Sierra Club Blog Posts

This page shows a collection of all of Sierra Club Canada's blog posts, shown in chronological order. To view the full post, click on its title.

Smarter cities

photo by Peter Blanchard

Ottawa, the city I have called home for most of my life, has the highest per capita number of residents with Ph.D.s in Canada.  It is filled to the brim with Parliamentary leaders, diplomatic elites, well-heeled bureaucrats, and the staff and students orbiting four universities and two community colleges.

So, for a city so smart, why is our planning so dumb?

Like many North American cities, Ottawa has had an on-going love affair with the automobile. Perhaps it’s time to file for divorce.

The car promises to make us money, so we pour millions into highways. The car promises to make life easier, so we forego a coherent transit plan in favour of sprawl.
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The age of greenwash

photo by Toban Black

Over lunch with a colleague the other day, I asked for an assessment of the trajectory of the environmental movement.

I was interested to hear her recall a time – not so long ago – when environmentalism was not yet “green.”

For better or worse, green is today’s preeminent buzzword and branding device. For better, because we are fast approaching a tipping point in climate change and biodiversity loss. If we can somehow broaden the recognition of the environment as an overarching factor in decision-making, then we might finally alter course towards sustainability. 
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Medicine Hat Past Regina - Blog post Number Two!

Saturday, June 5 Continued: After Finishing up Blog Post Number one, I still had an errand or two to run. firstly it was to the bike shop, to pick up two new spare tires to replace the ones that got used the day before. Then I had to pick up groceries for the trip. I was exited, because Jordyn was supposed to be there sometime that night, and it had been almost two weeks since I had seen any of my friends, so I wanted to make sure everything was done. The last and most important trip was to the "Family fun Center" the Medicine Hats largest indoor pool. I was just hoping for a hot tub, but this place had EVERYTHING. Hot tub, steam room, Olympic sized pool with High dive AND Diving platform. As a man who's possibly favorite activity is going to the pool, I was in heaven. I spent nearly three hours there, about half an hour or more of which was in the steam room, drinking several bottles of water till I was full to burst.... Read more »

Fake lakes and real news

Sometimes I wonder who is actually running the show.

This week, as omnibus legislation threatened to weaken some of Canada’s strongest environmental laws, all anyone could talk about was a fake lake.

As every media outlet in this country has probably drummed into your head by now, the federal government is being blasted for installing a $1.9 million fake lake at a Toronto media centre. The lake, built in preparation for the G8 / G20 Summits, is being branded as a “marketing pavilion” by the feds. With a trademark blend of indignation and hyperventilation, the opposition has voiced its discontent.  

Far be it from me to justify wasting public money, but somehow my concern lies elsewhere.
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The energy question

Let’s pretend there was no BP oil spill. No explosion killing eleven offshore workers. No waves of viscous and pungent grease choking wetlands and sensitive wildlife breeding grounds. No sticky end to the Gulf fishing season, with the portent of immense lasting damage.

Would we still be discussing the hazards of offshore drilling and transport?

Sure, albeit in a very limited way. After all, there is always a deeply concerned minority on issues like these.

But now the conversation is more urgent, more passionate. The minority may gradually, finally be turning into a majority.

Yet the problem is far larger than this disaster alone. In fact, it’s bigger than “BP” or “oil” altogether. The danger lies in human energy needs, and in the way we’re trying to meet them.
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Vernon To Medicine Hat: A Summary

Monday, May 24, Day one:  Well after that big Post I made about success and failure, I went ahead and failed right off the bat. I got as far as just outside Lumby, and got a flat tire. So I pumped it up enough to get me back to town, changed it out, and wouldn't you know it; a second flat tire. This, coupled with the fact that I had forgotten a few things, forced me to turn back, and call my girlfriend for a ride home. She was most gracious about it, and although I went to sleep miserable over my poor start, I knew it would have been a lot worse without her to cheer me up.
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Great Success!

         Greetings my fellow Canadians, from sunny Medicine Hat! Yes it is true, I have indeed conquered my own worst fears of failure to pass through British Columbia, and come out the other side of the Rockies proud of even the small accomplishment I have gained thus far. And it has been a challenge almost every day. I had forgotten how sore and tight you wake up on a bike trip, even if you stretch after your butt finally departs the seat. The first two hours of the day show little progress, as you work to shake the stiffness from your joints and muscles.... Read more »

Progress

As someone who is committed to environmental sustainability, I hear all too often that my ideas stand in the way of “progress.” In fact, some people set up the environmental question as a choice between two options fundamentally at odds with one another. On the one hand lies preservation of the environment, an option chosen at our peril because it implies economic collapse and a reversion of some kind. On the other hand lies the magical world of progress – a smarter, richer, more efficient world where all of our needs can be better met, forever and ever.

Needless to say, I think this assessment is a little out to lunch.
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Failure and Success (On my departure day!)

Every single step forward for mankind that I know of has been made by people, both famous and not, who have attempted to change the world around them. Socrates and Plato attempted to grasp the concepts of morality, purpose and existence so that society would look inward for the first time and contemplate where it stands. Columbus was trying to find a passage westward to Asia, and although he was unsuccessful, he colonized a new land, which is a triumph he is still celebrated for today. The Wright brothers ushered in a new era of travel when they attempted to fly at the start of the century. And arguably the greatest Canadian hero, Terry Fox, strove to run across Canada. In this he failed, but he is not remembered as such; his marathon of hope brought in millions of dollars for cancer research, and continues to do so to this day.... Read more »

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