Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Oil, Tar and the Irony of Life


The question oil haunts us like a cancer cell. We try to avoid it but it keeps coming back. It seeps throughout the bowels of the earth. We know its just dead things. A reflection or the past, or maybe our future?

We know something must be done to combat global warming and our over consumption; but we are unable to escape it. We have grown accustomed to our large homes, cars and the devices I am using as I type. So what are we to do? Movies Avatar or the shows Firefly talked briefly about our consumption; how we used up the Earth’s resources. Will it happen? I don’t know. I have to believe that we are better than that. Albeit, there was World War 1&2, the Korean War, Slavery, weapons of mass destruction, but I am off topic.

The question is oil, specifically the Alberta tar sands, is a good one. Yes the 1.8 trillion, or more, barrels of oil waiting to be used. The bitumen, or tar for a better description, is waiting to be “plundered”. Don’t kid yourself. We, as a species, are not ready to change. I am not here to tell you oil is all bad or even good. Think about it for a minute, or longer. How do you tell someone that they should ignore the mounds of money waiting to be extracted? Still thinking? Exactly, you don’t. You see we all have to face the fact that we are unable to change. President George W. Bush was correct when he said “we are addicted to oil“. We can talk about the environment but do we realize how ubiquitous and how far oil has come into our life? It’s everywhere! From the car you drive to the container you use. The chair you sit on or the stuff in your food. Can we change? Or do we really want to make the hard choices? What will our children say about us? Or will we leave anything to say?

Our addiction is massive, but life must go on. Humanity is an interesting species. We will adapt. We will continue to extract the “black gold” until its no more. Don’t kid yourselves, there is no quick fix. We just need to be better stewards and live in balance with the planet. When all is said and done I am sure we will find something else to consume or we will learn to live. Let’s hope there is something left, hence the irony. We run, we consume, we waste the dead things of life. What is oil, tar sands or bitumen? Maybe its just a reflection or what we are and what we will become when balance runs amuck. What do you think?

By: @iammannyj

Link

Mad cow disease found in one Central Valley bovine


Cattle

Cattle (Photo credit: CameliaTWU)

Health officials say the diseased cow never entered the human food chain and U.S. dairy and beef products are safe. It is the first confirmed case in the U.S. since 2006.

The first confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006 surfaced in California’s Central Valley on Tuesday, triggering concerns about food safety. But health officials stressed that the diseased animal never entered the human food chain and that U.S. beef and dairy products are safe.

Heaven and Earth may pass away but will we care?


No I am not trying to be overbearing on the environmental front, but more and more I see a trend towards the self in our world. Western society has enjoyed a life that it is unwilling to give up. We know that fossil fuels and our consumption based lifestyle are damaging the planet. We should do more to be better stewards of the planet; however the additive nature of consumption is something we cannot seem to break. Now the world wants what we have, so what will we do? It reminds me of the movie ‘Avatar’ or even ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’. In a sense we are like a virus that destroys and consumes. Maybe humanity will come up with a solution? I think we will, however the question is what will that solution be? In the movie Avatar humanity had consumed to a point beyond measure. Yes, we had all of the technical know-how, but to what extent? On the opposite end, in the latest incarnation of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, it was determined that in order for the earth to survive we had to be removed. We were like a Cancer that needed invasive surgery. Now, I do not want to sound so negative. I think humanity is better than that; however it is up to us to determine what we will do. Some feel that we will innovate to solve our problems. Maybe that is part of our evolution? Who really knows? Have we passed the point of no return, or will be return to the point of our past?

 

You burb I burb we all scream for the suburbs


The Suburbs

Cookie cut lives in the suburbs

It’s a cookie cut life of mediocrity, welcome to the burb. It’s all the same, we love it and it’s nothing to absurd. Admit it, we were sucked into the dream; the dream of owning a piece of Canadian terra-firma and all that it means. You love the plastic playground and uniform styles. The box stores and endless cars scream out the word character. It’s perfect and fun! It’s lovely and glorious, isn’t it? We enjoy the hours spent in the daily commute; a life like this is a wonderful pursuit. We love, even more, waking up early to catch a GO Train; packed in like sardines, it’s all normal, we are not insane. We enjoy closing ourselves out from the world; shielded by our iPhone, Android, Blackberry and tools. Thank you fast food, easy meals, it’s all so divine. Yes, we live in the suburbs and our lives have never been better. It’s all so simple and pedestrian.

No Pipeline to the West Coast?


A slim majority of British Columbians support a proposed $5.5-billion oilsands pipeline to the B.C. coast, but opposition to the megaproject is growing, according to a new poll.

The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of B.C. Conservative party supporters, and two-thirds of B.C. Liberal supporters, favour the controversial plan by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.

NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who commissioned the poll, said the results suggest it will become increasingly difficult for Christy Clark, B.C.’s Liberal premier, to continue to straddle the fence on the issue.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Opposition+oilsands+pipeline+growing+poll+finds/6374553/story.html

Follow us!


To follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/thegtapatriot

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegta

Election Day in Canada – May 2, 2011


Stephen Harper, Canadian politician

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Well a historic election has just taken place in Canada. The Bloc was decimated in Quebec, and almost wiped off the map. Newfoundland told Conservatives what to do with themselves. The Greater Toronto Area is painted blue and Toronto has gone NDP Orange. Also, it looks like we have our very first Green member of Parliament. So what went wrong for the Liberals? They took their support for granted. Canadians were looking for change and they did not see it in the Liberals, in Ontario. Yes, there was a lot of vote splitting, however lets be honest. Ontario has been red for a long time. This is a breakthrough for the Conservatives in Ontario. The question is, can they live up to that support?

The G.T.A is an important battleground and they better take note. As for the NDP, they better not take their Quebec support for granted. The Bloc imploded, Liberals were yesterdays news and they did not like the Conservatives. So we are left with the NDP. Jack the time to start working is now. As for the Liberals, there is a lot of soul searching.

However I will offer this advice to all parties. (1) Liberals, you need to go back to your roots. Your party is not dead. I’d rather say that it is in hibernation and healing. Canadian’s have not forgotten you, rather the opposite happened. You forgot them. Remember who you are and what you stand for. Otherwise, what is the point of the Liberal Party. It is time for you to reconnect. (2) NDP you have been given the chance to prove your worth, so do not disappoint. From the people I have spoken to many parked their vote with the NDP. Also, in Ontario, people simply love and trust Jack Layton.  It will be important, despite a majority Conservative government, that the NDP choose their battles well and fight for those who voted for them. Less we forget, as often Canadians do! (3) Conservatives fought a simple and straight-forward campaign. You delivered your message and Canadians listened. We are concerned about the economy and trust in that has been given to you. However, do not take that trust for granted. A lot of Canadians still do not trust the Conservative Party and a lot of seats were gained from vote splitting. Be careful how you govern. Canadians are watching. Do not slip to the right with arrogance. As Harper said, keep a steady ship. If you can prove your worth maybe your quality will be remembered. (4) Finally, to Elizabeth May and the Green Party. You have made Canadian history! Despite the media ignoring you, thank you for running and not giving up. The Green Party should be a wake up call to ALL parties. People voted for Elizabeth May and the Greens across Canada. Their ideas and policies should not be ignored! Summed up in Elizabeth May’s own words “amateurs built the ark and professionals built the Titanic”. People are wary in Canada and if the status-quo parties cannot deliver, Canadians may decide someone else can.

Congrats to Prime Minister Harper, who has finally gotten a majority government for the Conservative Party. We will all watch, wait and see what policies are implemented and what happens in the next Parliament. See you in 2015!

By Mannee Jay

The worst environmental disaster in a century? Gulf Coast oil spill…


As we watch the effects of the inevitable oil spill transpire in the Gulf Coast we have to ask ourselves yet again, is it worth it?

Any ocean oil extraction process using a drilling rig has a risk factor attached to it. This risk factor is not a question of “if” but “when” will the disaster occur.

Just imagine the devastation that is occurring right now in the Mexican Gulf and ponder what such a catastrophe would mean if it happened here. A 5,000-square-kilometre oil slick sits just 80 kilometres off the shores of America and Mexico. How many innocent creatures has it killed? How long will the after-effects of such a huge contamination be felt?
Read more

What is the plan for Transit City now? GTA has worst commutes in 19-city survey


Commuters in the Greater Toronto Area suffer through longer round trips than their counterparts in 18 other major centres, including notoriously congested Los Angeles, according to a new report commissioned by the Toronto Board of Trade.

The board’s second annual “scorecard on prosperity” concluded the average GTA commute lasts a punishing 80 minutes for drivers and public-transit riders alike, putting the region an “embarrassing” last place behind not only L.A., but also the gridlocked metropolises of New York, London and Montreal.

“The report shows [commute times in the GTA] are getting worse,” said Carol Wilding, the president of the board of trade. “So there’s another clearly strong proof point and evidence that says they’re getting worse; we’ve underinvested. We’ve got to get on with it.”

Read More

Transit City Cancelled?

Toronto’s commute times are the longest

Why transit is important in Toronto


I thought I would finish the night by giving you a link to a site that details the positives of light-rail. It is unfortunate that the government has decided to put an end to a visionary plan to get transit rolling in the city of Toronto. Like the former Harris government, the governing Liberals has killed plans to the Transit City project. Why so glum? Because like their predecessors and others examples in history, will they come back and really fund transit again? They have planned and planned again, to no avail. Then they wonder, in terms of planning, why people get frustrated. How are we to trust government again? Some things are worth investing in, and public transit is one of them. Unfortunately, I can easily see, like plans in the past; it will never see the light of day again. Sure, they will fund Sheppard and what is needed for the 2015 Pan Am Games, but it will not be as ambitious. For more on LRT and light-rail, read the Toronto LRT blog.

By Mannee Jay (The G.T.A Patriot)

Toronto Mayoral candidate Rossi plans on stopping all TTC Light-Rail (Transit City) Expansion


TTC LRT

New Light-Rail for Toronto

Have we learned nothing from history and the reasons why there is a lack of good public transit options in the city of Toronto? What about jobs for the people of Thunder Bay? Again, with another knee-jerk reaction we may loose all we wanted in the city of Toronto and public transit by electing Rossi. Remember, if this is the attitude we took in the past, we would never have had the full Bloor-Danforth line, Spadina extension or top-end of the Yonge line (even our network of Streetcars that make the city). In other words, if you think transportation is bad now, what do you think it would be like in the future?

Read more below

————————————————————————————

Rocco RossiToronto mayoral candidate pledges to make waves at city hall by banning bike lanes on major arteries and possibly quashing light-rail plan.

When Rocco Rossi vowed to banish bike lanes from major streets, the suit-and-tie crowd at the Empire Club event erupted into its most enthusiastic applause yet for the first real speech of the 2010 mayor’s race.

The line demonstrated that Mr. Rossi knows whom he’s after: right-leaning suburban voters fed up with David Miller’s city hall.

Mr. Rossi is promising to halt all but one of the city’s planned light-rail lines until he can review the project’s finances; to replace the Toronto Transit Commission’s board of councillors with private-sector experts; to create a region-wide economic development corporation; to sell assets, including Toronto Hydro; and to outsource city work in a bid to decrease the power of unions.

“Make no mistake, last summer’s city workers strike showed just how weak the city has become in the face of its major unions and how utterly without a plan we are to correct this imbalance,” the former Liberal fundraiser and businessman told a packed room at the Royal York hotel. “As mayor I will bring us back into balance by pursuing outsourcing and managed competition for certain city services.”

Mr. Rossi’s speech was unusual for making concrete commitments early in the marathon campaign, leaving his competitors 10 months to savage his proposals. They didn’t waste time.

“I’m glad to see he’s throwing out 1,000 ideas and seeing what sticks,” scoffed Joe Pantalone, the deputy mayor who is running to replace his boss. “But this is not a carnival we’re talking about here. This is a city that’s complicated.”

Mr. Rossi drew the most fire for suggesting he might halt the Transit City plan, even temporarily.

In his speech, Mr. Rossi lamented the delays and cost overruns that plagued the construction of a streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair West, but it wasn’t until afterward that he expressed his concerns about Toronto’s plan to lay 120 kilometres of light rail on dedicated lanes.

“I think there’s some real problems that have been shown by what’s happened at St. Clair and I think we’d be foolish not to have a deep and long look at that,” he told reporters.

Asked whether that constituted a moratorium, he replied: “On anything that we can stop right now, yes.” Only one Transit City line, Sheppard East, has broken ground so far.

“Mr. Rossi’s suggestion that he would freeze all new transit projects until he has reviewed the city budget would not only put countless constructions jobs at risk, it reflects a troubling lack of understanding of the city’s finances,” a senior member of George Smitherman’s campaign said. “These projects are funded almost entirely by the province, sometimes with federal help.” Mr. Smitherman, the former deputy premier, is the race’s early front-runner.

The centre-right voters Mr. Rossi is hoping to attract likely would have voted for former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.

But Mr. Rossi will have to run a campaign vastly different from Mr. Smitherman’s if he hopes to make the leap from virtual unknown to mayor. For now, he’s casting his lack of elected experience as an advantage.

“It’s been over a hundred years since we elected a mayor who wasn’t already in elected politics,” he told the crowd. “Maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the problem.”

More

Others

The deadly asbestos trade


Asbestos is a mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos (῾ἀσβεστος) is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the miracle mineral because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos is known to have toxicity. The inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis (also called pneumoconiosis). Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in many countries.

—–

Canada’s deadly trade in asbestos

by Mark Bourrie

Canada is starting work this summer on a billion dollar project to renovate its parliamentary buildings and cleanse them of asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer.

The project will take six years to complete but, in the meantime, Canadian government agents are still pushing exports of the fibre. Canada even has gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice.

Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of 500,000 cancer victims in western Europe alone, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide – especially to developing nations.

Asbestos is used as a binder in cement, as insulation, and in anti-fire walls. It is also a potent carcinogen with a long, well-documented legacy of death.

The danger comes when small asbestos fibres are released and inhaled by labourers. The fibres cause cancerous growths in the lungs, lung lining and abdomen but can take 20 years or more to manifest.

In 1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos – more than 96% of production – most of it to the developing world. Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia.

Union activists, who have visited India and other developing countries say, however, that the public relations efforts of the government and the asbestos industry are simply window-dressing to hide the fact that most people who work with the natural mineral fibre risk cancer.

Critics of Canada’s asbestos exports say the country is exporting death to protect the profits of a handful of companies and the jobs of 1,600 miners.

“What’s the difference between land mines and asbestos?” asks Dr. Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the danger of asbestos. “A key difference, of course, is that Canada doesn’t export land mines.”

At the heart of the issue is Canada’s own precarious political situation. All of the asbestos mines in Canada are in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province with a separatist government.

Federal and provincial politicians are pushing asbestos exports to prove that they are successful at developing overseas markets, and are protective of Quebec workers. Critics of asbestos exports say the industry would probably be allowed to die if it was centred in any other part of the country.

“Personally, I believe this is all about Quebec politics,” says Canadian Auto Workers Health and Safety director Cathy Walker. “The Canadian and Quebec governments are competing with one another to show just how prepared they all are to protect Quebec jobs.”

The real costs will be borne by the developing world, she says.

Walker just returned from India, where she saw unprotected workers slashing open bags of asbestos fibres. In places where the asbestos was being mixed into cement, clouds of the carcinogenic fibres swirled around workers.

In Britain, the Cancer Research Campaign said in January that its study into the European asbestos-linked cancer epidemic should sound alarm bells everywhere, “particularly in the developing world where uncontrolled asbestos is still very common,” said CRC director Gordon McVie.

Seven of Canada’s top 10 markets are Third World countries. Still, the Canadian government, the asbestos industry and lobby groups are trying to put a good face on the asbestos industry.

Recently, diplomats stationed here were flown to asbestos- producing regions on an all-expense-paid first-class junket.

Read more