Tag-Archive for ◊ Water ◊

• Sunday, March 06th, 2011

The Economics of EnoughSource: The New York Times

Climate change and the larger issue of environmental sustainability are another challenge, Ms. Coyle argues, in which the balance between our actions today and our responsibilities to the future is out of whack. One does not have to look far to find evidence of depleting fishing stocks, accelerated extinctions of species, water shortages and atmospheric changes to realize that we are using up natural resources at a rapid rate.

What will this depletion, which is fed by current consumption, mean for future generations? Ms. Coyle writes that we “do want more in order to be happier — but how much more is feasible without destroying the natural and social environment, and how much more is fair to the people who will come after us?”

Borrowing from the future this way shows our inability, or refusal, to assume responsibility for the impact of today’s choices on tomorrow’s prospects, Ms. Coyle says.

Three elements — measurement, values and institutions — are needed to bring about a better balance between the present and future, she writes.

In the area of measurement, she says we must adopt broader, longer-term measures of economic well-being than G.D.P. Such metrics would account for health, education, the environment, employment, purchasing power and other conditions. They might also measure the stocks of the world’s resources — from fish in the ocean to human capital — in addition to the annual flows of national income calculated in G.D.P.

• Friday, November 28th, 2008

Via: Carolyn Baker

Our remote ancestors succeeded for eons of time in their biological adaptation to the life of the earth, and now if the species is to survive, we must create adaptation at the next turn of the spiral. We can’t go back to wearing loincloths and eating roots and berries. The game animals are gone and the roots and berries are covered by towns. We will have to create a culture that facilitates the growth of life rather than its extirpation.

Human cultures are normally formed over long periods of time by the conditioning of the young through the generations. We do not have that luxury of time. Presently, we have tremendous amounts of information from many cultures which we can synthesize and use for ideas in creating new social institutions. We see over the past centuries a wide diversity of colonies and intentionally created communities that demonstrate creating new human culture is possible.

At the beginning of the 21st. Century the choice to live in a self-sufficient community, self-sufficient watershed, and self-sufficient bioregion, is both a survival solution and a choice to create a new reality of cultural and ecological restoration.

Given that civilization has seriously overshot its resource base and has no future, we need a new idea. Every member of the species taking biological responsibility for their existence on this planet is a new idea. If humans were becoming more responsible, we collectively could sponsor experimental self-sufficient communities in many of the earth’s bioregions. These communities would be experimental in the sense that the central question of “living in balance with nature,” would be addressed. We civilized are not skilled at this and experiments by different cultures in different ecological regions would move us forward.

These would be legitimate “growth” communities concentrating on the growth of living things rather than the growth of money and power over other people. If groups begin at the top of watersheds, commencing ecological restoration and slowly spread downward the test would be that clean water and air come from those areas.

Given the principle of the growth of life, ecological restoration would be the focus. Permaculture, which would grow more food per acre than the industrial system, while restoring the soil, would be used in areas near the habitation. The habitations would be hand-made from local materials.

Though this seems a tall order there are seed communities around the planet now doing this successfully (www.gaia.org). At the end of its time the old oak tree begins to disintegrate; as it does, an acorn sprouts. Our task is to encourage the sprout and to allow the old oak its passing.

Wm. H. Kötke is widely traveled and published. His most recent book, prior to Planet Garden, was the underground classic, The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future. He may be contacted at wmkotke@gmail.com.

• Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Sounds like a compromise was reached between industry and environmental concerns. I wonder what the Conservative response will be.

Northern Quebec is one of the last places in the world that has not been destroyed (developed) by Western civilization.

Source: Montreal Gazette

A Liberal government will protect at least 50 per cent of the north from mining, hydroelectric and forestry exploitation and create five provincial parks, Premier Jean Charest said yesterday.

Charest’s announcement comes at a time when he is campaigning to open northern Quebec – a region defined as above the 49th parallel or north of Lac St. Jean – to more development.

Environmentalists from Greenpeace and Nature Québec have been lobbying to persuade Charest to follow the example of Ontario, which in July announced it would protect 50 per cent of its north.

Ashton Mining Foxtrot property in the Otish Mountains area of northern Quebec is located near a proposed provincial park. Premier Jean Charest says mining, hydroelectric and forestry development would be prohibited in five new parks.

“One of the important realities of our times now is to make sure that economic development is sustainable development, to show respect for the coming generations,” he said.

Charest said 12 per cent of the north (7 million hectares) will be protected against any kind of development, including tourism. This land will be located both in and outside of the five new parks. Of this 12 per cent, about seven per cent is already protected.

The remaining 38 per cent will be protected against mining, hydroelectric and forestry exploitation, but tourism development will be permitted. The 50 per cent total is about the size of France.

Asked what would happen if, say, diamonds were found in one of the protected areas, Charest said they would never be able to be mined.

“This is forever.” He said the areas will officially become protected in 2015.

The five new provincial parks have already been designated as potential parks.

Mining companies will not be happy with the Liberals. Kuururjuaq Park on Ungava Bay, for example, is rich in uranium, and Montreal-based Azumit wants to open a mine in or adjacent to the park.

The company told a public hearing last year that Kuururjuaq is “an opportunity to demonstrate how the coexistence of mining and park activities can be successful.” Charest said his decision will effectively stop all mining in the parks.

Another proposed park is Assinica. It’s a boreal forest reserve that includes Quebec’s largest body of fresh water, the 176-kilometre-long Lac Mistassini in central Quebec.

A third park, Guillaume-Delisle-et-à-l’Eau-Claire, covers an area of 10,290 square kilometres near Hudson’s Bay. The creation of the Albanel-Témiscamie-Otish Park, also located in central Quebec, has been under study since 2006 and is being built in partnership with the Cree Nation. The fifth park is Baie-aux-Feuilles.

Charest also said his government would create new carbon sinks by planting 100 million trees covering 100,000 hectares, which at maturity will capture 80,000 tonnes of carbon – the equivalent of emissions from 32,000 cars.

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• Thursday, November 13th, 2008

This sounds like a U.S.-style power grab to rob the people of their rightful property. It also seems to be a direct assault on anyone who wishes to live sustainably by drawing the water from a well under their own land. However, containers of less than 20 liters for human consumption would be banned.

This needs further investigation and discussion. The press release seems to be from a pro-industry think-tank. Anyone have a perspective on this?

Source: The Fraser Institute

MONTREAL, QC—The Quebec government’s proposed legislation, Bill 92, will abolish all private property rights to water and result in a massive transfer of wealth from Quebecers to government, concludes a new report from independent research organization the Fraser Institute.

“Bill 92 ignores the power of market forces in favour of government force. If the legislation is enacted, it will rob Quebecers of their property rights and discourage investment in the province,” said Jean-François Minardi, Fraser Institute senior policy analyst and co-author of the report, The Government’s Groundwater Grab: An Attack on Property Rights in Quebec.

“Nearly half of Quebec’s population relies on groundwater from private wells for drinking water. This legislation is an attack on these property rights.”

The proposed Bill 92 declares both surface water and groundwater to be “part of the common heritage of the Quebec nation” and off limits to appropriation “except under the conditions defined by law.” This legislation, if passed, will empower government regulators to dictate who may use water, how much they may use, and how they can use it. Additionally, the government has indicated that it plans to impose water royalties following the passage of the legislation.

But Minardi and co-author, Diane Katz, Fraser Institute director of risk, environment, and energy policy, argue in the report that Quebec’s water resources are not threatened and there is no need for such extreme, interventionist legislation.

“Quebec contains 20 per cent of Canada’s freshwater land area and it’s estimated that the renewable reserves of groundwater in Quebec’s inhabited regions totals 200 trillion litres,” Katz said.

“Regulations already exist that prohibit bulk water withdrawals and diversions. This proposed legislation is simply an expansion of government power over water use. This is in contrast to legal precedence in Quebec that suggests landowners have rights to groundwater beneath their property.”

The report traces the history of water regulation in Quebec, pointing out that Quebec has had regulations covering water diversions for more than a decade. It also finds that the proposed legislation is riddled with vague and arbitrary provisions and grants virtually unlimited powers to the minister of sustainable development, environment and parks. Such overzealous regulation offers no guarantee that water will be apportioned wisely. Instead, it promises to politicize every aspect of water use and dissuade industrial investment.

Interestingly, the legislation also exempts water withdrawn to be marketed for human consumption, if packaged in Quebec in containers of 20 litres or less. Quebec’s water-bottling industry is undergoing rapid growth and currently generates sales of $75 million a year.

Minardi and Katz suggest that rather than additional regulation, the government should look to property rights and market mechanisms, which have historically been more effective at managing resources than government regulations.

They write that a water market would allow farmers, industry, municipalities, and even environmental groups to buy and sell water rights as dictated by supply and demand. The prices would reflect the true value of water with far more accuracy than any government royalty scheme and thus better encourage efficiency and conservation.

“Well-defined property rights to resources such as water are fundamental to giving people the proper incentives for sustainable management of resources,” Minardi said.

“As it is now structured, Bill 92 is an attempt by the government to establish water as a public resource and to terminate the rights of private property owners.”

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• Saturday, November 01st, 2008

At the end of this great primer on Collapse at the TED conference, Diamond flatly explains how our current course of living is non-sustainable. Diamond explains that, “about a dozen ticking time bombs with fuses not longer than 50 years exist: water, soil, climate change, invasive species, population, toxics” all of which are scheduled to go off and cause the collapse of our civilization.

How will these problems work themselves out? Watch the video for a surprisingly optimistic answer: