• Tuesday, August 05th, 2014

Source: Camila Duarte

Sustainable TranportationFrom June 2 to 6, Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment is seeing to address these developments with One City: One Week, a two-part workshop about transportation infrastructure and the changing face of sustainable transportation in Montreal.

Zachary Patterson, an assistant professor in the department, explains that the conference aims “to better integrate planning for different modes of eco-friendly transport in order to improve them and increase their use.”

To that end, the first part — “Bike Lab Montréal 2014,” co-organized by Vélo Québec — examines the realities of urban cycling. On June 2 and 3, experts from the organization, as well as Quebec’s transport ministry and Polytechnique Montréal, are leading a series of presentations, discussions and workshops on the city’s bicycle infrastructure. 

“‘Bike Lab Montréal 2014’ will really be out in the field,” Patterson says. “They’ll be going to different intersections, counting cyclists, assessing areas and looking at particular locations that it may be possible to improve.”

The second half of the conference, the “Canada-Germany Hands-On Sustainable Urban Mobility Workshop” from June 4 to 6, is an applied research event aimed at researchers, students and transportation planners.

Over the course of three days, academics from institutions as diverse as the University of Waterloo, Portland State University and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences will discuss the latest findings on sustainable urban mobility. 

Patterson expects to learn a lot from his European colleagues. 

“Germany is really far ahead in terms of its integration of transport infrastructure, including its cycling infrastructure, and the systems it has.”

Check out the complete One City: One Week program.

• Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Source: Kurt Cobb @ Resource Insights

Okay, so let’s think for a minute about the previously announced principle for sustainability: “The non-natural needs to prove its benefits, not the natural.” Think about how deeply conservative that principle is. And, here I mean conservative in what has become an almost archaic sense of the word, that is, to conserve those practices and attitudes which have proven themselves truly sustainable over the ages.

What passes for conservative today is actually a radical political and economic agenda to strip the world of its resources as quickly as possible and turn them into wealth for a small elite. There is absolutely nothing conservative about this program.

But even those who style themselves liberal are typically only a few steps behind their pseudoconservative adversaries. Many of the world’s progressives essentially believe that we should strip the world of its resources as well, only at a more measured rate while sharing the spoils more equitably. Both ways of thinking, however, have modern human society racing toward destruction. And, political liberals–who congratulate themselves for being open to the newest trends–may be even more susceptible to new technologies and methods that come with large hidden costs.

Category: Economics | Tags: ,  | One Comment
• Tuesday, December 03rd, 2013

Is this what we want to be known for Internationally? I hope not.


Chomsky - Tar Sands

• Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Source: Post Carbon Institute

As a friend of Post Carbon Institute, I want to make sure you know about “Climate After Growth: Why Environmentalists Must Embrace Post-Growth Economics & Community Resilience,” which Rob Hopkins (the founder of the Transition Movement) and I just released.

In it, we argue that as long as our elected officials continue to prioritize economic growth above all else no meaningful climate policies will be enacted. The risks of further inaction cannot be overstated.

But chasing after robust economic growth is a fool’s errand. Those days are over. In fact, we are are experiencing dramatic “new normals” in our energy, climate, and economic systems that require whole new strategies.

In the paper, Rob and I make the case that the environmental community must recognize these “new normals” and adjust its strategies accordingly. A key component, in our view, must be a focus on building community resilience.

By making community resilience a top priority, environmentalists can offer an alternative to the “growth at all costs” story, one in which taking control of our basic needs locally has multiple benefits. Community resilience-building can create new enterprises and meaningful work, and increase well-being even as GDP inevitably falters. It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, while addressing social and economic inequities. And it can strengthen the social cohesion necessary to withstand periods of crisis.

I hope that you can take the time to review “Climate After Growth” and share it with others.

• Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

fertilizing bacteriaThis technology echoes with Aquaponics which also uses bacteria in symbiotic relationships to harvest nitrogen fertilizers to make super happy plants.

Source: University of Nottingham

A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers.

Nitrogen fixation, the process by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia, is vital for plants to survive and grow. However, only a very small number of plants, most notably legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils) have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere with the help of nitrogen fixing bacteria. The vast majority of plants have to obtain nitrogen from the soil, and for most crops currently being grown across the world, this also means a reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.

N-Fix is neither genetic modification nor bio-engineering. It is a naturally occurring nitrogen fixing bacteria which takes up and uses nitrogen from the air. Applied to the cells of plants (intra-cellular) via the seed, it provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix nitrogen. Plant seeds are coated with these bacteria in order to create a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship and naturally produce nitrogen.

Category: Food Security | Tags: , ,  | One Comment
• Thursday, August 01st, 2013

Disclosure: I was one of the hundreds of editors on the book.

Hat tip: Maureen Lafreniere

New book by Richard Heinberg:

Big Energy lies exposed in SNAKE OIL: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future:

This is a critical book for a critical time. Fracking threatens watersheds, drinking supplies, public health, national security and common sense in an ever-increasing number of states and countries. SNAKE OIL empowers activists and citizens everywhere with the truths about a dirty energy fraud.

This is a self-published, community-supported endeavour, with supporters participating in the editing of the book.

From the Post Carbon Institute release:
Written by PCI Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, SNAKE OIL casts a critical eye not only on the environmental impacts of new oil and gas production but also on the industry hype that has hijacked America’s energy conversation.

“SNAKE OIL exposes the unsustainable economics behind the so-called fracking boom, giving the lie to industry claims that natural gas will bring great economic benefits and long-term energy security to the United States. In clear, hard-hitting language, Heinberg reveals that communities where fracking has taken place are actually being hurt economically. For those who want to know the truth about why natural gas is a gangplank, not a bridge, Snake Oil is a must-read.”

– Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club and author of Coming Clean
SNAKE OIL is available as both a paperback and Kindle.

Category: Peak Oil, Waste, Water | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments
• Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Sustainable restaurants MontrealThe list of sustainable restaurants includes the following establishments:

Source: The Canadian Press

The new-cuisine restaurant Lola Rosa offers half-portions to suit smaller appetites and reduce waste. The Asian dining spot ChuChai serves an entirely vegan menu. And the Beaver Club, a French eatery in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, has a vegetable garden and beehives on the hotel’s roof.

They’re among 19 “sustainable restaurants” highlighted by Tourism Montreal as part of its effort to make the city “a greener destination.”

The city’s official tourism bureau partnered with Viatao, a publisher of sustainable tourism guides, to develop the list of eateries. Criteria that were considered included waste and energy management, working conditions and the use of local producers.

Invitations to participate were sent to Tourism Montreal’s 200 member restaurants. Thirty-one agreed to be audited, and 19 made the final cut.

Charles Lapointe, CEO of Tourism Montreal, said it makes sense to showcase the city’s eco-friendly and socially responsible dining establishments.

“Sustainable gastronomy is a boon to the local economy and our environment and it satisfies a demand on the part of tourists,” Lapointe said.

Category: Food Security | Tags:  | One Comment
• Wednesday, June 05th, 2013

Score one for the good guys :)

Source: Equiterre

Quebec adopted a food sovereignty policy this May. This is good news for all Quebecers. Here are some of the highlights that got us really excited here at Equiterre:

  • government agencies encouraged to buy local (to this end, a local food procurement strategy is slated to come out by year’s end)
  • a mention of the need to reduce pesticide use
  • the intention to increase the protection of farmland in or around our cities 
  • recognition of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet reduction targets

Lots to be happy about!

Equiterre, which has helped such institutions as day cares, schools and hospitals access more local food for ten years, has also offered its full cooperation to the government as it applies this policy.

Some recommendations?

  • We’d like to see more about the need to support and develop the organic food sector.
  • We’d also like to see some clearly defined local food procurement targets.

Stay tuned for future developments.

• Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Indiginous rights

Pledge your support for the Earth and Indiginous peoples at the Skills for Solidarity web site.

Source: The Guardian

…contrary to the myth that Indigenous peoples leech off the state, resources taken from their lands have in fact been subsidizing the Canadian economy. In their haste to get at that wealth, the government has been flouting their own laws, ignoring Supreme Court decisions calling for the respect of Indigenous and treaty rights over large territories. Canada has become very rich, and Indigenous peoples very poor.

In other words, Canada owes big. Some have even begun calculating how much. According to economist Fred Lazar, First Nations in northern Ontario alone are owed $32 billion for the last century of unfulfilled treaty promises to share revenue from resources. Manuel’s argument is that this unpaid debt – a massive liability of trillions of dollars carried by the Canadian state, which it has deliberately failed to report – should be recognized as a risk to the country’s credit rating…

The stakes could not be greater. The movement confronts a Conservative Canadian government aggressively pursuing $600 billion of resource development on or near Indigenous lands. That means the unbridled exploitation of huge hydrocarbon reserves, including the three-fold expansion of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive projects, the Alberta tar sands. Living closest to these lands, Indigenous peoples are the best and last defence against this fossil fuel scramble

Implementing Indigenous rights on the ground, starting with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, could tilt the balance of stewardship over a vast geography: giving Indigenous peoples much more control, and corporations much less. Which means that finally honouring Indigenous rights is not simply about paying off Canada’s enormous legal debt to First Nations: it is also our best chance to save entire territories from endless extraction and destruction. In no small way, the actions of Indigenous peoples – and the decision of Canadians to stand alongside them – will determine the fate of the planet.This new understanding is dawning on more Canadians. Thousands are signing onto educational campaigns to become allies to First Nations. Direct action trainings for young people are in full swing.


• Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Peak Oil Accepted by Arab countriesThis is a major shift by the Arab countries – away from denial and towards acceptance of the Peak Oil (PO) narrative.

When will other Oil producing countries like Mexico and Canada follow suit? When will Montreal start to make serious infrastructure investments for a time when oil and gas are prohibitively expensive or collapse overtakes the supply chain?

Source: Fabius Maximus

The timing of the impending onset of world oil decline was not an issue at the conference, rather the main focus was what the GCC countries should do soon to ensure a prosperous, long-term future. To many of us who have long suffered the vociferous denial of PO by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and OPEC countries, this conference represented a major change. In the words of Kjell Aleklett (Professor of Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden), who summarized highlights of the conference, the meeting was “an historic event.”

While many PO aficionados have been focused on the impacts and the mitigation of “peak oil” in the importing countries, most attendees at this conference were concerned with the impact that finite oil and gas reserves will have on the long-term future of their own exporting countries. They see the depletion of their large-but-limited reserves as affording their countries a period of time in which they either develop their countries into sustainable entities able to continue into the long term future or they lapse back into the poor, nomadic circumstances that existed prior to the discovery of oil/gas. Accordingly, much of the conference focus was on how the GCC countries might use their current and near-term largesse to build sustainable economic and government futures.