Earth Overshoot Day is earlier than ever this year—and it underestimates the crisis

Earth Overshoot Day
Each year, we use far more resources than the Earth can replenish, and produce more waste than it can absorb.

On Monday, July 29, we will be 209 days into the calendar year. And we will have used up all the resources the Earth could regenerate in 365 days.

At least, that’s according to the Global Footprint Network, a group that uses an array of mostly United Nations data to calculate what it calls Earth Overshoot Day: the day when humanity overshoots the planet’s ability to recover from what resources we consume within each year—like regrow the trees we cut down, absorb the carbon dioxide we emit, and replenish the seas with the fish we harvest, to name a few. At this rate, it would take 1.75 Earths to sustainably meet the current demands of humanity, according to the available data. MORE

Lawyer argues activists should speak on behalf of animals in court

A Toronto lawyer is arguing animal rights advocates should be able to speak for animals in court.A Toronto lawyer is arguing animal rights advocates should be able to speak for animals in court. North Bay and District Humane Society / Facebook

A retired Toronto lawyer has gone to court in a bid to secure the right for advocates to speak up on behalf of animals in legal settings.

The case began earlier this year when Sandra Schnurr filed a notice of application against five retail giants selling glue traps, or devices commonly used to catch rodents.

READ MORE: Pamela Anderson calls on Alberta premier to end chuckwagon races

Schnurr argued that the traps subject mice and rats to agonizing, prolonged deaths and filed an application seeking to ban Canadian Tire, Walmart, Home Depot, Home Hardware and Lowe’s from selling them.

The retailers, in turn, filed a motion to dismiss Schnurr’s complaint on the grounds that she did not have standing to bring such a matter before the courts.

But Schnurr argued that the rules surrounding who has the right to speak on various legal issues have been relaxing and animal rights advocates should be permitted a voice in Canada’s courtrooms.

WATCH: Hundreds march in Paris calling for closure of slaughterhouses

 

The issue of standing was argued before Ontario Superior Court Justice Lorne Sossin last week and should be decided in the coming months.

Schnurr said questions around standing need to be resolved before her original notice about glue traps can proceed. If standing is granted, she said the case will have struck a blow for animal rights regardless of the outcome of the original complaint.

“If we succeed at this stage, even if we ultimately lose on the glue trap issue, the fact that we will have succeeded in getting public interest standing to speak for animals would be huge,” Schnurr said in a telephone interview. MORE

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Activists should be allowed to speak on behalf of animals in court, lawyer argues

Sandra Schnurr argued that the rules surrounding who has the right to speak on various legal issues have been relaxing and animal rights advocates should be permitted a voice in courtrooms

 

Hawaii Becomes First State in the U.S. to Ban the Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

Image result for ecowatch: Hawaii Becomes First State in the U.S. to Ban the Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

Tuesday Hawaii made history, as it became the first state in the U.S. to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic neurotoxin that causes significant damage to brain development in children. The pesticide’s detrimental health effects led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration to propose banning all of its agricultural uses, but the Pruitt-led EPA under the current administration reversed this pledge. The bill, SB3095, is a significant first step in protecting public health from pesticide harms for the State of Hawaii. In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, SB3095 requires all users of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) to report usage of these pesticides, and mandates minimum 100-foot no-spray zones for RUPs around schools during school hours.

Sylvia Wu, attorney for the public interest group Center for Food Safety, which has consistently championed for regulation of pesticide use in the State of Hawaii, emphasizes that the passage of this bill is a stepping stone towards even stronger legislation: “Today the Hawaii State Legislature finally heard the voice of its people. By banning the toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, Hawaii is taking action that Pruitt’s EPA refused to take,” said Wu, “and by taking the first step towards pesticide policies that will provide for more protection for children as well as more transparency, the Hawai’i State Legislature is acknowledging that it must protect its residents from the harmful effects of agricultural pesticide use.” Earlier iterations of SB3095 had called for only a few pilot schools with no-spray zones, but the final bill put in place mandatory disclosure and no-spray zones around all schools, in response to the outpour of public testimony urging for better protection.

SB 3095 represents a turning point for Hawaii, and marks a new chapter for its residents, who have repeatedly demanded protection against pesticide harms. The world’s largest agrichemical companies, such as Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta, experiment and develop their genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. Because the majority of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides, testing and development of these crops result in repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals. Many of their operations are adjacent to schools and residential areas, putting children and public health at risk. Voluntarily reported pesticide use data shows that these companies apply thousands of gallons and pounds of RUPs in Hawaii each year. MORE

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Canada: No more toxic chlorpyrifos in our food.

 

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PSAC Next steps in our fight for a fair contract and Phoenix damages

PSAC bargaining rally
Nearly 140,000 PSAC members working for the federal government and represented in nine bargaining units are currently working without contracts.  

While negotiations for new collective agreements for most members began over a year ago, the government repeatedly refused our reasonable proposals for a just settlement, even as the Phoenix pay system continues to wreak havoc on members’ lives.

Government rejects improvements to working conditions 

At the Treasury Board (TB) tables, the government insisted on wage increases that would not even keep up with inflation as well as a waiting period of up to 18 months after contract signing for retro pay. At the same time, the government rejected our proposals for:

  • implementing market adjustments where pay discrepancies exist;
  • providing a full top-up for the new 18-month parental leave option;
  • reducing contracting-out and precarious work in the public service; and
  • improving mental health in the workplace.

Meanwhile, in negotiations with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), management consistently refused proposals to address work-life balance and scheduling concerns, and repeatedly ignored our wage proposal without presenting an alternative. Furthermore, in Parks bargaining, agency representatives repeatedly came to the table unprepared to address key member proposals.

Because of the government’s unwillingness to address our demands and concerns, PSAC was forced to declare bargaining impasse for the TBCRA and Parks Canada units. All these tables (but not including the FB/Border Services unit) are now proceeding to separate Public Interest Commissions (PICs).

Phoenix damages: members are owed a fair deal

Progress also hit a wall on negotiations for Phoenix damages. After more than two years of talks, the government offered a meagre compensation proposal of 5 days of leave, which we could not accept. To add insult to injury, moreover, the government recently ended an incentive package for the recruitment and retention of federal compensation advisors, jeopardizing its ability to resolve Phoenix cases.

PSAC members are owed nothing less than fair compensation for more than three years of suffering they and their families have endured under Phoenix, a situation the Parliamentary Budget Officer says could go on until at least 2023.

We have the power of numbers

Although other federal bargaining agents have recently reached new collective agreements with the government and accepted the abovementioned Phoenix offer, we believe our members deserve better. PSAC represents more than 50% of all unionized federal government workers and we will use our significantly greater bargaining power to lead the way to a better deal, as we’ve done many times in the past. SOURCE

‘Uncharted territory’: How a Mountie union could transform the famous force

How the RCMP’s efforts to protect its public image have worked

An author and criminologist explain how the RCMP’s efforts to protect its image in the media have provided a protective coating strong enough to withstand a history of scandals and controversies. (3:00)  SOURCE

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Fact Check: How the New Democrats could create 300,000 new green jobs


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to delegates and supporters at the Ontario NDP Convention in Hamilton, Ont., in June. His party is vowing to create 300,000 new green jobs as part of a $15-billion fight against climate change. (Tara Walton/Canadian Press)

The Claim: “Our plan to fight climate change will create at least 300,000 new jobs.”

— A central pledge from the NDP’s Power to Change: A New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs

The Facts:

The federal New Democrats are promising to create at least 300,000 “good jobs” over the next four years if elected. And the party’s climate change strategy makes it clear that those employment gains would come in the sectors of infrastructure, transit, housing and renewable energy.

Mélanie Richer, the party’s communications director, says the figure is a “conservative estimate” of the jobs that will be created by the $15 billion in green investments that an NDP government would make over its first mandate, including $6.5 billion for mass transit, $3.5 billion to spur the transition to renewable energy and $2.5 billion targeted at making communities and homes more energy efficient.

The NDP based its math on studies like the 2017 Jobs for Tomorrow report commissioned by Canada’s building trades unions, which estimated that 3.3 million construction positions — and up to 14 million more “indirect” jobs — would be created by 2050 if the country made the society-changing shift to net zero carbon emissions.


The transition to net zero carbon emissions in Canada would create more than 17 million jobs by 2050, according to one labour-sponsored study. (Reuters)

The linchpin of the New Democrat’s green jobs plan is a related promise to require “large-scale building retrofits across all sectors” to reduce energy demand, including setting a target to retrofit “all housing stock in Canada by 2050,” with half of the improvements to be completed within the next 11 years.

To put that in perspective, the 2016 Census counted 14.1 million private dwellings across the country. So meeting that 50 per cent target in little more than a decade would require the renovation of more than 630,000 homes each year — a truly massive task.

The NDP is also vowing to build a half-million new affordable housing units over the next decade.

Would all that generate work for at least 300,000 people? Surely, yes.  MORE

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The NDP and the future of social democracy in Canada

Scotland generating enough wind energy to power two Scotlands

Access to markets and permits for wnd development are problems in Ontario and, of course, Prince Edward County. Unleashing the potential of low-cost renewable wind energy is key to developing our energy future where we ‘electrify everything’. The problem? Political leadership.

‘Amazing figures’ highlight consistency of wind energy in Scotland, say campaigners

Planning applications for new on-shore wind farms plummeted by 94 per cent after the UK government changed rules in 2015
Planning applications for new on-shore wind farms plummeted by 94 per cent after the UK government changed rules in 2015 ( Getty )

Wind turbines in Scotland generated almost twice the entire country’s domestic power requirements In the first six months of the year.

Enough energy was created by the country’s renewables to power homes from all the way up in Harris in the Outer Hebrides down to Harrogate in Yorkshire, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Scotland said.

The figures, from Weather Energy, show between January and June wind turbines provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4.47million homes for those six months.

That is nearly twice the number of homes in Scotland.

“These are amazing figures, Scotland’s wind energy revolution is clearly continuing to power ahead. Up and down the country, we are all benefitting from cleaner energy and so is the climate,” said Robin Parker, climate and energy policy manager at the WWF.

“These figures show harnessing Scotland’s plentiful onshore wind potential can provide clean green electricity for millions of homes across not only Scotland, but England as well.”

He added: “It’s about time the UK government stepped up and gave Scottish onshore wind a route to market.” MORE

Putting ecocide on a par with genocide

Readers give their views on strengthening protection of the environment


‘The pursuit of wildlife for “trophies” to adorn our walls … is the cruellest wildlife crime of all.’ Photograph: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty Images

Calls for a new Geneva convention to protect wildlife and nature reserves in conflict zones are welcome (Make environmental damage a war crime, say scientists, 25 July). But we should go further. Humanity is waging a veritable war on wildlife and nature every day. We are destroying habitats, changing the climate and persecuting animals that encroach on farmland that was once their home. The pursuit of wildlife for “trophies” to adorn our walls and with which to pose is the cruellest wildlife crime of all. Scientists have warned that “sport” hunting of lions is leading to a loss of genetic diversity that puts their survival at risk. The combined rate of deaths from poaching and trophy hunting is now greater than the birth rate of elephants. Permits are granted to hunters to shoot species that are extinct in the wild and of which just small numbers remain in private collections.

The late Polly Higgins, the acclaimed environmental lawyer, called for ecocide to be considered a crime on a par with genocide. If we are serious about protecting wildlife, world leaders should implement her recommendation. We must also take steps towards abolishing trophy hunting, a “sport” that is as senseless as it is damaging to wildlife. We can begin by banning the import of hunting trophies into Britain, and by calling on Cites at its conference next month to close the loophole that presently allows trophy hunters to shoot endangered species. SOURCE

Enough of the climate nightmare. It’s time to paint the dream

A new approach must connect the climate crisis with inequality to offer a compelling and attractive way forward for society


‘Tackling the climate crisis offers a profound opportunity to create better lives for people.’ Dunlaw wind farm in the Scottish Borders. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Let’s talk about the dream, not just the nightmare. Imagine the cities and towns of the future: clean, green, with decent air quality, hospitable to walking and cycling, powered by renewables, with green space, not concrete jungles, and rewarding jobs in green industries. That isn’t just a conceit for the imagination but a tangible vision of the future produced today by Common Wealth, the thinktank of which I am a board member.

Tackling the climate and ecological crisis requires urgently reimagining how we live and work. A Green New Deal – conceived of in the UK, popularised by US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and now powered by social movements here – should not just decarbonise today’s economy but build the sustainable and just economy of tomorrow. That’s why imagining a town transformed by a just transition to a low-carbon future isn’t just a nice piece of design, it is an essential symbol of where the climate movement now needs to take its case. That movement has an unprecedented chance to be heard as a result of the spectacular success of Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikes in refocusing public attention on the urgency of action. But now, with people listening once again, our duty is to offer a compelling and attractive vision of the future.

For far too long, progressives – myself included – have talked about the climate emergency and economic justice separately

The way we do this is by connecting the two great long-term crises that confront us today: the climate emergency and inequality. This is how we construct a broad and durable coalition that can sustain this unprecedented transformation. As well as truth-telling about the disaster that will confront us if we do not act, with the costs falling on those least responsible, ours must be a story of how we build a more equal, prosperous, democratic society. MORE