July 23, 2014

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Environmental attitudes: Harper gov’t wants to turn a sustainable mariculture into an industrial farming operation; Northern Cree’s wild rice business; a bicycle-touring band on its way to Salt Spring Island

Our present-day fish farms pollute the waters and kill off the wild salmon. Judith Williams’s new book Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast shows us how the First Nations did it first and did it better. The clam gardens are a centuries-old sustainable industry that still helps to feed coastal communities. - Crawford Kilian, “BC’s Gardens of Eden”, February 8, 2007

DFO’s Big Clam plans: Feds about to open far more BC coast to industrial geoduck operations
Kristian Secher TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada July 16, 2014


Geoduck species of clam hauled from bottom of ocean off BC coast by divers. Photo courtesy Underwater Harvesters Association. Visit this page for its photos, map and related links.

Big, rude in appearance, and a delicacy sold for $80 a pound in some restaurants in Asia, the geoduck clam is a bonanza for those who raise it or gather it wild along British Columbia’s coast.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is about to let a lot more people in on the boom as the federal agency finalizes plans to greatly open up B.C. coastal areas to commercial geoduck farming.

Up until now only a few such aquaculture sites in the Strait of Georgia have been operating, but demand for geoducks has grown steeply over the past 15 years. Most of the mollusks are exported to Asia where they are sought after by some for their supposed aphrodisiac properties.

In 2013 the estimated revenue of wild geoduck fisheries was $50 million, making it B.C.’s most profitable dive fishery.

Now there’s a push to move towards aquaculture as shellfish growers want to get in on the lucrative market as well. And the DFO, which in 2010 assumed responsibility over most aspects of aquaculture operations in B.C., is poised to open up more areas and grant more licences to expand the industry.

But for residents on Denman Island, who live right next to Baynes Sound where more than 50 per cent of B.C.’s shellfish is produced, the new geoduck plan is a sign of trouble to come.

Shelley McKeachie, director of the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards, a local organisation of concerned islanders, said the current level of aquaculture was already causing problems — a walk on the island’s beaches during low tide revealed as much.

David Graham is serving his last term as a representative for Denman Island in the Islands Trust, the federation of self-governing islands in B.C. He is equally frustrated with DFO’s handling of the shellfish issue which he said ignores the Islands Trust’s authority.

Most of the areas that DFO have cleared for aquaculture are regions that the Islands Trust has designated as protected marine areas, said Graham. While the trust maintains the ability to deny new tenures, DFO’s plan allows for existing ones to switch to geoduck without applying for new permits.

“That’s not fair from a local government’s point of view,” said Graham. He said the current level of industry is out of scale but that it’s near impossible for the trust to get a say in the matter as DFO won’t include them on its shellfish advisory board.


Workers collecting clams on the north beach of Denman Island must work quickly between tides. Most tenures, once held by locals, are now owned by outside companies, many outside Canada. Photo: Kristian Secher.

With the new geoduck plan about to be finalised, Graham expects “interesting times ahead.”

McKeachie worries about the environmental impact when geoduck tenures start popping up around the island. A common practice for growing geoduck involves planting geoduck seeds in PVC pipes, leaving them in the water for one to two years while the geoduck mature. It takes seven to eight years for geoduck to reach maturity.

The first PVC pipes have already been installed on the island’s west coast and in mid-June McKeachie discovered the installation was being expanded. She has a bad feeling about what the island’s coast will look like a few years from now.

“I’m just so damn mad at what they’re doing [to this island],” she said.

Despite the interest in geoduck aquaculture in B.C., little is known about potential impacts on the marine environment — in fact, only two papers on the subject have been published to date.

The latest was done by a group of DFO scientists but the results were inconclusive and with lots of caveats. Scientists only looked at a small-scale geoduck farm with one harvest over a period of a year — which the authors noted was not comparable to the large-scale operations driven by industry with multiple harvests over seven to eight years.

“Larger-scale research is required to examine potential effects,” said the scientists in their conclusion.

One area that Dr. Doug Hay, a former DFO scientist, would like to see examined is the long-term effects of geoduck aquacultures on herring. He said the areas that will be opened to aquaculture around Denman Island in Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel are “smack dab” in some of B.C.’s most important areas for herring. Nearly one in four of B.C.’s herring spawn in these areas, he said, and there’s no telling what impact industrial geoduck aquaculture will have on that.

“That’s the problem,” said Hay. “If we don’t know then it’s not a good idea to open up these sensitive parts of the coast to this kind of development.”

Previous disruptions to herring habitats have been known to end spawning in those areas.

Hay is not against aquaculture but stresses that we need to find areas where it can be done without jeopardizing other resources.

Dr. Ian Birtwell, another former DFO scientist, agrees.

From his home next to Baynes Sound he has a direct view of the contested waters and he’s concerned about what he sees.

Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice
McColl Magazine Canada July 2014


Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent producer of lake harvested, certified organic wild rice grown.

The wild rice industry is central to the economy of the North Saskatchewan region. Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice is the largest independent grower of wild rice in the province. The company combines its efforts with other mostly native harvesters who supply 75 per cent of the wild rice. Within this co-operative relationship Riese promotes premium quality at all levels to maintain an authentic wholesome image.

“We’ve expanded over the years,” working cooperatively with independent harvesters found in communities like Peter Ballantyne, Meadow Lake Tribal Council Bands, and La Ronge Band to name a few,” says Lynn Riese, “We have our own processsing plant in La Ronge. I buy from the other producers in the region. These producers are independent entrepreneurs, they buy their own machinery, and this means a variety of sources deliver harvests for Riese’s Canadian Lake Wild Rice.”

Riese knows the territory because of his experience as a bush pilot, the initial reason for settling in the area. To this day he flies to remote sites, First Nation communities in Saskatchewan’s north, and picks up the wild rice harvest in the early autumn.

Saskatchewan produces the world’s finest wild rice. The long, cool summer days and natural growing environment produce a larger, tastier grain which matures slowly through the summer months, helped only by sun, soil and water. This resulting grain is high in nutrition – with high fibre content and low fat.

Below: We received the following in our inbox, July 17, 2014. West My Friend and Brett Wildeman are two environmentally-focused bands, committed to acting out their ideals. They will be touring (by sail boat and bicycle) the east coast of Vancouver Island and six of the Gulf Islands. The carbon-neutral touring musicians will be performing on Salt Spring Island August 19 at Duck Creek Farm. Duck Creek Farm was established by the late John Wilcox: Artist, steward, defender of land, community and country. John was a founding father of several farm organizations and a source of inspiration for many.

The Life Cycles of Touring Musicians
Brett Wildeman Brett Wildeman British Columbia Canada


Visit this page for its embedded links, potted bios of Brett Wildeman and West My Friend and a listing of the tour dates and venues.

Cycling 750 kilometers is not an easy feat for the average person. But riding those same 750 kilometres while towing a double bass, an accordion, mandolin, two guitars, sound equipment, merchandise, sleeping gear and clothing and you approach the realm of the highly unusual (and possibly slightly crazy). The daily ride is challenging enough but then add to the equation a concert performance every night and you will have a snapshot of the life of a cycle-touring musician.

The Bikes, Barns, and Beers Tour created by Sunshine Coast singer-songwriter Brett Wildeman and Victoria’s indie-roots group West My Friend will be hitting the road this August. The two musical acts combine their talents from August 17th to 22nd, at which point Wildeman will continue the journey thru August 31st.

‘I hope the tour inspires people to become more involved in their local food systems while considering alternative modes of transport when running day to day errands, or embarking on multi-day trips. We live in a society extremely dependent upon motor vehicles. This tour demonstrates there are viable alternatives’- Brett Wildeman

Pursuing and promoting environmentally sensitive touring methods while connecting with their audiences at unique, small scale, and environmentally focused venues (primarily organic farms), illustrates that that these young musicians are committed to their artistry while living in harmony with the planet.

The tour is proudly sponsored by Sitka, Ethical Bean Coffee & Over Grow The System.

Posted at: July 23, 2014 - 10:20 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 22, 2014

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Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block

Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block
A new kind of tracking tool, canvas fingerprinting, is being used to follow visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.

Julia Angwin Pro Publica July 21, 2014

A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.

First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.

How You Can Try to Thwart Canvas Fingerprinting

  • Use the Tor browser (Warning: can be slow)
  • Block JavaScript from loading in your browser (Warning: breaks a lot of web sites)
  • Use NoScript browser extension to block JavaScript from known fingerprinters such as AddThis (Warning: requires a lot of research and decision-making)
  • Try the experimental browser extension Chameleon that is designed to block fingerprinting (Warning: only recommended for tech-savvy users at this point)
  • Install opt-out cookies from known fingerprinters such as AddThis (Warning: fingerprint will likely still be collected, companies simply pledge not to use the data for ad targeting or personalization)

Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.

But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.

Device fingerprints rely on the fact that every computer is slightly different: Each contains different fonts, different software, different clock settings and other distinctive features. Computers automatically broadcast some of their attributes when they connect to another computer over the Internet.

Tracking companies have long sought to use those differences to uniquely identify devices for online advertising purposes, particularly as Web users are increasingly using ad-blocking software and deleting cookies.

In May 2012, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, noticed that a Web programming feature called “canvas” could allow for a new type of fingerprint — by pulling in different attributes than a typical device fingerprint.

In June, the Tor Project added a feature to its privacy-protecting Web browser to notify users when a website attempts to use the canvas feature and sends a blank canvas image. But other Web browsers did not add notifications for canvas fingerprinting.

Read recent ProPublica coverage about how online tracking is getting creepier, how Facebook has been tracking you, and what tools to use to protect yourself.

Posted at: July 22, 2014 - 4:48 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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DIY internet: meshes

How to Keep the NSA Out of Your Computer
Sick of government spying, corporate monitoring, and overpriced ISPs? There’s a cure for that.

Clive Thompson Mother Jones September/October 2013 Issue

JOSEPH BONICIOLI mostly uses the same internet you and I do. He pays a service provider a monthly fee to get him online. But to talk to his friends and neighbors in Athens, Greece, he’s also got something much weirder and more interesting: a private, parallel internet.

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John Hersey

He and his fellow Athenians built it. They did so by linking up a set of rooftop wifi antennas to create a “mesh,” a sort of bucket brigade that can pass along data and signals. It’s actually faster than the Net we pay for: Data travels through the mesh at no less than 14 megabits a second, and up to 150 Mbs a second, about 30 times faster than the commercial pipeline I get at home. Bonicioli and the others can send messages, video chat, and trade huge files without ever appearing on the regular internet. And it’s a pretty big group of people: Their Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network has more than 1,000 members, from Athens proper to nearby islands.

In some ways, a community mesh resembles a food co-op. Its members crunch the numbers and realize that they can solve the last-mile problem themselves at a fraction of the price. In Kansas City, Isaac Wilder, cofounder of the Free Network Foundation, is using this model to wire up neighborhoods where the average household income is barely $10,000 a year. His group partners with community organizations that pay for backbone access. Wilder then sets up a mesh that anyone can join for a modest sum. “The margins on most internet providers are so ridiculously inflated,” he says. “When people see the price they get from the mesh, they’re like, ‘Ten bucks a month? Oh, shit, I’ll pay that!’”

In other cases, meshes are run like tiny local businesses. Stephen Song, the founder of Village Telco, markets “mesh potatoes,” inexpensive wifi devices that automatically mesh with each other, allowing them to transmit data and make local calls. In towns across Africa, where internet access is overpriced or nonexistent, mom-and-pop shops buy backbone access and then sell mesh potatoes to customers, offering them cheap monthly phone and internet rates. Song hopes this entrepreneurial model will lead to stable networks that don’t have to rely on donations or tech-savvy community volunteers. He set up a mesh himself in Cape Town, South Africa. “The primary users of that tech were grandmothers,” Song says. “Grandmothers are really dependent on their families, and visiting is hard—it’s a really hilly area. So if you have an appealing low-cost alternative, they go for it.”

On a purely technical level, mesh advocates say it’s super hard, but not impossible. First, you’d build as many local mesh networks as you can, and then you’d connect them together. Long-distance “hops” are tricky, but community meshes already use special wifi antennas—sometimes “cantennas” made out of Pringles-type containers—to join far-flung neighborhoods. Down in Argentina, meshers have shot signals up to 10 miles to bring together remote villages; in Greece, Bonicioli says they’ve connected towns as far as 60 miles apart. For bigger leaps, there are even more colorful ideas: Float a balloon 60,000 feet in the air, attach a wifi repeater, and you could bounce a signal between two cities separated by hundreds of miles. It sounds nuts, but Google actually pulled it off this past summer, when its Project Loon sent a flotilla of balloons over New Zealand to blanket the rural countryside with wireless connections. There are even DIY satellites: Home-brewed “cubesats” have already been put into orbit by university researchers for less than $100,000 each. That’s hardly chump change, but it’s well within, say, Kickstarter range.

For stable communications, though, the best bet would be to snag some better spectrum. The airwaves are a public resource, but they are regulated by national agencies like the Federal Communications Commission that dole out the strongest frequencies—the ones that can travel huge distances and pass easily through physical objects—to the military and major broadcasters. (Wifi uses one of the rare public-access frequencies.) If the FCC could be convinced to hand over some of those powerful frequencies to the public, meshes could span huge distances. “We need free networks, and we need free bandwidth,” says Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University and head of the Software Freedom Law Center. But given the power of the telco and defense lobbies, don’t hold your breath.

The notion of a truly independent global internet may still be a gleam in the eye of the meshers, but their visionary zeal is contagious. It harkens back to the early days of the digital universe, when the network consisted mostly of university scientists and researchers communicating among themselves without corporations sitting in the middle or government (that we know of) monitoring their chats. The goal then, as now, was both connection and control: an internet of one’s own.

Posted at: July 22, 2014 - 4:47 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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An Independent Newsroom Where Self-Censorship Rules

An Independent Newsroom Where Self-Censorship Rules

June 1, 2014 by Daniel Gawthrop Dooney’s Cafe June 1, 2014

With the state once again targeting journalists, press freedom in post-dictatorship Myanmar remains elusive. But it’s not just the government that inhibits free expression: the country’s leading independent news daily routinely betrays the ideals of press freedom by promoting hatred against a persecuted minority.

Two years ago, Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government officially lifted pre-censorship rules governing domestic non-state media. This was a good sign: after half a century of military dictatorship, a new era of press freedom appeared to have begun, with independent news outlets finally empowered to fulfill a role journalists in the West had always taken for granted. Criticizing the government and afflicting the comfortable would now become widespread practice.

Based on recent events—and my own subsequent experience inside the country better known as Burma—that prediction has proven optimistic, at best.

Last fall I travelled to Myanmar to begin work on my first novel. Since part of the story involves the flow of information inside the country, I decided to spend a few months as a sub-editor at one of the country’s non-state, independent newspapers. The Eleven Media Group (EMG) is a privately owned and operated company founded in 2000 as a sports periodical named for a soccer reference: eleven players a side. By 2012, EMG had a staff of 250 and a combined circulation of 450,000, with five weekly publications and one news daily in the Burmese language. The English version—comprised of a website and an e-paper, Myanmar Eleven—runs on a joint venture with Thailand’s Nation Multimedia Group.

Eleven has its virtues. In 2011, it won the Reporters Without Borders “Media of the Year” award for its principled opposition to the military regime. That same year, dogged reporting by Eleven staffers was credited for the new regime’s decision to suspend the Myitsone Dam project, a massive and widely criticized development with China on the Irrawaddy River. While at Eleven, I edited translated stories about land grabbing, which strips citizens of their property to make way for non-existent military projects; the impact of electricity fee hikes on the average wallet; the social consequences of border skirmishes between the national army and ethnic armed groups; and widespread corruption in the legal system.

But Eleven has a shocking double standard for press freedom that badly undermines its credibility.

Toward the end of my time at Eleven, Myanmar conducted its first nationwide census in thirty years (March 30 – April 10). In Rakhine State, the main issue was fear that “Bengalis” would self-identify as “Rohingya” and be recorded as such in the census, thus legitimizing their presence in the country by creating a “new” ethnicity whose status would be recognized by the government. For several days running, Eleven ran story after story about Rakhine Buddhist opposition to such a possibility. As well as census-takers and villagers, Eleven interviewed some of the same extremists quoted in other anti-“Bengali” stories. After a blizzard of such articles, it was impossible to decipher any actual news in them.

Rather than seeking solutions to the crisis in Rakhine State that recognize the universality of human rights—solutions that necessarily involve international assistance in reaching for some combination of repatriation, residency and, of course, citizenship for the Rohingya—the Eleven Media Group consistently displays the same contempt for international opinion that the military junta once did. In doing so, it contributes to a climate of hatred and fear, enabling the kind of conditions that lead to genocide.

Posted at: July 22, 2014 - 4:46 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Cultural Studies: The Stursbergians vs. The Gzowskiteers — Why it’s time for the nerds to stand up for their CBC

Cultural Studies: The Stursbergians vs. The Gzowskiteers — Why it’s time for the nerds to stand up for their CBC

Jesse Brown National Post May 17, 2014

One side is the CBC of bespectacled young producers who subscribe to podcasts like 99% Invisible and Radiolab, who study the craft of radio like it’s Talmud, who learn to write code on weekends and who dream of someday telling a story as well as Ira Glass. The other is the CBC of transplanted MuchMusic VJs and washed-up alternative rockers from the ’90s, wooed into the building years ago by middle-aged executives who thought they were cool.

One is the CBC of brainy poli-sci and English lit grads who chose poorly, who could have been raking it in as lawyers, but who wanted to make documentaries and annoy politicians instead. The other is the CBC of hungry j-school grads, trained to dutifully rip headlines from newspapers and package them into five-minute cable news segments, over and over again.

One is the CBC of Gzowski. The other is the CBC of Stursberg.

I can’t support a CBC that wants so badly to be cool. I would support a CBC run by the nerds.

It’s time for the CBC’s radio nerds, news nerds, politics nerds, documentary nerds and comedy nerds to storm the gates and take the place back. The public broadcasters of the CBC need to oust those executives who have always been embarrassed by public broadcasting, who have played dress-up as Hollywood moguls on the public’s dime. The CBC’s gross experiment of emulating corporate media must be fully and finally abandoned, discredited, and discarded. Let the nerds have their revenge.

Glossary:
PeterGzowski-CBCpromoGzowski: Peter John Gzowski (known colloquially as Mr. Canada) CC (July 13, 1934 – January 24, 2002) was a Canadian broadcaster, writer and reporter, most famous for his work on the CBC radio show Morningside. His first biographer argued that Gzowski’s contribution to Canadian media must be considered in the context of efforts by a generation of Canadian nationalists to understand and express Canada’s cultural identity. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gzowski)

Stursberg: Richard Barclay Stursberg was executive vice president of CBC/Radio Canada from October 1, 2004 to August 6, 2010. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stursberg)

Posted at: July 22, 2014 - 4:45 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 21, 2014

Fires in NW Territories in Line with ‘Unprecedented’ Burn

Fires in NW Territories in Line with ‘Unprecedented’ Burn

Brian Kahn Climate Central July 17, 2014

assets-climatecentral-org-images-uploads-news-7_16_14_Brian_NWTFiresAerial-640x480
An aerial view of the Birch Creek Fire complex, which seared 250,000 acres as of Wednesday. Photo: NWTFire/Facebook

For the past few weeks, dry and warm weather have fueled large forest fires across Canada’s remote Northwest Territories. The extent of those fires is well above average for the year to-date, and is in line with climate trends of more fires burning in the northern reaches of the globe.

Of the 186 wildfires in the Northwest Territories to-date this year, 156 of them are currently burning. That includes the Birch Creek Fire complex, which stretches over 250,000 acres.

The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates “unprecedented” in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.

The combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska, account for 30 percent of the world’s carbon stored in land, carbon that’s taken up to centuries to store. Forest fires like those currently raging in the Northwest Territories, as well as ones in 2012 and 2013 in Russia, can release that stored carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. In addition, soot from forest fires can also darken ice in the Arctic and melt it faster.

Related: Arctic’s Boreal Forests Burning At ‘Unprecedented’ Rate

Andrew Freedman Climate Central July 22, 2013

In a sign of how swiftly and extensively climate change is reshaping the Arctic environment, a new study has found that the region’s mighty boreal forests — stands of mighty spruce, fir, and larch trees that serve as the gateway to the Arctic Circle — have been burning at an unprecedented rate during the past few decades. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the boreal forests have not burned at today’s high rates for at least the past 10,000 years, and climate change projections show even more wildfire activity may be to come.

The study links the increase in fire activity to increased temperatures and drier conditions in the region, which is driving wholescale changes in the massive forests that encircle the northern portion of the globe.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 1:00 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Slaughter-Free Milk Is Great for Cows, But Not the Environment

Slaughter-Free Milk Is Great for Cows, But Not the Environment

Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones, July 21, 2004

harry-cow-for-web
Unlike most male dairy calves, Harry, who was born at the Ahimsa Dairy, won’t be turned into veal. Photo:Ahimsa Dairy

If you don’t eat beef because you feel sorry for those cows in Chick-fil-A ads, then you probably shouldn’t drink milk either. The typical male calf born to a dairy cow becomes veal. The typical female is milked for five years—a quarter of her natural lifetime—then sent to the abattoir to become pet food or low-grade hamburger meat. Elsie the Cow, Borden Dairy Company’s famous cartoon logo, is smiling only because she doesn’t realize that she’s about to get euthanized with a cattle gun.

Yet if you’re an ethical vegetarian who still can’t bear to give up milk, you now have another option: slaughter-free dairy, which comes from farms where cows never get killed.

As vegetarianism gains popularity, slaughter-free milk could become a bona fide food trend—but there’s a catch: It might take a toll on the environment. Cows are already the nation’s single largest source of methane, a greenhouse gas produced by oil extraction, decomposing trash, and the guts of grazing animals that’s as much as 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A single cow farts and belches enough methane to match the carbon equivalent of the average car.

Small, humane dairies can certainly find other ways to mitigate their environmental impacts. The Gita Nagari and Ahimsa dairies employ cow manure to fertilize their organic vegetables and bull power to plow their fields, avoiding carbon-intensive tractors and chemical fertilizers. And the Gita Nagari dairy uses an anaerobic digester to convert manure into a gas that residents of the dairy use for cooking—but this sort of thing would be hard to implement on a larger scale.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 12:35 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

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Understanding the Food System Week by Week

Understanding the Food System Week by Week

Katie Moore Utne Reader July 15, 2014

Navigating our food system can be a challenging process—each month it seems like there’s a new trend and understanding our daily impact within a larger context can be difficult. That’s why The Lexicon of Sustainability has kicked off The Food List. Each week for a year, the project breaks down specific topics such as food waste, packaging, seeds, and humane treatment. This week’s theme is traceability and it focuses on the seafood industry. The comprehensive guide provides readers with information in a multitude of formats which can appeal to a wide range of ages. The topic’s webpage features terms related to the topic, a film, activities, information artwork, interviews and a recipe, all provided so readers can learn about overfishing and accountability efforts. Then when consumers go to the grocery store, they have better knowledge about how fish is raised and what to watch out for on product labels.

The lists are compiled from a multitude of sources, from environmentalists to consumer rights groups to farmers themselves. The project’s overall aim is to “bring transparency and accountability to our nation’s food system and the impact it has on our environment and health.” You can sign up for The Food List or visit their website each week to read up on the latest (and past) themes.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 12:30 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 20, 2014

Canadians at odds with Harper gov’t priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report

Cdns at odds with Harper gov’t priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report
Dean Beeby The Canadian Press/National Newswatch Canada July 20, 2014

OTTAWA – Public-opinion research for the federal Finance Department suggests key government policies are out of step with Canadians’ priorities, including the Northern Gateway project.

Members of focus groups consulted prior to the February budget had “little enthusiasm” for the proposed bitumen pipeline to the British Columbia coast — even those who said they support the controversial project.

And among the 12 groups consulted — from Coquitlam, B.C., to Bridgewater, N.S. — the economy itself was not a top-of-mind concern.

Rather, the groups spontaneously raised education, health care, pensions and veterans as their key issues.

They also called for more processing and refining of Canada’s oil resources at home, and to do so in a more environmentally safe manner.

The findings of the January focus groups, commissioned from NRG Research Group, suggest the Harper government’s central policy themes — trade and the economy, with an emphasis on energy exports — are resonating less with ordinary Canadians.

The report also found that lower-income households were less sanguine about the state of the economy than wealthier households, citing few well-paid jobs being generated and saying “the gap between rich and poor is growing.”

“Unbalanced or unequal are words that come up frequently to describe the economy for these individuals,” says the document. “Participants often stated that economic decisions tended to support the corporate sector more than average families.”

The focus groups, two in each community, were conducted in Coquitlam, B.C.; Calgary; Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.; Toronto; Quebec City; and Bridgewater, N.S.

Posted at: July 20, 2014 - 12:48 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Posting will be sporadic for the next week

Jim comment:

For medical reasons, I will not be posting for much of next week. In my absence, Cameron will be doing some research and posting. I will post when I can.

I hope to return to a regular schedule on the site by next Sunday, July 27.

Posted at: July 20, 2014 - 12:26 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post