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...

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...

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!


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
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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

UofS gets $300000 grant from corporation to re-ass claims that humans are causing global warming!

This is money, time, and research that is being wasted that could be used to help slow down global warming...

however, it is not PROFITABLE for natural resource exploiting corporations (like fossil fuels) in Canada to slow/stop global warming, as well as municipal/provincial/federal governments that profit from the compensation revenue of said exploitation...

global warming is opening a new frontier of natural resources in the metling arctic...

the Multinational Monitor brought up this on Oil Frontiers

A little about Talisman oil, which gave the grant...

Talisman oil operations prolong Sudan civil war

Here is the official U of S press release... see if you can read behind the lines... they're pretty good at masking the true intentions of this funding... it's despicable that they have the audacity to call this part of "Thinking of the Future".

... oh, and the head researcher coincedentally has the EXACT same name as me...
now it's personal.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Environmental Blogging day of Action!

Today is international blog action day... and this years topic is the ENVIRONMENT...
15,000 different voices(blogs)
12 million readers
all discussing and debating one very relevant and complicated issue...

... I was planning on blogging on Saskatchewan environmental issues... but decided that that is too broad a topic... so I thought I'd blog on blog action day itself... as a form as global action...

I responded to an inquiry from the Third Estate Sunday review, an online magazine-blog collective that published an article in which they ended up quoting me... the context of which I found very interesting... mainly on the lack of involvement by big environmental organizations...

[excerpts and shameless self-promotion]
While Billy (Trees for our children . . .) could offer, "I see blogging as important independent media in an increasingly corporatized world..."; environmental organizations apparently feel differently. [Please note, Billy didn't raise the issue of environmental organizations. None who did wanted to be named. One went back and forth on it until deciding against it in her fifth e-mail on the issue of whether to be quoted or not.] Which brings up a very serious issue about the state of the organizations today. In the mainstream press, they may get a brief quote or soundbyte which will be 'balanced' by an environmental skeptic. Blog Action Day offers them the chance to get their message out in full, not partial, without any of the 'balance.' The fact that they do not grasp that or the power of the internet goes a long way towards explaining the many e-mails expressing frustration with the state of today's environmental movement.

Not everyone who replied had decided yet what they were going to write about. But there is a lot of a passion and talent participating. Billy (Trees for our children . . .) explains the purpose and starting point for him, " ... for my canadian politcis class PSCI 230 I had to create and maintain a blog about any relevant political issue... I chose the environment and a need for intergenerational justice... hence the name of my site 'trees for our children... '." Regardless of what anyone brings to the table (pro or con on the environment), this is a global action.

In conclusion about BLOG ACTION DAY... fellow students mark October 15, 2007 in your calendar for whenever you are researching anything related to the environment... I guarantee that of the 15,006 participating blogs... someone will have brought it up... likely many people with many different 'voices'

peace, love, solidarity

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Environmental Studies Update

So the Environmental studies program/degree at the university of Regina is underway... currently there is a (tentative&unofficial) plan for the creation of three new classes; ENST 100/200/300...
The Degree can either be a bachelour of arts or a bachelour of science,
(with the only difference being science or art electives...)
It will contain a core of a range of interdisciplinary classes from many faculties...
This is the structure...
the content is what now interests me...
I have began meeting with interested students, prospective students, faculty, and community...
These meetings have led to the creation of the ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES STUDENT SOCIETY... which will have it's first full meeting in a couple weeks (and is open to any interested students/faculty/community interested)

The ideas I have gathered from a variety of discussions with interested individuals is leading to some general... philosophies I will compile and bring for discussion to the first (TBA) meeting... so far, these would include;(not exclusively)
- building the program on our universities existing STRENGTHS
- making the program open to double-majoring
... like a student could majour in environmental studies AND whatever existing degree/program they think they can change the world with
- using innovative education techniques, such as promoting active and meaningful engagement...
... essentially, getting student's to think outside the box and turn theory into effective action

Anyways, I share these ideas just to help get the ball rolling on this awesome chance for interested students to have an innovative role in the facilitation and organization of a new school of thought in our university community... We still fear corruption by corporatization or by traditional conservative mentalities... things seem to be moving along quickly now... but if they slow down (or go backwards) we will not give up!

-Environmental Students Society (name TBA...)
-for more info, come find us yourself (or if your far away, email us your advice/support)

... so far, myself and other interested students have approached this opportunity with a naive optimism that believes the administration actually cares about the students and is willing to do something new and groundbreaking...
but if that changes, we will not give up the fight!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Saskatchewan Education minister releases report with recomendations for DECREASING TUITON FOR UNIVERSITY students!

I commented about this on a friend's politic's blog... and now thought I'd share this bit of good news with my classmates who are forced to read my blog for participation marks...
In the report released by Warren McCall at 10am this morning.. for education...

...included in them is $1000 less tuition a year per student!
reports have to be approved by cabinet before they are released
so they would have changed the recommendation if they didn't plan to follow through!

... of course they'd have put this off until right before the election... if they keep it up, they might actually win... let me be amongst the first to change my mind over the outcomes yet again... I know they're bribing us with our own money... but it's more than the sask party is offering to students... (I speak to the unfortunate tri/bi-partisanness of saskatchewan provincial politics... I'm sure the Greens would implement much better policies, but sadly due to our antiquated democratic process, they will not get a seat this election...)

Bush vetoes free healthcare for children

The bill that was passed in US congress would have added $35 billion over 5 years, providing 4 million US children with health insurance... congress was 15 votes short of overriding the veto...
[full article]

It's important to remember that the US economy is based on the most horrific plundering of natural resources in human history... not just their own ecosystems, but many third-world countries victim to the fist of capitalism...

Where the money comes from is disgusting... but what it is mostly spent on... war and oil proliferation... it's sad... how will future generations judge us? Ignorance is not innocence

... the US spends 80 billion a year maintaining it's overseas standing armies in Europe and SouthEast Asia, in countries that ALREADY HAVE national armies...
.... more than enough to pay for the childcare bill AND all US post-secondary students tuition
for a full year!

don't forget the non-economic costs... the waste of life (not simply human)... and what the profits of this pillaging of the earth are being used for...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blog Action Day!

"On October 15th - Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone's mind.

In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment."

'Imagine, bloggers all around the world dedicating one day to raising a variety of viewpoints on a single pressing issue'

register your blog HERE

"Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue to the table for discussion."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Saskatchewan Uranium used in convential nuclear weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan

A new article on the independent saskatchewan news site Act-up in Sask brings up the issue of Depleted Uranium... which is a common byproduct of Saskatchewan's Uranium.

Depleted Uranium: Saskatchewan's Gift to the Afghan People

Also, I found this(below) graphic story about how far the nuclear industry will go to protect itself (economically)... from a link on Saskatchewan's Uranium watchdog (ICUCEC) website...

[source: 1981 New Internationalist]