students constructing culture
The Environment resistance. religion.change. commodification. more...
80% 1.5 BWR ND 7-25274-86121-7 03
Issue 7.3 Spring 2008 03
A Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publication 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, On. N2L 3C5 519 884 0710 ext. 2738 519 883 0873 (fax) email@example.com Editor In Chief Josh Smyth Managing Editor Zach Rowe Graphic Designer Alexandra Bailey Associate Editors Global Sarah Lifford Local Mark Ciesluk Trends, Culture, Counterculture Maeve Strathy Literary Igor Valentic Contributors Amarnath Amarasingam, Nikki Barker, David Borcsok, Griffin Carpenter, Terre Chartrand, John Clements, Mary Erskine, Kelly Grevers, Jen Holden, Alex Hundert, Andrew Kannegieser, Kate Klein, Dan Lynn, Yusuf Kidwai, Jacob Pries, Laura Sedgwick, Negar Shayangogani, Yasaman Shayangogani, Silvara, Maeve Strathy, Igor Valentic, Phil Wolters
The Environment Everyone reading this magazine is actively contributing to the destruction of the environment. Period. We have an unimaginably high standard of living, too often achieved by mining the future to pay for the present. Can this continue? Absolutely: that’s the problem. We’re cushioned enough by our prosperity to survive - my grandchildren are unlikely to starve. The same can’t be said for the global poor, or the millions of species teetering on the brink. We all have the moral obligation to stop this. There is no issue that even comes close to mattering as much. What we don’t have is the luxury to close our minds. The Earth cannot survive if the environmental movement limits its tool set. We’ve spent far too long constructing taboos and absolutes to deal with an infinitely complex set of problems. We have to look for solutions everywhere: from grassroots groups to corporations, from communes to capitalism. Whatever works. Most importantly, the environment-economy dichotomy must be put to rest. The move towards a sustainable world is a move towards ending poverty, injustice, and oppression - not to ending prosperity. Of course, there’s more to action than critical thinking. We all have the luxury of living in a democracy, something denied to the people whom global warming hurts the most. Not engaging with the system here is unforgivable. The current Conservative government, and the Liberals before them, have spat in the collective faces of Canadians and the world on this. They should be driven out, to the last MP. That, at least, would be a start. - Josh Smyth, Editor-in-Chief
WLUSP Administration President Keren Gottfried VP Advertising Angela Foster VP Brantford Dan Schell Chair, BOD Colin LeFevre Vice Chair, BOD Rafiq Andani Directors Ryan Clubb, Rachel Crawford, Lauren Burns, Chris Copp, Dennis Watson
The road of progress
Photo Credits: Cover: Jacob Pries Inside Cover: Dan Lynn, Nikki Barker Back Cover: Josh Smyth
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Global What is global dimming? by Amarnath Amarasingam...........................................................Page 4 A delicate balance by Laura Sedgwick.................................................................................Page 5 Shenzen, China: “the biggest place you’ve never heard of” by Mary Erskine................... ....Page 6 Local Making the connections: a social environment indictment by Terre Chartrand.... ..... .......... ..Page 8 HALT the dump by Alex Hundert.............................................................. ...........................Page 9 Breaking out of the university bubble with class and integrity by Kate Klein................... .. Page 11 Give Greens a go by Alex Hundert.............................................................. ...................... .Page 11 Trends, Culture, Counterculture Sacramental living by John Clements.................................................................................Page 12 Eco-nomics by David Borcsok.............................................................................................Page 13 Brand me by Maeve Strathy.................................................................................. ............Page 13 Progress: a story with a sad ending by Jen Holden ......................... ...................................Page 14 Literary Earth ending by Igor Valentic............................................................................................Page 15 Waste by Andrew Kannegiesser ....................... ...................................................................Page 15 Polar bears and not giving a shit: a dialogue by Phil Wolters..............................................Page 16 Untitled by Kelly Grevers...................................................................................................Page 16 Untitled 2 by Kelly Grevers.................................................................... ............................Page 16 More Organic foods by Mara Silvestri....................................................................................................... Building blocks by Dan Kellar......................................................................................................... Green trends by Courtney Lavigne.................................................................................................... Where’s the beef? by Katelyn Sheehan.............................................................................................. at www.BlueprintMagazine.ca
Global What is global dimming? Amarnath Amarasingam “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin There has recently been a lot of talk and a lot written about global warming. Increasingly, skeptics are coming to realize that global warming is not a political issue. I used to often hear the question “Do you believe in global warming?”, but I have not heard it in a while. The evidence is in and it is overwhelming. The picture that began to appear with the evidence was scary but, until recently, most scientists did not question its accuracy. Now, those questioning the accuracy of the data are scientists themselves and they paint a picture of global warming that is more scary and uncertain. This uneasiness centers on a newly discovered phenomenon known as “global dimming.” The discovery of global dimming can be traced to Gerry Stanhill who was, in the 1950s, a designer of irrigation schemes in Israel. His task was to measure how strong the sun shone over Israel in order to determine the amount of water crops would require. He collected data for a year and his findings were used to design the national irrigation system. In the 1980s, he decided to repeat his studies to ensure that the data were still valid. He was astonished to find that there was a 22 percent reduction in sunlight reaching Israel. He knew that this was an enormous amount; Israelis should be freezing their tefillins off. Another scholar, Beate Liepert, was making similar observations over the Bavarian Alps. What was happening? Liepert and Stanhill began to independently find similar data from around the world. All across the globe the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface had seen a sharp decrease over the years. Between 1950 and 1990, there was a 9 percent decrease in Antarctica, a 10 percent decrease in the United States, a 30 percent decrease in Russia and a 16 percent drop in the British Isles. Stanhill aptly labeled the phenomenon “global dimming.” In Australia, researchers Graham Farquhar and Michael Roderick were making more observations: there was a worldwide decline in the pan evaporation rate (PER). The PER is measured by calculating the amount of water that needs to be added to a pan every morning in order to bring it back to the level it was the morning before. The PER has been performed in some
parts of the world for over 100 years. In the 1990s, the PER was falling. If global warming was a reality and the global temperature was increasing, then it did not make sense that the PER was on the decline. Scientists found, however, that temperature was not the most important factor in the PER, which mostly depends on sunlight. The energy of the photons coming from sunlight are immensely important for evaporation. Therefore, the decline in the PER was explained by the respective decline in sunlight. Many researchers had independently reached the same conclusion. The decline in the PER that was being reported all across the world matched the decline in sunlight noted by Stanhill and Liepert. The planet was indeed getting darker. So what exactly was causing global dimming? An experiment conducted over the Maldives provided an answer. It is known that anything we do in order to produce energy causes pollution. Burning fossil fuels, for example, not only causes the invisible greenhouse gases that cause global warming, it also produces tiny airborne particles like soot, which results in the cloudy haze over most of the planet’s megacities. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the world’s leading climatologists, suspected that the latter products of burning fuels were to blame for global dimming. The Maldives, it seemed, were an ideal place to conduct the experiment: polluted air from India sits over the northern islands of the Maldives while the southern islands benefit from the clean air traveling north from Antarctica. By comparing the north with the south, it would be possible to discover what this pollution does for the atmosphere and the sunlight. The experiment revealed that the pollution over the Maldives, at times around three kilometres thick, caused a drop in sunlight reaching the ground by over 10%. Pollution particles were blocking sunlight and affecting the clouds. Clouds consist of droplets of water. These droplets form when water vapour in the atmosphere begins to condense on the surface of naturally occurring airborne particles, such as pollen. The experiment discovered that polluted air over the northern Maldives contained far more particles, such as soot and ash, on which water droplets could form. These water droplets were serving as a bright blanket, which blocked sunlight and reflected it into space. Scientists are discovering that global dimming is responsible (continued on page 5)
5 - GLOBAL
(continued from page 4) for droughts in several parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. Global dimming, although itself a great risk to humanity, seems to have been protecting us from an even greater one. As we reduce the dimming through cleaner burning of fuels, something more catastrophic could be awaiting us. An experiment by Dr. David Travis from the University of Wisconsin on airplane vapour trails provides a foretaste. To find out how big an effect the vapour trails were having on the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface, he would have had to ground all of the planes in the sky on any given day and perform measurements. This nationwide landing of all flights never occurred, except for a few days after 9/11. Travis burst into action and gathered temperature range records from weather stations from 48 states. The temperature range, which is the difference between the highest temperature during the day and lowest during the night, changes very slowly. Travis found that during the three days that flights were grounded across the U.S., there was a drastic drop in global dimming. During the grounding, the temperature range jumped by over one degree Celsius. It was the single largest temperature spike in the last 30 years. If just the removal of airplanes could cause this much of a temperature swing, scientists are worried that the overall effect of global dimming on world temperatures could be enormous. This is the catch-22 we now face: if we solve the problem of global dimming by, for example, burning fuels more cleanly, the world could get significantly warmer. Scientists are beginning to realize that the full effect of the greenhouse effect has been concealed from us by global dimming. The decrease in global dimming and the ensuing increase in global warming will be a stark situation for us all.
A delicate balance
may be happening. This is true unless the rocks at the bottom of the ocean become saturated with carbon dioxide and are unable to store anymore, which would result in the environmental thermostat becoming breeched. This will probably happen eventually, and when it does, our The state of our environment earth will no longer be an oasis of life, but hangs in a delicate balance. A once a dead planet with a thick, heavy atmoflourishing planet has been obviously sphere. This is the most likely possibility, replaced by a polluted, factory-filled but there are many other ideas on what wasteland. Just look around you. Look might happen to our planet should the around a modern, urbanized city. Watch greenhouse effect become extreme. But the news, listen to the reports, read the this won’t happen for at least another newspaper; environmentalists, activists fifty years. So what do we have to worry and politicians alike are screaming to be about? heard: “Our environment is in a critical With that said, is it really worth trystate.” But so what? ing to change our entire lifestyles in an I’m sure that there have been attempt to make a difference in the state numerous situations where the environment has had drastic changes and it Earth mama-Yasaman Shayangogani of our environment? It won’t be easy. “flicking off” a light certainly isn’t enough always seems to repair itself just fine. What makes anyone think that this time will be any different? to stop the greenhouse effect. It is much more complex than Isn’t it natural for the environment to go through changes? If that. First off, we would have to replace all fossil fuel burnyou look at past data this is certainly true. The temperature ing forms of energy with renewable energy sources, which of the earth fluctuates every few million years. It’s just the is quite a feat in itself. While we are at it we might as well way it is. It’s a cycle, a natural cycle. Perhaps now, in the age stop breathing. Also, we’d have to stop consuming many of of “global warming” the fluctuation in the temperature is a the things we consider necessary goods, such as clothing, for little higher or lasting a little bit longer than usual. But not to instance. I mean, of course we’d still need clothing, but not worry because the earth has its very own environmental ther- clothing that is mass-produced in a foreign country. Instead mostat. This thermostat is able to help regulate the amount we would have to wear locally grown organic fabrics sewn of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is, of course, one individually. We would need to own fewer articles of clothing, of the main causes of global warming, since carbon dioxide and thus have less fashion choices. We would also have to is one of the most prevalent compounds in greenhouse gases. keep clothing in circulation longer to prevent frivolous waste. For a point of interest, water is also one of the most prevalent Food would also have to be local and organic, which means no fresh fruit or vegetables in the winter months. Also everycompounds in greenhouse gases. Since the amount of carbon dioxide can be regulated one should probably become a vegetarian. And stop travel(excess carbon dioxide is stored in rocks in the ocean) we ing. shouldn’t need to worry about global warming, even though it I’ll stop there. Will you?
GLOBAL - 6
Shenzhen, China: “the biggest place you’ve never heard of” Mary Erskine A mere thirty years ago, what we know today as the city of Shenzhen was nothing more than a fishing village in the province of Guangdong, just north of mainland Hong Kong’s New Territories. Established as a city in 1979, it was chosen as a “Special Economic Zone” (SEZ) by the Communist government by 1980. In Shenzhen, officials hoped to showcase China’s new economic glory and attract foreign investment from Hong Kong and beyond—and if all else failed, who would notice? Even today, where the growth has been unprecedented, Shenzhen has been called “the biggest place you’ve never heard of.” Today’s population boasts over ten million, although current population statistics have trouble keeping up and there seems to be little consensus on an actual figure. The city is a haven for foreign businesspeople (and English teachers), Chinese nationals from all other regions of the country looking for opportunity, and locals who are rich enough to send their child (or children if they’re also rich enough to pay the fine for having more than one) to a private school in either Shenzhen or Hong Kong. Shenzhen is also one of the richest cities in China with the highest rate of consumption, and the highest GDP per capita in the country. The starting rate for a cab (12.50 RMB, or about $1.75) is more than one would pay in Beijing. Goods which once only flowed out of the country are now flowing both ways as locals flock to Hong Kong to purchase electronics, knockoff handbags and even imported food to fill the specialty stores frequented by expatriates. In terms of the relationship between economic growth and environmental detriment, this is a case study in miniature and at hyper speed. Public transport is efficient, but struggling to keep up while fighting Shenzhen’s portion of China’s 10 million active vehicles. Local government reported at the end of 2007 that the year had seen a record breaking 218 “hazy” (read: smoggy) days, up from 176 days three years ago. Helping to contribute to these figures are the tens of thousands of factories within the city—the tangible results of the government’s SEZ encouragement. The growing importance of the city was made even clearer when Wal-Mart relocated its global purchasing headquarters to Shenzhen from Hong Kong in 2002. To date, the blatant economic priorities of Shenzhen do seem to be paired with environmental consciousness, or at least the awareness that the rest of the world is conscious of the environment. In 1997, Shenzhen had been named a “National Green Model City,” by the Chinese government. And if China’s self-proclaimed awards don’t inspire confidence, maybe the UN’s awards will. In 2002 the city of Shenzhen became one of eight organizations or individuals to receive environmental recognition from the United Nations for their progressive environmental efforts.
These efforts include 38 environmentally related laws and strict enforcement mechanisms such as public shaming for companies who don’t strive to become more efficient both in the economic and environmental senses. For example, the municipal government of Shenzhen ruled that bank loans be discontinued for businesses which break environmental law. Moreover, in addition to rectifying the laws they broke, they must also make a public apology and an oath not do break the laws again before having their loans reinstated. With assessments done by the Shenzhen Environmental Protection Bureau twice a year, many companies are struggling to meet the tough standards while maintaining production. By the end of October 2007, 147 out of 237 businesses assessed were guilty of some sort of violation, resulting in four different loan suspensions amounting to over 16 million Canadian dollars and 14 public apologies through prominent media sources. But let’s do the math: 237 businesses out of tens of thousands? Shenzhen’s efforts for environmental improvement seem to be more about selling a green image than actually ensuring that citizens have cleaner air. In a world of sharp dualities and paradoxes, striving for both economic and environmental improvement is just yet another facet of a world that claims both communism and capitalism. A hybrid land that is being sold to the rest of the world in perhaps oversimplified terms. As the motto for the upcoming Beijing Olympics so simply states: “One World, One Dream.”
Local Making the connections: a social environment indictment Terre Chartrand I have lived through two “Green revolutions.” When I was a teen, I remember protesting acid rain, having friends in demonstrations against the clear cutting of Clayoquot Sound, and instituting recycling programs in the highschool. Global warming was not quite on anyone’s lips just yet, but a hint of depleted ozone had some people wondering. In response, the government had stopped the emission of sulfur dioxide (acid rain stopped), but Clayoquot Sound is currently being clear cut (almost 15 years later), and the garbage that was supposed to be recycled was thrown in the trash by the careless school system. This green generation of mine is now what I refer to as “The Swiffer Generation.” We see nothing wrong with single-use cutting boards, single-use coffee cups (sometimes several per day), single-use plastic containers, and brand new compact fluorescent bulbs that are packed with mercury which few cities are capable of disposing of in a responsible manner - billed, incidentally as “green.” There are several products created every year under the guise of need - including so-called “green” products. We are pitched these conveniences by smiling faces in advertisements which appear to have reached that rare golden ideal of being relaxed and in possession of free time. This green generation is also the first generation to see a complete lack of jobs and security. We entered the Dot Com all capable of earning into six digits, and then had that fall out within just a few years, and no manufacturing jobs left to fall back on. In my hometown community of 40,000 we lost 10,000 jobs. Walmart came in to save the day by offering 100 positions, almost all part-time, and all minimum wage. Many people work two or three jobs just to keep afloat. Is it any wonder why there is a greater “need” for products of convenience? Can you really blame the family in which the adults work a total of four to six jobs for wanting to be able to do something that saves them time? This green generation has seen the creation and use of overwhelming amounts of credit. Debts are now massive, and will take beyond a lifetime to pay. We can’t afford the over-inflated houses, the student loans, the petroleum products that save us time, the cars, the braces for the kids. We get loans, lines of credit, massive mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and use these to pay not only the price indicated, but often three times the value of the product in interest.
Untitled 6 Yusuf Kidwai When we die with this debt, we get to bequeath this debt to our children. Banks are still posting profits. Hmmm. Imagine if the double-income with kids family lost one job. How far away are they from the homeless person? In fact, a person on social assistance with no debt can be considered in this current climate as better off than a not-sofreshly-unemployed person who can’t pay their debts, fielding daily calls from credit agencies. Bankruptcy is worse for your credibility. Consider this: A person on social assistance receives just over $500. As students, you are likely familiar with the cost of rent in this community. A room in a basement in a nonstudent situation may run around $400. After rent is paid, if a person on social assistance wants a job, they will need a phone. A phone is a basic necessity to be considered employable; contact for an interview cannot happen without it. At this point, you may realise that food is barely affordable, never mind the cost for the connection of a phone, and the maintenance thereof. It comes down to a choice between food and rent. When the apartment is lost due to attempting to buy food one month (one month because you cannot get a lease without a credit check including employment status), homelessness is the result. Homeless people do not have mailboxes where they can receive a social assistance check. Nor do they have a permanent address to place on an application for work. See the self-perpetuating cycle? The city of Waterloo is one of the fastest growing, wealthiest, and apparently most “intellectual” cities in Canada. Waterloo has developed a reputation of sweeping its streets squeaky clean, even, allegedly, by detaining the homeless and releasing them later in downtown Kitchener. Enough interviews with taxi driver eyewitnesses, social workers, and the homeless themselves has brought me to believe this beyond the urban legends I have heard. Waterloo keeps its image clean and prosperous right down to its over-lit streets free of the social disposables. Waterloo also does not recycle compact fluorescent bulbs, thereby turning a “green” (continued on page 9)
HALT the dump. Alex Hundert It was in early December that I first got the call from a friend of mine. It was from a Toronto Lawyer; one who has devoted herself to anti-oppression legal system-based activism, and who is also the primary legal advisor for the local activist group, AW@L, that I am a member of. Within a few days of that phone call, a car full of Laurier students was on the road out of Waterloo towards Cayuga at 4:30 on a Monday morning. We were to stand in solidarity with members of a small grassroots environmental organization and with members of Six Nations. At 10:30 in the morning, standing on a road in gusting winds that had the temperature down below -20 C, we turned around the first of two dump trucks (that day) full of institutional and commercial waste bound for the Edwards dump on a small rural road in Haldimand County. Toronto is the ‘yet-to-be-confirmed’ source of the garbage In 2000, Haldimand Against Landfill Transfers (HALT) was formed in the township of Cayuga as a grassroots Tailings in the snow attempt to clean up a landfill that is, by any consideration, a tragically placed dump site. The site sits on the Grand River Watershed and less than a couple kilometres from the river itself. The site also sits on a wetland, which means that any toxins leeching into the ground will not only reach the watershed quickly, but will also be absorbed in the ecosystem
that supports the local farms and wildlife. When a group of concerned citizens of Cayuga found out that the site also sits on (or near) old mining tunnels, which means that toxins are leeching directly into the groundwater, they finally decided to act. They petitioned the Provincial Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to get the dump site cleaned up. They were refused. The problem, according to the MOE, is that while there is proof that toxins have leeched into the land and the watershed, the dispute is over whether toxins have migrated from the source water and into the aquifers of the neighbouring townspeople—whose tap water has “only” been found to contain traces of toxic materials. A resin plant, which had operated in Cayuga for over 30 years (but is now closed down), dumped the vast majority of its waste at the Edwards site. The waste from that plant contained highly toxic substances: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HALT insisted that it was in everybody’s Silvara interests for the Province to perform a survey to determine whether or not PAHs had leached into the ground—if so, it should be the Province’s responsibility to clean it up—and that given that fragile nature of the land where the site sits, no new waste should be dumped there, ever. Again, the MOE refused. (continued on page 10)
(continued from page 8) innovation into a toxic hazard by introducing mercury (a dangerous heavy metal) into the soil through the landfill. Recycling compact fluorescent is an expensive program, and so is a more comprehensive style of recycling that would include composting. But isn’t Waterloo wealthy? Perhaps a good idea would be to compare how close the landfill is to the moraine where we get our tapwater on a Waterloo map. Social security is also expensive, and downtown Kitchener, if you look on a map, is still mighty close to Waterloo. Without social change - a change in the condition - there will be no real change. You can’t just take a polluting machine, paint it green, and call it “environmental.” A machine still based on conspicuous consumption and social repression will not stop the landfills from overflowing. If anything, that garbage piles up higher due to the disposal and replacement of all the non-green items (that could have lasted many more serviceable years) in favour of new green items. You can’t really ask many to pay 14 times more for a toxic light bulb and tell them to buy expensive energy efficient appliances to be considered responsible citizens, even with a token tax break. Tokenism is an insult. Thirty percent of Canadians live well below the middle class standard: at poverty level. This group will never be able to afford these things. This group is also growing. The green revolution cannot push forward just by people throwing out something different. Consumption has to slow. People need to be able to feel secure. People need to have leisure so that tasks don’t seem so impossible. You can’t separate the social condition from the environment.
LOCAL - 10
(continued from page 9) So a group of mostly elderly residentsâ€”some of them with university-aged children, some with grandchildrenâ€” farmers, and local professionals started a multi pronged campaign to â€œHALT the dump.â€? They circulated local petitions and worked with municipal governments and local representatives. They also started a legal battle with the MOE and engaged in numerous exhausting activities to fund that trial. Four years after starting their attempts to get the dump cleaned up, HALT lost their court case. Out of ideas, they took to picketing Highway 54â€”the main highway through Cayugaâ€”where it meets with Brooks Road, the road leading to the dump. That was when members of Six Nations decided to take action, and to help the people from HALT to convince the Province and the dump operator to clean up the mess and shut down the dump. The connections between HALT and Six Nations are numerous, the primary one being a deep concern for the land; wanting to Broken highway, Honduras preserve its integrity and ensure that their grandchildren and grandchildrenâ€™s grandchildren can still share the same relationship with the land that they have. It is also the specific land in question. Cayuga, a town named after one of the Six Nations, is on the Haldimand Tractâ€”a tract of land that sits six miles on either side of the Grand River. Kitchener-Waterloo sits on that same tract of land, and that is a big part of why AW@L was there. The Haldimand tract is land that, historically speaking, is still under Six Nationâ€™s jurisdiction. And so at this intersection in Cayuga Ontario, people from various places along the river came together, declared themselves in solidarity with each other and the earth, and
said that, regardless of what the courts say, the land will not be destroyed for the short sighted gain of the few. For student-activists from AW@L, this was an obvious struggle to immerse ourselves in; for if the local â€œpeacecultureâ€? activists wonâ€™t support environmental and social justice, who will? While the struggle continues in Cayuga and elsewhere, this carries an extra meaning for AW@L and the KW community. There have been the beginnings of talk that Six Nations may begin to seek control over lands within the region which is implied by their longstanding assertion of right to title. Some people are scared of what this means, but it need not be seen as anything threatening; it is in fact a wonderful opportunity. We must first accept the historical fact that this is their land, and thus that our government has been terribly deceitful and duplicitous in denying Six Nations access to and control over their own lands. And second, we must not allow fear over the uncertainty of our own identities to cause us to view these assertions of rights in Silvara personally confrontational ways. Communities should consider embracing the opportunity to work with First Nations in creating environmental justice and sustainability. The other option would be to see this opportunity instead as a threat to our unentitled privilege. We can either act as our claim to â€œmost intelligent cityâ€? would suggest, by fostering a new age of cooperation between indigenous and settler communities, or we can choose to be the rednecks dragging this country downwards towards ignorance and racism. The same goes for our relationship with the earth; we can either work cooperatively towards common stewardship, or we can continue down the road to destruction: water toxification, air pollution, oil addiction, deforestation and all.
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11 - Local
Breaking out of the university bubble with class and integrity
Give Greens a Go
At university we’re presented with an overabundance of ideas, theories, lifestyles, and viewpoints, but what happens when you break out of the university bubble into the world of work? Will you remember everything you learned at school about social and environmental responsibility? Will the phrases “fair trade,” “environmental sustainability,” “respect for diversity” and “critical thinking” stay in your vocabulary? If you’re graduating and are concerned about staying environmentally and socially conscious when you enter the workforce, consider signing the Graduation Pledge: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.” Sounds easy enough, right? Forest Signing the pledge is a personal promise to yourself that you’ll make sure the companies or organizations you work for are ethical, and that you’ll work to make any changes at these places that will lessen their impact on social or environmental problems they might be contributing to. Signing the Pledge reminds students of the ethical implications of the knowledge and training they received at university, and will help lead to a socially and environmentally conscious citizenry and a better world. No matter what year you’re in, whether you’re a student, professor, or other faculty member, if you’re interested in the Graduation Pledge Campaign and would like to help further the movement, please send an email to wlugradpledge@ live.ca. Help make the world a better place by making an easy commitment to the values of personal responsibility and care for the earth that you learned during this fundamental life learning experience. We are the CEOs, Prime Ministers and role models of tomorrow, and if we incorporate these values into our philosophies for the working world, there’s nothing we can’t do!
They say that “green is the new black” but that’s not fair; green is the whole spectrum these days. Every store window, television commercial and political party has entered into a “green war,” feverishly trying to outgreen the competition. But is this the utopia that environmentalists dream of? Not quite. Much of this apparent support falls under the label “green washing”, or statements made to give the appearance of being environmentally concerned while masking policies which continue the status quo. This green washing is not enough to meet the serious litany of environmental dangers we face as a nation. For the mainline political parties the environment is one of many issues, at best a pillar to mine for voter support. But this is not enough. Without our natural surroundings there is no politics, there is no economy, there Dan Lynn is no life. For this reason, the first question that needs to be asked about any policy is, “Will it help us properly sustain our natural environment?” This simple question again and again fails to be asked at federal and provincial levels by the mainline parties. Before the last provincial election thirteen environmental groups created a joint initiative called Priorities for Ontario, evaluating the parties on six environmental issues. Not surprisingly, the Green Party of Ontario received the highest score. In a similar manner, at the federal level the Sierra Club, Canada’s largest national environmental organization, evaluated party platforms and again rewarded the Green Party of Canada with the highest score. So, come election time again, why not get out there and make some positive change? After all, green means go.
Trends, Culture, Counterculture Sacramental living John Clements Arguably one of the most misused and misinterpreted sacred texts in existence today is the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures. The book, and particularly the two creation stories contained within it have been central to the creation vs. evolution debate. Since Darwin published On the Origin of Species, Genesis seems to have become viewed simply as a scientific account of how things came to be, given to humanity by God thousands of years ago for the purpose of condemning those evil Liberals. The small but vocal Christian Right has had a near monopoly on the interpretation of its meaning. To make things worse the Christian Right has excluded itself from any meaningful debate on environmentalism, using theological ideas such as the imminent second coming of Jesus to dismiss any notion of environmental responsibility. But there actually is much more in Genesis than has been brought to the surface by many Christians. If one reads and studies Genesis as a meaningful story in line with other creation myths, then a whole new perspective comes from it. Central to this idea is that the earth we live in is God’s creation and it is good. In Genesis, again and again God sees what he has created and declares it to be good. The trees and plants and animals were created by God and reverence and respect should be given to them. Originally it appears as though in the Garden of Eden, man lives in harmony with his surroundings. There is no mention of death or exploitation; man lives with dependence on God, and God provides. Everything is wonderful, until the whole story with the serpent, and Adam and Eve make the choice to eat the fruit and gain knowledge independently of God. Included in this decision to eat are a series of significant misperceptions about God. Expulsion from the harmony with creation in Eden and a curse for both Adam and Eve is the result of their choice to be independent. Death enters the picture in Genesis 3:21 where God kills animals (those whom he declared to be good) for their skin to make clothes, in order to accommodate
Adam and Eve in their new sense of shame. Creation was paying the cost for humanity’s independent moral choices. It is Creation which kept us and is keeping us from feeling the full effects of the curse. Creation has paid for other things that have kept us from experiencing the full effects of the curse: medicine, fabric, housing, heat, canning and preservation of food, transportation and mechanization, and water systems. All these things are quite costly to Creation, yet they ensure our survival and quality of life. These are merciful, protective, and costly ways God helps us live outside of Eden. Yet humanity and Christians in particular have forgotten this. In our selfishness we have come to see God as a withholder and we respond by forcefully squeezing Creation for every blessing. We need to be careful to respond to a need, instead of our ability to get, and to make ourselves aware of the consequences of our consumption. This entails Sacramental Living. Everything we take and use from Creation we receive as a gift - one that we are not entitled to, but that has been given generously to us. How would it look to live as though everything from Creation were a gift? How would our diet change if we truly understood the sacrifice of an animal in order to provide us meat for food? How would our energy consumption habits change if we understood the cost to God’s creation that the burning of fossil fuels entailed? The Genesis creation story, understood in this way, offers a profound motivation for environmentalism.
13 - TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE
Eco-nomics David Borcsok During the holiday season and the weeks leading up to it, the prime time to observe the true essence and nature of consumerism is at hand. Stores filled with eager shoppers willing, and wanting, to spend hundreds or thousands of their hard earned dollars on anything and everything that is available and desired. During this time it is often easy to gain a microcosmic idea of the trends and fads that are currently presuntitled Yusuf Kidwai ent in popular society. Ugg boots and Lululemon pants, Aritizia and Ralph Lauren; stores filled with items and that are not only wanted, but needed. The envioronment was a theme that was heavily represented in this year’s fashionable items; Gap and H&M shirts made of organic cotton, shirts expressing the message of “Thinking Green.” Jeans made in carbon neutral factories. Has environmentalism become cool? Many historic green people will be quick to beat their chest and claim their long-standing allegiance to Mother Nature. I do not mean in this sense of its foundation as an issue, but rather as its acceptance and presence in the mainstream. Is this newly minted position in the everyday a good thing for the environmental cause? Well, I think that there are two possible routes that can be taken. Firstly, this awareness (from the influx of “Green” items) will bring positive feedback and a call for increased action taken by the government on Green issues. People will become informed and gain a rudimentary understanding of the issues and attempt to become responsible consumers. The second route is rather grim. This would entail the issue of the environment becoming commodified and relegated to the classification as a “fad” or something that is being used merely as a ploy to increase sales and brand awareness. This would quickly dismiss environmentalism as a façade-type tool to gain consumer loyalty and consumer trust. Consumers will reject this falseness, impurity and shallowness of the “eco-movement,” associating it with individuals trying to appear ‘cool’ (much like it is in the case of girls who tuck their sweatpants into their Uggs). This commercialization of the environment would be a poison pill to the environmental movement, butchering years of hard work and ground won. Is this drastic separation of these two “choices” overly simplistic? Yes, it is. But it illustrates the point that once something becomes part of the everyday culture, it is also subject to the fickleness and criticism of all peoples in society. Can the environment hold up to this challenge?
Brand me Maeve Strathy Protecting the environment is something we can all appreciate, I think. We live on this beautiful Earth, so let’s take care of it! The thing that I can’t handle though is
the trendiness of it all. If I hear another celebrity say that they’ve “gone green” I think I’ll punch a small child. Activism is awesome! I consider myself an activist, at least in the queer community, but tell me this – why do we feel the need to wear our activism on our sleeve? Does this make us more legitimate? Do we wear the “Recycle” button on our Value Village winter coat to spread the word about environmentalism or to show people around us how hip and trendy we are? Then I hear, “I don’t wear name brands. I’m anticonsumerism! I hate those girls who wear Uggs with their Lululemon pants tucked into them!” Well aren’t you just branding yourself in another way with your various buttons or your “Vegan” t-shirt? There seems to be far too much ego attached to everything we do and less attention paid to the actual cause. I considered writing some paragraph to escape the possibility of attack on this article, but I’ve decided against it. If you’ve got a problem just come and find me – I’m the girl with the “Uncensored” and “Freedom of the Press” buttons on her backpack… Oh, and also: I wear Uggs and I love them! They’re practical and really warm. How about them apples?
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE - 14
Progress: a story with a sad ending Jen Holden We live in a world that is advancing at rates that are hard to comprehend with the human brain, yet the notion of progress is one we have all come to accept as, well, progressive (a.k.a. a good thing). If we aren’t moving forward then where else is there to go but backwards? It is common sense to try to improve the situations in which we find ourselves, but where does this perpetual movement through space and time lead us, and is there enough space for all six billion of us to progress? In a street car named Progress, we have traveled from apes to humans, from flints to nuclear weapons, from small pox to no small pox. Our natural inclination towards progress started with evolution from one species to another, and has evolved to every aspect of our modern life. When we lived in Nurse trees caves we progressed from keeping fire to creating fire, and now as modern humans a measure of progress is having two cars instead of one. Although progress has yielded many life changing and worthwhile advancements, if humankind keeps progressing at the rate that it is now, then our earth, who has graciously provided the space necessary to allow us to progress, will no longer be able to support us. The road ahead of us seems to stretch forever and progress does not want to slow down or yield to any oncoming disasters. The promising side of progress, as Ronald Wright explains in his Short History of Progress is that by analyzing the paths that we have taken throughout history we can see the mistakes that we have made, and the dev-
astating effects that will come if we do not curb our natural inclination of dominance over nature. Take Easter Island for instance. The inhabitants of this Island used all of its natural resources to support their compulsive statue making that defined their entire culture, leaving nothing but a barren land ridden with statues. With no means left for fishing the inhabitants slowly died away, leaving nothing but the statues that they worshiped so dearly. Would there not have been someone among the island folk who would have declared the insanity of distorting all the trees that they too relied on for survival? Wright suggests that we are too short-sighted to see the long term effects of what drives our obsessive need for gratification. Time and time Jacob Pries again this statement has been justified. Humans have killed off hundreds of species of animals, and are currently making rapid “progress” in deforestation and deep ocean destruction because both of these are highly profitable. To an extent logging and fishing are necessary to sustain growing populations, but the progression of our weakening ecosystems is so rapid that in a short period of time they will no longer be able to sustain our habits and desire for progress. Progress has led us down a road and at the end of this road there is a cliff. Do we have the foresight, understanding and willingness to slam on the brakes before it’s too late or do we keep on driving hoping that history is just a myth and therefore cannot repeat itself?
LITERARY - 16
Earth ending Igor Valentic We’re the molecular seizure of regressive progression, The nuclear insanity of technological absurdity, Waste The cellular fissure of pill-popping euphoria, The stormed-out symphony of violent paranoia. Andrew Kannegiesser We’re the hierarchical deformation of narcotic vanity, The militant march of mistaken manipulation, What good is an ocean The mechanical silence of artificial stupidity, without form, without function? The downward-up, spiral-in, forward-moving step backwards. We’re a brave-new-world tied up in visions of war-perfect advancement, Tangled wires and dented sides, The lie-torn salvation of controlled redemption. broken-glass raindrops scattered, We’re the patriarchal matrimony of neglect and repression, like grains of sand evolved, something The school-washed products of wasted children, just a decade or two down the line. The paralysis of dumb-downed hot-topic diversions, Open it up, plug it in, The political meandering of mock-endowed celebrity fuck-ups. break it down, throw it out, We’re morally-not, starved fat, smile-crying, still moving, decay-living, heavenlike everything drowning unknowbound or hell-bound or nowhere-bound, we’re full empty, happy tragic, healthyingly. sick, the antithesis of justice either rightly mistaken or mistakenly wrong, the end-product shade-mistake of juxtaposed contradictions pretending to make sense This is our Sahara, where possessions underneath masks of make-up-hidden eyes or drug-covered feelings. come We’re the medical partition of god’s choice, The sacrificial remainders of dying children, countries, continents. to die; horizons full of scrap iron and Remember (the molecular seizure of regressive progression) plastic Or the cellular fissure of pill-popping euphoria like that stretch and spill into the past and We’re the paralytic narcosis of subjective misfortune, thrust themselves into the future. Praying and paying for the ever-revolving sameness of breath-movement This is our ocean. and loss. This is our desert. We’re 1968 or 1916 or 1942 or 2019 or whenever, Listening to the final plea of armageddon’s makers asking for recourse. This is our legacy. We’re the unprecedented (then) under-represented (now) un-presented, Believing in the failures of lie-promising words over and over again. We are the product of oligarchic propaganda, Wrapped up in the idea of a new-hope choice already suffering away like the wind ending. We’re starving out and rattle-boned like a second story sold in and selling out. We are the generational delirium of confounded disagreement fueled by programs and politicians filtering on repeat through the soul of our earth like the space between meaning and blood (now) brewing the disease of our ending so sickeningly slow and religiously sacrificial like the rhyme-lost rhythm of broken moments shallow-drowning in the molecular seizure of paralysis or the cellular fissure of philosophical science bending back the black-holed eternity of broken suns spreading out like sleep-song poems across an expanding universe of galaxies perpetually drifting farther from each other like an earth breathing (or an earth crying) or an earth praying (or an earth decaying) like an earth always ending. Like we are an earth ending, forever. So write goodbye but you’ll feel it alone. Write a song but you’ll sing it alone. Write anything and it’ll end in a good and bye earth ending nothing.
LITERARY - 16
Polar Bears and Not Giving a Shit: A Dialogue Phil Wolters One - Polar bears. Two - What? One- Polar bears. Two - What about them? One - They’re going extinct. They’re drowning because the ice flows are too far apart now. Two - So what? One - Global warming, man, global warming. Two - I don’t give a shit about global warming. In fact, I wish it was warmer already. Do you know how cold it is out there? One - Well okay. Fine. Ha-ha. It’s cold outside, so we want it to warm up. Very cute. But seriously. . . global warming. Two - What about it? One - It’s scary as hell. Two - Why? One - Species are going extinct. The oceans are heating at an alarming rate. It’s going to cause dramatic climate change, and Two - Hold on. One - What? Two - Why do I care about this stuff? I’ve never seen a polar bear in my life. Species in the Amazon go extinct every day, many of them never even discovered yet. If they’ve never been discovered, why would I possibly care? One - You don’t care about the diversity of nature? The ecosystem. Two - I can honestly say that I don’t believe those things will ever affect me in any way. One - But aren’t those things valuable for their own sake? Two - Are they? One - Aren’t they? Two - I’m not exactly sure. (Continued on page 17)
Untitled Kelly Grevers Somewhere where the wind Fruits of consumption Alaina Johnston stares, where the trees stand still, with their hands holding back the snow, and the water is applauding, the earths simple rotations, where the mountains range and the birds build stages, where the graves of trying something somewhere winds, through the passages of wind, and through the branches of sensation, looking back at you, with a birds eye view, where satellites blaze with glimmering thistles and thorns, sharpened by light reflection, sharpened by the peering eyes of aformentioned, affirmation, somewhere, where, somewhere, where, somewhere glass-like is blooming with shards of painted ceiling reflections burned into naked, now. Clothed corneas, the blink blink workshop nature`s doors, particles, somewhere you`ll see it (when you get there) you`ll be there, when you find it (i hope), folding light, shimmering bright, sculpting airspace with is own desire, passion, its own, where thistle birds roam(because they found some light and went there)somewhere is something, ballooning edges, leaping from drops of sunlight trickling from thorns, like blood, like blood of skinned air the thorns, breaking, building, sending light flowing, the detailed angular allusion perfectly acidic and sharp to fit the attitude of air here you find somewhere.
17 - LITERARY
Untitled 2 Kelly Grevers Edmundston, NB. Pulp mill. Spiggots. Factorial inspiration. Unpackaged waste. Pulp. `Mechanical destruction is much more environmentally friendly than chemical destruction.` Little human space; it is a world made of machines, machines and the bodies of the trees, machines to bury the bodies of the trees. Machines to fix their knots and bruises, bend them at their knees. The tumbler. Magnificent sounds. Too loud for our ears (what about theirs?), too loud, too loud. Rolling through me, casting vibrations of shadows, casting glares as they tumble, beautiful bellowing screams, they tumble, around around. Naked trees. So naked. Hear them shred, hear them exit, enter the machines. Grind me like a pulp, I feel it pulsating. Pulp, mill. Spiggots. Fatal attraction. Digesting trees. Digesting dreams. Pulse, pulse, sensations. It`s a factory of seeds. Roll on, beautiful tree, roll on. Black black holes of punctuated done and over with. I feel nothing but memories of leaves.
(continued from page 16)
Congratulations to Diane Iscaro, the winner of the Different Strokes Colouring Competition. The prize: a Hi-Guy water pipe
One - What about climate change? Do you not care about that? Two - Where do we live? One - Canada. Two - Tell me how climate change is bad for us. One - Are you crazy? Two - Tell me how climate change is bad for us. One - It creates unpredictable weather patterns. An increase in natural disasters. Disruption of natural growing seasons. Worldwide weather problems. Two - Really? One - Yes. Two - What if I donâ€™t believe you? What evidence do you have for me? (Pause) One - Polar bears!
Volume 7 Issue 3 February 2008