Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Earth Hour 2009 a huge success
Earth Hour 2009
was a total worldwide success with 3,937 cities and towns turning out their lights, across 88 countries.
With almost a billion people mobilized, Earth Hour 2009 was the biggest environmental demonstration in history! Millions of Canadians took part all across the nation, along with nearly 1,000 businesses, helping to make our skylines go dark.
This year we welcomed new participation from people in countries such as India and China, and welcomed back the countries that celebrated Earth Hour in 2008.
Here is an overview of the Canadian cities’ effort in turning off their lights for One important Hour.
(c) Sir Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton during Earth Hour
(c) Will Ivy/Ivy Images/WWF-Canada Toronto photo
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Newsletter: Spring, bearer of good news in sustainability !
||A High Road To Travel
When we fail to obstruct the trail of those who would commit injustice, we do nothing less than to pave their path forward.The real cause of inaction is quite simple; it is...
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Social Development Foundation asks support for the Mushahars in Navtan
By Vidya Bushan Rawat
On March 17th, 2009 in the night, fire caught about 28 families in the Mushahar basti of Navatan, village in Deoria district. All the huts were burnt to ashes. As you know Mushahars live in thatched huts only and a majority of them are completely landless and do not even have land to build their houses. They are a thoroughly disempowered community. In the Kushinagar and Deoria districts, many Mushahars died because of hunger in the past 10 years.
The Governments schemes are not reaching them. Politicians do not visit them as they remain a minority in the village and mostly the politicians will use them at the end. So far no government aid has reached them. The local officials have visited yet nothing has happened.
SDF is working in the area and you know with our intervention, we are running an informal school in Malwabar Mushahar basti. Mid day meal is being served in this school with the support of MCKS Food for Hungary Foundation, New Delhi.
SDF wants to rehabilitate the community and adopt the village. We would like your support both in kind and in cash to rehabilitate them. At the moment they need ration and other essential commodities. Even a small gesture of yours will change the lives of about 28 families. A list of families will soon be released.
For Social action, land rights, right to food and hunger issues support Social Development Foundation at www.thesdf.org
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Earth Hour, March 28th - One important hour
One Important Hour
Will turning off the lights for one hour really make a difference in combating climate change?
Unlikely. However, if you plan to participate in the Earth Hour event happening on March 28th from 8:30 pm – 9:30pm, you will be doing so to send a message – that the sum of our individual actions is important and CAN make a big difference.
What can you do during that hour? Loads, but from the perspective of a parent with young children, here are some special suggestions:
*Go stargazing – living in an urban centre bathed in light makes it very difficult to see the stars but if most of them are off, then you might have a better chance of seeing them!
*Go on a night safari – take a walk in your neighborhood park or ravine and look (and listen!) for creatures in your area. Invite your friends’ kids – safety in numbers! I know that my 3 year old will want to dress up like she is on a safari, with a big hat and khaki shorts.
Read the entire article: www.simplegreenaction.ca
See what's happening in Montreal for Earth Hour Ideas in the dark event at the SAT
Eco-friendly KFC-Taco Bell opening in Northampton, Mass.
-- Restaurant giant Yum Brands Inc. has opened an eco-friendly KFC-Taco Bell in Northampton, Mass., marking the 11-year-old company's first attempt to seek green building certification for one of its eateries.
The restaurant is designed according to environmental goals that include cutting energy and water consumption by 30 percent and reducing CO2 emissions.
Operations at the new site are also expected to reduce waste and the amount of rubbish sent to landfills; the restaurant composts and recycles other waste, grease and used cooking oil.
The company is seeking certification for the restaurant based on the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design standards.
Today’s headline from The World Bank Group
Today’s headline from The World Bank Group
World Bank Eyes Loans To Philippines To Counter Poverty, Corruption
"The World Bank said Friday that it may provide $700 million to $1 billion to the Philippines over the next three years to finance programs on poverty alleviation and good governance. The World Bank, under its new Country Assistance Strategy, will finance both existing and new projects...." [Xinhua/Factiva]
EU Seeks Doubling Of IMF Funds
"EU leaders have agreed to seek a doubling of International Monetary Fund (IMF) resources to enable it to help countries in the global economic downturn, according to a final draft to be presented at an EU summit on Friday....It made no reference to the size of the possible EU contribution to any doubling. EU officials said late on Thursday the bloc would make a contribution of $75 billion, but wanted to consult first with other G20 countries...." [Reuters/Factiva]
Nineteen international donors
and funding agencies have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mozambican government that extends their aid for the next five years. The pledges for 2009 budget support amount to $455 million. [Xinhua/Factiva]
By 2012 all Rwandans will have access to clean water
, the Minister of State for Energy and Water Albert Butare has pledged. [The New Times (Rwanda)/Factiva]
The daily summary and other news can be found on the World Bank's external website at www.worldbank.org
A High Road To Travel
A High Road To Travel
By Jackson Kern
What is the single greatest cause of negligence and inaction in the face of destructive and despicable abuse? Why is it that despite lofty claims of “never again”, we sit idly at the sidelines of veritable human rights atrocities? And why is it that our leaders fail to take action even after the full scale and severity of such outrages unfolds?
Some cite tactical complications. “Much too difficult”, they say, “to intervene directly with military hardware; more often than not we would simply compound the situation and make matters worse, inflame local sensibilities. Not to mention we would surely incur a loss of life. A damned shame really, we do wish there was something we could do.”
This commonly heard response is in contrast to the soaring but disingenuous oratory of international diplomatic arenas. One can’t help but admire for its persistence the prolific machine of eloquent but empty condemnation; even softer measures of censure, sanction and isolation seldom take root with vigor. There clearly is a tremendous deficit of political will, and rarely has the disequilibrium between talk and walk been so pronounced.
But what if there is partnership in passivity, and complicity in complacency? There unquestionably is great suffering and injustice in our world, however far removed it may sometimes be. When we fail to actively oppose it then we in fact endorse it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran executed by direct order of Heinrich Himmler, has said it all: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil... Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
” When we fail to obstruct the trail of those who would commit injustice, we do nothing less than to pave their path forward.
The real cause of inaction is quite simple; it is silence. Your silence, my silence. A resounding, even deafening collective silence.
It is encouraging and uplifting to see the level of public participation that often swells within democracies during election years. It is equally astonishing to witness the haste with which this great tide of civic engagement recedes as soon as the last polling stations are closed. What we too often forget is that putting our candidate into office is only the first battle in a very long war. It is a war which cannot be won if the troops return to their barracks satiated by the sweet taste of a single victory.
In the United States, the leadership has failed to act time and time again because it could not be convinced that action was genuinely demanded or desired by the American people. Politicians, as all living beings, have certain instincts of self-preservation. Robust confrontation of human rights abuse, be it in the form of soft or hard power, is something that is usually not without certain political risk. As such, it is unlikely to be undertaken unless the American people demands it, and demands it with a loud voice.
High Road for Human Rights
), under the leadership of Salt Lake City’s former mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson, has embarked on a mission to make life much less comfortable for those of America’s elected officials who for too long have enjoyed the silence. Anderson seeks nothing less than a grassroots-level revolution, a revolution which will be waged not with arms but with words.
When America’s senators and members of congress have letters on their desk each day which declare never again, when her newspaper editors are compelled to regularly print articles and columns which command attention and action, and when her men and women refuse to be silent about things that matter, it will then be not the beginning of the end but at least the end of the beginning.
Obama launched a $2.4 billion program to boost development of plug-in electric vehicles in the U.S
President Barack Obama on Thursday launched a $2.4 billion program to boost development of plug-in electric vehicles in the U.S., including grants to finance domestic production of auto batteries.
He also mentioned his goal to see 1 million plug-in cars on US roads by 2015.
Speaking at an electric vehicle development facility in California, Obama said the $2 billion grant program:
"will spark the manufacturing of the batteries and parts that run these cars, build or upgrade the factories that will produce them, and in the process, create thousands of jobs right here in America."
Ontario joins the movement to make lawns and gardens green
Ontario joins the movement to make lawns and gardens green
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola
The discovery by Swiss chemist Paul Mueller in 1939 that DDT kills insect “pests” was hailed as a breakthrough. Dr. Mueller went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1948 for his work, and DDT became the most widely used pesticide in the world during the 1950s. Years later, scientists learned that DDT is “biomagnified” up the food chain, harming fish, birds, humans, and other life.
Did we learn from that? The use of chemical pesticides increased by more than 600 per cent in the last half of the 20th century. Ten years into the 21st century, we still pour millions of litres of harmful pesticides onto our food, schoolyards, lawns, and managed forests. Much of that ends up in our air and water – and us. All Canadians carry pesticides in their bodies.
But this may be changing. We still use a lot of pesticides, usually for reasons less important than killing disease-carrying insects. We spray plenty of toxic chemicals around thinking it will keep lawns and gardens looking pretty. These pesticides are referred to as “cosmetic pesticides”. The good news is that Ontario is the latest Canadian province to recognize that risking human and ecological health for the negligible benefits provided by cosmetic pesticides is foolish.
Under Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, more than 250 pesticides will be removed from the province’s store shelves by the end of April.
Quebec is the only other province to have banned these pesticides, but Prince Edward Island has announced plans for a ban, New Brunswick is considering one, and more than 100 municipalities, including Vancouver, Halifax, and Brandon, have bans in place.
The Ontario law is something the David Suzuki Foundation, along with a range of health and environmental organizations, has been pushing for.
It’s recognition that caring for the environment is also about caring for our health. But there’s more to be done – and the bans that are in place may be threatened.
To start, the Ontario law does not apply to golf courses, and some restrictions will not take effect for another two years.
And the chemical industry isn’t sitting back while governments move to protect their citizens. Dow AgroSciences, a division of U.S.-based Dow Chemical, has served notice to the Canadian government that it plans to challenge Quebec’s ban on the herbicide 2,4-D under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although Dow argues that 2,4-D has not been proven unsafe, some research shows that it may pose risks to human immune, reproductive, and endocrine systems and that it may increase the risk of cancer. Governments in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Kuwait have banned 2,4-D because of concerns about its effects on human health and the environment.
Another problem with pesticides is that they don’t discriminate. They may kill some “pests” but they often kill beneficial plants and animals as well. So, using pesticides on lawns and gardens is a band-aid solution, as the key to a healthy lawn or garden is to ensure that the soils, plants, and beneficial insects and animals are healthy.
Ironically, lawns and gardens that become chemically dependent become more susceptible to pests and disease over time and are more likely to suffer from drought and temperature extremes. Today, even in areas where the cosmetic pesticides aren’t banned, most lawn and garden care companies will offer organic options. And many stores have voluntarily pulled harmful pesticides off their shelves.
The bans are a great start, and we hope to see more provinces get on board. But they must also come with enforcement and education. Education programs are the best way to show people how easy it is to have healthy lawns and gardens without using harmful pesticides. These can be combined with programs to show how to have attractive yards using less water.
The bans also show that governments will put the interests of citizens ahead of industrial interests if people speak up. The public has led the way in getting these unnecessary chemicals off the store shelves and off our lawns. We’ve seen ample evidence through a contest launched by my foundation, called David Suzuki Digs My Garden. It allows participants to share stories, photos, and tips about pesticide-free gardening. The response has been great. People from every part of Canada have told us how easy and satisfying it is to grow healthy gardens without using harmful chemicals.
It truly is a growing movement, and we can only hope that as it blossoms and blooms, it will lead to even more discussion about the role of chemicals in the environment.
Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org
David Suzuki Digs My Garden Contest
CRO 100 Best Corporate Citizens List now online!
The CRO 100 Best Corporate Citizens List is now online!
This list proves that 10 years is a long time on the corporate responsibility timeline. Only three companies have made the list all 10 years: Intel, Cisco and Starbucks. Nearly 400 companies have appeared on the list over the past 10 years, including 48, by our count, that no longer exist. Also, this year’s No. 1, Bristol-Myers Squibb—along with No. 5 HP—represents this year’s greatest comeback story. While both have been long-time strong performers on the responsibility front, they sat in the Penalty Box last year.
Over 10 years, the 100 Best List has gained a pretty high media profile. When last year’s CRO 100 Best Corporate Citizens List appeared on Feb. 21, we noted that 158,450 people visited TheCRO.com to take a peek. In the days that followed, CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg.com, WSJ.com, MSN.com and over four dozen dailies and countless bloggers covered the list and its companies. What’s more, 76 companies that fell short contacted CRO to ask what they needed to do to make the list next year. And that’s the purpose of this ranking, as corporate responsibility is an endless race for stakeholder loyalty. The 100 Best List is the best-known annual snapshot of the leaders.
Have a peek at the list on Thecro.com
Thursday, March 19, 2009
SUPPORT WORLD WATER DAY: DIGG FOR WATER!
World Water Day
is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on to the importance of freshwater and the sustainable management of freshwater sources.
This year, to mark World Water Day, ONE DROP
is drawing attention to the cause on Digg
One Drop Foundation needs as many supporters as possible to vote for their stories and dig a cause that is not only theirs, but OURS!
This effort will hopefully allow the Foundation to make the front page on Digg and to make Web audiences aware of the urgency of action to tackle Global Water Crisis.
Everything starts with one drop and, in this case, One Digg!
From March 16-22 join us on: http://www.onedrop.org/ripple
ONE DROP is an NGO created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté to realize his dream of fighting poverty worldwide by ensuring that everyone across the planet has access to safe water, now and in the future.
For more info visit ONE DROP
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Science shows that climate change is a certain threat
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola
Why does the public often pay more attention to climate change deniers than climate scientists? Why do denial arguments that have been thoroughly debunked still show up regularly in the media?
Some researchers from New York’s Fordham University may have found some answers
. Prof. David Budescu and his colleagues asked 223 volunteers to read sentences from reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The responses revealed some fundamental misunderstandings about how science works.
Science is a process. Scientists gather and compare evidence, then construct hypotheses that “make sense” of the data and suggest further tests of the hypothesis. Other scientists try to find flaws in the hypothesis with their own data or experiments. Eventually, a body of knowledge builds, and scientists become more and more certain of their theories. But there’s always a chance that a theory will be challenged. And so the scientists speak about degrees of certainty. This has led to some confusion among the public about the scientific consensus on climate change.
What Prof. Budescu and his colleagues found was that subjects interpreted statements such as “It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent” to mean that scientists were far from certain. In fact, the term very likely means more than 90 per cent certain, but almost half the subjects thought it meant less than 66 per cent certain, and three quarters thought it meant less than 90 per cent.
According to an article in New Scientist, the researchers concluded that scientists should use both words and numbers to express certainty. For example, the IPCC considers “virtually certain” to mean more than 99 per cent likely; “very likely” to mean more than 90 per cent certain; “likely” to be more than 66 per cent; “more likely than not” more than 50 per cent; and so on.
It’s important to understand the distinctions. People who recognize the urgency of the situation are more likely to get behind solutions. And businesses and governments are more likely to work toward solutions when the public demands that they do.
And how urgent is the situation?
The IPCC has concluded it is “very likely” that human emissions of greenhouse gases rather than natural variations are warming the planet’s surface. Remember, that means they are more than 90 per cent certain. That’s about as close to unequivocal as science gets. The IPCC has also concluded that the consequences could be catastrophic.
This is science that has been rigorously peer-reviewed and that has been agreed upon by the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists, as well as more than 50 scientific academies and societies, including those of all G8 nations. There has been no peer-reviewed scientific study that has called into question the conclusions of the IPCC, which represents the consensus of the international scientific community.
So why does the debate still continue? Why are we fiddling while Rome burns?
Well, as Prof. Budescu’s research shows, some people don’t really understand how science works. And people with vested interests, many of whom work with the oil and coal industries, are all too willing to exploit that lack of understanding by sowing confusion.
It’s also true that many people fear change. We’ve seen examples of economic prosperity and job creation brought about by investments in green energy in places such as Germany and Sweden. And leading economists, including former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, have warned that not doing anything to confront climate change will cost us far more in the long run than acting now. But many people still fear that any profound change will upset the economy or diminish their quality of life.
We must also consider the rational argument for taking action on climate change. Even in the highly unlikely event that all the world’s climate scientists have got it wrong, if we still move forward to clean up our act, we’ll end up with a cleaner planet and more sustainable technologies and energy sources. On the other hand, if the scientists are right and we decide to listen to the absurd arguments of the deniers, we’re in trouble. It doesn’t seem like much of a choice.
We may never reach 100 per cent certainty on climate change and its causes – that’s not what science is about – but one thing is certain: if we don’t get together to work on solutions now we’ll have a much tougher time dealing with the consequences later.
Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at Davidsuzuki.org.
3 Easy Ways to Save Water
By Simplegreenaction.ca Staff
:Why should you make an effort to save water?
Canadians are the second most wasteful water users on the planet
UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide problem
Water prices are rising
All of the above.
The answer is obviously: d)
There are many more reasons to use water wisely. Did you know that conserving water will help you lower your energy bills? Don’t underestimate the price tag on heating water for washing…
Here are three easy water conservation tips. Please try them at home!
If you need to run the tap to get warm water for washing, use a clean bucket to capture all the litres going down the drain. This water can then be filtered, refrigerated, and good enough for you and your pets to drink.
Washing dishes or clothes by hand? Re-use the water left in the sink, by scooping it and pouring it in your plants. Plants don’t mind a little grey water. In fact some people swear by watering their plants with leftover coffee and tea. This is not recommended for all plants as certain species are less tolerant of acidity.
For Tip 3
For more tips on how to save water while taking a shower or a bath watch EcoStiletto's Rachel Sarnoff taking the Hollywood Green Water Challenge EcoStiletto's Water Challenge video
United Nations MDG Awards On March 17th 2009
United Nations MDG Awards
On March 17th 2009, the world’s attention will be focused on the United Nations as they pay tribute to individuals, organizations and nations working to implement the Millennium Development Goals.
The MDG Awards Committee is proud to announce this global broadcast event featuring an array of special guests including musicians like Julian Lennon, Akon, Macy Gray, Fiest, Mick Hucknall, Alex Kogan
international luminaries and those working to address the needs of the world’s poorest.
Awards will be given in each of the eight categories addressed by the Millennium Development Goals with an additional 9th Award: “The Lifetime Achievement Award” will be given to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who is a remarkable individual who has positively impacted the world and helped to raise the consciousness of humankind.
On behalf of the MDG Awards Committee I invite you to join us at the United Nations and be part of this historic event.
The entire concert will be filmed and people across the planet can watch it live on the internet.
More info on:
UN MDG Awards Committee
Picture :Akon, Sacha Stone & Sol Guy
“Green jobs” could help tackle global unemployment: U.N.
"Green jobs" could help tackle global unemployment: U.N.
"Planting trees to help fight climate change could create millions of jobs in the face of mass unemployment caused by the financial crisis", the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Some ten million jobs could be created by investing in restoring degraded forests, planting new trees, building forest trails and recreation areas, the U.N's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement. [Reuters]
"As more jobs are lost due to the current economic downturn, sustainable forest management could become a means of creating millions of green jobs, thus helping to reduce poverty and improve the environment," forestry expert Jan Heino of the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a statement.
"Since forests and trees are vital storehouses of carbon, such an investment could also make a major contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts," said Heino, the deputy head of FAO's Forestry Department. [Economic Times]
The Rome-based FAO cited an International Labor Organization study that sees global unemployment rising to 198 million people or higher in 2009.
The statement was made ahead of an FAO report on the state of the world's forests, which will be released on March 16 to coincide with World Forest Week in Rome.