Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Long work hours don’t work for people or the planet   1 comment

Busy? No time? Stressed? Unemployed?

Here’s a possible alternative for our society, so let’s begin talking about how we humanize our time.The David Suzuki Foundation has just published a thoughtful piece that challenges us to think about why we who work for a living, seem to be working long, stressful hours.

In their column, they quote the New Economics Foundation which advocates a 21 hour workweek. Such an innovation would, they argue, address problems such as overwork, unemployment, high carbon emissions and entrenched inequalities in society.

The full column can be found on the Suzuki Foundation website: www.davidsuzuki.org

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Civil Disobedience and Civil Resistance   Leave a comment

Changing the Rules of Engagement:

By Bill McKibben  March 2017

Published in Sojourners Magazine: https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2017/changing-rules-engagement

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AS WE ENTER this new Trumpish world, I’ve been thinking a lot about civil disobedience. I had the honor of delivering the first lecture in honor of the late Jonathan Schell two nights after the election, and used the occasion to reflect on his masterwork Unconquerable World, with its confident belief that the era of violence was passing and that nonviolent action was the right way for the “active many” to beat the “ruthless few.”

This jibes with my own experience of the last few years. Helping to organize big protests like the ones that launched the Keystone pipeline fight, or watching in admiration as friends galvanized the country around Standing Rock, has convinced me that these techniques continue to represent our best tools for change.

On the one hand, disobedience may be harder in the Trump era—it may come at a higher price, as the zealot officials he’s appointed crack down.

But civil disobedience may also be more important than ever, especially the civil part. Because what we are battling now is not just corporate power and shabby oligarchy. It’s also a galloping incivility, the verbal violence and crudity that marked Trump’s campaign and his days of preparing for the presidency. It’s the “alt-right” ugliness of Breitbart’s white nationalism; it’s the constant barrage of nasty tweets. None of it looks like anything we’ve seen before from a president, and all of it, whether by design or not, hacks at the bonds that hold us together as a nation.

If we respond to that in kind—with the same sort of anger and snarl—then we play into the hands of the Steve Bannons of the world. They’re always going to be better at it, just as they’re always going to have more weapons.

A Good Surprise   Leave a comment

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“to see with the eyes of faith”

What if you anticipated giving away $2 million, and ended up giving away $10 million?

Here’s a story about a corporation that has done so.

http://www.patagonia.com/blog/2016/11/record-breaking-black-friday-sales-to-benefit-the-planet/?utm_source=em&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=113016_BlackFriday-Shipping&ett=151383347

Posted December 2, 2016 by allanbaker in Environment, Inspiration, Uncategorized

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Relationship(s)   Leave a comment

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Wendell Berry, poet, author, farmer, contemplates our human relationship(s) with the rest of creation in a thoughtful essay titled, “The Presence of Nature in the Natural World: A Long Conversation.” He writes that:

The great trouble of our age, involving the human economy from agriculture to warfare, is in our relationship to the natural world – to what we call “nature” or even, still, “Nature” or “Mother Nature.” The old usage persists even seriously, among at least some humans, no matter how “objectivity” weighs upon us.”

“We seem to have forgotten that there might be, or that there ever were, mutually sustaining relationships between resident humans and their home places in the world of Nature.”

page 77 in “A Small Porch”, Counterpoint publishers, 2016

Ontario’s chance to get more from green energy   Leave a comment

Ontario has decided to take a pause in its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) efforts, citing an electricity supply surplus and a need to reduce costs for consumers.

Which all sounds pretty reasonable, but the devil is in the details.  First off, why do we have a surplus?Not because of solar and wind energy, which still makes up only a small fraction of our electricity supply, providing less than 7% of our power last year.

We have a surplus because Ontario operates three gigantic nuclear plants (including the world’s biggest – the Bruce Nuclear Station).  Demand for electricity has fallen over the past decade in Ontario due to changes in our economy (less heavy industry), conservation efforts, and new technologies (LED lighting), but we have not reduced our nuclear production accordingly.  The result is a large surplus of power.

Second, will stopping renewable power development lower costs for consumers?  Not likely. Ontario Power Generation recently asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the rate it is paid for nuclear power by 180% over the next decade.  Contrast that with the rapidly falling costs of wind and solar power.  For wind, we have already reached the point where it is more than competitive with nuclear power costs.  For solar, that crossing point is only a few years away.

Benefitting from the green energy revolution

Which means that we are at a crossroads.  Old energy technologies such as nuclear are being quickly overtaken by more flexible, easier to deploy and – increasingly – less expensive options such as solar and wind.  Ontario can try to ignore this worldwide trend or it can work through the transition and come out the other side with a more dynamic system that it is a better fit for our changing needs.

That’s the challenge that should be at the heart of the province’s current efforts to revise its Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). And that revised plan also needs to strongly support the province’s climate change efforts.  Far from needing less electricity, we will actually need substantially more if we are gong to de-carbonize our energy use by moving away from sources like natural gas for things like home heating and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.  Counting on 50-year-old inflexible nuclear plants to fill this need is taking the wrong path – we will be throwing good money after bad.

The government made a commendable decision to kickstart a new high-tech green power industry in this province.  That effort has led to thousands of new jobs and has set the stage for the next generation of Ontarians to thrive in a world of electric cars, distributed energy and smart grids.

The community advantage

We know the people of Ontario still support green energy – recent polling showed that 81% think we should continue to develop renewable sources like solar and wind.  But the public is rightly concerned about how we are currently going about this task.  Too often, they feel left in the dark by processes like the LRP program or the LTEP planning cycle.

So this “pause” gives us a valuable opportunity to rethink how we are going about the business of building a modern, green energy system.  When renewable power systems are developed locally by co-ops, school boards, municipalities or community organizations, they keep dollars and jobs in our communities, provide revenue that can used for everything from fixing arenas to improving schools, and enable those communities to become more resilient and better able to ride out severe weather events.

Through its Feed-in Tariff program, Ontario has quietly developed a leading-edge community power sector.  This is the foundation we need to build on in creating a healthy, safe, reliable and cost effective electricity system that is supported by communities because it puts communities first.

Good News in the Forest   Leave a comment

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The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been decades in the making.   Photo by Jens Wieting.

Good news from Canada’s west coast arrived last week.

20 First Nations; advocates for the environment; government(s) and forestry companies all endorsed a land use planning agreement concerning the Great Bear Rainforest. Although negotiations took too much time, and there were countless protests by environmental advocates, the accord is an illustration of what good-hearted people can accomplish.

Read more about this agreement at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/02/01/Great-Bear-Rainforest-Deal/

Riding two horses simultaneously   Leave a comment

It is possible to ride two horses at the same time – provided that they are going in the same direction, and at the same pace.

However, it isn’t possible for us to simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint, as we agreed to at COP 21 in Paris (2015), AND enable additional “development” of Canada’s tar sands in northern Alberta. Even David Suzuki is confused about the actions of Canada’s new federal government. He wonders why we are still talking pipelines.

Read Suzuki’s blog on this at:  http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2016/01/paris-changed-everything/

Photo: Paris changed everything, so why are we still talking pipelines?

(Credit: Shannon Ramos via Flickr)