Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

Connecting the dots

OK, I’ll admit to an ego.

I get such a charge when I check my blog stats and see things like this: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Visit

This is the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a great thing to have, I suppose. It’s at 7000 East Avenue • Livermore, CA 94550 and is operated by the University of California for the US Department of Energy’s and their National Nuclear Security Administration. And those National Nukes folks have a “Reliable Replacement Warhead Program” and are “working diligently through its Stockpile Stewardship Program to extend the life of these current weapons.” Gosh, I wonder how much of Saskatchewan’s uranium makes it into nuclear warheads…

Fascinating, don’t you think, that those folks working so diligently on matters of energy for the US of A, would be at all interested in what one feminist poet posts on the interweb, eh? Even more fascinating to this poet is the page on which those interested folks choose to enter and leave P’n’P. If it were a one-time thing, I’d blow it off, but it’s getting a little boring to see the stats for the Blog-for-Choice page rise each time I post a mildly NO NUKES piece. Or, is it that the folks at LINL are truly concerned for women’s right to reproductive freedom?
Truth be told, I don’t know and I don’t really care. But I’m really happy I thought to check my stats on this hot prairie day.

Connection: gas tanks and dinner table

Sandra Finley is the Leader of the Green Party of SK, an entity much different from the Green Party of Canada.  This is her take on some recent announcements and propaganda as well as a letter to a Con MP by Marc Loiselle and an excellent piece by Darrin Qualman, the Director of Research for the NFU.

Subject: Connection: gas tanks and dinner table socjust
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 13:49:14 -0600
From: Sandra Finley <xxxx@xxxxxxxx>
To: xxxx@xxxxxxx

In "health" we have fought the increase in pesticide use brought about by
the introduction of gmo crops.  Now, the Government is providing hundreds of
millions of dollars to help develop the production of crops for "biofuels".
The economics, etc. don't support it.  But another concern of mine is that
as cropland is turned over to fuel production, we will have more and more
gmo crops.  Because people won't follow what's happening if the crops are
destined for our gas tanks and not dinner tables. ... /S
-------------------

Many thanks to Marc Loiselle for his letter to Member-of-Parliament, Brad
Trost.
Brad is also my MP. I received the same letter that prompted Marc to "set
the record straight".

Marc used the excellent analysis provided by Darrin Qualman (below -
BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION) to contest this MP's
claim  "Biofuels:  A Win-Win Situation".  (Unfortunately the MP's article
isn't yet posted on his web-site.  www.bradtrost.ca.  And I don't have time
to type it from hard copy for you.)

I left a message for Conservative MP Carol Skelton and talked with the
office of Conservative MP, Lynn Yelich.  I don't know if the letters to
their constituents contain the same article used by Brad Trost.  I hope not
and have forwarded this email to both Carol and Lynn.  We have bad decisions
when people, MP's and others, are poorly informed and thereby voiceless.

*** IMPORTANT:  in smaller print at bottom of his mail-out, Brad Trost, MP
cites his source
  "Statistics from:  Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org ".

NEED TO UNDERSTAND the MP's INFORMATION SOURCE:

Our work on the opposition to Monsanto's gene-altered
"spray-chemicals-on-it-and-it-won't-die" wheat led us to the Monsanto vrs
Percy Schmeiser Supreme Court case.   One of the questions addressed was:
why would a "farmer organization" (the Canola Council) be an intervener in
the Supreme Court on the side of Monsanto?  why wouldn't they be on the side
of Schmeiser?

What we found is that the Canola Council is a "bought" organization.  The
buyer is Monsanto.  Some memories will be twigged by the example of Ed
Sirski from Manitoba, one of the farmer Directors of the Canola Council.  He
and his wife were wined and dined on a free trip to Spain.  At the time we
provided other examples of other "boughts".

The Canola Council IS Monsanto. The glossy Canola magazines are industry
propaganda.  Paule Hjertaas submitted an analysis of an article in the
Canola Digest.  The article manipulated the research to proclaim to farm
families that they are not at risk from exposure to chemicals.  Paule showed
how the reporting of the research was manipulated.  In spite of letters to
the Board of Directors they wouldn't, of course, print her analysis for
their farm readers.

It is Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant canola that heavily impacted overseas
markets for Canadian canola.  But hey!  we can use it for mass production of
bio-diesel. ... It can happen ONLY IF we citizens do not have INFORMED
DEBATE and SOLID INFORMATION on the actual economics of the biofuels.  They
can proceed IF all we receive is the industry propaganda.  How convenient
for the industry to have the Government doing that job for them.  (How
fortunate for us that we have the analysis by Darrin Qualman below, and the
internet to access more information!)

We have gone through the long list of examples from the public record of
just how corrupt Monsanto is.

Now here we have this Member-of-Parliament pumping out the virtues of
biodiesel.  Biodiesel is made from "oilseeds such as canola".  Monsanto's
gmo canola.

There are many UNBIASED sources of information - Darrin Qualman has nothing
to gain financially from his consideration and analysis of the economics and
trade-offs related to biofuels.  I EXPECT BETTER than that the "information"
distributed by my MP is based on "Statistics" from the Canola Council
(Monsanto).

God help us if the decisions of Government, all the money they are now
pouring into the development of biofuels, is based on  "Statistics from:
Canola Council of Canada  www.canola-council.org " .  From Brad Trost's
newsletter:  "The Conservative government has allocated $345 million to help
farmers & rural communities take advantage of new opportunities to produce
biofuels, biofibres and biopharmaceuticals."

I urge you all to follow the lead of Marc Loiselle.  Talk to your elected
representatives.  They are taking us onto a band-wagon headed for oblivion.
We are BADLY in need of informed decision-making by Governments, decisions
that are not based on industry propaganda and corporate interest.

Best wishes,
Sandra
=====================

MARC'S LETTER

SENT TO:  Stephen Harper;Clements, Tony. Min.Health; G.Breitkreuz, MP; NDP
Caucus; Nilson,J. Min.Env.; Parti Vert/Green Party-info.; Peter Prebble,
MLA; Saskatchewan Environmental Society; Serby,Clay, Min. Rural Dev; SK
Party Caucus; Skelton, C. Min. WD; Taylor, L. Min. Health; NFU; Mark Wartman
Min.Ag; Sandra Finley, SK Green Party

Mr. Trost,

I read with disgust your cover page on Biofuels in you latest newsletter
sent to constituents. You and your government have been swindled into
believing that biofuels are a panacea for the agricultural sector and for
the environment. The truth is just the opposite and the money you have
allocated, $345million will only be money in the pocket of the biofuels
developers, not to farmers!

The perceived benefits of biofuels are offset by the actual energy necessary
to produce them. We need to look at the whole picture, which includes what
it takes to get a final product; not just at the so-called benefits.

This investment would have been much better spent on sustainable organic
agriculture across Canada and adding back to provide more publically funded
agricultural research instead of handing it to large corporate and
multinational interests who don't have the best interests of Canadian
citizens in mind, only those of their shareholders.

I invite you to please read the following document authored by Darrin
Qualman, a leading researcher in Saskatoon. (document is also attached file)
He explains in layperson terms, what the actual situation is with biofuels;
something sorely lacking or purposefully avoided by proponents and
mainstream media.
Taking an excerpt from Mr. Qualman: "Ethanol is bad physics, bad biology,
and bad policy..."

Expecting better from government!

Regards.

Marc Loiselle
==========================

BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION  (Darrin Qualman)

The following represents the opinions of NFU Director of Research Darrin
Qualman and is presented for information only.  It does not necessarily
represent the policy of the National Farmers Union.  Your comments are
welcome.

            It is hard to convey just how powerful, convenient, unique, and
irreplaceable petroleum is.  Oil is hyper-concentrated energy available, in
many places, for the pumping.  It is relatively stable and transportable—you
can carry it in a bucket. With a bit of refining, it can be poured into weed
wackers and luxury jets; it can run factories and cargo ships.  It is the
energy windfall equivalent of a thousand lottery wins.  It has created the
largest and most luxurious civilization the world has ever known.  There is
nothing else like it on Earth, and there never will be again.

                Biofuels—ethanol and biodiesel—offer only a fraction of the
energy that petroleum does.  More precisely, they offer only a fraction of
the energy surplus—energy not required to be put back into the system to get
more energy, energy you can use to support other aspects of our
civilization.  Any move from an oil-fueled economy/civilization to one run
on bio-fuels would require a radical downsizing and restructuring, because
bio-fuels are dramatically less “powerful” than oil.

                The preceding is true if you accept the well-founded but
necessarily pessimistic energy balance calculations of David Pimental or Tad
Patzek, but equally true if you accept the optimistic energy balance
calculations put forward by biofuel proponents.  This point bears repeating:
The problem with biofuels is not just that their energy balance is less than
one (that it takes more energy to create them than they eventually yield),
the problem is that even if you accept industry claims of energy balances
greater than one, biofuels yield only a fraction of the surplus energy that
petroleum does.  Planting the entire planet to biofuels would yield only a
tiny fraction of the energy we use today.  Biofuels cannot replace
petroleum; they are not a sufficiently powerful energy source to fuel our
current version of civilization*—not even remotely close.

                There are many claims that the energy balances for biodiesel
and ethanol are “positive”—more accurately, claims that the energy balances
are greater than one.  Just for the sake of this article, let’s accept for a
moment that the energy balance for ethanol is 1.5 units of energy out for
every unit in ( www.greenfuels.org ) and the energy balance for biodiesel is
2 units of energy out for every unit in (  www.biodiesel.org  )  (Both these
figures ignore “externalities” such as resource and water and topsoil
depletion, but externalities also exist for petroleum production.)

            If biofuels’ energy balance is 1.5 or 2 units of energy out for
every unit in, then if you put the equivalent of ten barrels worth of
biofuels energy into the biofuels production system, you end up with 15 to
20—a net gain of 1.5  to 2 times the original investment.  That’s what the
energy balance number means: a balance of 1.5:1 or 2:1 means you get out 1½
or 2 times more energy out than you put in.

            But if you have ten barrels of oil and you put them into oil
production, you can produce anywhere from 50 to 100 barrels of oil,
depending on where production takes place and under what conditions
(tarsands production exempted from the preceding statement).
                With oil, it’s approximately one or two barrels in: ten
barrels out.  With biofuels, it’s approximately five to eight barrels in:
ten barrels out.

                These ratios mean that if you have ten barrels of oil, you
only need to set one or two aside to get ten more barrels; the other eight
or nine surplus barrels can be used to fly aircraft, build cities, fuel
automobiles, wage wars, etc.  But if you have ten barrels of biofuel, you
need to set aside five to eight to get ten more barrels.  You only have two
to five “surplus” barrels to fuel the other projects of civilization.  In a
biofuel system, the majority of your energy supply is required for energy
production.

                Any proposed transition of our economy/civilization from oil
to biofuels would mean a transition from an energy source that yields a 500%
to 1000% gain on energy invested to one that yields a 50% to 100% gain (at
best, and probably less than 0% if the many scientists who calculate
biofuels’ energy balances at less than one are correct).  The impoverishing
effects on our energy-dependant, growth-based economy and civilization are
easily predictable.

                Running a civilization on oil is like running a farm with a
very efficient pony: for every ten bushels of oats you and the pony grow,
the pony eats one or two; you have lots of oats left over to sell and lots
of surplus money to re-invest in expanding other aspects of the farm.  But
running a civilization on biodiesel or ethanol is like farming with a lazy,
hungry pony—it eats most of the oats it helps to grow.  You have little
surplus to re-invest in other areas.  Your farm is not nearly as prosperous
or fast-growing.  In fact, if the surplus oats is not enough to feed you and
your family and to sell to cover the other bills, the farm may have to
shrink.

                Biodiesel and ethanol are not sufficiently rich energy
sources to support the kind of civilization we are now running—the western
car culture of leisure, luxury, and privilege.

            Over and above the problem of whether biofuels could
theoretically yield enough surplus energy to underpin our economy, there is
a second problem: in absolute terms, there will never be enough  biofuel to
support current energy consumption levels.  Global oilseed production
(canola, soybeans, etc.) is about 400 million tonnes annually.  At 60
gallons of biodiesel per tonne of soybeans, turning the entire global supply
of soybeans into biodiesel would yield 24 billion gallons per year.  That’s
about 1/6 of the 150 billion+ gallons of diesel fuel consumed each year in
the world.  Turning the world’s entire corn and wheat crops into ethanol
would similarly supply less than a third of the world’s gasoline needs.

                Thus, converting the world’s entire food supply to biofuels
might supply us with 20% or 30% of our fuel needs (again, accepting the very
optimistic energy balance numbers put forward by promoters).  More
realistically, we could, at most, turn 10% of our land over to fuel
production—yielding, at best, 2% or 3% of our liquid fuel needs.  And the
reality may be even worse: If the biofuels production system were actually
fuelled totally by biofuels, we wouldn’t even have this small fraction
available to run trucks and cars: we’d have to put well over half the
biofuels back into the energy production system to produce more.  Thus, that
2% or 3% would really be just 1% or 1.5%.  Biofuels are irrelevant.  These
small percentages make biofuels largely irrelevant.

            Further, we may not even be able to access that 1% or 1.5%.  We
are in a food-supply drawdown; in six of the last seven years, humans
worldwide consumed more grains and oilseeds than we produced.  We are in the
fastest food-supply drawdown recorded in the 45-year data.  The world’s
cropland area has been static or declining for a decade.  And we are adding
the equivalent of a North American population every six years.  Given
declining food supplies and a static landbase, it is hard to believe that we
can solve our current hunger problems and feed an additional 2.5 billion
people and fuel a global proliferation of the SUV culture.  We should
consider the possibility that we may be heading toward food supply
challenges, and that there may be no “surplus” land available to produce
biodiesel and ethanol.

            Finally, there is the question of greenhouse gas emissions.
This issue is complex and potentially confusing, but consider the pony-oats
analogy again.  Imagine a pony that ate all the oats it helped produce.  It
could produce and consume for 20 years and never yield any surplus oats.  In
energy balance terms, this is equivalent to an energy balance of 1—the
energy (oats) in equals the energy (oats) out, and there is no surplus.

                Similarly, if you had an ethanol system with an energy
balance of 1.0, you could run it round and round, year after year, making
and burning ethanol (or burning the ethanol-energy-equivalent in diesel fuel
and natural gas), and creating no surplus energy.  The greenhouse gas
emissions (from fertilizer plants, farm tractors, etc.) would mount, but you
’d never succeed in fueling an automobile even a single mile because you’d
never generate any surplus ethanol to put into that car.  In this scenario,
the greenhouse gas emissions for ethanol would be infinitely greater than
for gasoline.

            Now, consider a situation wherein the ethanol energy balance is
1.5:1.  If you burnt the energy equivalent of one unit of ethanol in the
ethanol production system, you’d get 1.5 units of energy out.  Of those 1.5
units, you’d have 0.5 units surplus, and you’d put the other 1.0 unit back
into the system and burn it, yielding the next 1.5 units—another surplus of
0.5.  Now you’d have accumulated a total surplus of one unit (0.5 units plus
0.5 units); but you have already burned two units getting that one.  And,
when you burn the 1 surplus unit in the car, your total will be three units
burned: 1 in the car and two in the field and refinery.  For comparison—on
basis comparable to the 3 units of ethanol burned and emissions
produced—simply burning gasoline would yield about 1.25 units of
emissions—one unit burned in the car and 0.25 burned in getting the oil and
refining the gasoline.  For an energy balance of 1.5:1, for a given mile
driven by a given car, burning ethanol creates over twice the emissions that
burning gasoline creates.

                Let’s forget the preceding for a moment.  Let’s accept what
the proponents of biofuels claim: that the use of biofuels reduces
greenhouse gas emissions.  We could ask: By how much?  Moving, over the next
five years, to a 5% ethanol blend in Canada will result in little or no
reduction in actual gasoline burning because total motor fuel use will
probably continue to increase at about 1% per year as it has.  Thus, five
years from now, even as we add ethanol to the mix, we’ll be burning the same
amount of gasoline we are now; plus we’ll be burning about 5% as much again
in the form of ethanol—a fuel that, according to proponents, generates only
slightly fewer greenhouse gases (and according to many credible sources
produces more).  Even as we move to adopt biofuels, we are increasing our
greenhouse gas emissions from oil-based motorfuels.  The widespread adoption
of biofuels, seemingly Canada’s only significant current  initiative to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will not even begin to tackle the problem.
And by some analyses, such a move makes the problem far worse.

Conclusion
                Investing massively in ethanol and biodiesel production may
turn out to be the greatest public policy mistake in a generation.  As
energy sources, even accepting the rosy calculations of proponents, they
will never be sufficiently powerful or abundant to replace more than a tiny
fraction of petroleum.  And for that fraction they do replace, they may well
increase greenhouse gas emissions and speed global warming.

                The fervour with which policymakers, the media, and the
public have fastened onto ethanol and biodiesel may simply be a reflection
of our fear.  We fear what an oil-limited and a climate-change-constrained
future may hold for our experiment in economic and energy-use hyper-growth.
Our focus on ethanol and biodiesel, like similar attention being paid to
hydrogen, may simply be a way of ignoring biophysical limits and pretending
that we can double and re-double the size of our global economy and the rate
at which we use resources.  The dominant belief still seems to be that each
generation will be better off than the previous one, and that 9 billion
people can eventually come to live like Toronto suburbanites.  As we plow
into problems created by trying to fuel our castle-in-the-sky civilization
on oil, we are now casting around for other solutions, telling ourselves we
can fuel it by burning food.

                One last thing needs to be said, however: This isn’t all bad
news for farmers.  Clearly, incinerating the world’s food supply in
ever-more-numerous SUVs has the potential to create shortages and to drive
up grain prices.  The current grain supply drawdown began eight years ago,
before the advent of significant ethanol or biodiesel production.  But
biofuel production (coming as it does at a time when grain supplies are
touching a thirty-year low and coupled with the reality that we’re adding
the equivalent of two-and-a-half Canada’s each year to global population)
has the capacity to trigger short term grain shortages that could lead to
grain prices doubling, as they did in the mid-’70s and mid-’90s.  Ethanol is
bad physics, bad biology, and bad policy, but the publicly subsidized
vaporization of food stocks can be good for farmers.  Despite valid concerns
about energy balances or greenhouse gas emissions, the biofuels project will
proceed and accelerate.  And with or without ethanol or biodiesel, there are
almost certainly higher grain prices ahead for farmers. nfu

 *          Our current industrial civilization and its growth-based economy
has its detractors.  This article won’t examine whether continued production
and use of “Hummers”, either as assault or commuter vehicles, is in the best
interests of the biosphere or the global population.  What this article will
do is to analyze the question of whether an automobile-based, industrial
economy could be significantly fuelled by biofuels.  Can ethanol and
biodiesel even partially sustain the status quo?
    <!--[endif]-->
<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> Food is energy (and vice versa)

Modern, industrial agriculture turns fossil fuels into food.  Nitrogen
fertilizer is synthesized directly from natural gas.  Humans are now
producing so much nitrogen from fossil fuels that we have doubled the amount
of nitrogen cycling in our biosphere.

 The very high energy content of our food prompted one NFU member to quip
that biofuels are a way of “turning energy into food into energy.”  This
observation has some merit.  Biofuels are a project wherein we channel part
of our energy-augmented food supply into creating a food-augmented energy
supply.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Marc & Anita Loiselle
*Loiselle Organic Family Farm*
'Holistic Stewardship for Abundant Life'
Certified Organic since 1985
Championing Red Fife Wheat
*Ferme Biologique Familiale Loiselle*
'Intendance Holistique pour la Vie Abondante'
Certifié Biologique depuis 1985
Champions du blé Red Fife

Celebrating a century of family farming 1906 - 2006
Le centenaire de notre ferme familiale 1906 - 2006

P.O. Box 25
Vonda, Saskatchewan
S0K 4N0
tel: 306-258-2192
fax: 306-258-2169
email: loiselle@baudoux.ca
website: http://loiselle.ma.googlepages.com

Farmer of the Year award – 2007
Organic Crop Improvement Association, Int.

Marc Loiselle - board of directors Chairperson,
Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Cooperative Ltd.

Marc & Anita Loiselle
Worldwide Marriage Encounter provincial registration contact couple
A WWME Weekend is a gift you give each other and a wonderful affirming love
and life enhancing event. We believe every married couple deserves this
experience!

Marc Loiselle
Communications & Research Director,
Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF),
‘To preserve and protect certified organic food and fibre production’
directeur des communications et recherche,
Fonds de Protection de l'Agriculture Biologique (FPAB),
‘Pour protéger et préserver la production d’aliments certifié biologique’
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD)
http://www.saskorganic.com

“Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating
the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and
control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few
varieties planted widely are the worst option for food security.” Christian
Aid

“La planète est le bien commun de l’humanité. En prendre soin donne un sens
à la vie” SOS-Planète

====================
Email from:
Sandra Finley, Saskatoon
306-373-8078; sabest1@sasktel.net
Email network started in year 2000
Joined Green Party in May 2006
Leader, Green Party of Saskatchewan, Oct 2006
--

Nuke Assoc & False Advertising?

Dr.Mark Winfield, author of the Pembina Institute report, is one of the signatories to a complaint launched with Canada’s Competition Bureau regarding the Canadian Nuclear Association’s recent big bucks campaign promoting nuclear energy as the fix-all for climate change.  (Gosh, gotta wonder how SK Finance Minister, Eric Cline is going to take the news?  Oh, right, he’s already decided not to run in the next election…)  Anyway, here’s the news release from the Sierra Club’s Legal Fund.

Inquiry launched into Canadian nuclear advertising

December 19, 2006

TORONTO – An application was filed today for an inquiry by Canada’s Competition Bureau into the Canadian Nuclear Association’s (CNA) high profile advertising campaign touting the benefits of nuclear power. The applicants – including religious, public health, renewable energy and environmental groups from across Canada – allege that claims made in a series of high-profile television, radio and print ads promoting nuclear energy are misleading.

The CNA adverting campaign states, against a background of blue sky, that nuclear power is “clean”, “reliable” and “affordable,” and that nuclear power generation “does not create greenhouse gases,” “keeps the air clean” and is subject to “stable” fuel prices. The application asks the Competition Commissioner to investigate whether these representations are factually correct and whether individually and as a whole, they create a misleading impression of the environmental impacts and economic costs associated with nuclear power.

“The application calls on the Competition Bureau to clear the air and determine whether the Competition Act has been breached,” said Sierra Legal lawyer Hugh Wilkins. “Conservation and renewable energy initiatives should be ensured a level competitive playing field and the public must be allowed to assess the full environmental, health and economic risks and costs of the various energy options available.”

A recently published Pembina Institute report, Nuclear Power in Canada: An Examination of Risks, Impacts and Sustainability, was filed in support of the application. The report documents that electricity generation from nuclear in Canada has created massive volumes of radioactive and hazardous wastes that will require virtually perpetual care, involves the ongoing discharge of a wide range of radioactive and toxic pollutants to air and water, and emits greenhouse gases throughout the full technology lifecycle.

Regarding reliability and affordability claims, the report demonstrates that nuclear power generating facilities in Canada have a history of poor reliability and that facility construction and refurbishment projects in Canada have been subject to major cost overruns. Nuclear plant construction projects in Ontario, for example, have run 40 to 270 per cent over their initial projected capital costs and world uranium prices have increased by a factor of more than six since 2001.

“An energy source associated with water pollution that has been found to be a ‘toxic’ substance as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act should not be described as ‘clean’,” said Dr.Mark Winfield, author of the Pembina Institute report, and one of the signatories to the complaint.

“When asked, people actually prefer renewable energy to radioactive nuclear power. Our concern is that the nuclear industry’s advertising budget and approach distorts objective decisions which have to be made right now about the future direction of Ontario’s electricity system,” says Julia Langer of WWF-Canada.

The application was filed by Sierra Legal on behalf of the Pembina Institute, WWF-Canada, Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, Sky Generation Inc., Interchurch Uranium Committee Educational Cooperative, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and Families Against Radiation Exposure (FARE).

For more information please contact:

Hugh Wilkins, Staff Lawyer, Sierra Legal (416) 368-7533 ext. 34
Mark Winfield, Ph.D. Pembina Institute (416)978-3486
Julia Langer, WWF-Canada(416) 484-7709

-30-

Sierra Legal – Advocates for the Environmentwww.sierralegal.org

New Canadian Climate Policy to Be Built on a Lie

(Updated for a second time, below)

Wouldja take a look at this?!?

New Canadian Climate Policy to Be Built on a Lie

and this!?!

Environmentally-damaging recycling

and then see what a CBC North reporter has to say!?!

Tory ‘Green Plan’ could be years away

Then you’ll see that this whole thing is just smoke and mirrors.

Thanks to Robert and The Jurist for the heads-up.

UPDATE: 11:23AM Have a look at the contents of the statement from Elizabeth May at her first news conference as Green Party Leader . After that, sign on to support the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), within the Kyoto Protocol which the Harper has just axed.

UPDATE:  9:43PM The offensive facts have been removed from the Environment Canada website.  Thanks Robert and Desmog blog.

Gender, Militarism, and Climate Change

I should have titled this post Climate Change Is A Women’s Issue Part 2 but fewer reads may have resulted.  It seems some folks don’t appreciate a gender-based analysis of climate change.

This piece landed in my inbox today and it significantly deepens for me the connections between women’s lives, the military industrial complex, and our changing climate.


Gender, Militarism and Climate Changeby Betsy Hartman

As evidence of climate change becomes ever more compelling, the battle over who gets to frame its causes, effects and solutions will intensify. In popular as well as policy venues, whose voices get heard and whose don’t will become a key political issue of our time. Today, at the international policy level, gender is conspicuous by its absence in climate change debates. In fact, the words “women” and “gender” are missing in the two main international global warming agreements, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Recent feminist scholarship and advocacy challenge this invisibility of gender, pointing in particular to the importance of gendering the analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to global warming.

Feminist work on vulnerability draws on previous research regarding what makes certain populations more at risk in natural disasters such as floods and droughts, extreme weather events that could become more prevalent as the result of global warming. For example, in places where women have less access to food and health care than men, they start off at a disadvantage when facing natural disasters and environmental stress. Since they are often the primary caregivers for children and the elderly, they may also have less mobility. Cultural restrictions on women’s mobility can compound the problem. During the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh many more women died than men because early warnings were displayed in public spaces where women were prohibited and women delayed leaving their homes because of fears of impropriety.

Rather than relying on broad generalizations, feminist scholars and practitioners have developed gender-sensitive risk mapping in which women map their own vulnerabilities in terms of what crops they cultivate, what resources they do or do not control, their access to irrigation, markets, information, etc. In this sense, gender analysis is a tool to explore diverse contexts and come up with locally effective solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all understanding of vulnerability.

So far, much of the literature on gender and vulnerability to climate change has focused on rural women in the global South though in a few decades the majority of the world’s people will live in cities. As hurricane Katrina illustrated, the global North is not immune to extreme climate events
either, and the degree of vulnerability people in New Orleans experienced was closely correlated with gender, poverty, race, age and class, and the intersections between them. Given the likelihood that risks associated with climate change will increase in the years to come, gender-sensitive risk mapping and data collection would be useful tools for communities, rural and urban, all over the world.

Much also remains to be done to make early warning systems more attentive to gender issues. According to Maureen Fordham of the Gender and Disaster Network, mostly male experts dominate this field, and the traditional emphasis is on (‘hard’) scientific and technical approaches to the identification of hazards and the solution of problems with little attention given to the role of women’s networks and other citizens’ groups in developing informal warning systems. The field of disaster management is similarly dominated by men, and women’s needs for information and services are often neglected in disaster response.

Given the wholesale neglect of gender issues in international climate change agreements, it is not surprising that little attention has been paid to how those agreements themselves may have gendered outcomes. In a critique of the Kyoto Protocol’s approach to carbon trading, Larry Lohmann of the U.K.-based Corner House points to how the resulting carbon accounting systems marginalize non-corporate, non-state and non-expert contributions toward climatic stability and are creating new exclusionary forms of property rights. They favor large-scale carbon sequestration projects in the South
that can have both negative social and environmental consequences. For example, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Plantar S.A. Corporation has asked for carbon finance for its expanding monoculture eucalyptus plantations. These plantations not only occupy public lands that by law should go to poor peasants, they draw down the water supply and greatly reduce biodiversity.

Such plantation schemes are likely to have a number of gendered effects. For example, women will not have access to them for domestic fuelwood collection, and the few jobs they generate for forest guards, etc. will go largely to men. Since women in many places rely on wild plants both for food and seed domestication, loss of biodiversity could reduce their livelihood resilience. Nor are such plantations likely to contribute to solving the longer-term energy needs of poor women. According to Margaret Skutsch of the Gender and Climate Change Network, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism has effectively shut the door on small-scale, non-corporate solutions such as systems that encourage local control of existing forests and improvements in their ability to sequester carbon and produce sustainable fuelwood supplies.

In general, little effort has gone into analyzing how gender relations affect the drivers of climate change. For example, in the global North, which is disproportionately responsible for global warming, the transport sector is a primary source of greenhouse gases. Perhaps with the exception of the U.S., women in the global North are less likely to own cars and more likely to use public transport. Moreover, in Europe the cars women drive tend to be smaller and more fuel-efficient because they are not viewed as status symbols. This latter point underscores the need to look at gendered dimensions of consumer desires as they affect energy use. Advertising is highly gendered – the typical SUV or pick-up driver portrayed in automobile ads in the U.S., for example, is a male, either alone or with his mates, out to conquer the rugged wilderness. If there are women in the picture, they are usually sleek and beautiful, adding an element of sex appeal. Thus notions of masculinity and femininity are strategically deployed to create and sustain a wasteful, gas-guzzling culture, from promotion of ATVs as ‘toys for boys’ to the military-civilian Hummer crossover as a potent symbol of American manhood.

Gendering climate change also requires keeping a close eye on fine line between justifiable concerns about the threats posed by global warming and the strategic deployment of alarmist discourses to build support for the Kyoto protocol as well as to serve other more problematic objectives. Here one has to closely monitor implicit and explicit gendered narratives that reinforce negative views of women and poor people.

A case in point is the framing of women in terms of the population threat. Apocalyptic predictions of population growth overshooting the carrying capacity of the planet have long been popular in Northern environmental circles, particularly in the U.S. where there has been a long relationship between the population lobby and the mainstream environmental movement. Those seeking to shift the blame for global warming from Northern consumption and production patterns to poor people in the South often make use of alarmist population arguments.

For example, Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, recently made headlines in the British press when he argued that without significant population reduction, there was little hope for effectively coping with climate change. The implicit message is that women’s fertility must be controlled. In the past, such reasoning has contributed to the implementation of draconian population policies deeply harmful to women’s health and rights.

Population alarmism also figures in images of starving waves of global warming refugees washing up on our shores, as illustrated in a 2003 Pentagon-commissioned abrupt climate change scenario where reductions of carrying capacity in overpopulated areas cause increasing wars, disease, starvation and ultimately migration to the North. This kind of threat narrative incorporates women into an overall menacing portrait of the Third World poor and reinforces the authority of national security agencies over civilian initiatives to tackle climate change.

One way to challenge such military maneuvers is to focus on how militaries themselves play a significant but neglected role in global warming The Department of Defense is the largest single consumer of fuel in the U.S., accounting for 1.8% of the nation’s total transportation fuel. This is no mean contribution to global warming, given that the U.S. is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Militaries elsewhere also disproportionately consume energy supplies; according to one estimate, worldwide militaries collectively use the same amount of petroleum products as Japan, one of the world’s largest economies. In the case of the U.S., the irony is that the military is presently using vast amounts of oil to fuel a war in Iraq fought at least in part to ensure future American control of oil supplies.

Casting a gendered eye on both militarism and climate change raises a number of inter-related questions. What are the gendered politics of setting strategic and budgetary priorities? How do ideologies of masculinity and networks of powerful men shape defense policies, shield the military from the need to reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, and determine that spending on conventional defense is a much higher priority than investing in clean energy sources and technologies?

How does male military culture impact consumer choice via products like the Hummer and sustain wasteful energy-intensive lifestyles?

How does a state of war undermine democratic freedoms, push women out of the public arena and reduce the space for inclusive debate on how to address global warming?

How does militarism multiply and/or intensify women’s vulnerabilities to climate change? In the case of global warming-induced natural disasters, for example, will the risk of sexual violence increase if governments rely on military institutions to supply relief and maintain order?

On the more positive side, how can women’s movements for peace and the environment contribute to a broader vision of climate justice and more practicable solutions that reduce emissions while increasing the incomes and power of poor women and men?

These are but a few of the questions we need to be asking to mount an effective feminist and social justice challenge to business as usual in the climate change arena.


— Betsy Hartmann is the director of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Recently, she is co-author with Joni Seager of Mainstreaming Gender in Environmental Assessment and Early Warning (UNEP 2005) and co-editor with Banu Subramaniam and Charles Zerner of Making Threats: Biofears and Environmental Anxieties (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).

ZNet Commentary, April 10, 2006

It always amazes me what I can learn from my inbox.

The maglev generator

Now this seems to me to be where the Government of Saskatchewan could be spending our hard-earned tax dollars as opposed to doling out corporate welfare to AREVA.

From The Conscious Earth

Chinese Claim 20% Boost to Wind Generation

Chinese scientists unveiled what is believed to be a key breakthrough in wind generating technology that could boost output by 20% while dropping the costs of generation below 5 cents (U.S.) per kilowatt-hour.

A new technology, a magnetic levitation wind turbine, could boost wind energy production by 20 percent. The article, posted and much-discussed, at Treehugger suggests the new technology could potentially fill the power void in locations with no connection to the grid by harnessing low-speed wind resources that were previously untappable.

So, even if it’s not one of those wickedly windy days in SK, we could potentially create more energy than we’d earlier suspected. One can’t help but wonder if Calvert and Cline talked to the Chinese officials about that when they were on their Uranium Sales Trip late last year.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Imagine if our SK researchers had the funds to work on something like this…

Manufacturing Consent

Seems the NDP in SK are taking their campaign to mine more uranium to the next level. They’ve already manufactured consent within the provincial party. They’ve worked with the business community to create a clamour for it in some job-starved rural/northern communities. And, they’re offering incentives to AREVA (which has just formed a new joint venture with URENCO to create a Enrichment Technology Company. How convenient, now having been invited to build a uranium refinery in the province of Saskatchewan.)

My email friend, Ivan, says this:

I’d like to remind Mr. Calvert and Mr. Cline that when full cost accounting is used and not the voodoo economics of the uranium industry, Saskatchewan hasn’t made a single dime on uranium..

Uranium mines are abandoned ten years after shutting down and then go into the public domain. Our grandchildren pay for the security and for any future contamination from these highly dangerous sites. These future costs are conveniently ignored whenever expansion of any facet of the nuclear cycle is being promoted.

Spent reactors and refineries litter the world because no one knows what to do with them. They are so dangerous from radioactivity that their dismantling costs are phenomenal and there still is no where to put the material. Once again, our grandchildren are being left the bill.

Because Northern Saskatchewan is now being contaminated by acid rain from the Alberta tar sands and polluted by past, current and potential future contaminations from the uranium cycle, tourism and fishing have a limited future. What’s wrong, Mr. Calvert and Mr. Cline, with leaving a legacy for future generations of the last pristine forests and lakes on earth? Shouldn’t our governments be educating the public on all aspects of the nuclear cycle before selling out our children’s future?

Even if we’re going to be indecisive when dealing with the planet’s most dangerous substances we must remember to not serve our gluttony but always err on the side of safety. We owe that to future generations.

Let’s have real public debate and education on this issue, not the endless propaganda from big corporations and naive governments.

And I agree. I certainly don’t like how this is shaping up. SK doesn’t have a good track record where the north is concerned. Look at the environmental damage left in the wake of uranium mining.

Look at Weyerhauser — that multinational has pulled out of SK, but still maintains logging rights to the land which, in effect, stops small- to medium-sized loggers from going in.

So, yes, when there are kids to feed and when there is no work to be had, any work — even in a uranium mine or at a uranium refinery — starts looking pretty fine.

A clamour, indeed…

Dangerous goods

At rabble.ca I found the link to a Guide to Less Toxic Products, one section of which provides information on

Common Hazardous Ingredients in Personal Care Products

More than 5,000 ingredients are allowed for use in personal care products. Many are identified by government agencies as hazardous, but many others remain untested. Some ingredients with known health hazards are very common in personal care products, both conventional products and alternative ones.  We are providing information on some of these common ingredients. In preparing this guide, we screened products and chose those which had the least amount of these hazardous chemicals for our Best and Good sections.

DEA, TEA, MEA – Diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), and monoethanolamine (MEA) are hormone disruptors. They are also known to combine with nitrates to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. If a product contains nitrites (used as a preservative or present as a contaminant not listed on labels) a chemical reaction can occur either during manufacturing or after a product is made. There is no way to know which products contain nitrosamines because government does not require manufacturers to disclose this information on the label. 

The guide lists several more and is well worth a look.  The ingredients are common to shampoos, soaps, make-up, hair care products, etc. that many use daily.  I’m going back to have a look at the other sections.
Any chance the Harper will address this in his Ambrosian environmental policy?

‘Alarming’ cancer rates near N-power station

From the inbox:

'Alarming' cancer rates near N-power station

Jun 13 2006

Martin Shipton, Western Mail

Cancer rates in villages near the Trawsfynydd power station are
'alarmingly high' leading to new concerns about the side-effects of
nuclear power, a new investigation reveals.

The study claims that women under 50 are particularly at risk, with their
level of cancer during the past three years being 15 times more than the
national average.

The figures are based on a face-to-face survey with villagers in Llan
Ffestiniog, Gellilydan and Cwm Prysor, Gwynedd. Researchers for S4C
current affairs programme Y Byd Ar Bedwar knocked on the doors of more
than 400 houses in the area with a questionnaire asking about cancer cases
in the family. They got a reply from 88% of the households.

A report based on the questionnaires was written by Dr Chris Busby, a
director of the Aberystwyth-based environmental consultancy Green Audit.
He has written a number of other reports on cancer levels around nuclear
installations, but says the results of the Llan Ffestiniog study were far
more shocking than the others.

'I would describe the last three years as showing a meltdown in the
situation in that area,' said Dr Busby. 'It's a really alarmingly high
level of cancer.'

The programme-makers obtained anecdotal details of all cancers which had
been diagnosed in the past 10 years. The results showed there was a highly
significant excess cancer risk in the past three years, especially among
younger people.

The research found that the number of women under 50 diag- nosed with
cancer in the past three years was 15 times higher than the national
average for England and Wales.Five of the female respondents under 60 had
been diagnosed with breast cancer, which is five times more than the
expected figure for the local population.

One of those is a member of Gwynedd County Council's executive committee.
Plaid Cymru councillor Linda Jones said, 'I'm so glad this survey was done
and I hope now that the results will be investigated by an independent
body to look into what has caused these high levels of cancer.'

Six months ago she alerted the programme to the high levels of cancer in
Llan Ffestiniog. Many villagers have often wondered whether radiation from
the nuclear power station is responsible for cancer levels in the area,
but up until now nobody has undertaken a conclusive study to establish
whether the rates are actually higher than normal.

The Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit in Cardiff does
collate cancer figures for the whole of Wales, but has never published a
breakdown for small areas.

Former UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher said the Y Byd ar Bedwar
figures were a 'sensational development', and said the Government should
instigate a full inquiry. 'The true health effects must be resolved before
any commitment to new nuclear power stations is made', he said.

The Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit refused to respond to
the new figures. In a statement its director Dr John Steward questioned
the methodology used and said the results were likely to be biased. The
statement said, 'It was obtained from door to door and therefore depends
on co-operation which will be higher in those with cases in the family. It
is based on self-reports which are not confirmed by medical records.'

But Dr Busby is adamant that his conclusions should be taken seriously. He
said that fallout from Chernobyl in 1986 could have had a bearing on the
results. But he believes the most obvious suspect is Trawsfynydd nuclear
power station.

'There is a very high and statistically significant level of cancer near a
nuclear plant which is releasing material which causes cancer,' he said.
'Now if that's being alarmist then this is quite right because there
shouldn't be such a plant. If that plant wasn't there, and if Chernobyl
hadn't happened, most of these women would be okay, and some of the ones
that have died would be alive.'

Trawsfynydd power station stopped operating in 1991, and is now being
decommissioned. A spokesman for the British Nuclear Group Reactor Sites,
which is now responsible for the site, said, 'Discharges from Trawsfynydd
have always been strictly controlled and monitored with limits set by
relevant regulators to ensure protection of public health. Trawsfynydd has
always operated within those limits.'

But for cancer sufferer Linda Jones the Government needs to look once more
at the possible effects on public health before proceeding with plans to
expand nuclear energy.

'If they want to build nuclear power stations, fine, and I'm sure they'll
spend millions of pounds doing so. Why don't they spend some money first
to look at what causes this?'

Y Byd ar Bedwar 8.25 tonight


Thanks, Neil.