CaNews Archive‎ > ‎

February 2020


  1. 1 February 29, 2020
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  2. 2 February 28, 2020
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 2.2 Solar Has Arrived: Renewable Power Within Reach of Most Islanders - by Zack Metcalfe
  3. 3 February 27, 2020
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 3.2 A missed opportunity to demand bold and courageous leadership - by Paul MacNeill
  4. 4 February 26, 2020
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 4.2 LETTER: Amalgamation is being forced - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  5. 5 February 25, 2020
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 5.2 GWYNNE DYER: Germany, Japan and the war on rationality - The Guardian article by Gwynne Dyer
  6. 6 February 24, 2020
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 6.2 Protecting Land for Islanders - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Shelby Downe on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Land
  7. 7 February 23, 2020
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 7.2 Parents can’t fix climate change with life hacks — but here are ways to make a real impact - The Washington Post article by Caitlin Gibson
  8. 8 February 22, 2020
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 8.2 A champion of the unplugged, earth-conscious life, Wendell Berry is still ahead of us - Vox article by Hope Reese
  9. 9 February 21, 2020
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 9.2 Cabinet shuffle expected Friday, adding Charlottetown MLA Natalie Jameson - CBC News on-line article by Wayne Thibodeau
    3. 9.3 SCOTT TAYLOR: Let Khadr speak about child soldiers - The Guardian article by Scott Taylor
  10. 10 February 20, 2020
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  11. 11 February 19, 2020
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 11.2 'I hope they take it seriously': Wind farm proposal garners more than 70 submissions - CBC News
    3. 11.3 Permit for 'cabin' interferes with proposed wind farm, P.E.I. Energy Corp. argues - CBC News
  12. 12 February 18, 2020
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 12.2 Lands protection needs leadership - Opinion media release from the Office of the Official Opposition of Prince Edward Island By Michele Beaton, MLA District 5 Mermaid-Stratford Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Land
  13. 13 February 17, 2020
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 13.2 Demonstrators gather at Confederation Bridge to back Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs - CBC News article by Isabella Zararise
    3. 13.3 The End of Australia as We Know It - The New York Times article by Damien Cave, with photographs by Matthew Abbott
  14. 14 February 16, 2020
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 14.2 When it comes to climate hypocrisy, Canada's leaders have reached a new low - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Bill McKibben
  15. 15 February 15, 2020
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 15.2 COMMENTARY: Aquaculture a broken business model that's ruinous for the environment - The Guardian article by ROBERT CERVELLI and GREGORY HEMING
  16. 16 February 14, 2020
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 16.2 Charlottetown group demand climate action at weekly demonstrations - The Cadre article by John Ployer
    3. 16.3 BP Pledges to Go Carbon Neutral by 2050 in Ambitious Plan - Morning Brew website article by Kinsley Grant
  17. 17 February 13, 2020
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 17.2 Why nature - The National Obsever article by Zack Metcalfe
  18. 18 February 12, 2020
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 18.2 More information results in better decisions - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie
  19. 19 February 11, 2020
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 19.2 LETTER: Using high capacity wells for irrigation on P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  20. 20 February 10, 2020
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 20.2 LETTER: Minority governments work well - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  21. 21 February 9, 2020
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 21.2 RCMP arrest 11 more pipeline opponents on third day of Wet’suwet’en raids - The National Observer article by Emma McIntosh
  22. 22 February 8, 2020
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 22.2 A Good Field to Die On  - The Guardian Guest opinion by David Weale
  23. 23 February 7, 2020
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 23.2 LETTER: Missing leadership and CO2 narcosis? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  24. 24 February 6, 2020
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 24.2 No excuse to delay enforcing lands protection act - The Eastern Graphic Editorial by Paul MacNeill, publisher
  25. 25 February 5, 2020
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  26. 26 February 4, 2020
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 26.2 Reduce first: being more eco-friendly in 2020 - The Cadre article by John Ployer
  27. 27 February 3, 2020
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
  28. 28 February 2, 2020
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 28.2 P.E.I. wants to send this invasive groundhog packing - The Guardian article by Jim Day
  29. 29 February 1, 2020
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's CANews
    2. 29.2 More federal transit money, e-buses could be climate lifesavers - David Suzuki Foundation article by David Suzuki with contributions from Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst Gideon Forman

February 29, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets today:
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM

Starting March 1st, 2020, the Charlottetown Farmers' Market pledges to go styrofoam-free.  Good for the vendors and management there!

SEA (Southeast Environmental Association)'s Annual Winter Frolic Fundraiser 2020, 11AM-2PM, Harvey Moore Wildlife Sanctuary, outside Montague. 
Sounds like there is something for everyone.  More details at:
Facebook event link

Seedy Saturdays start next week, with Workshops and Seed Swaps, beginning at 1PM.
March 7th: Charlottetown
March 14th: Summerside 
March 21st: Montague


Happy Leap Year Day!  Here is a little focus on Leap, the ideas for moving forward to a Green Economy with social justice and caring for all peoples, anchored by The Leap Manifesto

One of the frequently asked questions:

Did you name it after Mao’s Great Leap Forward? Are you nuts?

No, and we hope not.

We chose the title because it expresses the need for rapid transformative change — rather than small steps forward combined, all too often, with large steps backwards. We also chose it because 2016 is a Leap Year, that time when we add an extra day to the calendar in order to bring our inadequate human measuring methods into sync with the earth’s rotation around the sun.


More at The Leap


Opinion piece:

Tim Hortons’s half-baked Roll Up The Rim changes are just another example of corporate greenwashing

by Glynis Ratcliffe, Special to The Globe and Mail

Published on Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Every time a large corporation announces a “green” initiative that’s supposed to fight climate change, a turtle chokes on its microplastic-laced lunch somewhere.

So keep the turtles in your thoughts in the wake of the news that in March, Tim Hortons’s Roll Up the Rim contest will feature changes as part of a larger effort to make the brand more sustainable.

Practically speaking, this is a good start. Since the promotion was linked to rolling up the lip of the company’s paper cups, a plan to give away nearly two million reusable cups and offering the incentive of three “rolls” every time customers bring their own cup is a productive one.

But once you dig in a little deeper, Tim Hortons’ move looks somewhat half-baked. It won’t be lost on customers considering using the cup multiple times as intended that the cups are made of single-wall polypropylene plastic, so they’re unlikely to keep your fingers cool and your coffee warm. And while they are 100-per-cent recyclable, what use is that when less than 10 per cent of recyclable plastic in Canada is actually recycled? And the hypocrisy of a large company encouraging its customers to go green for a short-term campaign by using their branded plastic cups – while doing nothing to modify their standard disposable ones that continue to be one of the largest sources of litter in the country – is astounding.

These moves, nine months after the announcement of a 10-year marketing campaign to change customer behaviour, rather than an investment in research and development to find biodegradable solutions, speaks volumes. They signal that it’s on us, the consumers, to do the environmental work, while corporations refuse to pull their weight.

This greenwashing isn’t just happening at Tims, either. The grocery-store chain Sobeys has eliminated all plastic bags at checkout stands – although there are still bags on offer for fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh meat packaged in plastic wrap and polystyrene, and single-use packaging in myriad other food products. Many stores offer the convenient option to buy a reusable tote bag should you forget your own, but there’s never accompanying information about how many times a cloth bag needs to be used to offset the carbon footprint it created when it was made and shipped (anywhere from 30 times to thousands of times).

Meanwhile, coffee heavyweight Starbucks committed to eliminating straws by 2020, but that act is really just the tip of the iceberg. After all, the majority of its bakery treats remain individually wrapped upon shipment, where employees remove then trash the wrapper before giving it to customers in an entirely new paper bag. And of the 75 countries Starbucks operates in, only stores in Canada and the United States have recycling programs.

This doesn’t mean we should abandon our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. You should take that free plastic cup from Tims if you’re going to use it more than a few times; that still represents fewer disposable cups in the trash. You should bring your own bags when grocery shopping, since their impact goes beyond their carbon footprint; they clog waterways and break down into microplastics, which accumulate in even the tiniest of organisms.

But we also shouldn’t pat these corporations on the back for the inadequately small steps they’re taking toward sustainability. Tiny actions don’t cut it in a world where CO2 levels continue to rise perilously, year over year.

When corporations greenwash – that is, when they deploy public-relations campaigns and marketing resources toward making customers think the company is more environmentally conscious than it is – they buy themselves more time from making truly meaningful changes. This is particularly galling given that, for the loud onus being placed on consumers to enact personal change, it is the private sector that disproportionately sends greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

We can, however, have a say in this. According to a 2017 Carbon Majors report by the Climate Accountability Institute, 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced back to 100 fossil fuel producers. But it’s businesses, households and individuals that actually drive the demand for the fuels that these 100 companies provide. In short, if consumers can bring themselves to buy fewer products, the ripple effect will be felt all the way through the supply chain to these companies.

So when companies such as Tims make mild but buzzy “green” announcements, they’re doing nothing more than marketing. That’s not enough in the face of the current state of our warming world. As consumers, we can’t fall for it.

Glynis Ratcliffe is the senior writer at Broadview magazine. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Chatelaine and The Walrus.


Global Chorus is "365 essays on the Future of the Planet", not 366, so there is not one on Leap Year Day :-)  But here is a wonderful little quote from editor Todd MacLean:

“In 1990, I had a great teacher named Bill Hogue at Eliot River Elementary School.  We had a slogan that went ‘there is no away,’ meaning you can throw stuff in the garbage but it doesn’t really go away.”  

        -- Todd MacLean, editor of Global Chorus, writer and broadcaster, musician, educator, and about 80 other things.


Todd MacLean and Savannah Belsher-MacLean  (photo credit not specific but from a lovely 2015 blog posting by P.E.I. Preserve Company's Blog, by Kara Cousins)

February 28, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph monument at Grafton and Great George Streets by Province House

Article from the website of Teck Resources (most recently of the Frontier tarsands mine proposal in Alberta), from January 2020 (link only): Teck Announces Purchase of SunMine Solar Energy Facility
This is from October of last year, and originally published in the wonderful Rural Delivery magazine, by the talented Zack Metcalfe. It's a nice update:

Solar Has Arrived: Renewable Power Within Reach of Most Islanders - by Zack Metcalfe

Posted on his blog on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

The farm of Darlene Sanford in western PEI has converted sunlight into steak for as long as it’s been in the family, harnessing this renewable resource to grow all of their own grass and most of their own grain, feeding beef cattle which in turn feed the world. But since September of 2014, they’ve been converting sunlight into something a little more versatile – electricity.

It all started when her insurance company called with some disappointing news – the oil tank which heated their home would no longer be insured. Instead of investing in a newer, insurable tank, Darlene and her husband Mitchell explored their options, deciding finally on a ground-mounted, sixty panel solar array in their front yard, rated at 13.2KW hours. Since then, it’s faithfully powered everything behind their mailbox, including two houses, three barns, a shop and grain tanks.

“I just wish we’d done it sooner,” said Darlene.

When the sun is shining, these panels directly meet all of this farm’s needs, be it heat, power tools in their shed, pumping water to the cattle, everything. Whatever they don’t use it fed onto the grid, earning them credits. When the sun goes down, they begin drawing power from the grid, using up their credits. This back and forth exchange between the Sanford farm and their utility, Maritime Electric, is tracked by two energy meters on the property, one recording the outflow of power, one the inflow.

Through the spring, summer and fall, the Sanfords feed more power into the grid than they use, building up credits with Maritime Electric. Through winter, however, when the days are shorter and their production of electricity goes down, they begin spending these banked credits. Consistently, year after year, the farm has broken even, paying nothing for electricity, only the service fees connecting them to the grid. One month, when a carbon tax credit worked in their favour, the Sanfords paid a mere $3.57 to their utility. Darlene insists that one day, this bill will be framed and hung on the wall next to their solar power inverters. Maritime Electric discourages solar arrays which will produce more power than its owner will ultimately consume, and will take away credits not used within a year.

The ten year loan necessary to build this solar array was not a small one, but the payments they make on this loan are not much more than they were paying on their monthly electricity bill. The difference is that, when their ten year loan is up, their farm will enjoy free electricity for the lifetime of the array, insured for 25 years with a lifespan over 40.

“Nobody should be ignoring solar, not just farmers,” said Mitchell. “It’s a renewable resource. In ten years it’ll be free. And if Maritime Electric ever starts paying us for the power we make, we’ll put another thirty panels out there.”

The Sanford farm makes use of around 1,000 acres of farmland and raises an average of 400 cattle. As of press time their farm had pumped 61,784 KWs of excess electricity into the grid, while only drawing 57,491. Darlene took this farm over from her father about ten years ago, and has taken pains to better its productivity, from their treatment of the soil, to their expenditure of fuel, to the adoption of computers.

“If you’re not making it better with everything you do, you ain’t doing it right,” said Darlene, and their installation of solar is just an extension of that philosophy.

Renewable Lifestyles

In 2005, Summerside resident Steve Howard established Renewable Lifestyles with the intent of championing renewable forms of energy across Prince Edward Island. It has since evolved to specialize in solar photovoltaic (PV), and in 2014, installed the sixty panel array on the aforementioned Sanford farm.

“When we first started,” said Steve, “solar electric panels were very expensive per watt and were sold mostly by oil companies like BP and Shell. Those were the people with these tiny niche markets which they didn’t put much effort into.”

With mass production, however, and the founding of specialized solar companies in Canada and elsewhere, prices began to plummet while wattage per panel began to climb. The most significant changes were observed around 2010.

“We saw a plummet in the price of PV solar,” said Steve. “It went down like 400 per cent. It went from something with a forty year payback to something with a ten year payback.”

While prices continue to drop and efficiencies continue to climb (going from 225 watts a panel years back to 310 watts, in the case of Canadian Solar’s panels), Steve says the regulatory requirements of residential or commercial based solar arrays are increasing, offsetting any major cost savings going forward. While it might once have made sense to wait for a better price before investing in solar, the wait is now over. Solar, he said, has arrived.

What’s more, this summer the government of Prince Edward Island announced its Solar Electric Rebate Program, covering the costs of installing solar PV up to $1 a watt for residential projects and $.35 a watt for farm or business, up to a maximum of $10,000 or 40 per cent of the overall project, whichever comes first. Financing for the remainder is available through Finance PEI, bringing 8-10 year loans or better within the reach of most Islanders. This is a pilot program meant to kickstart the solar industry on PEI, said Steve. Its rates will not stay this good forever.

When considering solar for one’s home, a big question is rooftop verses ground-mounted solar. Steve’s personal preference is rooftop because it uses less realestate and is cheaper to install. When suitable roofs are not available, however, ground-mounted arrays may be necessary. The mounting mechanism is more expensive, but ground-mounted systems produce more power overall. This is because the angle of the panels can be set more ideally and because ground-mounted arrays cool easier. Solar panels are most productive at colder temperatures, a little known fact which makes Canada an ideal host to this renewable technology.

The majority of projects undertaken by Renewable Lifestyles endeavour to meet the entirety of a customer’s electrical needs, but building a solar array incrementally is also possible. Steve only sells solar panels produced by tier 1 companies, those manufacturers who have their legs under them and can be relied upon to honour warranties. Most of their panels come from Canadian Solar, a tier 1 company with a ten year manufacturing defect warranty and 25 year power output warranty. In Steve’s experience, they produce a very reliable solar panel.

It’s impossible to tell the quality of a solar panel just by looking at it, he said. His concern is that substandard panels will find their place on the PEI market, degrading quickly after installation and costing their owners in the long run. That’s why a tier 1 manufacturer is important, said Steve, as well as the advice of an experienced installer.

"Shown above is the roof of the Tyne Valley Sports Centre, its solar panels installed by Renewable Lifestyles. Photo courtesy of Renewable Lifestyles"

Chris note: that photo is in the original blog post by Zack, and one assumes the roof was a total loss in the rink fire in December 2019, though I don't remember it being mentioned in the coverage of the fire.
CBC news article on rink fire from December 2019

The Transition

In spring of 2019 Steve Howard was elected MLA for the Summerside-South Drive district as a member of the Green Party, taking the role of energy critic with the official opposition. For a long time he’s recognized the opportunity renewable energies offer Prince Edward Island, and now that his business is established, he’s stepping away to effect change in the political theatre.

He would like to see PEI producing all its own power by encouraging citizens to become solar electricity producers, having their excess power bought by Maritime Electric and used locally, or else sold to New Brunswick, using the same cables built to import power to PEI. In this fashion the cost of electricity, and thus the cost of living, on PEI could drop dramatically, he said, and this humble province could lead the rest of Canada in a necessary transition to renewable power.

As well he would like to see more competition. Renewable Lifestyles has installed solar on the Island for sometime, but cannot meet the demand by itself, especially if the Solar Electricity Rebate Program is as successful as he’s expecting, and his pursuit of a self sufficient province comes to fruition.

“100 per cent renewable energy on PEI is absolutely achievable, provided we do it in the right steps. The first step is getting a healthy renewable industry.”

Zack Metcalfe is a freelance journalist, columnist and author active across the Maritimes. This article originally published with Rural Delivery Magazine.



Global Chorus essay for February 28

Stuart Pimm

So much of what we hear about the environment is bad news. I contribute some of the worst of it – it’s my science that has documented that we are driving species to extinction 100 to 1,000 times faster than is natural. Extinction is irreversible. At least in theory, we can cool the planet to its normal temperature, restock the oceans’ depleted fish and so on. We cannot create a Jurassic Park or even resurrect recent extinctions. I feel a keen sense of loss over the species I have seen but which are now extinct. No more, I promise myself.

To fulfill that, I must use whatever skills it takes to protect what we have left. Science is one such skill, but it requires so much more. And I must inject my science into the public debate, especially now when the media spews so much disinformation.

Something else: the world’s tropical, moist forests are where most of the wild things live. They house the most species and the greatest number of species at risk of extinction. They’ve lost area almost as large as the continental USA in my lifetime. Meanwhile, we’ve put billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing untold economic harm. We should stop doing so, for forests are worth more standing than as the barren grazing land so many of them have become. There’s more! It’s time to restore these lands, allow them to recover, plant them with native trees, heal the planet and save species.

   — Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation in the Nicholas School at Duke University, president of SavingSpecies 

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 27, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Climate Change Committee public consultation tonight, 6:30PM, Morell Fire Hall, 15 Park Street.
"Topic: Public input on meeting provincial GHG emission reduction targets. 
The committee will meet to receive public input on how the province can best meet its Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction targets, as per the terms of Motion 37. A presentation on the context of climate change will be provided by the UPEI Climate Lab."

Check the Legislative Assembly website and Facebook page to see if weather has caused a postponement.

Future Meetings of the Climate Change Committee looking for public input:
Thursday, March 5th, Summerside
Thursday, March 12th, Charlottetown *just added*  

Tonight also (again, check Facebook event link to see if postponed):
Tenants Action Meeting, 6:30-8:30PM, PEI Farm Centre. 

"PEI Fight for Affordable Housing invites tenants, and supporters of increased tenant's rights to attend our community meeting to update and plan actions on public housing, short term rental regulations and tenant's rights and advocacy.
We want to review the past year and what progress has been achieved, what items have been ignored and how we as a community can demand increased action as we continue to struggle with housing pressures. Feel free to come with your ideas on demonstrations, campaigns or actions we can tackle together.
**This meeting is for TENANTS and SUPPORTERS OF TENANTS RIGHTS ONLY. We kindly ask that media, developers, landlords, commercial STR operators and politicians refrain from attending** "
Facebook event link


The Graphic's publisher's editorial:

A missed opportunity to demand bold and courageous leadership - by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Dennis King now has his coveted Charlottetown seat at the provincial cabinet table with the naming of Natalie Jameson as Minister of Environment, Water and Climate. Her appointment will ease the considerable workload on Brad Trivers who juggled both Education and Environment since the Tories took office a year ago.

The appointment is not unexpected, Jameson was tagged as a future cabinet minister from the time she won the delayed District 9 vote made necessary by the tragic death of Green candidate Josh Underhay.

With the Environment portfolio, Jameson will be front and centre as the King government navigates the prickly issues of climate change, carbon tax and deep water wells. Although not part of her mandate, her voice should be heard in a needed restructuring of the PEI Energy Corporation, which continues to demand communities bend to its will as it follows a tired formula of wind energy development that primarily benefits the general revenue of government rather than landowners and communities most impacted.

For instance, the corporation wants IRAC to overturn a building permit issued by Eastern Kings Council to a local resident, claiming it negatively impacts the corporation’s ability to plunk down turbines wherever it wants.

Wind energy development is an important tool in our strategy to wean ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels, but it cannot continue to be pursued with the province earning the lion’s share of the financial rewards while communities and land owners accrue crumbs.

Premier King did not use the shuffle as an opportunity for a broader remake of the provincial cabinet, most notably in Health and Wellness.

James Aylward’s tenure is marked thus far by platitudes on issues ranging from the crisis in the delivery of mental health and addiction treatment to electronic medical records, where the minister is throwing $10 million away to create a ‘solution’ benefiting the bureaucracy over Island patients. He’s bought into the bureaucracy’s spin.

There had been hope that the premier’s commitment to doing politics differently would force change on a bureaucracy too often focussed on maintaining internal silos over innovation and big picture solutions. Instead of courage, Aylward is content to parrot talking points for a bureaucracy where failure is ignored - or worse, doubled down on.

Following a public meeting focussed on the inadequacies of provincial addiction services, the minister claimed surprise at the depth of concerns raised. Really? James Aylward was an effective opposition member with an intimate knowledge of the issue. Those days are gone. As minister he is a cheerleader for the status quo or incremental improvement somewhere down the road. His suggestion that a separate Department of Mental Health and Addictions ‘could probably make a big difference’ is sadly laughable. PEI does not need more bureaucracy on the senior management pension plan. It needs front line services.

As minister, Aylward has yet to meet King’s swearing-in day challenge to ‘be bold, be courageous.’

The premier is hamstrung by his small caucus. Only Cory Deagle is available for potential promotion. The rookie District 3 MLA has made a refreshing habit of criticizing a lack of action on vital services such as health care and education. Last week he snidely quipped, “It would probably be easier if they (Health PEI) just started telling us when it will be open” in response to yet another temporary closure of the Kings County Memorial Hospital emergency room. “From what I can tell Health PEI doesn’t think our ER is an essential service.”

Deagle is not alone among Tories who believe the bureaucracy stymies change not in line with its self-benefitting priorities of centralization and empire building.

It requires courage and boldness for government to move beyond tokenism and rhetoric, traits rarely seen in the administration’s first nine months in power. And while Natalie Jameson’s inclusion in cabinet is a needed addition, unless cabinet ministers demand boldness and courage from those underneath them, we will continue to be served up a heaping helping of style over substance.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at


Global Chorus essay for February 27
Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul

Should you need to be reminded that anything is possible and that this wonderful big world can be saved, you need nothing more than air in your lungs and a heart that is open.

Take yourself outside, watch the sun peek tentatively over the horizon. Light spilling, slowly at first, dripping, splattering, blazing, engulfing the dark night sky, a sky that questioned whether it would ever see light again. Close your eyes, feel its warmth, embrace the awe. This brilliance cannot be rivalled.

The solutions are already here, presented delicately by the Earth and her natural systems. Should we take the time to listen, we will find the cures whispered to us in her ever-hopeful song.

Buildings that give back: purifying their own water, generating power through energy freely given by the sun, creating thriving new ecosystems rather than destroying them. Transportation that uses our own strength and breath, allowing us to fully appreciate these bodies we are blessed with. Food that is not only nutritious but compassionate, that doesn’t take life but, rather, gives it.

Change will accelerate as we widen our circle of compassion, noticing that the Earth’s scorching crust is intricately linked to our wrinkling skin, and within the saddening eyes of her creatures we find our own.

There is a global crisis, but equally a mountain of opportunity. Nothing is impossible. There is always hope. We are the solution. It’s time to show up ready to work, and push forward one seemingly small change at a time.

    — Laura Elizabeth Clayton Paul, BEng, "Earth’s pupil, eternally curious, change agent, sustainable building and community specialist in Ottawa"

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 26, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Market selected vendors open for lunch, 10AM-2PM, coffee 6AM-2PM.

Legislative Committee meetings today:

Special Committee on Poverty in PEI, 9:30AM, Coles Building.  Topic:  Briefing from Groups on Poverty, featuring the Canadian Association of Social Works and the PEI Association of Social Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
More details

Standing Committee on Health and Social Development, 1:30PM, Coles Building.  Topics: Navigator Street Outreach Program and the 2018 Equality Report Card.
More details

Both meetings can be attended in the Gallery, or watched online at the Assembly's website.

Premier Dennis King's "State of the Province", this year given to the Rotary Clubs of P.E.I., on Monday, February 24th, 2020, was videotaped and is here on YouTube (34 minutes):


Sometimes Mr. Smitz gets a bit overwhelming, but he makes good points in this letter to the editor on the issue that the Municipal Government Act is an unlovely piece of legislation, and the King government is showing a lack of courage in failing to address it head on.

LETTER: Amalgamation is being forced - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, February 24th, 2020, in The Guardian

Metro Halifax has a land base larger than P.E.I. It has a population base of over 345,000, whereas P.E.I. has 150,000. Halifax has one of everything, garbage collection, emergency measures plans, one CAO and 16 councillors.

The Municipalities Governance Act wants to create 29 communities in P.E.I., all with a CAO plus offices, mayors and six to nine councillors. This amalgamation is being forced on people. I was at a meeting in Bonshaw were people voted against it. But the council of six voted four to two and they went ahead anyway. The people even signed a petition saying no — not one person said yes. But the minister still went ahead.

The act is designed in such a way that the people have no democratic rights, they can speak but it is the council that votes. The mayor and councillors cannot be fired or held accountable.

Under the old act, the annual budget had to be approved and voted on by the people. The act is full of violations of the charter. A bylaw officer has more power than an RCMP officer. He can enter your property and buildings without notice, has to give you 24 hours’ notice to enter your home. No warrant. This is being forced on people. Two years of secret meetings were held in the Three Rivers area. 0ver 1,200 people said no.

Look where it got them. Does the Village of Victoria — a population of less than 100 souls that has thrived over the years — now really need to pay a CAO over $40,000 per year for a 20-hour work week?

Common sense, not greed and the lust for power, has to be stopped. That is why I urge all Islanders to support the rural coalition in having this vile act rescinded.

Paul Smitz, Brookvale


Very foresightful thinking. 

Global Chorus essay for February 26
Jules Pretty

The iron cage of arithmetic is compelling: per capita consumption of natural capital rises, as does the total number of consuming people. Yet we know indefinite growth is impossible in a finite world.

At low levels of consumption, it is clear that a large proportion of the world’s population needs to consume more – in order to meet basic needs for food, water, housing and health. But the average global citizen is consuming too much. If those without are to have more, then by definition those with too much must consume less. This is not widely accepted.

There are four options for divergence from current paths:

* major disruptive and technological innovation followed by widespread adoption;

* making possessions, places and environments meaningful and valued, and thus longer lasting;

* fixing pro-environmental and low-carbon behaviours into societies by cultural moulding; and

* a penetrating policy focus on the links between consumption and human well-being, and increases in investments in the green economy.

In such a green economy, other forms of consumption will be valued, such as of storytelling, walking and engaging with Nature. It will be co-operative, as it enhances social capital formation and reduces inequity: prosocial behaviours cause others to be prosocial. It will offer four options to citizens: resist consumerism by opting out (e.g., downshifting, voluntary simplicity), retain possessions for longer (before replacement), make different choices (ethical or green consumerism) and substitute non-material consumption activities (e.g., nature consumption). It will encourage spiritual consolation as a substitute for materialism.

A shift to a green economy is inevitable. It is simply a question of whether it occurs before or after the world becomes locked into severe climate change and other harm to Nature. On the assumption that before is preferable, then we need commitments by affluent countries to reduce their material consumption by a factor of ten; and commitments by all countries to invest in displacement technologies that improve natural capital whilst providing the necessary services to improve human well-being.

     — Jules Pretty, professor of environment and society at University of Essex (UK), author of The Edge of Extinction, This Luminous Coast, The Earth Only Endures and Agri-Culture


essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 25, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth, 2:30PM
, Coles Building. Topic: Committee work plan & preliminary report discussions

The committee will meet to discuss its work plan and to have preliminary discussions regarding the committee’s next report to the Legislative Assembly. Portions of this meeting may be in camera." Meaning the public would be asked to leave and the cameras turned off from recording and live-streaming.

Cookies and Conversation with the D21 D23 Regional Association, 6:30-9:30PM, Summerside Rotary Library, 57 Central Street, Summerside.

"Please join us for a conversation about Growing the Green Wave in District 21 (Summerside/Wilmot) and District 23 (Tyne Valley/Sherbrooke). Share your ideas on community engagement, volunteer engagement, and fundraising." 
from:Facebook event details


Article (link only) from CBC on Teck Frontier's decision to withdraw its oilsands project application:

The article includes a map of the area that was proposed, and a video commentary article from CBC's Chris Hall.

Opinion piece:
Definitely a strong opinion, but an interesting read.

GWYNNE DYER: Germany, Japan and the war on rationality - The Guardian article by Gwynne Dyer

Published Friday, February 21st, 2020, in The Guardian

Germany and Japan are finally winning a war together. Unfortunately, it is the war on rationality.

Coal, as everybody knows, is by far the most damaging source of energy we use, in terms of both the harm to human beings and the impact on the climate.

It’s twice as bad as natural gas, and dozens of times worse than solar or nuclear or wind power. Yet both Germany and Japan have been building lots of new coal-fired power stations.


Would it upset you if I said it’s because they are, despite their apparent sophistication, superstitious peasants at heart?

Well, go ahead and get upset.

Germany still gets more than a third of its energy from burning coal, and most of it is ultra-polluting lignite or “brown” coal. If most of Germany’s 17 nuclear power had not been shut down after 2012 (the last are scheduled to close within two years), then at least half that coal would not have been needed.

There had been an active anti-nuclear power movement in Germany for some time, but what triggered the 2012 decision to shut the entire sector down was the Fukushima incident of the previous year.

I am deliberately avoiding the words “calamity,” “disaster” and “catastrophe,” because while the Fukushima tsunami killed 19,000 people, the subsequent problem with the four nuclear reactors on the coast killed nobody.

Yet the German people, or at least a large number of German anti-nuclear activists, insisted that any nuclear reactor anywhere was a mortal danger, and the government agreed to shut all the German nuclear plants down.

The same thing happened in Japan.

The Japanese planners were foolish to put four reactors on the coast in a region where earthquakes and consequent tsunamis were to be expected from time to time, but what needs to be condemned is Japanese planners, not nuclear power.

Nevertheless, all 50 Japanese nuclear reactors, which supplied 30 per cent of the country’s electrical power, were immediately shut down.

The Japanese are not as blindly dogmatic as the Germans: two of those nuclear plants reopened in 2015, and seven more reopened recently. A further seventeen are in the lengthy process of restart approval, so by 2030 the Japanese government hopes to be getting 20 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power again.

But that’s only half the amount of nuclear power that Japan originally planned to have available by 2030, and the gap between 20 per cent and the planned 40 per cent of the country’s energy needs will be made up by burning coal. Japan recently announced that it plans to build 22 new coal-burning power plants in the next five years.

This is deeply irresponsible behaviour, and the worst thing is that the decision-makers know it. They are just deferring to public opinion, which in this instance is entirely wrong. The “superstitious peasants” should really be frightened of global warming, for which coal-burning is a major driver, not of relatively harmless nuclear power.

That’s not to say that nuclear power is the solution to all our problems, or even most of them.

It is generally the most expensive option because it is costs so much to build the reactors and the associated controls and safety devices. Indeed, nuclear is no longer cost-competitive with other “clean” sources of power like wind and solar.

So there is a case for not building any more nuclear power stations, at least in regions and countries that have ample resources in terms of sun and wind. But there is no case for shutting down existing nuclear stations and burning more coal to make up the difference. That is so stupid it verges on the criminal.

Other countries can be idiotic, too.

Due to an administrative glitch, Chinese provinces are currently building hundreds of unnecessary coal-fired power stations that may never be used, since the central government expects the country’s coal use to peak this year — and most existing Chinese coal plants already sit idle more than half of the time.

At least China is also building nuclear plants as fast as it can, and last year accounted for more than half the world’s output of solar panels.

(On the other hand, it is providing work for the Chinese construction industry by building a planned 300 coal-fired power stations in other countries, presumably on the unspoken assumption that carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere won’t affect China’s climate.)

But nobody is as crazy as the Germans and the Japanese, who have been shutting down nuclear plants and replacing them with coal-fired plants.

France will close its last coal-fired station in 2022, and Britain will do the same in 2025, but Germany says 2038 and Japan just says “eventually.”

That’s far too late: by then the die will be cast, and the world will be committed to more than 2 C of warming.

Gwynne Dyer’s new book is “Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).”



All the essays are good, but this one is looks at biology and our future, and the last paragraph especially resonates.

Global Chorus essay for February 25
David Arnold

For humanity to find a way past our current global environmental and social crises we need to think and behave much differently than we do today. Our only hope is revolution of thought, moving forward one individual at a time.

This paradigm shift requires widespread communication of a message based on human evolution and moral responsibility as individuals, to change the way we perceive other individuals and the environment, with a keen eye on the spatial (geographic) context of the world in which we now live.

The message is based on empathy and survival. Empathy is not a learned trait, but has a biological basis to ensure survival of the species. Empathy involves a connection with other life forms, both human and animal. Initially that connection is emotional; however, in some cases we actively reach out and provide support. The latter is a requirement for survival of both our species and our planet.

The real question is, what stops us from taking that crucial step from emotional connection to actively reaching out?

While empathy is a natural evolutionary tendency, so is our mistrust of anyone or anything that lies outside the bounds of our own relatively isolated cultures. While distrust has served us well as a species in the distant past, we find ourselves facing a much different world today. Technology has advanced at a rate that dramatically exceeds that of human biological evolution, so that now, the tendency to mistrust or become aggressive against those different from ourselves is working against our survival.

Our only hope is to recognize our own biologically based biases, identify them when they occur, and consciously work to fight against them. Only then will we be able to recognize that any advanced life forms and the environment that sustains them, is a part of all of us. In other words, to ensure our survival, we must ensure the survival of all others.

     — David L. Arnold, PhD, (former) executive director of Northern Alaska Environmental Center


essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 24, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Monday is "Constituency Day" for many MLAs.
MLA Michelle Beaton (D5:Mermaid-Stratford) coffee chat, 8:30-11:30AM, Tim Horton's in Stratford.
MLA Karla Bernard (D12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park) coffee chat, 10AM-12noon, Receiver Brass Shop, 178 Water Street.

Protecting Land for Islanders - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Shelby Downe on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Land

Published on Thursday, February 20th, 2020 in The Guardian

On June 30th, 2013, a Report of the Commission on the Lands Protection Act was released. In this report, Commissioner Horace Carver made 29 recommendations meant to keep Island lands in the hands of Island farmers. Seven years have now passed, and little has been done to legislate the Commissioner’s recommendations. On January 6th of this year, Carver himself appeared before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Sustainability. After a lengthy rest from the public eye, he reiterated his recommendations in the name of the intent of the Act.

This presentation was made amid the context of a recent corporate circumvention of the Lands Protection Act. In July 2019, a large parcel of land was transferred from Brendel Farms to Haslemere Farms, an Irving-affiliated company. This transfer effectively gives the Irving corporation control over much more land than is allowed under the Lands Protection Act. It is unclear how the government plans to prevent further abuse of the Act while this transition is investigated. In the meantime, we must be reminded of the reasons behind the intent of the Lands Protection Act.

Lands protection is an issue of sustainability. The question of land use has always been an important one, and it is becoming ever more critical in the era of climate crisis. Under the predominant industrial model of agriculture, the productive ability of our Island soil is at jeopardy. This is more than evident in reports on depletion of soil organic matter, soil erosion, and fish kills. It is due in part to the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides which are some of the high-cost inputs of industrial agriculture. This is what happens when the export economy mandates the farming of commodities rather than the farming of soil and food to sustain life and community. With the climate crisis now upon us, Islanders should be more concerned about our ability to grow food for local markets than our ability to fulfill the export market for potatoes.

When farmland ownership is concentrated in fewer hands, food sovereignty (the ability of communities to have control over their source of food) is at stake. This is a compelling reason for the Lands Protection Act to protect Island land for Island farmers. There is a connection between who owns the land and how it is used, and the land must be kept by those who put land and communities first. Islanders have been demanding that land monopolies be broken up since the 19th century.

The Coalition is concerned by the continuous difficulty of being put off by the offices of Minister Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and Land, and Premier Dennis King. It is imperative that our concerns on land use in Prince Edward Island be heard. In the election campaign, both Premier King and Minister Thompson railed against the lack of transparency in government. They said this would change if they were elected. This is not only an issue of land use policy - it is a threat to participatory democracy.

In the spring, government will be introducing a “Lands Protection Act 2.0” that will supposedly close any loopholes allowing companies like Brendel Farms to disregard the intent of the Act. The upcoming consultations on the Lands Protection Act must be done in an effective manner: participatory, democratic, and meaningful. Community consultations are made meaningful when participants’ inputs are heard, considered, and implemented. Communities must also have a timeline for these consultations. More importantly, this timeline must be released in adequate advance of the consultations to allow for community groups to prepare their presentations. The Coalition urges all Islanders to attend these consultations; each one of us has an integral role in protecting Island land so that it can sustain us in return.

Poem submitted, "as The Guardian will not publish poetry":

Mountains of Mistrust
by Aleida Tweten February 10, 2020

How can we believe

That it is the Indigenous ones 

Who should leave?

Making arrests is not the way

Pushing past Mother Earth

Claiming that it is they  who do not obey


On forest that is valued and preceded

By people that have land ethic

Spiritual waters, mountains, and trees, all unceded

Bulldozing over signs that read RECONCILIATION

Hypocritical, hollow, and ignorant 

Eroding all trust and igniting humiliation

Mother Earth, her water, land, and breath

Nourishes us all when we replenish her offerings

Living in harmony and relationship prevents her death

Working together and not apart

Living with Mother Earth and not against

Would be a far better way to start

A charge-through pipeline divides, not connects

Opens old wounds, not fully healed

From colonizers who never knew the need to protect

As soil is dug, craters deepen

Widening the space 

Adding to the mountain of mistrust that steepens


So Earth warriors, I know you are trying

I cry out and push forward with you

To prevent this corrupt and destructive pipeline


That will spill onto your sacred lands

Contaminating one another with the disease of hate

Polluting our hearts and binding our hands

In any effort to make amends

With the brutal past called colonization

Hopes of healing seem at an end
---Aleida Tweten


Global Chorus essay for February 24
Amitabha Sadangi

I strongly believe in hope and in the fact that if we just focus on what “is,” then probably we will never be able to think of what “could be.” The term “human” (Latin = “wise man”) includes in it “wisdom,” which is not a lower-rung emotion, but a higher-order capacity to guide action!

Today’s reality includes an unstable political environment and therefore a lack of desire for public welfare. This translates into action that probably is further promoting greed and a desire to possess instead of a collective understanding/action. However, I believe that this political environment is of our own making – and it is the most informed decision/ action that I as an individual can take that will surely contribute to resolving these seemingly complicated “global issues”: there is a need to deconstruct these issues and bring them down to an individual level of awareness and therefore action.

In my life of working for the smallholder farmers, I realized, from the very first day, the importance of connecting with each farmer and making an effort to understand their life (not just their problems). From these interactions emerged their joys, sufferings, victories and challenges. This helped in identifying them not as mere helpless people out there but as entrepreneurs waiting for the optimum environment for their blossoming. An effort to respond to their challenges helped us develop this repertoire of technologies that best respond to their needs, with a framework for implementation that they could most benefit from and that could help them unleash their tremendous potential. A small start in a small village of one state of India has grown to fifteen states (and globally) today, and its recognition as one of the most important solutions for the global irrigation problem, water conservation, building food security and saving the environment. Who could have thought of this? The thought of over six million people walking with their heads held high is both humbling and heartening.

In my opinion, the need is to have belief in the inherent potential. This, coupled with appropriate direction and guidance, can definitely help resolve even the gravest of problems and situations.
— Amitabha Sadangi, CEO of International Development Enterprises in India
essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 23, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


This afternoon:
Bonshaw monthly ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, corner of Green Road and TCH, all welcome, admission by donation with proceeds going to the PEI Chapter of Crohn's and Colitis.
Facebook event details

Songs of PEI Black History with the Scott Parsons Trio and special guest Joce Reyome, 2-3PM, Confederation Centre Public Library. Hosted by Sean Casey and the Library, all welcome.

 Article -- this is similar to one posted a few weeks ago about effectively dealing with climate change, but this focuses more on family, applicable to children or grandchildren or neighbourhood kids, and, as the article ends with:
     "it's big, it's daunting.  But it is not a lost cause, and we must remember that." 

Parents can’t fix climate change with life hacks — but here are ways to make a real impact - The Washington Post article by Caitlin Gibson

Published on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

The climate crisis is so monumental, its symptoms so horrific — acidifying oceans, raging wildfires, vanishing wildlife — that it’s easy to feel paralyzed in the face of it. For parents raising the children who will inherit a damaged planet, the prospect can feel particularly daunting.

And when families go looking for ways they can help, they might encounter the sort of listicle that often circulates — 10 ways to be a greener parent! 15 tips for eco-friendly parenting! — which might not actually help them feel less overwhelmed. Yes, making your own baby food produces less waste than buying plastic-packaged purées, and riding your bike is preferable to driving, and avoiding red meat is a beneficial environmental choice. But not everyone can make baby food from scratch or bike to work, and suggestions such as “choose locally grown greens” may not be feasible for families living in food deserts. We all know diapers are dreadful for the environment, and although skipping them altogether is an option (one employed by determined souls who want to speed up potty training and probably don’t have carpeted floors), it may not be an approach that your family is prepared to embrace.

Individual consumer choices do matter (go for that bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one; the sea turtles will thank you), but they are not the deciding factor in halting the current crisis, says Mary DeMocker, an environmental activist and author of “The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep.”

“Busy parents — along with everyone else — have been told for years that individual lifestyle changes can stop the climate from spinning out of control, but the truth is they can’t,” she wrote in her book. “Not by themselves, anyway.”

Climate change, experts have widely stated, is a problem that must be solved at a policy level. But this doesn’t mean that families can’t make choices that will have a real impact. DeMocker and Heather McTeer Toney, a former regional Environmental Protection Agency administrator and the national field director for Moms Clean Air Force, offer a few suggestions for parents who want to know where to start:

Focus time, energy on larger movement

If you only have a little time to spare at the end of a busy week, the best way to spend it is not by meticulously sorting every scrap of recyclable material in your home, but rather by contributing to bigger environmental efforts — whether at the local, state or national level, DeMocker says.

“Spend 10 minutes looking at your local grass-roots climate group online,” she says. Are they protesting a proposed pipeline? Urging residents to call their elected officials about pending legislation? Advocating for the protection of a threatened park or waterway?

“Understand your sphere of influence, where your interest is and where the levers of power are. . . . Look up the important decisions being made on the policy level in your own community,” she says.

This is especially critical in an election year, DeMocker says. “Now is the time to plug into the electoral cycle, at whatever level parents and families can,” she says. “That might mean volunteering, it might mean phone-banking or knocking on doors, it might mean just having more water-cooler conversations about the climate champions who are running for office.”

Moms Clean Air Force encourages its members to bring their kids with them when they do advocacy work, Toney says. “There are kids who, I swear, should be registered lobbyists because they know how to advocate, they have been in the practice of speaking for themselves,” she says. If you don’t have time to plan a trip to your local representative’s office, she adds, your child can help you reach out in other ways.

“Sign a petition, write an email, send a Facebook message with a picture of a handmade sign,” Toney says. “Find out what people in your community are doing, and join in.”

Connect kids to the environment

“This sounds really simple, but just getting outdoors is hugely helpful for getting your children to have a connection with nature and the environment,” Toney says. That doesn’t mean you have to take them on a grand tour of every national park: “I don’t mean, ‘Go buy $500 hiking boots and climb through the mountains,’ ” she says. “Figure out what you have right in your space, and just go outside.”

When you’re out there, help your children learn how to pay attention to their surroundings. Even with very young kids, this is something that sets the stage for a deeper environmental awareness, Toney says.

“When we walk from the front door to the car, which is just down a little sidewalk, we take note of what’s outside. ‘There’s the grass, and the trees, and is that a flower? What color is the tree? Is that a rabbit?’ ” she says. “It creates a relationship. Now when my little one gets out of the car at night, he immediately looks up. He says, ‘Oh, stars! The sky! Clouds!’ We’re trying to create, at a very young age, this connection with the natural things around us.”

Pick one thing to champion or to give up

If the eco-parenting “to-do” lists are feeling like too much, DeMocker suggests finding just one thing that feels reasonable for your family to give up, such as eating red meat, buying tropical wood, taking vacations that involve plane travel or using a bank with ties to the fossil fuel industry.

“When my kids were little, we made sure people knew that we didn’t want plastic toys or battery-operated toys for the holidays or birthdays,” she says. “We said, ‘Give us movie tickets, give us roller skates or puzzles, tennis rackets and jump ropes.’ Things that will allow children to play outside and learn how to cooperate.”

Or you might choose one thing for your family to embrace, such as advocating for more local pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, or supporting local farmers. Toney’s family decided to collect reusable bags in lieu of single-use plastic ones.

“Other people go to visit a place and come back with a cup or a mug, but we come back with a bag and add it to our collection,” she says. “When we’re traveling, the kids are like, ‘Oh, have we gotten our bag yet?’ It’s a practice that makes them think about the kinds of materials we use.”

Empower kids to be agents of change

Is your community debating an environmental policy or pondering the possibility of adding more pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly infrastructure? If there’s a public hearing coming up, let your child be the one who addresses your elected leaders. Planning to attend a pro-environment demonstration? Bring the kids, and let them make their own signs.

Not every young climate activist is Greta Thunberg, but any child can carry her message forward, DeMocker says. “A child can make a sign to display on your car or the bike or the front lawn,” she says. “They can knock on doors, help you write a letter or an email.”

For younger kids, this sense of initiative can start at the household level. When Toney’s daughter was 7, the family’s community did not provide recycling bins. She was determined that the family should recycle anyway, so she created her own container, decorating a big cardboard box with crayon drawings, Toney says.

“We kept that box until it was soaked through with God knows what, and that was our recycling container, and that was initiated by my child,” Toney says. “It’s important to find things that they can initiate themselves, and support them in that.”

Don't give in to despair

For Christmas 2016, DeMocker asked her family to create a “wall of kindred spirits” in their home, complete with portraits of inspirational figures, climate heroes and creative icons — among them Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Honduran environmentalist
Berta Cáceres and Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who was honored for leading an effort to plant 30 million trees. The point of this display, DeMocker says, is to offer encouragement in moments when optimism feels hard to come by.

“When I’m ragged and without the strength to go on, my heroes silently say, You’ve got this, dear. Keep on fighting,” she wrote in her book.

The climate crisis can be frightening and heartbreaking, and we must make space to process those emotions, DeMocker says; cry, vent, go for a run — but then rally, because it’s not too late. And kids need to see determination and optimism modeled for them, too.

“We have hope; scientists are telling us that we are not doomed, and this is really an important conversation because so many people think we’re a lost cause already,” DeMocker says. “And we have to work hard to address that, because I think it’s the biggest issue we face — the emotional response that people have to the climate crisis. And I understand why; it’s big, it’s daunting. But it is not a lost cause, and we must remember that.”


Global Chorus essay for February 23

Christine McEntee

Scientific research and discovery have brought us monumental achievements, such as improved weather forecasts, tsunami warnings, air and water quality monitoring, human flight, life-saving drugs, abundant food, and telecommunications that continue to revolutionize our exchange of ideas, information and culture. These innovations have protected us from natural and man-made threats, and improved the quality of our lives.

Yet, we face daunting challenges on a global scale as a result of human actions that are rapidly and profoundly influencing the Earth’s environment and its ability to support us. In spite of our innate ingenuity, we have yet to fully apply scientific knowledge to inform solutions to these problems – from ensuring people have clean and adequate water; to providing communities with efficient and sustainable sources of energy; to preserving threatened ecosystems and biodiversity. Underlying these issues is the greatest challenge of all – to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change and at the same time mitigate further damage.

Earth and space scientists and their colleagues in related fields are at the forefront of uncovering and explaining what has happened, and forecasting what is likely to happen based on sound scientific evidence and reasoning. Their insight is critical to informing rational decisions about our path forward.

Our long-term success in solving problems of this global magnitude will hinge on the strength of a joint commitment from the scientific community, business and industry, community leaders and government and NGOs, working together to make a long-term, sustainable impact.

For such a partnership to succeed, we are compelled to set ideology aside, to adopt a mindset characterized by a spirit of inquiry and dedication to continually seeking and implementing solutions. We must recognize that the decisions we make today will shape the world that we hand to our descendants for hundreds of generations. The gravity of that responsibility and the potential consequences of getting it wrong are too dire for us to delay action any further. The time to act is now.

     Christine McEntee, executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union
essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 22, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Farmers' Markets today:
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM

2020 PEI Winter Woodlot Tour, 9AM-1PM, Bluefield High School, Rte. 9 in Hampshire, free.  Fun, educational displays, etc. Lots of planning goes into these. 
Facebook event link


A Vox interview the giant of gentle agriculture, Wendell Berry, from Fall 2019:

A champion of the unplugged, earth-conscious life, Wendell Berry is still ahead of us - Vox article by Hope Reese

The writer and farmer’s impassioned arguments on farming, technology, and the urban-rural divide have taken on a new urgency

by Hope Reese
Published on Wednesday, October 19th, 2019

PORT ROYAL, Kentucky — Wendell Berry doesn’t like screens. The 85-year-old writer doesn’t own a TV, computer, or cellphone. If you call the landline at his country home in Port Royal, you won’t reach an answering machine. When he reads this profile, it will be because someone else printed it out. And, if his general approach to life is any indication, he will probably take his time.

It’s virtually impossible to imagine life in the modern world without our technological accessories, but Berry has consistently presented this spartan circumstance as a compelling proposition: An unplugged life, rooted in nature, he has argued, is the key to fulfillment.

As urban farms and tiny homes and movements to unplug proliferate, it’s clear that Wendell Berry is, once again, ahead of us.

Perhaps most known for his 1977 bestselling book, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, the writer and farmer has served as a moral beacon to Americans for half a century, warning of the dangers of consumerism, industrial agriculture, and the dissolution of rural communities. Now, as we face the greatest environmental crisis in history and grapple with deep polarization, his impassioned arguments on subjects ranging from industrial farming to technology have taken on a new urgency.

“The idea that rural and urban America describe two economies, one thriving and the other failing, is preposterous”

He has insisted on individual responsibility: Indeed, Berry contends climate change advocates don’t go far enough and that “the origin of climate change is human laziness” — a view now widely adopted by those who would ban straws and limit their air travel.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Berry has also anointed himself a defender of rural Americans. As a never-ending flood of articles, think pieces, and analyses have attempted to understand how Trump was elected, placing the blame squarely on people living in the Midwest, South, and particularly those far from urban centers, Berry has called attention to the stereotyping of rural residents and the economic distresses these areas have endured.

In a 2017 letter he wrote to the New York Review of Books, Berry called an article’s characterization of the “southernization” of rural Americans — presumably making them sexist, racist, and increasingly uneducated — as “provincial, uninformed, and irresponsible.” Instead of continuing to ignore their plight, Berry suggests, we ought to acknowledge the plundering of these rural regions by their urban neighbors. “Rural America is a colony,” Berry wrote, “and its economy is a colonial economy.”

The writer and activist Michael Pollan — who was greatly influenced by Berry — suggests that Berry remains a singular sort of truth-teller.

The Unsettling of America, which rang the alarm bell about the future of farming, was “prescient,” Pollan says, forewarning “the industrialization of farming: what it was going to do with farmers, what it was going to do with the land, and what it was going to do to rural communities, which was wreck them.”

“How many voices do we have like this?” Pollan asks. “True rural voices that can speak to those in the cities?”

Seven generations of farmers

If you ask the average person in Kentucky what he or she knows about Berry, those who have heard of him will tell you he’s a poet, or novelist, activist, environmentalist, or farmer. The truth is that Berry is a Renaissance man, skilled at all of it.

He has lived on Lanes Landing Farm in Port Royal for more than half a century, since he left behind a budding career as a New York academic. But Berry, the author of more than 40 books, is well regarded far beyond the rolling hills of his home state. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded him with the National Humanities Medal. In 2015, he was the first living writer inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. In May, a boxed set of his work was published by the Library of America — making him one of only two living writers to have received the honor 

All of that time, he’s devoted himself to Lanes Landing, to nurturing the land, maintaining close relationships with friends and family, and crafting ideas about how best to sustain the earth and community there.

Berry rarely grants interviews, and the only way he wanted to be reached, initially, was through handwritten letters. I began writing to him in March, and though he responded each time, he kept me at arm’s length, wanting to know more about my intentions before committing to meet or talk to me. Months passed before he relented, and when he did, he joked on the phone that I could tell my editor he was a grumpy old man.

Berry and I finally settled in the living room of his cozy home on a sunny summer morning. The built-in shelves that surrounded us were stacked with books, from dictionaries to history books to Ann Patchett novels. He sat across from me in a rocking chair, arms crossed, wearing khakis with some minor paint stains and a button-down shirt with a small notebook peeking out of the front pocket. On his feet, he wore black socks and sandals.

Outside the open window to my right, past the front porch, was a leafy landscape with the Kentucky River in the distance. Berry is breeding rams for several friends who have sheep flocks and has a dozen yearling ewes (one of whom I met on my walk up to the farmhouse) that he raised for his neighbor. The menagerie Berry once cared for has become “much diminished,” he says, because he doesn’t have the strength for more.

Berry was born not far from here in 1934 in New Castle, Kentucky, but his family has lived in Port Royal for years. They were a family of farmers, seven generations of them: His father was a lawyer and farmer. Berry was a contrarian from an early age, joking to his well-educated dad that he wanted to become a bootlegger. Instead, Berry attended a military high school; he “waged four years there in sustained rebellion against everything the place stood for, paying the cost both necessarily and willingly,” he wrote in his first essay collection, The Long-Legged House.

Port Royal (current population: 64) has changed radically. When his mother was young, Berry says, the town had 16 businesses. During his own childhood, there were 12. Rick’s Farm Center — a local farm-supply store with a small eatery featuring a lunch special for $5.75 when I visited — is currently the only enterprise, excluding the post office.

Nearly every weekday, Berry or his wife, Tanya, will stop by his P.O. box. The retail hours of the post office are just 10:30 am to noon, but Berry, a prolific letter writer, is a frequent patron. (The mail route in Port Royal offers service on Berry’s road but, like most conveniences, he doesn’t use it. “We want to support the local post office,” Berry explains. “We need that post office.”)

Here, in Kentucky, he has seen industry — coal, for example, once one of the state’s biggest employers — fleece the land and the people, sowing resentment. “The idea that rural and urban America describe two economies, one thriving and the other failing, is preposterous,” he tells me. “We’re joined by one economy. And it’s a one-way economy — the sucking and the digging is out here. The delivery is in the city. They’re prospering because they’re plundering their own country.”

The resulting slow bleed of life and self-sufficiency from small towns alarms the author. When Berry was growing up, many people worked at local farms or businesses. Today, nearly everyone is a commuter, working under a boss, and the small farms he remembers have largely vanished. “It’s a very significant change,” Berry says, “from self-employed to employee.”

Recognizing the problem of keeping people living and working in small communities like Port Royal, Berry’s daughter, Mary, founded the Berry Center in New Castle, Kentucky, in 2011. It is a nonprofit with the goal of strengthening the bond between small farmers and the urban communities they serve. Mary says she hoped she could help “give people who want to farm something to come home to.”

Berry’s granddaughter, Virginia Aguilar, directs the agrarian cultural center and bookstore at the Berry Center. “There is a lot working against young people having a connection with place,” she says. “There’s the language of upward mobility — that if you have a good mind, you’ll take your talents elsewhere.” Even Aguilar, with a commitment to her hometown, had a difficult time acquiring land in Henry County.

Those who still farm here, Berry tells me later, need to support it through non-farming jobs, such as working in steel and chemical factories along the Ohio River, construction jobs in Louisville, or at the state penitentiary in nearby La Grange.

“People come out here in the summertime, and it looks pretty and they say how beautiful it is,” he says. “But you could drive from Shelbyville to New Castle through some of the best grazing land in the world and I bet you won’t find a single farm with a kitchen garden or a family milk cow or a flock of chickens. They may be spending the night out there. But they’re not living from the country. Which means, in a certain profound way, they’re not living in the country.

“This little community that used to be coherent, sufficient to itself,” he says, “is a bedroom community where people come to sleep and watch TV."

photo credit: Guy Mendes

Leaving New York City

Berry himself was once lured away by the promises of urban life. After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1957, Berry landed a fellowship at Stanford University, followed by a Guggenheim Fellowship and a job teaching English at New York University.

In 1964, Berry lived in what many considered the intellectual and cultural epicenter of America: Greenwich Village. But against the advice of his colleagues, he decided to leave his position in New York after only two years. He loaded everything he and Tanya owned into a Volkswagen Beetle and headed west toward Kentucky.

Despite his colleagues’ warnings, Berry insists that life in the country has been intellectually fulfilling. “People come down and say, ‘Who do you talk to?’” he says. “As if a published writer like me would have very limited choices in a place like this. Well, we talk to everybody! Sometimes valuable things turn up. Some of my best teachers never went beyond the eighth grade.”

Berry purchased his home and 12 acres of land in Port Royal the same year he left New York, and he began the difficult task of healing the land. He tells me that there were “spots of erosion, scars on the land,” and there was also a lot of work to do in getting it fenced. Instead of using tractors, Berry opted for horse-drawn plows. His farm eventually yielded a small profit, but the benefits were mostly drawn from the self-sustaining nature of the endeavor, the fact that the Berrys were producing their own food.

In the tradition of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Berry also began writing about his surroundings. But unlike Thoreau and Emerson, who were simply visitors to the natural environments they wrote about, Pollan says that Berry was actually engaged with nature: “He wasn’t just a spectator. He was a farmer.”

Berry is now also arguably the greatest writer in Kentucky history. Max Rudin, the president of the Library of America, wrote in an email that Berry is “our essential modern exemplar of an American way of thinking and writing about nature, and place, that refuses to distinguish cultural, moral, and spiritual questions from scientific and technological ones.”

As for his prose, it is clear, succinct, profound. He is skeptical of euphemisms, political correctness, and movements. He hates the vague term “the environment,” preferring to discuss trees, insects, soil — the concrete things we can see and work with. Pollan says that Berry is “suspicious of abstractions because he knows what hides behind abstractions: hypocrisy and greed.”

Bill McKibben’s environmental activism was spurred after his wife gave him a copy of Berry’s 1979 essay collection Home Economics, which offered ideas on how we can live a simple and grounded life at home. “There’s no writer working in the English language I admire as much,” McKibben says.

For the author Barbara Kingsolver, he’s something more: A fellow Kentuckian whose writings she turned to, she wrote in an email, “after I left home and learned with a shock that the outside world looks down on us.

“Decade after decade, I keep running up against the bigotry of American mainstream culture against Appalachians, farmers, and rural life, and I always come back to Wendell for solace,” she wrote. “Quietly and without bitterness he brings me home to myself, reminding me that all the ‘hillbilly elegies’ in the world can’t touch the strength of our souls or the poetry of our language.”

Berry is now at work on a book about race, a follow-up of sorts to one he wrote 50 years ago called The Hidden Wound. “The conversation about race has become really degraded,” he says. “It has been reduced to slogans and stereotypes.” His new book will address the removal of Confederate monuments as well as “deal with the persistence of slavery” — Berry’s great-grandparents, in fact, owned slaves — and the idea that this ended when the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, he says.

“It’s either the hardest book I’ve ever done, or I’m the oldest I’ve ever been,” he joked at a book event in Louisville this spring.

Staking out “a clear, rigid position”

On an ideal day, Berry splits his time between farming and writing. He writes in a small farmhouse on his property, overlooking the Kentucky River. The season, weather, and farming demands determine his work schedule — when it’s cold out, he’ll write indoors, but during the summer, he prefers writing outside. Because he doesn’t like using electricity to write, he will write from the untethered farmhouse during daytime hours when natural light filters through a 40-pane glass window.

Berry cracks open a notebook and begins writing, by hand, in pencil. He writes on the right page, leaving room on the left for corrections, a system he tells me “works perfectly.” Then he will hand it over to his longtime typist and editor, Tanya, who types it up on their old Royal Standard typewriter — the same one they bought new in 1956. In the next phase, a second typist will take over, entering Berry’s words into a computer, and he will send the finished draft to his publisher.

After a 1988 essay for Harper’s Magazine, “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer,” Berry attracted critical responses from readers who perceived that Tanya was being treated unfairly in the equation, or argued that Berry was only able to operate in an old-school way because Tanya was a “secretary,” or “a low-tech energy-saving device.” Berry responded to those letters by saying that it was unfair to assume anything about his arrangement with Tanya — readers didn’t know, for instance, whether Tanya was paid, or enjoyed the work.

I ask Berry what the actual breakdown of domestic labor was in the household. He mentions that Tanya liked to cook, and he would often clean. Then, he says with his usual acid wit: “Well, I suppose if we were getting married now, we would have to sit down and negotiate — probably hire a team of attorneys to help us sort it out. Or maybe a psychologist or two.”

Berry is stubborn, which is both his greatest strength and his weakness. And his views, influenced by a moral tradition — he still references the Seven Deadly Sins, for instance — have a certainty baked into them. When I ask how his ideas have evolved, he tells me that though his understanding of the issues is more complex, he stands by his original ideas. He believes we are too quick to adopt new technologies, that there are critical implications in these behaviors and purchases.

And although Berry doesn’t own a computer, a friend once persuaded him to sit down and try one.

“I put a question to it,” he recalls. “I would like to know how to make a slaughterhouse that would take care of every kind of product, from fish to beef, could slaughter it, dress it, prepare it for market, and compost the offal.”

It didn’t work, he concluded: “The computer didn’t know.”

This unyielding stance has often led people to view Berry as a curmudgeon — a categorization his daughter, Mary, dismisses. “He never stops being grateful,” Mary says, adding: “He’s not grumpy, dammit!”

Rather, Pollan says, “Wendell stakes out a clear, rigid position and does not move from it. You see the world move toward it, very slowly. It can look anachronistic. It can look unreasonable. But I’ve witnessed the power of that kind of stubbornnes 

Living by principle

That power is evident in Berry’s work in the modern food movement. Mark Bittman has called him the “soul” of the movement; Pollan calls him its “spiritual father.”

While Americans may now have come to some consensus about the dire consequences of our carbon footprint and the problems with eating beef, those ideas are rooted in Berry’s work.

“People who eat have a moral responsibility to the sources of their food,” Berry says now. “People from the city should do an honest, full accounting of the food that they eat. The first thing they’ll discover is that they can’t do it. They don’t know the ecological cost or the cost to the people who did the work of production, what it costs the rural communities.”

His daughter, Mary, agrees. Urban dwellers are “dependent on [farming] whether they know it or not,” she says. “We’ve got a land-based economy, whether we know it or not, whether we’re living like we are or not.” We’re getting to the point, she says, where “urban places prospering on the decline of rural places won’t work.”

It’s hard to know what the world would look like if everybody lived by Berry’s principles. But is his insistence on a grassroots approach enough to make the drastic reversals we need to save the planet?

This summer, a dozen students met not far from Port Royal, ready to farm. They were students of the tuition-free Wendell Berry Farming Program, a collaboration between Sterling College in Vermont and the Berry Center that was just awarded a five-year grant. They are our new generation of farmers.

August Lee Gramig, 22, was among them. Like McKibben, she was inspired by Home Economics; it’s what made her want to be a farmer. She finds Berry’s ideas about resisting technology hugely important, especially in our always-plugged-in world.

“Wendell Berry,” Gramig says, “embodies the idea of being human.”

And Gramig’s generation will be necessary to make change, Berry believes. “We’re all going to have to do something to help our land, our country itself,” he tells me. “We have to find a way to pay it what we owe it. And what we owe it, of course, is our love.

“We owe it our competent love.”

Hope Reese is a writer based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, and Vice.



Global Chorus essay from February 22

Quinn Vandenberg

For the past year and a half, our work with Life Out of the Box has focused on the social crises that are currently occurring in Central American countries. My experience of living in poverty here has led me to believe that solutions can be made and change can occur on all levels in humanity through education.

This belief that education can be used to change the world has shaped the mission of Life Out of the Box to what it is today. After months of research, we realized that an issue we kept running into as we worked with schools and NGO programs was that the kids didn’t have the tools to be able to educate themselves.

To us, this was easily solvable, which led to the creation of the social venture Life Out of the Box.

We sell locally handmade products from Guatemala and Nicaragua overseas and for every product sold, we give school supplies to children in Central America. When we give the kids school supplies, we ask each of them what they want to be when they grow up. Half of the process is giving them the tools to learn and be creative (notebooks, pencils, etc.), but the other essential half is to give these children in some of the worst situations hope for a bright future.

We show the customers overseas the child they impacted so that they can truly connect. Our goal is raise awareness of the issues in the countries we give to as well as show people that they really can make a difference. What we are doing is a small contribution to the overwhelmingly large issues the world is currently facing. However, if we can give hope to just one child that helps them out of a desperate situation, then we have succeeded.

My hope is that through our actions, we can inspire others to get out of their own box and make a difference in the world in their own way. Maybe we can’t change the whole world, but there isn’t one of us who can’t change one person’s whole world.

        — Quinn Vandenberg, co-founder of Life Out of the Box
essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 21, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Provincial Cabinet Shuffle Swearing-in, this morning. Check local media for time and live-streaming, also, some coverage may be available on the Legislative Assembly website

CBC News Story (print below)

The word from CBC is that there will be a cabinet shuffle and District 20 Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park MLA Natalie Jameson will be replacing Brad Trivers as Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. While we wish Ms. Jameson well, it's tough to lose Brad Trivers in this portfolio, as he was an excellent critic when he was Official Opposition environment critic and a very solid minister. It's reported he will stay on as Education Minister.

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph at bottom of Great George and Grafton Streets. All welcome.

Cabinet shuffle expected Friday, adding Charlottetown MLA Natalie Jameson - CBC News on-line article by Wayne Thibodeau

Published on Thursday, February 20th, 2020
Premier Dennis King is expected to add Natalie Jameson, MLA for Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park, to his cabinet Friday, CBC News has learned.

It's expected she will be named minister of environment, water and climate change. That portfolio is currently held by Brad Trivers.

Trivers will stay in cabinet. He will maintain his job as minister of education and lifelong learning.

Jameson will also be named as the minister responsible for Charlottetown as well as minister responsible for the status of women, removing that work from James Aylward and Darlene Compton respectively.

This will bring King's cabinet to 10-members. That means only three MLAs from his caucus are not cabinet ministers.

Swearing-in planned for Friday

Jameson was elected in the deferred election held on July 15, 2019. She currently serves on the special committee on poverty.

One of Jameson's first tasks will be proclamation of the Water Act.

Last month, current Environment Minister Brad Trivers said when the act is proclaimed it will likely include a continued moratorium on high-capacity wells. That is expected this spring.

King introduced his first cabinet less than a year ago, during a ceremony in Georgetown, P.E.I., on May 9, 2019.

Shortly after last year's election, where King's party was handed a minority government, the incoming premier suggested a mixed-party cabinet was possible, but in the end he opted for an all-PC cabinet.

A swearing-in ceremony is planned for Friday morning at the lieutenant-governor's residence.

This is a tough read, and not really under Citizens' Alliance main areas, but it intersects well with the Global Chorus essay by Romeo Dallaire:
Opinion piece:

SCOTT TAYLOR: Let Khadr speak about child soldiers - The Guardian article by Scott Taylor

Published on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

On Feb. 10, Omar Khadr gave a speech at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The talk was organized by the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and not surprisingly, Khadr spoke about having been a child soldier in Afghanistan.

This was the first time Khadr has spoken publicly on the subject and to say that he has become a polemic character in Canada would be a massive understatement.

Naturally enough Khadr’s appearance at Dalhousie blew up yet another storm of controversy.

For those firmly in the ‘hate Khadr’ camp, the belief is that Khadr was an al-Qaida terrorist who committed treason against Canada and then was subsequently rewarded by the Trudeau government with a $10.5 million settlement for having been a traitor. Based on that set of facts one would wonder how anyone could be sympathetic to this individual.

However, lost in the powerful emotion of hate is the fact that Khadr was just 15 at the time he was captured by U.S. special forces in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002.

It was Khadr’s father who brought young Omar to Afghanistan to fight against the American-led invasion. The father bears the guilt of exploiting his own son and 15-year-old Omar was simply an exploited victim. A minor. A child soldier.

To allege that Khadr was a terrorist would imply he was guilty of committing an act of terror. Yet the circumstances surrounding Khadr’s capture were that of conventional warfare. The U.S. military was attacking Taliban fighters in the village of Ayub Kheyl. Airstrikes preceded the attack before U.S. special forces moved in to mop up the village.

During that phase of the operation a grenade was thrown which killed U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer. Although there was never conclusive proof that Khadr threw that grenade – eyewitness accounts differ – a severely wounded Khadr was the only Taliban survivor of that clash. Khadr was labeled a ‘murderer’ and it was also erroneously claimed that Sgt. Speer was a medic, which therefore made his murder a ‘war crime’.

The fact is that Speer was a U.S. special forces operative with a medical specialization. During the firefight he was armed and apparently dressed in local Afghan garb, meaning he was not targeted or deliberately murdered because he was a medic. It was a battle, not a terrorist attack. Speer was a professional soldier, not a doctor.

Following his capture, Khadr would spend the next 10 years in the U.S. military’s detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In October 2010 Khadr pleaded guilty to “murder in violation of the laws of war.” He subsequently renounced that confession, stating that it had only been made in order to secure his eventual release from Guantanamo Bay.

In September 2012, Khadr was repatriated to Canada to serve out the rest of the U.S. military imposed eight-year sentence. He was out on bail by 2015 and on March 25, 2019, the Alberta court of Queen’s Bench declared his sentence complete.

This brings us back to the matter of the Canadian government authorizing a settlement of $10.5 million to Khadr in 2017. The payment was to settle a lawsuit brought by Khadr against the government for failing to respect his rights as a Canadian citizen under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The linchpin of the case was a Supreme Court of Canada ruling which stated in 2010 that Khadr’s treatment in Guantanamo Bay ‘offend(ed) the most basic standard (of) the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

He did not get a payout because he was a terrorist. He was paid compensation for the decade that the Canadian government left a victimized child soldier to rot in a U.S. detention centre.

Let’s let Khadr speak about the victimization of child soldiers, for on that subject he certainly knows what he's talking about.


Scott Taylor is a former infantryman in the Canadian Military, and has been the editor/publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine since 1988. He is also an award-winning author, documentary filmmaker, and war correspondent.

Global Chorus essay for February 21
Roméo Dallaire

Humanity is synonymous with hope.

There would be no children if parents did not see a possibility of a better world ahead. So we have children and they struggle to advance the plight that they were left with and they themselves, reaching maturity, express their hope by also having children. But a new wave, a sort of revolution has occurred over the last decade or so. And that is the realization that the youth of the world who are mastering the communications revolution so readily available to them have essentially morphed into a generation that I would call the generation without borders.

They are going to move the yardsticks of humanity towards its objective of serenity and communion with the planet by shoving older generations into a web coalesced by social media. The generation without borders grasps the concept of the totality of humanity, it lives with the notion that borders are not limits to their potential to affect the environment, they are comfortable in global concepts such as human rights, and they thrive in seeking more and more information on all things.

Hope is not a method, but optimism is the guarantor of humanity’s serenity.

— LGen. (Ret.) Roméo A. Dallaire, former Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, Canadian Senator, author of Shake Hands with the Devil, founder of Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 20, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

February 19, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

This morning:

Wednesday, February 19th:
Rotarian Breakfast featuring Susan Hartley, on "Building Peace," 7AM, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, all welcome.
adapted from the event description:  Rotary President Gary Conohan said, “We invite members of the general public to join us for this event, where we will emphasize the necessary attitudes, institutions, and structures our community already has in place and can work toward strengthening, as we move toward becoming an even more supportive society.”

Dr. Susan Hartley, an International Rotary Peace Fellow, will be discussing her work with the Institute for Economics and Peace, its partnership with Rotary Clubs around the world, and its Positive Peace research.
“Lasting peace cannot be based on merely the absence of violence,” said Hartley. “That’s a very low bar. Rather, positive peace requires a social system featuring good governance, access to needed services, a sound business environment and respect for the rights of others, as a start.”

Also Today:
Farmers' Market is open for lunch with some selected food vendors selling take-out from 10AM-2PM. There is coffee service each weekday, 6AM-2PM, also, from Caledonia House. 

Standing Committee on Health and Social Development meeting, 1:30PM, Coles Building. Topics:

Promoting Wellness, Preserving Health Action Plan Implementation Council -- The committee will receive a briefing from Promoting Wellness, Preserving Health Action Plan Implementation Council co-chairs Dr. Olive Bryanton & Shaun MacNeill, council member Jennifer Burgess and council support staff Catherine Freeze regarding the Seniors Health and Wellness Action Plan.

Dr. Herb Dickieson -- The committee will also receive a briefing from Dr. Herb Dickieson regarding medical recruitment and retention practices in Prince Edward Island. 

You can attend in the Gallery or watch online live -- at the Assembly website, here:

Tonight until March 1st:
Art/Poetry Exhibit opening, "A Concrete Bed - A Series of Poems from Homeless Men on PEI", 7PM, show runs until Sunday, March 1st,
The Guild, Queen and Richmond Streets. Free but donations accepted.   "What started as a reflective writing practice for the men experiencing homelessness while living at PEI's only men's shelter – The Salvation Army Bedford MacDonald House – has become a beautiful heartfelt glimpse into their world. The poems will be accompanied by a series of artistic pieces from Island artist Jen Coughlin."


Updates on the Wind Farm Expansion in Eastern Kings County:

1) Public Comments accepted and being considered:

'I hope they take it seriously': Wind farm proposal garners more than 70 submissions - CBC News

Government now reviewing public's comments on the proposed expansion of the Eastern Kings wind farm

Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2020

The province has started to review the 74 responses it received from the public on the proposed Eastern Kings wind farm expansion.  The environmental impact statement for the project was posted online in late October and the deadline for the public to submit comments or concerns was Jan. 20, 2020. 

If approved, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation's project would add seven wind turbines to an existing facility in the rural municipality of Eastern Kings. It's a part of the P.E.I. Provincial Energy Strategy — to produce an additional 30-megawatts of wind energy.  Greg Wilson, manager of environmental land management for the province, said local residents, out-of-province residents, birders, business owners and farmers submitted responses.

Government has also given P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq some extra time to respond to the environmental statement, Wilson said. 

Comments and concerns

One of the submissions came from the Souris & Area Branch of the P.E.I. Wildlife Federation.  Fred Cheverie, the group's watershed co-ordinator, said he thinks more work could have been done when looking at the environmental impact.  "We feel it didn't go far enough, we feel there's a lot of inadequacies in there," he said. 

The group's submission took issue with how some wildlife was assessed in the area, noting that the statement said no fish sampling was done and the equipment used to monitor bat activity in the area had some technical issues, and was not working some nights.

"I think it lacked in a lot of areas.… But, maybe it's not so much what they did," said Cheverie. "Maybe just the criteria necessary for environmental impact assessment is not strong enough."  Cheverie also said he thought there should have been more consultation with the wildlife group. 

Don Humphrey, a resident of Eastern Kings, submitted his own response to the project.  Humphrey's submission focused on his environmental concerns, the reasoning behind choosing the site for the turbines and how the environmental assessment was done. 

He said he would like to see more analysis of the data presented in the statement. "They just gave a bunch of data," he said. "What's the good of data without analysis?"

Humphrey said he hopes the government listens to all the comments.  "It's not only my submission. There's 74 others and I don't know which side of the fence they are on, but I'm sure that there are a lot of people who have concerns about this, have written in," he said.   "I hope they take it seriously." 

Next steps

The province will identify any specific questions or concerns it feels need to be addressed in the submissions, Wilson said. Those concerns will be sent to the P.E.I. Energy Corporation for a response. Those responses will be posted online.

It will be up to the minister to approve, deny or defer the project. Or it may be allowed to go ahead with conditions.

A decision on the project is expected in early March.


2) Guy wants to build cabin on property; lawyers argue at IRAC

Permit for 'cabin' interferes with proposed wind farm, P.E.I. Energy Corp. argues - CBC News

Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission holds hearing Tuesday

Posted on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

An aerial map shows the proposed location of Jeff Klein's building (where the black arrow is pointing), with proposed wind turbines (black dots). And the 1,000-metre setback indicated by the red circle. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

The P.E.I. Energy Corporation is appealing a development permit approved by the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings, saying it interferes with its proposed wind farm expansion.  The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission held a public hearing on the issue Tuesday.

The municipality granted the permit to an Eastern Kings landowner, who plans to put up a two-bedroom building on his property in the community.   Lawyer Gordon MacKay, representing the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, told the hearing that Jeff Klein, who received the development permit, was "well aware" his application could impact the proposed locations for wind turbines for the province's wind farm expansion on a site adjoining Klein's property.

MacKay said the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings "ought to have been" aware of the issue as well, but in testimony former Eastern Kings CAO and development officer Ron Coffin said he hadn't considered how other properties would be affected by the permit.  The municipality's development bylaw requires wind turbines be placed a minimum of 1,000 metres from any dwelling on a neighbouring property.

If Klein is allowed to build the structure and if the setback is enforced, it could require the P.E.I. Energy Corporation to find new locations for four of the seven proposed new turbines, a significant potential challenge for the $50-million project.

'A cabin in the woods'

Klein's lawyer, Lynn Murray, told the IRAC panel that at the time Klein received his permit, on  Aug. 27, 2019, the province had not submitted an application to Eastern Kings council to build the wind farm.

Instead, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation had only provided what it called a "preliminary application" for the wind farm. Murray noted the municipality's development bylaw makes no mention of preliminary applications.

The panel was told the actual permit application from the corporation was received Nov. 1.  A plan to build a wind farm in an area is not a "moratorium on any and all development," Murray told the panel.  The P.E.I. Energy Corporation's position is that Klein's permit should be quashed because its approval did not follow proper process.

Permit issued, but former CAO cites 'irregularities'

On Aug. 27, 2019 — the same day Klein applied for his permit — Coffin issued a permit for a "new building — 1,000 square feet," according to documents submitted to IRAC as part of the appeal process.  

The permit indicated Klein's application had been "tentatively approved" pending compliance with regulations and municipal bylaws, and advised Klein he could begin work on the approved building.

But in testimony before IRAC Tuesday, Coffin said he was later made aware of "a number of irregularities" in Klein's application by staff with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.   Coffin emailed Klein asking him to submit an amended application. Klein responded he had received notice his permit was being appealed, and said he would be seeking legal counsel.

Description of permit changed

An email Coffin received from Heather MacLeod with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation on Sept. 13 described the corporation's position that "this application is not for a dwelling," thus setbacks from wind turbines would not apply.

In the email, MacLeod also wrote Coffin was to "update" the brief summary of the permit listed on the province's website "to clarify that this is not a residence, nor a dwelling," something Coffin told the hearing he did.

According to that updated listing, the permit was for a "1,000 square-foot sleeping cabin, no well, no sewer / not a defined dwelling." It wasn't immediately clear how the permit had been described before the change.

Application incomplete

Hilary Newman, the lawyer for the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings, told the panel the municipality is not trying to justify the decision to provide Klein with a development permit — that the municipality concedes the application from Klein was incomplete, in that it did not include elevation drawings or a related permit allowing Klein to build a driveway off the adjoining provincial highway.

Klein is one of a number of Eastern Kings residents who signed a letter to council in June, expressing "great concern" that council appeared to be in a "headlong rush" to approve the wind farm expansion without enough information from the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

The letter asked council to take no further action on the matter until a list of conditions had been met.

During the hearing Tuesday, Klein was described as a "non-participating landowner" with regards to the wind farm expansion, meaning he has not entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation and his land is already considered to be unavailable for placing wind turbines.

IRAC is expected to rule on two issues — whether the permit should have been approved in the first place, and what it will mean for the wind farm expansion if the building goes ahead.


By the way, current provincial Environmental Impact Assessment undertakings application information from this year and last year are here:
Global Chorus essay for February 19
Jonathon Porritt

Given the state of the global environment, we have to be a little bit suspicious about any excess of optimism!

Personally, I’m hugely skeptical about the latest wave of technovangelism which would have us believe that there is literally no problem that new technology cannot solve. Forget systemic dysfunctionality at the heart of our political systems; forget corruption and the ruthless exercise of power on the part of the world’s hyper-rich; and forget all those inconvenient datasets that remind us that we’re already living way beyond the carrying capacity of certain natural systems. Technology will solve all.

There’s always been a certain optimism bias in the Green Movement. It’s actually incredibly difficult to sustain motivation if the prevailing mood music is doom and gloom. Without hope, the passion withers; and without passion, the quality of our advocacy can be seriously undermined.

My own optimism bias has waxed and waned over the last forty years. It’s often reflected through the metaphor of “the window of opportunity” – as in “we have just xxx years to make the necessary changes.” Worryingly, I can’t help but notice that I’m still talking about a window of “no more than ten years” – just as I was back in the 1970s!

However, I find myself more hopeful today than I have been for years – not least because I’ve been writing a new book about “our sustainable world in 2050.” This has required me to drill down much deeper into the innovation pipeline for sustainable technologies than I’ve ever done before. And that pipeline is absolutely bulging.

Technology isn’t the problem. Politics, money and power are the problem. Which is why the technovangelists do us such a disservice, fixated as they are by big technologies like nuclear and GM that leave untouched the bigger systemic problems of which they themselves are such a problematic part.

We can only harness the benign power of potential technology breakthroughs if our systems of governance and accountability are hale and hearty at every level in society. And they’re not.

— Jonathon Porritt, founder and director of Forum for the Future, author of The World We Made

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 18, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Two Standing Committee meetings today:

Public Accounts Committee, 10AM, Coles Building. Topic: 2016 recommendations on maintenance enforcement program
The committee will meet to receive a briefing on implementation of the Auditor General’s 2016 recommendations on the Maintenance Enforcement Program by Sherry Gillis, QC, Acting Deputy Minister; and Clare Henderson, Director of Family Law and Court Services, of the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

Special Committee on Poverty in P.E.I., 1:30PM, Coles Building. Topic: briefing on poverty from the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction.
Committee meetings can be attended by watching from the Gallery, or can be watched live at the Assembly website, or watched later on the Video Archives (same with just audio), or transcripts read when they are prepared.
More at:
Legislative Assembly Website

Provincial Pre-Budget public consultation today, 2-4PM, Summerside (Storm date February 19) - Simultaneous interpretation in both official languages available at this session.
location can be revealed by calling (902) 368-5501 or sending an email to

Island Studies February Lecture, "The Goose and the Golden Egg: The Environmental Turn in Island Tourism, 1970-1990", with Dr. Ed MacDonald, 7PM, UPEI, Main Building Faculty Lounge, all welcome.
Opinion media release from the Office of the Official Opposition of Prince Edward Island

Lands protection needs leadership - Opinion media release from the Office of the Official Opposition of Prince Edward Island By Michele Beaton, MLA District 5 Mermaid-Stratford Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Land

Published on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Pop quiz for Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and Land, and Brad Trivers, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. What is the difference between leadership and interfering?

I’ll let you in on a little secret, you can lead without interfering.

I have asked both these Ministers for an update on the Brendel/Fox Acre land sale. When I asked Minister Thompson in the House about the transfer of over 2000 acres of land from a local family operation to a corporation owned and operated by the Irving family, he sidestepped the question. When I asked Minister Trivers about the status of the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) review of that sale, he spouted concern of getting involved because IRAC is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal.

Let me be clear: no one is asking the Ministers to interfere in the process. It would be inappropriate for an elected official to comment on a matter before a judicial review. However, Islanders expect the Ministers to be able to provide an update on the file.

This is especially true for Minister Trivers who is responsible for IRAC who is investigating the matter.

When Minister Thompson enacted Section 15 of the Lands Protection Act (LPA), he passed the hot potato that is the Brendel/Fox Acre land transaction over to Minister Trivers. It seems this Minister has yet to figure out his fingers are burning and that no one is coming to help. It is time for someone to show some leadership.

As a leader, you form a solid team behind you that can complete the work required. As a leader, you understand the work your team is completing. You have a handle on the timeline in which the work is to be completed. On this file, we were promised a timeline of between 60-90 days. A timeline that has since expired.

As leader, you also understand your stakeholders, the cost to them, and your obligation to be accountable to them. This is not interference. Quite frankly, this is just effective leadership.

Islanders are beginning to question if the Ministers are able to carry out the requirements of their role as it relates to this file. I also question if the Ministers have forgotten that the stakeholder in this file is not IRAC. The stakeholder in this inquiry is all Islanders. The Ministers and IRAC are accountable to Islanders who have tasked them with honouring their commitments and upholding the spirit and intent of the LPA.

It is important to note, when you become a Minister, Islanders do not expect you to stop asking questions. Islander expect you to actually start asking more questions. Islanders need assurance the work and integrity of responsible governance is taking place.

So, I ask the Ministers again, what is the status of the Brendel/Fox Acres land sale? When will either of you come good on your government’s promise to Islanders for transparency and to protect the land of Prince Edward Island?


Global Chorus essay for February 18
Amanda Lindhout

We are living in a time unlike any other in history.

The Internet has connected us globally and reminds us that we have far more in common than we have differences. We can reach out and help one another in ways that we have never been able to do in the past. Students in Canada can now have conversations with students in Somalia. Women around the world can join movements for equality which are organized online. The sharing of struggles and success that is born from this interconnectedness will, over time, unite us.

One day soon we will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to the suffering of nations, when we realize that we are all part of one global community.

— Amanda Lindhout, originator of the Global Enrichment Foundation
essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 17, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Event today:

Film Screening: The Man From Snowy River - Fundraiser for Australia, 3:30PM, City Cinema, Charlottetown.
adapted from the event listing:
From one Island to another, this Islander Day join us for one of the greatest movies of all time in support of two amazing causes doing their best to help those effected and to secure the future, through education and climate to the Snowy Mountains and (be immersed) in an Australian story that has stood the test of time.
The bush fires ravaging Australia are at such a scale they are hard to imagine or comprehend. This movie is a love letter to Australian culture, heritage and landscape that has inspired generations - we hope it inspires you as well. Proceeds to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and Farmers for Climate Action
Reserve tickets from Anna <> or Ellen <> $20 minimum per ticket
Facebook event link
Over the weekend there was a rally in Charlottetown and yesterday and slated to continue today, a protest at the entrance to the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton.

Demonstrators gather at Confederation Bridge to back Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs - CBC News article by Isabella Zararise

Published on CBC News online, Sunday, February 16th, 2020

More than two dozen demonstrators with flags and signs are gathered at the P.E.I. side of the Confederation Bridge in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. The demonstrators set up on a median at the road leading to the bridge on Sunday afternoon. Traffic was slowed in the area, but vehicles were able to proceed.

P.E.I. RCMP are on scene. However, they said Sunday afternoon the demonstration was peaceful and their presence was to help direct traffic.

Kyler Peters, from Lennox Island First Nation, is one of the demonstrators. He said he wanted to take part in the growing movement. He said the initial goal was to stop transport trucks, not passenger vehicles, but it wasn't doable given the number of demonstrators. "We are not here to have the people against us, just the Canadian government and companies," he said. Peters said some people planned to spend Sunday night at the bridge and remain until Monday afternoon.

Rosanna Kressin, also at the event, and is with the group Masses Against Capitalist Oppression. "It's really needed that the local Mi'kmaq​​​​ people here are supported," Kressin said. "What's happening with the Wet'suwet'en nation right now is symbolic, I guess, of systematic colonial violence that's been perpetuated to Indigenous people."

Statement from Epekwitk Assembly of Councils

In a statement on behalf of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, Chief Darlene Bernard and Chief Junior Gould said they support the peaceful protest, but that the issue is complex.

"We respect the environmental concerns raised by the Wet'suwet'en hereditary Chiefs and we also acknowledge and respect the decisions made by over 20 First Nations, including most Wet'suwet'en First Nations, that have signed impact benefits agreements with [Coastal GasLink] and currently support the pipeline."

The statement addressed the importance of the matter being resolved peacefully and "within the law."

"What Islanders and Canadians need to understand is that these protests happening across the country, and now in P.E.I., are about more than just the Wet'suwet'en situation. "They are about centuries of Canada's Indigenous people being denied access to the land and resources, they are about centuries of economic and social marginalization."

Opposition to Coastal GasLink

Sunday's event follows a gathering of about a hundred demonstrators at Province House in Charlottetown on Saturday afternoon. Demonstrations have cropped up across the country in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, who oppose the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline on their territory in northern British Columbia.

RCMP enforced a B.C. Supreme Court injunction and made a number of arrests last week, sparking demonstrations across the country.

Representatives from 20 First Nations along the pipeline route — including the elected chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en — signed agreements with Coastal GasLink consenting to the project. However, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say those councils were established by the Indian Act and only have authority over reserve lands.

Members of the Mohawk First Nation in eastern Ontario were into their 10th day of protest Saturday in support of the hereditary chiefs. The blockade, near Belleville, prompted CN Rail to close its Eastern Canadian freight train network, and Via Rail has cancelled passenger trains nationwide because of demonstrations taking place along or on railway tracks.

Article: About the Australian wildfires, coverage of which has been set aside recently....

The End of Australia as We Know It - The New York Times article by Damien Cave, with photographs by Matthew Abbott

What many of us have witnessed this fire season feels alive and monstrous. With climate change forcing a relaxed country to stumble toward new ways of work, leisure and life, will politics follow?

Published on Saturday, February 15th, 2020 in The New York Times

SYDNEY, Australia — In a country where there has always been more space than people, where the land and wildlife are cherished like a Picasso, nature is closing in. Fueled by climate change and the world’s refusal to address it, the fires that have burned across Australia are not just destroying lives, or turning forests as large as nations into ashen moonscapes. They are also forcing Australians to imagine an entirely new way of life. When summer is feared. When air filters hum in homes that are bunkers, with kids kept indoors. When birdsong and the rustle of marsupials in the bush give way to an eerie, smoky silence.
“I am standing here a traveler from a new reality, a burning Australia,” Lynette Wallworth, an Australian filmmaker, told a crowd of international executives and politicians in Davos, Switzerland, last month. “What was feared and what was warned is no longer in our future, a topic for debate — it is here.”
“We have seen,” she added, “the unfolding wings of climate change.”

Like the fires, it’s a metaphor that lingers. What many of us have witnessed this fire season does feel alive, like a monstrous gathering force threatening to devour what we hold most dear on a continent that will grow only hotter, drier and more flammable as global temperatures rise.
It’s also a hint of what may be coming to a town, city or country near you.
And in a land usually associated with relaxed optimism, anxiety and trauma have taken hold. A recent Australia Institute survey found that 57 percent of Australians have been directly affected by the bush fires or their smoke. With officials in New South Wales announcing Thursday that heavy rain had helped them finally extinguish or control all the state’s fires that have raged this Australian summer, the country seems to be reflecting and wondering what comes next.

Burned bush land on the outskirts of Bredbo, Australia, this month.
photograph by Matthew Abbott

Politics have been a focal point — one of frustration for most Australians. The conservative government is still playing down the role of climate change, despite polls showing public anger hitting feverish levels. And yet what’s emerging alongside public protest may prove more potent.

In interviews all over the fire zone since September, it’s been clear that Australians are reconsidering far more than energy and emissions. They are stumbling toward new ways of living: Housing, holiday travel, work, leisure, food and water are all being reconsidered.

“If there’s not a major shift that comes out of this, we’re doomed,” said Robyn Eckersley, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne who has written extensively about environmental policy around the world. “It does change everything — or it should.”
Professor Eckersley is one of many for whom climate change has shifted from the distant and theoretical to the personal and emotional.
Before the fires peaked last month, she and I had often spoken in dry terms about Australia and climate change policy. This last time, as she sat in a vacation home southwest of Melbourne, where smoky haze closed a nearby beach, she told me about a friend driving south from Brisbane, “by all these towns and farms he couldn’t imagine bouncing back.”
Australia, she argued, must accept that the most inhabited parts of the country can no longer be trusted to stay temperate — and, she added, “that means massive changes in what we do and the rhythm of our work and play.”

More specifically, she said, the economy needs to change, not just moving away from fossil fuels, a major export, but also from thirsty crops like rice and cotton.
Building regulations will probably stiffen too, she said. Already, there are signs of growing interest in designs that offer protections from bush fires, and regulators are looking at whether commercial properties need to be made more fireproof as well.
The biggest shifts, however, may not be structural so much as cultural.
Climate change threatens heavy pillars of Australian identity: a life lived outdoors, an international role where the country “punches above its weight,” and an emphasis on egalitarianism that, according to some historians, is rooted in Australia’s settlement by convicts.
Since the fires started, tens of millions of acres have been incinerated in areas that are deeply connected to the national psyche. If you’re American, imagine Cape Cod, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Sierra Nevadas and California’s Pacific Coast, all rolled into one — and burned.
It’s “a place of childhood vacations and dreams,” as one of Australia’s great novelists, Thomas Keneally, recently wrote.
For months on end, driving through these areas, where tourism, agriculture, retirement and bohemian living all meet for flat whites at the local cafe, has meant checking reports for closed roads and wondering if the thick clouds of smoke in the distance mean immediate danger.
There’s an absurdity even to the signs. The ones that aren’t melted warn of wet roads. Just beyond them are trees black as coal and koalas and kangaroos robbed of life.
The fear of ferocious nature can be tough to shake. Fires are still burning south and west of New South Wales, and to many, the recent rain near Sydney felt as biblical as the infernos the storms put out — some areas got more than two feet, flooding rivers and parched earth hardened by years of drought.
Last month in Cobargo, a dairy and horse town six hours’ drive from Sydney, I stood silently waiting for the start of an outdoor funeral for a father and son who had died in the fires a few weeks earlier. When the wind kicked up, everyone near me snapped their heads toward where a fire burned less than a mile away.

“It just hasn’t stopped,” said an older man in a cowboy hat.
No other sentiment has better captured Australia’s mood.
That same day, in the coastal town of Eden, government officials welcomed a cruise ship, declaring the area safe for tourists. A week later, another burst of fire turned the sky over Eden blood red, forcing residents nearby to evacuate.
It’s no wonder that all across the area, known as the South Coast, the streets in summer have looked closer to the quiet found in winter. Perhaps, some now say, that’s how it should be.
“We should no longer schedule our summer holidays over the Christmas season,” Professor Eckersley said. “Maybe they should be in March or April.”
“Certainly, we should rethink when and whether we go to all the places in the summer where we might be trapped,” she added.
David Bowman, a climate scientist in Tasmania who wrote an article calling for the end of the summer school holiday, which went viral, said Australia’s experience could help the world understand just how much climate change can reorder the way we live.
“You can’t pretend that this is sustainable,” he said. “If that’s true, you’re going to have to do something different.”

Smoke may be more of a catalyst than flame. For much of the summer, a fog of soot has smothered Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. In Sydney alone, there were 81 days of hazardous, very poor or poor air quality last year, more than the previous 10 years combined. And until the recent rains, the smell of smoke often returned.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, Australia’s most famous tech billionaire, called it part of a broader awakening.
“It’s bringing home the viscerality of what science and scientists have been telling us is going to happen,” he said.
There’s unity in that, as so many have seen climate change up close and personal. But there’s also inequality. The air filters selling out at hardware stores last month cost close to $1,000 each. In December, I heard surfers in the waves at Bondi Beach deciding to get out early to avoid breathing in too much smoke and ash — but farther west, where working-class immigrants cluster, I met a bicycle delivery driver who said he could work only a couple of hours before feeling sick.
Mr. Cannon-Brookes said Australia could seize the moment and become a leader in climate innovation. Ms. Wallworth, the filmmaker, echoed that sentiment: What if the country’s leaders did not run from the problem of climate change, but instead harnessed the country’s desire to act?
“If only our leaders would call on us and say, ‘Look, this is a turning point moment for us; the natural world in Australia, that’s our cathedral, and it’s burning — our land and the animals we love are being killed,’” she said. “If they called on us to make radical change, the nation would do it.”

In “The Lucky Country,” the 1964 book of essays by Donald Horne that is often described as a wake-up call to an unimaginative nation, Australians are deemed tolerant of mediocrity, but “adaptable when a way is shown.”
One afternoon, I traveled to the Sutherland Shire, near where Prime Minister Scott Morrison lives, with Horne’s comments on my mind.
Near a bus stop, I met Bob Gallagher, 71, a retired state employee with thick white hair. He felt strongly that the criticism of Mr. Morrison for not doing enough about climate change was unfair.
“The first thing the government needs to do is run the economy,” Mr. Gallagher said. “I just don’t understand what these climate change people want.”
I asked him to imagine a version of Ms. Wallworth’s dream — an Australia with a prime minister who shouted to the world: “What we all love, this unique country, is being destroyed by inaction. We’ll punch above our weight, but we can’t do it alone. We need your help.”
Mr. Gallagher listened without interrupting. “I hadn’t thought of that,” he said. “I could support that.”


Global Chorus essay for February 17
Bill Mollison

Yes, there is always hope. Without hope we might just as well sit at home and prepare for death. Humanity will always find and discover ways past global and social crises. We thrive when challenged.

One answer for continuing to create the conditions necessary for our own survival and that of other species is to adhere to Permaculture principles taught by itinerant teachers who are graduates of our courses. When I travel, I am constantly reassured by the high level of activity of my students. They are teaching the practice of sustainable living and their work with cultures all over the world – from Indians in the Amazon to the Inuit of Canada, peoples from the northern islands of the Arctic to 42° south – is constantly ensuring their enriched survival. And they do this by teaching the basic skills that humanity has always lived by, namely responsibility and pride in the protection of our endemic fauna and flora; environmental awareness; growing nutritious food sustainably; storing, processing and cooking this food; building shelters and sharing with our neighbours. Teaching basic, common-sense life essentials and re-establishing the importance of community will lead to our future survival and a world where many of us will take part in the production of food. By applying these strategies, our future world will contain many more well-informed and capable people.

We need to promote the good in our communities, praise positive actions and outcomes and stop highlighting the negatives in society. By being mindful of how we speak and act we will build hope and provide peace for our future generations.

Having taught the philosophy of Permaculture for decades, I am constantly surprised and delighted to receive acknowledgement from countless strangers who are reading my books for the first time. New generations always want to learn and develop better life skills, so there will always be hope.

    — Bill Mollison,  researcher, author, teacher, biologist, co-originator of the Permaculture design system, founder of the global Permaculture movement

Bill Mollison (1928-2016) was born in Tasmania.

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 16, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

This week:
Wednesday, February 19th:
Rotarian Breakfast featuring Susan Hartley, on "Building Peace," 7AM, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, all welcome.

adapted from the event description:

Rotary President Gary Conohan said, “We invite members of the general public to join us for this event, where we will emphasize the necessary attitudes, institutions, and structures our community already has in place and can work toward strengthening, as we move toward becoming an even more supportive society.”
Dr. Susan Hartley, an International Rotary Peace Fellow, will be discussing her work with the Institute for Economics and Peace, its partnership with Rotary Clubs around the world, and its Positive Peace research.
“Lasting peace cannot be based on merely the absence of violence,” said Hartley. “That’s a very low bar. Rather, positive peace requires a social system featuring good governance, access to needed services, a sound business environment and respect for the rights of others, as a start.”

ouch. from last week:

When it comes to climate hypocrisy, Canada's leaders have reached a new low - The Guardian (U.K.) article by Bill McKibben

Published on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

A territory that has 0.5% of the Earth’s population plans to use up nearly a third of the planet’s remaining carbon budget

Americans elected Donald Trump, who insisted climate change was a hoax – so it’s no surprise that since taking office he’s been all-in for the fossil fuel industry. There’s no sense despairing; the energy is better spent fighting to remove him from office.

Canada, on the other hand, elected a government that believes the climate crisis is real and dangerous – and with good reason, since the nation’s Arctic territories give it a front-row seat to the fastest warming on Earth. Yet the country’s leaders seem likely in the next few weeks to approve a vast new tar sands mine which will pour carbon into the atmosphere through the 2060s. They know – yet they can’t bring themselves to act on the knowledge. Now that is cause for despair.

The Teck mine would be the biggest tar sands mine yet: 113 square miles of petroleum mining, located just 16 miles from the border of Wood Buffalo national park. A federal panel approved the mine despite conceding that it would likely be harmful to the environment and to the land culture of Indigenous people. These giant tar sands mines (easily visible on Google Earth) are already among the biggest scars humans have ever carved on the planet’s surface. But Canadian authorities ruled that the mine was nonetheless in the “public interest”.

Here’s how Justin Trudeau, recently re-elected as Canada’s prime minister, put it in a speech to cheering Texas oilmen a couple of years ago: “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.” That is to say, Canada, which is 0.5% of the planet’s population, plans to use up nearly a third of the planet’s remaining carbon budget. Ottawa hides all this behind a series of pledges about “net-zero emissions by 2050” and so on, but they are empty promises. In the here-and-now they can’t rein themselves in. There’s oil in the ground and it must come out.

This is painfully hard to watch because it comes as the planet has supposedly reached a turning point. A series of remarkable young people (including Canadians such as Autumn Peltier) have captured the imagination of people around the world; scientists have issued ever sterner warnings; and the images of climate destruction show up in every newspaper. Canadians can see the Australian blazes on television; they should bring back memories of the devastating forest fires that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, in the heart of the tar sands complex, less than four years ago.

The only rational response would be to immediately stop the expansion of new fossil fuel projects. It’s true that we can’t get off oil and gas immediately; for the moment, oil wells continue to pump. But the Teck Frontier proposal is predicated on the idea that we’ll still need vast quantities of oil in 2066, when Greta Thunberg is about to hit retirement age. If an alcoholic assured you he was taking his condition very seriously, but also laying in a 40-year store of bourbon, you’d be entitled to doubt his sincerity, or at least to note his confusion. Oil has addled the Canadian ability to do basic math: more does not equal less, and 2066 is not any time soon. An emergency means you act now.

In fairness, Canada has company here. For every territory making a sincere effort to kick fossil fuels (California, Scotland) there are other capitals just as paralyzed as Ottawa. Australia’s fires creep ever closer to the seat of government in Canberra, yet the prime minister, Scott Morrison, can’t seem to imagine any future for his nation other than mining more coal. Australia and Canada are both rich nations, their people highly educated, but they seem unable to control the zombie momentum of fossil fuels.

There’s obviously something hideous about watching the Trumps and the Putins of the world gleefully shred our future. But it’s disturbing in a different way to watch leaders pretend to care – a kind of gaslighting that can reduce you to numb nihilism. Trudeau, for all his charms, doesn’t get to have it both ways: if you can’t bring yourself to stop a brand-new tar sands mine then you’re not a climate leader.

Bill McKibben is an author and Schumann distinguished scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College, Vermont. His most recent book is Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?


Bill McKibbon is with  And Islander Anna Keenan is also with the organization.


Global Chorus essay for February 16
Curt Stager

I believe that the human race as a whole will survive these environmental crises because people throughout history have overcome severe challenges in every imaginable habitat, from burning deserts to polar ice, even without modern technology. But this also means that our descendants will have to live through whatever changes we set in motion within the next few decades. The latest research puts a minimum recovery time of 50,000 to 100,000 years for our heat-trapping, ocean-acidifying carbon emissions to dissipate, and any delay in switching to clean energy sources could stretch that recovery over half a million years.

In this remarkable Age of Humans, a new chapter of geologic time that many scientists are calling the Anthropocene Epoch, we have become so numerous, our technology so powerful and our interconnectedness so profound that we have quite literally become a force of nature. Because the contents of our minds and hearts influence our actions, we now have awesome power to influence each other and our planet far into the Deep Future. But with that power comes awesome responsibility, too; we live at a critical moment in history when decisions we make now can interfere with future ice ages and determine the climatic setting of life on Earth for millennia to come.

This is no time to give up or give in to despair. Although we wield incredible power to cause harm, we also have the power to make the world a better place, and more so now than ever before.

     — Curt Stager, climate scientist, author of Deep Future, Your Atomic Self and Field Notes from the Northern Forest and most recently, Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes

about the most recent book:

"Curt Stager is as fine a teacher as I have ever encountered, both in the classroom and on the page. You will learn something new in every paragraph of this book, and the vivid writing will make it stick in your brain. For those of us who love the planet's lakes, this is like a long, cool drink of the freshest water.” 
Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont (among other accomplishments)

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 15, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets today:
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM

Rally in support of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, 12noon, Province House, all welcome.  More details below.

Tuesday, February 18th:
Island Studies February Lecture, "The Goose and the Golden Egg: The Environmental Turn in Island Tourism, 1970-1990", with Dr. Ed MacDonald, 7PM, UPEI, Main Building Faculty Lounge, all welcome.

---------------------------------------from some of the excellent people at the Centre for Local Prosperity

COMMENTARY: Aquaculture a broken business model that's ruinous for the environment - The Guardian article by ROBERT CERVELLI and GREGORY HEMING

Published on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

A Cooke Aquaculture salmon farm in Nova Scotia. A Cooke Aquaculture salmon farm in Nova Scotia. - File

Given the current awarding of “options for leases” for open-net aquaculture in our South Shore bays, it’s important to gain a higher perspective on the business and economic model being proposed, its effects on our local communities, and what alternatives may exist.

We live in one of those areas in North America where governments still allow a broken business and economic model for our natural resource utilization. The model tends to be the same across all natural resource sectors — forestry, mining and, in this case, the fishery.

In fact, both the method of open-net aquaculture and the business model being proposed to develop it will allow use of the valuable resource of our ocean bays in a way that will minimize local economic and social benefit while maximizing degradation of local environments.

Simply stated, this broken model allows for:

1.   Foreign or non-local corporations coming in to the area;

2.   Extracting of maximal value out of the resource;

3.   Using the lowest-cost technologies to maximize profits;

4.   Extracting those profits, leaving little or none in the local area;

5.   Leaving behind the maximum allowable environmental degradation for free (also called “externalities”), constrained by local regulations;

6.   Creating the least number of local jobs possible (while using inflated job numbers to sell the project at the beginning).

The end result is that value from the resource is extracted, the profits are extracted, the resource is degraded, and communities only get a few part-time, hourly wage jobs — a broken business model for local economics.

It is surprising that these options for leases have even seen the light of day, given the conclusions reached in the 2014 Doelle-Lahey Panel’s report, A New Regulatory Framework for Low-Impact/High-Value Aquaculture in Nova Scotia:

“We conclude that a fundamental overhaul of the regulation of aquaculture in Nova Scotia is called for. We conclude that this overhaul should be guided by the idea that aquaculture that integrates economic prosperity, social well-being and environmental sustainability is one that is low impact and high value. By this, we mean aquaculture that combines two fundamental attributes: it has a low level of adverse environmental and social impact, which decreases over time; and from the use of coastal resources it produces a positive economic and social value, which is high and increases over time.”

Options for leases for open-net aquaculture in our South Shore bays fulfils none of the criteria set out above. But that should come as no surprise. The economic and business model needed to fuel open-pen fish farming of the scale proposed for Nova Scotia is neither long-term economically nor environmentally sustainable. It is not community-friendly. It also does little to provide tax revenue to the government. This may be a case of effectively giving away an increasingly rare and valuable natural resource in an increasingly crowded world.

Yes, the world needs seafood. We have already reduced the natural biomass in our oceans by 90 per cent, largely using these same extractive models in the form of off-shore trawlers. Locals will tell you that there are few fish left in St. Margarets Bay, except small tinkers and squid. Aquaculture can and will be an essential and critical source of protein for an increasingly hungry world, and aquaculture production will need to increase.

It does not have to be this way. There are alternatives. Let’s change the model. Let’s grow fish in ways that maximize the local job count, retain profits for reinvestment in the local economy, and restore the health of the natural resource.


There are an increasing number of examples around the world and in our region of locally owned businesses, socially responsible businesses, worker-owned businesses, community-owned businesses and co-operatives, which retain profits locally while utilizing a natural resource in a proper strategy of stewardship. The primary operating purpose and goals of these businesses can actually be to increase the number of jobs in a community and reinvest the profits locally.

Local ownership also means there is a locally vested interest in restoring and maintaining the health of the resource for the benefits of local residents, and a safeguard for the long-term health of the businesses that use the resource. These business models stand in stark contrast to those of foreign or non-local businesses that seek to extract maximum value to their head offices with little regard for the long-term health of the resource.

A new locally owned business model can take advantage of existing and new aquaculture technologies. There are closed-loop, land-based aquaculture systems (e.g., recirculating aquaculture systems) that are well-proven and profitable. Some of these are operating in Nova Scotia. There are new designs for land-based systems that use wave-energy pumping of seawater to grow multiple species in a multi-tank ecosystem model, which has little or no impact on the natural resource. Importantly, proven and viable alternatives exist today to the antiquated open-pen approach.

We are at an important juncture. We can continue to support a broken business model or we can adopt new models that create opportunities for local communities in the St. Margarets Bay and South Shore region. There are proven ways to organize, finance and develop these models at the community level. The door is open for communities to secure their own economic futures.

Let’s grow fish, but let’s do it in a way that assures the maximum long-term economic benefit to our communities and the essential long-term stewardship of the beautiful bays that we call our home.

Robert Cervelli and Gregory Heming are, respectively, executive director and president of the Centre for Local Prosperity, a Nova Scotia non-profit organization promoting local economic solutions for rural communities throughout Canada.


More background from the Rally in support of the Wet'suwet'en Nation event description

"We stand as witnesses to this historic moment when the federal and provincial governments, RCMP, and Coastal GasLink/Transcanada are openly violating Wet’suwet’en, Canadian law, and international law.

Coastal GasLink/Transcanada is proposing a 670-kilometer fracked gas pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Dawson Creek, B.C. to the coastal town of Kitimat, where LNG Canada’s processing plant would be located. LNG Canada is the single largest private investment in Canadian history.

Each clan within the Wet’suwet’en Nation have full jurisdiction under their law to control access to their territory. Under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law) all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have unanimously opposed all pipeline proposals and have not provided free, prior, and informed consent to Coastal Gaslink/ TransCanada to do work on Wet’suwet’en lands.

Continued dismantling of barricades by the RCMP prove that the Government's The Truth and Reconciliation Commission rings hollow. Come out this Saturday and show your solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation."

Also related, from The Narwhal:

In photos: Wet’suwet’en matriarchs arrested as RCMP enforce Coastal GasLink pipeline injunction

LeadNow petition you could consider signing


Global Chorus essay for February 15
Paul Martin

Despite the plethora of international institutions, incredibly there is no global body responsible for ensuring national co-operation in protecting the health of the high seas, yet they represent over 50 per cent of the Earth’s surface.

The costs of this gap to society are inestimable. Collapsed fish stocks are putting food security for an eventual world population of nine billion at risk. The UN’s climate change assessment panel has reported that the oceans are absorbing more than 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases. The ocean is also absorbing a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions, which is causing seawater to acidify at a rate unprecedented in 300 million years, causing a staggering loss of biodiversity. These are only a few examples of what is happening each day in the waters beyond our national scope.

Four years ago the Financial Stability Board was created to deal with among other things the consequences of the international banking crisis. The crisis that will surely face us all unless we act to deal with the degradation of the oceans demands no less.

A global body ensuring the health of the oceans, if properly structured, would not only do much to ensure the health of our economies, it would also ensure the health of humanity.

     — The Right Honourable Paul Martin,  former Prime Minister of Canada

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 14, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Future Building Plans for the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, 2:30-4PM, St. Peter's Complex, Cardigan Road, St. Peter's Bay. All welcome.

and also welcome to hear:
**Public Transit to the event**:
from Adam Fenech (
"There will be a bus leaving UPEI campus at 1 PM sharp to the event in St. Peter's Bay and returning following the event. I encourage all to utilize the bus so that we may reduce our overall carbon footprint for the event. Meet in the Murphy Student Centre just prior to 1 PM. **Please RSVP with me so that we can ensure that there is enough space on the bus**. Please share with others as needed."

Webinar Symposium: "The Sustainable Development Goals for Canada: What’s Law Got to Do with it?", 2-5PM, Dalhousie University and on-line through Zoom, with East Coast Environmental Law  (ECELAW) and the Marine and Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University, among others.
Webinar signup details

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Cenotaph/Grafton Street side of Province House.  
See related article, below.

All Day:  Love Letters to Mother Earth, this initiative, organized by many international groups including Extinction Rebellion families, is a way to share artwork, valentines done by children or people of any age, to express their love of Earth. 
Posting at:

More details at the
Facebook event link

Still might be space:
Fundraising Dinner and Entertainment: A Very Romantic Black-Tie Affair, 6:15PM, Kings Playhouse, Georgetown. Organized by the Montague Food Bank and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.  Ticket info: Vivian (902) 213-3676, Kent (902) 218-4621 or Ray Brow:


Charlottetown group demand climate action at weekly demonstrations - The Cadre article by John Ployer

Published about February 7th, 2020, in The Cadre, UPEI's student paper.

It’s been a cold few weeks in Prince Edward Island, but that hasn’t stopped a small group from standing outside of Province House every Friday.

The group braves the cold for one hour every week, holding signs to oncoming traffic and greeting pedestrians.

Their message is simple: the time for action on climate change is now.

Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the group has been standing outside PEI’s seat of government weekly since spring 2019 in demonstrations called “Fridays for Future.” About a dozen people attended last Friday’s demonstration.

Similar demonstrations occur across the world every Friday.

Michael Pagé told the Cadre that he started coming early on.“I decided that this is the year that things have to happen,” he said.  “I got to do something and the simplest thing you can do is stand outside for one hour a week urging people to get involved.”

Outside of the weekly demonstrations, the group has also started lobbying the municipal and provincial governments to take action and fight climate change.

Christine Gates started coming because she felt that doing something was better than staying home discouraged.

“It’s better than just being depressed,” she said.  Gates says she has only missed one Friday since she started coming.

Everyone at the demonstration said they were inspired to act because of Thunberg. More than one person also mentioned a well-known report signed by 11,000 scientists last year that warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” as a motivator of the Fridays for Future movement.

David Woodbury, one of the organizers and an “Islander by choice,” said that one of his reasons for being out every week is because university-age people are not.  “All around the world students are out every Friday. Here on the island for some reason there are very few young people coming out,” he said.

Woodbury has only missed one Friday since he started, and that was when he was in Montreal marching with Thunberg and 500,000 other people in September.

Woodbury would like to see Charlottetown’s fleet of diesel buses replaced with electric buses, something which the group unsuccessfully lobbied for.

On a national level, Woodbury would like to see divestment from fossil fuels and the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline project that the Trudeau government bought 2018.

Although PEI is small, Woodbury says that we can set the example for the rest of Canada on climate action, and that PEI may have the most to lose because of climate change.

“We’re a small island. We’re small enough. We don’t want it to get much smaller,” he said.

Fridays for Future happen every Friday at 3:30pm in front of Province House.


good news, in a short and comprehensive article:

BP Pledges to Go Carbon Neutral by 2050 in Ambitious Plan - Morning Brew website article by Kinsley Grant

Published on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Energy major BP pledged yesterday to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions from its operations and the products it sells by 2050.

Big picture before we dive in: This is arguably the biggest strategic change at BP in its 111-year history, but with big oil 1) at the center of a climate crisis and 2) struggling to appease green-minded investors, generational shifts in ideology feel right for 2020. 

Now to the diving in

BP isn’t the first big oil company to outline climate-friendlier goals, but its plan has one major distinction: BP aims to become a net zero carbon emitter in its own production plus cut the CO2 its customers create as they use that energy.

  • Most of the energy sector’s emissions come from people and businesses using their products. At BP, 55 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year come from operations, while 360 million/year come from its oil + gas being operationalized.

So how does an oil and gas company solve a problem like CO2 pollution? BP will have to shift to cleaner energy sources while developing new tech to offset unavoidable emissions, aka yank CO2 from the atmosphere to make up for what it tosses up there.

Looking ahead

“ 'It’s not the destination, it’s the journey' —Wayne Gretzky”
        —BP CEO Bernard Looney. 

Looney, who started last week, was heavy on “eye to the future” vibes announcing the plans but light on details like timing and costs. And the 30 years between now and 2050, as the WSJ puts it, “provides plenty of wiggle room.”

  • What might need some wiggling: BP allocated 3.2% of its budget last year to investing in renewable energy (the industry average is 7.4%).

In the coming years, BP says it will reorganize to invest more in “low carbon businesses” and invest less in oil and gas. It’s unclear how that vision becomes reality, but we know this: BP’s new strategy could put pressure on U.S. oil majors who’ve mostly been silent on climate issues.

thanks to Ray for bringing the story to my attention


Global Chorus essay for February 14
Ashish Ramgobin

Hope, in my opinion, is based on the desire and conviction a person has. My instinctive response to the global situation is, “Where have all the people gone?” We have become so driven by concepts, philosophies, methods and practices that the people quotient of our lives and world has slowly begun to disappear.

I have hope for the world because I believe that at the core of every human being and creature there is the instinct to survive. My approach to such survival is to work with a few people at a time, facilitating spiritual, human and sustainable growth, dealing with issues of greed, abundance and the need for more – and then jointly building a compassionate group, which will grow slowly into a compassionate society, and thereafter, with enough players, into a compassionate world. Dealing with large concepts like sustainable development, global poverty, disease, illiteracy etc., are tasks that depersonalize the issues we face; we learn best from example, and in living our compassion we teach it also. All that the world needs to overcome the current destabilization is compassion and the will of people to change their own lives. The changes we need in industry and in government can only come from the pressure of those they depend on – their market and their electorate. That means each of us.

My philosophy for changing anything that seems to be wrong or bad is to first look within and set an example for change. Our actions resonate with the conscience and heart of people and our words resonate with their minds; it is the heart and conscience that drive true, lasting change from within. I work toward touching the hearts and consciences of all people and toward hopefully creating a group of compassionate people who will over time evolve into a community and a world of compassionate people as they touch others’ lives.

     — Ashish Ramgobin, founder and executive director of the Participative Development Initiative at the International Center of Non-violence (ICON) in South Africa, great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 13, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Climate Change Public Consultation meeting, Tignish, 6:30PM, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6, Tignish.
"... hear your input on how the province can best meet its Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction targets. Presentations on the context of climate change will be made by the UPEI Climate Lab. If you wish to address the committee at a meeting, email or call 902-368-5970 or 1-877-314-5518 (toll-free)."
more related, below

Friday, February 14th:
Deadline to pre-register tomorrow for:
Symposium - "Basic Income Guarantee: We can make it happen", Saturday, February 22nd, 9AM-12:30PM, Murphy's Community Centre.
"The symposium offers information on Basic Income Guarantee (BIG), a program that has been tested in many parts of the world and found successful. The organizers hope that the symposium will identify ways and means of encouraging seniors and non-seniors to learn more about the Basic Income Guarantee.
(The keynote speaker)...will outline the benefits of Basic Income Guarantee and some of the difficulties involved in making it work. This will include a review of some of the objections which are often raised by those who oppose BIG, or by those unsure of its possible outcomes..."
Facebook event link
P.E.I. seems to be a great place to implement it.

Also Friday:
hop in the car and head to this announcement:

Future Building Plans for the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, 2:30-4PM, St. Peter's Complex, Cardigan Road, St. Peter's Bay. All welcome.

from UPEI's website:

"The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Member of Parliament for Cardigan; Dr. Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Prince Edward Island; and Dr. Adam Fenech, Associate Dean of the UPEI School of Climate Change and Adaptation, are pleased to invite you to a presentation on the future building plans for the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peter’s Bay."
Some more Irony in Combating Climate Change and in Public Consultation

Some gentle sarcasm from an observant and wry Islander:
"Great (provincial) climate change strategy not to hold meetings in areas with the highest population density. Best to have the majority drive somewhere outside the area to attend."

The Special Committee on Climate Change currently has four scheduled public consultation meetings, to see what Islanders think about reducing greenhouse gasses (GHG).
They are in Tignish (tonight), and Rustico, Morell, and Summerside over the next three Thursdays, respectively; the Miscouche one was cancelled and apparently not rescheduled yet.

No public meetings are scheduled in the Capital area -- not Charlottetown, Cornwall, Stratford; nor are there are firm plans to unless the committee would perhaps hear from Islanders and perhaps decide to schedule them.

MLAs on the Special Committee on Climate Change (from the Committee's website)

Lynne Lund (Chair) , Official Opposition/Green Party
Sonny Gallant, Liberal -- Third Party Leader
Stephen Howard, Official Opposition/Green Party
Sidney MacEwen, Government Tories
Hal Perry, Third party/Liberals
Hon. Bradley Trivers, Government Tories

Other MLAs are able to attend meetings but probably don't have voting rights on the committee's decisions.

If you wish to contact them (and your MLA) and suggest that a Charlottetown-area meeting might make sense,
please do. This list may work to copy and paste in your e-mail program, adding your request message. (The last e-mail address is that of the assiduous Committee Clerk, Ryan Reddin)


MLAs' contact info is here:
Islander and world-traveling environmental journalist Zack Metcalfe writes so well and so sweetly; it's worth going to the link in The National Observer to see the photos that he took that accompany the text of the article.

Why nature - The National Obsever article by Zack Metcalfe

Published in The National Observer, Feature section on Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

It was too cold even for insects. The glassy surface of Lake Superior faithfully reflected a ruby sky as the sun rose over Pancake Bay Provincial Park, crisp beams of light cutting through the branches of old growth maple, birch, oak, spruce and pine. The mist burned away and birdsong swelled to fill the open chambers of this lakeside wood. I was alone.

A week on the road — living out of my car and hastily erected tents — had me wound pretty tight by this time, every wallop of responsibility weighing on my mood, but this morning was different. Away from an abusive relationship with my mobile devices, I felt calm for the first time in days, even exultant.

While I wasn’t aware of it in the moment, the natural cathedral in which I stood was orchestrating profound changes in me, lowering my blood pressure, heart rate and stemming the flow of the stress hormone cortisol. My anxieties, tribulations and ruminations were dissipating while feelings of happiness, curiosity, vitality and awe were welling up. In no time at all, I’d surrendered my exhaustion to this profusion of green and blue, its sights and sounds playing on my primate brain with the sureness of prescription medication.

It was too cold even for insects. The glassy surface of Lake Superior faithfully reflected a ruby sky as the sun rose over Pancake Bay Provincial Park, crisp beams of light cutting through the branches of old growth maple, birch, oak, spruce and pine. The mist burned away and birdsong swelled to fill the open chambers of this lakeside wood. I was alone.

A week on the road — living out of my car and hastily erected tents — had me wound pretty tight by this time, every wallop of responsibility weighing on my mood, but this morning was different. Away from an abusive relationship with my mobile devices, I felt calm for the first time in days, even exultant.

While I wasn’t aware of it in the moment, the natural cathedral in which I stood was orchestrating profound changes in me, lowering my blood pressure, heart rate and stemming the flow of the stress hormone cortisol. My anxieties, tribulations and ruminations were dissipating while feelings of happiness, curiosity, vitality and awe were welling up. In no time at all, I’d surrendered my exhaustion to this profusion of green and blue, its sights and sounds playing on my primate brain with the sureness of prescription medication.

Algonquin Provincial Park. Photograph by Zack Metcalfe.

The health benefits of time in nature — once the stuff of folk wisdom — are now the subject of international scientific inquiry. Among children, regular doses of nature have the long-term benefits of improved self-esteem, vision, body weight, attention and overall academic performance. In surgical recovery rooms, patients with windows overlooking greenery are less dependent on painkillers. Having 10 more trees on your city block improves self-perceived health equivalent to being seven years younger, or $10,000 a year richer.

These findings and others are no longer theoretical, speaking to a phenomenon as powerful as it is mysterious.


Lisa Nisbet, assistant professor of Trent University’s department of psychology, has spent a career on this subject. While we walked the edge of campus in early June, she expounded the benefits of even 15 minutes in natural settings, tipping our mental scales in favour of positivity and ease, but that’s just the beginning.

Lisa’s research has focused on how time in nature influences our treatment of nature, using a mechanism she calls "nature relatedness." In simple terms, nature relatedness is how much a person appreciates nature as a whole — not just the cute or scenic parts — and to what extent they understand the complex relationships tying it all together. Adoring polar bears but reviling all insects means you’ve missed the point of nature relatedness. Holding swamps and sunny beaches in equal regard for supporting unique biodiversity means you’re on the right track. Regarding yourself as a small piece of an enormous ecological puzzle, better still.

In order to diagnose a person’s relatedness, Lisa established the Nature Relatedness Scale, a test of 21 questions which gives a score between one and five, one representing poor nature relatedness and so on. To date, this scale has been translated into more than a dozen languages, adopted by innumerable environmental organizations and applied to more than 10,000 people from office workers to conservation professionals, and the results are remarkable.

What Lisa found is that the more time people spend in nature, the higher their nature relatedness tends to be and the more likely they are to engage in environmentally conscious behaviour, concern themselves with conservation issues and seek out nature for personal fulfilment. The more time we spend in nature, the more likely we are to defend it.

“It’s very difficult for the average person to be an environmental citizen unless they have an intrinsic motivation to protect nature,” she explained. “If you don’t see or understand the consequences of pouring paint down the drain or putting pesticides on your lawn, you’re just not going to take the appropriate action.”
Your average Canadian scores around three on this scale — an imperfect number Lisa associates with our willingness to destroy the environment on which we depend, by way of deforestation, fossil fuels, unsustainable diets and the rest. Improving our nature relatedness is an indispensable solution to environmental woes, therefore, motivating our citizenship to take broader and routine action in favour of conservation, and for that, we need to get people outside.

“We need to make nature a habit,” she said.

Best medicine

Ten years ago, Dr. Melissa Lem wrote her first prescription for nature to a young man battling ADHD. She’d done her research and was confident in the demonstrated benefits, but was still hesitant to prescribe something so radically new, fearing it would sound “crunchy granola.” But the treatment was well-received.

Since then, she’s become an advocate for nature prescriptions, championing them at conferences, during guided tours through the provincial parks of B.C. and in her family medicine practice, suggesting nature for depression, stress, attention disorders, even concussions, at 30 minutes a pop, two hours a week minimum.

“We all know that when we go out into nature, we feel calmer, less stressed, happier, but now we have numbers to back these feelings up,” she said.

Melissa sits on the board of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), an organization whose mission is to better human health by safeguarding wilderness. They’ve promoted plant-based diets, warned of the health consequences of climate change and advocated the protection of natural spaces specifically for the human animal. It’s Melissa’s vision that such things will eventually find their way into medical textbooks, and that green prescriptions will become commonplace in the clinics of British Columbia.

“Doctors and nurses are consistently rated among the five most trusted professionals in Canada,” she said. “When we say something, patients listen. If we could get health professionals to mobilize and prescribe nature more frequently, I think that would be quite powerful.”

Just such an endeavour is brewing independently in Wasaga Beach, Ont. More specifically, at the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre — its multidisciplinary team servicing 1,700 clients, many in lower-income brackets. As they have thus far been imagined, these prescriptions would come hand-in-hand with maps of accessible wilderness near Wasaga Beach, perhaps a bus pass from the municipality and park passes from Ontario Parks (both of whom are partners), and methods for tracking the progress of participants, such as decreases in their clinical visits, use of medications, self-reported issues and so on.

“The purpose of the program is to validate what research tells us about the link between spending time outside in the natural environment and an improvement in health and wellbeing,” said Ruth McArthur, a nurse with the District Health Authority and board member of the Wasaga Beach Community Health Network — the group ultimately responsible for crafting these prescriptions.

The size and scope of the program is funding-dependent, but Ruth and colleagues expect their first prescription soon.

Coming home

Nature means many things to many people, some coveting the organized foliage of urban green space, others the remote wilderness of national parks. For Tyler Coady, serving in the deserts of Afghanistan with a P.E.I. regiment, nature was a square foot of grass, brought overseas by a fellow serviceman and cared for by many a homesick Canadian.

“I know it’s weird, but we treasured it,” Tyler told me. “One of the things I missed the most being overseas was green space.”

I met Tyler in July 2019, a young man of 33, strong and very well-spoken. He greeted me with a joke and a smile in downtown Charlottetown. I might not have noticed his PTSD — the consequence of a roadside bomb encountered during his service — had I not known beforehand He’s been home since 2009.

“Post-traumatic stress disorder disrupts pretty well every aspect of your life,” he explained. It plagues him with unwelcome flashbacks and constant, crippling anxiety. It has eroded his mental health so severely that he withdrew from society — something that's been very difficult for him to overcome. Counselling, medication and peer support were integral to his ongoing recovery, but so was his purchase of a small farm and regular hikes through its wilder corners.

While downtown, Tyler must actively suppress the symptoms of his PTSD, manifesting as a tremour in his voice while we spoke. When in nature, however, staying calm is no work at all. Whatever hold nature has on the human mind, it’s especially pronounced in people like Tyler. Making use of a master's in military psychology, he’s been co-ordinating peer support groups for other Island veterans with mental injury, helping them find peace in nature.

The Island Nature Trust is one of the oldest private land trusts in Canada, independently protecting more than 4,000 acres of P.E.I. wilderness since its founding in 1979. It was instrumental in establishing portions of P.E.I. National Park, and continues to hit above its weight class in the protection of provincial biodiversity.

This charity, recognizing the special need among veterans for nature, offered Tyler the use of their largest protected area — the 600-acre Jenkins Complex — replete with forests, wetlands, trails and old access roads for those struggling with mobility. A donation of $17,500 from 100 Women Who Care has financed the creation of a parking lot and serenity area. In time, the complex’s trails will be expanded and a wildlife viewing area will overlook one of its many ponds. With additional partners, the Island Nature Trust hopes to establish other such spaces across the province, open to the people who need them most.

“In the past, land trusts were more about preserving ecosystems by limiting access,” said Megan Harris, executive director of the Island Nature Trust. “In some instances, that may still hold, but there is broad recognition now that we’re only going to protect what we love. Trying to compartmentalize people and the rest of nature doesn’t work. We are not separate from nature, and there are things we need in nature. Those needs are sometimes compounded when our minds have been tested in the extreme, as with veterans.”

Pursuing nature

I explore nature professionally, trading my desk for a remote island in the Bay of Fundy, the mountains of western Newfoundland or, in the course of researching this article, the provincial parks of Ontario — diverse, beautiful and invariably wild. My access to nature is a privilege which many Canadians do not share.

The separation of human beings from nature has done monumental harm to mind, body and biodiversity, a point made only too clear by the people in this article. For the sake of a healthy and sustainable future, through these programs and others, we must all find ways to pursue nature.

This story was originally published by Nature Conservancy of Canada Magazine.


Global Chorus essay for February 13
Rob Hopkins

I regard myself not as a techno-optimist, but as a cultural optimist. I believe that people can do remarkable things when they choose. I have seen time and time again the extraordinary things people can do when they get together with the people around them and decide that they want to start putting in place the future they desire. Whether it’s community currencies, locally owned energy companies, new local food enterprises, neighbours helping neighbours to reduce energy consumption, or communities becoming their own developers, it’s the missing piece of the puzzle.

The climate crisis is so grave that the solutions proposed need to involve a deep rethink of the scale on which we do things. A decarbonized future will inherently be more local and focused more on resilience and well-being than on economic growth. While government has a key role to play in this, there is much we can do to model in practice not only that such an approach works but that it meets our needs better than business as usual does. Our task is, through our deliberate and compassionate action, to make the politically impossible become the politically inevitable.

Creating the conditions for our survival requires the creation of a new economy, from the bottom up. All over the world, people are coming together to create the new enterprises that local economies need. They are looking strategically at how the boosting of local economies could be to the benefit of everyone, and at how community resilience is itself a form of economic development – indeed, how it is the most appropriate form of development for today. They are creating the new economies we will need and having the time of their lives in doing so.

Do we have hope? Hope doesn’t mean much to me, really. It’s about doing what is the right thing to do in these times, with a good heart. We can’t do more than that. But Transition feels to me to be the most skilful thing to be doing now, and so that’s where I put my energy, with the knowledge that extraordinary things are always possible and are already happening.
     — Rob Hopkins, blogger, author of The Transition Handbook and The Power of Just Doing Stuff,  co-founder/catalyst and outreach manager for Transition Network


essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 12, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


This morning:
Special Committee on Poverty Meeting, 9:30-11:30AM, Coles Building.
The committee will receive a briefing on the current social assistance program from Karen McCaffrey, Director of Social Programs; Department of Social Development and Housing.
Attend in person or watch live at the Legislative Assembly website, here

Two events happening near Province House at noon:

Walk in Silence for Victims of Family Violence - Charlottetown, 12noon-1PM, Gathering at Province House.
"The annual Walk in Silence for Victims of Family Violence in Charlottetown will be held on Wednesday February 12, 2019. This event is part of Family Violence Prevention Week and is also 'Wear Purple Day'. The walk is a symbolic gesture by those of us determined to give a voice to family violence victims who remain silent out of shame or fear. Participants will convene at the Hon. George Coles Building and will proceed to City Hall where there will be a reception with refreshments and remarks. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to wear purple and attend."

#shutdowncanada PEI in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en, 12noon, Province House.
"In solidarity with Wet'suwet'en and people across Canada, PEI will also stand peacefully united as caring beings, in defense of truth." Facebook event link

And two really good events happening tonight:
Wednesday, February 12th:
ECO-PEI AGM and panel "The Art of Climate Change", 6:30PM, Beaconfield's Carriage House, Kent Street. All welcome.

Music and Morsels for SSHWI, fundraiser for the South Shore Health and Wellness Inc., 7-9PM, Lone Oak Brewery, Gateway Village, Borden-Carleton.
"Come on out with friends & family to a FUNDRAISER at the Lone Oak Brewery ... in support of the South Shore Health & Wellness Inc. in its efforts to bring medical/health services to the South Shore area of PEI. Enjoy -- Live entertainment / Foodbits / 50-50 draw / Silent auction"
Facebook event link

It sounds like a great line-up, including the Leader of the Opposition and former local dentist Peter Bevan-Baker and local lawyer Matt MacFarlane "jostling back and forth" about the worthiness of their professions again, but there is something "dis-easy" about having to make these kinds of efforts for local health care.
Good snowy day reading, from the always insightful Ian Petrie:

More information results in better decisions - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

A soil test always provided basic but necessary information: the levels of important plant nutrients principally nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; pH readings, is the soil too acidic and needs lime; soil organic matter levels. Now the provincial agriculture department is offering something much more comprehensive, a soil health test. It’s a bigger change than most people realize.

I can think of a half dozen conversations over the last forty years with agriculture officials here and elsewhere, including a deputy minister, where it was strongly argued that soil was nothing but trouble. Its makeup was inconsistent, and most seriously, it harboured diseases. They argued that farmers would be better off if seeds went into sand, and they could carefully apply just the right mix of chemical fertilizer and pesticides.

The idea that soil can be trouble continues to this day. Fumigation, pumping a gas like chloropicrin into the soil which essentially sterilizes it, is widely used in western U.S. potato growing areas, and occasionally here in the Maritimes to produce disease-free strawberry and other fruit plants for example. McCain Foods has conducted soil fumigation tests on potato farms in New Brunswick and Maine. Here on PEI, to their credit, potato growers have resisted fumigation to fight wireworm, instead mostly relying on brown mustard as a bio-fumigant.

I feel a little like my grandmother insisting that we eat our vegetables in making a case that maintaining healthy soils is important. Management tools like chemical fertilizer and irrigation have allowed farmers to maintain productivity as soil health declines, but the environmental costs of anoxic waterways, nitrates leaching into drinking water, and groundwater resources threatened worldwide have made improving soil health a priority wherever industrial scale agriculture is practiced.

I firmly believe farmers know this. A marketplace dominated by a handful of processors and wholesalers has made it difficult for too many farmers to make enough money to support the crop rotations needed to maintain or rebuild soils. Cash has to be generated every year, so corn and soybean are grown in rotation with potatoes rather than the no-income forages which would improve organic matter levels. Serious research is being done to help farmers find practices and crops that will improve this, and the new soil health test compliments this effort.

The presentations by Kyra Stiles and Bradford Rooney of the Sustainable Agriculture section made to farmers around the province showed how much more information is available now: not just soil organic matter levels, but active vs. stable carbon, soil respiration, aggregate stability, inorganic and organic nitrogen levels, phosphorus and other nutrients availability, and soil pH. They clearly explained that all of these work together to create healthy soils, capable of holding moisture, provide necessary nutrients, and when combined with reduced tillage and cover crops, reduce wind and water erosion. The soil is described as something living with microbes, bacteria and fungi, a welcome change from the “soil is only trouble” crowd.

There’s another important element to this. The baseline data used to judge whether organic matter levels for example are high or low don’t come from some ideal farm somewhere else in the world, but from data collected on PEI over many years. Results are always handled anonymously, but farmers will be able to track changes in their own soils over time, and have some idea how they compare with other farms in the province.

Two things I think are driving the increased level of research into rotation and cover crops, this new soil health test, and the ongoing development of Best Management Practices. The results from province wide test sites monitored over many years have shown a serious decline in soil organic matter levels. Secondly farmers are looking for some clarity on what constitutes “due diligence” when it comes to preventing fish kills.

Court rulings have been inconsistent on what practices can reasonably be expected from farmers to prevent fish kills given severe localized rain events caused by climate change. Soil building, taking steps to prevent erosion, all add credibility to the “due diligence” defence.

This isn’t easy for farmers. Critically examining current practices on farms, changing rotations, considering the purchase of new equipment to limit tillage, all so soil health indicators like organic matter levels will improve slowly over many years, is a very challenging proposition. Think of going to your doctor and being told that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are dangerously high.

Your told to start eating a much more expensive diet, get a costly gym membership, and buy an expensive new car to get there. It will save your life, but it’s a difficult message to swallow. The soil health test (free for now) is like that visit to the doctor, challenging, but it’s how things, including yields, quality, profitability, and the environment, get better.


Global Chorus essay for February 12
Bryan Welch

The question of our survival is uninteresting and uninspiring. Human survival is, from the human perspective, imperative. That’s not an aspiration. That’s just instinct. Our instinct for self-preservation may support the exploitation of resources and the deterioration of our habitat. It seems likely we could survive for millennia, but under what conditions?

Future human generations can live in ways that are more satisfying, healthier, more prosperous, fairer, more beautiful and more abundant. We can create a natural environment that’s healthier, more diverse and more verdant than the Earth today. To realize that potential, however, we must first visualize our aspirations. We need a concrete collective vision of a better world.

I imagine a world where biological diversity is considered a fundamental asset, where an abundance of species is valued above all other ecological values and where we preserve vast swaths of natural habitat to guarantee the plenitude of life. Commerce can be motivated by social justice and environmental preservation as well as by simple value for money. Universal human tolerance can become a fundamental component of civilization. Violence, slavery and human exploitation may be universally vilified.

We’ve already made significant progress toward these goals. So far, we’ve done a pretty good job of realizing our ideals in the world. We are less violent, more tolerant and more conscientious as a species than ever before.

With that in mind, it seems more important than ever before that we have great aspirations and the courage to describe them. That is, I think, the foundation of sustainability – for the planet and its human citizens.

— Bryan Welch, writer, rancher, author of Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want, (former) publisher and editorial director of Ogden Publications Inc., publishers of Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Mother Earth Living and more

Update: After serving as the Publisher and Editorial Director of MOTHER EARTH NEWS and leading Ogden Publications for nearly two decades, Bryan Welch became CEO of B The Change Media, a multi-platform media company founded in cooperation with B Lab and the B Corporations. from:

essay from:
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 11, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Tuesday, February 11th:
Public Accounts Committee meeting, 10AM, Coles Building.
The committee will meet to receive a briefing on implementation of the Auditor General’s 2019 recommendations on Early Learning and Child Care Centres from Bethany MacLeod, Deputy Minister (and others in the) Department of Education and Lifelong Learning.
This should be live-streamed, usually with a link on the home page of the Legislative Assembly, here:

Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation, 2-4PM, Murphy Centre. The final one is next week in Summerside, same time. You can also give feedback (perhaps even on the limited scope of the consultation process) on-line at:

Call to Action Addiction and Mental Health Forum, 7PM, The Guild, Charlottetown. Free and all welcome.
A citizen-led initiative with both government officials and people affected on the panel. "Join us for a “Call to Action” for the Public and MLAs, City Council. We will hear success stories of recovery as well as people who have struggled in navigation the system as family members."

Wednesday, February 12th:
ECO-PEI AGM and panel "The Art of Climate Change", 6:30PM, Beaconfield's Carriage House, Kent Street. All welcome. The Environmental Coalition of PEI will have its short AGM and then host a "panel discussion featuring three Island artists - visual artist Brenda Whiteway, filmmaker Mille Clarkes and Photographer Robert vanWaarden - who have explored climate change and its impact on people and the environment in their work." Mille's short film Solastalgia will be shown, I think. You can just come for the panel discussion which will probably start about 7PM if time is limited.

LETTER: Using high capacity wells for irrigation on P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

EDITOR: I really would like to see the math used to back up the thinking our groundwater on the Island would not be affected by irrigating through dry growing periods.

If it is dry, nothing is going back in, then a void is being created in the aquifer with millions of tonnes of earth pressure above the air space in the aquifer.

In 2015 scientists estimated nearly 1200 square miles of California was sinking at a rate of 2 inches per month.

Simply check out the link provided to see a 2017 NASA Observatory picture of “subsidence” (sinking) in California.

Some areas are so affected the irrigation canals are useless due to collapsing ground.

We are surrounded by saltwater, where does our freshwater come from? I will not be personally affected by this decision, but our future generations surely will be.

Check the California Nasa link to see actual subsidence.

Chris Wakaluk, Souris, PE

The article Chris mentions is from a couple of years ago, and in this link to the CNBC website and is here, again:

Global Chorus essay for February 11

Joel Salatin

While civilization has never tried nor thought itself more able to sever its ecological umbilical cord, never before have we had the capacity to reattach it as quickly. As a beyond-organic farmer, I believe the techno-gadgetry that is available today to massage the ecology into dramatic healing is almost miraculous. From computer microchipped solar-electric fence energizers to shuttle-shift, low-profile diesel tractors with front-end loaders, ecology-enhancing food production infrastructure and techniques would make grandpa speechless with amazement.

The local-food tsunami represents a profound culture shift as people rediscover truly community-based food systems and the delight of cultivating domestic culinary arts. The only way to thwart this movement is to continue taxing people to death so families have difficulty staying home to redirect their creativity toward building a secure home economy. In addition to taxes, the food police are systematically marginalizing, criminalizing and demonizing heritage-based production and processing systems.

When Coca-Cola, Twinkies and Froot Loops are considered safe while raw milk, Aunt Matilda’s homemade pickles, and compost-grown tomatoes are labelled unsafe by the government food police, the civilization is on a collision course with its ecological umbilical cord. When the freedom of choice movement extends beyond marriage, sexual orientation and education to include food, we will unleash the entrepreneurial creativity of thousands in their kitchens and on acreages. The impediment to redirecting our U.S. ship of state is not technology, resources, people, money or spirit. The impediment is confiscatory taxes to pay for big government to extend concessions and welfare to the largest corporate players – many with evil agendas – in our world. As each of us refuses to patronize evil systems, we inevitably create healing: of soil, nutrition, finances, emotion. We can do this.

Joel Salatin, author, lecturer, owner/operator of Polyface Farms

Joel Salatin has done a huge amount to bring that practical perspective on local food to North America.  He is outspoken about a lot of things, surely.  Michael Pollan's feature of him in The Omnivore's Dilemma is a very good read, too.

Magazine Mother Earth News hosts workshop "Fairs" and is hosting one in mid-July in central Virginia at Polyface Farm (and one this weekend in Texas).  More details from Mother Earth News


essay from:

Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 10, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Coffee with District 5 MLA (Mermaid-Stratford) Michelle Beaton, 8:30-11:30AM, Stratford Tim Horton's.

Tonight: John Andrew to receive Brookie Award, just before 5PM meeting of Charlottetown City Council, City Hall, all welcome.
from the media release:

"The award, given by the Ellen's Creek Watershed Group, is named for the brook trout, who, if thriving in Charlottetown waterways, suggest the watersheds are healthy and vibrant. Periodically the Brookie is awarded to an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to the health of city watersheds. The first recipient was Ramona Doyle, Manager of Environment and Sustainability for the City of Charlottetown. We are proud to announce the winner of the 2020 award is Dr. John Andrew of East Royalty.

John co-chairs the Wright’s Creek Watershed Environmental Committee that is responsible for the health of Wright’s Creek and Andrew’s Pond. John has been almost single-handedly returning the Creek and the Pond to environmental health from their moribund state years back. John has been able to have all three levels of government support his efforts, the result of his quiet determination and a most effective use of environmental science to make his case. The Andrew family have been stewards of the land and water in East Royalty for generations. John brings to his community a strong commitment to the health of individuals, the health of his community and the health of the environment we live in. Better than most, John knows the close interdependence of all three. In his professional, personal and community life, John leads the way we would all do well to follow. Congratulations John!"

Tuesday, February 11th:
Public Accounts Committee meeting, 10AM, Coles Building.
The committee will meet to receive a briefing on implementation of the Auditor General’s 2019 recommendations on Early Learning and Child Care Centres from Bethany MacLeod, Deputy Minister (and others in the) Department of Education and Lifelong Learning.

Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation, 2-4PM, Murphy Centre.
some thoughts from an observant commentator on Island events:

LETTER: Minority governments work well - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, February 6th, 2020

I am looking forward to good governance from both the federal and provincial minority governments.

In my opinion, minority governments provide the same benefits as proportional representation.

It is a very simple mathematical fact that if several different parties are on the ballot, the winner does not get the same over 50 per cent of the vote as happens when there are only two parties to choose from.

I believe the best news of the past four years of federal government, has been the re-establishment of the independence of the Senate.

My hope for P.E.I.'s future is the restoration of our soil and the reduction of mono-crop agriculture.

P.E.I.'s land is exceptional after generations of mixed farming and I hope organic farming increases and farmland needs manure.

Marion E. MacCallum, Charlottetown, PE

Global Chorus essay for February 10

Tessa Tennant

Have you ever played that team-building game where everyone is invited to write down the meaning of a simple word like “money” or “family” or “life”? The point of the game is to illustrate the diversity of ways in which people think and associate with ideas. Our personal mental maps are all so different, like our thumbprints, and it’s a wonder and a puzzle that human beings have achieved so much collectively. Against all the odds of confusion, ignorance, fear and greed we still make mostly good things happen.

This gives me great hope. In my lifetime ecological living has moved from the hippiesphere to the high street and is having ever more sway in the corridors of power.  Yes, 9/11 and the credit crunch have been big setbacks but they haven’t stopped this march of progress. Apart from an asteroid hitting the Earth or some bonkers tyrant hitting the nuclear button, nothing will.

Somehow we will muddle through. We won’t be like the cooking frog: we aren’t falling asleep as the water gets warmer; we are scrambling to get out of the pot and turn off the gas. Indeed more of us are scrambling every day and a bunch of us have even got as far as figuring out the gas controls!

We must reject the dead hand of fatalism, which never got humans anywhere. There is hope, as the prophets always say; “live for the moment” and enjoy being part of the green revolution. The best is yet to come.

      — Tessa Tennant,  fixer, sustainable finance pioneer (1959-2018)

Tessa Tennant passed away in 2018.  An obituary on her life and work is here:


essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 9, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Apologies for the length of today's newsletter, but wanted to include some of this week's events, and the text about the pipeline protests and RCMP violations of freedom of the press, among other aspects of the issue, sadly familiar to many of us.
Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, February 11th:
Provincial Pre-budget Consultation: Charlottetown, 2-4PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Richmond Street, Charlottetown (and thanks to Tony Reddin for ferreting out the location)
"Please pre-register by calling (902) 368-5501 or sending an email to
Deadline for feedback is February 29, 2020"

Call to Action Addiction and Mental Health Forum, 7PM, The Guild, Charlottetown. Free and all welcome.

A citizen-led initiative with both government officials and people affected on the panel. "Join us for a “Call to Action” for the Public and MLAs, City Council. We will hear success stories of recovery as well as people who have struggled in navigation the system as family members."
Friday, February 14th:
Fundraising Dinner and Entertainment: A Very Romantic Black-Tie Affair, 6:15PM, Kings Playhouse, Georgetown. Tickets.
excerpts from the media release: "On Valentines Day the Montague Food Bank and the international Canadian Foodgrains Bank are joining efforts to raise much needed funds for local food aid in Kings County and in over 35 countries around the world....Various artists will provide an evening of songs and stories of love and romance. Donations are eligible to be matched up to 4:1 by the Canadian government....
Tickets may be obtained by calling Vivian Dourte of Montague Food Bank at 902-213-3676, Kent Myers of Canadian Foodgrains Bank 902-218-4621 or email committee members Frank Dourte:, Gerald Cressman:, or Ray Brow:

A very nicely packaged notice about the upcoming Climate Change committee public meetings, thanks to the PEI NDP.
I am certain there are more meetings and locations besides Tignish, Rustico, Morell and Summerside, just not announced yet, and I believe the one scheduled for last week in Miscouche will be rescheduled due to weather.

Notice from NDP PEI:
Speak Up for the Environment
The Special Committee on Climate Change is hosting a series of meetings to hear your input on how the province can best meet its Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction targets. Presentations on the context of climate change will be made by the UPEI Climate Lab.
You are encouraged to attend one of the following dates. If you would like to address the committee at a meeting, email or call 902-368-5970 or 1-877-314-5518 (toll-free).

Date -- THURSDAYS                         Location

February 13 - 6:30 p.m                  Tignish
                                                   Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6,
                                                   221 Phillip Street

February 20 - 6:30 p.m                  Rustico
                                                   Cymbria Lions Club Community Centre
                                                   2184 Church Road

February 27 - 6:30 p.m                  Morell
                                                   Morell Fire Hall,
                                                   15 Park Street

March 5 - 6:30 p.m                        Summerside
                                                    Loyalist Country Inn & Conference Centre,
                                                   195 Heather Moyse Drive

News from British Columbia and the Wet'suwet'en protests about the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Tweet on Saturday, February 8th, 2020, from Emma McIntosh of the National Observer:

Using an ever-changing set of rules, RCMP arrested 11 people during the third day of police raids on #Wetsuweten land. Meanwhile, the RCMP drew international condemnation for repeatedly violating freedom of the press.

Their usual excellent, extensive article with news and background, from The National Observer, Saturday, February 8th, 2020:

Full story with photos and links:

text only:

RCMP arrest 11 more pipeline opponents on third day of Wet’suwet’en raids - The National Observer article by Emma McIntosh

Published in The National Observer on Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Using an ever-changing set of rules, RCMP in British Columbia arrested 11 opponents of the Coastal GasLink pipeline Saturday, the third day of raids on Wet’suwet’en Nation territory.

RCMP also continued to obstruct journalists on the remote forest road in northern B.C. where the conflict is playing out, drawing international criticism. A spokesperson for one of the nation’s five clans, Molly Wickham of Gidimt’en, said the police broke a promise not to make more arrests until after a meeting with the nation’s hereditary chiefs.

“The RCMP have come in with their guns,” said Wickham, also known as Sleydo. “They’re doing this all while we are waiting… to talk to the RCMP.”

Police are enforcing a court injunction to force the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters out of the path of the pipeline, which is planned to run through the nation’s unceded territory even though Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs haven’t consented. The tiny community has built four camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road, about 1,200 kilometres from Vancouver, as they reoccupy their unceded territory and oppose Coastal GasLink.

The raids began Thursday. With Saturday’s total included, police have made 21 arrests over three days, also temporarily detaining two journalists on Thursday and one journalist on Friday.

Saturday’s raid happened at the first camp along the road, a gathering place for supporters which is located at the 27-kilometre mark of the snowy road.

Originally, the RCMP said people were welcome to gather there, as it was outside the zone affected by the court injunction. But police extended the restricted area ⁠— known as an exclusion zone ⁠⁠— to include the 27-kilometre camp late Friday. It happened after Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters used their vehicles to block RCMP officers from leaving the area to process four pipeline opponents who were arrested that day.

In a statement, the RCMP said commanders decided to expand the exclusion zone because metal spikes on the road made several police vehicles “inoperative.”

Police were eventually able to clear the vehicles and asked everyone at the 27-kilometre camp to leave. “People can’t leave because police towed their vehicles away,” said a statement from Unist’ot’en Camp, the settlement furthest along the forest road.

Eventually, Sleydo said in a live video posted to Facebook, police agreed to meet with the hereditary chiefs at 10 a.m. and not arrest anyone at the camp until 11 a.m. But the RCMP didn’t show ⁠— instead, she added, officers surrounded the camps and made arrests at about 1:30 p.m. and blocked the chiefs from going past the four-kilometre checkpoint.

In the live video, two RCMP officers from a specialized liaison team can be seen approaching a vehicle where hereditary chiefs and Wet’suwet’en supporters are assembled.

“We’re supposed to be meeting before anything happens at 27,” Sleydo says to a male officer.

“People there have been asked to leave,” says the officer, adding that he needs to get up to the camp.

“Why?” asks Sleydo. The officer walks away without answering the question, and both liaison officers hop into an RCMP truck and drive away.

Several people were also allowed to leave the camp voluntarily. They declined rides from police, choosing to walk to the four-kilometre checkpoint. Others were arrested after they barricaded themselves inside a cabin.

Earlier in the day, at about 11:20 a.m. Pacific time, officers used helicopters to get over Wet’suwet’en barriers and approach the gates of Unist’ot’en Camp. Unist’ot’en is the largest and oldest camp, home to a $2-million healing centre.

“Unist’ot’en matriarchs and indigenous supporters went into ceremony and refused to speak to police,” read a statement from the camp. As they burned the injunction, a traditional funeral pyre was lit with a homemade flag on top reading, ‘Reconciliation is Dead.’”

The RCMP left the area in their helicopters just after noon, Unist’ot’en reported.

RCMP under fire for blocking freedom of the press

RCMP temporarily blocked reporters from getting through the four-kilometre mark, despite a statement to the contrary on Friday night. After waiting for an hour and a half, CBC reporter Chantelle Bellrichard said on Twitter that she had been allowed in, only to have RCMP hold her back and block her view of arrests at 27-kilometre.

“Increasingly frustrating to do our job on the ground and have never had to argue for press freedoms so strenuously,” Bellrichard tweeted.

RCMP have repeatedly impeded reporters on the road. In a statement Saturday, the online media outlet Ricochet said its journalist on the ground, Jerome Turner, was “continuously” detained during an RCMP raid on the Gidimt’en Checkpoint Friday, at the 44-kilometre mark of the road.

Police detained Turner in a ditch 60 feet from where officers were arresting people, Ricochet said.

“This ditch was in a location where Turner could not connect to the internet, and he was not allowed to get to a location where he could get a signal and send updates to his editors,” the statement said.

“As a result, he was out of contact for eight hours yesterday, with his editors unsure of his status or safety.”

Later, Turner agreed to leave. But RCMP detained him again and prevented him from going to the blockade at the 27-kilometre camp, only releasing him after the vehicles in the road had been towed.

Earlier, on Thursday, journalists were told they'd be arrested if they recorded tactical officers holding guns or officers smashing a truck window to make an arrest, tweeted Jesse Winter, a reporter on assignment for Vice.

The continuous infringements on press freedom have been condemned by the international Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Canadian Association of Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Amnesty International.

The RCMP have declined to provide a map showing what’s inside the exclusion zone. Though the RCMP previously said any journalists in the area would be arrested, the force walked that statement back Friday following condemnation from the Canadian Association of Journalists and others.

Coastal GasLink, explained

The controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline is owned by TC Energy, a Calgary-based energy company formerly known as TransCanada Corp. If built, the 670-kilometre pipeline would cut through Wet’suwet’en territory to bring natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the proposed LNG Canada facility in Kitimat, B.C., for processing and export.

Under Wet’suwet’en law, hereditary chiefs from five clans have authority over the nation’s 22,000 square kilometres of unceded territory. The hereditary chiefs have repeatedly opposed Coastal GasLink.

But TC Energy touts agreements it’s made with elected Wet’suwet’en band councils, which were created under Canada’s colonial Indian Act. The elected councils have jurisdiction over reserve lands but not the area adjacent to the pipeline.

The hereditary chiefs’ land claim is backed by a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision. But a second trial ordered by the court hasn’t yet happened and many aspects of the dispute are still unresolved.

Last year, RCMP enforcing an earlier court injunction violently arrested 14 people at the Gidimt’en Checkpoint. Documents later revealed by the Guardian showed that officers had been prepared to use lethal force.

In the aftermath of that raid, the hereditary chiefs said they were concerned about safety and agreed to allow GasLInk in for pre-construction work on the pipeline. But the hereditary chiefs evicted the company shortly after a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted Coastal GasLink the second injunction on Dec. 31.

The RCMP began steadily increasing police presence on Wet’suwet’en territory on Jan. 13, putting up a blockade at the 27-kilometre mark of the road. Officers poured into the surrounding towns as they prepared to enforce the second injunction.

Though the hereditary chiefs and the province agreed last week to seven days of talks to de-escalate the situation, the discussions broke down Tuesday night. The next day, the RCMP warned they would begin enforcing the injunction imminently.

The first round of raids began hours before dawn Thursday. Officers with the court injunction in hand stormed a media camp and supply post at the 39-kilometre mark of the road, arresting four.

Officers arrested six more during Friday’s raid on the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, the result of a seven-hour standoff that left the camp still standing.

Police had also tried to get people barricaded inside a trapping cabin off the road near Gidimt’en Checkpoint to leave Friday. “Heavily armed” officers tried again Saturday, but Unist’ot’en said the people inside that cabin remained inside.

The six people arrested Thursday were released without charges, while the four arrested Friday will have their first court appearance Monday in the nearby town of Smithers, B.C., Unist’ot’en Camp said.

The situation has been condemned by the B.C. Human Rights Commission, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Meanwhile, solidarity demonstrations have played out across the country since Thursday, with Wet’suwet’en supporters blocking highways and major rail lines ⁠— including the VIA Rail route between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.


It was with some irony that yesterday's Global Chorus essay by physicist Richard Muller, written in 2014, included support of natural gas as a cleaner energy source; it is also good to see since the first publication of the Global Chorus essays that there is more acknowledgement of a climate crisis, more realization about decarbonization, and continued hope.
Global Chorus essay for February 9
Peter Denton

Hope is a creative act. It is creative because it generates something new out of the daily chaos of our lives. It is an act because, through hope, the possibility of a different future is created.

We can work and dream toward what is possible, but only if hope leads the way.


Every day for me begins with a glimmer of hope, as I look out my window and the sun rises on the oak trees. On the prairies, only the odd tree breaks the horizon, along with the windbreaks that mark the location of lonely barns and farmhouses.

The slow-growing prairie oak, the scrub oak, makes a poor shelter from the wind, however. Decades pass before a difference in size is apparent, while the spruce and pine explode into the sky and the poplars grow, spread and rise again.

The scrub oak has none of the beauty of its foreign cousins, the red and white oaks. It will never be sawn into planks for shipbuilding, turned into beautiful flooring or sturdy furniture. It is gnarled and stunted, never growing more than a few feet before twisting off in a new direction and frustrating any craftsman’s intention.

Yet, through centuries of harsh winters and scorching summers, rain and drought, wind and storm, it survives. The trees in my yard are hundreds
of years old, predating any European settlers, watching over my children playing as they watched over the buffalo grazing the prairie grass another world away.

I find my hope in that resilience, symbolized for me by the scrub oak but found at all levels of life on Earth, whether we can see them or not.

Hope is just as resilient in the human heart as the impulse to survive is resilient in living systems. That resilience does not excuse us from doing things
that deny hope any more than it excuses us from actions that destroy life.

When the spirit that is in us aligns with the spirit found deep within the Earth, green will no longer be just a colour.

— Peter Denton, writer, teacher, United Church of Canada minister, author of Gift Ecology: Reimagining a Sustainable World

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 8, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets:
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM

Save the date:
Tuesday, February 18th:
Island Studies February Lecture, "The Goose and the Golden Egg: The Environmental Turn in Island Tourism, 1970-1990", with Dr. Ed MacDonald, 7PM, UPEI, Main Building Faculty Lounge, all welcome.
News: The City of Charlottetown passed its Capital Budget in a Special Meeting Thursday, February 6th, 2020 (when other events were cancelled due to the weather), before the consultation period on City budgeting ended Friday, February 7th.

The Budget Document is here:

with about $4million for "Buses"

Guardian Story (no specific mention of the diesel bus purchases):

City's Website asking for public input from late January:
The City of Charlottetown is looking for public feedback as it prepares its Capital and Operational budgets for the 2020-21 fiscal period. .... All comments must be submitted by 12 p.m. (noon) on Friday, February 7.
Op-Ed Piece:

A Good Field to Die On  - The Guardian Guest opinion by David Weale

Published on Thursday, February 6th, 2020 (approximately)

These are some personal observations after reading the recently released consultation report on water extraction from the Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change.

First of all, you don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to realize the report is nudging us strongly in the direction of greater use of our groundwater by industrial agriculture. The report, of course, doesn’t say any such thing. It just hides intent beneath a slick veneer.

Secondly, it is a report based on the views of a very small number of Islanders, 103 of whom actually attended the four public meetings. And I for one believe that even those poorly advertised meetings were stacked to some extent with individuals representing various special interests.

It is unfortunate that the meetings weren’t better attended but it surely has something to do with the fact that many Islanders, who have seen these procedures rolled out time and time again, believe they are exercises in futility. But that failure is on us – those of us opposed to the extraction of water in support of industrial agriculture. It’s time for battle mode. Time to show up with good questions and strong resolution to end this travesty, or what might be called the "organicide" being practised on this Island.

Further, the most obvious question – the one most Islanders are concerned with — was never addressed; the question of whether it is a good idea to extract large amounts of water from high-capacity wells to support industrial agricultural practices that are destroying both the soil of the Island and, collaterally, Island rural culture, and placing more and more control in the hands of a single mega-corporation. That’s what on the minds of concerned Islanders and both the premier and Minister Trivers know it, and it is cowardly and devious for them to be dodging it and hiding behind a shiny, misleading report.

Let’s suppose for a moment that we do have a large surplus of water beneath our feet, which is an immense treasure in this increasingly thirsty world. More precious by far than gold or bitumen. The question would be, since that water is for the use of all of us, and for the plants and animals as well, what kind of morons would we be to conclude that the best thing we can do with it is give an immense amount of it to a multi-billionaire for the making of French Fries and the further despoliation of the Island landscape.

That is simply madness. Greed-fueled insanity. And let’s be clear about this one thing: the science about water extraction and the effects on the aquifers is not clear, whereas the science of soil, and of what is happening to it on P.E.I., is very clear.

I consider this to be the greatest issue of my lifetime on P.E.I., and I am glad that popular resistance has made it into a battlefield, and a good place to die.

David Weale, who lives in Charlottetown, is co-founder of Vision P.E.I.

Global Chorus essay for February 8
by Richard A. Muller

Global warming is real, human-caused and dangerous. Yet I believe that humans will not only survive but thrive. My optimism derives from three paradoxical phenomena: the growth of the world population, our terrible waste of energy and our apparently unlimited resources of natural gas.

Human population: The rate of growth is dramatically slowing, and demographers believe it will likely limit itself to nine billion, for the happiest of reasons: liberation of women, improved standard of living, better education and high childhood survival.

Waste of energy: I’m optimistic because there is so much room for improvement. Energy efficiency has increased at 1 per cent to 6 per cent per year for many decades and can continue at such rates for another 100 years. Combined with the population limit, the math shows that by 2100 the globe (including India and Africa) can share the current European standard of living and do it at lower total energy per year than now.

Huge resources of natural gas: Thanks to these reserves we can drastically slow our use of coal. Natural gas produces one-third to one-half the carbon dioxide for the same electric energy produced. Projections show that most of the feared global warming will come from the coal growth of the developing world; if we can help it shift to cleanly produced natural gas, we can slow the rate by two to three, giving us time to make even cleaner energy sources (solar, wind, nuclear) cheap enough for the poorer nations of the world to afford.

— Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley, co-founder of Berkeley Earth
essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 7, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Fridays for Future, 3:30PM, Grafton Street side of Province House. If it is changed due to weather, check:
Facebook event link

*Postponed from this Saturday to Saturday, February 22nd*:
Winter Woodlot Tour, 9AM-1PM, Bluefield High School.
Facebook event link

LETTER: Missing leadership and CO2 narcosis? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

EDITOR: There remain many unanswered questions for the City of Charlottetown counsellors in regards to their recent decision to not immediately support electric buses.

We feel it was a missed opportunity, potentially reflecting lack of knowledge or care surrounding emergency climate action. Or it could be they are confused from high blood levels of carbon dioxide causing mental disorientation.

Leadership, knowing that we are in a climate emergency, is called to immediate action. We have no time to wait and we are expecting them to act accordingly.

While celebrating and organizing for the increase public transport ridership, we must remember that source of bus energy is from diesel, another fossil fuel accelerating global climate change. This is causing a collapse of our ecosystems — planetary mechanisms that supply all the requirements for life. It must be noted that the overwhelming majority of planet, environmental and climate scientists tell us that we have a very tight timeline to solve this before an irreversible runaway global ecologic collapse occurs.

The local private-public transport provider needs a fleet expansion. Great, part of the climate emergency solution. However, we are at a loss as to why electric buses were not purchased now as opposed to later. Procrastination is a morbid system when any emergency action is needed. Were provincial and federal sources of funding explored? What was the nature of engagement with the transport provider and what was the consideration of paying it forward in view of the profitable growth in Charlottetown?

Until I can get a handle on some of these questions, not believing they don’t care, I remain puzzled and anxious.

Douglas Carmody MD
Summerside, PE
Member, CAPE and Fridays for Future-F4F/Extinction Rebellion

You can comment on-line regarding the Provincial Budget priorities (including transportation funding and climate crisis decisions) in their pre-budget consultations on-line, here:

Global Chorus essay for February 7

Hazel McCallion

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty,” and I take this sentiment to heart and remain optimistic that humanity will find its way past the issues which plague our global society.

The world has seen tremendous changes during its existence and while it is easy to adopt a pessimistic view of the world today in these times of seeming moral ambiguity, I do believe there is an appetite for a return to more traditional morals and values and that a paradigm shift is taking place with regard to a renewed consciousness which will hopefully lead the citizens of the world to the realization that despite our differences, we as human beings are called upon to assume responsibility for stewardship in terms of the preservation of life as we know it. It is up to each one of us to use our unique talents and gifts to find solutions to societal problems and help elevate the human condition. We also need strong leaders and visionaries to step up to the plate and lead by example, demonstrating that their actions are consistent with their professed principles; and we are fortunate to have many such individuals around the world, whose hard work and efforts in a variety of fields are making a difference every day in the lives of others.

I remain hopeful and have faith in humankind that we will do what is necessary to secure our future – not just for ourselves but for future generations – for after all, as the adage goes, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

       — Mayor Hazel McCallion, CM, LLD,  City of Mississauga (Ontario, Canada)  (mayor from 1978-2014, now Chancellor of Sheridan College)


essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 6, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Thursday, February 6th:
Today's consultations:
Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation Meeting,- ALBERTON, 2-4PM

call (902) 368-5501 or sending an email to for location
Special Committee on Climate Change-
Community Meetings:
Miscouche, Miscouche Rec Centre, 31 School Street, 6:30-8:30PM.
Facebook event link

Weather may be a factor, so local radio and websites should have postponement notices.

Saturday, February 8th:
Winter Woodlot Tour, 9AM-1PM
, Bluefield High School, Hampshire. All welcome.
"A free, fun, family-friendly event aimed at celebrating Island wildlife, forest ecosystems, and sustainable woodlot use...activities including snowshoeing and trail walks, free sleigh rides, maple syrup and chainsaw maintenance demonstrations. Learn about watershed and forest management, enjoy free hot apple cider, and much more" from the
Facebook event link
**Check on this to make sure it will still be going ahead despite the weather.**

Wednesday, February 12th:
ECO-PEI AGM and panel "The Art of Climate Change", 6:30PM
, All welcome. Beaconfield's Carriage House. All welcome. After a short, efficient AGM...the Environmental Coalition of PEI will host a panel discussion featuring three Island artists - visual artist Brenda Whiteway, filmmaker Mille Clarkes and Photographer Robert vanWaarden - who have explored climate change and its impact on people and the environment in their work."
Sad news about the passing of former provincial Progressive Conservative Party president Peter McQuaid. "A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Souris, on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 11:00am. Interment to follow in the church cemetery. If so desired, donations made to the Souris Food Bank or the Souris Regional School Athletic Program would be greatly appreciated." from:
Condolences to his family and many friends.
Editorial Opinion

No excuse to delay enforcing lands protection act - The Eastern Graphic Editorial by Paul MacNeill, publisher

Published on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020, in The Graphic publications

It was an Irving lawyer who first floated the term ‘loophole’ to describe the sale of a 2,200 acre farm to an Irving connected corporation. The term stuck. Suddenly changes made to the Business Corporation Act under the MacLauchlan government were blamed for the purchase avoiding legislated review by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

The spin implies the former government’s decision to eliminate public disclosure of corporate shareholders mitigates provisions of the Lands Protection Act.

The act, contrary to public opinion, is a strongly worded piece of legislation that sets out ownership limits for individuals and corporations. Corporations can own 3,000 acres, individuals 1,000. Purchases over five acres require approval of Executive Council.

The act is clear: ‘For the avoidance of doubt it is declared that where a person or corporation has an aggregate land holding for which permission is required under Section 4 or 5, any subsequent acquisition of a land holding by that person or corporation similarly requires such permission except where the aggregate land holding, including the land holding proposed to be acquired, is less than the maximum prescribed by that section.’

And there’s this. ‘An aggregate land holding declaration shall include particulars of the following ...

(e) the name and address of each shareholder holding more than 5 per cent of the shares and the proportion to the total number of voting shares held by each such shareholder; (f) any transfer of 10 per cent or more of the shares which has been made since the last aggregate land holding declaration.’

The Irvings want the public to believe that a short-sighted change to the Business Corporations Act legally trumps provisions of the LPA. It seems a stretch. The purchase is less about a loophole and more about an attempt to avoid public oversight.

The question is what is the King government doing about it?

Last spring, the MacLauchlan government rejected the sale of Brendel Farms Ltd to a trio of Irving related companies. The Guardian discovered that shortly thereafter the daughter of Mary Jean Irving used a share purchase agreement to buy the corporation that owns the farm, effectively avoiding public disclosure demanded by the Lands Protection Act.

It’s been six months since Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and minister responsible for the LPA, announced a ‘review’ of the purchase. The minister’s two mandates do not naturally dovetail. As agriculture minister he is charged with promoting the industry, of which potatoes account for 50 per cent of provincial farm gate receipts. Overseeing the Lands Protection Act often demands reining in the demands of agriculture and Island farmers.

It’s easy to see why former governments have all avoided having the minister of agriculture also oversee the LPA – the appearance of conflict exists regardless of what action is taken.

We don’t know if the review demanded by Thompson is an investigation as outlined in the act, or merely an exercise in developing potential changes to the LPA. Premier King campaigned on a promise to close ‘loopholes’ that allow related companies to effectively control far more land than provincial law allows.

Bringing needed change to the act is one thing, enforcement is another. The Lands Protection Act allows for fines of up to $250,000 and includes the power to force individuals or corporations to divest of property.

How this sale unfolded is a matter of public record. So why is government dawdling to respond to an action that any ordinary observer would see as a deliberate attempt to step around provincial legislation (the entity that purchased the shares, shares a mailing address with Master Packaging, owned by Rebecca Irving’s mother, Mary Jean).

This is not just a matter of whether the Lands Protection Act was violated. It’s a matter of public trust built on a growing skepticism that government is allowing corporations and individuals to run roughshod over the act.

If as a province we believe land ownership limits are important, and few would argue they are not, then the King government must break its silence and enforce the act.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at

Global Chorus essay for February 6

Diego Pacheco

According to the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the only way forward to restore the balance of human beings with Earth is through the recognition of the existence of the “rights of Mother Earth” as a collective subject of public interest, and through taking into account that the foremost objective should be the one of Living Well. The concept of Mother Earth is completely different than Nature because Mother Earth is a living being. In turn, Living Well stems from the vision of indigenous peoples that refers to living in balance and harmony with everybody and everything – where the most important thing is not human beings, but life.

The only way to keep humanity’s hope is to launch in this century the recognition of the rights of Mother Earth at a universal scale. In other words, this century should be the time for the battle for the rights of Mother Earth.

In this regard, Bolivia has carried out a revolutionary step through enacting the “Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well” (October 2012), which is oriented to move Bolivian public planning and financial resources investment toward Living Well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth.

After a tough process of negotiation at the United Nations, “Living Well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth” has been acknowledged as a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable development (UNEP/GC.27/CW/L.2/Add.3).

The next step is to recognize the universal rights of Mother Earth.

    — Diego Pacheco, PhD,  Head of Delegation for Bolivia in the Convention on Biological Diversity---------------------------------

essay from Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet

edited by Todd E. MacLean

copyright 2014

February 5, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Market is open for lunch with some selected food vendors selling take-out from 10AM-2PM. There is coffee service each weekday, 6AM-2PM, also, from Caledonia House.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 6th:
Documentary: Hands On: Women, Climate, Change, 7PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall Room 242, admission by donation.
News, a campaign, and an appeal, from , the global climate movement.

From Atiya Jaffar, digital Campaigner for in Canada
Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Dear friends,

Earlier today, we got some bad news when the Federal Court of Appeals dismissed a number of Indigenous-led legal challenges to the TransMountain pipeline approval.1 As I was reading the decision, I kept thinking back to the first time Justin Trudeau approved this project back in 2016.

When his cabinet made that decision, they ignored the impacts the project would have on communities, on the land, and the climate. They made a political decision, hoping they could avoid its moral consequences.

Today, Trudeau and his cabinet are trying to do the same thing again. In about three weeks, they will decide whether or not to approve the Teck Frontier Mine, the largest tar sands mine ever proposed.

Teck Frontier is a climate disaster. If built, it would lock us into decades of new oil extraction that projects like TransMountain – as well as Line 3, and Keystone XL – are being built to service. We can’t let it move forward.

That’s why right now, I need your help to raise the stakes for Justin Trudeau and his cabinet. We need to make it clear that Teck isn’t a political decision, it’s a moral one. And, if they approve the Frontier mine, that decision will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Will you help out?
("Rejeck Teck" campaign page link)

So here’s the plan:

Next week, when MPs are back in their home ridings, we’re going to cover communities across Canada with pictures of Trudeau and his cabinet ministers from 2050. Pictures like this:

Justin Trudeau (apparently having ditched the beard) imagined in 2050, to urge him to act appropriately NOW, from the campaign

Trudeau and his cabinet have a chance to choose a different path. But we have to act quickly and boldly before the end of the month to help them see it. Tell Trudeau and his cabinet to imagine 2050 and reject Teck.

This is our government’s chance to imagine two versions of 2050. In one, climate impacts, such as devastating wildfires and floods, get worse across Canada and around the world. In the other, they choose a Green New Deal where no communities, no workers, and no person has been left behind. To all of us, the right choice is easy. But we know from our experience with TransMountain that Justin Trudeau and his cabinet won’t make the right decision unless we force them to.

Rejeck Teck donation page link
(with the other posters in the imagine 2050 campaign)


PS -- Even after today’s disappointing decision, Indigenous communities are keeping up their fight for justice. Donate to support their efforts.(Pull Together legal challenge page link)

1 -CBC News story: In a major victory for Trans Mountain, Federal Court dismisses Indigenous appeal of project's approval
Global Chorus essay for February 5
Craig Kielburger

Our world is facing enormous challenges: social injustices, debilitating poverty, environmental degradation and countless armed conflicts on every scale. We can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed, but we cannot be forgiven for inaction. We know that a single person with courage in their heart is as good as a majority. This might conjure the image of the solitary figure standing up to a parade of tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. But it’s also the teen that gets his peers to wear pink clothes to school, effectively eliminating the damaging actions of a bully. Did both of these actions take courage? Of course. Did both make a real difference? You’d better believe it.

Human history is rife with unthinkable atrocities – slavery, genocide, segregation. Yet these always meet an end because individuals stand up and declare, “This is not right and I am responsible for finding a solution.” Such courage, responsibility and action gave rise to the Underground Railroad that enabled slaves in the United States to escape to freedom in Canada in the 19th century; helped General Roméo Dallaire thwart even more mass killings in Rwanda in the 1990s; and helped abolish segregation in the U.S. in the 1960s and apartheid in South Africa in 1994. And, right now, courage, responsibility and action are helping on playgrounds and in schoolyards more than you might know.

Young people have always been at the forefront of social change. And today, they are ready to “be” that change. We see it in the faces of the 70,000 young people who attend We Days each year, earning admittance through their volunteer work. Single-day showcases for an entire movement, We Days are a series of signature Free the Children stadium events full of youth who come together to celebrate their volunteer accomplishments, to learn about social issues from the world’s leading humanitarians and to formulate a plan. More importantly, we see it in the actions of these young people. “Passive bystander” isn’t in their collective vocabulary. Neither are “impossible,” “unrealistic,” “never” or “hopeless.”

Children are our hope. And if generations to come are instilled with the same compassion, those world-beating challenges aren’t so overwhelming after all. Suddenly, those problems don’t really stand a chance.

— Craig Kielburger, children’s rights activist, co-founder of Free the Children (now WE Charity) and Me to We

Current links:
"WE Charity, formerly known as Free The Children, is an international development charity and youth empowerment movement founded in 1995 by human rights advocates Marc and Craig Kielburger." definition from Wikipedia, website is:

"ME to WE is an innovative social enterprise that provides products that make an impact, empowering people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices." from:

The Facebook page WE Movement (which you could follow) highlights what's going on in the WE movement, and the frequency of the WE Days and learning opportunities is astounding.

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 4, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews


Tuesday, February 4th:

Together Towards Gender Equality: IDW 2020 Panel Discussion, 4PM, UPEI, AVC Atrium

"The Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC-CACI) is organizing a Panel Discussion Together Towards Gender Equality: Working Locally and Globally on Tuesday, 4 February at 4:00 pm, in the Atlantic Veterinary College Atrium (AVC 285), University of Prince Edward Island. This event celebrates the 30th anniversary of the International Development Week.
Speakers include:
Jane Ledwell
Elder Dr. Judy Clark
Dr. Jennifer Taylor
Dr. Jean Mitchell
Dr. Janis MacLellan-Peters
Dr. Patricia Altass
Dr. Susan Hartley,
and Ann Wheatley from the Cooper Institute.
The event is free and all are welcome to attend.
Contact ( as soon as possible to reserve a space

Nature PEI Meeting and "Members' Night", 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, all welcome.

A reminder about the Tuesday/Thursday
Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation Meetings

Each session is scheduled from 2-4PM in a location only given at "pre-registration"
call  (902) 368-5501 or sending an email to

  • Tuesday, February 4th, Montague (storm date February 5)

  • Thursday, February 6th, Alberton (storm date February 7)


UPEI's Student Newspaper, The Cadre, has updated its look with a more blog-style website, and still has timely articles like this: 

Reduce first: being more eco-friendly in 2020 - The Cadre article by John Ployer

Published around January 10th, 2020

The state of the environment is one of the most pressing issues of the day and more than ever people are trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Despite the desire to make an impact, many struggle with how to best utilize the principles of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

While all three principals are important, one environmentalist at UPEI recommends people first start with “reduce.”

Indra Johnson, the incoming Chair of the Environment Society, recommends students practice what they call “no-buy,” a personal method which consists of training oneself to buy less.

“It’s like training yourself to realise that you don’t need certain types of things, or as much of certain things,” Johnson says.

“Obviously people have to buy things, so when you must buy, keep it to necessities, talk yourself out of those things you don’t need.”

Johnson says that at first this may be difficult, but it’s a mindset you can work on over time.

“It takes practice, similar to how you would practice yoga or anything else. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.”

When you do buy, Johnson says, it is important to buy from the right places. Johnson recommends buying local, thrifting, and looking for eco-labels on products.

Small and local businesses are usually more ethical and more sustainable, especially when it comes to buying food.

For those unsure on how to avoid buying things, Johnson recommends starting by trading with people you know whenever possible, mending your clothes rather than just throwing them away, and making things you can use instead of buying them.

Many reusing activities such as mending, sewing, and DIYing are often considered forms of self care, which many students can benefit from, especially when done with friends.

Specific to students, Johnson recommends bringing travel mugs to Tim Hortons and the Fox & Crow.

The “no-buy” philosophy can also be used to save money, which students usually appreciate. Johnson recommends buying in bulk and cooking at home rather than eating out as strategies that cut down on waste while also saving students money.

Johnson says that UPEI students have a unique role to play because we have access to many opportunities to get involved, and above all, community action allows us to make a difference as a collective.

“There’s a value of community involvement. That’s a huge part of it, to get involved, and students are in a unique position to get involved because they have access to the university, will have influence through the jobs we will land after graduating.”

Students also have each other to learn from or work together with. Those looking to get involved with the Environmental club are welcome to contact Indra at

Global Chorus essay for February 4
Frances Beinecke

The future of all humankind is on a collision course with our global dependence on fossil fuels. From the Arctic Ocean to the Niger Delta, from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, we are imperilling the natural systems that support life itself. We are poisoning our land, polluting our skies and putting our oceans, forests and rivers at risk in our rapacious pursuit of oil, gas and coal. And, when we burn these fuels, the carbon pollution that’s left behind disrupts our climate and threatens us all.

We can protect our people, safeguard our families and sustain our communities, large and small, by turning away from this crippling addiction to fossil fuels. We can create a future of prosperity, security and health for a widening circle of people everywhere, by ending this cycle of degradation and harm. And we can ensure a more hopeful future for the children of the world, when we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

We have seen, in our lifetime, the kind of change that is possible when people rally around a common belief that, together, we can build a more hopeful future. We can build entire new industries borne of human innovation, creativity and vision. We can put our people back to work today in the careers of tomorrow, building the next generation of energy efficient homes, cars and workplaces. And we can lay the groundwork for human progress and change by investing in wind, solar and other sources of clean, sustainable, renewable power. We have it within us to do this, not overnight, but over time. We owe our children that much. And the time to begin is now.

—Frances Beinecke, (former) president of the Natural Resources Defense Council

A short but wonderful biography of her:


essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 3, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Some of the many Events coming up:

Today, Monday, February 3rd:
Coffee with Karla, 10AM,
Founders' Hall. The District 12, Charlottetown-Victoria Park MLA Karla Bernard will be there. More info: or call (902) 940-3633.

Federal Green Party Fall Convention/Leadership Convention Rules announcement, 10:30AM, Delta Hotel
"The Green Party of Canada will announce the rules for its upcoming leadership contest at a news conference in Charlottetown on Monday. Interim Green Party Leader Jo-Ann Roberts will make the announcement. Ms. Roberts will be joined by P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, federal Green candidates and Green Party MLAs for the announcement. The Green Party will be holding its biennial convention where it will announce the new leader, in Charlottetown, on October 3, 2020."

Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 4th:
Together Towards Gender Equality: IDW 2020 Panel Discussion, 4PM, UPEI, AVC Atrium

"The Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC-CACI) is organizing a Panel Discussion Together Towards Gender Equality: Working Locally and Globally on Tuesday, 4 February at 4:00 pm, in the Atlantic Veterinary College Atrium (AVC 285), University of Prince Edward Island. This event celebrates the 30th anniversary of the International Development Week.
Speakers include Jane Ledwell, Executive Director, Advisory Council on the Status of Women; Elder Dr. Judy Clark, Elder-in-Residence in University of PEI, Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Professor, Department of Applied Human Sciences, UPEI; Dr. Jean Mitchell, Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, UPEI; Dr. Janis MacLellan-Peters, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, UPEI; and Dr. Patricia Altass, MLA for Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke with (Co-Chairs) Dr. Susan Hartley, Global Peace Advocate and Ann Wheatley from the Cooper Institute.
The event is free and all are welcome to attend."
Contact ( as soon as possible to reserve a space

Nature PEI Meeting and "Members' Night", 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, all welcome.

Thursday, February 6th:
Film Screening:
Women, Climate, Change, as part of International Development Week 2020 activities, 7-10PM, UPEI, KC Irving Chemistry Centre (ICC), Room 104, hosted by Cinema Politica. Admission by donation.
"International Development Week is a national initiative that seeks to inspire Canadians, and youth in particular, to learn more about, and contribute actively to, global issues initiatives. It is a week full of events, activities, and opportunities to learn about what local-global initiatives are happening near you and how you can become involved.
This film profiles five women from four continents tackling climate change through policy, protest, education and innovation. The film powerfully demonstrates how women are transferring knowledge and local networks into hands-on strategies. This 48-minute collaborative documentary offers unique perspectives across cultures and generations; A young woman challenges the expansion of oil rigs in the North Sea while a seasoned community organizer interprets satellite weather reports for fisherman struggling to survive on India’s increasingly volatile coast."
One of the five women featured in the documentary is Jasmine Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation (Canada) [who] is leading a coalition to prevent efforts to build a tar sands pipeline across her community that threatens water security and contributes to global warming."
There are few daytime Legislative Standing Committee meetings scheduled this week, but the once-weekly evening ones gathering public information regarding meeting our Climate Change targets begin this week.
"The committee will meet to receive public input on how the province can best meet its Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction targets, as per the terms of Motion 37. A presentation on the context of climate change will be provided by the UPEI Climate Lab."

Interested individuals or groups who want to "present" to the Committee are strongly encouraged to *register* for a time slot at the meeting of their choice. Contact the Committee Clerk at or 902-368-5525
These meetings are not going to be live-streamed.

Special Committee on Climate Change-Community Meetings:
Thursday, February 6th: Miscouche, Miscouche Rec Centre, 31 School Street
Thursday, February 13th: Tignish, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6, 221 Phillip Street
Thursday, February 20th: Rustico, Cymbria Lions Club Community Centre – 2184 Church Road
Thursday, February 27th: Morell, Morell Fire Hall, 15 Park Street
Thursday, March 7th: Summerside, Loyalist Country Inn & Conference Centre, 195 Heather Moyse Drive, Summerside

Unless I am missing it, I don't see one scheduled for Charlottetown yet.
A reminder about the Tuesday/Thursday
Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation Meetings
Each session is scheduled from 2-4PM in a location only given at "pre-registration"
call (902) 368-5501 or sending an email to
  • Tuesday, February 4th, Montague (storm date February 5)
  • Thursday, February 6th, Alberton (storm date February 7)
  • Tuesday, February 11th, Charlottetown (storm date February 12)
  • Tuesday, February 18th, Summerside  (Storm date February 19) - Simultaneous interpretation in both official languages available at this session.
Friday, February 14th:
Fundraising Dinner and Entertainment: A Very Romantic Black-Tie Affair, 6:15PM, Kings Playhouse, Georgetown.
"All profits will be split evenly between the Montague Food Bank, and the PEI Chapter of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Tickets may be obtained by calling Vivian Dourte of Montague Food Bank at 902-213-3676, Kent Myers of Canadian Foodgrains Bank 902-218-4621 or email committee members Frank Dourte:, Gerald Cressman:, or Ray Brow: "
Wiarton Willie, the Ontario woodchuck tasked with foretelling the end of winter in that part of Canada, was strangely omitted from the list of Marmota monax yesterday. Thanks to the sharp-eyed person who noticed that.

A truly awful picture of the confined rodent and beaming Ontario politicians, taken yesterday, is here:
Global Chorus essay for February 3
Ervin Laszlo

A crisis is both a danger and an opportunity. With conscious, purposive people, it is above all an opportunity. It is the opportunity to be the first generation of a new world, and not the last generation of an old world. We can build a new world because a crisis sweeps away the useless remnants of the old and makes space for the new.

The new has to be truly, fundamentally new. We cannot build a new world on an old foundation. The new world calls for new thinking because, as Einstein said, we cannot solve today’s problems with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to them. But new thinking is available and it is already here – all around us, at the leading edge of the emerging cultures. It is thinking in terms of relations and processes, of interconnection and evolution, more exactly of co-evolution. For a new world can only be evolved together, by you and by me and by every thinking and responsible woman and man on the planet.

Start thinking in these terms yourself, because you yourself need to be the “shift” that you want to see in the world – the shift that we all want to see – because we all need it, so as to allow the new world to rise, as a phoenix, from the ashes of the old.

— Ervin Laszlo, chancellor of Giordano Bruno University, president of the Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study

essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 2, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Happy Groundhog's Day!
Sunday, February 2nd:
Summerside launch of Mammals of Prince Edward Island and Adjacent Marine Waters, 2PM, Eptek Centre. (Authors)..."Kim Riehl will present the marine mammals and Rosemary Curley the terrestrial mammals. Books will be on sale at the launch. All are welcome."
Speaking of mammals....from Environment and Climate Change Canada's WeatherCAN app
Groundhog Day
On the morning of February 2, groundhogs around the country will be poked, prodded and pulled from their burrows supposedly to determine the prospects for an “early spring”. This popular tradition has grown from an unlikely mixture of ancient superstitious mythology, marmot biology and TV and film promotion.
Legend has it that watching a groundhog emerge from its burrow can determine the weather forecast for the coming weeks. Accordingly, if it is a sunny day and the groundhog sees its shadow, it goes back to sleep for six more weeks of winter. If the weather is cloudy and the groundhog does not see its shadow, it stays outside, meaning that the worst of winter is over and spring will soon arrive.

Canadian meteorological data however proves that the groundhogs success rate is really quite low! Meteorological data from 13 Canadian cities over the past 30 to 40 years indicates that there have been an equal number of sunny and cloudy days on February 2nd. During this period, the groundhogs predictions were correct only 37 per cent of the time. Given that 33 per cent accuracy can occur by chance, a score of 37 per cent is no better than a coin toss!

Canadian groundhogs:
Balzac Billy in Alberta,
Brandon Bob and Winnipeg Willow in Manitoba,
Gary the Groundhog (Kleinburg) and Oil Springs Ollie in Ontario,
Fred la marmotte (Val d’Espoir) in Québec,
Two Rivers Tunnel (Cape Breton Island) and
Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia.

Breaking News
Sadly, the Groundhog Day ceremony in Shubenacadie,NS has been cancelled due to impending weather conditions.


Not so sad news -- perhaps we can figure out ways of celebrating weather traditions without hassling resting ground mammals.
I am not sure of the follow-up to this Guardian story from June 2019:

P.E.I. wants to send this invasive groundhog packing - The Guardian article by Jim Day

Published on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 in The Guardian

A groundhog’s days on P.E.I. may soon be over. Garry Gregory, a wildlife biologist with the province, says one and possibly two groundhogs have recently been spotted on the prowl in Charlottetown.

“It’s very unusual for us to have groundhogs on P.E.I.,’’ says Gregory. “They are not native to here, so we are not supposed to have them.’’

He says the first reported sighting in the province of a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, was about two years ago in the West Royalty area of Charlottetown. He can think of only a couple of scenarios of how one or more groundhogs could end up in P.E.I.

One, which he considers quite unlikely, would have the critter climbing into a truck for a free lift. The other ticket to Prince Edward Island could be for the animal to be intentionally brought here before escaping or being released.

Gregory says efforts are made to limit non-native species, like groundhogs, being introduced to P.E.I. The province is engaging the service of a professional trapper in hopes of capturing the groundhog or groundhogs spotted roaming Charlottetown. A health assessment will then be made by a veterinarian, and the animals can then be released in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. Groundhogs are native to both of those provinces.

To report a groundhog sighting on P.E.I., call 902-368-4683.

Global Chorus essay for February 2
Lama Surya Das

In recent years, and especially since 9/11, following the news tends to make me feel unhappy and even slightly depressed, if not entirely despairing. What kind of world are we greysters leaving for the younger generations, I sometimes wonder. How are we gonna solve the large-scale and seemingly intractable problems we face? We are certainly gonna lose plenty of species along the way, flora and fauna both, but this seems inevitable.

Yet whenever I meet and look into the eyes of young people, I feel an irrational surge of hope and gratification. They remind of my own and friends’ earthshaking, idealistic Sixties energy and collective efforts, and I see how very capable they are of stepping outside the box for creative ideas and new solutions. Just look at recent technological innovations which have wrought tremendous social and economic changes! Also, the younger coming generations seem to have realized that it is necessary to be doing things together in order to accomplish much of anything.

Being a realistic optimist, I know that – no matter what the doomsdayers and naysayers may say – it’s not over till the Fat Lama sings – and this fat lama ain’t done yet!

I too have my own shoulder joined with theirs, pushing on the great wheel of evolutionary consciousness. And I like to recall the ancient rabbinical wisdom from the Talmud: “To save one soul is to save the world.” The source of my own inspiration remains undimmed.

— Lama Surya Das, authorized lama in the Tibetan Buddhist order, founder of the Dzogchen Center, author of Awakening the Buddha Within and Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now, affectionately called “the American Lama” by the Dalai Lama
Websites about Surya Das: and
essay from
Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014

February 1, 2020

Chris Ortenburger's CANews

Farmers' Markets:
Summerside -- 9AM-1PM
Charlottetown -- 9AM-2PM

This morning:
Snowshow the Winter River area, 10AM-12noon, Bring your own snowshoes.
Our annual snowshoe event (or hike) is Saturday February 1 this year. As usual, we ask everyone to meet at the parking lot for the Winter River trail at 10am.
After hiking along the Winter River, participants will be invited to the private family cabin of one of our volunteers, where we will warm up with some chili and hot chocolate, along with enjoying some sweet treats. After leaving the cabin, participants can take the short route back to the parking lot, or feel free to independently explore some other areas of the Winter River trail system.... For more information contact Sarah at 902-314-9293 or or by sending a message on Facebook. More details at:
Facebook event link
Thanks for passing this on, Ray, and it makes fascinating reading when thinking about local food, and where the rest of the food comes from (the article is from a United States' perspective)
published last Fall:

The first map of America’s food supply chain is mind-boggling
Most of our food is moved across great distances—and through many different forms of transit—before it reaches our plates.
by Megan Konar

(link only)
Thinking about those new Charlottetown (diesel) busses on order...this is from the David Suzuki Foundation.

More federal transit money, e-buses could be climate lifesavers - David Suzuki Foundation article by David Suzuki with contributions from Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst Gideon Forman

Published on Friday, January 31st, 2020
Written by David Suzuki with contributions from Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst Gideon Forman -- webpage link

If we’re going to tackle the climate crisis, we have to reduce transportation emissions. Good public transit — fast, reliable, affordable — can help by weaning us off of gasoline-burning automobiles.

Especially important to address the climate crisis is transit that runs on electricity, which could be subways, light rail or trolley and battery-powered buses.

Subways are only practical in population-dense cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Light rail is great in many settings. Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo have light rail, and Toronto is building a crosstown system that will massively benefit the city, especially in neighbourhoods not currently well-served by rapid transit. But one vehicle is often overlooked: the all-electric bus.

E-buses have many virtues. They can be built quickly — no small thing during the escalating climate emergency.

Bus electrification is part of an overall move to electrify most of our economy. David Suzuki Foundation policy analyst Tom Green’s 2019 report, “Zeroing in on Emissions,” says we need to “electrify just about everything.” He writes, “Multiple research projects have concluded that electrifying as much as possible will be a pillar of Canada’s decarbonization effort.”

Transportation is the second-largest source of Canadian greenhouse gases, eclipsed only by the oil and gas sector. In 2017 (the year with the most recent data), transportation in Canada accounted for a staggering 174 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent; oil and gas development contributed 195 million tonnes.

Emissions-reduction benefits of e-buses are considerable. Even in provinces like Alberta, where power is generated mostly by burning fossil fuels, electric buses stack up well against diesel. Clean Energy Canada, a think tank at Simon Fraser University, says, “When plugged into Edmonton’s grid, a battery-electric bus is expected to emit 38% to 44% less CO2 than a diesel equivalent — and as the electricity gets cleaner, so will the buses.” A 2019 David Suzuki Foundation report, “Shifting Gears,” states, “Electrification of buses would further reduce the GHG impacts of transit use.”

E-bus production can also strengthen Canada’s clean tech sector and create jobs. Our country has a number of companies that produce vehicles for domestic and international markets. New federal funding could give these businesses — including Quebec-based Nova Bus and Winnipeg’s New Flyer Industries — an additional boost.

There could even be benefits for national unity. The buses could support manufacturers and transit riders throughout the country, demonstrate Ottawa’s commitment to ensuring all regions reach their potential and advertise the message, “This clean-air transit service supported by the Government of Canada.”

It’s something the federal government should consider seriously as it prepares this year’s federal budget.

During the election, the Liberals — who formed a minority government — pledged to make transit funding permanent (as opposed to occasional) and said this money would increase by $3 billion annually. They also said that, starting in a few years, transit investments would be for buses and rail that don’t emit carbon.

The prime minister’s mandate letter to Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna tasked her with fulfilling these promises: “Make the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent and rise with the cost of construction over time. Ensure that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail systems starting in 2023.” 

These are good policies, and we need to ensure they’re implemented — even enhanced — quickly. Scientists tell us we must reduce emissions dramatically within the decade. 

To capture these opportunities and prevent electric bus manufacturing from going to the U.S., the government needs to act fast. Clean Energy Canada argues, “Canada is home to multiple North-America-leading e-bus manufacturers that, as the world moves to electrify transit, are well-positioned to capitalize — provided transit authorities and policy makers seize the opportunity.” 

Some cities have already purchased e-buses, but the numbers are relatively small. Toronto just bought 60 (out of a total fleet of some 2,000 buses) and Edmonton recently ordered 40 (out of about 1,000). These are good steps, but new federal money could turbocharge them.
Ottawa plans to fund zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2023. This means the feds could pay for diesel-burning buses for another three years. In a climate crisis, that doesn’t make sense. 

Canadian technology can produce high-quality electric buses (and good jobs) now. In the upcoming federal budget, let’s make cleaner, healthier public transportation a priority.

Global Chorus essay for February 1
Charles Eisenstein

Let’s not delude ourselves: according to what we commonly understand to be realistic, the situation is hopeless. To remedy the afflictions of our planet – climate change, tree die-offs, nuclear waste, marine collapse, violence, intolerance, inequality – would require a miracle. It just isn’t realistic to expect change of the necessary magnitude any time soon.

That doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless. It just means we cannot be too realistic. You see, what we take to be real, practical and possible is far too narrow. It is based on the world-story that has long carried industrial civilization, and which is quickly unravelling today.

It is a story of separation: individuals separated from each other, humanity separated from Nature, self separated from world. It casts us into an inanimate universe in which the qualities of self – intelligence, purpose, intentionality, consciousness – are the province of human beings alone. In such a world, humanity’s destiny is to triumph over the hostile or inanimate Other through the exercise of force, measurement, planning and control.

As multiple crises reveal the bankruptcy of that ambition, we are awakening to a new (and ancient) story: of interconnection, of interbeing. Therein lies a new and expanded realism. Miracles await us in the margins, in the holistic, alternative, radical, ecological, non-violent and, above all, the indigenous. Sometimes we experience the “impossible” personally. Sometimes we glimpse the future in events like Tahrir Square or Gezi Park, when without money or planning, the unthinkable becomes possible overnight.

In the new story, we know that everything in the world mirrors something in ourselves, and that therefore even the smallest actions can have vast consequences. We learn to listen to the intelligence of the world, to recognize what wants to be born, and to orient ourselves toward service to, and not control over, other beings and the planet. In that state of service, it is as if an invisible power orchestrates changes beyond our contrivance, and we find that the unrealistic people were right all along.

— Charles Eisenstein, author of The Ascent of Humanity, Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

essay from Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet
edited by Todd E. MacLean
copyright 2014