Thursday, December 20, 2007


This year the winter solstice brings ill tidings to us northern folk. Canada was seen by the world as one of worst adversaries of environmental change.

At the Bali Climate Change Summit nations met to work towards a new global treaty, which would include setting carbon emissions for rich countries. Canada teamed up with the United States to block the consensus reached by all the other countries present at the global summit. Then a group of countries, all of which had signed the Kyoto treaty, tried to move forward without the USA but they were blocked by Canada.

In just a few days 110,000 Canadians joined a petition to let our political leaders know that they were not acting upon the wishes of the general public at the Bali summit. Thousands phoned, faxed, wrote, and e-mailed members of the government. At the 11th hour Canada finally backed down. All countries present at the summit booed the USA. At the last minute the USA finally reversed their negative stance.

600,000 signatures from 192 countries were presented to politicians at the summit demanding they recognize that the citizens of this planet want to work towards global climate solutions. However, as a result of Canada’s negotiations, massive compromises were established at the end of the summit. Regulations for emissions and other environmental standards were lowered significantly to meet the demands of Canada and the USA.

The European nations talk big but they also, are not meeting the regulations to reduce emissions set for the world. The Bali summit has merely established that countries in attendance have agreed to the framework for a Climate Change Treaty, which will be formulated and voted upon at a later date.

At home the Harper government claimed victory at Bali and continues to talk enviro-jargon after putting up a massive fight that has compromised efforts to reduce emissions and environmental damage to the atmosphere of this planet. Meanwhile the vast majority of Canadians want to reduce the environmental footprint we are making upon this planet.

Then again, checkout the malls. How many SUVs, massive trucks, single occupancy vehicles are in the parking lots? Consumerism is the number one threat to the environment. On an individual basis we all have an obligation to reduce the amount we consume. Most products contain plastic, deprived from oil and a great deal of oil was burned to deliver most items to the consumer. How long will the individual actually use the item?

Canada chooses to extract the mostly costly source of oil on Earth, while our government blocks international efforts to reduce green house gases. Many scientists agree that this economic oil boom will become our worst nightmare by destroying the atmosphere that provides us with life.

The largest deposit of tar sands on Earth is located in the Athabasca oil sands of northeast Alberta around Fort McMurray. Tar-sand oil extraction projects do the most damage to the environment of any energy source on the planet. First massive open-pit mining is used to remove the tar, which is fused with sand. As part of the extraction process vast amounts of clean water are used in a process called Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage. The water is then discarded as polluted muck. Today in Alberta natural gas, primarily from northern British Columbia, is piped in and burned to generate electricity used to separate the oil from the sand. Plans are underway to build nuclear power plants to produce the electricity to meet the demand.

More than 80 kg of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere for every barrel of synthetic oil produced in Alberta, each refined barrel of oil weighs 130 kg. Gasoline refined from tar sand extraction is estimated to result in five times more carbon dioxide than conventional "sweet crude" oil production. The Boreal Forest Ecosystem, recognized as a vital part of Canada’s oxygen production and weather stabilization, is being destroyed by massive excavators scraping the topsoil away to dig down into the tar sand.

You can make a difference by joining the global movement which helps to bring the public’s message to the attention of international decision makers, for more information about public input into climate change check out:

Friday, December 07, 2007



Recent storms have once again proven that nature sets the rules of life. No matter how hard we try to divert water with roads, ditches, dams, causeways, dikes, and culverts a little bit of snow and a few drops of rain wreak havoc over our designs. Human beings are the weakest link in the natural scheme of things. The environment is in control yet we constantly claim supremacy over the world.

As development continues to put pressure on the natural world the attitude that we can manipulate nature to meet our needs seems to prevail over the reality that the natural environment provides for us. The dilemma humanity faces is that we have to learn to protect ourselves from the brutality of nature without destroying the environments that allow us to exist.

An idea such as building a concrete wall with buttresses along Parksville Beach to meet up with the rock dike built by Surfside RV will further change the natural shore line. This ‘solution’ to the problem of erosion flies in the face of the fact that the Englishman River estuary and adjacent floodplains have flooded, receded, and changed for centuries. That is how nature works. There will be serious consequences to altering the coastline to meet economic needs for commercial developments.

Humanity’s attempts to control nature sometimes appear to work, but in the long run devastation is the end result. The planet earth always prevails.

Surfing the web for information about how we, as a society, are addressing the many environmental issues we face, I was not surprised to find that it all comes down to money. Under the heading ‘Environmental Protection’ Statistics Canada lists everything according to revenues and expenditures. Perhaps this is because the information gathered is primarily from tax reports or perhaps it is because money is all that really matters to government.

It’s interesting to note that while the last statscan report was released to the public in September 2007 and all of the information dates back to 2004. Therefore there is no information about any changes that have occurred while the Conservatives, under Stephen Harper, have led a minority government.

To make absolutely sure that the public has no one to hold accountable the statscan website includes the following disclaimer: “In no event will Statistics Canada be liable for any direct, special, indirect, consequential or other damages, however caused.”

It would appear that ‘environmental protection’ has become a major industry in Canada. That may appear to be a good thing but what are the results? That information is much harder to uncover, access, or define. In search of some answers I checked out the websites for both the federal and provincial ministries of environment.

I was amazed at how biased the information has become. The tone is heavily slanted by partisan politics and reinforces the parties in power. Information comes across more like public relations propaganda than statistical information based on scientific evidence.

Both the BC Ministry of Environment and the Environment Canada’s websites read like a series of accomplishments painting a glowing review of the government’s actions on behalf of the Environment. Its almost as if the environment is being used as a public relations ploy that will bring voters to support the political party with the most advertising savvy.

Barry Penner was appointed BC Minister of Environment and Minister Responsible for Water Stewardship and Sustainable Communities on June 16, 2005. His title reads like PR spin and his time seems to be spent on a lot of photo-opportunities which appear to be carefully constructed to provide the biggest bang for the public’s bucks. John Baird was appointed President of the Treasury Board in 2006 before becoming Minister of the Environment for Canada. The website contains lots of sound bites and rave reviews about this politician with no acknowledgement that anything is wrong with how we, and our governments are treating the environment.

Don’t simply rely upon my interpretation of this research check out: If you’d like to find out about the BC Environment through the eyes of the BC Liberal government check out: For the Federal view of the Environment check out: