Environmental Think Space

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein


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Good earth, great read

I’ve always held the idea that maybe someday I will have my own garden and maybe a couple small solar panels and be close to nature when I finally settle. But lately I’ve begun to have a strong urge to really leap into a life where I can provide for myself (and future family) in as many ways as possible. When you start looking into making a plan it can seem a very daunting task, and in the end, I think becoming self-sustained will take many years to accomplish so that it actually works and that you’re comfortable in doing so.
That being said I have been haphazardly looking for some literature on the topic; books or articles that might help me along the way. I’ve come across this article which interviews Rebecca Thistlethwaite. Thistlethwaite and her husband struggled to keep their small farm going and ended up selling it, and the couple decided to volunteer on farms and ranches around the country and write a blog about it. This turned into her book Farms with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business, which is a “practical, accessible guide that doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of farming, but gives people some good ideas.”
I’m not sure if I want to go further than producing for myself and family, but it seems like this book may offer some great first hand knowledge from experience and avert you from making more mistakes than you otherwise might have. It’s definitely found it’s way onto my To Read List!
Check out the article linked above for more details about Thistlehwaite’s adventure.

Farms-with-a-Future-Creating-and-Growing-a-Sustainable-Farm-Business-13186780-5

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UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve

Here’s some shameless promoting of my beloved Nova Scotia, which really showcases why I adore it so. It is a paradise for those who love to be in nature.

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Fishing on Sporting Lake Stream

There are 610 biospheres in the world in 117 countries. Sixteen can be found in Canada, with two in Nova Scotia. The newest one was the Bras d’Or lake area designated in 2011 and Southwest Nova Scotia was designated in 2001.

The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve represents the natural region of southwestern Nova Scotia. This encompasses five counties: Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby and Annapolis. The biosphere reserve comprises major landscapes of the province, which exist in a near-pristine condition with intact ecosystem structure, processes and functions. Biosphere’s always have a core, buffer zone and transition area. In the Southwest Biosphere’s case, the core is in the Mersey Tobeatic Wilderness area and Kejimkujik National Park.

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Located in the boreal needleleaf forest biogeographical region, it includes rolling plains, river plains, glacial plains, hills, drumlins and coastal cliffs. As a result of its unique southerly position in the Maritimes, the region contains significant disjunctive populations of Atlantic coastal Plain plant species, Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingi), ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) and southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans).

Cultural heritage resources in the area depict the history of Mi’kmaq use of the lands and waters of the area for travel, sustenance, medicine and trade. Several significant archaeological sites are preserved throughout the region. The traditional economic uses of the region include forestry, mixed agriculture, near-shore coastal fisheries, professional backcountry guiding for recreational angling and hunting, as well as mineral prospecting and mining. The biosphere reserve will promote and encourage experimentation with traditional and contemporary resource management and will identify opportunities for their enhancement.

Here are some recent promotional videos:

The first shows Hinterland Adventures, who give canoe tours of the Tobeatic area

This video is from one of my past high school teachers (SUPER KNOWLEDGABLE!) and the tour takes place at the end of the road where I grew up; Point Prim ❤

These next two videos showcase Kejimkujik park, another place I tromped around as a child.


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People love technological solutions … but why?

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“The natural world is far better at generating the services ecosystems provide than we are at engineering them. Unlike real reefs, Florida’s and Alabama’s underwater scrapyards disintegrate within five or ten years of disposal to litter the bottom with old car parts and crumbling panels. Seawalls cost millions of dollars per kilometre to build and have to be regularly maintained at great expense, whereas saltmarshes, mangroves and coral reefs protect the coast far better and look after themselves. Fish ponds produce one or a few varieties of fish, usually with large subsidies from wild nature in the form of feed, clean water, land and waste disposal. The mangroves, saltmarshes and tidal flats they replace are nurseries to dozens to commercially important species that grow and disperse to sustain fisheries more widely. In New Zealand, tests with plastic seagrass showed that it attracted a considerable variety and abundance of fish. Many estuaries in New Zealand have lost nearly all their natural seagrass since the 1960s. But real seagrass is far better at the job, with the added benefits of oxygenating the water, filtering wastes, binding sediment, capturing carbon and providing food for a host of animals from turtles to snails. Natural habitats are solar powered and will continue to deliver their multiple benefits as long as the sun shines and we take care not to harm them. So why are we finding plastic and concrete solutions rather than preserving and protecting our natural resources?” — Callum Roberts Ocean of Life: How Our Seas Are Changing 

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We should be working with nature rather than overexploiting resources and manipulating it to our liking. Finding this balance will be essential to our survival, not the planet’s. Robert’s goes on to describe the benefits of marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPAs) in strengthening the ocean’s variety and abundance and gives examples from the Philippines, Fiji, Belize, Egypt, the Bahamas, South Africa, Florida, New Zealand, Scotland among other places which have demonstrated the benefits of setting aside parks in the sea. These benefits have included:

increases in the abundance, biomass, diversity and productivity of many organisms;

reductions in the loss of threatened and vulnerable species;

helping ecosystems recover from natural and human impacts;

the provision of reference sites for the evaluation of threats to biodiversity;

‘Spill over’ of fish from sanctuaries into areas open to fishing;

building resilience to protect against damaging external impacts, such as climate change;

and helping to maintain local cultures, economies and livelihoods that are intricately linked to the marine environment.

 


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Another country added to GMO bans: Kenya

In July of 2011, Kenya was the fourth African country to allow the production and importation of GMO foods with the idea that these crops will be the silver bullet to eradicate poverty and boost crop yields.

But now Kenya is taking action against GMOs. Kenya has banned the importation of genetically modified foods citing insufficient scientific evidence and following growing safety concerns over the consumption of GMOs.

Click here to listen to Beth Mugo, Kenya’s Public Health Minister annouce the ban.

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Further reading:

Biotech scientists disagree on banhttp://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2012/11/27/scientists-kenyas-gmo-ban-will-cripple-research-deny-food-to-hundreds-of-thousands/

Kenyan farmers against GMOs/support organic farminghttp://www.naturalnews.com/032626_GMOs_Kenya.html

Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN): http://www.koan.co.ke/index.php 


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The Dark Mountain Project

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I was directed to an article discussing today’s environmentalism as “technocratic, pseudo-scientific, data-centred; entirely focused on ‘realistic’ ‘solutions’ to a problem which is never very well defined”  where there’s “no time for romance” and “the technocratic takeover of modern environmentalism is virtually complete now, and those who do not buy into it are left with nowhere to turn but the fringes: well-meaning hippy eco-settlements or the self-defeating identity politics of protest.”
Which leaves you to question what actually moves modern greens? I know for myself, I am a kind of ‘romantic’ that this article describes and I actively try to fight against that which tries to squash this emotion that fuels my drive. I can certainly feel today’s society does not want much part in this emotion, especially when I turn to the environmental job market. As I scroll through numerous jobs in which if I applied for and got, I would feel like I was selling out to something I don’t necessarily agree with and turning my back on that emotion that I feel towards our earth.

The author of the article, Paul Kingsnorth, is described as a writer, poet and recovering environmentalist. He was a former deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine and a co-founder and Director of the Dark Mountain Project.

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The Dark Mountain Project was launched in 2009 and is a network of writers and artists who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself. Every year they publish an anthology of Uncivilised writing in which anyone can contribute, and also run a blog on their website. I’ll leave you to explore the Project more for yourself, but leave you with their definition of Uncivilisation:

“For us, Uncivilisation is a process: the stripping away of forms of thinking and ways of seeing which might be termed ‘civilised’ – those associated, for example, with control, measurement, management, disconnection from nature, reason-over-intuition and the like. Our art, our writing and our culture more generally is, we believe, over-civilised.As an alternative, we propose a form of cultural engagement which is rooted in place and time, takes an ecocentric view of the world and is not taken in by ephemeral promises of growth, progress and human glory.”


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COP18 – Fossil of the Day Awards

The Fossil of the Day Award is one way to follow COP sessions. The Climate Action Network (CAN) gives out the slightly sarcastic award to countries who have performed the worst in the climate change negotiations.

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Today New Zealand and the USA were tied for first place with Canada taking second place. CAN awarded the first two countries the Fossil of Day “for not wanting to advance common accounting rules here in Doha,” and Canada for “breaking with agreed practice when it comes to NAMA (Nationally Approved Mitigation Actions) support.”

Fossil Awards given out so far include:

Day 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Monday 26th USA, Canada, Russia, Japan and New Zealand New Zealand
Tuesday 27th Turkey EU
Wednesday 28th Canada New Zealand USA
Thursday 29th Poland Russia
Friday 30th New Zealand/USA Canada

 

If you click on this link then you can read why these awards were given to these countries, and it’s an interesting way to see how climate talks are unfolding and positions countries are taking.
While CAN gave the EU second place on Tuesday for not yet planning to further reduce emissions reductions, they had given the EU a Ray of the Day award for having already reached their pledged 2020 target almost 10 years ahead of time (according to the latest projections by the European Environmental Agency the EU’s domestic emissions were 17,5% below the 1990 level in 2011. Factoring in offsets surrendered into the EU ETS in 2011, CAN finds that the EU27 has effectively beaten it’s -20% climate target for 2020 with nine years to spare).