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6 Hot Home Tips for Cool Summer Living
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6 Hot Home Tips for Cool Summer Living

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] As summer begins, it means that we've only recently dusted our standing fans, planted our vegetable gardens, and started planning our weekend getaways. But what about all the time that we'll be spending indoors when the thermostat is pushing 30? With a little planning, you can easily keep your home cool and your energy bills down. If you're looking to beat the heat naturally, stay cool while keeping these green tips in mind: Create a stir. Circulating air keeps you cooler, and fans use 90% less energy than air conditioners. If you can, set up a cross-current with window fans. Get with the program. On days when air conditioning is an absolute necessity, set the thermostat to 25C and leave it there. If you'll be away from home for more than four hours, turn the a/c off and program it to turn on an hour before you return.Image of a Green Roof Invest in low-E. Windows with low-E films keep out the summer heat. As a bonus, they'll also keep heat inside during the winter. Make sure all windows are properly sealed to avoid drafts. Reflect on your roof. If you're planning on updating your roof, choose light-coloured materials to redirect the sun's heat away from your home. Alternatively, install a radiant barrier inside your roof to accomplish some of the same goals. Go green – from the top down. Consider a green roof that will not only cool your home, but can provide habitat for wildlife if you plant native, drought-tolerant species. Environment Canada research shows that a typical one-storey building with about 10 cm of grass and growth medium on its roof cuts its cooling needs by 25%. Don't forget the garden. Plant shrubs and trees that will shield your house from the sun and keep it cooler while attracting beneficial birds, insects, and other nature neighbours. As an added incentive, following these green tips for staying cool and you'll be contributing to the global effort to fight climate change. Much of the energy that we use during the summer goes into trying to stay cool and comfortable indoors. Reducing our household energy consumption makes sense for the planet and the pocketbook.

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Giving Our Planet One Day Off a Year
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Giving Our Planet One Day Off a Year

Mark your calendars! Did you know September 21st is Zero Emissions Days? This event aims towards giving our planet a break and reducing the use of fossil fuels in our everyday lives. What do this day entail? Here are some fun facts and ways to participate:

  1. This day was specifically chosen because the length of days and nights are equal!
  2. It is the same day as International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day
  3. The Goal: Have minimal use of gas, oil, coal, or electricity generated by fossil fuels
  4. One way to do this is to eat food that does not require the use of energy to make, or prepare your food a day early
Join the fun and make a difference in the environment! Click here for Zero Emissions Day website. For more facts on this day, click here.

What it’s like to shop at terra20
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What it’s like to shop at terra20

I’ve been working on promoting the Saving for Change partnership between terra20 and Nature Canada for a few weeks now. I finally had a free hour in my day and thought, this is the perfect opportunity to drop in to the store for a visit! In case you haven’t already heard,

Nature Canada members receive discounts on the many nature-friendly products, and 2% of those purchases will go towards supporting our efforts to protect and conserve our environment!

It’s easy, all you have to do is sign up and shop online or in-store! Find out more about Saving for Change here. Since I live so close to the Iris location in Ottawa, I thought a little bit of shopping would be a fun way to spend an hour on a sunny Friday afternoon. What is it like to shop at terra20, you ask? I had a great experience in the store. The moment I walked in, there was Amanda to greet me and explain how the store works. She pointed to the front wall, where there were several large logos. I learned that terra20 has researched the ingredients and production process of each of the products, and have created various logos that inform the shopper about the product. For example, the hand cream I bought contained no harmful chemicals, wasn’t testing on animals, and was made in Canada. I could see all of this simply by looking at the price tag in front of the product. They took all the work out of sustainable shopping! Picture of the terra20 ethical symbols [pullquote align="right"]"It’s important to know where the things we buy come from, who made them and how they were made. To create a brighter future, environmentally friendly products should be standard, not the exception." Read more here.[/pullquote]terra20 had an incredible amount of products, and tons of brands I had never even heard of! I literally spent 20 minutes just walking through the beauty products, and don’t even get me started on the food section! The store was organized by section with the help of giant black signs, and covered everything from baby clothes to home furnishing. As an added help, dispersed throughout the store were several tablets connected to the Internet, just in case you had any inquiries that the already knowledgeable staff couldn’t answer. It really was a great way to spend an hour and to learn about sustainable shopping. Image of the Saving for Change banner

Want to try shopping at terra20?

Join me and sign up for the Saving for Change program or submit a photo to our 75th Anniversary Photo Contest for your chance to win one of two 100$ gift cards! If you have any questions, please contact Nicole at nmiddleton@naturecanada.ca.

Court of Appeal to hear Prince Edward County turtle case
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Court of Appeal to hear Prince Edward County turtle case

The Ontario Court of Appeal has granted leave to hear the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ case for Blanding’s Turtles threatened by a wind energy project . This is the latest update from an ongoing legal battle over Prince Edward County’s south shore. The Court of Appeal will be deciding whether Ostrander Point GP can put a wind farm in endangered turtle habitat. This case will represent a landmark decision in Ontario environmental law. “It’s unfortunate that this even needs to be an issue,” says Stephen Hazell, the executive director of Nature Canada. “It is of course laudable that the Ontario government is pushing for renewable energy development. But the fact is, these projects simply cannot be green if companies are destroying sensitive habitat and threatening endangered species in the process.” Prince Edward County’s south shore is considered a “hot spot” for wildlife in the Eastern Lake Ontario Basin, and not just because of Blanding’s Turtle. The windy peninsula acts as a highway for migratory birds and bats. Naturalist groups are worried that wind development at this site will pose a major threat to migrating species, many of which are already at-risk. “Developers need to be sent a message about listening to communities and siting wind farms responsibly,” says Hazell. “We are very pleased to hear that the Court of Appeal will give this case its day in court.”

Deadline to comment on White Pines Wind Farm approaches
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Deadline to comment on White Pines Wind Farm approaches

This Saturday, May 10th, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed White Pines Wind Farm in southern Prince Edward County, Ontario. This expansive wind energy project anticipates 29 turbines, many of which are located in the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area and directly adjacent to Ostrander Point. The proponent has thousands of pages of documents on their website as part of their government application for a Renewable Energy Permit. Nature Canada opposes wind turbines in the IBA. These turbines will damage wetlands and globally rare alvar habitat, and threaten many species including migrating swallows, Purple Martins and raptors, and the at-risk Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Whippoorwill and Blanding’s Turtle. Other elements of the project—those outside the IBA and significant habitat—are more likely to have a minimal impact on wildlife. There are also many other areas in Prince Edward County where turbines could operate without posing a serious risk. We strongly believe that turbines should be kept out of Ontario’s wildlife hotspots. If this is something you feel strongly about, you can voice your opinions using the Ontario government’s Environmental Registry. The Registry is key tool for democratizing the environmental review process. It gives Canadians a unique opportunity to share their views about development projects with the Ministry of the Environment. You can submit your comments to the Ministry here. The deadline to comment on the White Pines project is May 10, 2014. Going forward, we will see the effects of the Ontario government’s recent amendments to the Ontario’s environmental regulations, and how public participation in environmental review will be compromised. Proponents of wind projects no longer require species at risk permits, and without the public permitting process, species at risk reports are now off the public record. For us at Nature Canada, this raises serious concerns about accountability and the public right to participate in decisions that could very well transform our landscapes. With an Ontario election on the horizen, we encourage Ontarians who care about nature to press their candidates on the issue of weakened environmental protections. Together, we can push for environmental standards that will make renewable energy projects like White Pines truly green.

International Dark-Sky Week
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International Dark-Sky Week

This current week is Earth Week, but did you also know it is International Dark-Sky Week too? These two events share similar messages and are closely linked. International Dark-Sky Week, part of the International Dark-Sky Associate (IDA), runs from April 20-26. The ultimate message of this week is to use lighting more efficiently in our everyday lives, especially at night. It raises awareness of the light pollution impacts on both the human and wildlife populations. “This isn’t just an astronomy thing,” states Scott Kardel, the Managing Director of the IDA. There is more to it as seen by studies done that show there are effects on migratory birds and turtles from light pollution . For more information on International Day-Sky Week and its importance, read the full story here.

Bedford Biofuels’ Kenyan Plantation in an Important Bird Area Goes Belly Up
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Bedford Biofuels’ Kenyan Plantation in an Important Bird Area Goes Belly Up

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"]Image of a Northern Carmine Bee-eater Northern Carmine Bee-eater by Michel Laplace-Toulouse[/caption] Bedford Biofuels, a biofuels company based in Edmonton, Alberta, appears to have closed its doors on its Jatropha biofuel plantation in Kenya that occupies a globally recognized Important Bird Area. Just this week, we received word from our partner, Nature Kenya, about the apparent closure of the plantation and the bankruptcy of Bedford Biofuels. On a recent trip to the plantation, Francis Kagema, Conservation Programmes Field Coordinator for Nature Kenya Coast Region, made the following observation. “Previously, the area was under satellite surveillance and one needed consent from Canada to have a look at the most important crop Jatropha carcus. Today herds and flocks of livestock are enjoying the cleared field. Hundreds of animals today were observed grazing among the 3 feet tall jatropha bushes.” Nature Kenya along with support from Nature Canada and other BirdLife partners, helped shed light on the impact of a plantation in a globally important bird area in Kenya which resulted in Bedford Biofuels being unable to advance the Jatropha biofuel plantation in this biologically important area. In 2011, we brought you the alarming news from our Kenyan partners that opposition to the plantation had been met with death threats. More recently, media coverage in Canada has focused on disgruntled investors in Bedford Biofuels who have sought help from the Alberta Securities Commission without much success. With the plantation closed, the various rare, vulnerable, migratory and threatened species including the Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Malindi Pipit Malindi Pipit, and Endangered Basra Reed-warbler have one less issue to deal with!

From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream – Part Two
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From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream – Part Two

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"]Image of mine trailings Mine tailings by David Dodge[/caption]

Guest blogger José Luis Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez shares his experience of working in the mining industry in the Canadian arctic. He explores an interesting alternative to storing mine waste in natural or man-made containment ponds that has had success in an Arizona mine. Read Part One of this story.And now for the conclusion of this story. Remember where we left off? I was telling you about how metal mining companies can turn their toxic waste into a revenue stream through a practice called “upcycling”.
Here’s a quick recap. Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value. Upcycling is an emerging, small, disaggregated industry that is full of innovation and is growing fast. It is upgrading a waste item to something better that can be used or sold for a profit.
For example, plastic debris floating needlessly in three oceans could become gasoline, diesel, kerosene, or light crude oil. Waste cooking oil will turn into biodiesel, and mine tailings will produce autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) building materials such as blocks, and roof and wall panels.There are no barriers to upcycling that cannot eventually be solved for it to become a widely used practice in mining. A change in industry attitudes, initial investment as part of a company’s sustainability strategy, government incentives, and closer collaboration between industry and communities are all part of a recipe for successful upcycling.
In the future, the intention of mining companies to make a profit and to make life better for metal users (i.e., everyone) , will be a harmonic intention that is integrated or combined in nature. This is another way to say, create a win-win situation. There will be no need to sacrifice a lake to achieve the goals of making a lot of money.
With a harmonic, integrated, holistic approach, and an upcycling mentality, cooperation between industry and government could see regulatory loopholes to pollute Canada’s lakes with toxic waste, like Schedule 2 of the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, replaced with valued conservation solutions.
Communities that are directly and simultaneously affected and benefited by a mining operation could join with government to invest in the conservation of any water body proposed for use as a tailings pond. They could do this by funding the construction on the mine’s site of a tailings detoxifying plant and another facility called a “tailings-to-Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC)” plant. I’ll get to AAC in a moment…
Mining companies generally like to focus on mining rather than new initiatives, so what would their interest be to collaborate or support building these or other value-added plants on their property? You will see below. But first, let’s talk cement.
Among all the environmentally hazardous materials in the world, cement is somewhere in the top among the most destructive. Every tonne of cement manufactured causes the direct emission of 0.8 tonnes of CO2.Mining can combine cement and unwanted, abundant mining tailings  to make concrete, particularly autoclaved aerated concrete. Already the Phelps Dodge Casa Grande, Arizona Copper mine tailings were used in AAC products with some limitations because the silica content was not ideal.This would reduce the amount of cement required to make concrete, and it would re-purpose tailings. Because tailings use displaces cement use, it also reduces the need for cement production from non-renewable resources.
Cooperation from the cement industry to promote the use of mine tailings as aggregate in AAC could also save lakes from becoming tailings ponds, and other water bodies from contamination, resulting in fewer disturbances on the environment, employment for more people, and the manufacturing of a useful product – all while reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Because I’m still translating from mining reality, these ideas sound expensive, not proven; they’re tree-hugging and pipe-smoking hippie talk. From the mining mindset, the push for implementing alternative disposal solutions to submerging tailings in water bodies needs a solid base on an economic reason.
That is when human reality kicks into mining gear.
The money fueling the lake conservation, and the cleanup and upcycling operations will not come from donors and donations, instead it will come from investors who are attracted to the idea of making a return on their investment and helping to conserve the lakes and other water bodies in the mine claim.
The investor behind the tailings detoxifying plant, which is a necessary piece of this puzzle, gets a return on investment  through the recovery of the trace metals contained in the tailings.
The investor behind the tailings-to-AAC plant makes money from multiple revenue streams;
1.    Selling the AAC products to the market;2.    Selling all the conservation attributes that a conserved lake/water body has to offer, including recreation, eco-brokerage, ecologically-friendly aquaculture, and agriculture;
CO2 emission reduction derived from replacing tonnes of cement with mine tailings in the AAC production. Selling the carbon savings from the AAC products to offset the carbon footprint of the mining project and of the cement company.3. There are some limitations as to where the type of tailings upcycling described above can be implemented, and material transportation costs, tailings detoxification  and metal recovery profitability, concrete quality and other factors have to be examined. Notwithstanding, it is this sort of technological innovation to reduce, reuse and  upcycle waste that separates stakeholders’ and key employees’ mindset from environmental compliance to business value.
Who knows, in the near futurer we may be reading headlines about a federal or provincial decision to give a harmonic, eco-effective, integrated, holistic mining project the green light, saying that avoiding environmental damage more than balances wealth, community prosperity and job creation.

From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream
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From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream

[two_third]Tailings ponds are also the safest way to get rid of the unwanted, useless by-product of economic development and prosperity. Guest blogger José Luis Gutiérrez-García shares his experience of working in the mining industry in the Canadian arctic. He explores an interesting alternative to storing mine waste in natural or man-made containment ponds that has had success in an Arizona mine. Whoever has been to the Arctic can tell you that it is a wild place. Some southerners love it while others want nothing to do with it. I spent time hiking the tundra and flying over it, admiring it from helicopters and small planes while I was working as a geological technician for a gold mining operation. Mining gold and many other subsurface resources generates a lot of waste rock (called “overburden”) and ore/mineral processing waste. It’s no minor task to figure out where to put all of this waste. What about under water? In mining terminology, water bodies either constructed or selected from natural deposits to become underwater storage for toxic waste rock are called “ponds,” Tailings Ponds. Let’s go back to the Arctic for a moment. First, if you have never been to the Arctic, let me tell you, as far as the eye can see, there are countless bodies of water. Based on my experience, that abundance leads most of  the people with a mining mindset i.e. miners, geologists, engineers, and government officials, to think of water bodies as expendable. From their perspective, there is no reason to bother constructing a man-made tailings pond. Why question taking all the fish out of their native lake and moving them elsewhere so you can  use the lake as a dump for disposing of pulverized waste rock generated from ore processing? Using a natural water body for tailings disposal is not completely without consequence or oversight. Under the current federal  Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, companies are required to do an assessment of tailings disposal alternatives, in addition to proposing plans for fish habitat compensation. Notwithstanding, there are several detailed studies, some even done by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) scientists, suggesting that current fish habitat compensation practices are not effective . The operation at which I worked is so remote in the far north, nobody is going to miss a particular lake. Not even the Inuit Government of Nunavut. You in the south will never even know it ever existed. Depending on the metal extraction method for a given project, tailings may contain arsenic and other substances, in larger or smaller amounts, that are nevertheless poisonous to humans and animals, as well as harmful to the local environment. Most mining experts would tell you that tailings ponds are one of the most environmentally friendly methods currently known to the industry to stop toxic, contaminant-laden tailings from becoming airborne or leaching what is called acid rock drainage. And remember, tailings ponds can be man-made or created using natural water bodies. Tailings ponds created from natural water bodies are the most economical method of waste elimination; even after factoring in the disposal costs for a lifetime program of post-closure monitoring for leaks, effluent quality, leaching, or release of metals from underground workings. This perspective is what I call ‘mining reality’. It’s how most of the people in the mining industry justify the practices of using lakes as dumps. To them, the people who disagree with metal mining companies converting natural water bodies into ‘impoundment areas’ for toxic mine tailings do not understand chemistry, logistics, economics, extraction methodology, return on investment or job creation. They are out of touch with reality, mining reality. Not only are they out of touch, but they’re also hypocrites. We all need the gadgets, toys and technology that would not be available if it were not for mining the materials to make the products that work for us; medical equipment, transportation, communication, computers. None of these things would be possible without mining, and metal mining often means tailings ponds – and affordable metals mean more cost-effective mines. In order to prosper and succeed, tailings dumps are inevitable, just like casualties of war. Who cares about wasting a few lakes when people need jobs? Tailings ponds really do mean jobs; for  northerners, southerners, easterners, westerners and everyone in between working at any metal mine; and in these difficult economic times, who is going to say no to a job? Any job, including long-term lake dump monitoring. In human reality, we are living in the year 2012, the 21st century, when technological innovation is advancing exponentially and industries the world over are increasingly environmentally conscious in an increasingly ecological market. So, with all these breakthroughs in technology, what if mine tailings could stop being an economic loss to the mine? What if they could stop contaminating effluent waters and lakes, creating major disposal costs, environmental impacts and corporate image problems? What if, instead, they became a cost effective resource, and a revenue stream? That wouldn’t make sense. Not in the mining model and mindset of business-as-usual anyway. So how about from a harmonic, eco-effective, integrated, holistic approach? Now mining is about blasting and extracting resources in an efficient manner for the most profit. Harmonic, Eco-effective, Integrated, Holistic; those words on their own don’t make sense when talking about mining. Let alone when they are strung altogether. Eco-effective, Integrated, Holistic. In mining? I think it’s possible. And this is how I can see it happening: Eco-effective sustainable design in mine planning could incorporate mills, workshops, and offices powered by renewable energy cogeneration and certified as LEED, BREAM or equivalent. Mining camps could operate as eco-lodges and have recycling and upcycling initiatives and facilities. Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value . Upcycling is an emerging, small, disaggregated industry that is full of innovation and is growing fast. It is upgrading a waste item to something better that can be used or sold for a profit. Wait a moment – mining waste could be turned into something valuable? The answer is yes, under the right circumstances. How does that happen? I’ll answer that question in detail in a follow-up post tomorrow, so stay tuned! José Luis Gutiérrez-García has worked and lived in tree planting, logging, mineral exploration, oil well, and mining camps for over 15 years experiencing their evolution first hand. Mr. Gutiérrez-García has a Master Certificate in Corporate and Environmental Sustainability from the University of San Francisco. In 2010, José Luis was recognized for successfully identifying cost savings and process improvement opportunities. In 2011, José Luis held the Chair of the Sustainability Committee for a remote gold mining operation in the Canadian Arctic. Contact José Luis at upcycle.the.gyres@gmail.com [/two_third] [one_third_last] jose luis G_artctic lake An arctic water body by José Luis Gutiérrez-García tailings_david_dodge_150w Tailings pond by David Dodge jose luis G. nunavut José Luis Gutiérrez-García in Nunavut. [/one_third_last]

Death Threat Received by Opponent of Bedford Biofuels Tana Delta Project
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Death Threat Received by Opponent of Bedford Biofuels Tana Delta Project

We have been reporting on developments in the Kenyan Tana Delta related to a proposed Jatropha plantation by the Canadian company Bedford Biofuels. We stand with our BirdLife partner Nature Kenya in their concerns about the environmental and social impacts of this project. Over a month ago, we wrote to the Canadian government about our concerns, but we have not heard back.

Now, we are even more concerned to hear alarming news that opposition to the project is being met with violence in the form of a death threat, currently under investigation by the Kenyan police. From BirdLife International:
Mr. Hajj Idris Bakero, a religious leader in Garsen Division, received death threats, presumably for his opposition to a jatropha project in the area.
On September 9th 2011, his wife Hamida Kori found a black plastic bag at the main gate to her compound, in it was petrol in a small plastic bag, four rounds of ammunition for an M16 Gun, and a warning note. Translated, the note warned the cleric not to continue “barking “about the project or else “these four bullets will get into your body, we will burn your wife and children with petrol so that your name disappears forever.” This threat has now been reported to the Kenyan Police. Find out more here. And stay tuned.

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