Science Matters – Reimagining streets could lead to healthier cities

During the COVID-19 pandemic, cities worldwide have been repurposing streets to create more room for walking and cycling. In some, temporary measures to help people maintain physical distancing, like lower speed limits and limited car access, are providing impetus for permanent changes that prioritize healthy mobility choices over cars. Cities are being reimagined as places not just to move cars (often with a single occupant) as quickly as possible, but as places where everyone has the right to get around safely.

Montreal’s plans may be the most ambitious in North America. In June, it’s adding 200 kilometres of temporary active transportation routes and reconfigured streets for cyclists and pedestrians. That’s in addition to 127 kilometres of permanent infrastructure and road network changes to increase cycling and pedestrian connections between parks and commercial and residential areas.

My hometown Vancouver is temporarily repurposing 50 kilometres of road space for active transportation. I hope some become permanent.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo vowed her city won’t return to its pre-pandemic status quo for cars. Already committed to being cycle-friendly, the city is remodelling its core for more mobility options, barring older polluting cars from entering and adding 650 kilometres of pop-up cycle ways. Seventy-two per cent of its on-street car parking spaces are being removed to accommodate new bike lanes.

Milan, one of the cities earliest and hardest hit by the virus, is transforming 35 kilometres of streets over the summer. It’s using low-cost temporary priority cycle lanes, widened pavements and reduced speed limits to expand cycling and walking spaces.

Even car-dependent American cities are taking transformation leaps.

Even car-dependent American cities are taking transformation leaps. Seattle’s temporary street closures — 32 kilometres of roadway, mostly in “areas with limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out” — have become permanent. Portland and Oakland are creating slow-safe street programs, modifying and closing roads to vehicle traffic.

Bogota, Colombia, which prioritized non-vehicle street options decades ago, is now seeing the rewards. The city’s “ciclovía” regularly closes 120 kilometres of arterial city streets to motorized traffic every Sunday between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. During the pandemic, weekday motor-vehicle closures have been added.

The safety and health benefits of repurposing streets away from car domination are clear. During the pandemic, more and better pedestrian and cycling space allows for safe exercise and easy access to necessities. It relieves pressure on roads and transit and allows front-line workers to commute safely. Many countries, including China, GermanyIrelandthe United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada, have seen a surge in urban cycling during the pandemic shutdown.

Economic recovery efforts could focus on ways for unemployed culture-sector workers and artists to animate public spaces to welcome people back.

Cities are reimagining public spaces with wider, more interesting sidewalks, extended patio areas and creative laneway redesigns. Street parking spaces can be converted to outdoor dining areas, docks for bike shares or pollinator-friendly gardens. Economic recovery efforts could focus on ways for unemployed culture-sector workers and artists to animate public spaces to welcome people back.

Building active transportation infrastructure is a good bet for economic recovery. A University of Massachusetts study found that for every dollar invested, bicycle infrastructure projects create more employment and use more locally produced materials (albeit fewer overall) than car-only road projects. They can create up to 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46 per cent more than car-only road projects.

Removing cars from more roads will also help retain some of the air-quality improvements we’ve seen with plummeting car use. Pollution from fossil fuel–powered vehicles is deadly. Recent research found bad air causes 8.8 million deaths annually worldwide. That’s more than the number of people killed by tobacco smoke. For those with COVID-19, evidence shows air pollution increases the likelihood of getting gravely ill.

As municipal governments improve active transportation options, senior governments can’t ignore the need for public transit emergency operating funding. As well as being an important climate solution, well-functioning transit will be key to preventing a rush back to cars.

The shortcomings of car-oriented streetscapes are being highlighted like never before during the pandemic. The health crisis is forcing cities to rethink how people get around and consider possibilities for connected, car-free corridors. Today’s temporary solutions are pointing the way to tomorrow’s healthier, safer, more resilient cities that welcome everyone.

SOURCE

Written by David Suzuki with contributions from Communications and Policy Specialist Theresa Bee

‘Our prosperity must be compromised because it is killing us’

Coronavirus has forced the global economy to shrink. Is this what a more sustainable world without growth could look like? DW spoke to environmental economist Niko Paech about his ideas for a post-growth society.

As countries around the world slowly emerge from lockdown, many are crawling into a reality characterized by economic crisis and soaring levels of unemployment. According to the World Bank, the global economy is set to shrink by 5.2% this year, rendering this the deepest recession since World War II.

But even this historic contraction doesn’t go far enough for environmental economist and degrowth proponent Niko Paech. He argues that we need to transition permanently to a post-growth economy if we want to ensure our survival on this planet.

DW spoke to Paech for the new series of the environmental podcast On the Green Fence.

DW: You would like us to switch to a post-growth economy because you say it’s the only way for us to survive on this planet. How do we reduce production and consumption without jeopardizing our prosperity?

Professor Niko Paech: Our prosperity must be compromised because it is killing us. It must be reduced, especially since there is no right to this prosperity. The same applies to other consumer democracies whose prosperity is the result of decades of blatant plundering. This means that by reducing prosperity we are not relinquishing something, but rather giving back the booty that we in our insolence have presumed to claim as ours.

DW: What would people have to relinquish if your concept of a post-growth economy were to be implemented?

Paech: Your question is all wrong from the outset. It’s not about relinquishing. How can you relinquish something that you’ve never been entitled to in the first place?

DW: But isnt that a question of perception? Many would argue they are entitled to this…

Paech: Hang on! I can’t just rob a bank and say I am entitled to this booty and the two dead people lying on the floor are simply collateral damage. It’s the same with the ecologic side effects of my air travel or consumption. Or let’s say you go to the doctor tomorrow and the doctor says: “You have a huge malignant tumor on your back. I’ll have to cut it away for you to survive.” Of course I’m not going to make a fuss and say: “Oh God, how can I do without this tumor?” No! It’s a relief to get rid of it. I wouldn’t mix up relief and renunciation. That is way I don’t talk about renunciation, but prefer the more neutral terms of reduction or self-limitation.

Read more: Can a minimalist mindset help save the planet?

DW: So what would this self-limitation entail for us in concrete terms? What would change?

Paech: First off, the vast majority of holiday travel by plane, cruise ship or car is simply no longer tenable in the twenty-first century. Next it’s crucial to dismantle digitalization. We will not survive in a digital world. Then of course there is consumption. We must learn to use durable goods in a way that their useful life is at least doubled, if not tripled. And we will need a major change in the agricultural sector. Meat consumption must be cut by at least two thirds. Creating more living space is also off the cards. But above all, we will need to share more at a local or regional level, for instance with neighbors sharing a lawnmower or car.

This will not only save a lot of ecological resources, but will also reduce our dependence on money and consumption. And that in turn will create greater resilience, including socio-political resilience. This means that people are no longer so dependent on their current jobs or transfer payments from the state. Instead, they become more adept at providing for themselves in networks in a more collaborative manner. But having a big clear out also means we need to dismantle things without replacing them. This is crucial.

Three sit-on lawnmowersHow much is too much?

condensation trails cross in the skyCan frequent fliers be moved to stay on the ground?

DW: Dont you think you are overburdening people here? Do you really believe this can be achieved by consensus?

Paech: No. Of course this won’t be achieved by consensus. This can only be achieved if people rise and act together by forming alliances within social niches and by creating counter-cultures with a post-growth lifestyle that challenges society as a whole. It’s never an attack on democracy to simply say no. No to air travel, no to meat, no to smartphones, no to home ownership or to some absurd new acquisition. No one can take that right away from you in a democracy.

DW: But to actually stop people from flying or driving cars, you’d need very strict measures and lots of bans, or not?

Paech: There are all sorts of bans in a democracy. In Germany you can’t drive through red lights for instance. Nobody would consider this dictatorial. People often pretend that bans are not democratic. We currently don’t have a majority for this anyway. But there will come a point when people will revolt and then they will confront those are still behaving like ecological vandals at the expense of others.

Read more: ‘The time has come for humanity to go through its next evolution’

DW: Aren‘t you worried that a sustained shrinking of the economy would wreak havoc with our social systems?

Paech: Our social systems will have to be restructured, of course. We would even, in the sense of socio-political autonomy, make people more resilient. So instead of feeding the factors that people are fighting over all the time anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to make people more independent and reduce the rivalry? The resilience I’m talking about simply means being less dependent on consumption.

DW: A lot of the change you‘d like to see would probably be hard to accept for most people right now. If you tried to give it a positive spin, what could people look forward to in a post-growth society? 

Paech: We’ve never been so free. We’ve never been so educated. We’ve never been so rich. We’ve never been so eager to assert our moral superiority at every opportunity. And at the same time, we’ve never lived in such an ecologically ruinous way. And this contradiction is eating away at us. Mental illness is on the rise. We are in the midst of a rampant identity crisis. It’s clear that the quality of life needs to be improved. We also need to reduce our fears about the future. No one can have a good life if they are constantly afraid of what the future might hold.

Read more: Welcome back greed and stress, we’ve missed you!

We also need to become more independent of markets, of technology, of money, of the state, of companies. Achieving that is perhaps the highest degree of freedom. We are not free today. In fact, ultimately, we are all puppets of a consumer dictatorship. If all supermarkets in Germany were to close for four weeks, we would become extinct, because as we grew richer we also lost our ability to satisfy our most basic needs.

Computers for sale in an electronics store
Clothing on display in a shopAre we addicted to our consumer lifestyle?

DW: Youre not just critical of consumerism and economic growth but also of green growth in particular. Why?

Paech: We have established a new religion. It’s what I would call the Church of Progress. Our faith in technology is helping us create completely new alibis and excuses. We argue that it is not really our lifestyle that is the problem but rather the fact that we still haven’t achieved the necessary technological progress. Take Germany’s energy revolution for example – it’s the perfect alibi. I can fly to the Caribbean as long as I buy green electricity. It’s all a bit reminiscent of the Catholic trade in indulgences. One could say that the air traveler’s guilty conscience is drowned in organic lemonade.

And this technological compensation logic is fueling a green economy which is setting new records everywhere, not only in Germany. But the ecologically harmful things are also setting new records everywhere at the same time. And that is no coincidence, but rather the systemic connection between eco-vandalism on the one hand and a new ecological indulgence trade.

DW: Do you have an explanation why it’s so hard for us to slow down, consume less, and produce less?

Paech: As long as people haven’t practiced how to reduce things they won’t be able to do it even if they have long understood that it is necessary. And we are not practiced in reducing things, on the contrary we have been collectively trained in the logic of growth. But if a society really wants to practice reduction, somebody must set an example. We need pioneers. But we simply don’t have any role models for a sustainable life.

Read more: Life after coronavirus: ‘We can shape a totally different world’

DW: Were running out of time over the climate crisis and we need a global solution. If we look to the developing or emerging countries, how realistic is your post-growth model there? Surely we cant just tell them: Dont make the same mistakes as we made! Dont grow! You mustnt reach our standard of living or the world will have a problem.

Paech: Until a country of the global North actually implements a post-growth society, there is absolutely no chance to inspire so-called emerging and emerging countries to follow suit. I believe that there is a moral duty on the part of the North, which has caused so much damage through colonialism and the subsequent industrial plundering of this planet, to take the lead. Especially since the very people who are suffering most have not contributed to the damage at all. We need to implement this as a blueprint for others. And the rest is fate. The rest depends on how crises impact on us, like corona for instance.

SOURCE

Environmental economist Niko Paech is one of Germany’s leading sustainability researchers and growth critics. He’s a professor at Siegen University. Paech believes that transitioning to a post-growth economy is the only way for mankind to avoid global environmental catastrophe.

Paech was interviewed by Neil King and Gabriel Borrud for the DW podcast, On the Green Fence. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

‘Is that profiling?’ Grand chief questions Winnipeg police interaction with First Nations support group

First Nations men say police harassed member of group outside library; police say it was mistaken identity

A Winnipeg police officer speaks to Peter Pelletier, left, outside the Millennium Library on Thursday, as Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, centre, and others look on. (Submitted by Travis Bighetty)

A Manitoba grand chief is raising questions about whether an interaction between Winnipeg police and a group of First Nations men in the city is an example of racial profiling.

A support group of four First Nations men met outside the Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg on Thursday. Four uniformed officers arrived and one began questioning group member Peter Pelletier.

“How did I feel? Oh my god, you know, I thought I was going to jail,” Pelletier told CBC News via Facebook on Friday. “I felt terrified.”

Pelletier said he had parked in a nearby garage a short time earlier, and rushed back to his vehicle when he realized he had forgotten his wallet. Within minutes of returning, the officers showed up.

One singled him out, said Pelletier. He said the officer asked him what business he had in the parkade, and then asked him several times for his name.

“I said I’d rather not give my name, and he says, ‘Well, you should.'”

Pelletier said he asked what he had done wrong.

“You can’t just walk up to me and say, ‘Give me your name,'” he says he told the officer. “I said, ‘Am I going to be arrested if I don’t?'”

But the officer “was just getting more and more aggressive,” Pelletier said, and told him he wouldn’t be arrested, but continued to demand his name.

Mistaken identity: police

Pelletier said he told the officer he had parked in the parkade, and eventually he showed the officer his parking stub as proof, hoping that would end the interaction.

Pelletier said he felt very intimidated.

You can see how things can quickly spiral: what would have happened to Peter if all of the other people weren’t there?– AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas

“With all the stuff going on, you know I really feared … I kept picturing myself being shot,” he said.

“I was trying to be brave, I was trying to be whatever, but deep down I was scared.”

Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said this was a case of mistaken identity.

“My understanding is all the parties were satisfied and comfortable with the interaction,” Carver said in a statement.

‘Is that profiling?’

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs questioned whether things were sufficiently resolved.

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas was invited in advance to the meeting and showed up out of solidarity.

WATCH | Chief Dumas questions whether police profiled First Nation man in Winnipeg
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said he isn’t pleased with how police interacted with a group of First Nations men outside the Millennium Library on Thursday. 2:14

He arrived as the interaction with police was winding down. Dumas said he saw three officers off to the side, and one “fixated” on Pelletier.

“When I approached, one of the facilitators ran up to me and informed me that they felt that the police officers were harassing and interrogating one of the members,” said Dumas.

“That those officers honed in on an individual, I sort of questioned … Is that profiling?” he said.

“And the fact that they were so insistent on asking this individual questions … I find problematic.”

Dumas said he asked the officer if there was a problem, and the interaction ended shortly after.

He suggested the situation was more tense than it needed to be. He understands why the men felt scared.

“Four police officers and their bulletproof vests … you know, they’re pretty intimidating guys,” he said.

“I think it was excessive. I think it was an infringement on that person’s rights.”

Change needed in policing: Dumas

He has been in touch with Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth about what happened.

Dumas said he thinks these interactions have a connection with some of the broader conversations that are going on around police brutality, and the wave of anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“You can see how things can quickly spiral: what would have happened to Peter if all of the other people weren’t there?” Dumas said.

He recently called for reform in the ranks of the RCMP.

On Friday, he echoed some of his past points and said a fundamental shift in how officers interact with the public is needed.

“I think there needs to be a meaningful desire to sort of change the culture of our police forces.”

SOURCE

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, social justice, health and more. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

 

There’s a one-in-three chance of a ‘massive’ disaster that could be worse than COVID-19, says Deutsche Bank

Volcanic eruptions are just one of the big disasters that may be lurking. GETTY IMAGES

After Tuesday’s rally on better-than-expected retail sales figures and an encouraging study of a drug to treat coronavirus patients, the S&P 500 SPX, 0.10% has rallied 40% from its closing low and is down just 8% from its February peak.

Clearly, disasters aren’t necessarily devastating to financial markets. That’s worth bearing in mind when considering a new report from Deutsche Bank that looked at the next massive tail risk for markets.

Analysts, led by Henry Allen, say there is at least a one-in-three chance that at least one of four major tail risks will occur within the next decade: a major influenza pandemic killing more than two million people; a globally catastrophic volcanic eruption; a major solar flare; or a global war. (The current COVID-19 pandemic has killed 443,765 globally already.)

If the time frame is two decades, then there is a 56% chance of one of these disasters occurring, the analysts say, based on various studies and risk assessments. Earthquakes were omitted from the numbers on the grounds that they are more local events.

The solar flare possibility is one rarely discussed, perhaps because the last severe one was in 1859, but the Deutsche Bank team finds that to be more likely than a major global war.

“There could be major power outages as electrical power grids are disrupted, which in turn would have knock-on effects throughout the economy as critical infrastructure is unable to be run properly. Lives could be lost if it impacted hospitals and medical care. Communications would be disrupted, many payment systems would be dysfunctional, and GPS [Global Positioning System] satellites would face extensive interference, to the detriment of all the individuals and industries that rely on accurate location services, not least aircraft,” says the cheery report.

Citing one study that assessed the odds of a major solar flare happening are 12% in a decade, that means there is a 40% chance it will take place in the next 40 years. Might want to keep a few spare batteries around.

Another point made is that these major events tend to have ripple effects as well, just as the current COVID-19 crisis has led to fraying ties between the U.S. and China.

The analysts didn’t suggest an investment strategy around their findings. Judging by the current environment, perhaps buying stocks would be the best response.

The buzz

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell faces lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee, a day after encountering senators and colorfully stating the central bank wasn’t like an elephant running through the corporate bond market.

Summing up the comments made by Powell, as well as Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, “all three indicated that the economy will probably show strong numbers for a couple of months as it reopens. The worry is that when activity flattens out, the economy will still be far from full employment,” according to Steven Englander, head of North America macro strategy at Standard Chartered.

Beijing canceled more than 60% of commercial flights and raised the alert level amid a new coronavirus outbreak. Vice President Mike Pence said in an opinion piece that there isn’t a coronavirus second wave.

MORE

Indigenous Leaders Call for Inquiry into Racism in Healthcare

 Photograph courtesy of unsplash.com

A Métis organization in BC says emergency room staff regularly play a game they call Price is Right when predicting blood alcohol level of Indigenous patients.

Métis Nation BC and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres say Indigenous patients can be denied medical assessments because healthcare staff assume they are intoxicated.

On Friday, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the province had launched an investigation into the allegations.

The MNBC says the assumption of intoxication, coupled with the denial of medical assessments, contributes to worsening health conditions resulting in unnecessary harm or death.

The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program says there are thousands of cases of racism in healthcare, resulting in harm to Indigenous patients.

In a recent training session, a participant disclosed a common game played within BC hospital emergency rooms, where physicians, nurses and other staff try to guess the blood alcohol concentration of Indigenous patients.

The winner of the game is the person who makes the closest guess without going over.

The MNBC, BCAAFC, and Indigenous leaders want the Ministry of Health to launch a public inquiry into Indigenous specific racism in health care in BC with a focus on hospitals and emergency departments.

Executive Director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Leslie Varley, says there is a lack of will to address systemic and specific racism towards Métis, First Nation and Inuit people.

According to Varley, “We know that our people avoid hospitals because we are afraid of having a discriminatory encounter. This happens to the point where Indigenous people end up in emergency with extreme diagnosis, like cancer.”

Daniel Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer for the Métis Nation BC says, “What is allegedly happening in BC hospitals to Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples is deeply disturbing and must immediately come to an end.”

Fontaine says they remain committed to working with Provincial Health Services Authority to increase Métis specific content curriculum, “to increase the knowledge and understanding of healthcare providers serving Métis people to ensure improved care and culturally safe experiences in BC.”

The Hospital Employees Union released a statement on Friday in support of the health minister’s decision to begin an investigation.

“This shameful and sickening behaviour that is alleged to have taken place in hospital ERs must be addressed quickly, and we support the Health Minister’s decision to immediately launch an investigation.”

The HEU says racism is deeply ingrained in many of our institutions including our health care system.

SOURCE

If we’re serious about addressing systemic racism, then prisoners should have the right to vote in the upcoming municipal elections

 

On October 17, 2020, Halifax will hold a municipal election. Amid worldwide protests and a mass movement calling for the defunding and disarming of police, city responsibilities around budgeting and police oversight have become a charged issue. The fall vote gives the public the opportunity to make demands around policing heard in what could be the most crucial municipal election in years.

But there is one group of people that cannot vote. Under the Municipal Elections Act (Section 15.c), “a person serving a sentence in a penal or reform institution” is disqualified from voting.

Photo: Halifax Examiner

The ban on prisoners voting in municipal elections is an anomaly. Incarcerated people can vote in both provincial and federal elections. The Sauvé decision in 2002 established that federal prisoners could not be excluded from voting. After that decision, Elections Canada provided prisoners access to the vote, but it took until Bill C-76 was passed in 2018 for the legislation that prevented incarcerated electors from voting to be removed.

The latest report published by Correctional Services in April 2019 shows an average of 470 people in provincial custody on any given day, with Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside being the largest institution. Calculating the number of federally sentenced people who would be eligible to vote in municipal elections is more challenging.

The report also reveals that by the average daily count, 62% percent of people held in provincial custody are on remand, meaning they have not been convicted. Almost 2/3 of those in custody are legally innocent, yet are prevented from voting on issues that directly impact them.

The same report shows that “Indigenous persons and African Nova Scotians make up a greater proportion of people in correctional facilities than in the general population.” African Nova Scotians made up “2 percent of the Nova Scotian population, but represented 11 percent and 10 percent of admissions to remand and sentenced custody.” Indigenous women are particularly over-represented, as in “2017- 18, Indigenous females represented 15% of female admissions to remand.”

Forty-two percent of federally incarcerated women are Indigenous, and Black incarceration is rapidly increasing. The Wortley report showed that Black people are six times more likely to be street checked than white people, and that one-third of Black men in Halifax have criminal charges. Disenfranchising incarcerated people suppresses the vote of communities who already face barriers to democratic participation. Even worse, the very people who are criminalized by racist policing regimes are denied the right to have their say about policing.

A former provincial prisoner whose family fled to Nova Scotia as refugees told the Halifax Examiner:

I have never been able to vote my whole life even though I have been in North America for 90% of my life. It makes me feel small thinking about it. 

Asaf Rashid, a lawyer currently on leave while working as a union organizer in Halifax, says that denying prisoners the vote is a clear violation of their rights:

The exclusion of prisoners from voting in municipal elections under the Municipal Elections Act should be ruled as unconstitutional. It is also against supposed objectives of rehabilitation, reintegration, and positive engagement in society that the correctional system claims are part of its objectives.

In the 2002 decision, Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer), the Supreme Court of Canada held that it was unconstitutional under section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to exclude federal inmates from voting. That section reads, “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.” Municipal voting should be read in as included under section 3, as municipalities have their powers delegated by the province and have control of matters of utmost significance to prisoners, such as budgets for policing and various social services that they will likely need upon release.

They must have a say in this, including through the ballot box. The cognitive dissonance between the apparent objectives of the correctional system with the exclusion of inmates from civic engagement really underscores how contradictory and debasing of human and fundamental rights the prison system is.

Along with police budgets, the cost of incarceration is also steadily increasing. The 2019 Correctional Services report indicates that in 2017/2018, gross expenditures on corrections were 71.8 million dollars. According to the report:

In 2017-18, gross expenditures increased by 3% from the prior year; part of a general increasing trend over time. Over the five-year period, gross expenditures increased by approximately $9.5 million or 15%.

In the same time period, the cost of keeping a person incarcerated also increased. From the report:

The average daily cost per adult in custody was $271 in 2017-18, which was $26 or 11% higher than 2016-17 and $68 (or 33%) higher than 2013-14.

According to defundthepolice.org:

The city of Halifax spends just over 20% of taxpayer dollars on funding the police. That’s a cost of $117 million. This is more than the tax dollars spent on public transportation, the library, and parks and recreation combined.

While hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on incarceration, with many more millions planned to be spent on building a new provincial jail in Cape Breton, the province has cut funding for housing that allows people to serve their sentences in community. From the Canadian Press article:

Ashley Avery, executive director of the Coverdale Courtwork Society, said it would save the province money to help continue the program.

She said the average daily cost per adult in custody is $271 per day, while the program has been operating at about $125 per day.

The rallying around defunding the police is not just a question of taking money away. It is also fundamentally about whether we invest in punishment, or whether we invest in social supports. The public outcry against the armoured vehicle; the increased pressure on Public Prosecution Services to drop the charges on Santina Rao after she was beaten by police in front of her children at Walmart; the confirmation that taxpayers pay the legal expenses of accused cops — these all show that people are ready to hold all levels of government accountable for the racism embedded in policing and in the justice system, and that we are talking about putting our money where our mouths are.

A Terradyne vehicle used by Toronto Police. — Twitter/@terradynearmor

It is unconscionable in these times that incarcerated people, many of whom are the victims of the very systems thousands of people in Halifax are hitting the streets to protest, should be prevented from exercising the most basic right to vote. The city cannot continue to ban prisoners from voting while claiming that they are taking these issues seriously. Without action, taking the knee while injustice continues is purely performative.

Will Sir John A’s Statue in Picton Survive Given His Legacy of ‘Cultural Genocide’ ?

As statues of the father of cultural genocide fall across  Canada, Sir John A Macdonald’s ‘Holding Court’ remains on Picton’s Main Street

As over a thousand joined the Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Picton Armoury, the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald “Holding Court” is still displayed steps away in front of the Picton Library with no explanation of his role as the architect of Indigenous genocide, his role as instigator of the political murder of Metis leader, Louis Riel, and the architect of the theft of Indigenous resources enforced by a miltarized police.

The statue, of course, remains  deeply insulting to Canada’s First Nations, including the residents of the County’s neighbours, the residents of Tyendenaga, a member of the  Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Nation-building for Macdonald ment the development of a Constitution only for white male Christians; a constitution that embeded cultural genocide for First Nations, excluded women,  Métis  and Inuu.

How long before PEC Council acts?

John A. Macdonald statue removed from Victoria City Hall

‘We’re here to say there’s no honour in cultural genocide and it’s time for the statue to go,’ supporters say

‘Their time has come’: Calls increase for removal of statues linked to colonial legacy
As statues topple around the world, thousands of Montrealers want Sir John A. Macdonald to be next
Charlottetown statue of Sir John A. Macdonald covered in red paint
Sir John A. Macdonald statue defaced overnight
George Floyd protests reignite push to remove problematic statues in Canada

 

Global warming increases human health risk due to toxic algae in Canadian Prairie lakes

water

Photo by FILE PHOTO

New research by scientists at the University of Regina’s Institute of Environmental Change and Society shows that global warming is increasing levels of toxic algae detrimental to human health. The studywaspublished online, in the journal Limnology and Oceanography Letters.

“Our decade-long project establishes that global warming is increasing toxin levels in Prairie lakes,” says Dr. Peter Leavitt, a Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and Society and a co-author of the study. “What is particularly worrying is that the chance of exceeding toxin levels that cause acute human health effects has increased to one in four in several lakes in southern Saskatchewan.”

Among the lakes affected are Pasqua and Crooked lakes which border on Pasqua and Cowessess First Nations, respectively, while Buffalo Pound is the drinking water source for the City of Regina.

Leavitt explains that urban growth and intensive agricultural activities increases pollution of freshwaters with nutrients from fertilizers, which increases growth of harmful algae known to produce potent water-borne toxins.

“Warming temperatures due to climate change have caused earlier and larger outbreaks of toxic algae, leading to growing toxicity levels that can pose a high risk of acute health effects according the United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines,” says Leavitt, who is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

The team’s research shows that nearly half of the surveyed Prairie lakes had elevated levels of microcystin, a toxin from blue-green algae that appears as green scum in water. Late summer toxin levels were high in both the drinking water reservoir for Regina, Saskatchewan, and in downstream lakes bordering First Nations territories.

The study’s authors, led by University of Regina research fellow Dr. Nicole Hayes, measured historical changes in climate, lake conditions, and toxins from blue-green algae over 11 years in six lakes of the Qu’Appelle River drainage basin. This area covers nearly 40 per cent of southern Saskatchewan, including most of Treat 4 territory, and drains directly into the Assiniboine River and Lake Winnipeg.

“While toxic algae are known to prefer warm waters, ours is the first study to demonstrate increased human health risk due to a longer growing season for algal blooms,” explains Hayes, now a faculty member at University of Wisconsin Stout.

Leavett adds that “the fact that global warming both increases growing season and average water temperatures provides the direct link of climate change to human health.”

Leavitt says that in addition to the Qu’Appelle long-term study, the scientists also conducted a mid-summer survey over 100 lakes in southern Saskatchewan. They found that 59 per cent of lakes exceeded drinking water guidelines for infants, while 42 per cent exceeded adult guidelines, and two lakes were nearly twice the levels known to cause acute human health effects.

Despite these findings, Leavitt notes there is some good news.

“Toxin levels in the Prairies were actually quite a bit lower than in the US Great Plains, where warmer summers promote more intense blooms of harmful cyanobacteria. As well, many Canadian water treatment plants have effective protocols for removing toxins from domestic water supplies.”

Rather than be complacent, Leavitt says that society needs to address the underlying problems.

“Global warming will increase temperatures in southern Saskatchewan by three to five degrees. By studying the Qu’Appelle lakes for nearly 30 years, we have been able to show that a three degree warming will nearly double the amount of toxin-producing cyanobacteria. The warmer it gets, the worse the problem will become,” says Leavitt.

Although the report focused mainly on lakes of southern Saskatchewan, the findings could be relevant to a region of nearly 15 million square kilometers; with similar findings expected for both Manitoba and Alberta.

A copy of the Paper and its Supplementary information is available at https:/doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10164

SOURCE

Climate council urges Macron to hold referendum on making destruction of nature a crime

A citizens’ council set up by President Emmanuel Macron to explore measures for cutting carbon emissions urged the French leader on Sunday to hold a referendum on making the destruction of nature a crime.

The “ecocide” proposal topped dozens of ideas presented by the 150 randomly picked members of the Citizen’s Convention on Climate, along with inscribing the fight against global warming in the French Constitution.

But participants voted against submitting a broader package of measures to the public as it wound up three days of debate during its final session on Sunday.

The move was a rejection of Macron’s suggestion last week that a referendum could be held on the individual measures, which range from improving home insulation to cutting maximum highway speeds to 110 km/h from 130 km/h (80 mph to 70 mph).

“Let’s make this referendum we’ve decided on the basis for holding all the other discussions,” said Hubert, one of the participants, who like the others was identified by his first name only.

Members gathered in separate rooms at the Palais d’Iena in Paris, while others participated by videoconference, to ensure social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Direct democracy’ demands

Macron formed the council in response to demands for greater “direct democracy” in the wave of the “yellow vest” anti-government protests that rocked the country in 2018 and 2019.

The unexpectedly fierce rebellion was sparked by a planned fuel tax hike aimed at funding the climate-change fight, which critics said unfairly targeted people who have no choice but to rely on their cars.

The council was tasked with finding ways to reduce France’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared with the levels of 1990 “in a spirit of social justice.”

Work began last October, and was expected to wind up earlier this year before meetings were halted during the coronavirus lockdown.

Macron has already said he will announce a “first response” when he meets with the 150 members at the Elysee Palace on June 29th.

SOURCE

(AFP)

Think again: how much water do you really need to drink?

If it’s a good idea to stay hydrated, how much water is enough? (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

According to popular wisdom, each of us should be drinking lots of water every day.

As The New York Times put it earlier this year, “Hydration is now marketed as a cure for nearly all of life’s woes.”

If it is a good idea to stay hydrated, how much is enough? And is the commonly held belief that we should drink eight glasses a day scientifically sound?

We asked Dr. William Clark what he thinks.

Dr. Clark is a research scientist, kidney specialist and international expert in water research. He teaches medicine at Western University in London, Ont.

He says says there are two groups of individuals who should consume that daily volume of water — people who have recurrent kidney stones and women with recurrent urinary tract infections. Otherwise, four glasses should suffice for the rest of us. But, Dr. Clark does caution against drinking too much, too fast.

In the United States, he says, a woman on a quiz show drank four litres of water in an hour, and she died. And don’t kid yourself that a cocktail counts toward your daily total. Coffee and tea are OK, but alcohol is a diuretic.

Listen to the full interview 10:17

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