Transition, Plastic, Oil, and Run of the River.

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Good Stuff

Transition Towns

On Saturday night I was very excited to attend the first meeting of Transition Town Kelowna. It was a first step where we met some like-minded folks who have a feeling in their guts there is something out of wack and we need to do something about it. One of the great things about the Transition Town philosophy is the re-building of community and the sharing of skills. I am excited and I will report more on what happens in the future.

Addicted to Plastic

Being the documentary junkie that I am I really enjoyed Addicted to Plastic. Yeah, I know it is a few years old, but I cant get to them all! While a lot of this film does really fit in the Bad Stuff category, I’m putting it up here because there is such a positive end to it. I never really knew about many of the developments that are happening in the area of bio-plastics. These are plastics that are made from organic products and readily decompose and appear to be non-toxic. Cool stuff. A couple of companies to check out are Nature Works and Plantic. I also feel it to be a positive film because we all came away thinking about ways to use less and start using glass for storing our leftovers in the fridge.

The Bad Stuff revealed in the film was not 100% new to me, but was still very disturbing. Once again we see industry mouth-pieces telling us there is nothing wrong with their products and all the science has come up clean. They are unsuccessfully telling us to “move on, these are not the ‘droids you are looking for”.  Meanwhile, we see interviews with independent scientists that have a very different perspective. So much so that these people are excluding plastics from their lives at every opportunity due to its toxic nature. Just to make things a little worse, due to pollution, plastic has become pervasive in the marine food chain. One sample of water pulled from the mid-pacific contained a 10:1 ratio of plastic to plankton. Kind of ties in with my last post on Sweat Pants, Plastic, More Found in Dead Whale.

I’ll get off this plastic rant in a minute, after all this is the Good Stuff section, but I just want to mention health care. Our personal heath, in my view, is one of the greatest victims of corporate and consumer negative externalities. That is, others gain a benefit, and make a profit, and the end result is our health becomes impaired. What I am referring to here are the toxins we ingest that are either directly or indirectly introduced into the food chain via plastics. These toxins can cause a myriad of issues, that then becomes the burden of the the heath care system to address. In Canada, social heath care (which I support) is a multi-billion dollar millstone that continues to grow about the necks of the Canadian people. However, many of the maladies that we complain of–diabetes, cancer, various behavioral disorders–are being traced to things that are either in our diet or our immediate environment. It just doesn’t make sense to me.  Let’s connect the dots here folks!!

So, my little caveat emptor here. I have just made some rather sweeping and unsupported generalizations here. Sorry. I believe them to be true though.  So, if you think I’m wrong, challenge me in the comment section and I’ll dig up some supporting literature.

Bad Stuff

CBC News – Robot subs trying to stop Gulf oil leak.

Another environmental disaster thanks to the oil industry.

Crews were working Sunday at the site of a wrecked drilling platform to try to stop a leak that is pouring 1,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Robot submarines are being used to activate valves at the well head in hopes of cutting off the leak, which threatens the Gulf Coast’s fragile ecosystem of shrimp, fish, birds and coral.

Not much to say about this one. It’s just another good reason to keep drilling out of pristine areas.

Wilderness Committee – Low Environmental Standards and Poor Oversight Plague Private Hydro Power Projects in BC.

For those of you that don’t know, our provincial government here in British Columbia has been selling off sections of our rivers to private companies for “Run-of-the-River Green Energy” projects. There has been quite a bit of controversy around these relatively small-scale hydro electricity projects and many have questioned the environmental practices during construction of these “Green Projects”.  Unfortunately, a recent review of environmental oversight suggests that these concerns are well founded.

An independent legal review of the environmental regulation of private hydropower projects in BC shows the projects are beset by low environmental standards, reduced regulatory thresholds, and ineffective monitoring and compliance. “The surprising thing about this legal review is just how weak environmental regulations for private power projects are in BC. Over the past 10 years this government has repealed environmental laws, repeatedly gutted the Ministry of Environment staffing, and removed long-standing safeguards. This legal opinion documents in painstaking detail the massive chasm between what is actually happening to BC rivers and the government’s ridiculous claim that we have some of the toughest environmental regulations in the world,” said Gwen Barlee, policy director with the Wilderness Committee.