David Suzuki Foundation news

I received this interesting emailed article from the David Suzuki Foundation for all to read and share:

Of passenger pigeons and coal-mine canaries

Pigeon

Passenger pigeons were once a remarkable story of nature’s abundance. Despite producing only one chick a year, they were the most numerous bird on Earth, sometimes darkening the sky for hours or even days when they flew overhead. But then they told another tale — about the destructive power of humans. We killed them all. The last wild bird was believed to have been shot in Laurel, Indiana, in 1902. The lone captive survivor was named Martha; she died at the Cincinnati Zoo 100 years ago, on September 1, 1914.

In some ways, the passenger pigeons’ success led to their demise. According to an article on Yale Environment 360, their abundance made them “the least expensive terrestrial protein available.” Although habitat loss from expanding logging and agriculture played a role, hunting ultimately wiped them out.

Birds have long been the “canaries in the coal mine” for our destructive ways. Extinction of the passenger pigeon sparked the first large environmental movement in the U.S., and led to restrictions on hunting, as well as federal and international regulations to protect migratory birds.

The next great environmental movement was also ignited out of concern for birds. For 20 years after Swiss chemist Paul Müller discovered DDT was extremely effective at killing insects, it was the most widely used insecticide worldwide. But in her 1962 book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson explained how the chemical was also killing birds, and accumulating in the environment and up the food chain, to humans.

Carson’s book inspired me and many others to heed the environmental consequences of our actions, and eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Now, birds face a range of new problems, most caused by humans and many serving as further warnings about our bad habits. According to BirdLife International, one eighth — more than 1,200 species — are threatened with extinction. Habitat destruction is a major cause. Birds can’t survive when the places they live, breed and feed are destroyed or altered, and when food supplies are diminished. Chemicals such as PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and pesticides are also killing birds, and, like DDT, also often affect humans.

Our insatiable energy appetite also puts birds at risk. Reading some energy-related news and blogs, one might conclude wind power is the biggest bird killer. But that’s far from true. Although poorly situated wind farms, especially ones using older turbine technology, do kill birds, it’s an issue that can be addressed to a large extent, as can problems around solar installations where birds have died. By far the largest energy-related bird killers are fossil fuels, especially coal. Heavy metals like mercury and lead from burning coal kill numerous birds — and even change their songs, which can affect their ability to mate and protect territory. And climate change is affecting many species’ breeding and migratory patterns.

U.S. News and World Report analyzed estimates of how many birds are killed every year by U.S. electricity sources. The numbers are telling: between 1,000 and 28,000 for solar; 140,000 and 328,000 for wind; about 330,000 for nuclear; 500,000 to one million for oil and gas; and a whopping 7.9 million for coal. According to one recent study, between 12 and 64 million birds a year are also killed in the U.S. by transmission lines. The article notes that all those numbers pale in comparison to birds killed by domestic cats: from 1.4 to 3.7 billion a year!

Not only do birds fill us with awe and wonder, but they also provide food and feathers, and keep insects and rodents in check. Their ability to warn us of the drastic ways we’re changing the world’s ecosystems and climate and water cycles can’t be ignored. By working to ensure more species don’t go the way of the passenger pigeon, we’re also protecting ourselves from the effects of environmental destruction.

As individuals, we must conserve energy, shift to cleaner sources and demand that our industrial and political leaders address issues such as pollution and climate change. And we can work to protect wetlands and other bird habitat. We can also join the legions of citizen scientists who are contributing to avian knowledge by posting information to sites such as eBird.org.

It’s not really just for the birds; it’s for all of us.

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington

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David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour

Have your heard about the Blue Dot Tour…here is a chance to read more about it from the David Suzuki Foundation:

An image of David Suzuki speaking from a podium with a picture of a galaxy in the background.

You are what you eat

For generations, parents have told their kids, “You are what you eat.” David Suzuki has an inspiring way of describing this as well: “We are the earth, through the plants and animals that nourish us.” He talks about how everything we eat and drink gets broken down into the fundamental building blocks that give us energy and make up our bodies, literally becoming a part of who we are.

That’s why it’s shocking to learn that Canada allows the use of hundreds of pesticides already banned in other nations because of concerns about their effects on human health.

Researchers have also identified links between some of these pesticides and declining bee populations and other pollinators, threatening our ability to grow food. Our government’s own scientists found evidence that one class of pesticides, “neonicotinoids”, caused bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec in 2012. Neonicotinoids are already banned in the European Union.

Legal recognition of every Canadian’s right to a healthy environment would ensure that people and the food we depend on would not be put at risk.

If you care about the food that sustains us, stand with more than 29,000 Canadians who have already called for stronger regulation of our food systems and the land and soil we all depend on.

The air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat should be our highest priorities — but they aren’t. That’s why David Suzuki, the David Suzuki Foundation and friends are hitting the road this month for the Blue Dot Tour. We’re hoping that you will join us and our Right to a Healthy Environment campaign so that we can get our priorities right.

With your help, we can work to dramatically reduce the use of pesticides and eliminate those we know are harmful to human health.

Through sound science we can become more informed about what’s happening in our backyard, and hold our leaders to account to ensure their decisions are in our best interests.

With the protection afforded by recognizing every Canadian’s right to live in a healthy environment, laws and regulations designed to protect human health would not be weakened. We would always be moving forward.

Already, more than 29,000 Canadians have agreed that it’s time for everyone — no matter who they are or where they live — to have the right to live in a healthy environment. We must all help protect the people and places we love. Please sign the petition today.

Sincerely,

Michiah Prull
Director, Communications and Public Engagement

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Categories: 2014, Environmental Issues, Ethics, Project 365 | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sierra Club News

More news from the Sierra Club Canada for all to read and share:

UPDATE ON FRACKING IN NOVA SCOTIA

Sierra Club Celebrates Victory Against Fracking in Nova Scotia
Media Release, September 3, 2014

Today, Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced that his government will introduce legislation for a moratorium on fracking in the upcoming legislative session (see announcement here).

“This is a huge victory for citizens. The government has heard our call for real evidence of safety before proceeding with dangerous activities, like fracking,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, Campaigns Director fro Sierra Club Canada Foundations’ Atlantic Canada Chapter.

In his announcement, Minister Younger stated that “Nova Scotians have overwhelmingly expressed concern about high volume hydraulic fracturing.” He also noted he had spoken with Mi’kmaq Chiefs Terrance Paul, Paul Prsper, and Sidney Peters, who also oppose fracking.

“We await details on the wording of the legislation, and will be following up to make sure it truly protects our air, water, and communities,” continued Ms. Fitzgerald, “But this is a truly wonderful day.”

“I want to thank Sierra Club members and supporters, and the thousands of citizens who heard our action alert, educated themselves on this issue and made this decision happen,” stated John Bennett, National Programs Director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “I hope other jurisdictions in this country will learn from Nova Scotia’s experience, and take measures to protect their citizens from fracking.”

- 30 -For more information contact:

Gretchen Fitzgerald
Sierra Club Canada Foundation – Atlantic Canada Chapter
1649 Barrington St., 2nd Floor (The Hub)
Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 1Z9
CANADA

Email: gretchenf@sierraclub.ca
Tel: 902-444-3113 -or- 902-444-7096 (mobile)


Sierra Club Canada Foundation

1510-1 Nicholas St
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Canada
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Sierra Club Canada News

I received this media release from the Sierra Club Canada for all to read and share:

MEDIA RELEASE
September 3, 2014I have historic news. Today, we start to fight back.

This morning the Ontario Beekeepers launched a lawsuit against Bayer and Syngenta – the manufacturers of bee killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

These companies have raked in billions selling these pesticides in full knowledge of how lethal they are to bees.

So far we have looked to government and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to enforce the law, but once I sat down with the head of the Agency and key staff in June it became clear to me that the PMRA is infused with inertia and has no sense of urgency.

So I introduced the beekeepers to Siskinds LLP, an Ontario law firm that specializes in class action law suits. It was time to get serious and go after the real villains — the companies profiting from the ecological mayhem.

The suit starting with two of the biggest beekeepers in Ontario was filed in Superior Court and will turn into a class action over the next few months as hundreds of beekeepers who have lost bees, hives and honey are expected to join the suit.

If you are or know a beekeeper who has suffered losses to neonicotinoid pesticides urge him or her to contact the Ontario Beekeepers Association and join the action. For More information CLICK HERE.

Please spread the word and consider donating to our #SaveTheBees campaign so we can continue to fuel this fire for ecological justice.

Sincerely,

John Bennett, National Program Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
1510-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7B7
jb@sierraclub.ca
John on Twitter / Bennett Blog


CLICK HERE for more information on our #SaveTheBees campaign

 


Sierra Club Canada Foundation

1510-1 Nicholas St
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Canada
Categories: 2014, Environmental Issues, Ethics, Project 365 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ecojustice update

Here is an emailed newsletter that I received from Ecojustice for all to read and share:

Eldy,

We hope you had a wonderful Summer! Check out what’s happening this month at Ecojustice:

 


Arctic offshore drilling too great a risk
For almost 40 years, a special regulatory requirement has protected Arctic wildlife and wilderness from a catastrophic offshore oil spill. However, the National Energy Board has put that requirement in jeopardy.

The Global Eco-Crisis: Diversity, Resilience and Adaptability
David Suzuki begins a public conversation this Fall on the inclusion of environmental rights in Canada’s constitution. Hear him talk about our partnership in this movement and the role humans have played in shaping the planet.

Sewage treatment debate causes a stink

Any way you look at it, dumping untreated sewage into the Pacific Ocean is unacceptable. There’s a pressing need to start treating Victoria’s sewage right now.

We believe the law is the most powerful way to protect and restore the environment for future generations.Thank you for being part of our team.

Sincerely,
Devon Page, executive director |
Ecojustice

 ecojustice.ca | facebook.com/ecojustice | @ecojustice_ca
Toll Free – 1-800-926-7744
214-131 Water Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 4M3
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Running Woman

IMGP0224 (1280x1035)Now that the extreme heat of summer has abated…and…the freaking lawn has stopped growing like there is no tomorrow…Running Woman is back on the treadmill.  Struggling with the lawnmower through the searing heat of this summer has kept me adequately toned to continue with my walking and running regimen.  I have settled back into a 10 minute warm-up walk followed by 3 minutes running, then back to a 3 minutes of walking followed by 3 minutes running, ending with a 10 minute cool-down walk.  This is a good routine for me that I can build on should I choose.

I have coupled the interval workout with some new meditation tapes that feature a Thich Nhat Hanh retreat.  It is a delightful way to combine a walking meditation with learning and keeping fit.  The exact audio recording is:  “The Ultimate Dimension  An Advanced Dharma Retreat on the Avatamsaka and Lotus Sutras” which I ordered from Sounds True online.

To add to the pleasure of the whole experience I got my treadmill moved out of the basement and onto the deck…how wonderful to gaze over the beauty of the forested landscape rather than a wall.  Endless gratitude to Cole and Mike for the muscle-power!

 

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Words of wisdom from David Suzuki

This is a concise, relevant and extremely important article from the David Suzuki Foundation for all to read and share.  It is NOT POLITICAL, it is environmental…it is about our survival on earth!  I implore all to take the time to discover the David Suzuki Foundation and all of the valuable environmental information available there.

 

Leaders must put people before politics

 

When we elect people to office, we give them power to make and enact decisions on our behalf. They should have a vision that extends beyond the next election and the latest Dow Jones average — to our children and grandchildren.

We expect our leaders to have a clear picture of our world and the conditions necessary for human life and well-being. If they don’t, how can they make informed decisions? So let me outline some simple, scientifically validated truths about us and the world we live in — truths that should guide our political decisions.

We are, above all else, biological beings, with an absolute need for clean air from the moment of birth to the last death rattle. We take air deep into our lungs and filter whatever’s in it. Plants on land and in the ocean take in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis, creating the atmosphere we depend on.

We are about 60 per cent water by weight, so we need clean water to be healthy. When water falls to Earth, it’s filtered through tree and other plant roots, soil fungi and bacteria, cleansing it so it’s safe to drink.

All the energy in our bodies that we use to move, grow and reproduce is sunlight captured by plants in photosynthesis and converted to chemical energy, which we ingest. We eat plants and animals for our nourishment, so whatever they’re exposed to ends up in our bodies. We need clean soil to give us clean food.

These are basic, biological facts and should be the prism through which any decision is made at individual, corporate or government levels. Protection of air, water, soil and the web of life should be the highest social, political and economic priority.

We’re also social animals. Scientists have shown that love during childhood is essential for healthy development. Children who are deprived of love at critical points can develop a variety of physical and psychological deficits. To avoid those, we have to work for strong families and supportive communities, full employment, justice, greater income and gender equity and freedom from terror, genocide and war.

Finally, we are spiritual creatures who require sacred places, a sense of belonging to the world and a recognition that we are not in charge of nature, but dependent on the biosphere for our health and well-being. We are not outside of nature; we are part of it.

To be fully healthy and human, our most elemental needs are biological, social and spiritual. Politicians ought to know this. Their role is to protect and enhance those necessities of life; otherwise there is no vision, direction or leadership.

That’s why it’s absurd for a politician or government representative to speak about any aspect of the economy without acknowledging the threat of human-induced climate change. Many oppose doing anything on ideological grounds, but the science is overwhelming and compelling, and the need for action is clear. What can you say about “leaders” who choose to ignore the best available evidence to the detriment of the people they are elected to represent?

Surely those who act only for short-term economic gain, imposing destructive consequences on generations to come, must be held responsible. We must also consider the consequences of rapid and excessive exploitation of fossil fuels on the world’s poorest people, who have done little to create climate change but are most affected by it.

Even though Canada ratified the legally binding Kyoto Protocol, which spelled out our obligations to reduce the risk of climate change, many of our “leaders” have wilfully ignored scientific evidence and urgent calls to meet the protocol’s targets, and Canada eventually abandoned the agreement. What should we call that?

And what can we say about “leaders” who can see something is wrong and have the means to respond but choose not to? This is what Canada is doing — in the face of overwhelming evidence and pleading of other industrialized nations.

Our elected representatives deserve respect for their commitment. But the elevated status and power of politicians also carries responsibilities. Many are abrogating those responsibilities for ideological reasons that have nothing to do with our well-being.

By David Suzuki.

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Ecojustice Report

Something to read and share from EcoJustice:

Dear Eldy,Canada’s drinking water standards continue to lag behind international standards and are at risk of falling even farther behind, according to the findings of a new investigative report, Waterproof: Standards, released by Ecojustice today. Here are our findings:
<<< Read the full report >>>How can you help?Forward this email | Share on facebook | Share on twitter

 

Thanks for reading,Randy Christensen, staff lawyer & Dr. Elaine MacDonald, senior staff scientist
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A Desmog Canada Newsletter

Here is a news update from Desmog Canada to read and share with others.  Please take a few minutes to  check out each interesting and important article:

Guest Posts & In-Depth Analysis

New Poll: Canadians Overestimate Oilsands Contribution to Economy, Yet Still Want Clean Shift

The oilsands, according to Statistics Canada, account for only 2 per cent of the national GDP.

READ MORE

On Twitter?

Suzuki: Harper Didn’t Have the “Courage” to Present and Defend Northern Gateway Approval

David Suzuki isn’t surprised the federal government approved the contentious Northern Gateway pipeline Tuesday, but he is surprised Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t have the “courage” to announce the decision to Canadians.

READ MORE

PHOTOS: Famed Photographer Alex MacLean’s New Photos of Canada’s Oilsands are Shocking

Alex MacLean is one of America’s most famed and iconic aerial photographers. Recently MacLean traveled to the Alberta oilsands in western Canada. There, working with journalist Dan Grossman, MacLean used his unique eye to capture some new and astounding images of one of the world’s largest industrial projects. Their work, funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, will form part of a larger, forthcoming report for GlobalPost. READ MORE

Top Five Craziest Things Climate Change Recently Did in Canada

Climate change “has moved firmly into the present” as “evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen” and “impacts are increasing across the country,” concluded a recent in-depth U.S. government report. With no equivalent in Canada of the U.S. team of “300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee” to prepare a report on climate impacts in Canada, DeSmog Canada has made its own report.  READ MORE

Postmedia Gets Away With Running Unmarked Oil Advertorials

Paid advertisements for the oil industry have run unlabelled as editorial content on the websites of the Vancouver Sun and Regina Leader-Post — yet Canada’s ad regulator has decided not to rule against Postmedia, the company that owns the papers.

DeSmog Canada filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada on March 4, regarding a story published on the Vancouver Sun’s website on Dec. 4, 2013, with the headline “Born to the Challenge: Janet Holder’s B.C. roots make her the perfect lead on Northern Gateway.” READ MORE

‘Alarming’ New Study Finds Contaminants in Animals Downstream of Oilsands

A health study released today by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Manitoba, is the first of its kind to draw associations between environmental contaminants produced in the oilsands and declines in health in Fort Chipewyan, a native community about 300 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. READ MORE

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Global Warming

Here is an important article from the David Suzuki Foundation to share:

Addressing global warming is an economic necessity

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Those who don’t outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can’t or shouldn’t do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”

But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies. It’s suicidal, both economically and literally, to focus on the fossil fuel industry’s limited, short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term prosperity, human health and the natural systems, plants and animals that make our well-being and survival possible. Those who refuse to take climate change seriously are subjecting us to enormous economic risks and foregoing the numerous benefits that solutions would bring.

The World Bank — hardly a radical organization — is behind one study. While still viewing the problem and solutions through the lens of outmoded economic thinking, its report demolishes arguments made by the likes of Stephen Harper.

“Climate change poses a severe risk to global economic stability,” said World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim in a news release, adding, “We believe it’s possible to reduce emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity, while also cutting health care and energy costs.”

Risky Business, a report by prominent U.S. Republicans and Democrats, concludes, “The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change,” especially in coastal regions and agricultural areas.

We’re making the same mistake with climate change we made leading to the economic meltdown of 2008, according to Henry Paulson, who served as treasury secretary under George W. Bush and sponsored the U.S. bipartisan report with former hedge fund executive Thomas Steyer and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. “But climate change is a more intractable problem,” he argued in the New York Times. “That means the decisions we’re making today — to continue along a path that’s almost entirely carbon-dependent — are locking us in for long-term consequences that we will not be able to change but only adapt to, at enormous cost.”

Both studies recommend carbon pricing as one method to address the climate crisis, with the World Bank arguing for “regulations, taxes, and incentives to stimulate a shift to clean transportation, improved industrial energy efficiency, and more energy efficient buildings and appliances.”

Contrast that with Harper and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent mutual back-patting in Ottawa. Appearing oblivious to the reality of global warming and economic principles, both rejected the idea of a “job-killing carbon tax.”

One Risky Business author, former Clinton treasury secretary Robert Rubin, also warned about the economic risks of relying on “stranded assets” — resources that must stay in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, including much of the bitumen in Canada’s tar sands.

In a commentary in Nature, a multidisciplinary group of economists, scientists and other experts called for a moratorium on all oil sands expansion and transportation projects such as pipelines because of what they described in a news release as the “failure to adequately address carbon emissions or the cumulative effect of multiple projects.” They want “Canada and the United States to develop a joint North American road map for energy development that recognizes the true social and environmental costs of infrastructure projects as well as account for national and international commitments to reduce carbon emissions.”

Those who fear or reject change are running out of excuses as humanity runs out of time. Pitting the natural environment against the human-invented economy and placing higher value on the latter is foolish. These reports show it’s time to consign that false dichotomy to the same dustbin as other debunked and discredited rubbish spread by those who profit from sowing doubt and confusion about global warming.

“Climate inaction inflicts costs that escalate every day,” World Bank Group vice-president Rachel Kyte said, adding its study “makes the case for actions that save lives, create jobs, grow economies and, at the same time, slow the rate of climate change. We place ourselves and our children at peril if we ignore these opportunities.”

If our leaders can’t comprehend that, let’s find some who can.

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor 

Categories: 2014, Environmental Issues, Ethics, Project 365 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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