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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Costa Rica Gambles:

National Geographic Traveler
Magazine Subscription
The Republic of Green
Costa Rica seeks to restore its image as the most eco-savvy place you can visit. Well, is it?
By Jonathan B. Tourtellot
March, 2008




Quote:
More on the true disproportionate cost of developing foreign-owned super-sized casino resorts in unique, fragile eco-systems like Costa Rica.



Quote:
On our 2004 "Places Rated" survey, Costa Rica scored 64, a bit above average, but below expectations. The survey asks a global panel of experts on stewardship to rate destinations on six criteria (www.national geographic.com/traveler).

Panelists cited two main problems then. The first, ongoing deforestation, is now neglibile, and today tree-planting schemes abound. Some are much-need natural buffers next to national parks, a reforestation effort that is part of President Oscar Arias's pledge that Costa Rica will be carbon-neutral by 2021. The lettle local airline, Nature Air, became the world's first to offset all its emissions with reforestation.

The second problem is another matter: inappropriate mass-tourism hotel development on the coast of Guanacaste, the northwestern province. Poor but sunny, Guanacaste seized the chance to bring in beach tourism in the late '90s. The Liberia airoport was expanded to take direct flights from the States. A colossal hotel development grew at Papagayo By, outraging environmentalists. Other su-and-sand midrise resorts followed.

"The Guanacaste coast is lost to us" - a senior government official stunned me with that admission - "but we learned our lesson. Arias has ordered restrictions on new coastal development
. (emphasis added)

That doesn't stop developers from buying up land cheap and selling off lots to foreigners. Under Costa Rica's renowned democratic traditions, there's no discrimination in favor of citizens, even if they can't outbid affluent gringos. The result is the creeping Americanization of the Pacific coast ...

Costa Rica has made some mistakes and might be continuing to make a couple. ... (-- pgs. 42-44)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The New York Times Magazine
Magazine Subscription
The Green Issue
Sporting Efficiency
By Robert Weintraub
April 20/08




Quote:
You might be surprised to know that the National Football League has had an environmental director for 15 years: Jack Groh. He has been with the league since Brett Favre's second season in Green Bay, so he has credibility when he says the league's efforts are "not done as a PR stunt." Rather, the attitude is that, as Groh says, "the league would be better off in its botttom line" using green principles. Groh oversees Super Bowl projects - like a reforestation program in Arizona - but he hasn't persuaded the NFL to establish green practices for its teams. Major League Baseball, however, has just done so, a fact that irks Groh: "After 15 years, that should have been us." MLOB collarborated with the Natural Resources Defense Council to draw up a comprehensive program for its franchises. Reducing the environmental impact of its travel and reducing the use of unrecycled paper are primary elements; how they will be enforced is unclear. In the National Hockey League, the Players' Association has teamed up with the David Suzuki Foundation, which created a carbon-offset program for skaters. In the land of the Kyoto Protocol, Japanese professional baseball has enacted rules to speed up the games, shortening the time between innings, half innings and each pitch. The goal is to lop 12 minutes from each game, saving harmful emissions produced as a result of powering the stadiums. If only Groh could persuade the NFL to eliminate a TV timeout or two. (-- p. 66)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

Canadian Geographic
Magazine Subscription
A River to Ruin
Why are Americans fighting so hard to protect British Columbia's Flathead River from a strip mine?
By Jeff Hull
June, 2008


Quote:
SIGN HERE to save the Flathead, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

More Protecting the Environment - B.C. 'BILLY-style.

What the heck is a B.C. 'BILLY?




Quote:
The ecological value of the valley - its unparalleled carnivore populations and pristine water - "is too important to jeopardize with irresponsible energy development," says Max Baucus, Montana's senior senator. As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, he wields a great deal of influence on Capitol Hill. He says he's 100 per cent committed to stopping" industrial development in the Flathead. ...

"I don't know if we're going to seek tenure further down the road. Right now the referral process does not include the Flathead. Therefore our plans are to not include the Flathead," says BP (multinational energy producer, formerly British Petroleum) spokesperson Anita Perry. "It's up to the British Columbia government, not BP, to decide if the Flathead will every be developed, and today it's just not available."

BP's caginess points out why Baucus and others on both sides of the border feel that eventually, without comprehensive protection for the Flathead, an energy project will become the first in a series of destructive dominoes that would ravage the most ecologically rich, unprotected valley remaining along the Canada-U.S. border. Despite BP's withdrawal, other companies, including one eyeing a mine site within the Flathead River flood plain, appear poised to take advantage of the improved infrastructure that would accompany development of Cline's Lodgpole Mine project.

"We are hell-bent to get it done and are pushing the government to get it done," Cline's chief executive officer Ken Bates said recently in the online magazine Kootenaybiz.com. "I'm sorry they are taking so long."

Accordingly, Cline's proposal has ignited a cross-border shouting match and triggered a Canadian Environmental Assessment . Senator Baucus has implored Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ratchet the dispute to a higher level, and U.S. State Department officials confirm that they are, on some unspecified level, planning to engage their Canadian counterparts.

... Premier Gordon Campbell ... would like to recast the argument as one about global warming, piously claiming that climate change, not industrial development, is the biggest threat to the Flathead. But the premier's concern about climate change seems a bit obtuse given that open-pit mining of low-grade coal, which Cline plans to ship overseas to feed the largely unregulated industrial economies of China, India and Brazil, would ultimately generate even more greenhouse-gas emissions.

... faced with the B.C. government's two-zone mining policy - under which provincial lands either are already protected as parks or reserves or are open to mining - (Montana Governor Brian) Schweitzer, Baucus, ... American scientists and a dedicated cadre of Canadian conservationists believe that minding their own business would be tantamount to watching the ineluctible degradation of a unique ecological treasure. ...

... another mining proposal, on Sage Creek, threatened the valley in the 1970s. Canadian and American officials demanded - and won - a referral to the International Joint Commission (IJC), which adjudicates disputes about waters that cross the Canada-U.S. border. In 1988, the IJC Study Board, a collection of more than 50 scientists from both countries, unanimously concluded that no mines should be allowed in the Flathead until baseline scientific data were collected and both countries could agree on a "mutually acceptable use of resources." (View the results). The Sage Creek mine was never developed.

... As far back as 1911, John George "Kootenai" Brown, the first superintendent of Waterton Lakes National Park, argued it "seems advisable to greatly expand this park" to protect adjacent "breeding grounds" in the Flathead. In the 1950s and 1960s, various government officials lobbied for park expansion into British Columbia. In 1995, when UNESCO awarded World Heritage Site status to Waterton-Glacier, the missing piece of pie - British Columbia's Flathead valley - was noted as problematic, too much core area was left unprotected, and expansion was recommended.

In 2002, Prime Minister Jean Chretien tried but could not overcome the B.C. government's resistance to park expansion. ...

Paul Martin's Liberal government made a park feasibility study a condition for the transfer to provincial jurisdiction of other federally owned coal blocks underlying the Flathead. But in 2006, the (Conservative) government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper quietly dropped the feasibility study from the deal. Without it, park expansion proposals are dead in the water
. (-- pgs. 42-52)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the carbon cost of Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010?

From Loaded Dice:

The Costco Connection
Do politics have a place at the Olympics?
The recent call by some countries to boycott the 2008 Olympics in China again serves notice that the Olympics serve not only as an arena where the best athletes in the world compete, but also as a place where international politics can collide. ... the Olympics are a natural venue for non-violent political protest. The Games are used to promote democracy and human rights around the world, so what better place to raise awareness of human rights infringements and other injustices? ...
July/August, 2008


Quote:
Helen Jefferson Lenskyj is professor emeritia, University of Toronto, and author of Inside the Olympic Industry (2000) and Olympic Industry Resistance (2008).


Quote:
The Olympic Games by definition are political: They involve citizens, they involve tax dollars, they involve politicians and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) demands financial commitment on the part of relevant government bodies as part of the bid process. Sporting competition is only the tip of the gigantic Olympic industry iceberg. Multinational sponsors, host broadcasters, developers and the high end of the hospitality and tourism industries win most of the gold medals.

All of this is political, and the folks who decry the "politicizing" of the Olympics are the ones who have the most to lose from a boycott. So we see the IOC president leading the chorus of people who claim that the athletes would suffer the most. Human interest stories and appeals to nationalism take top place in the mass media: moving accounts of innocent young athletes who have sacrificed their youth to training and bringing honour to their countries.

When politicians and Olympic boosters try to sell the idea of bidding for the Games, this isn't labelled "bringing politics into the Olympics." Nor is it called "political" when organizing committees lobby politicians to pour more and more tax dollars into the bottomless pit of Olympic spending. Or, in the case of Sydney 2000, when the head of the Olympic Organizing Committee happens to be the Olympics minister in the state parliament.

But when protesters take to the streets to get public attention focused on the misplaced spanding priorities in the host city/state/country, or to get world-media attention on local and global injustices, often with considerable success, they're accused of politicizing and contaminating something pure and holy, as if the Olympics are a religion or a social movement or an extended family. (emphasis added)

"The eyes of the world" argument pushed by Olympic boosters and politicians is equally useful for human rights organizations, anti-poverty groups, housing advocates, environmentalists and Indigenous peoples. As an activist involved in social justice protests in Canada and Australia over the last 10 years, I fully support their tireless efforts to make the Olympic industry accountable and socially responsible. (-- p. 13)


Quote:
More on local affordable housing initiatives and protests planned in conjunction with Vancouver Olympics 2010.



Quote:
Olympic Industry Resistance
Papberback
By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexus
The Innovator
An interview with revered eco-activist David Suzuki inspires a trip across eastern Canada in an LS 600hL. It's a journey that celebrates the power of one articulate voice. The series continues ...
By Olivia Stern
Second Quarter, 2008


Quote:
More on Suzuki.


Quote:
LEXUS: I understand you interviewed about 30,000 Canadians on you "If you were Prime Minister" tour. What impressed you about these encounters?

DAVID SUZUKI: Across the country, people want to protect nature and wilderness. People want a carbon tax, they want Canada to meet the Kyoto target, and they want efficient, affordable public transit. People were pumped, they wanted to do something, and I hope our political leaders are getting the message.

Since the tour culminated on Parliament Hill, what was the government's response to the campaign?

I met with all the leaders of the opposition parties. Prime Minister Harper refused to meet me, for the third time. He's not been interested in meeting me. He's PM, so I guess he's got more important things to do. The opposition parties said, "Great! That's terrific! We agree!" We're at a remarkable moment when all three opposition parties, plus the Green Party, are all on the side of, "We've got to do something." But the government in power says, "We can't risk the economy."...

What would you do if you were PM?

... I would immediately impose a carbon tax. I would immediately look for the overall distribution of wild areas and impose a moratorium on any development until we create a national strategy to protect biodiversity. I would immediately talk about using taxation creatively. We should be taxing the things that we don't want, like pollution, and we should be pulling back on taxes on things we want to encourage, like income. We've got to use taxation creatively, and we've got to commit Canada to very concrete, serious targets for emissions: I would say we ought to aim at 50 per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030. And by 2050, we've got to be down to more than 85 per cent reduction below 1990 levels. (emphasis added) (-- pgs. 42-43)


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the carbon footprint of worldwide housing failure due in large measure to ill-considered energy-saving regulations?

From Gambling Condo Buyers:

Heat
How to Stop the Planet from Burning
Hardcover
By George Monbiot


Quote:
View our e-mails to Monbiot's contemporaries in the UK in an effort to educate them about the risk of recreating in Europe B.C.'s new failed housing economy.

More on what's so HORRIBLY wrong with R-2000.





Quote:
Like Bush, the Conservatives have also cut or suspended their funding for energy efficiency programmes and other means of preventing climate change. Environment Canada is beginning to look like the Environmental Protection Agency in the US: an official body whose staff are treated by the government as enemies of the state.

I don't blame you, the citizens of Canada, for this. Not all of you, at any ratel. I know that many Canadians are just as angry about these policies as we are in Europe. An opinion poll by Decima Research showed that 59% of those surveyed believed that Canada should not withdraw from the Kyoto protocol, while only 31% supported Harper's position. The provincial governments of Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador have vowed to stick to the terms of Kyoto, whatever the federal government might do. The will have to do it without help, however, as Harper has cut their environmental funding. In June 2006, 1400 Canadian mayors committed themselves to cutting greenhouse gases by 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. It's not nearly enough, but it still puts Harper and his flock of chickens to shame.

While in the temperate parts of Europe the graver impacts of climate change will be slow to arrive, in Canada they are already knocking on your door. The Arctic is warming much more rapidly than lower latitudes, with serious consequences for the culture and subsistence of your native peoples; for biodiversity and for infrastructure: already roads and airstrips which will cost billions of dollars to replace are bginning to sag and split as the permafrost melts. As the tundra warms up, it could release the massive store of methane and carbon dioxide it contains, greatly accelerating global warming.

All this, I realise, is hardly likely to boost your self-image. But in other respects we look up to you. Your R-2000 building standards are a model the rest of the world would be wise to adopt. ... (footnotes omitted) (emphasis added)(-- pgs. xi-xii)


Here we go AGAIN!

Quote:
More on The Leaky Condo Boondoggle by Ken Dextras, who attributes the debacle at least in part to the crazy energy-savings provisions the feds enshrined in the National Building Code in the late '70s. Here's a sample of their devastating effect. And let's not forget the massive housing failures New Zealanders refer to as the Weathertightness Crisis - and that's just for starters!


Here's the e-mail we just sent to Monbiot.com:

Quote:
Monbiot,

Are you ignorant or just wilfully blind to the devastation wreaked by Canada's so-called energy-saving provisions? What's the carbon footprint, I wonder, of our new 'failed housing economy,' as some have called it? When buildings can't breathe, they rot but slowly - too slowly, it seems, for the experts to bother tracking it- creating a slimey wake of toxic mold, leading to a pandemic of respiratory illness!

Read, man - or at least look at the pictures http://pokerpulse.com/news/viewtopic.php?p=3922#3922!

If you don't temper your enthusiasm for what LOOKS like a solution to global warming, you will encourage failed housing economies just like ours in Europe. It's already happening in Southeast Asia.

Legal@pokerpulse.com


We'll post any replies here. Please check back soon for updates.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

Audubon
Magazine Subscription
Raising the Roof
Today city skylines are getting greener. Wildflowers and grasses are carpeting rooftops, soaking up storm water, cooling buildings, and providing habitat in the clouds
By Susan J. Tweit (Twit?!)
March-April, 2008


Quote:
Here's what the green roof salespeople don't want you to know about this potentially (locally!) DISASTROUS technology from Europe, where architects and builders actually know what they're doing.

Yes, and here's what happened to Vancouver's leaky, tomb-like Law Courts bunker when B.C. 'Billies bungled the roof in their typical style.

More about R-2000 - ANOTHER bad idea the Canadian gov't wants to foist on unwary consumers in this latest bid to cash in on B.C.'s failed housing economy. What's the carbon footprint of a housing failure pandemic?





Quote:
... one example of the hottest trend in green building: eco-roofs, also called green or living roofs. Blanketed with an insulating layer of soil medium and plants, these roofs are springing up in cities to fight climate change, save energy, prevent flooding, and provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other airborne wildlife.

In Europe, meadow-style cottage roofs go back centuries, but planners and ecologists began touting industrial-size versions for city buildings in the 1980s to temper the so-called “heat island” effect and to reduce runoff. Paving and conventional tar and gravel roofs in urban areas absorb tremendous amounts of solar energy and re-radiate it, thus heating surrounding air and causing cities to be as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than surrounding countryside.

Hotter cities cause higher demand for air-conditioning, more air pollution, increased greenhouse-gas emissions, and more heat-related illnesses and deaths. Planted roofs radically reduce heat absorption, helping to keep the heat island effect in check. They also create shade and add insulation, so that buildings are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Researchers at Environment Canada, a government agency, estimate that vegetated roofs can reduce summer electricity consumption linked to cooling by up to 25 percent for one-story structures, and by about 6 percent for buildings three to eight stories high. Additionally, green roofs clean the air by removing particulates and ozone-producing compounds, and they add oxygen and sequester carbon as the living plants respire and make food.

... the earliest green roofs used a continuous layer of engineered soil medium, which made them heavy. Further improvements to those soil replacements, some of which resemble potting soils, have since trimmed the weight. These new soils have also helped avoid compaction, and can be planted at depths as shallow as one inch. Some newer types use mats of plants and soil laid like sod, while modular systems employ movable trays containing soil medium and plants. No matter what kind they are, green roofs add weight to buildings, so it’s important to consult an expert such as an architect or roofing contractor experienced in these roofs before incorporating one on your home. (emphasis added)

Once they are installed, most green roofs need to be irrigated at least until the plants are established. Some feature native species, others are planted with horticultural varieties, and some mix the two. All require plants that can withstand the extreme environments of rooftops, where temperatures may fluctuate 50 degrees between day and night and where high-velocity winds whip through urban canyons. For these reasons, varieties of sedums are often a popular choice. ... (-- pgs. 40-45)


Our e-mail to Audubon:

Quote:
From: editor
To: editor@audubon.org
Cc: editor
Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 2:02 PM
Subject: Green Roofs- Rooftop Gardens - not for the hillbilly housing construction industry outside Europe!


Hello Audubon Ed,

As a consumer advocacy website fighting against the worldwide proliferation of substandard, leaky, wood-frame, barrier-FULL, unaffordable, inaccessible multi-unit housing - thanks in large measure to Canada, land of construction failure spin-doctoring extraordinaire! - we were appalled at the gloss-job you did on green roofs and rooftop gardens in March-April, 2008. We decided to give you a link as a way of filling in what's missing in your infomercial - essentially, the cold, hard reality that few buildings are good candidates for these complex, maintenance-INTENSE features, and that even fewer architects and builders are IN ANY WAY competent to construct them. Please see http://bccondos.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1370#1370.

You MUST stop glossing over the WILDLY INCREASED risk of building failure created by rooftop gardens / green roofs especially in the very well-documented wake of massive housing failures, which are well known not only in Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia but throughout urban centres in North America and indeed worldwide. Cut through the real estate industry's misplaced, misguided sales pitch and get out your calculators - what's the carbon footprint of a housing failure pandemic?! Environment Canada sure won't tell you. Nor will any other branches of the Canadian gov't in its dubious effort to export what many Canucks now call the new failed housing economy, which requires a reliable stock of failed housing to repair (reconstruct, really) every few years. Unbelievably, Canada has even managed to give technology as patently dangerous as R-2000 marketplace street cred! Don't let them succeed! See http://bccondos.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?t=320.

Editor
http:www.bccondos.ca
Tracking leaky substandard, barrier-full, unaffordable, multi-unit housing failures worldwide.
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada


Audubon replies:

Quote:
From: "EDITOR" <EDITOR>
To: editor@bccondos.ca
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:36 PM
Subject: RE: Green roofs / rooftop gardens - but not in Canada or at least B.C. - 'BILLIES aren't competent!


Greetings,

Thank you for your email. We appreciate your input regarding our coverage of rooftop gardens and green roofing.

Respectfully,

Audubon Magazine


Not exactly hard-hitting but maybe reporter and magazine will take a more critical approach next time - especially if these luxury features create the rooftop catastrophe we predict in view of such widespread building failure.

Link to this entry
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, no! Still another climate change 'expert,' extolling the virtues of insulation with NO thought to the weathertightness pandemic!

From Loaded Dice:

The Last Generation
How Nature Will Take Her Revenge for Climate Change
Hardcover
By Fred Pearce


Quote:
More on the perils of insulation and a number of MUCH better, eco-friendlier and FAR cheaper alternatives to Canada's super-hyped substandard R-2000 homes.





Quote:
(Robert) Socolow (an engineer at Princeton University) proposed more than a dozen possible wedges, but said seven would be necessary to prevent rising emissions over the coming fifty years and stabilize them at current levels. But we need to do more than that. We don't just need to stabilize emissions: we need to stabilize actual concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that requires reducing emissions from the current 7.5 billion tonnes a year to around 2 billion tonnes. So I have adapted Socolow's blueprint to allow for that tougher target. We might choose the following twelve wedges, each of which is able to cut emissions by 25 billion tonnes over the coming half-century, reducing global emissions by 2060 from the projected 14 billion tonnes a year to 2 billion tonnes:

- universally adopt efficient lighting and electrical appliances in homes and offices;
- double the energy efficiency of two billion cars;
- build compact urban areas served by efficient public transport, halving future car use;
- effect a fifty-fold worldwide expansion of wind power, equivalent to two million 1-megawatt turbines;

- effect a fifty-fold worldwide expansion in biofuels for vehicles;

- **** CAUTION! embark on a global programme of insulating buildings;

- cover an area of land the size of New Jersey (Socolow's home state) with solar panels;

- quadruple current electricity production from natural gas by converting coal-fired power stations;
- capture and store carbon dioxide from 1,600 gigawatts of natural gas power plants;
- halt global deforestation and plant an area of land the size of India with new forests;
- double nuclear power capacity;
- increase tenfold the global use of low-tillage farming methods to increase soil storage of carbon. (From Appendix, pgs. 306-307)


Our e-mail to Fred and New Scientist:

Quote:
From: editor@bccondos.ca
To: http://www.newscientist.com/contactperson.ns?recipient=envfdbk
Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: Fred's call to insulate no matter what the consequences


Re: Fred Pearce and the call in his book, The Last Generation, to insulate homes with NO THOUGHT to the weathertightness pandemic sweeping the planet due, at least in part, to misguided energy-saving building standards of the 1970s

What is behind this peculiarly European affection for North America's construction fraudsters, whose spectacular record building failures are at last beginning to cover the globe? What's the carbon footprint, I wonder, of a failed housing economy that may employ legions of marginally-skilled laborers, creating the illusion of a 'hot, booming' economy when, in fact, it's a thin cover for planned obsolescence and ultimately a crying waste of resources?!

I know you can write, Fred, but can you read? Prove it! See annotated links at the poor, beleaguered website, www.bccondos.ca http://bccondos.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1387#1387 and, for goodness sake, spread the word!

At least have a look at a few of the photos documenting a small number of well-insulated, carcinogenic disasters! How much are housing failures contributing to the asthma pandemic among school children? A truly New Scientist would start writing about the implications of Health Canada's study linking indoor building quality with respiratory illness and probably cancer http://bccondos.ca/forums/viewtopic.php?t=54


We'll post any replies here. Please check back soon for updates!

Link to this entry
http://pokerpulse.com/news/viewtopic.php?p=3981#3981


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Losing Streak:

Canadian Geographic
Magazine Subscription
The lost Eden of Okanagan
Vineyards are replacing orchards, recreation is replacing ranching and retirees are replacing rattlesnakes in the arid ponderosa hills of the Okanagan Valley
July/August, 2008


Quote:
More on the coming water crisis.

More typical B.C. 'BILLY failures to protect the environment.

What the heck is a 'BILLY?


Quote:
Yes, and view a sample of a few of Kelowna's luxury condos replacing those snakes - B.C. 'BILLY-style.





Quote:
... The houses and condos will be bought up eagerly by a wealthy generation of human migrants from Alberta or Australia. They come to play in Canada's most perfect valley, towing wakboard boats, snowmobiles, quads. "Man must recreate," says Sarell resignedly.

Their televisions and air conditioners will require a bigger power line through this piece of snake habitat. Their blossoming yards, ensuite bathrooms and golf courses will demand more water from this semi-arid country. More fine restaurants, more landfille, more marina slips and muffler shops. (Biologist Mike) Sarell returns his catch to its rocky lair. He does not think the night snake's presence here is a 'showstopper,' consultancy parlance for a particular flora or fauna that can halt development. If an exceedingly rare desert night snake cannot do it, I ask Sarell, what would? He thinks about it for a moment before responding.

"Recession," he says
. (emphasis added)...

"Water is going to be a problem," says (historical geographer Wayne) Wilson, as does anyone you meet in the valley. Nestled in a rain shadow of the Coast Mountains, the Okanagan dodges British Columbia's famous onslaught of maritime precipitation. The valley is replenished by rain or snow from higher in the watershed, the Okanagan Highlands of the Interior Plateau. However, much of the runoff is lost to evaporation in Canada's driest locale, where the Great Basin Desert biome extends it warm reach. What little surface water does arrive is 100 per cent managed. About 70 per cent is used for agriculture, which contributes almost one-quarter of the province's total agricultural output. Homeowners compete with wild plants and animals for the rest.

Newcomers mostly fail to understand how a valley blessed with so many lakes - including Okanagan Lake, more than 100 kilometres long and deep enough, at 230 metres, to hide a mythical monster called Ogopogo - could ever be short of water. However, the lake has an extremely low flushing rate of more than 52 years; only the top one metre or so is replenished annually. The whole valley is dry - much of it is semi-arid, and significant portions are true desert - which is not obvious in what seems like a watery place. Virtually all its smaller upland waters are dammed or diverted, which has contributed ot the decimation of Okanagan Lake's once plentiful Kokanee salmon. A 1994 study suggested that existing water in the valley could support a maximum population of 425,000 people, provided agriculture was scaled back significantly. (emphasis added)

... Once the section linking 'the Coke' to Kelowna was completed in 1991, the $1 billion toll highway across the Cascades effectively brought the Okanagan into Vancouver's backyard, reducing the trip to less than four hours. Transport upgrades continute today. The low-volume floating bridge across Okanagan Lake has been replaced with a soaring new one named for the Kelowna-born Bennett. Meanwhile, a runway upgrade at Kelowna's airport will soon accommodate the largest Airbus jumbos direct from Europe and Asia. (-- pgs. 44, 52-53)


Yee-haw. ...

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Outer Space Bets:

Canadian Geographic
Magazine Subscription
Reviews
Risky Business
By Russell Wangersky
July/August, 2008




Quote:
Perhaps a four-hour airplane trip was not the best place to read a good chunk of Marq de Villiers' new work, Dangerous World. After all, with the book's sobering premise of "here today, (possibly) gone tomorrow," I was left with the curious thought that we could land in a very different world than the one from which we had taken off. ...

In places, the book is written in an offhand, humorous tone: "Well, if a Canary (Island) volcano doesn't get you, perhaps a methane blow will." But hypochondriacs beware: you will think you are developing every idsease de Villiers describes, including fear. Halfway through the book, I began thinking morbidly about what would get me in my Newfoundland home and decided it was a toss-up between tsunami, errant space boulder and airplane-transported pandemic.

But de Villiers aptly points out that it is all just chance. "We occupy a perilously thin habitable layer on a vulnerable and unstable small planet in a hostile cosmic neighborhood, prone to shaking, explosions, and poisonous exhalations. Unfortunately, as a species, we tend to aggravate these stresses." (emphasis added) (-- p. 83)


Dangerous World
Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes, and
the Future of Human Survival

Hardcover
By Bluenoser Marq de Villiers




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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the Will to Win:

The New York Times Magazine
Magazine Subscription
A Tall, Cool Drink of ... Sewage?
In the world's driest places, the future of drinking water may flow from a wastewater-recycling plant
By Elizabeth Royte
Aug. 10/08


Quote:
More on the coming water crisis.

... Even in Canada!





Quote:
... When you flush in Santa Ana, the waste makes its way to the sewage-treatment plant nearby in Fountain Valley, then sluices not to the ocean but to a plant that superfilters the liquid until it is cleaner than rainwater. The “new” water is then pumped 13 miles north and discharged into a small lake, where it percolates into the earth. Local utilities pump water from this aquifer and deliver it to the sinks and showers of 2.3 million customers. It is now drinking water. If you like the idea, you call it indirect potable reuse. If the idea revolts you, you call it toilet to tap.

Opened in January, the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System is the largest of its type in the world. It cost $480 million to build, will cost $29 million a year to run and took more than a decade to get off the ground. The stumbling block was psychological, not architectural. An aversion to feces is nearly universal, and as critics of the process are keen to point out, getting sewage out of drinking water was one of the most important public health advances of the last 150 years.

Still, Orange County forged ahead. It didn’t appear to have a choice. Saltwater from the Pacific Ocean was entering the county’s water supply, drawn in by overpumping from the groundwater basin, says Ron Wildermuth, who at the time we talked was the water district’s spokesman. Moreover, population growth meant more wastewater, which meant building a second sewage pipe, five miles into the Pacific — a $200 million proposition. Recycling the effluent solved the disposal problem and the saltwater problem in one fell swoop. A portion of the plant’s filtered output is now injected into the ground near the coast, to act as a pressurized barrier against saltwater from the ocean. Factor in Southern California’s near chronic drought, the county’s projected growth (another 300,000 to 500,000 thirsty people by 2020) and the rising cost of importing water from the Colorado River and from Northern California (the county pays $530 per acre-foot of imported water, versus $520 per acre-foot of reclaimed water), and rebranding sewage as a valuable resource became a no-brainer.

With the demand for water growing, some aquifers dropping faster than they’re replenished, snowpacks thinning and climate change predicted to make dry places even drier, water managers around the country, and the world, are contemplating similar schemes. Los Angeles and San Diego, which both rejected potable reuse, have raised the idea once again, as have, for the first time, DeKalb County, Ga., and Miami-Dade County, Fla.

While Orange County planned and secured permits, public-relations experts went into overdrive, distributing slick educational brochures and videos and giving pizza parties. “If there was a group, we talked to them,” says Wildermuth, who recently left Orange County to help sell Los Angelenos on drinking purified waste. “Historical societies, chambers of commerce, flower committees.” The central message was health and safety, but the persuaders didn’t skimp on buzz phrases like “local control” and “independence from imported water.” Last winter, the valve between the sewage plant and the drinking-water plant whooshed open, and a new era in California’s water history began. (-- pgs. 30-32)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Garden Gambles:

The Great Warming
Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
Hardcover
By Brian Fagan




Quote:
Southern England, Fall, A.D. 1200. The chilly mist hangs low over the treetops. A pervasive drizzle drifts across the plowed strips, misting the weathered faces of the two men sowing wheat from canvas seed bags slung around their necks. Snub-nosed and tousle-haired, they are barefoot, clothed in dirty, belted tunics and straw hats, swinging effortlessly to and fro, casting seed across the shallow furrows. Behind them, an ox-drawn harrow, a square wooden frame with wooden spikes pointing into the earth, covers the newly planted seed. As one strip is sown, the men move on to the next, for time is short. They must plant before heavy autumn rains can wash the seed from the earth.

The routine of planting, learned in childhood, is as unchanging as the passage of the seasons. Older men remember cold, dreary days when even a sheepskin cloak could not keep out the pervasive chill. They also recall years when the sun blazed down from a cloudless sky, the heat shimmering above the fields. These were times when the village gambled that it would rain and planted anyhow. Sometimes, the bet paid off. All too often, it did not. When it didn't, there would be hunger the following year. (Opening paragraphs of Chapter 1, A Time of Warming, pgs. 1-2)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Famous Four-Flushers:

New York Times Magazine
Magazine Subscription
The Civil Heretic
How did Freeman Dyson, the world-renowned scientist and public intellectual, wind up opposing those who care most about global warming?
By Nicholas Dawidoff
March 26/09


Quote:
More of the climate 'science' Dyson declaims.





Quote:
IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change. Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with Salon.com that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism. Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.” ...

“The climate-studies people who work with models always tend to overestimate their models,” Dyson was saying. “They come to believe models are real and forget they are only models.” Dyson speaks in calm, clear tones that carry simultaneous evidence of his English childhood, the move to the United States after completing his university studies at Cambridge and more than 50 years of marriage to the German-born Imme, but his opinions can be barbed, especially when a conversation turns to climate change. Climate models, he says, take into account atmospheric motion and water levels but have no feeling for the chemistry and biology of sky, soil and trees. “The biologists have essentially been pushed aside,” he continues. “Al Gore’s just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers.”

Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still “a relatively cool period in the earth’s history.” The warming, he says, is not global but local, “making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter.” Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious — a sign that “the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse,” because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. “Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now,” he contends, “and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.” Dyson calls ocean acidification, which many scientists say is destroying the saltwater food chain, a genuine but probably exaggerated problem. Sea levels, he says, are rising steadily, but why this is and what dangers it might portend “cannot be predicted until we know much more about its causes.” ...

... Dyson has said that it all boils down to “a deeper disagreement about values” between those who think “nature knows best” and that “any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil,” and “humanists,” like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment. ...

Dyson has always been strongly opposed to the idea that there is any such thing as an optimal ecosystem — “life is always changing” — and he abhors the notion that men and women are something apart from nature, that “we must apologize for being human.” Humans, he says, have a duty to restructure nature for their survival.

All this may explain why the same man could write “we live on a shrinking and vulnerable planet which our lack of foresight is rapidly turning into a slum” and yet gently chide the sort of Americans who march against coal in Washington. Dyson has great affection for coal and for one big reason: It is so inexpensive that most of the world can afford it. “There’s a lot of truth to the statement Greens are people who never had to worry about their grocery bills,” he says. (“Many of these people are my friends,” he will also tell you.) To Dyson, “the move of the populations of China and India from poverty to middle-class prosperity should be the great historic achievement of the century. Without coal it cannot happen.” That said, Dyson sees coal as the interim kindling of progress. In “roughly 50 years,” he predicts, solar energy will become cheap and abundant, and “there are many good reasons for preferring it to coal.” (-- pgs. 35-37)


Dyson's own work on climate change:

Quote:
One idea pulsing through his mind was a thought experiment that he published in the journal Science in 1959 that described massive energy-collecting shells that could encircle a star and capture solar energy. This was Dyson’s initial response to his insight that earthbound reserves of fossil fuels were limited. The structures are known as Dyson Spheres to science-fiction authors like Larry Niven and by the writers of an episode of “Star Trek” — the only engineers so far to succeed in building one.

This was an early indication of Dyson’s growing interest in what one day would be called climate studies. In 1976, Dyson began making regular trips to the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the director, Alvin Weinberg, was in the business of investigating alternative sources of power. Charles David Keeling’s pioneering measurements at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, showed rapidly increasing carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere; and in Tennessee, Dyson joined a group of meteorologists and biologists trying to understand the effects of carbon on the Earth and air. He was now becoming a climate expert. Eventually Dyson published a paper titled Can We Control the Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere? His answer was yes, and he added that any emergency could be temporarily thwarted with a “carbon bank” of “fast-growing trees.” He calculated how many trees it would take to remove all carbon from the atmosphere. The number, he says, was a trillion, which was “in principle quite feasible.” Dyson says the paper is “what I’d like people to judge me by. I still think everything it says is true.”

Eventually he would embrace another idea: the notorious carbon-eating trees, which would be genetically engineered to absorb more carbon than normal trees. Of them, he admits: “I suppose it sounds like science fiction. Genetic engineering is politically unpopular in the moment.” (-- p. 57)


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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Preposterous' Vegas and an Atlantic City 'abbatoir' - still more reasons, if more were required, to re-open the U.S. Internet gambling market.

From Yanks:

Stephen Fry in America
Hardcover
By Stephen Fry


Quote:
More on the huge! eco-cost of travelling to a casino and why gambling online is greener and better for the planet.

More Fry, including an excellent excuse for ignoring that essay assignment in English lit altogether.





Quote:
New Jersey is, let's be honest, the Essex of America. Jersey girls and Jersey boys will forever be mocked in jokes and songs for their dumbness, illiteracy, vulgarity and sexual availability. The industrial ugliness of much of the state where it borders the Hudson and looks across the river to Manhattan is hard to deny: ...

Best known in the 19th and 20th centuries for its boardwalk, all seven miles of it, Atlantic City on the south Jersey shore was one of the nmost prosperous and successful resort towns in America. After the Second World War it freefell into what seemed irreversible decline, until, as a last-ditch effort in 1976, the citizens voted to allow gambling. Two years later the first casino in the eastern United States opened and ever since Atlantic City has been second only to Las Vegas as a plughole into which high and low rollers from all over the world are irresistibly drained.

And so I find myself driving into hell.

... I must brave the interior of the most tawdry and literally trumpery tower of them all ... The Trump Taj Mahal. ... I can pardon Trump all his vanities and shady junk-bonded dealings and financial brinkmanship, I would even forgive him his hair, were it not that everything he does is done with such poisonously atrocious taste, such false glamour, such shallow grandeur, such cynical vulgarity. At least Las Vegas developments, preposterous as they are have a kind of joy and wit to them. ... Oh well, it is no good putting off the moment, Stephen. In you go. ...

Above my head glitter the chandeliers that for some reason Trump is so proud of. '$14 million worth of German crystal chandeliers, including 245,000 piece chandeliers in the casino alone, each valued at a cost of $250,000 and taking over 20 hours to hang,' trumpets the publicity.

'An entire two-year output of Northern Italy's Carrera marble quarries - the marble of choice for all of Michelangelo's art - adorn the hotel's lobby, guest rooms, casino, hallways and public areas.' Yes, it may well have been the marble of choice for Michelangelo's art. English was the language of choice for Shakespeare's, but that doesn't lift this sentence, for example, out of the ordinary. And believe me the only similarity between Michelangelo and the Trump Taj Mahal that I can spot is that they've both got an M in their names.

'$4 million in uniforms and costumes outfit over 6,000 employees.' Including one butter-coloured shirt as worn by me.

'Four and half times more steel than the Eiffel Tower.'

'If laid end to end, the building support pilings would stretch the 62 miles from Atlantic City to Philadelphia.'

'The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort can generate enough air conditioning to cool 4,000 homes.'

You see, all this mad boasting says to me is 'Our Casino Makes a Shed Load Of Money'. They can afford to lavish a quarter of a million bucks on each chandelier, can they? And where does this money come from, we wonder? From profits from their 'city within a city' Starbucks concession? From sales of patent leather belts and onyx desk sets? No, from the remorseless mathematical fact that gambling is profitable. The house wins. The punter loses. It is a certainty.

This abbatoir may be made of marble, but it is a place for stunning, plucking, skinning and gutting sad chickens.

... Well, perhaps I am a bit of a grumpy guts today. I am treated very well and I do enjoy the dealing part of the game. They players facing me are grown-ups. They know what they are doing. Who am I to pee on their parade?

Still, it is with real pleasure that I leave Atlantic City behind me, certain that I shall never return. (From New England and the East Coast, pgs. 61-65)


View the series:

Stephen Fry in America
DVD




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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Garden Gambles:

Plan B 3.0
Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Paperback
By Lester R. Brown


Quote:
More on water reclamation ... from - ugh! - sewage.

More on the rapidly depleting water levels in B.C.'s Lake Okanagan.





Quote:
Saudi Arabia, a country of 25 million people, is as water-poor as it is oil-rich. Relying heavily on subsidies, it developed an extensive irrigated agriculture based largely on its deep fossil aquifer. After several years of supporting wheat prices at five times the world market level, the government was forced to face fiscal reality and cut the subsidies. Its wheat harvest dropped from a high of 4.1 million tons in 1992 to 2.7 million tons in 2007, a drop of 34 percent.

Craig Smith writes in the New York Times, "From the air, the circular wheat fields of this arid land's breadbasket look like forest green poker chips strewn across the brown desert. But they are outnumbered by the ghostly silhouettes of fields left to fade back into the sand, places where the kingdom's gamble of agriculture has sucked precious aquifers dry." Some Saudi farmers are now pumping water from wells that are 4,000 feet deep, nearly four fifths of a mile or 1.2 kilometres. (footnotes omitted) (From Emerging Water Shortages, p. 73)


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