This week some political and economic heavyweights (B. Landry, M. Jérôme-Forget, J. Facal among others) came out with a pro-petrol manifesto titled Manifeste pour tirer profit collectivement de notre pétrole a distinctly Quebec version of the GOP’s Drill Baby Drill. Quebec needs money and we can get some by digging some homegrown oil, so this group claims. And when I say digging, I mean fracking.

And while the public is being subjected to this soft-ball persuasion, the Association pétrolière et gazière du Québec is actively lobbying the government to make sure it has a safe and well remunerated place in Quebec’s energy future.* Meanwhile, Petrolia (one of the major benefactors of this project) is trying to block municipalities from legislating against oil projects. Petrolia claims only the Province has that right.

The group behind the manifesto has been rebuffed in today’s Le Devoir by retired professor, engineer and geologist Marc Durand. Durand attacks their shoddy logic, limp sources, and their utter failure to grasp the economics behind the hypothetical venture.

Though brief, their argument is that oil exploration would enrich Quebec’s economic situation by “l’amélioration de notre balance commerciale” and by creating jobs. Note, that they did not say that Quebec would enrich its coffers by being in charge of the whole operation. Likely because the rights to the lands have already been sold to private petroleum companies.

The deal would see Hydro-Quebec profiting only after 10 million barrels of oil have been produced. And though there is said to be 30-40 billion barrels-worth underground, according to Durand, only about 1,2% of those could be extracted by wells. The monetary figures, as economic windfall for the state are all of a sudden much less rosy.

Even the document the Manifeste cites to argue for a positive commercial export/import rate in Quebec advances domestic oil exploration as the last and most controversial remedy. In fact, this HSBC document seems to advocate for a reduction in consumption (gasp) as an avenue to fix our commercial deficit.

As such, even if their manifesto opens with the good-old quiet revolution prayer and a nod to Hydro-Quebec, this venture is the antithesis of an economically (not to mention ecologically) sound projet de société.

* From the Registre des lobbyistes: Représenter les intérêts des membres de l’Association pétrolière et gazière du Québec auprès des différents titulaires de charge publique relativement à l’élaboration et la modification de dispositions législatives et réglementaires et orientations reliées aux hydrocarbures. Les représentations de l’Association visent notamment les amendements projetés à la Loi sur les mines et ses règlements, la nouvelle loi sur les hydrocarbures que projette d’adopter le gouvernement du Québec et la nouvelle stratégie énergétique du Québec, de sorte que ces dispositions législatives et réglementaires et orientations prévoient un régime de redevances compétitif pour les entreprises exploitant des hydrocarbures au Québec et des modalités favorisant le développement sécuritaire de l’industrie des hydrocarbures au Québec, dans le respect de l’environnement, et que les hydrocarbures occupent une place plus importante dans la nouvelle stratégie énergétique du Québec.

This post originally appeared on, republished with permission from the author

Everyone’s favourite evil multi-national corporation, British Petroleum (BP) has been given the green-light to dump large quantities of mercury directly into Lake Michigan, about 20 times over federal limits for the Great Lakes.

Now here’s where things get interesting (to me at least).

The Great Lakes empty into the Atlantic Ocean principally via the Saint Lawrence River.

To say we Montrealers get our drinking water from the Saint Lawrence is to say the very least; it further sustains the massive agricultural plain that Montreal happens to find itself in the middle of. In layman terms, it’s fucking important we don’t contaminate it anymore than it currently is.

I’d like to know the state of our water treatment plants. The recent city-wide boil water advisory lasted about a day and affected 1.3 of Montreal’s 1.8 million residents. It was caused by routine maintenance.

Sediment was stirred up from the bottom of the Atwater Treatment Plant when water levels unexpectedly dropped by a considerable degree. It took officials a day to figure out what happened, though in the end they realized there was no danger of contamination.

That was over a month ago – I still have too much bottled water.

Generally speaking we don’t have much in the way of water problems: occasional boil water advisories and seasonal watering bans happen and it’s impossible to completely get away from this. But we also know that most of our water and sewerage pipes are old, very old in fact, and have been known to burst, rather dramatically, in wintertime. Not to mention the fact that we have to use large amounts of chlorine to treat our water, all the while dumping raw sewerage back into the river.


With all this mind, it seems that we have managed to figure out a solution to a problem we’re contributing to, but with an infrastructure that might not be able to handle any new problems. Like contamination by mercury, or worse, heavy crude from Western Canada.

Mercury contamination led to birth defects amongst the James Bay Cree (not to mention the highest mercury rates amongst a First Nations community) as a consequence of the flooding of 11 000 square kilometers of the Taiga.

And consider the kind of damage that could occur with a burst pipeline anywhere in the Greater Montreal region: it’s not just the contaminated soil, but the potential for contamination of our aquifer and all the numerous waterways all around us. We’re on an island after all.

It’s a difficult situation; we would doubtless benefit from Western Canadian oil flowing to our city. It could result in the redevelopment of the East End refineries, not to mention likely result in improvements and the potential aggrandizement of our port facilities. And all of this means more jobs and money.

But private interests simply can’t be trusted to develop fail-safe pipelines. All too often they bend and break environmental rules to cut overhead costs.

And any new potential industrial development throughout the Great Lakes region bears with it the potential for new environmental dangers. Some of these problems are completely out of our control, such as the State of Indiana authorizing massive dumps of mercury into Lake Michigan.

But there are local measures that could be taken to dramatically improve the quality and durability of our water treatment and water distribution systems, not to mention the natural aquifer.

There’s an interesting intersection between natural water treatment and the maintenance and development of green spaces. Consider, as an example, Riparian buffers, which use ‘forested waterways’ to provide naturally treated water into agricultural lands (the presence of so much green also shades the water to reduce natural water evaporation. Natural beaches and swamps can further assist in natural water treatment.

Up until now I feel we’ve benefitted from these natural methods without doing much, if anything, to stimulate them. We’d be wise to consider the biological, as well as mechanical means to treat and distribute water systems throughout the metropolitan region.

But despite the universal necessity of water, our North American ways have made it that few politicians could successfully campaign on a ‘clean water’ platform without being uselessly labelled a environmentalist fringe candidate. We think water pollution is something that either happens in a developing country, or else happened here many moons ago.

Besides, you can buy bottled water anywhere, right?


This post originally appeared on, republished with permission from the author

canada_harper_3_14_2012It’s bad enough with all the scientific proof to the contrary that we still have climate change deniers in Canada, but I would argue having one of them as our Prime Minister makes it exponentially worse.

Now, I know Stephen Harper has never come out publicly and denied the existence of climate change; he doesn’t need to, his actions have spoken for him. After playing the common Canadian voter for fools for five years as a minority government, the veil has come off to reveal what Harper really thinks of the environment we all share.

Canadian voters who didn’t know any better might not have clued in to the big picture, but the signs were there. During his first minority run starting in 2006, Harper pretended to give a damn, albeit very little.

In 2006 the Conservatives introduced the Clean Air Act. The act was supposed to cut greenhouse gasses by about half of the 2003 levels by 2050. Environmentalists claimed these targets were inefficient, but the Prime Minister convinced Canadians that these targets were a more realistic than the ones set out in the Kyoto Protocol.

With the exception of Rona Ambrose, the Prime Minister appointed seemingly competent MPs to the Environment Minister post. By competent, I mean John Baird and Jim Prentice kept their mouths shut as much as possible.

For the following five years the Tories were kept in check by the Liberals and NDP and remained fairly silent on the issues of climate change. Some comments were made accidentally with the slipping of some Tory tongues and Harper himself called Kyoto a “socialist scheme” but by the time the election of 2011 came around they were all long forgotten.


When Harper gained his majority (with less than 40% of the vote), the curtain came down and the assault began. In the last two years Harper has been doing everything he can to reverse environmental protections and hide climate science.

No one was really surprised when he started by withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, but the Prime Minister didn’t replace it with anything. The Clean Air Act Conservatives introduced in his first term was reduced to nothing as they lowered its targets by as much as 90%.

Harper named ex-journalist Peter Kent as the new environment minister. Kent seemed to care about the environment thirty years ago, but these days his decisions have come from an economic view rather than an environmental one.

The first Conservative Budget under a majority slashed Environment Canada’s budget by $53.8 million a year. The Conservatives scrapped the National Round-table on the Environment and Economy, a group that provides advice on the environment.

At the same time, they moved to fast track the current process for the environmental assessment of resource-based projects. In addition, they have made it more difficult for charities, such as environmental groups, to engage in so-called political activities. To sum it up: no talking, no protesting and more digging.

Harper has also started to silence Canadian scientists. He has instructed Environment Canada to forbid federal scientists from speaking to the media and has defunded or threatened to defund those who do. It wasn’t long ago when we encouraged our scientists to speak out in order to know where the problems were.


Last year, the Prime Minister stopped funding the Environmental Lakes Area, the famous fresh water research facility. The pioneering Canadian contribution to global environmental science was instrumental in the fight against acid rain and has studied water pollution for 40 years. The funding was expected to run dry on March 31st 2013. The savings to Canadians is a mere $2 million, a tiny drop of clean water in the bucket.

Lately you may have heard about the 194 countries around the world that supports the United Nations anti-drought convention. Well that number has been reduced by one as the Conservative government of Canada has decided to withdraw from it. Conservatives claimed only 18% of funds go toward drought research and called the process a “talk fest.” Canada spent $291 000 on the convention last year, a grain of sand in the desert.

In the meantime, while Harper has turned his back on global warming and environmental science, he has continued to expand fossil fuel development across the country. “Over the next decade, more than 500 large new development projects will be proposed across the country, representing investments worth more than $500 billion” Harper said. I would imagine they’ll still be getting the same tax breaks they receive now.

The Prime Minister’s disdain for the environment is now known worldwide and he may end up shooting himself in the foot with his policies. Harper has been pressing US President Barack Obama to OK the Keystone XL Pipeline for years now and it’s not crazy to think Obama may reject it again for not wanting to be associated with him. After all, the US is awash with oil and gas these days.

Harper’s policies were adopted from the American conservative philosophy that small government is what’s best for the people. He believes the environment is not the responsibility of the federal government. However, by not taking steps to protect it, they are helping to destroy it instead.

The Prime Minister and his Conservative Party have been exposed as the anti-climate change party they are and it’s showing in the polls. Let’s hope that when Canadians vote again in a couple years that Idle No More, Canadian scientists and environmentalists don’t let the people forget.

Doing nothing to prevent climate change is the same as not believing in it.

Not since Confederation has a nation-building project determined so much of Canada’s future, divided Canadians and equaled the endeavor of CP Rail, than Alberta pipelines. Several projects have been proposed but nothing perhaps more politically contentious than the Keystone XL, which would run pipelines from Alberta to parts of central United States. While Northern Gateway would transport bitumen from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and then ship it to Asian markets.

Canadians must decide whether it would be better off becoming gas station of the world or global leaders combating climate change. Petroleum is a dangerous market and there are potential socio-economic and environmental risks facing Canadians. Outside factors are influencing whether Canada takes on those risks.

Despite some financialists, think-tanks and environmental expert warnings, PM Stephen Harper has vowed continuing support for Canada’s future in crude oil. Consequently, Conservatives have enforced gag orders on climate change scientists from speaking to the media and further removed environmental protections through Bill C-45, opposed by Idle No More.

Harper would ensure risks of environmental catastrophes from pipeline projects including clear-cut forests, depleted wildlife and risks of oil spillage into nearby bodies of water, poisoning communities. Even the most optimistic pipeline job projections, according to Cornell University, appear to be pipedreams. 85 to 90% of the people hired to do the work would be non-local and predominately temporary workers.

Oil venture in Canada is also up against time and technology. There is the impending deadline of Congress facing President Barrack Obama on whether to approve Keystone. If Obama rejects the deal, Canada would scrap Endbridge. There is also the rapid pace of American petroleum technology innovations.

Obama will likely announce a national synthetic oil technology policy. Synthetic oil is a greener, cheaper technology which could be harnessed in the United States. Its production utilizes a combination of non-food crops, natural gas and coal. The result of which is a much more sleeker and finer product.


Princeton University concluded it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% if non-food crops are used to produce that fuel. A national program would require further assessments and thereby extend Keystone’s deadline further down the road, effectively putting Alberta’s already uncertain future in the cruder, harsher tar sand oil in the stone ages with the dinosaurs.

This is the likely reason why Obama neglected to mention Keystone in his State of the Union address. Instead, the president emphasized cutting climate change, harkening back to his 2008 campaign promise to achieve American energy independence within ten years. All signs appear to point in this direction with John Kerry’s appointment to Secretary of State, Kerry being the most outspoken Democrat on tackling climate change.

Should American backing fall through, Alberta should not rely on its Chinese state-owned oil partner, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), to be its safety net. A Chinese ambassador to Canada has revealed that Beijing would not wait on Canada if Alberta-BC issues are not resolved in a timely manner.

Alberta oil is only lucrative to Chinese investors so long as it will have pipeline clients. Alberta currently trades at a $40 discount per barrel of oil to the US. Since there are no pipelines to cancel out high transport costs to distant clients this is done to maintain interest. This means negative dividend returns for Alberta.

Currently, Premier Alison Redford’s government is bleeding $6 billion. China is only willing to cover the cost of cargo shipments to keep Alberta oil afloat until Canada could find other larger markets to invest in pipelines. BC’s blockade of Alberta’s Gateway deal would deny access to Asian markets. A ThreeHundredEight poll suggests a BC NDP victory this May with leader Adrian Dix promising to kill Northern Gateway. Northern Gateway is expected to be complete by 2017 or 2019.

Although Canada may be a politically stable source of oil, China could secure its oil supply by other means. China could diversify its clients while further weaning itself off of dirty oil towards sustainable energies. Unlike Washington, Beijing is not beholden to whomever it does business with. This ensures China’s access to petroleum could come from multiple markets.

Bottom line, Canadians could see themselves sitting on surplus black gold sold at red dot prices. In the end, Canada could be left holding the bag. Not quite the Dutch Disease prophesy, but still a crude awakening for Canadians.

Some may see the growing Idle No More movement as simply an aboriginal issue, but in truth it is also a stand against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s environmental policies. The movement was born in Saskatchewan by four women complaining about bill C-45, the Conservative’s second omnibus budget bill that threatens existing First Nation treaties.

These four women started organizing events throughout Saskatchewan culminating in a national day of action across Canada. It was on that day of action that Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario announced in Ottawa that she would be starting a hunger strike. The strike has garnered national attention and has helped to push the protest movement to the forefront of news cycles. Spence has survived solely on tea and fish broth and the hunger strike is now entering a fifth consecutive week.

If you wanted to find the crux of the protests you could undoubtedly go back centuries, but I believe that the real heart of the problem may lie in the Conservative’s failure to pass the Kelowna Accord. The Kelowna Accord was a series of agreements between the Government of Canada (led then by Prime Minister Paul Martin), Provincial Premiers and five national aboriginal organizations.

The Accord was a five billion dollar plan to improve the education, employment and living conditions for First Nation people. Stephen Harper who was elected soon after the agreement was made, quietly disposed of it. Following his defeat, Paul Martin introduced a private members bill to ensure the agreement was implemented, but in 2007 the Conservative Party voted against it and didn’t try to replace it with anything.

2013_01_02_idlenomorehuffpoThe problematic truth of the aboriginal situation in Canada is that many first nation communities across the country look more like third world countries. Many don’t have basic grade schools, proper housing or even clean drinking water. Unemployment is also extremely high and substance abuse is rampant. I can’t understand why any Canadian would tolerate how we treat the original Canadians of this country.

I’m sure these issues are in the backs of the minds of the Idle No More Movement, but like I said before the main sticking point was bill C-45. This Conservative Government Budget Bill actually changed the legislation contained in 64 existing acts and regulations including the Indian Act, the Navigation Protection Act and the Environmental Assessment Act.

The changes to the Indian Act (done without the approval of first nation communities) effectively streamline’s the designation of First Nation land for leasing. Previously, if corporate interests wanted to lease land on a reserve it would have required the majority vote of all those on the reserve. Now it requires just those who attend the meeting about the lease. This can open the door to bribery, corruption and leave thousands without a say on who occupies their land. Also, during negotiations the Aboriginal Affairs minister can ignore a resolution from the reserve’s council that opposes a decision at the meeting.

The Navigation Protection Act and the Environmental Assessment Act are the other two sore points for the Idle No More movement. Both could have a profound impact on Canada’s environment and should be of concern to all Canadians.

The Navigation Protection Act removes a requirement for major pipeline and power line project backers to prove their development plan won’t damage or destroy the waterway it crosses. This means that even the most incompetent energy companies can get their projects approved. These companies could still be sued if something goes wrong, but by then the damage will have been done. The act effectively removes protection for 99.9 percent of our lakes and rivers.

The Environmental Assessment Act was first implemented back in 1992. It required federal departments, including Environment Canada, to conduct environmental assessments for proposed projects that involves federal funding, permits, or licensing. In 2012 the Conservative Government repealed and re-wrote the law to the point where the name itself has lost all meaning.

The new version no longer requires environmental assessments of projects proposed or regulated by the federal government unless the Environment Minister demands it. By design, the current post belongs to Conservative Peter Kent who is more business friendly than environmentally friendly.

Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence - Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence on Dec. 6 Sean Kilpatrick/CP

I find it awe-inspiring to know that despite the awful living conditions on some First Nation reserves, many of the people who live there are still more concerned with our environment. The same environment we’ve been destroying since we took their land all those years ago.

Prime Minister Harper for his part finally decided to meet with Theresa Spence and other First Nation Leaders in the coming days. Hopefully for everyone’s sake, it won’t be a simple lip service from Harper. Keep in mind that Idle No More is a grass roots movement just like the carre rouge in Quebec or the Occupy Movement that preceded it. Idle No More doesn’t need to answer to anyone and like their name suggests, they won’t be going away until substantial change is seen.

I’m sorry to inform everyone that this will be my last Quiet Mike’s Mumblings article for Forget the Box. While I might continue to contribute periodically, I have decided to put most of my energy into my own site I would like to take this occasion to thank Jason, Chris and the rest of the Forget the Box family for helping me get started and giving me an audience for over two and a half years.

It has been a pleasure writing for you and I implore everyone who routinely read my column to keep visiting the site. Forget the Box is without a doubt the best blog in the great city of Montreal. Thanks everyone… for everything.

Last week, Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast with high winds, record storm surges and rain. The storm left millions without power, thousands homeless and over a hundred dead, if there was anything positive to come out of this calamity it was that climate change was finally front page news again.

Unfortunately the only time climate change is mentioned by the powers that be or the media is in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. We saw it after Hurricane Katrina and after the Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean and the Coast of Japan, but talk of climate change didn’t last a month after these events. With the general election in the US this Tuesday, I suspect talk of climate change this time will barely last a week.

Even when politicians and the media report on climate change, it has little to do with ways to solve it, instead the conversation is concentrated on the debate of its existence. People won’t start to grasp the truth so long as we keep referring to the “debate” about climate change… there is no debate.

Almost 98% of scientists (with credentials) say climate change is real and man-made. That is a huge percentage to be betting against, but roughly 30-40% of Americans do just that. In a year that has seen massive wildfires, long nationwide droughts, a record hot summer and an autumn super storm, too many people continue to live in denial.

North America contains two of the world’s most industrialized countries. During World War II, The United States and Canada were at the forefront against Nazi tyranny, but now with global warming being man’s most dangerous threat to its existence, they’re scarcely in the background.

It is so taboo of a subject that during the four American presidential debates climate change wasn’t discussed even once for the first time in twenty four years. In Canada, our conservative government not only avoids debate and action, but it has spent its first year of majority rule scaling back environmental protections and research. At the same time, the government has done what it can to speed up contract approval for the extraction of fossil fuels and creation of oil pipelines.

The reason for the lack of a real strategy on both sides of the border is largely due to conservative ideology; Corporate influence, free market principals even religious theories all have a part to play.

Big oil in Canada and the United States plays a big part in the propaganda and misinformation being distributed to the people on television and through our (mainly conservative) politicians. With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on advertising, lobbying and political support every year, it’s virtually impossible to counter. Even in Canada, I can’t go a day without seeing a pro-tar sands commercial claiming it’s clean, safe and good for the economy. Seeing them on Canadian news networks angers me greatly.

I don’t call the GOP the “Grand Oil Party” for nothing, but lobbyists aren’t the only driving force behind the right wing denials about climate change. The combination of god and economic opportunity also plays a part.

As far as religious conservatives are concerned, the increased occurrence of natural disasters and droughts are often chalked up to God’s will and therefore can’t be avoided, so why not profit from it? Conservative principle is that of free enterprise at its extreme. To many, their dreams won’t be realized until everything from our roads to our water is in the hands of for-profit corporations and unfortunately there are no lines being drawn when it comes to profiting from disasters and human suffering.

Disaster capitalism is well documented (see The Shock Doctrine). Governments and corporations have long been exploiting natural, economic and political disasters for either financial gain or as an excuse to privatize industries.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is one such capitalist who spoke about FEMA last year during a primary debate; “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” Anybody familiar with Romney’s business history knows he’s not above profiting from those who end up suffering as a consequence.

It just goes to show the mindset of those who keep doubts about climate change alive. The right in the United States has done an extraordinary job of disseminating their mendacity to the public, convincing moderates and those who don’t know better to stand at their side. It is the only way to explain why nearly half the country denies that our climate is changing.

Canadians are supposedly not so easily fooled. A poll conducted last august suggests that only 2% of Canadians deny that climate change is real, even in the conservative stronghold of Alberta the denial rate is only 21%. But while we all believe in climate change we went and elected a government that doesn’t. Perhaps Canadians aren’t as foolish so much as they are stupid.

A conservative used to refer to someone who conserves, that includes the planet. In my opinion, the real battle to counter the effects of climate change won’t be able to start until more people start speaking out and present day conservatism is put to rest. So long as there are people who persist on denying its existence or continuing the farcical debate, no amount of tsunamis, hurricanes or super-storms will help to bring about action.

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It probably comes as no big surprise, but Canada may be drastically off its emission targets, despite contrary promises from the government.

Though the Harper government says Canada is halfway to reaching its 17 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, critics say the country has only cut emissions by as little as 3 per cent.

The devil, it seems, is in the details, according to CTV.  The Montreal based environmentalist group Équiterre says the government is skewing the data to make it look more palatable.

Canada’s 2020 emissions target of 607 megatonnes is based on the projection that 850 megatonnes of harmful gases would have been released into the atmosphere had the federal government done nothing to reduce emissions.

By using that projection as a starting point, instead of the roughly 750 megatonnes of greenhouse gases Canada emitted in 2005, the government can say it’s halfway toward reaching the goal. However, emissions are currently down only three per cent from 2005 levels, at 720 megatonnes.

Other projections have placed Canada’s 2020 emissions as much as 19 per cent higher than its goal. This is good news, though, according to The Province, but only because its emissions targets have been so bleak.

Environment Canada’s previous estimates from 2011 projected the country’s annual emissions would be 29 per cent above Harper’s 2020 target, set under the 2009 Copenhagen climate change agreement.

Perhaps the contributing factor is the government’s lax stance on emissions from the tar sands. The Environment Minister Peter Kent said the government doesn’t want to inhibit job growth. This winter Canada also earned some well-deserved international ire when the country pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, joining the United States, Afghanistan, Andorra, and South Sudan.

However, with global warming in full swing, Alberta can expect to be scorched anyway by 2100. Maybe the seat of the Conservative Party will have to acknowledge the “climate change” problem by then?

*Photo by Guy Gorek (Creative Commons)

Photo: Wikipedia CC

Photo: Wikipedia CCI’ve always liked the joke that the quote on Quebec license plates “Je me souviens” (I remember) isn’t a statement of national pride but actually a reference to the winter. It’s always there, lurking, in the shadows of Mont Royal.  Yet as much as winter is an integral part of the Canadian identity and image, this won’t be the case for much longer.

Though temperature changes of a few degrees of the earth’s surface might not sound like a lot, it will have a drastic impact on Canada’s geography. It is predicted that global climate change will result in almost 40 per cent of land-based ecosystems making changes from one ecological community type – such as forest, grasslands or tundra – toward another.

So here’s what your kids and grandkids can expect by 2100 (88 years from now):

A milder, muggier Montreal and Toronto, a drier Vancouver

The St. Lawrence region will see more precipitation (25 per cent) but also milder temperatures, meaning Montreal  and Toronto will probably turn into Chicago, which is currently turning into Mobile, Alabama. (For real, they are planting Southern trees)

And Vancouver, after thousands of years of suffering through the rain in the summer will see a lot less. This might sound nice to some of its residents who are sick of the rain, but it will have a pretty big impact on B.C.’s aquatic community

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta will be hardest hit

NASA says the hardest hit will be Western Canada, particularly the prairies and the boreal forest, which are expected to retreat northwards. What this means is that as the region heats, the prairies can expect a drastic change in ecology and lifestyle.

“So anywhere in Canada where you are currently at what’s called an ‘ecotone,’ or the transition zone between the prairie plant communities and the boreal forest plant communities, that’s where the greatest change will be observed,” said NASA collaborator, Jon Bergengren, a global ecologist and earth systems scientist.

This is the sort of thing that has led to the collapse of civilizations in the past,  but in our modern world plentiful water and tree-lined streets  of Alberta and Saskatchewan will be rationed to the 1%.

(Umm…paging Stephen Harper…)

Drier Southern Alberta and Ontario

Southern Alberta and Ontario in particular could face strains on their water as rising temperatures increase evaporation, according to the University of Waterloo. A similar effect will be felt in Ontario, as the Great Lakes water levels start to drop.

Retreating forests

As temperatures rise, Canada’s famous boreal forests will recede farther and farther north. More than half of the forest is predicted to vanish in the next century, according to the Canadian Wildlife Federation. And drier conditions further south mean more forest fires of increasing intensity.

A smaller and less healthy Arctic

It’s not exactly news that the polar ice cap is shrinking and sea levels are rising thanks to a warming earth. What is becoming more apparent though is thevariety of ways this can screw with the planet, from extreme weather to sinking cities. In Canada’s Arctic regions the temperature has already changed four degrees celsius, which is leading to more waterborne illnesses, according to National Geographic.

Which means that

Ecologically speaking, Canada is about to go through some kind of climate change vortex. Changing temperatures, retreating forests and glaciers, more rain, more forest fire will tip the balance in many ecosystems.

Or as NASA says:

While Earth’s plants and animals have evolved to migrate in response to seasonal environmental changes and to even larger transitions, such as the end of the last ice age, they often are not equipped to keep up with the rapidity of modern climate changes that are currently taking place. Human activities, such as agriculture and urbanization, are increasingly destroying Earth’s natural habitats, and frequently block plants and animals from successfully migrating.

*Photos from Wikipedia, arbyreed (via Creative Commons), and 

Flying in over Chicago two weeks ago, it was hard not to notice the network of brown and yellow lawns and parks throughout the entire city – even in its more affluent neighbourhoods that regularly flout water conservation ordinances.

This is because Chicago, like 56% of the continental U.S. is officially in drought, with 26 states having already declared they are in a “natural disaster.”

While in the short term it means temperatures in the high 30’s and even into 40 degrees Celcius (90 and 100 degrees Farenheit)– it will have a lasting impact on world food prices.  The Guardian reported yesterday that the U.S., one of the largest producers of corn and soybean, is officially running out of its reserve stocks.

This is big, big news not just for the U.S., but also for the rest of the world, including Canada. (And yes, Montreal!)

While the livestock industry in the U.S. is already reeling from shortages of arable land and high prices of feed, immediate impacts are expected on food prices in countries like South Korea, Japan, Peru, Guatemala, El Salvador and Columbia, and East Africa that import corn.

There are already grumblings in the international media of what this could mean politically. The Arab Spring was tied to high food prices, and it’s possible there could be a second wave of global protests, according to the Guardian.

“The high prices of food have resulted in accumulations of inventories at the same time as people can’t afford food,” said Bar-Yam, who noted that the Arab spring was triggered by the food-price bubble. In fact, Necsi’s quantitative model of speculation predicted the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and warned that if food prices remain inflated, riots and revolutions will go global sometime between July 2012 and August 2013.”

So, stay tuned for that.

But interestingly, it’s not just the weather that’s playing an antagonistic role. The other major factor is the way we trade corn in the U.S, which can lead to speculative practices regularly slammed by institutions like the United Nations and the World Food Programme. Institutions like the former Chicago Board of Trade/Mercantile Exchange (now merged) are credited with the last international food crisis in 2007-2008 that the WFP says “pushed millions of people deep into hunger.”

One reason for the recent spikes in corn prices is the biofuel industry, which consumes 40% of U.S. corn and has renewed interest in the crop by investors in futures markets. They essentially bet on the future price of crops – which back in the day was supposed to give farmers financing for the next years.

Last year Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam at the New England Complex Systems Institute (Necsi) told the Guardian:

“International thirst for biofuels has put a strain on arable land previously reserved for food production. At the same time as the rise of the biofuel mandate, the rise of investable commodity indexes and other electronically traded funds has offered investors of all stripes a chance to sink their cash in a sparkling new casino of derivative products. As a result, an ever-flowing spring of speculative capital sustains the status quo.”

Photo courtesy of Parker Michael Knight via Flickr 

Seemingly seeking to outdo itself with bad PR, the Charest government has granted a Montreal-based forestry company permission to log on Algonquin land in Northern Quebec.

The Algonquin community at Barriere Lake, however, say that they were not consulted and that the new clear-cutting logging project at Poignan Bay violates a trilateral agreement on resource co-management they signed with the province in 1991.

According to the agreement, any logging project should be initiated in consultation with the community and allow them to maintain their traditional way of life. They have also asked for a $1.5 million share of the $100 million expected haul for Resolute Forest Products, according to Barriere Lake Solidarity.

In response community members have camped out near the proposed logging site at Poignan Lake, which they say is on traditional hunting grounds, and have sent two letters to the Charest government stating that without their consent the logging is illegal.

CUTV has a pretty neat minidoc about the conflict, particularly the police presence prompted by the camp out. Montreal police officers have joined the Sûreté du Québec to keep track of the peaceful camp out.

Interestingly, Resolute has a pretty green-friendly corporate website, with a slew of information on its sustainability initiatives and advertising its membership of the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers program, and contains a section on “Stakeholder partnership,” with the pledge:

“Resolute maintains positive business relationships with numerous First Nations. We are also committed to openly engaging with environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to find solutions that address our mutual interest in the sustainability of forests.”

As Rabble’s in-depth coverage of the protest notes, conflict between the Barriere Lake Algonquin community and the Quebec government is nothing new. In 2008 the community constructed two blockades of Highways 117 when the government refused to honour its 1991 agreement.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Lorenz via Flickr

I am returning to the U.S. today for a week, so it seems timely to say something about climate change denial.

While climate change denial is often associated with anti-science right wing rhetoric in the U.S., it’s deeply rooted in Canada as well. Just this week, Canadian scientists slammed Harper for his cuts to environment research and oversight.

In fact, Harper seems to be even more successful than his American counterparts in slashing environmental programs, a fact that should alarm most Canadians given the country’s lingering self-image as a semi-Nordic Trudeau land.

Understanding the arguments behind climate change is important because there’s lots of misinformation out there, thanks to some very powerful interest groups. It’s also handy to have the facts down should you find yourself at a family reunion with politically divergent relatives, or if you’re trying to get someone to leave you alone at a bar.

One of the major arguments associated with climate change is what has caused the most recent wave of global temperature spikes. For the past 650,000 years, the earth has gone through a series of heatings and coolings, responsible for massive human migration and other major historical events.

 Since the 1970’s, the earth’s temperature has increased 0.4C, and this is where the debate comes in. Opponents of climate change say this is just another natural trend in the earth’s fluctuation. There was even a Little Ice Age during the 13th-19th centuries.

Actually, NASA (those people who sent humans into space, etc.) says the rate of heating is far greater than it has been in the past, suggesting something’s up.

NASA states that:

“Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.”

Thanks to their satellites and other technology, their excellent climate change website has a variety of indicators and evidence that would lend credence to this: from warmer oceans, to melting ice caps, to extreme weather events. Or the fact that the cities like Chicago are now planting only Southern-variety trees to withstand rising temperatures over the next century.

 Or there are reports of the expected real estate boom in Siberia in the coming decades.

 You’d be surprised though, how few people believe this. For one thing, it’s kind of scary, and it’s a powerful argument that we need to change our life styles – something a lot of people don’t want to do.

Another reason is that every so often there’s media hoopla that certain study X or Y says that climate change isn’t happening, some scientist at some university has found definitive evidence that it’s not true. News outlets, particularly cable news, love these stories because they get people charged up. “Ah hah! Science was wrong!”

The most famous incident of this was “Climategate” in 2006 when the University of East Anglia’s computers were hacked, and some emails and documents allegedly pointed to doubts or skepticism about climate change – though this was later debunked.

However, most of these studies become less credible if you read the fine print. Whenever a study comes out, look into whether or not it was peer reviewed, the gold standard for research publication. Peer-reviewed means other experts in the field look at a study before it is published and evaluate if it seems credible or not. Then there’s the question of if data can be reproduced.

You might also want to check the fine print for who’s funding the study.  Oftentimes, cross checking many of the funding grants and donations for anti-climate change research in the U.S. and Canada leads to a relatively small interest groups – most famously the Koch Brothers profiled in Mother Jones:

“Indeed, the brothers have spent $31.3 million since 2005 on organizations that deny or downplay climate change, according to a forthcoming report from Greenpeace that updates its report on Koch’s climate denial work released last year. But it’s the web of media influence the Kochs have created that perhaps accounts best for their power—particularly when it comes to sowing doubt about climate change.”

By contrast, something like 98% of the scientific community endorses climate change, though this number is under some scrutiny now.

The main reason many of these groups fund anti-climate change projects, besides a possible skepticism, is the attributed cause of climate change: carbon emissions, or that shit that comes out when you burn fossil fuels. And the conglomerated fossil fuel industries are some of the most powerful lobby groups in North America.

Well it’s true that a certain amount of carbon in the atmosphere is natural, but thanks to jumbo jets, cars, technology, and the North American lifestyle, humans have put unprecedented amounts of carbon into the atmosphere in the past 30 years.

Photo courtesy the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you may have heard that Harper made some major cuts to Environment Canada in his most recent budget released this spring.

On the chopping block were “redundant” air quality monitors, but also the Sustainable Water Management Division of Environment Canada. The rationale of the government was that their work is being duplicated provincially and by municipalities, though smaller cities and towns will also be losing some of their conservation and wastewater programs.

Maybe the state of water in Canada is better than a decade ago, but the folks at the Sustainable Water Management Division say Canada needs a water charter, possibly because safe water could be considered a human right.

So just for kicks, let’s look at drinking water in Canada, à la Harper’s magazine Index:

Number of boil water advisories put in place across Canada in the past week: 15

Number of sites de-listed in the past week: 21

Number of precautionary advisories given in the past week: 39

Number of advisories currently in place across Canada: 1154

Number of code “red” warnings, telling communities not to consume their tap water: 45

Province leading in number of warnings: Quebec (172)

Province leading in number of red alert/“Do not consume” warnings: Quebec (32)

Number of warnings in place in 2008 in Quebec: 1760

Communities across Canada advised to boil water: 888

Province with most boil water warnings: Saskatchewan

Number of warnings there as percentage of total boil water warnings in Canada: 23%

Percentage of water advisories in First Nations communities: 6.8% (79 orders)

Total aboriginal population, as a percentage of Canada: 3.8%.

Percentage of reserves facing a health risk in 2001 from unsafe drinking water: 75%

Number of provinces where boil water orders disproportionately/entirely exist on aboriginal communities: 3 (Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Newfoundland/Labrador)

Most recent CBC exposé of water boiling in aboriginal communities: 2006

Funding channelled to First Nations water and wastewater action plan in 2008: $330 million plus $165 million for priority water projects.

Photo courtesy of Scott Akerman via Flickr

Back in the day, as I was just graduating from high school, a bold undertaking took place in Rio de Janeiro. The Earth Summit as it was called was a twelve day United Nations conference held to address mankind’s lack of concern for the environment.

The Summit involved 172 governments, 108 heads of state and tens of thousands more. The issues focused on vehicle emissions, air pollution, the growing scarcity of water and how to replace fossil fuels. World governments in 1992 were intelligent enough to realize the quandary the planet was in and were sufficiently ambitious to come up with the Convention on Climate Change which led to the Kyoto Protocol.

Last week, world governments gathered again in Rio to mark the 20th anniversary of the historical summit and try once more to find solutions to our various environmental problems. This time around, the summit was to last only three days and key heads of state, most notably Barack Obama (US), Stephen Harper (Canada) and David Cameron (Britain) among others were missing, casting doubts on the usefulness of the summit from the beginning.

Canada’s Stephen Harper said he did not have the comfort of worrying about environmental concerns while the Canadian economy sluggishly rolls along; that did not prevent Conservative Brian Mulroney from attending and signing on the dotted line twenty years ago, even with unemployment 4% higher at the time.

In 1992, faced with a tough fall election, George Bush Sr. reluctantly attended as not doing so would have been political suicide thanks to the immense media coverage. This time around using the same fall election excuse, Barack Obama refused to attend, but with the lack of a credible news media in the United States; no one cared.

Even without the big names, it was hoped that Rio+20 would energize and kick start talks on how to improve environmental sustainability through a green economy (an idea completely lost on the leaders who did not attend). What we got was a commitment for countries to pay more attention to climate change and to talk about it more in the future; no dollar amounts, no timeline, no nothing.

Canada’s environment minister Peter Kent, who was recently the recipient of a letter from environmental guru David Suzuki for concerning himself with the economy rather than the job he’s actually paid for, said he was “very happy, very satisfied” with the outcome of the summit.

Two things were made abundantly clear to everyone as the Rio+20 conference came to an end; one, the greening of our economies would be left to everyday people. Two, yesterday’s government ambition has turned into today’s government apathy.

When it comes to the environment, in other words the future of the human race, politicians just don’t give a shit. Oil refining and hydraulic fracturing are at record levels, Alberta oil sands continue to expand, even the usage of coal continues to climb.

Greed is of course the bottom line and politicians have given no real incentives for things to change, even the milder, well intentioned programs have failed; owners of electric cars with government subsidized rebates have an average income of $220,000/year. At least the 1% can be green if they choose.

In my opinion we’ve come upon a bit of a paradox. With the politicians refusing to listen, invest or legislate, it falls upon individuals and the free market to take action. The fossil fuel industry will never change, that’s a given. Multinational corporations won’t revolutionize themselves so long as the money is rolling in – and it is, even in a struggling economy.

That leaves just the smaller firms and businesses that don’t necessarily have the funds required for sufficient research and development. So who is left to step up? The way I see it, the nations of the world have done very little to curb global warming up until now, as a result things have only gotten worse; corporations along with big business were free to step in anytime, but they didn’t.

In 1944, Eisenhower referred to D-Day as the great and noble undertaking. The world spared no expense in ridding the world of Nazi tyranny and in doing so brought an end to the Great Depression and ushered in decades of economic prosperity.

In the 21st century, humanity will face no greater enemy than the one we created ourselves and yet our leaders lack the vision and integrity to put us on a more righteous path. Like everything else these days, it seems the next great and noble undertaking will have to start in the streets.

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What does it mean when your community makes the news? (Not always that much).

Five years ago, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation on the St. Clair River near Sarnia, Ontario made national headlines for their birth rates: between 1999 and 2003, only one third of babies born in the community were male. From 1995-2003, the male birth rate was still only 41% according to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The reason? Aamjiwnaang reserve is situated next to one of the most polluted areas in Canada. Within 25km of Sarnia there are 62 large industrial facilities, which in 2005 were emitting around 1800 kilograms of air pollution per resident. That was around 131 992 metric tonnes of pollution, according to Ecojustice, the non-profit that broke the story in 2007.

Besides causing birth defects in local communities, high exposure to chemicals from these facilities are linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

But despite some in-depth reporting by the CBC and a flurry of articles and a documentary in the mid 2000’s, Sarnia remains one of the most polluted cities in Canada. In 2011, the World Health Organization gave the city the worst ranking in Canada for air pollution, though Ontario as a whole had reduced air pollution.

Ecojustice reports that many of the facilities are continuing with business as usual, or even increasing production.  In 2011, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment even gave the green light to Suncor Energy Products to increase production by 25%.

Ecojustice is currently representing Ada Lockridge and Ron Plain, two members of the 700-resident Sarnia 45-Reserve who are attempting to block expanded production of one facility, which was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Environment. Lockridge lives just 1.4 km from a Suncor petroleum refinery, while Plain said he left the reserve because of the high level of pollution, according to an EcoJustice report for the Environmental Law Centre at University of Victoria.

The case is currently under review by a judge as Suncor is trying to block it, so the Ecojustice lawyers weren’t too keen to talk yet when I emailed them, but they are essentially arguing that this is a case of environmental racism. According to their blog they have submitted over 2000 pages of evidence and  have 13 witnesses.
They also have a nifty timeline about the community on a blog post.

Some factors in this argument include the fact cultural and economic barriers make it difficult to move away, the pollution impacts their ability to practice cultural activities, and that the adverse health effects are passed down through generations.

Or from a similar report on environmental racism in Canada:

“Related to the race or class debate, largely due to the role of the housing market as a systemic sorter of individuals and communities, is the “chicken or egg” polemic. On the one hand, hazards may concentrate disproportionately in existing communities of least resistance. On the other, hazards suppress land values making properties affordable to those of lower status.”

Eco Justice has a blog about the case, you can follow, but it seems like they are up against some pretty steep odds. But we’ll keep following the story to see what happens next…

Forgive me if this article is a bit short on adjectives, but I’m writing after spending the night reading a 450-page government document. Most of my adjectives were lost along the way.

Nestled between the streams of student strike headlines and Luka Magnotta profiles, Montreal can probably be excused for focusing its attention elsewhere this week, but given that this is Harper’s second omnibus bill this year I figured it could use a bit more attention.

So, with dinner heating up, playlist blaring, and the basketball and hockey playoff scores clicks away, I read it – for 14 hours.

The omnibus budget bill – better known as Bill C-38 – continues its slow march towards ratification this week, despite numerous coast-to-coast campaigns protesting what non-profit groups and MPs alike are calling the entire Conservative agenda rolled into one bill that at times seems to have very little to do with the budget.

Indeed, “Omnibus Budget Bill” is a bit of misnomer. The official title of the bill is “An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.”

Emphasis on those last three words.

Because the bill doesn’t only cut back on government spending by dissolving some government departments, raising the pension eligibility age, and making it tougher to qualify for Employment Insurance (more on that later). It also proposes giving American law enforcement agencies RCMP-like powers on Canadian soil for cross-jurisdictional operations, and deconstructs swaths of environmental regulation that are being questioned by, among others, former ministers of Fisheries and Oceans.

The websites of hundreds of environmental groups are going dark on Monday in protest of the bill, which organizers say will “weaken environmental laws and silence the voices of those who seek to defend them.”

A dozen leading environmental groups, including Greenpeace, Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation, are co-organizing the BlackOutSpeakOut campaign against the proposed changes to environmental legislation.

Sandwiched between clauses which makes the Governor General’s $270 602 annual salary taxable and clarify PPP Canada Inc.’s relationship to the Queen, the bill overhauls the Fisheries Act and replaces entirely the Environmental Assesment Act with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Environmental groups and MPs say these changes will weaken protection for fish and other species at risk and make environmental assessments off possibly environmentally destructive projects less comprehensive and less accountable.

In an open letter published in The Globe and Mail, four former ministers of Fisheries and Oceans question the Conservatives’ omnibus tactic, even going so far as to casually float the term “interest groups outside the government”:

Regrettably, despite the significance of the legislation, to date the responsible ministers have provided no plausible, let alone convincing, rationale for proceeding with the unusual process that has been adopted. Quite frankly, Canadians are entitled to know whether these changes were written, or insisted upon, by the Minister of Fisheries or by interest groups outside the government. If the latter is true, who are they?

Changes to environmental assessment policy also incorporate amendments to the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act, shifting assessment responsibilities for pipeline projects to the National Energy Board.

The changes would come just in time to apply to the Harper government’s second bite at the Keystone XL pipeline apple, now trying to pipe oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the BC coast for export to China after US President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline from running to Texas.

After the roughly 170 pages of amendments to Canada’s environmental regulations, on page 298 you encounter the Integrated Cross-border Law Enforcement Operations Act.

This act would, according to the bill, give US law enforcement officials from agencies like the Coast Guard and the FBI “the same power to enforce an Act of Parliament as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police” when participating in an integrated cross-border operation.

300 pages in, you finally get back to what the layperson would consider budgetary issues – and they’re not so great either.

Proposed changes to the Old Age Security Act would raise the age of eligibility for the program to 67 from 65 gradually over a six-year period starting in 2023. One hundred pages later, proposed changes to the Employment Insurance Act would split Employment Insurance recipients into three categories, with frequent users given just six weeks of EI to look for work in a similar occupation before they would be expected to take a job not necessarily to their liking.

Eyes burning and head spinning, with sunlight creeping back through my window in the most unwelcoming of ways, the bill provides the coup de grâce on page 427: “The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, chapter 30 of the Statutes of Canada, 2007, is repealed.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that hundreds of websites are blacking out next week or that Green Party MP Elizabeth May is vowing to debate the bill in the House until she collapses, or that one Conservative MP suggested to constituents he may vote against the bill, then backtracked the next day.

With a majority in the House and all its committees, the Conservatives could easily make all protestations meaningless.

It might not all be bad. I certainly missed some things, including something about the Canadian amateur athletic association, and SIN cards. Nevertheless, given the history omnibus bills have of provoking escalations in parliamentary tactics, the drama around this bill may only just be beginning.

I’ll be sleeping, but let me know how it goes.

A new trend sweeping the Internet shows the problem of our disposable society. I am of course speaking of the now famous “flushing” videos. Flanroan, in the video below, makes a point to waste cereal to show how we are “ex-spiraling” out of control.

These types of food wasting videos on Youtube are very effective in bringing out the angry comments, but it is exactly the kind of shock we need to raise awareness about our growing food waste. In America an average household wastes 40% of their food and on average around 22 pounds of food a month. Much of it from excessive shopping and eating out in restaurants.

Oftentimes a restaurant will put you in that difficult situation serving more food then you can handle in a heaping plate that just won’t end. Probably the worst thing you can do now is overeat.

I remember the time I went visiting Seattle with my friend Dave. In the early afternoon of the first day, we went to a Thai restaurant. It was there I experienced the biggest lunchtime meal of my life. I was sweating trying to chow down as much food as humanly possible.

I was expanding. Not to Monty Python mint wafer sketch levels, but I felt a slight tug on my belt buckle. I had planned on sightseeing with my touristy grin, and now because the potions were so large, I was being asked to take the meal with me. I also didn’t want to smell like garlic on my adventure, but it was already too late for my breath.

The restaurant put me in a wasteful situation by serving me this ridiculously large portion. If only I had an option on size. Why not offer different sizes? If McDonald’s can have a “super-sized” version of their meals, why not offer diminished sizes so customers are not forced to overeat.

Unless the plan is to bring food home, people shouldn’t waste food. Especially in world where one in seven people don’t get fed enough or are lacking proper nutrition.

How effective is this YouTube video? Well, it might be able to undo the bad childhood influences I had from watching Rocket Robin Hood. Unfortunately, that show taught me to relish my gluttony:

You may have been like me, heavily influenced by the Friar Tuck character in Rocket Robin Hood, throwing away all those delicious banquet snacks. One day I tired it. I took a bit out of an apple and threw it away, like it was nothing, right over my head. Damn you, Friar Tuck! Those drumsticks look delicious!

On many occasions I’ve left food behind while my ears ring with my mother saying “finish everything on your plate, young man!” But I think it’s important to be clear about something: while wasting food is a serious environmental problem that needs to be addressed, overeating will only make it worse. Sorry mom.

What we really need to do is change eating habits and make eating out a customizable experience. In the west, most of the average restaurant patrons suffer from having eyes bigger than stomachs.

Think how much money could be saved. Think also, how resources and energy are used to bring that food to your local supermarket, then to your plate. If everyone was able to command their appetite and master the craving for midnight pickle snacks, oh, what a different world we would be.

Since it is a question of how can individuals change, I think videos like Flonran’s “Flushing of the Cereal” expose this problem. Maybe even it will get people to think about our over-consumption and our waste and what we can do to change the eating habits of this predominately industrialized world problem.

For one thing, people need to stop not being embarrassed about everything. Like taking food from a restaurant. Who cares? if you’re not going on a long journey, bring the food home in a doggybag. They even have a service for it, it’s called Take-Out, only you’ve already had a bite. There is nothing shameful in not eating your meal. Stop trying to be so high class! Rich people take food home, why not you?

Do something with your expired food. When your food passes the expiration date, and you know it still good, then eat it or give it away. There are many food banks that are in dire need of items all over North America.

Controlling the amount of food that we intake will eventful shrink our stomachs and this will help us get into good eating habits. Being less demanding of larger quantities of food is preventing the problem from the source, our bottomless pit of a stomach.

We must learn to train our brains to eat the correct portion of food. Simple neuroscience you say, but it’s easier said than done. Learning about one’s own body and intake takes years to master, but through having size choices, eventually people would have at least a closer option, rather than waste food.

Imagine with the option of a smaller portion, you could finish the plate and live guilt free!