Thursday, December 11, 2008

Repower America

President-elect Barack Obama and former Vice President Al Gore discuss "Repower America"

When will Canada open its gasoline pasted eyes? Instead of supporting American automakers, why don't we put the money into Canadian Cars? Why is no one asking that question?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clean Coal

A message from This is Reality that is important for Saskatchewan
"Coal companies seem to be spending their money marketing coal as "clean" rather than actually making it clean. This has got to stop. That's why we're calling them out boldly and publicly on their rhetoric. We're expecting a major response from the coal industry, and we need your help.The tag line and core message of the Reality campaign is simply "In Reality, there's no such thing as clean coal" -- highlighting that in America today, no such thing exists. We're insisting that the coal industry do more than "talk the talk," but that they now "walk the walk." We're challenging them to immediately invest in the technologies that can stop carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere. Over 600 coal plants operate now without such controls and more than 60 new dirty plants are proposed. None of these plants are "clean."We're going to need your help to get out the word, because the coal industry has a lot of money and resources to move their message. Today, to start, we're asking folks simply to sign up to help -- to join the movement and help form a new "Reality Corps."To see the ad and help, just go to: "

Friday, December 5, 2008

Building Saskatchewan Green

Building Saskatchewan Green was a great success! Over 600 attended Thursday evening for a great Tradeshow and Mike Holmes, along with conference delegates in workshops Friday. For event pictures and/or to read bloggers notes on the workshops take a look at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Walk the Chalk

A great idea for an educational activity that connects food to production.Two Mt. Holyoke College students interview another student about her knowledge of the food system.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Craik Enviro Village in November

We have had one of the most beautiful, warm Octobers in Saskatchewan history and thank goodness because it allowed for work to continue on the Round house in Craik. This is another variation of strawbale housing, which I wrote about previously. Hopefully, they will be able to close the building in before winter. I have a deep affection for round dwellings, so I am eagerly anticipating the completion of this endeavor.

When I went to take a closeup of the Round house, I discovered the underground house. Another interesting approach to the harsh Prairie climate. This building looks like it will be completed soon.

Craik Enviro Village in October

The town of Craik has offered inexpensive land to people who are willing to built environmentally friendly housing. At the beginning of October 2008, I took the following pictures. This is how the village looked from the Saskatoon/Regina highway. Two buildings stand out, a traditional rectangle and the frame of a round house.

The rectangle house closer up seems to be a very large, traditional structure. I heard that it might be a new school for international students??

The round house.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Migration Update

As mentioned in a previous post, snow geese are flying south and find Craik an appealing stop over. A month after the previous picture, I discovered the water full of their white colouring. Unfortunately, they took flight in the thousands as I opened the car door but here is a taste of the experience.

Straw Bale Construction

What does Saskatchewan have in abundance?

So if you want to built an inexpensive, environmentally friendly dwelling, you use what's at hand. Straw bale housing lasts 100's of years in the prairie environment and its thick walls provide a high R value. Craik's Flaxhouse Larry is building a demonstration project using Flax bales, which have a high fire resistance and aren't a preferred insect food.

After the wall is up, you cover the bales with stucco to protect the bales from moisture and increase the asthetic appeal. Here is an example of the first layer.

Then add a couple more layers, smooth the final coat and paint it. Here is an example of the entrance to the Flax Store in Craik, Saskatchewan.

So next time you are driving between Regina and Saskatoon, check out the Flax houses.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chapter 11

CBC's "The Current" on Radio1 had an interesting debate today about whether Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included water as a good or not. The debate is because chapter 11 is worded vaguely, at a time when water conservation was not a forefront topic at all.

According to some that weighed in, the growing demand for water in North America means that it can therefore be considered a good. This means going down a one-way street, because once considered a good and distribution has begun, it is a violation of NAFTA to stop. Basically, once the taps are turned on, it is very difficult to turn them off!

Others on the show said that it can still be argued that water is not a good, but a necessity, and NAFTA stipulates that trade does not have to occur if it is hurting the exporting country. It is still reasonable that if we start selling water, we can stop when we like.

To read chapter 11 and make up your own mind on the subject, go here!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations to Ogema, Saskatchewan

OGEMA, Sask. - A tiny community in southern Saskatchewan is being recognized as one of the most livable places in the world. Ogema has made the shortlist for the 2008 International Awards for Livable Communities. See the CBC article for more information.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Love Fall on the Prairies

Snow Geese landing outside of Craik, Sask on their southern migration. They were so noisy you could hear them a mile away.


It's early in September near Edmonton, Alberta.
I feel a chill down in my hollow bones
The south suddenly has attraction because of the interaction
'Tween prolactin and corticosterone.
There's serious changes in the weather, gotta check my long pointy wings and feathers,
Gettin' ready for a three thousand mile migration.
Still gotta fatten up some more, put some energy in store.
But I think it's time for a tropical vacation.

O mighty North Wind, so cold and strong.
It's time to tell this summer place "So long!"
The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder,
And there's changes going on inside of me.
It's time to migrate, so I'm putting on some weight.
This fat's gotta last 'til I get across the sea.
O mighty North Wind, up in the sky,
I feel the need to get on your back and fly!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Your Ecological Footprint

In times like these it is important to better understand the impact we have on the environment. One measure of your effect on the environment is the measurement of your ecological footprint. "What's is and ecological footprint?" you may ask; it is nothing more than the total square feet of land that produces food, divided by the population, giving you a square feet per person measurement (referred to as one ecological footprint).

I believe that the best defense is a good offence when it comes to the environment, and to me this means letting people know how they are directly affecting the planet, and even more importantly, those on it. Let me put it this way: if you calculate the amount of footprints each person on earth can have, and then calculate your footprint, you will notice something startling. If I don't miss my guess, you will find that your footprint is far above the average, meaning that somewhere on earth there is someone that is using less than one footprint (keep in mind that 1 footprint is needed for survival). Sadly, this burden falls most often on Africa, but there are ways that you can help. Sending seeds, engineers, and educators to third world countries allows the creation of more farmable land, meaning increasing the magnitude of one footprint. The other is to reduce your wear and tear on the planet.

This fight is not over, there is much that can be done.

Calculate your ecological footprint (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

People change politics

Robert Kennedy was on The Hour talking about how oil and lumber companies used religious right wing groups to subvert the climate change agenda in the US. Well here is a more heart warming message from the UK.

A ground breaking new climate change law has been passed by MPs in UK Parliament thanks to peoples efforts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Canadian Tire: Making Green by Selling Green

I've been wanting to kick-up my environmental game lately and am in the market for solar panels. I'm not talking about those little dashboard cellphone-charging ones either, I want some decent wattage panels! I am in continuous conflict with myself, as there is a delicate balance for me between investing in the environment, and the fact that I have very little to invest! Short story shorter, I don't want to spend a fortune before I reap my reward.

Obviously, like any true Canadian, I go to the Canadian Tire website. They have more and more gear all the time, but selection is still limited. I decide to do a little wider search, but let's face it, there is not much for supply OR demand here in the prairies. Finally, I come across a site,, and it turns out that it's another Canadian Tire site, but better, what gives?

From what I gather, Canadian Tire is setting up the mother of "living-green" do-it yourself product sites. It is actually an entire site dedicated to green living gear at that Canadian Tire-patented "little-over-price-but-I'll-buy-it-anyway-because-I-can't-find-it-anywhere-else" price.

I'm not going to say that they care about the environment in any moral sense, because I don't know, but the fact is that there is a solid market out there for enviro-goodies and this site is tapping into that.


I have just found another site that sells wind turbines and solar cells, and it is located in none other than sunny Saskatoon. Visit for tonnes of helpful information on setting up your power grid, as well as handy wind and solar newsletters.

One Million Acts of Green

Today, October 22nd, is not even 24 hours old and already clocking in at 30,737 acts of green.

If you aren't familiar with the site yet let me fill you in. It is the brainchild of MuchMusic Vjay turned CBC ratings-booster George Stroumboulopoulos, who launched the site from his program, The Hour at 11pm last night. The premise is that many small, seemingly insignificant tasks to live "greener", can have a startling effect on greenhouse gas reduction. To give you an example, the 30,737 acts of green performed by those already signed up to the site, reduce the number of greenhouse gasses by a whopping 2,083,776 kg!

The site features groups, projects, and friends, in a very Facebook-esque manner. It contains a multitude of advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, and not just the obvious and disillusioned "buy a Prius" banter. The site has the benefit of telling you how much you are saving (my 9 green acts thus far, including "don't idle car" and "use reusable coffee cup", amount to 738 kilograms of saved greenhouse gasses)!

It is easy to complain and state that the government is not doing enough to slow/stop/reverse global warming, but the big differences that small "green" acts can make to the environment argues the hypocracy of that sentiment.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Video Challenge

Check out the Saskatchewan and Alberta entries for the Kaleidoscope Real World Video Challenge

Love to Love You Landfills by Joel Entwistle & Maxim Gertier-Jaffe

Global WarNing by Yelena Cerezke-Riemer (Unfortunately this one is very slow to load but worth waiting for)

The Global Water Crisis by Sierra Dakin Kuiper

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Modular homes offer green alternative

Prefabricated, or modular, home construction is enjoying a renaissance in the booming green building market. Some people may think that prefab or modular building connotes cold uniformity, but in this newsletter we’ll introduce you to companies that are making this new breed of homes beautiful, comfortable, and most importantly very light on the planet!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Speaking Out

The Green Children have made a video about speaking out.

Friday, May 2, 2008

As Springtime Finally Reaches the Prairies

One of the fond memories of my youth on the prairies was of my boyfriend's homemade dandelion wine. The hours spend picking the blossoms turned his skin a rich gold like the wine.

"Is interest in foraging growing? A quick blog search on 'foraging food' came up with 165 hits over the past week, as compared to 83 hits over the same week last year." This article by Cincinnati Locavore recommends checking it out.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

So Earth Hour has come and gone. What did you do? Send your stories through our comment section.

The University of Saskatchewan, along with the City of Saskatoon, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Meewasin Valley Authority, Road Map 2020, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, Saskatoon Health Region, and Saskatoon Public Schools is participating in Earth Hour 2008. The Center Mall in Saskatoon dimmed its outside lights.

Time magasine's critique of Earth Hour:

Because climate change is essentially a political problem, and the language of politics is symbolism. Just because an act is symbolic doesn't mean it empty. The only way to truly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to take the pressure off global warming, is an international regime that puts a cap and a price on climate pollution. And the only way that will happen is if politicians around the world become convinced that climate change is an issue that matters to people, one that will make them change the way they live, buy — and vote.

We risk green fatigue because, after all, what can we do about it? But this is the moment when we need to keep pushing in every way we can. The technologies that will help us decarbonize energy are developing, but they need a push — and that will only happen if we keep climate change near the top of our political agenda. Earth Hour, Earth Day, Earth Year — we'll need it all.,8599,1725947,00.html?cnn=yes

Monday, March 24, 2008

A message from Al Gore

Global warming is a problem of unprecedented magnitude and that's why we've launched the largest mobilization campaign ever. Actions by individuals like you will be the driving force behind this campaign and our ultimate victory. We're going to succeed, but I need your help today.
More than 850,000 people have already joined us, but if leaders in business and government are going to make stopping climate change a priority, we need you to urge your friends to get involved today:
We need to grow to 1,000,000 members by April so we can send a loud message that we want action now. That is why I need you to forward the email below to all of your friends and family right now and ask them to add their voice.
Thank you,
Al Gore

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE: Yet another $10m prize to find the most fuel-efficient car

The X Prize Foundation - which helped kickstart commercial passenger space travel - is funding another $10m prize to find the most fuel-efficient car.

The Automotive X Prize, or rather the "Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE", aims to find a realistic super-efficient vehicle. It aims to find cars which actually just go into production, rather than just prototypes showcasing new technology. It also aims to offer a level playing field for both amateurs and manufacturers.

There are two categories; mainstream cars, with four wheels and room for four or more passengers, and alternative vehicles, which must carry two or more passengers but can have any number of wheels.

Both classes must achieve at least 100 miles per gallon or equivalent, give out less than 200 grammes per mile and satisfy US EPA Tier II, bin 5 standards. The production of the cars should also be equivalent to typical vehicles.

The vehicles should be reasonably priced too, assuming production of 10,000 a year, and should have features likely to attract the average consumer.

Some 66 teams have already paid $5,000 to register for the prize. Most entries are from the US although there are two from Northampton in the UK and one from Germany.

Entries are pretty varied - from electric three-wheelers that look like souped-up Sinclair C5s, to drive systems that can be retro-fitted to any medium-sized car. The Avion is a very lightweight and aerodynamic fibreglass body designed to be fitted with recycled engines and gearboxes.

All cars will have to run on either petrol, diesel, electricity, natural gas, bio-diesel and E85 - ethanol and petrol.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mercedes Benz says it will be the first to introduce European-style "AdBlue" clean diesel technology to US and Canadian consumers.

German motor titan Mercedes Benz's AdBlue technology involves fitting cars with a tank of special urine-like liquid, which is used to clean the exhaust emissions.

In a statement before Easter, the company said:

The diesel engine has proved an attractive alternative [for] the USA in times of increasing fuel prices and growing sensitivity to the issue of CO2 emissions. In the land of large minivans, pickups and SUVs, and the given driving conditions characterised by steady cruising speeds on the highways and enormous overland distances, the diesel is able to show its advantages particularly well.

At the same time, American legislation sets very strict emission standards for diesel-powered vehicles. This is why Mercedes-Benz introduced the E 320 BlueTEC with its in-house BlueTEC technology in America first, and is now including a variant of this BlueTEC technology with AdBlue injection in its cross-Atlantic range. This innovative drive technology enables these large and powerful SUVs to meet the limits imposed by the US ...

Diesel engines, especially turbocharged ones, are quite green in many ways compared to petrol jobs. They are economical of fuel, and hence can have low CO2 emissions - which saves money on taxes as well as on buying fuel. For instance, even quite muscular turbodiesel 4x4s can escape London Mayor Ken Livingstone's swingeing new taxes against "gas guzzling Chelsea tractors", and the carbon-banded road taxes ease as well. The teeny, super-economical VW Polo BlueMotion turbodiesel is the lowest-CO2 car registered in the UK at the moment, just qualifying for the new sub-100g/km zero road tax band.

But diesels do emit comparatively large amounts of nitrogen oxide, which is nasty. Many US states, led by California, are imposing tough new nitrogen-oxide standards on new vehicles, and even tougher regs are on the horizon in Europe. Hence several manufacturers have begun making diesels as clean as they can - usually using the word "blue" in the branding for some reason.

Thus there is BlueMotion, BlueTEC etc. Early models wearing these badges have used different measures including filters, catalysts, engine modifications and whatnot. This latest "AdBlue" move involves fitting a tank full of "aqueous urea solution" which is squirted into the "exhaust tract" in very small amounts. This converts the nitrous oxide into ammonia, which in turn gets broken down into harmless nitrogen and water in a following catalytic unit.

Presumably the more obvious choice of "Golden" as a colour to represent this technology was deemed unsuitable. Too blue, perhaps. AdBlue is already used on large buses and trucks in Europe.

As a prelude to showering the US consumer with blue-green goodness, Mercedes showed off its new BlueTEC ML320 sports-utility Chelsea tractor at the recent New York auto show in March. Its 28-litre tank of golden AdBlue is said to be enough to go 28,000km, seemingly, so Mercedes don't expect that customers will need to top it up themselves. This will be done by technicians during routine servicing.

Sadly this is not a very clean diesel. Mercedes Benz are using chemical technology to eliminate produced gases that exceed the govt standards. It is a clean emissions vehicle, not a clean diesel as they proclaim.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Canada's hope for the future

" The X Prize Foundation, best known for its competitions promoting space flights, is offering $10 million to the teams that can produce the most production-ready vehicles that get 100 miles per gallon or more.

British Columbia-based Fuelvapor Technologies is among the competitors. Vice President Todd Pratt said the six-person company, which has funding from 47 shareholders, has spent more than two years developing its car. The car has three wheels and two seats and has the aerodynamic design of a jet cockpit. It is gas powered but saves fuel through a proprietary technology that replaces traditional fuel injection. The car currently gets 92 miles per gallon, Pratt said, but the company thinks a hybrid version could achieve up to 400 miles per gallon. "It's kind of like the X Prize was designed for us," Pratt said. "We're just six guys who are really passionate about doing something different."
Accomplishments to date include:
92 mpg US (2.56 L/100km)
0-60 in 5 seconds
1.7 G’s cornering ability

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wind Turbine for Urban Dwellers

This wind turbine for urbane areas won Ben Storan a BSI sustainability award in the UK. Great design for the prairie urban folk.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Plains

RCE has announced an important meeting for prairie people. Earlier on this blog, I discussed the idea that global warming meant good times for frigid Saskatchewan.

Adaptation to Climate Change in the Canadian Plains
April 22, 2008
Travelodge Hotel, Regina SK

The semi-arid Palliser Triangle in the southern portion of the Prairie provinces is second only to the Arctic in terms of its vulnerability to climate change in Canada. While public awareness about climate change is becoming mainstream, this unique patch of land seems to get lost in the discussions. Public policy to address adaptation to climate change will be a critical element in determining our success or failure as human societies. As such, this symposium will present information and analysis on adaptation to climate change in a policy-relevant and accessible manner for a Saskatchewan audience.

Program Speakers Include:

Elaine Wheaton
Climatology, University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Research Council

John Drexhage
Director, Climate Change and Energy, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Barry Smit
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change Department of Geography, University of Guelph

Carmen Dybwad
President, Energy Council Canada

Dave Sauchyn
Professor of Geography, Research Coordinator for the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative and PARC/Manitoba Hydro Research Professor

Registration required, visit SIPP website for fees, full program and registration form:

Contact SIPP at or (306) 585-5869
Registration deadline April 16, 2008

This event is sponsored by:
PARC, Canadian Plains Research Centre, Institutional Adaptation to Climate Change Project (IACC), University of Regina, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Craik Film Festival Eat Local Challenge

Another notice from RCE SASK

The Earth Day Film Festival in Craik this April 25 - 27, 2008 has taken the Eat Local challenge.

Following last weeks successful event at the Eco-Centre (Coming Home for Dinner with Amy Jo Ehman and the Craik Sustainable Living Project) it was decided we would provide local food for 3 meals during the film festival. Both lunches on Saturday and Sunday (2 pm), plus the Saturday evening meal (6pm) will be locally procurred food, organic if possible.

And, to follow that theme, our Sunday afternoon workshop (2pm) is Eating Local, Going Organic - idealism vs. reality

Besides that, the festival is coming along nicely. Many excellent folks and organizations are supporting it, including, but not limited to Flo’s Bar and Grill, BlackSmith Computers, J & B Ackland Auto Service, Jim and Jacquie Nodge, Bonsai Faery Soap Co., Green Party of Saskatchewan, Solar Freedom International, Craik Hardware, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Saskatchewan Eco Network, Stillwater Farms, S.O.D. Food Miles Campaign…

If you have any questions or suggestions, do drop us a line 306-734-5160 or email kelly(at)

Community Supported Agriculture

A message from RCE SASK

Come out to learn more about Community Supported Agriculture in Saskatoon. Meet Keith Neu and the members of his community supported farm for a potluck on Friday March 14th at 6pm at Circle Drive Alliance Church. An informational/sign up meeting will follow so invite anybody interested. Bring a main course, dessert, or side dish. Coffee, tea and juice will be provided. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Keith Neu's Community Supported Farm (CSF) provides food for 30 families in Saskatoon, Regina, and surrounding area. Members of the CSF divert some of their grocery money every month in return for grains, garden produce, beef, chicken, and eggs the year around. We are investing in the future and will eventually support 150 families with all of the above as well as fruit, honey, pork and just about anything that can be raised in Hudson Bay SK.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Greenpeace Training in Edmonton

Greenpeace Canada is pleased to invite you to apply to be a part of our Basic Action Training in Edmonton March 21-23.
Greenpeace is gearing up for an exciting year of taking action to protect the planet and we need to expand our existing Activist base to make this happen. (If you would like to participate in Greenpeace actions this training is compulsory.)This weekend long training is an intensive program that includes an introduction to Greenpeace and non-violent direct action, includes a full legal briefing, media training, direct action simulation and much more.
The training will begin Friday at around 5:00pm and finish around Sunday at 5:30pm. The location will be announced shortly. There is a selection process and although we hope to accommodate as many people as possible not everyone will be invited to participate in the training.
To apply for this training you must:
  • be in good physical healthspeak and understand Basic Englishbe
  • willing to participate in Greenpeace activities that my result in the risk of arrest

To assist with the selection process we are asking all applicants to answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to participate in Greenpeace actions?
  2. What do you hope to get out of the training?

We are asking that you apply only if you are confident that this training is for you.It is imperative that if you commit to this training you are able to make it. Please respond by e-mail to

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Turn off the lights for one hour

On March 29th, 2008 at 8pm local time Earth Hour will commence ALL AROUND THE WORLD.Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a POWERFUL MESSAGE about the need for action on global warming.Be part of making Earth Hour 2008 a huge, global success by telling your friends and family. Remember, every single light makes a statement and makes a difference.Last year, on 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney (Australia) businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.++Pledge your support for Earth Hour and find out more about the lights-out campaign at, the official website.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Saskatchewan's Shame!

According to CBC, Saskatchewan's carbon emissions rose 61% in the last ten years and will be even higher in the next five years as we increase our gas production.

Take Charge! A National Day of Action

The Council of Canadians is organizing Take Charge! A National Day of Action to Demand a Canadian Energy Strategy on Saturday, February 2, 2008.

For more info:

ACTION: Send a mitten to Stephen Harper
All Canadians need to stay warm!

Download PDF:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Study on reusable plastic containers

Exposing drinking bottles made from polycarbonate plastic to boiling water significantly speeds up the release of the chemical bisphenol A compared with room temperature water — and the amount of leaching is similar whether containers are well-used or brand new, researchers say. Read more at

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why we need to act?

"Global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies, despite world leaders' hopes that they will pioneer solutions to the impending climate crisis, a startling survey will reveal this week.

Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority, says the study, which canvassed more than 500 big businesses in Britain, the US, Germany, Japan, India and China. Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money. And the report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates."

To read more see

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Count - I'm Irresistable

A great little video from LiveEarth UK about individual voices. Anyone want to make something similar here before the next election?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Illusions of Absurd

The real and perceptible dangers of climate change is offset by the illusion of the most absurb and impossible market human civilization has ever seen. - Goumilra Ghosh -National Forum of Forest Peoples & Forest Workers

Pedro Moura Costa made $ 83 millions selling carbon credits through Eco Securities.

These two statements send shivers down my spine at the Prairie Sustainable Campuses Conference's Climate Change and Social Justice Panel. I've always felt suspicious about Carbon Credit dollars. Everyone seemed to be jumping on this bandwagon as a way to mitigate guilt for air travel and SUV's, but no one seemed to know where the money was actually going. Too many companies said something like "Credits can be used to finance carbon reduction schemes between trading partners and around the world." One presenter showed factories in India belching smoke that was recieving carbon credits from the UK to improve production.

One of the issues with solutions to climate change that take place in someones else's backyard is the loss of control and information and the potential for poorly reearched scams that are worse than the problem they solve.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

From Rhetoric to Action

Reporting live from the Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference attended and organized by students from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

What are prairie universities doing?

University of Alberta

Michael Rawson Clark wants “to transform the University of Alberta into a participatory member of a sustainable society through the creation of bio-economics, clean technology, clean energy, and sustainable economics.” He reported that the U of A has improved steam, water and electrical use significantly but that has been offset by a 37% increase in the density of buildings because of increasing enrollments. Projects he was involved in included replanting lawns with prairie grasses, green roofs, green investing and purchasing FSC recycled printing paper as part of the sustainable purchasing initiative. Below is an image of Michael taken by Jennifer Bonnycastle during his report.

University of Saskatchewan

Students at the University of Saskatchewan reported on several initiatives including

Footprint Design –students in engineering promote sustainability through workshops, concerts and projects such as Chris McKay's wind turbine that will provide enough electricity to power a house and the car that runs on used vegetable oil from restaurants.

Ecobash is an annual music festival supported by local musicians that raises funds for projects such as the wind turbine and the Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference.

The Students Union provides worm composting, curbside recycling, the green career fair, and a sustainability policy that provides a model for the university administration.

LEED building policy – All new UofS construction must meet LEED standards. The new Law building is an example.

University of Regina

Billy Patterson who describes himself as a part time student, full time activist reported on the Enviroment Action Network, Transdisciplinary Enviromental Studies degree, Public Interest Research Group (professor/student research), and Green Investing.

University of Winnipeg

The highlight of the University of Winnipeg’s initiatives is the Sustainable University Now Sustainable Earth Together (SUNSET) project which received funding to hire a staff person to involve more students in sustainability research and link course materials with community resources.

The University has a campus sustainability policy adopted by the Board of Regents. Some of the projects students have been involved in include:

Bike to the Future – bike-riding advocacy
Campus Recycling
Student Experience in local organizations.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The RiverGreen Ecovillage in Saskatoon

RiverGreen aims to meet the exacting LEED-Platinum standard of the Canadian Green Building Council, ensuring outstanding environmental performance. Features like solar water heating, high-efficiency district heating, natural cooling, and rainwater harvesting will dramatically reduce resident's ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. or

Monday, January 14, 2008

Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference

The University of Saskatchewan will be hosting the Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference Jan. 18-21, 2008.


The Prairies Sustainable Campuses Conference will bring together campus community members from across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to build a regional network as part of the national movement to institutionalize social and environmental sustainability on campus. The Conference will act as a forum to:
  1. empower campus community members to build new and more effective sustainability initiatives

  2. share organizing experiences: successes, challenges and new directions

  3. learn about specific Prairies sustainability initiatives and challenges

  4. plan for future collaboration between campuses within the region


Friday January 18th in ARTS 143

  • 4:00 Registration Begins

  • 7:00 Welcome

  • 7:15 Keynote Panel Discussion - Climate Change and Social Justice

  • 9:30 Evening Socializing

Saturday January 19th in Arts 241

  • 9:00 Outdoor Activities (so bring warm clothes unless you prefer to be inside)

  • 11:00 Intro to SYC and the Conference

  • 12:00 Lunch

  • 1:00 Anti-Oppression Training

  • 2:00 Personal Sustainability Training

  • 3:00 Open Space / Personal Sustainability Time

  • 4:00 Success Stories from Prairie Campuses Interactive Discussion

  • 7:30 Keynote Panel Discussion - Tar Sands Activism

  • 9:30 Evening Socializing

Sunday, January 20th in ARTS 143

  • 9:00 Strategic Organizing Training

  • 10:00 Regional Campaign Proposal Presentations (Campus Climate Challenge, Student Unions for Sustainability, PaperCut, United Students Against Sweatshops, and more)

  • 10:45 Campaign Breakout Group Planning

  • 11:45 Campaign Reportbacks and Regional Strategizing

  • 12:45 Conference Wrap
For more information,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saskatchewan Food Sources

Check out Home for Dinner, a blog by Amy Jo Ehman for a list of Saskatchewan food producers

Amy Jo Ehman is part of the Saskatchewan Food Challenge that asks us to take a pledge to eat Saskatchewan foods for two weeks. She and her husband ate only local foods for one year. Check out the rest of her blog for some great recipes and other articles about eating locally.

For anyone reading this blog who is not from Saskatchewan, this image is of Saskatoon Berries, one of the best things about late summer.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Democrats hit The White House hard last year! Why not now?

Back on Thursday, Oct 25, 2007 the Democrats hit The White House hard on global warming testimony .. Why are the same candidates in the primaries not shouting louder?

They accused President George W. Bush's administration of trying to hide the threat from global warming by censoring testimony of the top US health official on the issue.

California Senator Barbara Boxer wrote to Bush to complain that prepared comments by Dr Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had been "heavily edited" by the administration.

"I am deeply concerned that important scientific and health information was removed from the CDC Director's testimony at the last minute," Boxer wrote.

She later told reporters: "this administration wants to downplay the threat global warming poses."

Boxer's office released a copy of the testimony which it said had been leaked by angry CDC officials, showing large swathes of Gerberding's remarks crossed out.

One passage that was not eventually delivered at a hearing of the Senate committee on environment and public works on October 23, went into possible impacts on health of global warming.

"Scientific evidence supports the view that the earth's climate is changing," Gerberding was to have said according to the testimony.

"A broad array of organizations, (federal, state, local, multilateral, faith based, private and non-governmental) is working to address climate change.

"Despite this extensive activity, the public health effects of climate change remain largely unaddressed. CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern."

On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino denied that Gerberding's testimony had been censored when it was submitted to a review process in the Executive Office of the President.

"This administration's policy on climate change is an open book," she said.

"Scientists across the administration were taking a look at it, and there was a decision that she would focus where she is an expert, which is on CDC."

Beauty of the Prairies as a slideshow

The Canadian Electric Car

Buy Canadian!
The Canadian Electric Car

Now watch Rick Mercer report on it not being available to Canadians.

Write your favourite MP about this one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Start Eating Locally

One thing you can do now to reduce your personal carbon imprint, eat locally grown food. So here's what you do.
  1. Next time you are in the grocery store, check where the produce, packaging and dry goods you are purchasing comes from.

  2. Calculate how much gas planes, trucks and boats use to bring those groceries to your door?

  3. Seek out the independents that might carry local food.

  4. Check out farmer's markets and other sources.

  5. Share what you find out with this blog. In the upcoming editions, I'll write about what I learn.

  6. Read for more uplifting reasons.

The image below is of flax and canola against an incredible prairie sky, so buying locally also helps the farming economy and fills the fields with beautiful colours.

Alberta needs to take its head out of the tar sands

More cars and trucks on Alberta's roads in the last nine years are offsetting the fact the vehicles are spewing fewer emissions per trip compared to 10 years ago, says a new study.
A study released Tuesday by the Clean Air Strategic Alliance measured exhaust emissions from 60,000 cars and light trucks in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Canmore in the fall of 2006.
Read the article

Alberta's government says it will oppose any federal efforts to bring in a carbon tax after an advisory panel commissioned by Ottawa released its report Monday.
The panel was struck to study ways Canada can make a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Read the article

Monday, January 7, 2008

What me worry?

This cartoon is from Nearing Zero, a great site for science cartoons

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How It All Ends

This video has created a lot of discussion about the risk management of dealing/not dealing with global warming.

Solution # 1

Solution # 2

Solution # 3

Solution # 4

To see the entire series, go to