Portable water testing kits can be used for ‘citizen science’ across Canada

The County Sustainability Group has been involved  with Water Rangers for the past 3 years. Contact us if interested in borrowing one of our test kits that we have available to loan out. E-mail: csgz@yahoogroups.ca

Joint initiative by Water Rangers and WWF Canada will test health parameters of water bodies across Canada

Kat Kavanagh, executive director of Water Rangers, and Elizabeth Hendriks, VP of Freshwater at WWF Canada, are seen here measuring dissolved oxygen in water. (Supplied by WWF Canada)

Citizen scientists can now monitor the water quality of bodies of water across Canada using portable water testing kits.

A joint project by the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the organization Water Rangers will provide testing kits to communities across the country, to fill in data gaps about water in Canada.

Over the last few years, WWF Canada conducted research that showed information on the health of Canada’s water was lacking across the country.

“We found that 65 per cent of our watersheds didn’t have enough data available to understand the health of them,” said Heather Crochetiere, senior fresh water specialist at WWF Canada.

Using Water Rangers’ portable test kits, individuals — from kids to seniors — can test general health parameters of lakes, rivers and streams across Canada, including pH, hardness of the water, alkalinity, clarity, oxygen, air temperature and conductivity.

The contents of a water testing kit includes tools to measure pH, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, water hardness and conductivity. (Rumneek Johal/CBC)

The portable kits come complete with instructions for the various water tests, and tests themselves only take from ten to 15 minutes to complete.

“A lot of people think that science is too complicated. I don’t think it has to be,” said Kat Kavanagh, executive director of Water Rangers.

Citizen science can help gather baseline data on water health across Canada. MORE



Wind turbine health risks unfounded, says new research

Image result for wind turbines and health
Wind turbine health risks unfounded, says new research

Most of the health studies , and this one too, accept that some people find wind turbines annoying and therefore feel their symptoms are being caused by the turbines; but there is no scientific evidence to support this.

More than 19 govt. funded health studies around the world all mostly say the same things and have never found reason enough to ever suggest safely sited wind farms are a health hazard . For example:

“This joint statement from the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa Policy Project, and the Iowa Environmental Council summarizes the results of the best research available and concludes that there is little scientific evidence that sound from wind turbines represents a risk to human health among neighboring residents.”

Here is the summary of the anti-wind lobbyists findings over the past 20 years:

    • Things to blame on wind farms: EVERYTHING
    • Things to credit wind farms for: NOTHING

DOWNLOAD: Wind Turbines & Health-Iowa Environmental Council


P.E.I. facility getting $660K from feds to combine solar and wind energy


Poll shows majority of Canadians say economy should shift from oil and gas, but most don’t know the Green New Deal

A pump jack operates in an oil field. A new poll shows 62 per cent of Canadians think the economy should shift away from oil and gas.

VANCOUVER—In an election race that’s put the environment front and centre, a new poll shows 62 per cent of Canadians think the economy should shift away from oil and gas.

Sixty per cent also believe “global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.”

Canadians are less familiar, however, with a non-partisan campaign that’s calling for more ambitious climate action. Thirty per cent of the 1,000 people who completed the Research Co. survey said they were either “moderately familiar” or “very familiar” with “the Pact for a Green New Deal.”

The online survey was conducted between July 15 and July 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

The Pact for a Green New Deal calls on Canada to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, while creating jobs and addressing inequality. The Canadian movement launched as a non partisan initiative with more than 150 partner organizations in May 2019, a few months after U.S. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tabled a resolution for a Green New Deal south of the border.

“There are definitely ideas in the Green New Deal that many Canadians believe should be implemented, but if you embrace the policy as a whole it could be quite complicated for all the parties,” said Mario Conseco, the president of Research Co.

“It’s an idea that resonates … but it’s not going to be enough to make a voter who is concerned about health care, or the economy and jobs, or crime and public safety to say ‘Well I’m voting exclusively on the environment and climate change,’ ” he said. MORE


Logga Wiggler/Pixabay

Canada is violating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and sidestepping international environmental law in its handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and a proposed three-berth marine container terminal south of Vancouver, contends the Lummi Nation in northwest Washington state, in a letter this week to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We’re in a state of emergency,” Lummi Nation Secretary Lawrence Solomon said in the release. “Our qwe’lhol’mechen (orca relations) are dying, our salmon are disappearing, our people are suffering. Our schelangen (way of life) is in peril. We have a Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to care for our culture and all our relations.”

“As our ancestors keep telling us, there is hope for the Salish Sea, there is hope for us. But we have to do the work,” added Raynell Morris, director of the Lummi sovereignty and treaty protection office. “Part of the work is our nation talking directly to the United States and to Canada about what we all need to do to save and protect these shared waters.”

The Lummi are “requesting a meeting with Canadian officials regarding the environmental impacts of industrial projects on the Salish Sea off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia,” The Canadian Press reports, maintaining that projects like Trans Mountain “will result in unavoidable, irreversible, and unacceptable harm to the nation’s territorial waters.”

The letter “points to the effect of increased shipping traffic on fishing areas, as well as the dangers of ship strikes, noise pollution, and oil spills for endangered southern resident killer whales,” CP adds. “The letter says so far, Canada has dismissed the Lummi Nation’s concerns with respect to Trans Mountain,” and shows no apparent change of approach with the container terminal plan.

CP notes that Canada officially adopted UNDRIP in 2016, but Conservative senators defeated a bid to harmonize Canadian laws with the principles in the declaration. SOURCE

The Indigenous nation exposing the lie of Canada’s “world class” oil spill response

Photo: Tavish Campbell

A different kind of sentencing hearing took place today on B.C.’s central coast, in an area known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

Three years after the Nathan E. Stewart sank, spilling 110,000 litres of diesel, effluent, and engine oil into Heiltsuk fishing grounds, the Indigenous nation is still waiting for justice. Canada charged Kirby – the Texas-based corporation that owns the ship – with nine criminal violations, including violating the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and the Pilotage Act, for not having a pilot on board the ship.

The company pled guilty to three of those nine counts, and was sentenced today – though the penalties, $2.9 million, will do little to disrupt business as usual for Kirby, a multi-billion dollar company and one of the world’s largest marine shipping companies.

“Today we’re witnessing the sentencing of Kirby. No matter what the ruling is, this is us, showing who we are, and starting our healing process.”

But business as usual looks very different when an Indigenous community is at the helm. According to Heiltsuk law, justice begins when offenders sit together with all of the parties impacted by the offence; a talking stick is passed so everyone has an opportunity to speak and to be heard.

This morning, in the Bella Bella Community School gym, Kirby representatives sat together with first responders, fishers, and community members. They heard testimony from victims of the spill, and were invited to witness first-hand how the community is struggling to recover from an accident that – far from Houston, where the company is based – may have seemed like a minor hiccup in Kirby’s global operations.

April Bencze

The community has suffered devastating losses – including the closure of fisheries that once supported many families in the remote coastal village. Surrounded by drummers, and dressed in her family’s regalia, Heiltsuk councillor Megan Humchitt fought back tears as she spoke. “Today we’re witnessing the sentencing of Kirby. No matter what the ruling is, this is us, showing who we are, and starting our healing process.” MORE

Alberta targets foreign ‘special interests’ — but omits Big Oil

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Photo: Government of Alberta/FlickrPhoto: Government of Alberta/Flickr

With the exception of Donald Trump’s claim that he’s draining the swamp, it’s hard to imagine a clearer example of gibberish than Jason Kenney’s claim that he’s defending Alberta against “foreign-funded special interests.”

The Alberta premier has launched a public inquiry to expose the foreign funding behind environmental groups opposing his efforts to increase production of Alberta’s carbon-heavy oil.

But Kenney’s claim to be shielding Albertans from foreign “special interests” is absurdly selective; he’s planning to shine the light on a small slice of foreign influence, while keeping the spotlight away from the massive foreign influence exerted by Big Oil.

If there’s ever been a foreign player wielding influence in Canada, it’s been Big Oil, which has exercised a virtual stranglehold over Alberta politics during the last few decades. But that story — and Kenney’s complicity in it — is one the premier is determined to keep under wraps.

“Big Oil was the original special interest meddling in Canadian affairs,” says Donald Gutstein, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University and author of The Big Stall: How Big Oil and the Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change. “From the very beginning, Canada’s oil and the tarsands were an American affair, financed by American capital to provide petroleum for the American market. Canadians and the environment be damned. Now Canadians, environmentalists and First Nations are saying ‘enough.'”

Let’s be clear: enormous amounts of money are being spent in the global battle to lobby governments and sway public opinion on climate change in the roughly dozen years we have left — according to the UN’s panel of climate experts — before it’s too late to stop the world’s descent into climate hell.

But the vast majority of this money — by a margin of about 10 to 1 — is spent by the fossil fuel industry, according to research by Drexel University’s Robert Brulle. MORE

Indigenous-managed lands have the greatest biodiversity, says UBC-led study

Adopting Indigenous practices could help improve traditional conservation efforts


As human activities such as deforestation, overfishing, and emitting greenhouse gases continue to devastate the planet, the forecast is bleak for its species. More than one million types of plants and animals worldwide are currently facing extinction: a number that is between 1,000 and 10,000 times greater than the natural rate.

A new UBC-led study suggests that Indigenous-managed lands may play a critical role in helping species survive.

Researchers sampled land and species data from three of the world’s biggest countries—Canada, Australia, and Brazil. The study was the first to compare biodiversity and land management on such a broad geographic scale.

The scientists discovered that the total numbers of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles were all greatest on lands managed or co-managed by Indigenous communities.

The second highest numbers of species were present in protected areas like parks and wildlife reserves, with the least amount of biodiversity apparent in randomly selected areas that were not protected.

“This suggests that it’s the land-management practices of many Indigenous communities that are keeping species numbers high,” said lead author Richard Schuster, the Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University, who undertook the research while at UBC. “Going forward, collaborating with Indigenous land stewards will likely be essential in ensuring that species survive and thrive.” MORE

Ottawa’s funding offer for mercury care home in Grassy Narrows far less than needed, chief says

Rudy Turtle, chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, seen here in a May 28, 2018 file photo.

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan has said the government is committed to building a care home to help the sickest of those impacted by the industrial mercury poisoning of Grassy Narrows First Nation.

The money is “booked” and “approved,” and the funding agreement the government wants the Indigenous community’s leaders to sign is “for keeps” and “legally binding,” he told CBC in June, adding that Chief Rudy Turtle will have “certainty … of our commitment financially.”

After reading the proposed funding agreement, Turtle said he does not have that certainty. The document, he said, is “the opposite of what O’Regan promised me and what he is telling the public.”

A draft of the proposed agreement obtained by the Star says Ottawa will contribute $10.5 million — far less than the total cost to build, according to a feasibility study — and that Ottawa can walk away from the deal for any reason with 60-days notice.

The draft also says the government may increase or decrease funding “based on approval of proposals or submissions from Grassy Narrows” and that ongoing funding for the construction of the home is dependent on annual approvals by Parliament. MORE

Sorry, scooters aren’t so climate-friendly after all

A look at the full lifetime emissions of the vehicles call into question the ecological assumptions around “micromobility.”

An image of bird scooters overlaid with a red X

Bird boasts that its dockless electric scooters allow customers to “cruise past traffic and cut back on CO2 emissions—one ride at a time.”

Its rival Lime claims the vehicles “reduce dependence on personal automobiles for short distance transportation and leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet.”

But the mere fact that battery-powered scooters don’t belch pollution out of a tailpipe doesn’t mean they’re “emissions free,” or as “eco-friendly” as some have assumed. The actual climate impact of the vehicles depends heavily on how they’re made, what they’re replacing, and how long they last.

Researchers at North Carolina State University decided to conduct a “life-cycle assessment” that tallied up the emissions from making, shipping, charging, collecting, and disposing of scooters after one of them noticed that a Lime receipt stated, “Your ride was carbon free.”

The study concludes that dockless scooters generally produce more greenhouse-gas emissions per passenger mile than a standard diesel bus with high ridership, an electric moped, an electric bicycle, a bicycle—or, of course, a walk.

The paper found that scooters do produce about half the emissions of a standard automobile, at around 200 grams of carbon dioxide per mile compared with nearly 415. But, crucially, the researchers found in a survey of e-scooter riders in Raleigh, North Carolina, that only 34% would have otherwise used a personal car or ride-sharing service. Nearly half would have biked or walked, 11% would have taken the bus, and 7% would have simply skipped the trip.

The bottom line: roughly two-thirds of the time, scooter rides generate more greenhouse-gas emissions than the alternative. And those increased emissions were greater than the gains from the car rides not taken, says Jeremiah Johnson, an engineering professor and one of the authors of the paper.

The electricity used to charge the vehicles is one of the smallest contributors to the product’s emissions. Fully half come from the raw materials and manufacturing process, which the researchers estimated, in part, by disassembling a Chinese-made Xiaomi M365 scooter, a model that Lime and Bird are known to use. MORE

Pam Palmater launches Reconciliation Book Club on YouTube

The Mi’kmaq lawyer and Ryerson professor is helping Canadians self-educate on Indigenous issues with a video series

Image result for pam palmater
Photo: Lisa Macintosh

According to Pam Palmater, the government isn’t doing the work for reconciliation. It’s up to the people – “the true government” – to do that work.

The Mi’kmaq lawyer and Ryerson University professor issued that call to action in the introductory video to her latest endeavour, The Reconciliation Book Club.

Launched in July, the YouTube video series and its comments section are meant to be a safe space for Indigenous peoples and their allies to collaborate on what Palmater describes as an interactive journey to educate the resistance. How to be an ally is not taught in schools, she reminds viewers, so self-education is key.

Palmater has written in NOW about Idle No MoreCanada 150 as a celebration of Indigenous genocide and most recently for our Missing and Murdered cover story. For The Reconciliation Book Club, she’s going beyond her own knowledge, tapping more voices and inviting discussion.

Each month she will recommend a book, and then in the following video she’ll discuss it using subscriber comments as feedback and contributions into the conversation. The series will focus primarily on Indigenous authors, she says, since those voices have been “silenced and ignored.” But Palmater will also feature a few non-Indigenous writers whose books she considers “important works to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and advance our causes.”

Palmater introduced the series in early July, announcing the first book: Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual For Decolonization. The collection of essays from various authors, including late activist Arthur Manuel, was published by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators in BC and is available as a free download.

Palmater’s first episode discussing Whose Land Is It Anyway? dropped on July 27. During the 40-minute video, she highlights the writing of Beverly Jacobs, who maps out the “core relationship between the colonization of Indigenous land and the colonization and targeting of Indigenous woman and girls.”

She describes the book as straight truth. “Truth has to come before justice,” she says. “And justice has to come before reconciliation.”

Check out the introductory video below.