green Challenge’ We will be hosting a green challenge on our website this year; so check back often to see what you can do to make little improvements for a sustainable future!
- Start a Compost, or vermicompost for apartment dwellers, this is a great way to reduce landfill waste, if you’re not sure what to do with all the soil? Many places will pick it up and put it to good use if you can’t!
- Conserve Water. Stale water in your bottle? Give it to the plants! You like long showers? Turn the water off when you lather up and take a staggered shower!
How to celebrate Christmas Sierra Style
Christmas is infamous for its consumerist ways, its the one time of year where we’re bombarded with pressure from retailers, society, and even traditions to buy more stuff. There is nothing particularly wrong with buying stuff after all our economy depends on it but we won’t let that excuse us from our beliefs rooted in conscious consumerism. Now if you’re like me and have taken on the motion of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” then this article will not provide you with new information. However, if you have yet to boycott the shopping extravaganza here are a few tips to get you started. Consider the size of your list, maybe your friend and family circles could draw names instead of everyone buying for everyone. For the people you do have to buy for look at ways you can use your purchasing power at independent business found in your community, 17th Ave, Kensington, Inglewood, the craft fairs, farmers markets and market collective. Even home based business are better alternatives to big box stores, the more you can keep supporting the local economy the better, not only will you have unique gifts with a handmade touch, but there’s almost no risk of duplicates!
Or you may want to put a fun twist on gift giving, my family has adapted ”trailer trash Christmas” where we draw names in June and all of our gifts must come from a garage sale, sometimes we end up with foosball tables or boxes full of yarn. But its fun to see how far $15.00 can go and tell the stories of purchasing the gift. It’s really turned the focus back onto good times rather then presents. Another great alternative is the gift of experience, perhaps you take your nephew to a cooking class, or your wife rock climbing, these create lasting memories and open a world of possibilities!
I like to make gifts, things like soap get made in big batches along with some canned goods and a homemade card, you can’t go wrong! But time is typically an issue, so for the things you will purchase keep these tips in mind:
- Think of the life cycle of the product, is it easy to recycle, will it get replaced next year, how soon will it be outdated or worse yet “so last season”
- Make an investment in something that will last, perhaps you splurge on a good quality fake tree that won’t ever get replaced, or sturdy bags and boxes that get reused each year
- Avoid batteries, this is a good indication that your spending power can get put to better use (maybe you include rechargeable batteries at the least)
And lastly, if you’re up for a challenge, see if your family can pull off a 100 mile Christmas dinner not only will this support local farmers, but you’ll find all sorts of new recipes and methods. So this holiday season, test yourself and see just how you can decrease your environmental foot print and that of others. Be a conscious consumer, start new traditions, and don’t be afraid to take a simpler approach to the ever stress full holiday season.
Last weekend, we attended the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. What an amazing event! Over 100 people stopped by our table to talk about environmental protection and conservation, the great outdoors, tar sands development, climate change and social justice issues. A special THANK YOU goes to our rock star volunteer Bernice who spent over twenty (20!) hours that weekend staffing the table, talking with folks about Sierra Club and what we do, collecting ideas for future events and projects, and keeping everyone happy with yummy mandarin oranges.
In the spirit of the holiday season – we were just across from the Ujaama Grandma’s bake sale – we collected Christmas wishes for the planet from the audience. They had some truly great ideas; let’s work on fulfilling a few (or all?) of them:
- Free education for all
- For every girl to go to school
- Mandatory elementary environmental curricula
- Get children out in nature
- Be grateful for our wildlife
- More wildlife corridors for bears, moose, cougars et al.
- Protect the Grizzly bears!
- Animal rights and habitat protection
- No clear cutting! (especially West Bragg Creek and the Castle)
- Stop logging in the Castle
- To reveal the life supporting uniqueness and beauty to all people
- For humanity to consider the rights of future generations in all decisions
- More collaboration and compassion instead of competition
- Women’s rights are respected across the world
- Urban, local agriculture
- Healthy food for the world
- GMO-free food for everyone
- Getting food to the homeless
- End poverty locally and globally!
- Everyone to give 5% of their income to a charitable cause and help others less fortunate
- Caring for each other
- More funding for the green economy
- Credible, transparent environmental monitoring system
- Transparent and accountable police force and government
- A progressive majority government in Canada
- Have a “green” holiday!
What is your Christmas wish for the planet? How would your ideal world look like? Let us know in the comments below and then get to work together!
Guest post by Robin McLeod, Coalition for a Healthy Calgary
It’s official! Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba continue to lead the country in widespread urban use of pesticides and fertilizers according to Stats Canada’s (2011) survey of Households and the Environment 2009. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario with comprehensive pesticide legislation experienced the greatest decrease in pesticide and fertilizer use from 1994 to 2009. What does this mean? Pesticide legislation is effective in reducing the amount of unnecessary pesticide use in urban environments. In addition, Healthy Calgary spokesperson, Robin McLeod, states “pesticides are likely stored in many Calgary homes in kitchen cupboards, under the sink, and in the garage or garden shed. This is an accident waiting to happen.”
In Canada more than 6,000 cases of pesticide poisonings are reported annually. Children, under 6 years of age, account for approximately 46.5% of the cases. The experience is similar in Alberta. From April 2005 to April 2006 1,021 cases of pesticide poisoning were recorded of which 461 cases or 45.2% involved children under the age of six .
Make Calgary healthy! Drop off your spooky toxic pesticides at City of Calgary Fire Stations and Landfill sites.
City of Calgary Fire Stations
- Visa Heights Fire Station #4 (1991 – 18 Avenue NE)
- Varsity Fire Station #17 (3740 32 Avenue NW)
- Lincoln Park/Garrison Green Fire Station #20 (2800 Peacekeepers Way SW)
- Cedarbrae Fire Station #24 (2607 106 Avenue SW)
- Midnapore Fire Station #26 (450 Midpark Way SE)
City of Calgary Landfill sites
- East Calgary Landfill (68 Street and 17 Avenue SE)
- Shepard Landfill (68 Street and 114 Avenue SE)
- Spyhill Landfill (69 Street and 112 Avenue NW)
This season Sierra Club Chinook Group is proud to join Sustainable Calgary, the Arusha Centre, Pages Bookstore, Green Calgary, Thrive, REAP Calgary and EcoLiving Events in organizing the Sustainability Book Club!
The goal of the Sustainability Book Club is to share books and discussions that help us understand the world and our place in it in a different way. This can change the way we experience the world and the way we act in our day-to-day lives, opening new possibilities for environmental sustainability, social justice and peace.
Feel free to join us and drop in – even if you have not read the book. It is the issues and themes that spark the discussion. Everyone is welcome to join in for one session or all of them. It is your opinion on the issues that builds an interesting discussion.
The first book is The Energy of Slaves by Andrew Nikiforuk. The author will be in person releasing the book at the Memorial Park Library! The book has been released and is already available at Pages Bookstore.
The Energy of Slaves by Andrew Nikiforuk
Ancient civilizations relied on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant crops, clothe emperors, and build cities. Nineteenth-century slaveholders viewed critics as hostilely as oil companies and governments now regard environmentalists.
Yet the abolition movement had an invisible ally: coal and oil. As the world’s most versatile workers, fossil fuels replenished slavery’s ranks with combustion engines and other labor-saving tools. Since then, cheap oil has transformed politics, economics, science, agriculture, and even our concept of happiness. Many North Americans today live as extravagantly as Caribbean plantation owners. We feel entitled to surplus energy and rationalize inequality, even barbarity, to get it. But endless growth is an illusion.
What we need, Andrew Nikiforuk argues in this provocative new book, is a radical emancipation movement that ends our master-and-slave approach to energy. We must learn to use energy on a moral, just, and truly human scale.
A few weeks ago we gathered your input to see how our group can grow to meet your expectations. Below are the results from the survey. We will take this into consideration as we expand with our new board. As a side note, many of you wanted to use different mediums to gather information from us, so below are the links to our other social media sources. Thank you to all who participated! It really helped give the Sierra Club Chinook Group some direction.
Missed our AGM in July? The next one is coming up – our Sierra Club Prairie Chapter in Edmonton is hosting their annual general meeting in September.
A note from Dave Greenfield, chairperson of the Sierra Club of Canada, Prairie Chapter:
Our 2012 annual general meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 18th at 7:00 PM. The meeting will be held at our Sierra Club office in Edmonton, and we will also provide a conference call line for members outside of Edmonton who wish to attend by phone.
- If you wish to attend in person, the address is 6328 104th Street, Edmonton.
- If you wish to attend by phone, the call-in number is 1-888-882-9090, and the access code is 4214693.
The other week our summer staff went on a little field trip to the new Calgary Science Centre. We want to start creating interactive displays and games for when we have more public presence. We knew the Science Centre would have tons of great ideas on how to present information in a fun way. Although we may have gotten a little distracted by the water display, digital design centre and the discovery dome. A very fun and inspirational day nonetheless! Continue reading
We did it! We held the first Annual General Meeting since our group had reformed last December. A big THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers Adrian, Alan, Bernice, Christopher, Darren, Kristin, Paul and Yulia who picked up the pieces and brought our group back to life! In the past seven months they invested a couple hundred hours to connect with members, establish the outings program, attend outreach events, recruit volunteers, collaborate with other groups and plan the next steps.
And now… *drumroll please* …welcome our new executive board that was elected at the AGM: Continue reading