This blog will look at environmental and political issues that will affect the quality of life for future generations of all species. Including; sustainability, media labels of "environmental issues," and different kinds of resistance to environmental oppression. I will also post on anything I think someone interested in the aforementioned would be interested in...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Electric Car is coming to the Canadian market! (finally...)

Good news... A growing solution to climate change and the switch to a sustainable society...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS... I will be taking some time off from blogging until the new year...

and great progress on EMMISSIONS-FREE CARS in CANADA!!!



*shortly after this aired on CBC, transport canada approved zenn cars for sale in canada!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/11/business/yourmoney/11stream.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1198428454-6zophvXn+1qpBNEVSZPGNg
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/11/02/zenn-transportcanada.html

Could the Electric Car Save us?

Petition for ZENN cars in Canada, HERE...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

GREAT NEWS on CLIMATE CHANGE IN CANADA

Wow -

This morning, in a massive U-turn in the 11th hour of extended negotiations, the Harper government finally dropped its opposition to 2020 emissions targets among Kyoto countries , and a climate change agreement was reached in Bali!

Over 110,000 of us came together over the last 4 days and added our voices to a wave of popular outrage - we supported the ads that ran in Canadian papers and at the conference in Bali, called Harper and our MPs, and built the strength of the petitions, events, banners, and marches at the summit. And it all worked!

Click the link below to see a video message from Liberal leader Stephane Dion at Bali - Avaaz is a non-partisan group and the NDP and Green Party also deserve credit for opposing Harper, but Dion had an impassioned comment for us:

Avaaz.org/en/Canada_Wins

Lots of factors helped make this happen, especially a strong resolve and pressure from other countries. In teaming up with people around the globe to save our climate - including over 600,000 other Avaaz members who pushed their governments - we've defended Canada's proud tradition of doing the right thing in the world. The struggle is far from over, but this weekend is for celebrating!

With much joy and enormous respect for everyone who signed, forwarded, donated, called, lobbied and pitched in,

Ricken and the Avaaz team

PS - Here's a link to see other Avaaz campaigns and our work this year - http://www.avaaz.org/en/report_back_1/

And here's a Globe and Mail article on the Harper reversal at Bali:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071215.wbalidealyork1215/BNStory/International/home Why does this action change the world? Because we're going to make your 60 seconds count.


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also check out these old captain planet clips I came across recently





Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Climate Action NOW!

So, I spoke at the stop climate chaos rally in Regina yesterday... It was very cold out, but we still had a pretty good turnout... I've decided to post my speech for those of you who were unable to make it out... and because it speaks to an issue close to my heart...

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Hello,
I come before you today, not just as a student, but in solidarity with you all, as active community citizens.

Thank you very much to everyone who came out. By showing up, you are not only braving the cold. You are rising above apathy and ignorance, and uniting your voices with other concerned citizens. You are exercising your rights and responsibilities as citizen's to get informed and you are showing solidarity in supporting immediate and direct ACTION!

We need a recognition of Ecological justice in our governments and policy-making institutions. Ecological rights are nature's rights, women's rights, indigenous rights, children's rights, student's rights... ecological rights are everyone's rights. As a society, we need to stop living apart from nature and recognize the delicate balance of ecosystems that allow us to coexist on our planet.

It is past time we act preventively to slow and reverse anthropocentric climate change. It is becoming a matter of all specie's survival. We have to switch to sustainable sources of energy and food. We have the technology to do this, we only need the collective consciousness to implement it.


As university students, we represent the transition of learning children into responsible citizens that benefit our local and global communities. And I would like to share with you some good news. There is a growing resurgence of student activism and involvement happening on our campus, and campuses across the country and entire planet. There is rising ecological awareness, and with that awareness, comes knowledge that can be used as agency for change.

Whether it be to protest the university administration running our school like a corporation (via their actions during the strike) or by creating a new student-run organization to bring research back from the corporate interest and to the public interest, their are many ways student's have been rising out of complacency and using their newfound knowledge as agency for change that benefits society.

Student's need the community we serve's help to implement these new ideas.

The newly created Environmental Action Network is working to organize a diverse and multidisciplinary range of voices into movements with the common goal of furthuring environment awareness and solidarity. It's our future, and we are developing the agency to change it.


There is a very powerful group of profit-motivated and unaccountable corporations who have a vested interest in preventing Sustainable Development in our province, and in our country. Under the current dominant economic model, the adverse effects of climate change are profitable, they are making countless billions of dollars at a huge cost to the ecological integrity of our entire planet, and all it's current and future inhabitants

They are (along with out current government) are working to delay action on climate change, and making lots of money doing it.

We need to see these corporate juggernauts for what they are, and advocate our elected officials to legislate solutions. We have the technology and knowledge to live sustainably. For most of human history, we have lived within natural sustainable boundaries, we need to look back at our ancestral indigenous respect for the natural ecosystems we inhabit.

Right now, the most important global enviornmental conference of our generation is happening in Bali. The outcomes of which quite literally can decide the fate of all life on our planet. I know this sounds grim, but world climate scientists are getting frantic, WE HAVE TO CURB OUR EMMISSIONS NOW! We need our governments to act in the public interest even when it's contrary to the corporate interest.

If we don't act now, we will face; 20-30% species extinction, increasingly intense and destrucive natural storms, rising ocean levels, global temperature increasing, and quite plausibly the seventh majour evolutionary "cleanse" our planet has ever had (that we know about)... the scary thing is that these are the least-frightening estimates... we really don't know what's gonna happen until it's too late.


Stephen Harper is not only refusing to move towards solutions for human-caused climate change, he is preventing desperately needed action on this issue. Stephen Harper is not speaking in the interests of the Canadian public, rather the interests of a few profit-motivated corporations. We, the public, need to tell our elected representatives to act now to prevent the further destruction of our natural world. We need to use our privilege to speak out for those who don't have a voice.

We are all citizen's of planet earth. Humans are eternally a part of the biophysical processes at work on this planet. We need to pressure our elected representatives

Again, more and more student's are rising out of complacency and looking for ways to use their newfound knowledge as agency for change. Including implementing a sustainable way of living. Community citizen's, you can help us. We all need to work together to collectively solve the myriad of problems our inaction has thusfar has caused.

The environmental revolution is underway. It is happening in our parks, schools, grocery stores, on facebook. It's time we collectively take a stand for the environment and say; "No more inaction. No more destruction of natural ecosystems. No MORE CLIMATE CHANGE! We must not only speak out for nature, but for the counltess unborn. Let us call on our elected leaders -- stop destroying the future ~ now!"

Friday, December 7, 2007

CLIMATE ACTION NOW!!!

Join demostrator's around the world as they call for action on climate change!

In Regina, Dec. 8 1-2PM, Vic Park Cenotaph

Maude Barlow of the Council for Canadians (on Stop Climate Chaos rally)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Student's, Take Back the University!


There is an ongoing war happening on our campus. It is happening between the collective good of society ("public interest") and the economic powerhouse of the corporation. ("corporate interest")

This war started at the birth of our university as an autonomous institute of higher learning. As university of Regina History professor James Pitsula describes in his book "As one who Serves," the university of regina was very much a child of the sixties. Our university was birthed from the decade of protest as a focal point for direct action. Student rallies and demonstrations that today mere hundreds attend would draw thousands of passionate student protestors.

Back then, the word activist was synonymous with the word student. As students learned to think for themselves, they began to think critically of the institutions governing them. They went further than their administrators intended and attempted to use their newfound knowledge as an agency for change that would benefit society as a whole.

These "student power" activists demanded control over their own affairs, without interference from profit-interest university administration. These students looked at the roots of society's problems; mainly a profit-interest business sector that supported the "military industrial complex." Peace is not a profitable commodity.

They demanded that their voices be heard by having student representation and involvement in university decision-making bodies. They advocated that their university education by paid for by the government, as it is providing a service that benefits the common good of society. They promoted the idea that (as Einstein put it) "The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." They failed in their attempts to directly implement their new ideas into the institution that had helped inspire and network them.

Further, the institution became to take steps to prevent another outbreak like that from occuring (like cutting funding to the liberal arts).

Our student-ancestors argued that the university was modelling itself after the short-sighted, greedy, profit-motivated corporate entity they saw unravelling the morals of society. By modelling itself after a corporation, the university served the interests of the corporate elite and specifically the "military industrial complex" rather than the common good of society.


It's sad and a little scary to see how relevant their arguments still are today. Corporate power has grown much stronger, and its influence further-reaching. In a global economy where money is power and immunity from the laws that govern common people, corporations have become more powerful than the governments that created them. Several well-meaning individuals (like corporate CEO's) are caught up in positions where they have a legal (financial) responsibility to profit at the expense of the massive loss of life, biodiversity, and ecology. Because if they didn't, then someone else would.


Under our current economic model of progress; anthropocentric climate change, poverty, and toxic waste spills are all profitable things, because they stimulate economic growth. This way of thinking is destroying the world we live in, and a new way of thinking is needed. You'd think that the university would be the logical place for a school of thought that understands and respects the value of preserving natural ecosystems. But the university's directors are too strongly influenced by their corporate backers to let this occur.

There is escalating corporate resistance to this needed awareness. Corporations make countless billions of dollars of profits from delaying, denying, and continuing the debate around the issue of (for example) climate change.

Corporate interest is the opposite of public interest. Rather than serving the needs of a wider democratic society, it serves gluttonous short-term profit gains, given to an increasing minority of the shareholder-accountable elite. These corporations should have no place in shaping the institutions that educate us, yet their role is increasingly more influential.

The corpratization of our university represents the further erosion of a dwindling democracy. Profit-accountable corporations are more overtly controlling the mandate and discussion of governments, media, and education. As Ralph Nader put it, how different would our lives actually be if we lived in a dictatorship?

A democracy only works if it has a base of informed, responsible citizens. This is why corporations have a vested interest in preventing people from thinking critically. The Business-Administration faculty is helping this process along with their removal of the pre-degree arts supplement. But corporate influence is not only seen in the faculty of Business, remember a couple months ago when Calgary-based oil company Talisman gave the University of Saskatchewan a $350,000 grant to re-asses a growing consensus about human-influenced climate change?

The United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released it's fourth and final report. It concluded that human beings are "unequivocally" disrupting the natural systems we are ignorantly dependent on. This will have "abrupt and irreversible" impacts. The IPCC scientist-spokesperson releasing this report said simply that we (as humans causing climate change) have the technology to prevent global catastrophe, but we lack the consciousness to implement our solutions. Meaning, our society has huge amounts of sustainable and renewable energy and production options, but because of the profit interests of the corporate elite that dominate our political culture, we have been very slow to implement them.

We need to move away from discussing problems and work on implementing sustainable solutions. Corporations like Talisman have a vested interest in preventing sustainable development, and are therefore directly profiting from causing climate change! This is why the most unethical corporations are funding and directing university research. In doing so, they steal time, energy, funding, and attention from areas that need to be in the public discourse. And they are making a lot of money doing it.


As highlighted in the article "the trouble with the commercialisation of university research" by (u of R prof) Marc Spooner and Tanya Shaw, in 1999 Expert Panel on the Commercialization of University Research added the role of "innovation" to it's three traditional roles of teaching, research, and community service. Innovation was defined as "bringing new goods and services to the marketplace." This move was another success of the corporate influence in the university.


Our administration's decision-making is influenced by corporate investing and advising giant KPMG. One of the 4 biggest investing corporations in the world. It has the usual corporate record of corruption and unethical profits, and it is shaping how our university runs as a financial institution. This problem isn't specific to the administration, in almost any general investment portfolio you will find funds that turn ecological and human exploitation into profits.


Many students want to use their university education agency to impact society for positive change, and they likely will. But they can also use their agency to transform our own university back to a free-thinking institute of higher learning. Student's have the technological know-how to achieve this. Do we have the conscious will to implement it?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Conservatives to sell Atomic Energy Board!?!

Story HERE...

Areva (Cogema) and General Electric are already getting excited...



Sunday, November 25, 2007

Peace is not a profitable commodity



... this is just a short blog to point out that the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is more powerful today then it ever has been... mainly because MIC corporations have long controlled the United States, and their reach is gaining strength...

It is no wonder the United States has been at war with one country or another for over 50 years... the military-defense industry is the most profitable in the entire corporate sector...

The military industrial complex is interconnected with other profit-accountable corporations such as the nuclear industry, oil, and Big Pharma... essentially any profit-motivated corporate sector...

MIC has turned war into a profitable commodity... profits shared by a shrinking coporate elite that has heavy influence and involvement in global, national, provincial, and local politics...

Now do the horrendous wars in Vietnam and Iraq make sense? In an economic-based trans-national corporate agenda society, where profits are power and progress... These wars are justifiably `right.`

This dominant MIC ideology is a majour factor in the ongoing ignorance and apathy in regards to preventing anthropomorphic climate change...

COUNTLESS lives, ecosystems, and entire species have already been lost in the name of profit; past, present, and future.

Canada is only a little less directly responsible for (or infected by) the MIC...

How much public money is wasted on subsidies/research on non-renewable or military technological subsidies?
Pretty much all of it (a source)

Ignoring climate change is more expensive than preventing it... unless you are one of few corporate elites profiting from the destruction of life as we know it on this planet (and dont care about the legacy your leaving your children, and all the countless unborn)...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

A University of Regina Student's Reflection on recent election results, and the political culture in Saskatchewan

If you were like most students at this university, you watched the recent election results with shock and horror. TWO Right-wing Conservative Governments at the same time?! These election results illustrate the enormity of Saskatchewan's continued ignorance about the biophysical processes at work on this planet!

I'm not saying Saskatchewan residents and students really had many other options though. The NDP, raised our tuition to be the 3rd highest in Canada. Then, 16 years too late they offered to lower fees by $1000 a semester. The Liberals were offering a measly $500 a year to full-time students only.

What did the NDP do with all their dirty money? By dirty money, I mean the huge amounts of revenue they generate from the mining and export of uranium. One-fifth to one-half of uranium miners die from lung cancer. Yet the provincial government refused (and likely still will refuse) to commission a study on the incidence of lung cancer in uranium miners in Northern Saskatchewan. Due to what is known as the "aboriginal exclusivity deal," most of these miners are aboriginal. The cultural genocide in Saskatchewan continues.

The Bayda Commission [1976] could have ended uranium mining in this province. Instead, it created the model of preferentially hiring aboriginals to work in this carcinogenic and toxic industry. The judge in charge went on to become Chief Justice in Saskatchewan (stepping down just last year).

Five years after he was chief justice [1986], Sylvia Fedoruk, the first female member of the Atomic Energy Control Board (Canada's corporate-controlled nuclear regulatory agency) became the first female Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan. It's interesting to see how friends of the nuclear and uranium industry end up in top positions of prestige and power of the political institution here in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan uranium almost always finds it's way into nuclear weapons. Most of the nuclear bombs in the world have a little piece of Saskatchewan in them, and that means our province economically profited from such bombings as; The Manhattan Project, Hiroshima, and more recently, the Shock and Awe attack by the US on Iraq. But we're making money on it. Peace is not a profitable commodity.

No wonder Lorne , Brad, and David were all too afraid to bring up the uranium/nuclear issue during their campaigns. (The Green party did bring up this issue, but not surprisingly, they were not allowed at most business ( i.e. Chamber of Commerce) and corporately-run debates (like CanWest's CTV).

Sadly, the NDP's corporate tax cuts [$190 million a year] weren't enough to buy them the business-vote in Saskatchewan [Many nuclear, uranium and oil companies contribute thousands in donations to the Sask party]. So now we're stuck with an even more corporate-interest government, and looking at further natural resource exploitation and even the possibility of a nuclear power plant built here in Saskatchewan. Don't think they won't try, especially when pro-nuke advocates are in control of Enterprise Saskatchewan.


Yes, I voted Green this past election. And Yes, I'll probably vote Green in the next one too, but they're the ONLY ones talking about these real issues (and willing to follow through on their talk with action!)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Environmental Action Network at the University of Regina


A new group has formed at the U of R...

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The Environmental Action Network at the U or R is a group of students, faculty, and community members interested in direct action in regards to creating awareness of the Environment and environmental issues in our community (local and global)...

Some of the Current Issues we are working with...

- Helping to organize and network faculty and student's interested in having a say in the creation of the new interdisciplinarty Environmental Studies degree at the Unviersity of Regina

- Informing the staff and student's at the university of Regina in regards to local environmental issues and creating a discourse on relevant subjects...

- Helping URSU [the university of Regina Student's Union] and the university admininstration(?) create an ethical purchasing and gift-acceptance policy that reflects their commitment to the UN Millenium Development Goals (espicially in regards to environmental sustainability and maternal health)... rather than a commitment to further corpratization of our campus!



- add our facebook group!

- come to our next meeting!
Friday November 23 (Ad-hum pit U of R) 4PM

- if your not from the U of R, start a similar group on your campus or in your community!

- for more info contact environmentalactionnetwork@gmail.com




Tuesday, November 13, 2007

(Nuclear Powered) Oil Sands Development in Saskatchewan!


... globe and mail article ... on oil sands development


A NY Times Article reports on Alberta's hidden health effects...

THE federal government is IGNORING THE HEALTH CONCERNS as well!






(Harper recently flew over this scene in a helicopter... then went on to say how happy he was with Alberta's "progress")

Some ALARMING health concerns over effects of radiation and uranium mining in Ontario
(thanks to John for the info)


Meanwhile, Welcome To Uranium Country...

Friday, November 9, 2007

A nuclear future for Saskatchewan!

Saskatchewan has just surrendered the next four years of it's future to the hybrid liberal-conservatives of the Sask Party... current estimates (not official for at least a couple weeks) put the Sask Party in another bipartisan majority legislature with ~38 seats versus an slightly more left NDP opposition of ~20 seats...

what does this meen for Saskatchewan? for Saskatchewan's children?

A politicaly wiser-than-me friend predicts...
"a largely moderate legislative agenda, with incentives to encourage capital investment in the province, the development of resources like oil, diamonds and uranium, and the announcement sooner rather than later of the building of a nuclear reactor in this province."
(word on the street is that the 3 major provincial party leaders {not sure about Sandra Finley} as well as several candidates read his blog!)



... points to remember when watching that film...
-Most of the nuclear bombs in the world have a little piece of SASKATCHEWAN URANIUM in them
-The U.S. currently refines SASKATCHEWAN URANIUM in two coal-fired (LOTS of green-house-gas emmissions) plants... the DEPLETED URANIUM is then used in various nuclear and pseudo-nuclear weapons used by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq... AGAINST CIVILIAN POPULATIONS!
(for further details... scroll down and read the open letter...)
-various NUCLEAR and URANIUM corporations contribute financially to the Sask party!


... lets hope that enough bleeding hearts unite to stop further nuclear proliferation here in saskatchewan

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bottled beverages on our campus...

Scientists, environmentalists, and conscientious consumers have begun raising concerns about the safety of a plastic used to manufacter water bottles and canned food lining. It is also found in most plastic bottled beverages around the univeristy of Regina.

Recent studies have confirmed what environmentalists and preventative health-care advocates have been have been worrying about for years. These studies found trace amounts of a toxic chemical known as Bisphenol A leaching out of many common plastics, including shatter-resistant (Nalgene) water bottles and even baby-bottles.

Bisphenol A (BPA) has been shown to have developmental toxicity, carcinogenic effects, and possible neurotoxicity from amounts as low as 2-5 ppm (parts per million). Research has also linked BPA to changes of the genital tract, prostate enlargement, declined testosterone, pre-cancerous breast cells, prostate cancer, early puberty in females, and hyperactivity.

Most commonly, toxins like BPA slowly leach from plastic pop and water bottle containers. The amount of contamination varies based on amount of use and length of time the bottles spent sitting in transport trucks or on shelves.

Looking at the bigger picture, this new revelation is merely another product of the corporate risk-management mindset that continues to dominate our political culture.

This isn't the first time a corporation (in this case many corporations) has used a cost-benefit model that valued short-term monetary profits over any long-term health/environmental costs. If our society continues to allow corporations to be un-accountable and non-transparent, many more problems are sure to arise.

It's time student's start demanding that their own representatives, like the student's union, begin acting in the interests of the student rather than reinforcing the corporate-interest model that dominates our campus.

So far this year, the University of Regina Student's Union (URSU) has given out green re-usable water bottles with their logo on it, as well as miniature Dasani non-reusable bottled water (some with the Lazy Owl logo).

Should we take the first step and ban bottled water/pop on our campus? Both URSU and university president Jim Tomkins have publicly declared support for the millennium development goals. Two of those goals include "maternal health" and "environmental sustainability." Maternal health encompasses preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care. Supporting bottled water/pop on our campus does not meet these promises. Maybe it's time student's held URSU and the university administration accountable to their promises?



We are a Coke campus.
Coca-Cola has a ten-year exclusive deal with our university. Coca-Cola corporation gave $1 million to the university in 1998 for this deal. At that time, the deal was supported by both the university president and student's union, who saw the immediate benefit of short-term profits. It didn't seem to matter that Coca-Cola has been linked to human rights violations, massive ecological destruction, and outright murder of union leaders and members in South American countries.

URSU should dig a little deeper before they decide to support the contract renewal coming up in May 2008. Is our student union a $3.5 million a year corporation? Or is it an organization that puts student's first and represents their interest regardless of how profitable that interest is. It's time for student's to decide.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Open Letter to Provincial Party Leaders regarding lack of discussion about NUCLEAR issue!

One of the "raging grandparents" named in this open letter, Dr. Jim Harding, recently published a book entitled "Canada's Deadly Secret : Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System"...

Jim Harding has also recently written in to the Leader Post newspaper... which led to Pro-Nuclear Industry Propagandists attacking his qualifications as an expert on this subject!

... the author of the letter, Walter Keyes, works for the corporate-funded hidden-agenda publication "Keewatin Publications"... I refrenced one of their pro-nuclear publications in a paper I did last semester... since then, the site has been quite convincingly camoflauged... maybe they got another 'grant' from the uranium industry?

When corporate-sponsored advocates attack the qualifications and not the facts... I think it only strengthens the chilling truth revealed within the book, and this open letter....

OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADERS OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC,

SASK AND LIBERAL PARTIES OF SASKATCHEWAN

Why Are You Ducking The Nuclear Question?

There is something surreal about this election, for none of you has had to fundamentally justify your pronuclear policies. Saskatchewan is now the major front-end uranium supplier of the global nuclear system, and this issue demands public scrutiny.

Last year Premier Calvert travelled to France to get support from Areva to build a uranium refinery here. Saskatchewan exports all its uranium, and some argue a refinery would add value before export, and strengthen the provincial economy. Meanwhile, Calvert is on record as opposing nuclear power here, and in this election has highlighted a commitment to expand non-polluting renewable energy use at home. What’s good for the goose (us) is, apparently, not good for the gander (those who import uranium from us).

David Karwacki and Brad Wall haven’t pointed out this huge disconnect, perhaps because they wish to hide their own. In the televised leaders’ debate about the future political direction of the province there was not one mention of “uranium” or “nuclear”, even when directly asked a question about global warming.

Sask Party literature quotes the Suzuki Foundation that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita greenhouse gases (GHGs) in Canada. Yet Mr. Wall won’t come out and say whether or not he supports nuclear power replacing coal plants here. And Mr. Wall doesn’t quote Suzuki on how heavy oil development in the tar sands (which all of you want to further develop in Saskatchewan) is soon to become the world’s largest single source of GHGs?

As the leaders of your parties you are letting each other off the hook on nuclear and energy policy. This is patently irresponsible in view of the Saskatchewan economy becoming more dependent on the production of non-renewable energy that contributes to radioactive contamination and global warming. That the media has not asked you the hard questions is disconcerting. So let us ask you a few.

Is Nuclear Sustainable?

Any short-term economic spin-offs from a uranium refinery would depend on the continuation of billions in public subsidies that have kept the nuclear industry afloat. Without these subsidies the market cost of nuclear would likely triple. Despite this help nuclear is quickly losing ground to renewable energy sources, which already produce more electricity globally than nuclear. Aren’t you concerned that our growing dependency on a non-renewable energy economy will cripple our future?

All of you acknowledge the need for a sustainable economy, yet seem unwilling to evaluate your pronuclear policies in those terms. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) estimates at today’s low usage, where nuclear provides only 16% of electricity and 3% of primary energy worldwide, uranium reserves would run out in 85 years. Meanwhile, each job from nuclear costs one million or more dollars in capital.

How do you justify diverting scarce capital into a costly uranium refinery, or nuclear power plant, when there is such urgency to create truly sustainable, non-polluting, renewable energy systems to avert catastrophic climate change? Especially when these sustainable alternatives are cheaper, create far more and much safer employment, and can get on-stream quickly enough to make a difference?

We are not picking on Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is not alone in having a huge economic dilemma over sustainability. Even though asbestos has proven to be highly carcinogenic, and is continuing to kill thousands of people exposed to it, the world’s largest asbestos mine in Quebec has not yet been shut down. Short-term economics there, too, dwarf human health, the environment and morality. The consequences of spreading radioactivity from uranium and nuclear across the planet are, of course, far more devastating, and include the added dangers of catastrophic nuclear reactor accidents and the spread of radiation weaponry.

Is Nuclear Environmentally Healthy?

You all seem to have accepted some version of the nuclear industry propaganda that it provides the “clean” magic bullet for global warming. But the nuclear fuel system contributes to GHGs. Saskatchewan uranium is enriched at two dirty coal plants in Kentucky, and let’s not forget the huge quantities of energy used in uranium mining. For example, the Globe and Mail reports that the Cigar Lake mine requires the largest cement plant in Saskatchewan to try to stabilize its underground tunnels.

The private nuclear plants proposed for Alberta will be used to enhance the production of heavy oil, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. The Battleford area is most likely being targeted for a uranium refinery because of potential demand in the tar sands. We ask you in all sincerity: what does this proposed twinning of nuclear and heavy oil say about the nuclear industry’s “environmental ticket”?

The new Candu design proposed for Alberta would use reprocessed spent reactor fuel (nuclear waste). This would increase the pressure to make Northern Saskatchewan and/or Alberta an international nuclear waste dump. Again, as with uranium mining, it would primarily be Indigenous land that would be sacrificed for this military-industrial venture. What is your position on Saskatchewan becoming a nuclear waste dump?

We hope each of you has reflected on the more-than-disturbing fact that the plutonium in nuclear wastes is toxic for at least 8000 generations – which is five times the period it took humans to migrate from North Africa around the whole planet. The continued production of nuclear wastes in return for small economic payoffs today places unjustified burdens on future generations. Please tell us: in what sense can expansion of this industry be considered the moral, let alone sustainable path to follow?

How is promoting nuclear as “clean” more credible than tobacco industry’s claims that its product was benign? The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) has publicly stated that harm from low-level radiation has not been proven; meanwhile the U.S. Surgeon General now considers low-level radiation from radon gas to be the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. Uranium mine tailings will release radon into the larger environment for millennia. Is appeasing the corporate community blinding you to these vital matters of worker and public health?

The August 13th MacLean’s reported a study that found that children 9 and under, living near nuclear facilities were 24% more likely to die of leukemia. (This study, reviewing 17 studies, covering 136 nuclear sites in 7 countries, including Canada, was published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.) The International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), representing 100,000 doctors from 40 countries, recently endorsed a non-nuclear energy policy in part due to the risks that nuclear presents for human health. The doctors are, of course, concerned about the prospects of huge radiation releases from future nuclear meltdowns like Chernobyl and the risks from nuclear proliferation that come with any expansion of the nuclear industry.

You are so willing to debate the pros and cons of a universal drug plan. Why are you not willing to debate the implications of nuclear expansion for the life or death of children? With all your talk of health promotion averting rising healthcare costs, how do you justify supporting what is clearly a cancer causing industry?

Is Nuclear Peaceful?

Lastly, why is it that you never discuss nuclear weapons when you support uranium mining and nuclear expansion? Each of you may prefer to hide behind the outdated notion that uranium from Saskatchewan is only used for “peaceful purposes.” Can we consider such a toxic cancer-causing substance as uranium to be “peaceful” in any sense?

About 85% of the uranium exported to the U.S. remains available for use in weapons after the enrichment process that creates reactor fuel. This depleted uranium (DU) is used to produce nuclear bombs and other DU weapons that are presently killing civilians in the Middle East. Each of the 300,000 uranium bullets fired during the U.S. “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq likely had a bit of Saskatchewan within it. The extremely carcinogenic uranium aerosols from these exploding bullets are now in the air and on the land virtually forever, and are already responsible for vast increases in birth deformations and childhood cancers in the region. How does this violence of the so-called peaceful atom truly make you feel?

All of you, we are sure, would endorse human rights. Are you aware that it is a war crime and a crime against humanity to make and use weapons that indiscriminately kill civilians? It is no longer possible to hide behind the reassuring rhetoric of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, so, we ask: what is your position on Saskatchewan uranium being a major source for these horrendous uranium weapons? Be honest. Do you believe that the end justifies the means: that short-term economic benefits of uranium here justify spreading radiation and cancer across other people’s homelands?

Can you turn your heart and head away from such suffering, and from our complicity in it? Do you really support economic growth at any cost? Do you place short-term benefits and votes here, above concerns for global impacts and future effects? Surely if the labour movement is willing to make the sacrifices to make the conversion to sustainable jobs, business should also be willing to come on side. But where is the political leadership on the necessity for such conversion? Why are you not raising these vital questions? Do you think the continuation of political amnesia is really good for our wellbeing and for our democracy? Or for our grandchildren, who will reap the burdens of inaction on preventing radioactive contamination and climate change?

We are looking for some sign that those of you wanting to lead our Province actually care about what the nuclear and uranium industry is doing to people and the planet, and about getting serious about averting cataclysmic climate change. This is too big an issue for you to duck during this election. So, why the general silence on these vital issues of sustainable energy, environmental and human health, and the travesties of radioactive war? Have we so lost our way, and become so amorally parochial, that such considerations no longer matter enough to be raised and debated during an election in our province?


We are sure many others would also like a detailed and heartfelt response.

Yours truly,

Bill Adamson, retired Professor of Pastoral Theology, past President of St. Andrews Theological College, University of Saskatchewan, member of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church.

Dale Dewar, Associate Professor, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan; past President, Physicians for Global Survival.

Jim Harding, retired Professor of Environmental and Justice studies; author of “Canada’s Deadly Secret”, past Councillor, City of Regina.

Jim Penna, retired Professor of Philosophy, Saint Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan; past Trustee, Saskatoon Separate School Board.

Dick Peters, Regional Coordinator, for KAIROS Prairies North Region, Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

Michael Poellet, Ph.D., for Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC).

Graham Simpson, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan; past Board member, Saskatchewan Council for International Co-operation (SCIC).

Sylvia Thompson, retired United Church of Canada Diaconal Minister, for Saskatchewan Non-Nuclear Clearing House (SNNCH).

Karen Weingeist, concerned citizen, for Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan.

Dave Weir, for Regina Non-Nuclear Network.

Contacts: Jim Harding (306) 332-4492, Jim Penna (306) 373-0309 or Dave Weir (306)352-3195

===

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Final Wake-up Call on Population and Enviornment

UN releases Final Wake-up Call on Population and Environment

This is the fourth report in 10 years calling for direct action to be taken to prevent further ecological devastation... some hopefuls think a growing global ecological awareness is underway (lastly realized by the western world)... I think global warming will keep slapping people in the face until they wake up and smell what few flowers are left...

[excerpt]
The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return, according to a major report issued Thursday by the United Nations.

Climate change, the rate of extinction of species and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the threats putting humanity at risk, the UN Environment Program said in its fourth Global Environmental Outlook since 1997.

"The human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at current consumption patterns..."

The Tree Industry

I was reading a really good provincial election article and came across a really good bit of information on clearcutting...
Remember, the sask-election relevant issue is that the Sask party would, ideologically sell off crown control of forestry to profit-motivated private interest (rather than public-motivated ideal democratic [not NDP] government)...

Being a treeplanter for two seasons now, I know that most of us (treeplanters) have a treeplanting philosophy... we see ourselves as environmental activists... I'll share my philosophy... which is based on my own experiences, as well as many late-night fireside chats with other planters.. especially the old crazy ones.
---
We are saddened by the clearcutting of old growth forests, but see ourselves as medics... [in the words of Brad, leader of Brad's camp] the "red cross" of the lumber mill's war against the forest. The damage has already been done. Because of the trees we are planting, there will hopefully be less old-growth forests cut down in the future...

...some of us more idealistics even hope that by the time the trees we planted are ready to be cut down, our society will have evolved past it's short-sighted hunger for profits at very high ecological cost.... (why not grow Hemp? you get a crop every year instead of one every 50)...

we're all terrified of pesticides... and here horrendous stories of early 80's treeplanters becoming sterile or having organs growing to suddenly unnaturally large proportions...
the only time I have ever had to plant trees with pesticides, was for weyerhaeuser, in their last year of operating in Saskatchewan (2006)...


===

The forestry industry in Canada (dominated by sawmill corporations) is undergoing radical change...

check out this article, where a lumber mill in BC are selling their logging land for real estate development, because it's much more profitable than clearcutting it!
... this has created tension between the mill worker's union and the corporation...
I hate to see labour and the environment fighting so much... lets get these guys jobs in the renewable sector!
(I tried to link to the union news story, but they wanted me to register my personal info, so I linked to the corporate press release)


Weyerhaeuser, a lumber/paper mill corporation (as mentioned in the forthcoming article... and spelled much more phonically) just closed down all their mills and opperations in Saskatchewan... they've moved on to third world countries where there are less (or NO) environmental regulations... even going as far as to clearcut rainforest, replant with Eucalyptos trees (which can be harvested every 7 or so years), and get as many 'crops' as they can before the oppressed and misplaced indigenous people revolt, or the (formally) most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet is transformed into non-arable desert...

According to the wiki article, weyerhaeuser is the 42nd most pollutin' corporation in the United States, releasing roughly 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals annually into the air.[5] They also have 18 'known' toxic waste sites. Major pollutants indicated by the study include formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, acetaldehyde, manganese compounds, and chlorine dioxide

That number does not include weyerhaeuser's multi-national operations, nor does it take into consideration the ecological impact of the vast destruction of biodiversity and tree-life
(easily adding more pollutants indirectly than 'statistically')



Clear Cut Logging?
Written by woodenship on 2007-10-23 11:43:44
It was mentioned in this article that the NDP supports Warehouser[sic] and therefore clear cutting. Although I am an extreme critic of large-breed forestry and most notably of companies like Warehouser, I am often frustrated by the lack of knowledge surrounding the "clear cutting" issue.

Firstly let me state that clear cutting is almost completely warrantless when cutting "old growth" forests. By the time forest reach old growth (if they reach old growth - many don't naturally) they have reached equilibrium. Save for wildlife management activities and for widespread disease, clear cutting old growth is often a poor choice that favours profits over ecology.

That being said, there is often cases where clear cutting (or its alternative - letting it burn) can be the best and preferred option, ecologically. Alternatively, I have seen many "selective cutting" operations where the forest has been left in a much worse state, as they leave behind damaged trees, ground that is difficult to remediate, and poor growing/planting conditions for the next generation of trees.

Forests exist in a variety of "disturbance states". It is crucial that some stands be completely obliterated by fire once every 100 years or so (varies greatly depending on water and nutrient conditions). This is natural. It will promote nutrient cycling, encourage certain types of growth and provide a habitat for animal species that cannot exist in mature timber. Clear cutting is often the best option for managing mature (but not old growth) stands that should naturally have infrequent high-intensity fires. Without proper disturbance management activities, can be a danger to themselves and the stands and communities surrounding them.

The government and the public should not be so concerned with the evil sounding "clear cutting" and should alternately be focused more with promoting and enforcing viable and ecological solutions (whether that is selective cutting, mixed bag, or clear cutting aka stand replacing). The key point is the enforcement of ecological values and not focusing on the clear cut (one of many tools in the tool kit). Clear cutting is often used as a demon head to put upon the out-of control industry (à la Muslim to fundamentalist terrorism). Improper ecological management is improper forestry; clear cutting is not improper forestry.

As a forest ecologist, one gets to observe the forest on a micro-stand level and see that a stand of trees is really comprised of many smaller patches that require special considerations and unique prescriptions. We must look at what the forest would naturally do to manage itself (often fire) and look at emulating that through controlled burns, stand replacement, selective logging, understory thinning etc....

Look to support the regulated and scientific government controlled management of our crown lands. Large corps will use the bottom line to justify poor ecological practice. Governments need to use their bottom line (long term ecological costs) to enforce a more detailed, regulated and intelligent approach to wild and management. I have but scraped the surface on this issue, but hope to open people up to the fact that criticising clear cutting is mute and inexact in relation to the issues. Improper use is destructive, proper use is constructive. Forests are complex and forest / human cohabitation requires the use of many different tools to promote the health of forests and the communities they support.

===

... okay, I mostly posted this so I could use [sic] for the first time!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Corpratization of University Campuses!

this is an article I just submitted to the Carillon... the topic is related to topics I've been posting on as well as related corpratization of university campuses... I had to cut it down to 500 words... so some stuff got cut...

Recently [October 12, 2007] The University of Saskatchewan accepted a $300,000 research grant from Talisman oil. This research money will be used to re-asses the literature linking global warming and climate change. One of the leading researchers, Dr. Bill Patterson will use the money to continue his studies of ancient climate patterns. Patterson sees this as important in determining the impact of future climate change patterns.

The Canadian government (in 2000) directly linked Talisman oil to supporting with oil revenues a corrupt Sudanese government that has repeated human rights violations. Including slavery and using the Talisman airstrip to launch attacks on civilian populations. No action was taken against Talisman.

While this research may be necessary and relevant in repairing the damage done by human caused climate change, this research is doing nothing to change the current social structures (profit-motivated corporations) that continue to cause these problems. It represents corporate interest regardless of public interest.

Our society has an unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels. Renewable and sustainable alternatives that are desperately needed are not being explored because the powerful oil corporate juggernaut has a frightening amount of influence over our government and institutions.

The University of Regina Computer Science department was recently given $150,000 in scholarships and grants by Shell in order to have access to "employment opportunities" of the top 3 (academically) in the department.

The University of Regina is also victim to this addiction to non-renewables. Through the petroleum engineering department, they continue to invest heavily in carbon-capturing technology, so that further proliferation of fossil fuels continues and the inevitable transition to renewable and sustainable sources of energy is postponed.

[in 1999] The UofR recieved $3.3 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments under the fossil fuels framework policy on addressing climate change.

Today, universities in Canada are seen as "service-providers" to private sector organizations. In BC, university executives at SFU, UBC, and UVic refused to disclose financial records after access-to-information requests in regards to shares SFU holds in various spin-off companies, despite the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association supporting the release of this information. This decision is relevant, because all public institutions must disclose all financial transactions under the freedom-of-information act. This action shows that how universities in Canada value corporate interest over public interest.

Oil companies represent one of the corporate juggernauts that is intensely powerful. In a global system where money is power, they have a lot of it. And they use their power to exploit and evade any attempts that would limit their profit(like labour and environmental laws). They get their massive amounts of money from recklessly exploiting governments, ecosystems, communities, and 'natural resources'. They will work together to overcome any barriers to profit. And they are accountable only to those elite who can afford to be major shareholders in their corporation.

The UofR mandate is to prepare students to excel in local and global communities. A new university watchdog group is forming on campus to keep the UofR administration accountable to the students and to the community. Interested individuals should check with the RPIRG for details.

***NOT ALL university research has been corrupted... especially when you compare the uofr to the uofs.... check out what OUR profs are up to with (non-corporate) grants!



sources:
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2000/02/14/talisman000214.html
http://announcements.usask.ca/news/archive/2007/10/university_of_s_41.html
http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2005/08/30/53/
http://www.uregina.ca/urprofile.shtml
http://www.iea.org/Textbase/pm/Default.aspx?mode=cc&id=341&action=detail
http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2007/09/05/1313/
http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2006/04/13/423/
http://www.co2-research.ca/index.php?id=30
http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2007/09/05/1313/
http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2005/08/30/53/
http://www.canadian-universities.net/News/Press-Releases/October_2_2006_Shell_Canada_supports_computer_science_students_wi.html

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Corporate Interest in Campus Research (???)

One of my classmates (An Apple Per Day) made an excellent comment in response to one of my blogs, I've decided to re-post it here with my response... and a quote by George Bernard Shaw:
"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

An Apple Per Day... said...

Although there is widespread agreement in the scientific community that global warming is primarily caused by human activities (i.e. burning fossil fuels), there is much that is unknown about the true effect this warming will have on regional climate systems. Sea levels will undoubtedly rise, extreme weather events will become more frequent, but how will precipitation patterns in Saskatchewan change, and what kind of timeline are we looking at? My impression of the U of S news release is that the study is genuinely trying to help answer important question such as these, and not trying to re-asses the claim that humans are causing global warming. Given the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, even if we stopped emitting today, we would likely see effects extending years into the future (global warming positive feedback effects), so why not study the nature of these effects (particularly in terms of regional climate systems). I can’t say what the motives of Talisman Energy were, but the study was going on long before their generous contribution. I agree it is problematic that short term corporate interests are almost never related to sustainability, or anything besides profit margins for that matter, I simply disagree with your opinion that the study is a waste of time, money and research.

===
Apple, you make a very good point...

it was blunt of me to make such a claim, but I was referring to the bigger picture. Let me explain what I meant by 'the study being a "waste of time, money and research..."'

the fossil fuel corporate mentality is motivated by maximizing profit...
at whatever the cost...

The oil companies represent one of the corporate juggernauts that is very powerful in a global system... where money is power, and they have a lot of it... and they use their power to exploit and evade any attempts that would limit profit(like labour and environmental laws)... they get their massive amounts of money from recklessly exploiting governments, ecosystems, communities, and 'natural resources'... they will work together to overcome any barriers to profit... they are accountable only to those elite who can afford to be major shareholders...

When an individual amasses a lot of power, s/he will eventually die, and the power will be fractured amongst her/his descendants... when a corporation gets power, THEY NEVER DIE... so they keep gaining more power and growing... corporate juggernauts are the result of a frontier mentality that believes in constant and unrestrained growth... WE LIVE IN A FINITE WORLD... there is always a limit to how much we can consume... resources consumed unsustainably will run out...
[a cool sci-fi example of this...]

Corporations are the cancer cells of our planet's biosphere.

A good example of the mindset of the aformentioned oil juggernauts is the who-killed-the-electric-car scenario;
when the automobile industry was beginning to release low/no-emmissions cars, it was pressure from the fossil fuel industry that caused them to reclaim and destroy all prototypes... protestors attempting to stop this destruction were forcibly removed by police...
[who killed the electric car?]



... ok... so my main point from all of this, is that the corporation who funded this study on 'ancient climate change patterns' did so to slow down action on global warming... Talisman oil would love for the academic community to continue debating what will happen instead of acting to prevent it from happening... The largest (in terms of profits) corporation in the world, Exxon-Mobil, has been credited with slowing action on anthropocentric climate change by at least 10 years... they have funded millions of dollars for advocacy groups that deny human-caused climate change... and they fund university research that does not focus on solving the problems...

This issue highlights the often understated issue of the corpratization of university campuses....

Keeping in mind that the corporate juggernauts (like nuclear, auto-mobile, pharmaceutical, tobacco, forestry...) all share the same systematic economic-progress cost-benifit ideologies...
I will end with an example of how corporate-funded research (which is prevalent in universities) is a detriment to the public good...

[There is an arthritis drug
FACTS:
New England Journal of Medicine reaffirms that Merck lied about Vioxx safety
Three top scientists in the world Gregory D. Curfman, M.D., Stephen Morrissey, Ph.D., and Jeffrey M. Drazen, M.D. are taking on Merck that has the reputation of destroying the career of anyone who has ever questioned the safety of Vioxx - a drug that has killed as many as 60,000 Americans, according to the FDA.

FACTS:
Dr. Eric Topol, chairman of the cardiovascular medicine department at the Cleveland Clinic, is one of the top heart doctors in the world. He also happens to be the one of those rare American doctors who is not in bed with the pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Topol also made another important point that shows how Merck is not disclosing the facts. According to him, Vioxx can be lethal any time after a patient starts to take the drug.
He also blasted Merck’s argument that the company knew about the risks of the drug only in September 2004 when it decided to recall it. Dr. Topol thinks that the risks were known as early as 1999.

FACT:
Merck relentlessly continued its ongoing attack on Vioxx victims. In a series of statements released by the firm, Merck is treating Vioxx victims as if they are the ones who have done something wrong. Forget about even a word of apology for the deaths and injuries or even a mention of the pain caused to those who consumed its product. On the other hand, the management team of Merck went on an all-out attack against Vioxx lawyers and victims and proclaimed that it was ready to fight anyone who ends up in court with a Vioxx lawsuit.

Fact
Lot of documents have emerged that show that not only did Merck knew about the dangerous side effects of Vioxx as early as 2000, the company also hid these from the public and the FDA
[source]

Fact: most of the research that Merck helped fund that claimed Vioxx was safe was done in universities (of which 90% of the studies concluded the benefirts outwayed the harm)

Fact: independent research done on the drug concluded (in 60% of the indy studies) that Vioxx was too dangerous to be prescribed to the public...

... according to the wikipedia article on Vioxx, Merck made 2.5 billion in profit from Vioxx... they have also set aside $970 million to pay for lawsuits... that leaves a rather "healthy" profit...

here is a statement from Merck on the Vioxx 'incidents'...

"Merck does not intend to address specific cases or comment about ongoing litigation on this site. As a Company, we continue to believe that we acted responsibly – from researching VIOXX prior to approval in studies involving almost 10,000 patients – to monitoring the medicine while it was on the market – to voluntarily withdrawing the medicine when we did. We based our decisions on the data from well-controlled clinical trials.

We do believe we have strong and meritorious defenses and we intend to vigorously defend these cases on an individual basis. Each one has a different set of facts, which is why we expect to be trying them for many years.

We are confident in our financial strength, in the excellence of our people and Merck science, and in the promise of our pipeline. Our business is fundamentally sound."



===
therein lies the real danger of corporate-interest research grants...

supporting research is good, but look at how well predicting climate change patterns has gone in the past... even with modern technology, we have trouble predicting what the weather will be more than a week in advance... the intricate and fragile balance of systems and ecosystems that coexist in this planet can't be shoehorned into the corporate agenda...

the time for cost-benefit analysis and risk-management ways of thinking and operating
MUST come to an end...
it's time to follow the examples of other progressive nations... and think preventatively, rather than simply acting reactionarily...

Ralph Nader on the Corporatization of University Campuses and the Global Economy


this is an article I wrote for the university of regina newspaper The Carillon
on a lecture by Ralph Nader one month ago...
... minus a couple changes that the editor did (without letting me know til after publishing)...


How different would our lives be if we lived in a dictatorship? According to Ralph Nader, not very much. Multi-national corporations have ridiculous amounts of power and influence over legal and policy-making institutions. Not to mention the increasing commercialization of university campuses. Most people don’t notice this happening, and most of the privileged who do aren’t putting up much of a fight.

On September 19, 2007 Ralph Nader spoke to over 700 students and citizens in the university of Regina education auditorium. His topics ranged from the global economy, civic responsibility, a "dangerous convergence of corporate and government power," and corporate influence in post-secondary institutions.

Ralph Nader is a political activist, bestselling author, four-time US presidential candidate, corporate critic, and an active advocate for consumer, human, environmental, and democratic rights. Nader helped establish many governmental and non-governmental organizations (like the Environmental Protection Agency). He also founded and inspired the Public Interest Research Group movement (PIRGs). The recently formed Regina-Public-Interest-Research-Group (RPIRG) is a student-directed and student-funded PIRG, based on Nader’s community-PIRG model.

In the 1950’s Nader is credited with creating enough public awareness and pressure to force the automobile industry into installing mandatory seatbelts after he was enraged into activism by the easily preventable deaths of some of his classmates.

Nader’s lecture topic was ‘The Global Economy.‘ He spoke of a desperate need for an increase in general civic engagement amongst the status quo. Every political riding has bowling leagues, bridge clubs, and bird-watching societies. Why are there no parliament-watching societies? In a democracy, “politicians are only as accountable as we allow them to be.”

Corporate-interest lobbyists are constantly pressuring our politicians to choose the path of most profit. Regardless of all other costs. This is the juggernaut that voter apathy and misinformation have created. In Washington alone there are 35,000 corporate lobbyists, and only 1,500 civic lobbyists. Whose concerns are getting the most attention? Corporations are shaping banking, agricultural, defence, and trade policies right now!

What is Esso’s view on the war in Iraq? General Motors? Peace is not a profitable commodity! No wonder the United States has been at war with one country or another for the past fifty years! According to Nader, the power and wealth concentration of multi-national corporations has grown to monstrous proportions. International trade laws enforced in secret tribunals are overturning national labour and environmental laws. As well as national sovereignty itself. When was the last time a corporation took a stand for disarmament? Solar energy?

Corporations are even patenting life. Through biotechnology, corporations are changing the nature of nature (making it more profitable). Corporate manipulation of post-secondary institutions is growing, as is the resistance to it. Nader posed a rhetorical the question, “How was School Today? Did you learn to believe. Or did you learn to think?”

According to Nader, the solution to the problem is simple. People need to be responsible and informed citizens who vote for candidates they believe in, then hold them accountable to their promises. “The only vote that’s wasted is voting for someone you don’t believe in.”

We also need to change how we measure progress in our society (and how it is reported in mass media). A politician will claim they are doing good in office because GDP is up 3.5%. What about child poverty?! Economic progress is not human progress.

Social change doesn’t come easily, but “our own indifference is our biggest opposition.” Nader suggests we develop a civic personality that is informed, resilient, optimistic, encouraged, and persistent.

Nader also rekindled the memory of our prairie farmer ancestors, who rose up against the big bank and railroad companies. They formed co-ops, forced reforms, and generally kicked ass. Students and the community should not stand idly by as human beings become another natural resource exploited by corporations. Nader challenged students to pressure our own administration to formally draw the line between the public academic interest and corporate-profit driven interest.

Specifically, any interested student could use the RPIRG to look into creating new university policy that draws the line between commercialization and corporate capitalism.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Which Party Represents the Corporate Interest best?

Here is some interesting information I came across in regards to political party contributions in Saskatchewan... full details on Joe Kuchta's blog

CanWest reporter Murry Mandryk disagrees...

I think it's very interesting that the Univeristy of Regina contributes to the Sask Party... I certainly don't want any part of supporting them!

[excerpt]
Since 2004, the following organizations and institutions receiving taxpayer dollars in some form or another have contributed to the Saskatchewan Party:

City of Regina – $325.08
Saskatoon Prairieland Park – $2,834.52
Regina Exhibition Park (now IPSCO Place) – $1,300.32
Regina Regional Economic Development Authority (RREDA) – $955.10
RREDA/Tourism Regina – $625.64
Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) – $637.90
Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) – $325.08
Tourism Saskatchewan – $931.36
University of Regina – $5,016.56
University of Saskatchewan – $4,715.92
Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) – $746.58
Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium (now TCU Place) – $551.10
SIAST – $726.10
SIAST Kelsey Campus – $257.64
Canadian Western Agribition – $312.82
Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region – $637.90
Saskferco – $1,551.28

None of the above appears to have contributed to the NDP during the same time period.

The media is well represented on the list of contributors to the Saskatchewan Party. This would seem to confirm the long-held suspicion by many that there exists in the province a right-wing bias when it comes to news reporting. The list of media donors include:

Rawlco Radio (Saskatoon) – $7,015.24
Rawlco Radio Ltd. – $1,251.28
565509 Saskatchewan Ltd. (Doug Rawlinson co-owner Rawlco Radio) – $22,903.36
CJWW/Hot 93/Magic 98.3 – $515.28
CTV Television Inc. – $2,586.71
Regina Leader-Post – $312.82
Shaw Cablesystems G.P. (operates Shaw TV local news) – $329.14

Communications giants Rogers Group of Companies and Shaw Communications Inc. are also supporters having donated $2,710.70 and $3,291.80 respectively.

The lone media donation for the NDP appears to be one made by Rawlco for $1,392.00 in 2004.

From its inception the Saskatchewan Party has been identified with business. In the three year period from 2004-2006 the party received $1,702,683 in corporate contributions, $1,352,684 from individuals and zero from trade unions. In 2006 alone, 880 companies donated to the party.

The NDP by comparison received $646,670.79 in corporate donations, $2,793,847.67 from individuals and just $60,702.90 from trade unions. A mere 52 companies donated to the party in 2006. By far the majority of NDP donations come from individuals whereas with the Saskatchewan Party it’s corporations. This should put to rest the argument of who controls whom. The Saskatchewan Party is clearly beholden to business and industry.

Some notable corporations that have contributed to the Saskatchewan Party since 2004 are:

AltaGas Services Inc., Areva/Cogema Resources, Bank of Montreal, Brandt Tractor Ltd., Calgary Zoo, Cameco Corporation, Canada Life, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian National Railway Co., Canadian Pacific Railway Co., Canadian Tire, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers, Canadian Western Bank, CIBC (Saskatoon), Delta Regina, Diamond Energy Services Inc., Edco Financial Holdings Ltd., Edco Oil & Gas Ltd., EDS Canada, Enbridge Pipelines Inc., EnCana Corporation, General Electric Canada Inc., Great Western Brewing Co. Ltd., Hitachi Canadian Industries Ltd., Hotels Association of Saskatchewan, Husky Oil, Imperial Oil Ltd., JED Oil Inc., KFC, KPMG Chartered Accountants, Labatt Breweries, Loblaw, Maple Leaf Consumer Foods Inc., M.D. Ambulance Care Ltd., Mitchell’s Gourmet Foods Inc., Molson Canada, PCL Construction Management Inc., Petro-Canada, Pfizer Canada Inc., Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, Royal Bank, Sabre Energy Ltd., Saskatchewan Trucking Association, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, Saskatoon Hotels Association, Scotiabank, Shaw Communications Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., Westfair Foods Ltd., Weyerhaeuser Canada, and Yanke Group of Companies.