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Water and the Sacred: The Flow from Commodity to Gift

Source: The Sacred Water Project

Source: The Sacred Water Project

If you are interested in a discussion about the privatization of water and water as a human right and sacred gift, this talk is for you.

The Pacific Water Research Centre in the Faculty of Environment at SFU is pleased to invite you to a free public presentation and discussion presented by Dr. Stephen Scharper, School of the Environment, University of Toronto.

Water and the Sacred: The Flow from Commodity to Gift
Thursday April 7th
7:00 pm

SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W Hastings St, Room 1900

In recent years, the privatization of water, including its bottling and marketing as a commodity, has been heralded as an effective measure to help ensure clean drinking water in future. Such commodification, however, has been opposed by ethicists, religious leaders and First Nation communities who claim water is both a human right and a sacred gift. With over 780 million persons today lacking access to drinking water, and increased threats to clean water owing to climate change and environmental degradation, the contemporary water debate is indeed a matter of life and death for much of the world.

Key, but sometimes overlooked, elements of this debate are the underlying assumptions and worldviews, which infuse this conversation.  From Hindu scientists who advocate the protection of the Ganges for both its ecological value and divine nature, to Pope Francis, who has declared access to clean water an “unalienable right,” this presentation will explore various tributaries of this debate, and tap into the sundry underlying worldviews and assumptions from which it springs. The blending of human rights concerns with religious and cultural worldviews embracing the sacredness and spiritual power of water, Dr. Scharper suggests, may well represent one of the most important movements of our time.

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Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry

A fracking well in the Eagle Ford Shale region, near Karnes City, Texas. (AP Photo / Aaron M. Sprecher)

A fracking well in the Eagle Ford Shale region, near Karnes City, Texas. (AP Photo / Aaron M. Sprecher)

In a new piece in The Nation, Bill McKibben points out a major flaw in our discussions about emissions: we tend to focus on carbon dioxide, and leave out methane.

“Because burning natural gas releases significantly less carbon dioxide than burning coal, CO2 emissions have begun to trend slowly downward, allowing politicians to take a bow. But this new Harvard data, which comes on the heels of other aerial surveys showing big methane leakage, suggests that our new natural-gas infrastructure has been bleeding methane into the atmosphere in record quantities. And molecule for molecule, this unburned methane is much, much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.”

This revelation indicates that emissions may actually not have decreased in recent years. It also points to a need to reassess how we think about ‘clean’ energy and transitioning to a renewable economy.

“The global-warming fight can’t just be about carbon dioxide any longer. Those local environmentalists, from New York State to Tasmania, who have managed to enforce fracking bans are doing as much for the climate as they are for their own clean water. That’s because fossil fuels are the problem in global warming—and fossil fuels don’t come in good and bad flavors. Coal and oil and natural gas have to be left in the ground. All of them.”

Read more from the article here.

 

 

 

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Federal Budget: Good News for Adaptation

renewable

Source: CBC; Reuters.

Canada’s federal budget was announced yesterday, and it includes some good news for adapting to climate change.

From CBC: 

“The environment is mentioned often in the budget, with measures scattered throughout the document, in chapters on everything from taxes to trade. The budget includes money for a long shopping list of promises made in the Liberal election platform.

“They include:

  • $518 million for local governments to strengthen their infrastructure to withstand a changing climate.
  • $2 billion for a clean water and wastewater fund for cities and provinces to improve their water infrastructure and wastewater treatment.
  • $63 million over two years to build charging stations for electric vehicles and hydrogen and natural gas refuelling stations.
  • $128.8 million over five years to deliver energy efficiency programs to retrofit buildings and to improve standards for vehicles and products.
  • Launching regional discussions to identify the most promising projects to expand electricity infrastructure.

“Essentially, the government plans to fix up the nuts and bolts of the country’s infrastructure and do it in an environmentally friendly way.”

Read more from the article here.

What do you think of the budget? What does it address well, and what is left out? Does this budget do enough on mitigation, too?

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Vancouver 2032: A Better World is Possible

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Do you imagine a future Vancouver that is beautiful, green and sustainable? Or is it marked by loneliness, unaffordable housing and ecological collapse?

Check out this book launch event, this Wednesday at the Vancouver Public Library:

Vancouver 2032: A Better World is Possible, with Guy Dauncey and the David Suzuki Foundation
Wednesday March 23rd
Vancouver Public Library, Alice Mackay Theatre, 350 West Georgia St
7:00 pm

In the book, 24-year-old Patrick Wu makes a four-day visit to the future. He finds a city brimming with innovation and hope. The climate crisis is being tackled, affordable housing options have been created, the solar revolution is underway and a new green cooperative economy is taking shape. But enormous danger still lurks.

After being present at Guy’s presentation in Metchosin, Karyn Woodland wrote, “Don’t miss this visually stunning presentation, delivered with passionate enthusiasm. Guy not only shows what is possible, he will motivate you to become the change you want to see.”

The event is free, offered in association with the David Suzuki Foundation. For details about the book, see www.journeytothefuture.ca.

Guy Dauncey is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, an Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC, a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation, and the author or co-author of ten books.

Click here for the Facebook link for this event.

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Petition: Couple Infrastructure Spending with Climate Action

1mclimatejobsbanner

Check out this new petition, calling for the federal government to couple their expected infrastructure spending with climate action by focusing on a clean economy and green jobs:

“We have an opportunity to turn things around. The Federal budget is expected to contain billions of dollars for infrastructure and grants for innovators and job makers. The big question: does oil get bailed out, or does our government invest in building the clean economy with the safe, clean and rewarding jobs we need?

“We know the Government has the best intentions for the country, and we just need to show them people across the country will support them if they make a shift towards a new economy. If we all join our voices, we can make a strong final push to show the government that we want public investment in clean technologies and industries that can get people back to work and for Canada to do its fair share in halting the climate crisis.

“Our friends at the Green Economy Network put together a plan by economists and scientists to show how the government can create One Million Climate Jobs, while meeting, if not exceeding, our Paris commitments. The plan proposes investments into:

  • Clean renewable energy that can power our homes, factories and transportation systems
  • Energy efficiency and green buildings that can help us lower our energy use, lower our energy bills and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
  • Public transit and high speed rail that can help us move within and between our cities in a more affordable, safe and efficient way”

Click here to learn more and add your name.

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UBC Student Summer Job: Green Office Program Assistant

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Please share the following summer job opportunity with your UBC networks:

Green Office Program Assistant 
20 hours/week- May to August

UBC Sustainability & Engineering is seeking a mature, highly-independent graduate student passionate about sustainability to join our team as the Green Office Program Assistant. Previous experience and/or interest in sustainability education and engagement, event coordination and outreach, community engagement, communications, program development and delivery, and community based social marketing is an asset.

This role will be responsible for supporting the Sustainability Coordinator Program and Green Office Program portfolio. The successful candidate will play a key role in assisting with the development and implementation of tools and resources to enhance resource conservation and enhance sustainable behaviours targeting staff and faculty. The candidate will also assist with the delivery of key program trainings and events, provide support to Sustainability Coordinators across campus, and provide program planning assistance to inform general program development and enhancement. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to create lasting change at the institutional level, helping to foster both behavioural and organizational change.

Click here for more information on this position.

 

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Webinar March 30: Using the SpaDES Platform to Better Forecast The Future

forestry

Getting to Answers, in SpaDES

Presenter: Eliot McIntire (Research Scientist, Pacific Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada)

When: Wednesday March 30, 2016 from 2:30pm-3:30pm ET

Empirical data have a troublesome way of being both factually true, yet difficult to understand because they exist within a complex web of even more data. Worse, forecasting what the future will look like is an even greater challenge. Scientists have, for a long time, been working on these problems, often with great success. The standard venue for reporting these results has generally been peer reviewed journals. In 2016, this is not good enough: we are now at the point that policymakers must have faster access, and in a context-appropriate way, to the forecasts made by scientists.

Data collection, analysis and model building occurs over years to decades; policymaking must adapt to governments over days, weeks, months to years. This discrepancy in the speed of activity between science and policy has been widely known. But it is nevertheless a challenge to overcome.SpaDES is a new open-modeling platform that is transforming the way we build scientific models. inSpaDES is a set of new apps that run on top of SpaDES made to run on the web or on mobile platforms. The slow progression of scientific model building can happen at its pace. The faster policy and decision making can happen at their pace. Key to all this: it doesn’t matter what field of science that models are built in, SpaDES integrates across disciplines. So the answers provided by inSpaDES are cross-disciplinary and are based on whatever the latest, updated models are.

With this integrated system, we will finally ask apparently simple questions like:

* What is the forecasted probability of a spruce budworm outbreak in Chibougamau in the next 10 years?

* What are the forecasted economic costs for the forest sector in northwestern Ontario due to climate change?

Our answers will include the underlying complexity of the forests. To give the best answers to these questions, we need to be including fires, vegetation dynamics, cumulative effects, system feedbacks, economics, climate induced mortality and growth improvements and more even if they aren’t stated in the question. During this webinar, Eliot will show the state of affairs of the SpaDES platform and the apps derived on top of it.

Click here to register for this webinar.

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Volunteer Opportunity: Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

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CPAWS National Engagement Committee: Connecting Canadians to Nature

Do you feel passionate about protecting Canada’s wilderness? Are you knowledgeable about community engagement strategies and/or innovative communications and marketing approaches? Enjoy working with a group of committed people to think through an opportunity, brainstorm ideas, and create a plan of action? If this describes you, or someone you know, then keep reading!

CPAWS is seeking 3-4 motivated people to join its board-led National Engagement Committee to help re-envision the ‘Connecting Canadians to Nature’ program area.  While traditionally this program has focused on education and transformative nature-based experiences, we see an opportunity to integrate this theme more broadly with our conservation work and overall engagement approach. The desired outcome is a ‘Connecting Canadians to Nature’ program that builds a culture of wilderness stewards and advocates working together to achieve the CPAWS vision of keeping at least half of Canada’s public lands and waters wild –forever.  We focus on protecting large, connected areas of Canada’s wilderness.

Priority Areas

Activities over the next year will include:
• Strategic discussions flushing out what this initiative looks like
• Providing input on the CPAWS Case for Support
• Researching new ideas and approaches
• Identifying and assessing specific engagement opportunities
• Generating an action plan

As we move into 2017, the group may take on additional responsibilities to support this action plan, for example, leading a targeted communications campaign or creating a resource.  Primary responsibility for implementing the action plan will reside with CPAWS staff.

Click here for more information and information on applying.

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Job Opportunity: Community Energy Administrator

CEA_Community-Energy-Association_Logo

Check out this exciting climate-related job posting:

Community Energy Association: Community Energy Administrator
Part-time
Metro Vancouver area preferred

Community Energy Association(CEA) (a non-profit society) has an entry-level position available to support senior staff in coordinating workshops, board meetings, travel, communications and research.  This is an entry-level position with the potential to advance based on individual performance and organizational needs.

The position is responsible for support functions in three activity areas.

  1. Communications – external and internal including weekly staff calls, e-newsletters, blog updates, proof reading reports and conducting research as directed by senior staff
  2. Meetings and events – including project workshops across British Columbia, quarterly CEA board meetings and member meetings, staff retreats, strategic planning sessions and other events.
  3. CEA Executive Director and staff – including staff travel and Executive meetings.

Click here for more information and to apply to this position.

 

 

 

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Free Public Talk and Discussion: From Human Spirit to Ocean Science

Vancouver_Aquarium_Logo

From Human Spirit to Ocean Science: presented by Wallace J. Nichols March 22 World Water Day

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Vancouver Aquarium, 4D Theatre
Doors Open at 6pm | Reception 6-7pm | Presentation/Discussion 7-8:30

What does water mean to you?

Wallace J Nichols, author of the New York Times best seller, Blue Mind, has started a groundbreaking conversation on the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under and near water.  Blue Mind illustrates the crucial importance of our connection to water and provides a paradigm shifting “blueprint” for a better life.

Join us for a presentation by Wallace J Nichols which combines cutting edge research with compelling personal stories that show how our proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success.

Prior to J’s talk, Ruby Lake Lagoon Society will present and launch their new research and education centre called PODS – Pender Ocean Discovery Station.

Click here to reserve your spot.

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Webinar March 17: Local and Sustainable Food Systems

REFbc Logo PMS

Finding Common Ground: Webinar March 17th

Hosted by the Real Estate Foundation of BC

Thursday March 17th, 12:00 PDT

Identifying priority actions for local and sustainable food systems

Last fall, the Ministry of Agriculture released the BC Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan.

Rebecca Salpeter, Policy Analyst at the BC Ministry of Agriculture, and Brent Mansfield, Director of the BC Food Systems Network will give an overview of the BC Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan and identify areas where actions can be prioritized towards a local and sustainable food system in BC.


SPEAKERS

Rebecca Salpeter
Policy Analyst, BC Ministry of Agriculture

Brent Mansfield
Director, BC Food Systems Network

MODERATOR

David Hendrickson
Grants Manager, REFBC

Click here to register for this free webinar.

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Mar 22: Webinar on Canadian Cities Taking Climate Action

insession

Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities Program: Canadian Cities Taking Action
March 22nd, 2016
1:00 pm ET 

Cities have a key role to play in mitigating the causes of and adapting their communities to the effects of  a changing climate. As the level of government closest to residents, municipalities are well-positioned to develop effective strategies to protect the health of people and the livability of communities.

This webinar will focus on the Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities program (BARC), which is aimed at helping communities develop and implement their climate change adaptation plans. Webinar participants will receive information on the BARC tools and methodology, as well as recommendations on how the program can best be tailored to their community’s specific needs.

Speakers:
Hana Lapp, Adaptation and Resilience Planner, ICLEI Canada
Fiona Dercole, Section Manager- Public Safety, District of North Vancouver
Karina Richters, Environmental Coordinator, City of Windsor
Moderated by: Christina Schwantes, Adaptation and Resilience Planner, ICLEI Canada

Click here to register for this webinar.

 

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Carbon Talks: Levelling the Playing Field as Vancouver Implements its Renewable City Strategy

meters

Wednesday March 23
12:30-1:30 pm

What are the roles of equity, justice and democratic process as the City of Vancouver moves forward with its energy planning?

According to the World Energy Council, energy equity is about accessibility and affordability of energy supply across the population. While cities are demonstrating climate and energy leadership, they will need to do so while ensuring affordability of renewable energy.

Vancouver has both an ambitious energy plan, as well as acute affordability issues. Is there a risk that greater use of renewable energy in the City of Vancouver will impose unequal economic burdens on different segments of the community? Could the energy plan compromise the City’s goals for social equity? What are the roles of equity, justice, and democratic process as the City moves forward with its energy planning?

Join us as for a free public dialogue as we open the discussion of energy equity and climate justice in Vancouver.

Webcast: Carbon Talks will be webcast live, thanks to the support of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. Webcast link: http://www.sfu.ca/webcast (Follow the conversation on Twitter at @CarbonTalks)

PANEL

  • Councillor Andrea Reimer, Deputy Mayor, City of Vancouver
  • Ananda Lee Tan, Organizer, Facilitator, Trainer and Guide
  • Alex Boston, Principal and Senior Planner, Boston Consulting

Click here for more information and to register.

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Online Course: Climate and Water Resources Management

comet

Check out this online course, offered by COMET (Collaborative Online Meteorology Educational Training):

Climate and Water Resources Management, Part 1: Climate Variability and Change
1-1.25 hours to complete

Climate is changing at unprecedented rates in recorded history. A variety of lines of evidence demonstrate that climate change is likely to affect the hydrologic cycle and thus create new challenges in water management. This requires that climate change information be included in water and water-related resources planning, operations, and management.

Climate and Water Resources Management, Part 1: Climate Variability and Change describes the terminology, global evidence, regional manifestations, and basic science of global climate variability and anthropogenic change, with a focus on water resources management. The lesson presents this information using rich graphics, animations, and interactions.

The intended audience for this lesson includes managers and professionals working in water resources planning under variable and changing climates. This includes people who are somewhat removed from the implementation of climate change policy, but still need to be conversant in the topic. This lesson was funded by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Find out more and take the lesson here.

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The Leaders Planning Exodus from Disappearing Shores

Source: Wired; Ciril Jazbec

Kiribati: Portrait of a family in front of their home next to a volleyball court in Tebikenikoora (Golden Beach) village. Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in Kiribati. High tide floods the court and most of the surrounding area. The government has pledged to provide funds for additional sea walls. Source: Wired; Ciril Jazbec

Sixth in a series of blogs on climate change and population displacement.

By Claire Havens, ACT population displacement researcher.

Imagine an entire nation, deciding on a date to emigrate en masse for their very survival.

Now imagine that date is rapidly approaching.

The timeline for mass exodus from the island nation of Kiribati is 2020 – less than five years away.

When a community is faced with threats to its very survival, the emergence of a strong and convincing leader to plan ahead, negotiate resources, and foster hope can be its saving grace.  Two years ago, realizing his nation was in peril, President Anote Tong spent eight million dollars to buy about 20 square kilometres of land in Fiji, initially for agricultural support. But climbing sea levels, extreme storms, acidifying ocean conditions, and crop destruction from brackish water are threatening the population of 100,000’s survival more rapidly than expected, and the land is now considered a last resort for them to move to.

Even though Fiji – which recently became the first nation to ratify the United Nations Climate Agreement reached last December in Paris – is a three hour plane ride away, it will become the Kiribatians’ new home as they flee sea level rise.

“People are getting quite scared now and we need immediate solutions. This is why I want to rush the solutions so there will be a sense of comfort for our people,” said President Tong to Radio New Zealand in mid-February.

Half a world away, another nation is moving as well – the first climate refugees in the USA.

Thirteen years of campaigning by Chief Albert White Buffalo Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians has finally brought funding for his people to be relocated from their reserve lands on the Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana.

Chief Naquin has fought hard for his band (population: 360), which has seen 98% of its traditional lands disappear since 1955 due to sea level rise, land sinking, oil and gas development, and a decline in sediment deposition from the Mississippi River. In January, the Obama administration announced $48 million in funds for the band to “relocate to a resilient and historically significant community” further north and inland. The tribe’s website notes the reasons for their abandonment of traditional territory:

“Today, the land that has sustained us for generations is vanishing before our eyes. Our tribal lands are plagued with a host of environmental problems — coastal erosion, lack of soil renewal, oil company and government canals, and a rising sea level — which are threatening our way of life on this gradually shrinking island.”

Although the band rejected a previous proposal for relocation, the island is disappearing so fast that they have now resigned themselves to leaving it behind.

Chief Naquin and President Tong are the first of their kind: leaders of climate refugees tasked with leading their people to solid ground.

Their leadership will provide lessons, and a model for hundreds of future community resettlements around the world as seas continue to rise, and storms continue to brew.

Source: Daily Kos; NOAA


Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. Source: Daily Kos; NOAA

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Pipelines or Paris? Trudeau and the premiers must choose

Source: CBC News; Adrian Wyld/ The Canadian Press

Source: CBC News; Adrian Wyld/ The Canadian Press

Yesterday, the country received news that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the first ministers had agreed to make a national climate plan. However, a much-critiqued piece of Trudeau’s vision is his assertion that pipelines need to be part of the transition to clean energy.

From Ricochet:

“Trudeau and the Liberals remain committed to the expansion of tar sands and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Amid all the talk of the importance of social license and sustainability, the government makes it clear that a driving priority, as Minister Jim Carr is fond of emphasizing, is to ‘get our resources to market.’

“The reality of the climate emergency, however, means that a government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be all things to all people. There is no sustainable way to expand oil sands production, or coal or liquefied natural gas export.

“Trudeau’s pitch for pipelines plus wind turbines runs counter to the latest evidence from both economists and scientists. As Scotiabank’s CEO pointed out recently, the low price of oil demolishes the business case for new pipeline projects like Energy East. Furthermore, there’s an opportunity cost on investing in an industry on its way out like fossil fuels. In a recent letter, dozens of scientists call on the government to prioritize investment in clean energy technology, warning that Canada is already well behind in this field.”

Read more from the article here.

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