Volume 11 Climate Crisis Edition 2019
PETERBOROUGH CITY, COUNTY AND FIRST NATIONS
GREENZINE Building Our Local Living Economy
We Care About The Climate Crisis!
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THE WELCOME MAT Welcome repeat readers or those of you picking up the Greenzine for the first time. This is our annual climate change issue, and as you'll read in the Editorial on the next page, there's even more urgency to act! Transition Town Peterborough (which puts out the Greenzine on a quarterly basis) takes this crisis seriously. The Cover Stories feature some of our local kids who care about the Climate Crisis. Corinne Mintz, an old hand at gardening, and Jen Darling, a newling, as they tell of their success with permaculture – perhaps the basic principle of Transition Town. Fresh veg, time outdoors, and a reduced carbon footprint… it doesn't get better than that. Bill Eekhof reminds us of Vitamin N and the inspiration found in nature. Cheryl Lyon explains how one man's ecological compassion was completely congruent with an economic benefit. Patricia Remy and Ken Abraham give us insight into scientists research on wildlife, and how, even more than humans, apex predators are struggling to cope with climate change.
An article borrowed from a BBC newsletter reports on skeletal changes associated with our handheld devices. And: who knew that eating farmed foods formed our powers of speech? By the way: is beef all bad? Find the table comparing it to beans and decide for yourself. Sometimes we might think we've been caught in a time bubble: the debate around nuclear energy is alive again. Jane Scott expresses her concerns about the licensing of BWXT on the former Peterborough GE site. The plan is to compress uranium dust into pellets for use in reactors. To be fair, the Greenzine gives the other side a voice, too, and a critique of a recent The Globe and Mail article will be regarded as just. The indefatigable Dave Sumner reiterates his call for volunteers. Allan Smith-Reeve examines his conscience in his challenges with consumerism and gives us courage to do the same. Our ads provide information on products and services in tune with Transition.
Business Manager Fred Irwin Art Direction/Production Michael Bell Editorial Collective Andrea Connell, Peter Currier, Bill Eekhof, Cheryl Lyon, Patricia Remy This Issue’s Contributors Ken Abraham, Peter Currier, Jennifer Darling, Bill Eekhof, Cheryl Lyon, Corinne Mintz, Patricia Remy, Jane Scott, Allan Smith-Reeve, Dave Sumner Advertising Manager Fred Irwin
Transition Town Peterborough, 171A Rink St., Suite 166, Peterborough, ON K9J 2J6 General Information www.thegreenzineonline.com Email Art to: firstname.lastname@example.org DISCLAIMER Transition Town Peterborough claims copyright in all original advertising and editorial materials created by its employees or subcontractors and reproduced in this publication. The advertiser agrees that the publisher shall not be liable for damages arising out of errors or omission in ads beyond the amount paid for the space occupied by the portion of the ad in which the error occurred. The views expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Greenzine or Transition Town Peterborough. c 2019
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Transition Town Peterborough is an incorporated not-for-proﬁt organization founded in 2007 as Canada's ﬁrst oﬃcial Transition Town. We are an all-volunteer, citizen-led, social enterprise dedicated to building community resilience in the face of growing economic inequality and climate/energy insecurity. To that end, we focus on the economic localization of our community's life essentials: food, water, energy, culture and wellness.
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A CHANGE OF EMPHASIS PATRICIA REMY Since the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in October 2018, climate change has received constant media coverage and greater public awareness. This is a major achievement, as awareness of the climate crisis means less need to convince people that it is happening due to human activities and overuse of our planet's resources. Instead, we can get on with absorbing and developing resilience. The key is living with – and not succumbing to -climate change! This requires action, but also motivation. In recent months, there's been discussion here about how to more eﬀectively cover climate change. Reports of doom and gloom are justiﬁed by facts, but do not sell well. They often generate “climate change depression,” listlessness and despair. All too happy visions, like green technology alone being our saviour, are just another form of denial. Rainbows and unicorns don't matter much to a melting glacier. So what to do? Climate change is here and running its course. Our aim is now to confront, manage, mitigate, and, yes, embrace it. Our energy belongs to that eﬀort. Climate change has intensiﬁed to a climate crisis, sending its hurricanes farther north, melting the ice of the north ever farther south. My purpose here is not to paint a vision of horror, but to state the facts. Hang in. An overwhelming force is upon us. Now an intuitive leap. Think of Indigenous peoples who were overrun by invaders -- intruders who must have seemed an overwhelming force of weapons and disease. However, the original peoples of Turtle Island survived. What a great example of resilience and resistance. There have been other resistance movements. They can teach us about resilience in the face of the climate crisis. What we need, going back to the question of how to speak of climate change, are (true) stories of resistance, resilience and success, with emphasis on resilience. Where do we engage most eﬀectively? Few of us are in a position to inﬂuence public policy at the international level. In the October 2019 federal election, we had a small say in the national strategy on climate change. In Ontario, things at present are not looking good. At the local level, however, we do see progress. Without getting all hairy and political about it, let's remember that resistance movements take place on the margins. How do we contain the Climate Change Blob? Nibble at its edges! Some simple actions: Those who own property enjoy a special privilege. We can plant gardens and grow some of our own food. Balcony and porch pots are an alternative for renters. We can drive less, walk and bike more. Sure, such small actions are a drop in the bucket; but drops can add up. A nibble becomes a bite, especially with 25% local food on the table or eating meat just three times a week. It feels good to do something – no matter how small. Call it eco-therapy. PAGE 4
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WHO CARES ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS?
KIDS CARE ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS
My name is Abby Conrad and I am 16 years old. I am a grade 11 student at Adam Scott CVI, and I’ve only really become involved in activism during the past year of my life. My story is becoming more and more common in youth around the planet because many teens are starting to spread awareness about issues as well as planning and participating in school strikes. During the past few months especially, the climate crisis has become something that lingers in everyone’s mind. We all wonder if we will be able to limit the impacts and consequences of our actions, if we are truly leading up to the next mass extinction, or if the planet will even be habitable for our children and grandchildren. We should not have to worry about such a huge crisis at such a young age. Seeing as all we can do is worry about our futures, we all have no choice but to go out and strike and spread awareness. During this past election, we had the chance to interact with the federal candidates in our riding. We were able to voice our concerns and they were able to give us insight into what each party’s policies are regarding the environment and the climate crisis. All of them shared how important youth voices are to them, so us speaking up and having an open conversation could really have an impact on our futures. Throughout our involvement and conversations with them, we could very well have had an indirect impact on policies and action plans that will be made regarding the crisis.
Youth have become involved in a way that has never happened before, which gives me a lot of hope. At ﬁrst thought, there is not much hope, but when I think more deeply, I realize that my peers are stepping up for the ﬁrst time which is amazing. I believe that if not all, then most of the youth population cares about the climate crisis. On the international scale, youth have achieved so much during the ﬁght against the climate crisis, which is incredibly hopeful as well. On a local scale, my peers and I successfully advocated for the declaration of a climate emergency on September 20th in Peterborough. Joining together against a common cause as we have, means we are virtually unstoppable. Social media has played a huge role in spreading awareness and getting more support in the ﬁght. This is mostly the reason why I think a lot of youth have become involved. We see posts on Instagram about irreversible damages caused by the crisis. For most, those posts light ﬁres under us, and they make us want to turn our anger and sadness into activism and change-making. We also discovered Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden. She is one of my biggest inspirations, and the same goes for most of my friends. She is so inspiring because she is our age, she has accomplished so much, and she is known worldwide. She shows us that we can accomplish anything we want, despite our age. CONTINUED OVER...
...WHO CARES ABOUT THE CLIMATE CRISIS? Another huge source of hope is people like my parents, my youth group leader, and other members of my church. They have all told me how it is my generation that has to solve this crisis. We have no choice, but based on what has taken place so far, we will be the ones to actually solve it. Older generations are able to observe the changes we have made, and they know we can achieve so much more than we think could be possible. Hearing those messages from them is incredibly inspiring, it gives me courage, and gives me even more of a reason to go out and spread my activism, whether it be taking an active role in school strikes or making adjustments in my day to day life to reduce my carbon footprint.
From September 20th - 27th, 2019, 7.6 million people around the world and 800,000 Canadians struck for the climate*. The younger generation is at the forefront of the climate crisis without question. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that there is only a 67% chance of keeping the earth from warming above 1.5 degrees celsius. The total amount of carbon left to emit will only last another eight and a half years, when the majority of the youth will be in their early to mid twenties. This is not right. The youth are the ones who care most about the climate crisis because they are the ones who will feel the drastic eﬀects. These young adults and adolescents are far more educated about the climate emergency and what is coming their way than the older generations who are living in denial about the severity of the crisis that will aﬀect their children and grandchildren. The youth feel that there is no other option than to act, as they are ﬁghting for their future and have a right to live the same life as previous generations. They want to be able to enjoy all that the earth has to oﬀer and not feel threatened by the climate. Since the ﬁrst school strike was held in August 2018 by sixteen year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, the youth have risen and have begun to take action and spread awareness about this emergency. Thunberg's striking and activism created the movement, Fridays For The Future, which is a youth led organization, who works together around the globe to make every eﬀort possible to demonstrate to politicians the severity of this issue. Thunberg has expressed her wise words of concern on many political and international platforms, including; the PAGE 6
United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York, COP24 and to European world leaders, to name a few of the activists' stops throughout the past year and a half. Thunberg has not only started a movement of change, but she has also inspired millions of youth around the world to take action and take to the streets in demand for real climate action. Speaking nothing but what is on her mind, the sixteen year old addresses world leaders in a blunt and matter of fact way to express her realistic concerns about the world and her generation's future. More locally, Peterborough students have not fell shy of demonstrating their concerns about the future and the desperate need for climate action by elected oﬃcials. Peterborough's local high schools as well as adults came out in full force on both September 20th and 27th, 2019, with an approximate 1,000 people between both Fridays. Local students who have been inspired by Greta's activism and who fear for their future sit outside of Peterborough City Council, demanding that council acknowledges the issue and begin implementing more sustainable alternatives in the city. As well as striking, local youth and adults voiced their concerns about the future and the need for a climate emergency to be declared to City Council and in the end council unanimously passed the declaration. With the city now having declared a Climate Emergency there needs to be even more pressure to act accordingly and follow through on the declaration. The youngest generation is having to step up for the older generations who have misused the planet's resources and caused the climate crisis the world is in today. Instead of attending school, students are striking for their future, demanding that leaders hear their voices and begin acting as if it is a crisis. Because it is. The youth are at the utmost forefront of the climate crisis and are doing everything in their power to help sustain the planet for them and for future generations. Written by: Malaika Collette a Grade 11 Adam Scott student enrolled in Youth Leadership in Sustainability
'Change is coming, whether you like it or not' Greta Thunberg's emotional speech at the United Nations pulls no punches GRETA THUNBERG – “My message is that we'll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to see us younger people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suﬀering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth? How dare you? “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here and say you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are no-where in sight? You say that you hear us and understand the urgency, but no matter how sad and angry I am, I don't want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe. “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 per cent chance of staying below 1.5 C and risks setting oﬀ irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. 50 per cent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution, and all the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exit. So a 50 per cent risk is simply not acceptable for us, we who have to live with the consequences. “To have a 67 per cent chance of staying below a 1.5 C global temperature rise ( the best odds given by the IPCC), the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 to emit back on January 1, 2018. Today that ﬁgure has already down to less than 350 gigatons. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business as usual and some technical solutions. With today's emission levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years. There will not be any solutions, or plans presented in line with these ﬁgures here today, because those numbers are too uncomfortable and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. “You are failing us but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. “We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up and change is coming, whether you like it or not. Thank you.”
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Local Kid's Care! In answer to the Question. Why are you striking for the Climate? Abby: I want a sustainable future for my kids and grandkids. Kaia: We are the last generation to stop irreversible damage. Kyle: I want future generations to have a planet that they can live on. Annabelle: I want kids to be able to grow up in the same beautiful world that I did. Malaika: My future is at risk and world leaders are ignoring the crisis. Sarah: I have dreams and I want to be able to carry out those dreams. Not the ones that I'm pushed into. Beth: People are dying because of this issue, maybe not here but it is still our fault, and we aren't doing enough to stop it. Monica: I don't want future generations to feel the same fear I do. Nico: I believe in the power of people. We can make this planet a better place, for me, for my children, and yours. Dana: When you're voice is silenced, you have to stand up and speak through your actions. As a youth, I often feel undermined. As though my opinions aren't important, and my future isn't a priority. Tim: Because I want to make a diﬀerence so future generations have a planet to live on. Max: Our generation's fear shouldn't exceed our generation. our future relies on our current action. Sam: I want to have a future for me and the family I hope to have. Camille: I want to be able to worry about normal teenage issues, not about how much longer I have to live Marissa: We are not the only living organisms on this planet, we need to think about the other species that are suﬀering from our decisions.
The 2 % Municipal Fund Solution. Transitioning to a Post Carbon Economy in Peterborough Fred Irwin - The City of Peterborough has declared a Climate Emergency. What comes next! Will the County come on board and declare a similar emergency? And will the City and County come together and create a Fund to support projects that reduce net energy consumption and build a much more resilient community as the foundation for the transition to a Post Carbon Economy by mid century. As deﬁned by Richard Heinberg “ Resilience is the capacity of a system to encounter disruption and still maintain its basic structure and function:” That's what we want for Peterborough through 2030. Once a fund is created how do we plan to distribute funds equitably between the City and County and between, charities, not for proﬁts, individuals, and for proﬁt locally owned businesses that can. better leverage the impact more quickly at lower cost than the City & County can do on their own.
Peterborough Area so it may be very conservative but it does give us a place to start So, my recommendation is for the City of Peterborough to get started on its own with 1% of the 2020 Operating Plan Budget in keeping within the current planned 2020 budgetary amount; and committing to increase this amount by 0.1 each year through to 2030. This new Fund does not take into account the Capital Cost of such things as the building of a Regional Food Hub to increase our food security and cut down on food miles in our food supply chain. I will discuss this municipal capital cost and others in future articles. However, if we can't aﬀord 1% right now in 2020 than we need to stop talking about a Climate Emergency as if it meant something real in the way of delivering action .. Fred Irwin is Founding Director of Transition Town Peterborough
As but one example Transition Town Peterborough, has a pilot ready Home Owner Energy Descent initiative called the Transition Neighbourhoods Project (TNP) This project is based on behavoural economics designed to reduce the consumption of all forms of energy towards building more resilient neighbourhoods on the way to a more Resilient Peterborough. The TNP needs money from such a Municipal Fund as a leadership driver in this important home owner sector. Finally how do we make certain that the Fund expenditures are balanced systemically across the community Resiliency Framework of Energy Descent, Environmental Regeneration, Economic Localization and Social and Economic Equity. I have called this the 2% Municipal Fund Solution to the Climate Crisis Nobody knows for certain what is going to happen between now and 2030 let alone by 2050 when the Post Carbon Economy needs to be fully functional for our very survival. So no one knows how big the fund needs to be. The 2% ﬁgure as a percent of Gross Domestic Product ( GDP ) comes from the Stern Review (2006) where it was estimated that 2% of world wide GDP could mitigate the Global Climate Crisis. Thirteen years later we are now much deeper into the Climate Crisis so the 2% ﬁgure is very conservative. And now we are talking less about mitigation and more about adaptation and resilience and changing our life styles to align with a much diﬀerent world. At the municipal level the 2% starting ﬁgure is based on the Municipal Operating Budgets rather than the GDP of the PAGE 8
This is a story about running, butterﬂies, people, places, the survival of pollinators, and yes, humanity. Back in 2016, Carlotta James, an ultra marathon runner, a forward thinking and passionate mother kept noticing a huge decline of butterﬂies and bees in the environment while out running our beautiful Kawartha trails. Her calling was to raise awareness about the decline of pollinators, caused through habitat loss, pesticides use and climate change. Bringing running and butterﬂies together, she came up with the idea of a relay run from Peterborough, Ontario to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico where the Monarch butterﬂies overwinter. A team of a map expert, Clay Williams, an ultra runner himself, a moviemaker, Rodney Fuentes, and Carlotta, the driver of this project, worked endless hours to get ready. After 2 years of fundraising, mapping the route, planning receptions, contacting
environmental groups, schools and media, arranging home stays and signing up runners, a team of 4 individuals left Peterborough, Ontario on Thursday, September 19th. The Peterborough Kawartha Rotary Club, one of the main sponsors for this ﬁrst time project had organized a wonderful send oﬀ with the community, seeing us depart in our 31 year old RV, also known as El Dorado, meaning wings. El Dorado quickly became our home and busy Monarch Ultra central. Unfortunately, El Dorado was not always ﬂying. Diﬀerent runners from places all over Canada, USA and Mexico ran either 50 or 100 km (31 or 62 miles) per day. The runners were following the ﬂight path of the Monarch butterﬂies through southern Ontario crossing over into the USA near Detroit through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and six Mexican states to reach the Cerro Pelón Mountains in the state of Mexico. The Monarch Ultra support team met the runners at daybreak at a prearranged location and sent them on their way, throughout the day. Every 10 km, we met the runners and provided drinks, food and moral support. Every runner was unique, overcoming their own hurdles and walls as
they ran these long distances in sometime busy, crowded, hot and even dangerous conditions. At the end of a run, exhaustion, pain and fatigue was always overcome by a sense of completion and the participation in this important project. Some of the most gratifying and promising contacts we made on our journey were with students. Whether it was a grade 1 and 2 class at the American School Foundation in Monterrey, a high school in Arkansas and San Luis Potosi, students in Toronto, or the kids up in Macheros, where the butterﬂies overwinter, the enthusiasm for butterﬂies and nature was always present. Our message and calls for awareness was well received and we had to promise a return at our next Monarch Ultra in 2021. Although we started this journey oﬀ with butterﬂies and running in mind, it soon became much more. Through connecting with like-minded people across 3 countries, we realize the possibilities of this grassroots idea. It is to reach many with the simple message: to take care of nature and all of the living creatures on Earth. Günther Schubert: Monarch Ultra team chef, driver, bottle washer
THE SEASONED SPOON PETER CURRIER - The workers at The Spoon have a rack of professional chefs' hats within easy reach, but they pretty much go around incognito. You'd never guess that there's a polymath beneath the unassuming exterior. When a youthful Aimee Blyth of Trent U.'s Seasoned Spoon café approached for our interview wearing a simple, hand-knit woolen cap, well, who'd have guessed that for ten years she has been a pivotal player behind that iconic eatery? From staﬃng, accounting, kitchen oversight and public relations, to food-sourcing the best in qualitative local produce, organic when possible, Aimee has, ﬁguratively speaking, stocked a whole closet full of 'hats'. Since its early brief stint at Otonabee College in 2003, The Seasoned Spoon at Champlain College has been a quality provisioner to its clientele. The café presents a pleasant milieu with a varied and healthy menu. Behind the scenes you will ﬁnd a passionate commitment to resilience, sustainability and local prosperity. The Seasoned Spoon is a 500 member, not-forproﬁt co-op with a Board of Directors, 20 staﬀ, including two cooks, with a host of links to largely local oﬀ-campus suppliers. Growing, harvesting, shipping, and marketing, all huge elements of the food business, are pivotal to initiatives like the Seasoned Spoon. But even beyond serving food, The Spoon is a presence in Peterborough's local culture that regularly engages and entertains. "We sponsor events at least once a week," Aimée says, everything from educational forums to pop-up venues for local entrepreneurs. From the beginning, before sustainable and local were culinary vogue, the Seasoned Spoon specialized in providing locally grown, seasonal, vegetarian meals. Increasingly, Aimée says, that's a hurdle: "Medium sized distribution networks are being increasingly bought out by big multinationals like Cisco. Sourcing food
and ﬁnding suitable producers is becoming more challenging." The Trent Vegetable Gardens, a manually farmed, extraordinarily productive acre, provided 7,000 pounds of local food to the restaurant last year. Considering that 'The Spoon' closes for the summer, this is a noteworthy tribute not just to the café's appeal, but to its commitment to selfreliance. For any not-for-proﬁt business, funding is a perpetual problem. "The province aims to cut back on the Student Levy, which, among other worthy Trent-focused initiatives, funds the Trent Vegetable Gardens," Aimée told me. !The Spoon will survive that, but it will be a challenge." Co-op membership fees are helpful. For students and those who are struggling economically, membership costs $10. For wage earners, it is $20. In the millennia between the advent of farming and the invention of fridges, root cellars provided food storage. Trent's root cellar, itself a sustainable 'appliance', stores many good ingredients which ﬁnd their way to The Spoon's kitchen, fresh long after harvest time. The most emblematic of all restaurateur hats is the big, puﬀy, white toque blanche. I doubt whether 'The Spoon' cooks ever go so far as to don one of those, their varied and healthy menu accords with seasonal availability and is healthy, healthy, healthy. To learn more, visit the Seasoned Spoon online (www.seasonedspoon.ca) for sample menu, mechanics, mission and much more.
MY NO-TILL GARDEN ON STEROIDS JENNIFER DARLING - This gardening season brought a revelation to me: I am getting older. To wield my Honda tiller was diﬃcult to the point of being unable to do it. After a little research into a diﬀerent way to garden, I settled on a no-till method. A group of researchers in England did a plot to experiment, placing a no- till beside tilledmethod beds. They found an increase in productivity with the no-till method. The method involved (for me) laying rows of compost directly onto my garden without tilling.
I had learned that tilling disrupts the natural processes and exposes weed seeds to sunlight. Thus, my own experiment began. It took a little while for my young plants to take. To my surprise, they went growing-crazy after that! I have never had a garden which has produced so much and had such healthy plants. At present, I am harvesting a basket of tomatoes a day! My leeks are double the size of last year and I am hopeful for a bountiful crop. I did very little maintenance for such a great reward. Jennifer Darling is a whitewater canoeist, cyclist, and doctor in the emergency ward at PRHC.
YOU CAN GROW FOOD ANYWHERE CORINNE MINTZ - In my life I have had many gardens, in many varying circumstances and conditions. I have carved out a small patch of earth for a garden by the side of the Paciﬁc Ocean on Vancouver Island. I have worked on organic herb and vegetable farms. I have grown tomatoes and zucchinis in buckets on my balcony and driveway. Let's keep in mind I grew up as a city kid with little to no experience growing food. One thing I have learned is that one can grow food anywhere with a bit of ingenuity and a bit of perseverance. My latest garden started as a huge lawn in a residential neighbourhood in Peterborough. When my husband and I were looking to buy a house, my husband would go and look inside, while I checked out the yard to see if it was appropriate to fulﬁll my permaculture dreams. Permaculture is a gardening philosophy that sees ones garden as a comprehensive whole. According to Wikipedia: “Permaculture is a set of design principles centered on whole systems, simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems.” When I step out my door, I have several large pots of my favourite cooking herbs and the potted plants that need the most watering attention. A few steps away, we have kiwi vines providing shade to our front porch, creating privacy and delicious grape sized kiwis. On the south side of our house, four varieties of grapes climb an arbour providing shade and coolness to our house, as well as an abundant supply of grapes. Having reclaimed half of the lawn, I discovered my kids need somewhere to play. I created the annual vegetable garden using techniques such as sheet mulching, raised beds, companion planting, rain collection and 'crop' rotation. The garden provides a large part of our family's fresh fruit and vegetable needs in the summer months. This year, I have grown asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchinis, beans, ground cherries, currents, peas, lettuce, carrots. Surrounding the house, I have planted perennial food crops that take less constant care. We get to harvest, cherries, apples, peaches, gooseberries, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts, rosehips, service berries, etc. Flower gardens surround the yard to promote pollinators.
All this has not been without challenges. Permaculture recommends recognizing your challenges and ﬁguring out how to make them work to your advantage. I can't say I have been completely successful in that regard. Some of the challenges include: invasive tree roots, racoons with a taste for not yet ripe grapes, and extremely hot and dry conditions. This burgeoning ecosystem brings birds from far and wide to gobble up any fruits in season. That being said, beneﬁts of an urban garden far outweigh the challenges. It has been incredible to watch the increase in biodiversity in our yard – bees, birds and butterﬂies to name a few. As well, there are community beneﬁts, such as making fresh food deliveries to appreciative neighbours, people anticipating the ripening of the peach tree, the many curious folk who stop to ask questions or smell a ﬂower. My favourites are the great pleasure of biting into a fresh homegrown fruit or vegetable and educating my children how to grow their own food while spending time together in the garden. All the while keeping in mind that growing your own food means less gasoline and resources are being used to feed you. Anyone can grow their own food almost anywhere. One bucket of earth with a tomato plant is a great place to start. One of my friends once said when looking at a seed ready to go into a pot, “What if it doesn't grow?” I say chances are it will; why not give it a try. Corinne Mintz is a world traveller, gardener extraordinaire, and accredited shiatsu and acupuncture therapist in Peterborough.
THEM BONES [Condensed from an article by Zaria Gorvett in the BBC newsletter, June 13, 2019] A goat started it. He was born in the Netherlands in the spring of 1939 without front legs. On the left was only a bare patch of fur, on the right a small hoofed stump. Adopted by a veterinary institute, on his grassy ﬁeld he developed his own pattern of locomotion. He'd push his back legs forward, draw himself up on them until he was standing, and jump. As a yearling, the goat died in an accident, but his skeleton hid a surprise. Against all expectations, his skeleton had begun to adapt. The bones in his hips and legs had thickened and the ones in his ankles had stretched. His toes and hips had angled to support a more upright posture. Today we know that our skeletons are malleable. Our bones are very much alive. They're constantly being broken down and rebuilt. A rough template set out in our DNA is then altered to accommodate its unique use. Walking on two legs has given humans sturdier hip bones than their less bipedal relatives. Our skulls, jaws, and elbows seem to be changing. Skulls. Hunching over smartphones and tablets, our tenpound heads droops forward. Upright, our chunky cranium balances neatly on top of our spines. Straining forward to watch cat videos gives us “text neck”. The hunched posture creates extra pressure on the place where the neck muscles attach to the skull. The body lays down more bone, spreading the weight over a wider area. Dr. David Shahar, a 20-year clinician and health scientist at the University of The Sunshine Coast, Australia observed a spike-like “external occipital protuberance” at the lower back of the skull, just above the neck. Shahar analysed over a thousand skull x-rays from people aged 18 to 86 years. The spike turned out to be more prevalent than expected, a lot more common in the youngest age group. He attributes the spike explosion to mobile device use. [*BBC Editor's note: Since this article was published, some questions have been raised about the methodology of the “Scientiﬁc Reports* paper examining the “external occipital protuberance”. See also PBS NewsHour's indepth analysis.]
Jaws. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel discovered diﬀerences between hunter-gatherers and farmers related to chewing. In post-industrial populations, dental problems such as crowded or crooked teeth are more likely. A slight overbite in modern humans may have made pronouncing “f” and “v” possible. This transformed languages from containing just 3% of these diﬃcult sounds to 76% today. To experience Neolithic pronunciation, push out your lower jaw until your upper and lower teeth touch, then attempt to say “ﬁsh” or “Venice”. It's not all bad!
Elbows. On to Germany, where scientists have discovered that our elbows are shrinking. Christiane Scheﬄer, anthropologist at the University of Potsdam, was studying body measurements of school children. She noticed that their skeletons were becoming more fragile every year. It's neither changes in DNA nor poor nutrition. The link was with how much the children walked. The body doesn't grow bone mass you don't need. Use it or lose it. Gym exercise can't compensate. Walk! We've “evolved to do almost 30km (19 miles) per day.”
ALL-NATURAL: GETTING OUT FOR A HEALTHY DOSE OF VITAMIN 'N' BILL EEKHOF - Vitamin 'N' – or nature – is good for us, but getting a dose of it may be a bit harder in future. In May 2019, a dire United Nations report estimated one million species of plants and animals could face extinction due to human activities. This news, coming in the same year that has seen vast tracts of Greenland and the Amazon rainforest burning due to high heat and drought, can feel like a body blow. What can we do in the face of the climate crisis?
all without the digital distractions. This term – Vitamin N for nature – was championed by American writer Richard Louv, who also coined the phrase nature deﬁcit disorder to denote “a diminished ability to ﬁnd meaning in the life that surrounds us.” According to Louv, connecting to nature is vital for our physical and mental
One way is to get your head in the game! And with a New Year beginning to beckon, it's a great time to start your own 'nature project' – an idea my wife ﬁrst suggested to me at the start of 2019. Our 'nature project' is designed to let us spend quality time together, while helping us connect to Mother Nature through activities we like doing (including writing, photography, and discussing topics that matter to us) each month. On the ﬁrst weekend, we share an article (related to nature or the environment) over tea/coﬀee and treats. We take turns 'introducing' our article to kick start discussion on its merits/problems. So far, we've had lively debate on topics like the emergence of plant-based food and the amount of water that actually goes into something as simple as a cheeseburger. The second weekend of the month sees us going out to photograph nature. We aim to capture the beauty of the outdoors through a camera lens, and share the best ﬁve or six photos we snapped. The photo outings are great, as we've explored new places while ﬁnding newness in what we considered 'old' spaces.
health, especially in our increasingly technology-dependent world. He's right. Nature is good medicine for us! Not only does it help us to realize what we have, it also motivates us to be more resilient and willing to transition from the dangerous path we're on.
The third weekend of the month is the big reveal of our best photos. My wife and I take turns sharing our photos and explaining what we like about them. Our best photo becomes the subject of a poem – written by the other person to capture the essence of the image. We then share what we've written, and using photoshop, overlay the verse into the photo. The fourth weekend of the month is our nature walk, where we take an hour or two to explore a nice outdoor location to soak up the ambiance and beauty of our surroundings. To date, we've experienced the serenity of Jackson Park, the beauty of the trails at Trent University, and the pristine waters of the Otonabee River. In months with a ﬁfth weekend, our nature project consists of doing artwork (painting an outdoor scene for example) that ties in to our topic. Over the past year, I've embraced our nature project and look forward to our weekly activities. Diverse, fun and fulﬁlling, the activities allow my wife and I to be more 'ecoconscious' while spending time plugging into Vitamin 'N' – LIVING LOCALLY
A FAILURE OF IMAGINATION ALLAN SMITH-REEVE - At the busy doorway of Costco the other week, I pulled out my wallet looking for my membership card. I had a loose wad of cash in it – fresh from the credit union. As I opened the wallet, a wind whipped the cash from my hand and scattered it across the parking lot like falling leaves. “Whoohoo,” exclaimed the crowd as they scurried to pick up the bills. Ten $20 bills were returned to me. All of it. Not a greedy bone in the crowd. When there's a need, Peterborough folks deliver time after time! Greed is an ugly word – certainly not one I associate with my middle-class friends. Their desire for comfort, and even luxury, are considered “normal” by Canadian standards. As normal as it is for many of us who shop at Costco, taking our “hard-earned cash” to save money by spending it, I
often take away more stuﬀ than I knew I needed. Dollars spent at big box stores are dollars not spent at local shops. Money sucked from our local economy. All normal. Science has created a term for the unsatisfactory nature of pursuing pleasure – the “hedonistic treadmill.” Hedonism is an ancient religion named for the ancient Greek school of thought that celebrates the pursuit of pleasure as life's ultimate goal. This philosophy appears in every culture in diﬀerent guises. The Charvaka school is a version rooted in India. Siduri, the female divinity of fermentation, admonishes: “Fill your belly. Day and night make merry. Let days be full of joy. Dance and make music day and night…these things alone are the concern of men.” Social scientists have discovered the more we experience any pleasure, the more we become numb to its eﬀects. We begin to take its pleasures for granted, like a drug that must be taken in every greater doses to produce the same eﬀect. “In many ways, hedonism is the default philosophy of most people and certainly has become the dominant view of consumer 'shop till you drop' culture,” author Douglas Abrams writes in The Book of Joy. Abrams interviews his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu over a seven- day historic session pursuing the roots of 'joy.' On the ﬁrst day, named The Virtuous Cycle, it's noted that the more we turn toward others, the more joy we experience, and the more we can bring joy to others. The goal is not just creating joy for ourselves, but, as the Archbishop poetically phrases it, “to be a reservoir of joy, an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around you.” Another excerpt from the book notes: “We human beings are social animals. We need friends. Genuine friends. We are created to ﬂourish, to share who we are and receive from one another – in community. When we become selfcentered – turning our focus in on our own desires, needs, and self-gratiﬁcations – as sure as anything – we are going to one day ﬁnd ourselves with a deep, deep, deep frustration.” Given its title, it's no surprise this book is a joy to read, imparting wisdom and challenging us to do better. Perhaps, that should be the new 'normal' for which we all strive.
Transition Town Peterborough
Guide Buy Local - Eco Friendly Gift Ideas How to Limit Your Holiday Footprint May Your Footprint Be Small
This Holiday Season
Seasonâ€™s Greetings from Transition Town Peterborough
Eco-Gift Guide WHATâ€™S IN MY WALLET?
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Eco-Gift Guide HOLIDAY SHOPPING
We all know someone who smugly announces some time in September, “I have all my holiday shopping done!” If I'm lucky, I pick up the odd item ahead of time, as the spirit moves me, especially if I think the item is something the receiver would appreciate and enjoy. But truth be told, my holiday shopping has changed. My children have grown up and my friends and family are more interested in 'Marie Kondo-ing' their homes than accumulating more stuﬀ. But, when I do shop, I think more and more about being a conscientious consumer – considering things like, “Do the producers adhere to fair wage and labor standards? Is that chocolate Santa produced by a company that relies on the work of children? That t-shirt for my son – is that cotton produced within responsible environmental standards? What is the carbon footprint of that item on Amazon being shipped from China?
Eco-Gift Guide It is nerve wracking. Also, you need a fair amount of disposable income to even aﬀord ethical and sustainable options. So, how do I ensure that my purchases reﬂect my morals? Well, shopping locally is a great beginning. Right here in Peterborough City and County, there are so many choices. I guarantee there is something for everyone on your list. So, let's get started. I've divided the gift ideas into 4 categories.
1) Food and Drink! Who doesn't enjoy food? And the odd drink? There are an abundance of businesses – restaurants and farms – who oﬀer gift certiﬁcates or coupons. And many take the Kawartha Loon! Treat someone you love to lunch. Check out the special holiday promotions being oﬀered by your favourite food merchants. Local farmers oﬀer seasonal share baskets that you can book now - consider making a commitment now for a summer supply of fresh garden goodies for someone in the family. Grace your holiday table with a local chicken or turkey. Enjoy a day in beautiful nearby Campbellford, and pick up some artisanal cheese and beer.
2) Personal Wellness - A new year always inspires us to 'reboot' our lives and routines. There are so many ideas in this category to help you – or someone you love, launch 2020 on track mentally, physically and spiritually. Consider a consultation with a naturopath, a gift certiﬁcate for a massage, yoga classes or reiki session. Perhaps therapeutic touch treatments for pain management and stress?
3) Home and Garden - From items like candles, soaps and ﬂowers, to home decor and gardening advice, there are many local businesses that can meet the needs and desires of every person on your gift list. Shop locally for a cornucopia of unique, all Canadian handcrafted home and garden items. Sign-up the gardener in your life, for a course with a local garden centre. Oh…and many businesses oﬀer an online shopping option, so you can keep your carbon footprint down and have your gifts delivered to your door.
4) Experiences! For the person on your gift list who likes to get out and be active - services for their bike, clothing for their sport, a face-painter for their next party, or workshops on making their own wine. Check out the Peterborough and the Kawartha's Tourism site for great seasonal activities and special events â€“ like the 'Taste of the Kawartha's' walking tour that includes sampling local culinary delights along the way. Space limitations preclude listing all the amazing local businesses we have here in Peterborough County. So, I'll just leave you with this last thought. Before you cast your consumer's net beyond our local borders, consider what you have right here in your own back yard. This edition of the Greenzine contains myriad dedicated local businesses who see the importance of transitioning. They need and deserve your support. Amazon's JeďŹ€ Bezos doesn't.
This holiday season take the opportunity to have your gifts communicate and do something more than just drain your pocketbook and pad your credit card bill! Promote and support local! Embrace all the choices and practice healthy, green, sustainable gift giving!
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DO YOU KNOW THIS NEIGHBOUR? toxicity, and that they pack a sort of one, two punch to cells, causing all sorts of health problems.
BY JANE SCOTT Many people may be surprised to learn that we have a Class 1 Nuclear Facility in the heart of Peterborough. It's in a residential area, virtually across the street from Prince of Wales Elementary School, without any buﬀer zone. BWXT NEC, formerly GE-H, operates on the old GE site on Monaghan Road and produces nuclear fuel bundles and repairs radioactive equipment. The fuel bundling process already releases some uranium dioxide and beryllium (a highly toxic substance) into the air and sewers. Shielding is already needed to protect the public from the radioactive equipment and large quantities of uranium dioxide that are allowed onsite. But BWXT is seeking an amendment to its upcoming license renewal, which is cause for further alarm. The company is applying for “the ﬂexibility” to also make fuel pellets out of “natural” and depleted uranium dioxide powder. Pelleting produces dust, releasing much higher emissions into the air and water. It uses far more water than bundling. In 2017, the Toronto BWX facility released 1,295,560 litres of contaminated water into the sewers, while the Peterborough facility released 820. BWXT implies that uranium, which emits gamma rays, is safe by calling it weakly radioactive when compared to Xrays. However, gamma rays are more energetic and therefore more dangerous than X-rays. A brief exposure to X-rays during a medical examination is one thing; chronic exposure to gamma radiation (even when “weak”) is quite another. It gets worse: uranium also emits alpha and beta particles. As the US Environmental Protection Agency notes: “If alpha-emitters are inhaled, swallowed, or get into the body through a cut, the alpha particles can damage sensitive living tissue. The way these large, heavy particles cause damage makes them more dangerous than other types of radiation … causing more severe damage to cells and DNA.” Uranium is also a heavy metal; quite apart from radioactivity, “the health hazards associated with uranium are much the same as those for lead.” (World Nuclear Association). Recent evidence indicates that there is a synergy between uranium's radiotoxicity and its chemical
Because these small particles are relatively insoluble, some of them can remain stuck in the lungs and lymph nodes for a very long time, irradiating people from within. After that, they are then transported to sensitive tissues, especially the kidney, liver, bones and brain, radiating all the while. Eventually, after two or three years, they are excreted. Many independent radiation biologists feel that the regulators' risk assessments around uranium and radiation in general need to be updated, to reﬂect new evidence, or, at the very least, a more precautionary approach needs to be taken. There is no safe dose of radiation. Its eﬀects are cumulative; children and fetuses being especially vulnerable. If given permission to start pelleting, BWXT would have to start taking regular soil samples in the school's playground, parks and people's gardens surrounding the facility. One soil sample taken in 2017, near the Toronto factory, tested at 10 times natural background uranium levels. It would also have to take air samples at the boundary of the facility. One sample, taken in 2016, was 390 times natural background! However, the school is close by and the smokestack right next to the sidewalk. Can the company guarantee that its precautions are enough? Despite the best intentions, accidents happen. In 2017, BWXT found they had been using the wrong ﬁlters for masks, exposing workers to highly toxic beryllium. In the ﬂood of 2004, there were two inches of water on the ﬂoor of the Peterborough facility. Unfortunately the weather is only going to become more and more problematic. Uranium pelleting should absolutely not be allowed right next to a school. Jane Scott is a mother, writer, and activist in Peterborough. Jane also supplied the accompanying article “Uranium Myths and Facts.”
THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
SPEND YOUR KAWARTHA LOONS & SAVE 10% FROM PARTICIPATING BUSINESS. SEE PAGE 31 FOR MORE INFO LIVING LOCALLY
THE CANADIAN ARCTIC: POLAR BEARS, DUCKS, AND GEESE STRUGGLE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE KEN ABRAHAM - I ﬁrst experienced the Arctic in 1974 on the North Slope of Alaska. As a graduate student, I was charged with collecting basic information on bird populations, habitats, and how birds used them. The study site was near Prudhoe Bay in a developing oil ﬁeld at the origin of the proposed Alaska oil pipeline. The big concern at the time was about petroleum extraction in a cold and
Polar Bear on Akimiski Island, Nunavut, June 2007. Photo by Ken Abraham
unforgiving environment and potential impacts of spills in oil ﬁelds and along the pipeline. Although there was an awareness of atmospheric greenhouse gases and potential issues related to their increase, concern about global warming wasn't front page news. Currently, the Arctic is often showcased as a region impacted by climate change due to the rapid and proportionately larger changes in temperature occurring there. I got hooked on the Arctic that ﬁrst summer and I've spent part of all but four of the past 45 years in some part of the Arctic or sub-Arctic. Much of that experience has been in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of Ontario, Manitoba and Nunavut. Because my work has focused on migratory birds and wetlands, I'm most familiar with changes that have aﬀected birds and their interactions with habitats and predators. In the short Arctic summer, timing is everything for migratory birds and plants. Changes in the timing of annual cycle events are among the best studied phenomena. In southern Hudson Bay, where sea ice is seasonal, most polar bears (except pregnant females) are on seasonal ice, PAGE 22
hunting seals from late fall to early or mid-summer. In the 1970s, they came ashore from mid-July onward when the seasonal ice melted and well after birds' eggs had hatched. Now, this ice melts three to four weeks earlier, forcing bears ashore earlier and truncating their fattening period. On shore, some bears have begun depredating birds' nests, especially colonial birds like geese and eiders. In some cases, bears destroy hundreds of nests, not a problem for hyper abundant snow geese, but certainly an issue for small colonies of slow reproducing eiders. Many, but not all, migratory birds have adjusted the timing of their egg-laying as date of spring thaw has advanced. Snow geese in Manitoba nest 5-6 days earlier now than in the 1970s, not enough to compensate for the advance in bear arrival. Geese need to time hatching so as to gear it to the protein content of their food plants, which peaks during the early, rapid plant growth phase of the goslings. Geese whose goslings hatch closest to that peak have better Polar Bear robbing a common eider nest near Cape Churchill, growth and Manitoba. July 2016. Photo from motion triggered trail camera. Courtesy of Robert Rockwell, Hudson Bay Project. survival. Goslings whose hatch deviates most from peak suﬀer negative consequences in all vital rates. In James Bay, spring thaw has become less predictable from year to year, swinging between early and late extremes, challenging successful reproduction by Canada geese and contributing to a regional population decline. Elsewhere, such as my 1974 North Slope study area, sea level rise has led to the dropping of low-lying coastal areas. Freshwater coastal marshes have been converted to brackish and saltwater marshes. Some species of geese have beneﬁtted from an increase of highly nutritious plants that grow in those new conditions, while other species have not. Additionally, the longer growing season due to earlier average spring thaw, stimulates higher plant productivity. Soils are warmer and release more nitrogen. This has led to shrubs "invading" open tundra. Again, some species beneﬁt, e.g. birds which nest in/under shrubs and feed on shrub insects). Others do not, e.g. open nesting shorebirds like whimbrels that depend on being able to see predators approaching. These changes linked to climate change challenge Arctic species and our ability to predict consequences or assist their conservation through planning and mitigation. Ken Abraham is a wildlife biologist living in Peterborough. LIVING LOCALLY
The Amazon rain forest has achieved renown as the lungs of the Earth. This is only half true. The Amazon rain forest may well be regarded as the right lung of the Earth, but the boreal forest of the moderate to northern latitudes constitutes, to remain in the metaphor, the left lung. Thanks to a Trillium Grant, a report on the ancient forest spaces in Peterborough's Jackson Park has already been made. However, there is still much ancient forest in Peterborough County to be researched. Climate change, with the accompanying alterations in ﬂora, makes this activity an ongoing process. If you are interested, here is the contact information. email@example.com. Ever wanted to be a citizen scientist? There are numerous important projects, which would have been and never will be done, because there are not enough experts to cover the bases. With training and commitment, however, even ordinary people like you and I can make a valuable contribution to ecological research. One example is the ANCIENT FOREST EXPLORATION AND RESEARCH project. I don't need to explain to Transitioners why protecting forests in general and old forests in particular is important. Early Childhood Ed. A friend of mine told me how her daughter is putting an ecological emphasis into her daughters' (my friend's granddaughters') upbringing. When they go for an outing, and the kids want to stop for a bite of take-out on the way home, their mother insists that they have their reusable take-out kits, including silicone or metal straws, with them. No kit, no food. The reusable take-out kit belongs in the girls' backpacks just the same as their cell phones, pocket money, or jacket, in case it gets cold or rains. Good for Mom! And good on those ecologically aware grandkids! Red letter day! For months now, I've been driving around with my reusable kit for take-out. Finally, I actually remembered to use it! Old habits die hard, so it was especially satisfying to observe that even I can change my ways a little. The chef of the Middle Eastern restaurant, where I bought my dinner that day, was more than happy to ﬁll my reusable containers, instead of using his own disposable ones. (It must be remarked, however, to his credit, that he was using dishes made of organic ﬁbre, not Styrofoam.) Something to write in my journal under “Achieving My Goals?”
Just Doing Stuff!
If you’ve been inspired and have some of your own to add please send your actions to firstname.lastname@example.org
IS IT TOO LATE TO MEET OUR CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS? By Tricia Clarkson Special to Greenzine It's been almost one year since the IPCC Report was released on October 8, 2018 warning the world of a Global Climate Emergency that requires reducing our carbon fuel emissions by 45% immediately to keep global warming from accelerating past 1.5 C by 2030. If not, global warming will be irreversible causing rising sea levels and catastrophic disasters that will severely aﬀect us all. What most people don't realize is that this report was ﬁrst published by a senior U.N. Environmental Advisor, Peter James Spielmann, on June 29, 1989 titled “U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked”. He warned that “coastal ﬂooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees” thtecological refugees will threatening political chaos and wars and that governments had to solve the greenhouse eﬀect by 2000 or it would be beyond human control”. So it is already too late to stop global warming? The best our three levels of government can oﬀer is a 30% reduction in emissions, and our 2019 annual targets still haven't been reached yet. That means going into 2020, we will have to reduce our emissions by over 50% to try to make up for lost time with only 10 years left to the 2030 deadline. Environmental groups have tried desperately since October, 2018 to get governments to act immediately on the IPCC recommendations but they are too heavily invested in the oil and gas industry to change course. Nothing short of a Hong Kong type protest with 10 thousand Canadians marching every day, will get them to move any faster. Some progress was made in Peterborough however. Meetings with our local MP Maryam Monsef resulted in municipal funding for transportation and infrastructure of over $30M that could be used for the electriﬁcation of city PAGE 24
transit. A presentation was given to the city on June 24th, informing councillors that all of the funding was available for the purchase of two electric city buses and necessary charging infrastructure to begin the electriﬁcation of transportation process in Peterborough. However, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. The city instead decided to put this project on hold for an indeﬁnite period of time. It's frustrating spending so much time and eﬀort ﬁnding local funding available for climate change initiatives that isn't being used. It's disappointing that our provincial government has cut more than $300M in environmental programs. It's depressing that the federal government has invested over $4.5B in the Trans-Mountain pipeline instead of using that money for renewables. We need to request speciﬁc demands from our political leaders, especially in an election year in order to meet our targets while also creating more jobs. Here's what needs to happen immediately: 1. Install enough charging stations across Canada to support electriﬁcation of transportation. 2. Create Retroﬁtting Stations across Canada to convert current gas-fuelled vehicles to electric. 3. Produce electric vehicles that are cheaper than gas-fuelled vehicles so that gas-fuelled vehicles no longer need to be produced. 4. Install solar panels and geothermal heating in all homes and buildings. 5. Mobilize all other nations to implement the same change. Sound doable this year? Absolutely! However, we all need to continue to band together and keep demanding these actions from our politicians. Then, and only then, we may have a ﬁghting chance. Tricia Clarkson is a Freelance Writer/Journalist who has written columns for the Ottawa Journal, Okanagan Sun, Vernon Daily News, Peterborough Examiner, Peterborough This Week, Greenzine Magazine, Running Room Magazine and Peterborough Sport & Wellness Centre Feasibility Study.
WILL NUCLEAR ENERGY SAVE US FROM CLIMATE CHANGE? EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE - If only we’d ﬁnished the discussion on climate which started in the good old ’70s – decade of The Limits to Growth, appeals to clean up pollution, and to get serious about conservation. But, no, there was still lots of oil, and no panic. If it ran out, we would turn to nuclear power. Fission today, fusion tomorrow. A mini-sun in every city. Even with 70+ years of experience, nothing has come of fusion reactors, although fusion research continues. [See https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/fusion-energy-inthe-21st-century-status-an] But now, faced with warnings about peak oil, nuclear ﬁssion is being re-examined as an option for producing the energy which a projected world population of 10 billion will demand. We’ve had the era of anti-nuclear protests, but times change. And, as ever, the other side deserves a hearing. Take Denise Balkissoon’s “The Nuclear Option” (The Globe and Mail, June 22, 2019). Aware of the melt-downs in Fukushima and Chernobyl, Balkissoon still hypothesizes plaintively: “we might have no better option.” Extreme climate events have become standard; big bad weather is becoming more frequent. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to global warming, so energy generated without them looks attractive. True, the nuclear reaction itself does not emit carbon. However, the mining, milling, and transport of uranium ore does require fossil fuels. So does the building and the dismantling of a reactor. Storage of the high-waste ﬁssion products is another chapter altogether. It takes energy to run the control systems, which need to be in place for thousands of years.
To be fair, one would also have to estimate the total cost of running a hydro dam over its entire life cycle. Both nuclear reactors and hydro dams require immense amounts of steel and concrete, not exactly “green” materials. A quick Google search shows that the dismantling cost for a one-megawatt wind turbine comes to $2.5 million. The Darlington nuclear plant has produced 3500 megawatts. What would be the dismantling cost per megawatt there? It’s notoriously diﬃcult to ﬁnd such ﬁgures. Or even the cost of nuclear as opposed to hydro per kilowatt. 50g CO2 per kilowatt hour has become an accepted “green” standard. For nuclear, ﬁgures between 6g and 200g have been quoted.
Balkissoon does a thorough review of the safety measures employed at Darlington, and they are impressive. She also outlines plans for a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) in the 350-500 million year old rocks of Northern Ontario, from which, should the wastes ever escape into the ground water, it would take centuries for them to reach the Earth’s surface. By that time, they would be next to harmless. Balkissoon states: “Trusting nuclear power is really about trusting the scientists and engineers who work with it.” Are Small Modular Reactors (SMR) capable of transport, an alternative, e.g. to dirty diesel generators? SMR’s would run on Moltex – uranium converted into molten salt, made from spent Candu fuel pellets, which still have a lot of ﬁssion potential. The problem: Rory Sullivan of Moltex Energy has not yet ﬁgured out how to generate the nuclear reaction from the salt. It is almost too safe. Its reuse would reduce the amount of radioactive waste and leave much less toxic after-products, ones which would decay in a few hundred years, instead of, like plutonium, a million. Without nuclear power, carbon emissions from electricity generation would have been 25% higher in Japan, 45% higher in Korea, and over 50% higher in Canada (recent IEA report quoted in the same issue of The G and M.). Canada must reduce it carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Time is manifestly not on our side.
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URANIUM: MYTHS AND FACTS Myth: Natural uranium is safe because it is weakly radioactive. Fact: Natural uranium is extremely dangerous when inhaled, ingested, or when it gets into a cut, because it emits alpha particles, which are “more dangerous than other types of radiation” to cells and DNA when inside the body (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). It also emits beta and gamma radiation. Comparing the radioactive exposure experienced during medical procedures and air travel to (ingested) emitters, such as uranium dust, is like comparing apples to oranges. Fact: The scientiﬁc consensus is that there is no safe dose of radiation (The National Academy of Sciences). Radiation causes many health problems such as cancer, miscarriages, genetic defects, including mental retardation, and inheritable diseases. Fact: As uranium decays, it turns into other dangerous substances including radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer. Fact: Uranium can also bind to DNA, and take the place of calcium inside the body, so can target many systems, especially the kidney, brain and reproductive systems. Regulators have not taken uranium's aﬃnity to DNA and other factors, such as the Secondary Photo Enhancement Eﬀect, and the Bystander Eﬀect into consideration when coming up with their risk assessments. Evidence shows that uranium is dangerous at very small concentrations (The European Committee on Radiation Risk). Just one damaged bit of DNA from one decay, can cause cancer. Fetuses and children are extremely vulnerable to radiation. Myth: Canada's nuclear regulator can be trusted to give your health top priority. Fact: The CNSC does not take a precautionary approach to your health. It operates under the ALARA principle —As Low as Reasonably Achievable. This means allowable risk, allowable harm. Its mandate is also to promote the nuclear industry, and it reports to the Minister of Natural Resources. It has shown itself to be a ﬂawed regulator. (See: http://voices-voix.ca/en/facts/proﬁle/canadian-nuclearsafety-commission) Myth: We are suﬃciently prepared and the public is aware of emergency response measures. Fact: Accidents happened! In 2017, BWXT found they had been using the wrong ﬁlters for masks, exposing employees to highly toxic Beryllium (Beryllium is another pollutant coming out the smoke stack near Prince of Wales school). Fugitive emissions happen all the time. In 2018, a large rainfall ﬂooded the Toronto pelleting factory's basement, PAGE 26
resulting in a power outage and 50 drums of contaminated water requiring disposal (BWXT Compliance Reports). Fact: The public is required to have easy access to the required emergency preparedness information and know how to respond to an emergency at a nuclear facility. This information must be proactively provided by BWXT. BWXT in Toronto has a Citizen Liaison Committee for this purpose. Peterborough does not.
The Beginning of the End of the Age of Oil Over the preceding centuries, humanity has so fully and completely searched the globe for the various forms of fossil energy that all the discovered sources that were easiest to extract have been done so already. This 'low hanging fruit' has been picked and sent oil companies to the farthest reaches of the globe; the high Arctic and the ocean ﬂoor, looking for more oil. The result is a constantly rising cost of production and a constantly decreasing return on investment. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy generation has been decreasing for decades and is now competitive with many forms of fossil energy. For example, in 2018, citing its mandate to fund the cheapest alternatives, the World Bank announced it had decided to pull out of funding construction for a large coal-ﬁred power plant in Kosovo because it determined that renewable energy projects would be cheaper to develop. In California, General Electric recently announced the closing of a large gasﬁred power plant, 20 years early, due to increasing competition from the renewable energy sector and obsolete technology. Ironically, the site has been sold to a company that manufactures battery storage systems.
WHOM TO TRUST? The graphic below was published by the World Nuclear Association. It suggests hydro and nuclear have almost equally low carbon footprints for the production of electricity.
Source: The World Nuclear Association, 2018 https ://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-basics/greenhouse-gasemissions-avoided.aspx
The following summarizes remarks from 'False Solution: Nuclear Power Is Not Low Carbon,' an article from the British magazine, The Ecologist (February 2015): · We need to take into account carbon dioxide emitted in all stages in the life of the generator and its fuel. Such a study is called a life cycle analysis (LCA). · Using 0.005% ore, nuclear has higher carbon emissions than gas. · There have been nearly 300 papers on the carbon footprint of nuclear power in scientiﬁc journals and reports in recent years. · It is extremely diﬃcult to ﬁnd independent assessments. · One set of data for carbon emissions ranged from 4 to 220 g CO2/kWh. The authors did not report an average, but rather a median value: half the estimates were below 13 gCO2/kWh. · In 2008 a groundbreaking paper was published. 103 LCA estimates were pared down to 19, which were regarded as rigorous. The estimates ranged from 3 to 200g CO2/kWh. The average carbon footprint was 66gCO2/kWh, which is above the CCC limit. (British Climate Change Committee). · There is no consensus in the scientiﬁc literature as to the carbon footprint of existing nuclear reactors. Whom to trust? LIVING LOCALLY
WHALE, NET AND KNIFE: AN ECONOMIC MEDITATION CHERYL LYON - Dr Jon Lien PhD is known in Newfoundland as “the Whale Man.” He personally rescued some 500 whales from entanglement in ﬁshing nets. His methods spread worldwide to save thousands more whales. Most of us likely see this as a heroic, ecological act of a human person deeply connected to Nature. And it was. But it was also something else. Lien had an equally compassionate intent: to save the livelihoods of ﬁshing workers. Fishing’s a precarious job. And ﬁsh as food and livelihood are particularly deep in Newfoundland culture and economy. Gear is hellishly expensive. One net can cost $8,000; a commercial ﬁshing license and boat in the hundreds of thousands. Jon Lien’s cuts to a net could be repaired, the net reused. This intersection of ecology and economy is the story of our times. Exercising our place as top predator in the food chain, we humans take life to survive at the same time as we respect and love it. But the global corporate economy we’ve crafted lost the sense of life-sustaining balance, typiﬁed by the practice of killing a whale to save the net, eventually leaving nothing for the ropes to catch (or to extend the analogy, for the soil to grow or the water to nourish) - which most often happened until Jon Lien came along. We can confront, manage, embrace or resist this reality. We just can’t escape it (missions to Mars notwithstanding.) Jon Lien did all of those things. He lived in the agonizing human space between nourishing life and having to take it in order to be nourished. He was a bird biologist by profession. Once, when out on the ocean recording bird and whale sounds, his own boat
unexpectedly encountered a ﬁsherman with a dying humpback whale tangled in his net. Confronting both the situation and his own humanity, Lien jumped into the water to cut the whale free. In doing so, he also resisted oversimplifying the dilemma by just killing the whale to rescue the net. In the moment, the word “economy” never entered his mind. But later, when asked, he shared that the ﬁsherman had tears running down his face as he hauled up his salvaged net. That’s when Lien learned that the man had lost a net earlier that year; a second loss would have bankrupted him. Lien managed the unexpected situation with courage and swift resourcefulness, knowing his eﬀorts could equally fail or succeed. He had only a knife and a diving mask. The rough sea bumped the boats and whale together dangerously. The whale had to trust that is was about helping, not harpooning. All were managing together. Jumping into the sea, Jon Lien embraced a lot of things, whether he knew it or not. He embraced danger, the unknown, two other beings in distress, and the best in his own self. In choosing to cut the net to free the whale, he resisted past best practice, the quick, easiest solution. His choice was to try for both net and whale. He risked even self-preservation for something he believed more important, an action that shows what is needed in our times: to resist money and ease as our highest values, the values of a seductive, wasteful economy that we choose not to see beyond. In the end, this whale died. But from then on, Dr Lien never stopped rescuing whales and never abandoned the best of his humanness. He continued to confront, manage and embrace his role in that tragic human space between respecting and having to take life. More about Jon Lien can be found at https://baleinesendirect.org/en/scientiﬁc-exploration/research-inquebec/jon-lien/ and other sources. Credit for this “meditation” goes to playwright Robert Chafe’s play “Between Breaths”, Playwrights Canada Press. Toronto. 2018.
MAKING PETERBOROUGH CANADA'S FIRST SPONGE CITY ROSE BERGERON - “Sponge what?” will say most people upon hearing the words “Sponge Cities” for the ﬁrst time. A Sponge City is an urban area that “manages rainwater where it falls” by slowing it down and soaking it up with rain gardens, green roofs, green walls, permeable pavement, ponds, and green spaces of all sizes: private yards, boulevards, parks. The concept of Sponge Cities originated in China in 2013. The country plans to turn 80% of its urban areas into 'sponges' by 2030. Berlin, Cambridge, Seoul and Shanghaï have declared themselves sponge cities and the trend is picking up steam, with international conferences, local projects, and a hashtag on Twitter, #SpongeCities. The idea behind a sponge city is to inﬁltrate stormwater into the ground and replenish the aquifer (from which we draw our drinking water), instead of ﬂooding streets and basements. Trees, vegetation and soil ﬁlter rainwater and remove pollutants, contributing to better water quality, cooling city streets, and providing pockets of wildlife habitats for pollinators and birds. To become a Sponge City Peterborough must: 1) Make existing public and private green spaces more absorbent with trees and plants rather than lawns; 2) convert impervious surfaces into absorbent ones, either with permeable pavement or outright depaving; 3) Insure that all new parking spaces, roads and streets are permeable, or feature signiﬁcant green infrastructure. How much would all that cost? Much less than the cost of the 2004 ﬂood! To become a Sponge City, the City and all property owners must participate. A Sponge City is a communal eﬀort. It
doesn't work if uphill neighbourhoods - who may not be aﬀected as much by heavy rains and ﬂooding - do not take measures to manage rainwater runoﬀ on their properties so it doesn't ﬂood downhill neighbourhoods. It's a matter of environmental justice. In Peterborough, GreenUp delivers Ready for Rain Peterborough installing rain gardens for diverting stormwater, and , with Green Communities Canada, Depave Paradise projects that remove unused city paved surfaces and replaces them with green spaces. Unfortunately, more asphalt and concrete are being put down than are being removed in Peterborough. The rate of development and its subsequent paving of new roads and parking spaces continues at a rapid pace. Traditional materials for roadways do not suit the needs of a Sponge City. New materials and technologies exist to assist with water retention and must be used. In the US, Pittsburgh and Chicago are retroﬁtting entire neighbourhoods to make them ﬂood resilient. The City of Peterborough and its residents must look at the big picture and act now, given the climate emergency. Let's make Peterborough Canada's ﬁrst Sponge City… before Kingston beats us to it! Rose Bergeron, author, cartoonist and environmentalist, calls Peterborough home since 2000. Graeme Marrs is a designer and critical thinker.
ABOUT VOLUNTEERING FOR TRANSITION TOWN PETERBOROUGH A thousand times, I have been asked, “Why should I volunteer?” The person who asks, could answer the question themselves. Dig deeper and start with: “What do I want to change? Is that change going to be in me? In the community? In others?” AND: “What do I have to oﬀer? Where do I want to be headed?” Transition Town Peterborough is an education based, all-volunteer organization. It strives to make Peterborough County and City a more livable, more resilient community, as the world faces a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and increasingly challenging climate change. As current volunteers, we welcome you to join us on that journey. Each year, we organize two festivals – the Dandelion Festival in May celebrates wellness, while the Purple Onion Festival in September celebrates local food and culture. Would you like to join us on a Festival planning committee? There are opportunities to share your skills at all levels. Commit as much or as little time as you are comfortable with. Every eﬀort counts; every bit helps.
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We have openings on our Board of Directors. We would love to have some professionals on the team: someone with a ﬁnancial or marketing background, a lawyer on standby is always a good idea. We really need volunteers to deliver Greenzines around town and through the County. You are reading one right now. To get to you, it passed through the hands of several volunteers. The Greenzine is written and published locally. Do you have a pet environmental theme, about which you are enthusiastic about writing an article or two? Outline how you would like to make this a better community, more equitable, more energyindependent, more intact environmentally, more resilient economically? TTP oﬀers training to all new and potential volunteers. Our message is simple. Our passion is evident. For information on what volunteering can do for you, try this. Contact me: https://www.volunteeringsolutions.com/blog/reaso ns-to-volunteer/ Dave Sumner email@example.com 905 515 3179 or 289 339 9053
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This issue: Kids and Climate Change