Posts Tagged ‘energy’

The Riverview Hoop House was one of the projects on display during a walking tour of urban agricultural projects organized by the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-op in June in Winnipeg. Coordinator Scott Harrison explains how it works. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Where does your food come from? If you’re like most of us, your reach is truly global. Tomatoes from Mexico. Grapes from Chile. Oranges from Florida. Lettuce from California. And that steak on the barbecue? It may have started life on a Manitoba farm but it was probably fattened, slaughtered and processed in Saskatchewan, Alberta or the United States.

While some of our food is grown and processed locally, most of it travels several hundred to several thousand kilometres before it lands on our plates.

Our food doesn’t walk. Ocean going vessels, rail cars, and long haul truckers carry the bulk of it, with some luxury items travelling by air. This far-flung, complex transportation network enables us to enjoy an almost limitless variety of foods from around the world, regardless of the season.

This abundance is a relatively new phenomenon. While the peoples of the world have traded foodstuffs from one region to another throughout recorded history, it was only after the development of fossil fueled modes of transport that our globalized food system became possible.

That era will soon be coming to an end because the energy source that made it all possible is running out. As oil consumption continues to outpace oil discovery and production, energy prices will continue to rise. Because every aspect of our food system, from production, to processing and transportation depends on oil, the prices on our global menu will continue to grow, and they will grow beyond the reach of most citizens.

Simply put, our existing globalized food system is not sustainable. The sooner we begin to make the transition to a more rational system the better.

While governments appear to be largely unaware of this looming threat, small groups of citizens have recognized the problem and are beginning to look for solutions.

One of these is the Sustainable South Osborne Community Co-op, located in Winnipeg, MB. In June 2012, I joined a walking tour of projects the co-op has going in its neighbourhood.

Here is my video report.

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St. Boniface MP Shelley Glover recently lectured Winnipeg broadcaster Michael Welch of CKUW-FM 95.9 on the virtues of “ethical oil” and the “balanced” approach of the Conservative government to energy development that has obtained the “support” of aboriginal people for tar sands development and the Enbridge Pipeline Proposal. Michael checked her assertions with Gerald Amos, former elected Chief Councillor for the Haisla First Nation for 12 years and a leader of the fierce opposition that is being mounted by communities across BC to the Enbridge proposal.

Was Glover poorly informed or spinning for her boss, Stephen Harper? Watch the video and judge for yourself.

After you’ve watched this, you may want to watch Tar Sands, Pipelines and Tankers – the forum at which Gerald Amos spoke, along with Wade Davis, Lynne Fernandez and Anne Lindsey.

The National Energy Board is conducting hearings on Enbridge’s proposal for a pipeline from Alberta’s tar sands to the town of Kitimat in the heart of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. If approved, over 200 oil tankers would be navigating the difficult waters off BC’s Northwest Coast each year, making widespread environmental damage to BC’s coastline only a matter of time. Moreover, it will facilitate the marketing of even more dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands, fueling that unfolding ecological catastrophe with profound consequences for the rest of Canada and the world.

The project is meeting fierce opposition, especially in northern BC, and the federal government has declared war on anyone who opposes this project. In Winnipeg, a coalition of environmental groups banded together to hold a public forum on February 16, 2012 at the University of Winnipeg entitled Tar Sands, Pipelines and Tankers. Over 300 people turned out to view an excellent 16-minute documentary by Pacific Wild entitled Oil in Eden and to dialogue with an expert panel, moderated by journalist Ricard Cloutier.

The Panel

Dr. Wade Davis is Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society, Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow of the Masters in Development Practice (MDP) Indigenous Development program, University of Winnipeg.

As well, he is the author of The Sacred Headwaters: the fight to save the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

Gerald Amos was Chief Councillor for the Haisla First Nation for 12 years. He has been a leading voice for conservation in Canada for thirty years.

He is the author of an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver “No apology forthcoming.”

Lynne Fernandez, of the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives has an MA in economics from the University of Manitoba. As a research associate at the Manitoba office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Lynne has studied municipal and provincial social and economic policy. She is also interested in labour and environmental issues.

Anne Lindsey is former executive director of the Manitoba Eco-Network. Since 1984, Anne has worked on such Manitoba and national issues as nuclear waste, forestry, food, pesticides and environmental reviews.

This event was organized by the Manitoba Eco-Network, Green Action Centre, Climate Change Connection, the Council of Canadians (Winnipeg), and the Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian-Universalist Church, with the support of the University of Manitoba’s Global Political Economy Program and the University of Winnipeg.

I hope you can schedule some time to view the video report I prepared in collaboration with Ken Harasym for Winnipeg Community TV. At two-and-a-half hours, it is long, but it is crammed with information and analysis that make it well worth the time.

Manitoba citizens will elect a new provincial government Oct. 4, 2011 and environmental issues will play an important role in determining which political party forms that government.

Where should Manitoba Hydro construct its planned Bipole 3 transmission line – or should it be built at all?

How should we save Lake Winnipeg from choking to death on toxic algae?

How best can Manitobans respond to rising energy costs and climate change?

These are only some of the issues that representatives of four political parties debated in this two-and-a-half hour public forum held Sept. 14., 2011 in Winnipeg. Naturally, I brought my video camera.


Moderator: Terry MacLeod, CBC Information Radio

Panelists:
– James Beddome, Green Party of Manitoba
– Paul Hesse: Liberal Party of Manitoba
– Jennifer Howard: New Democratic Party of Manitoba
– Heather Stephanson: Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba

Sponsors:
Manitoba Eco-Network
Green Action Centre
Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba
Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg