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Renewable Communities Produce Energy, Jobs and Hope
Anishinaabe economist and writer Winona LaDuke identifies two types of economies, grounded in different ways of seeing. Speaking in Vancouver recently, she characterized one as an "extreme extractive economy" fed by exploitation of people and nature. The second is a "regenerative economy" based on an understanding of the land and our relationship to it.
We now go to extremes to access fossil fuels. Hydraulic fracturing shatters bedrock to release previously inaccessible gas, requiring large amounts of water made so toxic through the process that it must be disposed of in deep wells. We extract bitumen from Alberta's oilsands using techniques that emit more than twice as many greenhouse gases as average North American crudes. The Pembina Institute reports that 1.3 trillion liters of fluid tailings have accumulated in open ponds in Northern Alberta since oilsands operations started in 1967.
Human innovation has made it possible to extract less-accessible fossil fuels, and that's provided jobs. But environmentally, socially and economically, this extreme behavior can't continue. We need new options. We must innovate and create jobs in a regenerative economy.
In her talk, LaDuke said, "The reality is that the next economy requires re-localization of food and energy systems, because it's more efficient, it's more responsible, it employs your people and you eat better."
Re-localization is happening in communities across Canada.
The David Suzuki Foundation's new, nationwide Charged Up program is collecting stories to help inspire people to take on renewable energy projects in their communities.
In Oxford County, Ontario, local farmers, community members, the Six Nations of the Grand River and Prowind Canada launched Gunn's Hill Wind Farm in 2016. It produces enough electricity to power almost 7,000 homes.
Miranda Fuller, head of the Oxford Community Energy Co-operative, said the project helps connect people with the power they use and gives them a stake in their energy system. Its revenues are helping stabilize rural farm incomes, which helps protect local food systems and the community's way of life.
The project created about 200 jobs through development and construction. Some revenue goes to a community vibrancy fund and to student bursaries aimed at giving young people opportunities.
Fuller makes an important observation: Community-led renewable energy projects provide a way for people to become active producers of energy rather than just passive ratepayers or consumers.
Oxford County became the second local government in Canada, after Vancouver, to adopt a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Gunn's Hill makes up 15 percent of Oxford County's goal.
Indigenous communities are also innovating and leading on renewables.
Chief Patrick Michell of the Nlaka'pamux Nation in BC said meeting energy needs in concert with nature resonates with his nation's values. Nlaka'pamux is working toward food and energy self-sufficiency. The Kanaka Bar Indian Band, one of 17 bands in the nation, has solar projects and has partnered with Innergex Renewable Energy and others on a run-of-river project to generate power and income.
"What you do to the land, you do to yourself," Michell said, quoting a traditional saying.
He said his people have been food and energy self-sufficient for thousands of years, but recently his community has seen changes in weather patterns, water flows, precipitation, forest fires and ecosystems, often related to climate change.
Kanaka Bar is building more energy-efficient homes and retrofitting existing houses to reduce energy needs. That costs money up front, but Patrick said he's seen some of his neighbors' energy bills plummet.
Neighboring communities are asking about Kanaka Bar's experience, and Michell is happy to see the work rippling out. For him, these efforts represent a return to the land, to values that will help his community become more self-sufficient, vibrant and resilient.
LaDuke said, "Keep your eye on where you're going. Operate not out of a place of fear, but a place of hope." Good advice for us all, as we celebrate the efforts of these communities and look to put the lessons they've learned into action across Canada.
Let's focus on hope. On climate solutions. On renewable energy led by communities like Oxford County, Kanaka Bar and others rising to the challenge to create a regenerative economy for everyone.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.