The Earth is Full.

In his recent talk from TED2012, Paul Gilding elequently states the big picture themes most important for every human on the planet. I have echoed many of these same themes in my latest presentations on Sustainability.

Summary? We – our planet, our species, and every living thing – is at a crossroads. Regardless of an extremist minority, every reputable mind on the planet has proved through thousands of studies and observations that our planet is in dire trouble . The economy that supports our lifestyle and well-being is voraciously devouring irreplaceable natural resources.  It currently runs at 150% of the capacity of the planet. The issue? We are just it warming up.

Will it stop? As India, Brazil and China come online? Not likely. In all likelihood it will run faster and faster until it truly comes apart at the seams. This is already happening. Social unrest, political manipulations, environmental deficit and  financial collapse are the blatent signs.

So, things are going to change. I’ll say it again. Things are going to change. However, we have the knowledge, technology and tools to change things for the better. To shape a new economy and a new civilization that functions in harmony with the planet. That runs on renewable energy, produces no waste, and fosters a joyous social experience for all people. One that does not create poverty. One that supports a robust ecology and biodiversity. One that can go forward into the future. Sustainably.

All we have to do is CHANGE THE WAY WE THINK.

We are at a crossroads. Our glorious opportunity is that we can choose between pushing our civilization onward down its current path to ultimate collapse and  destruction, or change the way we think and behave – change what our priorities are and what is important to us – and build, step by step, a beautiful future for a thousand generations to come.

So, what are you doing about it?

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_gilding_the_earth_is_full.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-03-02&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

~ Graeme Hodson-Walker

Raw Sustainability!

I am just thrilled to have been a guest speaker at Vancouver’s RAW Foundation for their exceptional 200-hour Raw Food Educator Program this past weekend.

Janice Skoreyko, Founder of RAW Foundation and Canada’s leading Raw Food educator, has been a guest on Bif Naked’s Rock Star Cooking show, has just launched her new DVD “Raw Food to Live For!” in Whole Foods Market, and is finishing up her first recipe book. Amazing!

Janice has acquired an astounding body of knowledge from her studies around the globe, and empowers every student that graces her culinary arts school with the astonishing benefits of adopting a living foods diet.

As if this weren’t enough, for the  incredible 200-hour Raw Food Educator Program she has truly outdone herself by assembling a panel of expert speakers from eight different related disciplines to further enrich the deep knowledge she’s instilling in the lucky students.

Raw Food is food that is not processed or cooked at high temperatures (read: roasted, baked or fried) so that the maximum quantity and quality of nature’s nourishing nutrients go into your body, instead of being lost before they even get there. While the building blocks of the diet are fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, don’t kid yourself – raw cuisine is as elaborate and diverse as any other!

From a sustainability perspective, raw food is exciting for several reasons. Primarily, it does not include meat or animal products. In case you haven’t heard, growing meat for food is possibly the single biggest contributor to global warming and climate change.

Look for more detailed information in some of my other posts. The verdict – even if if you do eat meat, eat less. At lot less. If you do eat meat or other animal products, do your best to buy from a local or grass-fed source for meat and cruelty-free, free range and organic sources for eggs and dairy. It’s the biggest single move you can make for the planet, and is also a much better move for your health.

Furthermore, raw food is all plant based, uncooked food. Whatever “waste” you make (read: not wrappers and plastic – only orange peels and apple cores!)  is perfect material for compost. It is by definition the closest thing to nature’s closed loop life cycle whereby any left overs become nutrients for more plants. Awesome!

If you haven’t tried a 100% raw food diet, don’t fret – simply start by adding more living foods to your current diet to increase the healthy benefits nature’s food can give you. Instead of a few leaves on the side of the plate – make your salad the main course! Add nuts and avocados to your greens for protein and healthy fats, some shredded carrots and beets, and whatever else is in season. Your planet, and your body, with thank you!

For more information on raw food education, contact the best – the RAW Foundation at 778-839-8424 or info @ rawfoundation.ca. If nothing else, sign up for their free newsletter and get free recipes each month for raw and living foods you can easily make yourself!  

Raw food and sustainability go hand in hand. Personal and planetary health in a single step. Try it out!

~ Graeme Hodson-Walker

$3,000,000,000 (that’s Billion) and counting in tax breaks to oil companies since 2009 – when Harper said he would stop doing just that.

In 2009 if you looked at the 20 most profitable companies worldwide, 7 of the 20 were oil companies. And their combined profit was roughly equal to the other 13 companies from all other industries added together.

So it’s the most profitable industry globally. Add to this the fact that governments subsidize oil and gas to the tune of $800 billion a year globally and $1.4 billion annually in Canada alone. You have to ask: Why are governments subsidizing the most profitable industry and why subsidize climate change?

The only way to affect change is to take action. Thanks to the Climate Action Network for their subsidy ticker at the link below. Click it to see the current total! Then take 60 seconds to send the pre-written email message to the Prime Minister who represents us to let him know what you think about it.

http://www.climateactionnetwork.ca/e/fossil-tax-breaks/oil-barrel/index.html

Thorium! The world’s sustainable fuel source?

I get so excited to hear about SOLUTIONS, and here’s one with incredible potential.

Thorium, a chemically-stable flouride salt, is gaining momentum as a safe, cheap, and sustainable replacement for volatile uranium in nuclear power generators. 

Thorium turns to a liquid at a much lower temperature than uranium and does not have to operate at such high pressures, so Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors, or LFTRs (say, “Lifters”), do not require the massive safety walls that are normally needed to contain uranium reactions. What’s more, LFTRs do not necessarily need to be located next to a large body of water for cooling.

In an emergency power loss, a frozen plug at the base of the LFTR core would melt automatically, letting the hot thorium run into a containment chamber where it’s heat could dissipate slowly, without the immediate need for cooling water, power, or any human intervention.

These safety properties reduce as much as 80% of the cost of building current reactors, and drastically reduces the requirements for their large size and infrastructure. In fact, design already exist for thorium reactors that could fit on the back of flatbed truck! Thorium does produce radioactive materials, yet they dissipate in hundreds, not tens of thousands, of years.

Thorium also burns at a very high efficiency, compared with us only getting about 1% of the potential out of each unit of uranium. Thorium is 4x more abundant than uranium, so these two metrics mean that thorium is about 200x more efficient than uranium and MILLIONS of times more efficient than fossil fuels! A mere football-field sized amount of Thorium is enough to power the entire world for a year.

And what about fossil fuels? Well, get this: LFTR can manufacture substitutes! A LFTR can be used to split water (H2O) and combine it with CO2 that is harvested from the atmosphere to produce hydrogen, methanol, ammonia, and dimethyl ether (a direct replacement for diesel fuel).  Imagine – carbon neutral gasoline and diesel, sustainable and self-produced. Incredible!

Thorium reactors can be small, cheap, safe, and highly efficient. They can offer a distributed energy production model that could power entire cities, towns, individual homes, cars, trucks and…? The potential is enormous.

Got some time? Watch Kirk Sorenson in his riveting TED talk , just posted today.

~ Graeme Hodson-Walker.

Oilsands KeystoneXL permit denied! …for now. Next: Battlefield British Columbia.

Some days, in the David and Goliath battle that is the struggle for balance between human behaviour and environmental harmony, some days – key people make choices that gives me heartfelt hope.

Yesterday President Obama turned down a massive lobby from Big Oil for a permit for the KeystoneXL pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

Exciting? Yes!! This action delays the project and with good reason – the proposed route went through sensitive ecosystems and through the critical Ogallala Aquifer.

BUT THIS FIGHT IS NOWHERE CLOSE TO OVER. If we think the richest corporations in the world are going to simply back down, we are dead wrong.  TransCanada has already publicly stated they will return re-armed with a new route application.

AND here in our Beautiful British Columbia, the next battle field in this war is already in progress. The proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline would carry more than half a million barrels of raw crude oil (known as bitumen) daily across important salmon-bearing rivers, coastal rainforests, and sensitive marine waters in British Columbia. From Canada’s Pacific coast, the extracted bitumen would be transported by supertanker to refineries in Asia, California, or elsewhere.

The Harper government is blinded by the alleged need for perpetual economic growth, and is ignoring any conversation about the environment. In fact, hired gun American political experts are bearing their weight down on us, the Canadian public, through offensive propaganda (read the comments to their posts to get the real picture).

They have already come up with their twisted slogan – Tar Sands “Ethical Oil”. Ethical Oil? Apparently, oil that doesn’t involve killing people directly with tanks and bombs to get it is ethical, but if you do it more slowly and take all living things with you, it’s “ethical”. Funny, too, when the US military machine is the biggest single consumer of oil in the world.

What can you do? Add your voice to the millions of conscious souls who are fighting this destructive attack on our future. One of the best and easiest ways? Sign electronic petitions.

Sign up so you can send pre-written letters to political decision makers with a few clicks. I recommend the NRDCNature Canada, Environmental Defense, and especially Pacific Wild, which also has instructions to send letters to executives at Enbridge.

You can also get involved in the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel Stakeholder Engagement process that is going on right now. Send a letter of comment, get updates or listen to the proceedings.

And, get educated. The Pembina Institute has reports, blogs, and news on this important issue. It’s going to take everything we have, so click the links above to take these small but very significant actions!

This is one of the most important environmental issues of our time. Get informed and get involved now!

FOOD.

Let’s be clear: the way we produce, package, store, ship, sell, take home, store again, and utilize our food – as well as the type of food we choose to consume – is most likely (depending on exactly who you talk to) the NUMBER ONE contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change. More than every car, truck, bus, train, plane, boat, motorbike and go-kart put together. Astonishing.

As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a problem”. And we do. Our food choices make a huge difference…but…we’ve gotta eat! Every day. If we are fortunate enough, 3 times. And, within reason, we choose what we eat. So every single one of us has the power to vote with our forks and choose how we affect our future on this planet with our food. Three times a day and well over 1000 times in a single year.

The related exciting news is this: the best choices for the planet are also generally the best choices for our health! So easy! Now isn’t this a winning equation?

More posts to come on this most important and far reaching topic. For now, understand that the choices you make about what you eat make an incredible difference to your world and, of course, your health.

Gettin’ dirty – bringing in a urban farm harvest at SOLEfood

I called up an old acquaintance, Seann Dory – someone I’ve known for years from our past lives – to see if I could lend a hand with bringing in the some of the winter veggie harvest at the SOLEfood Urban Farm.

I’m well aware of his incredible and admirable efforts – SOLEfood was started by Seann and is Vancouver’s first urban farming installation that not only brings organic food production into the city, but does so in the socio-economically challenged DTES (downtown eastside). Part of SOLEfood’s gift? Providing the opportunity for DTES residents to learn skills and find personal solace through reconnecting with growing food.

I’ve been to the site a few times while doing some consulting with local start up Patch, but today was the first day I was able to get my hands in the dirt, literally.

SOLEfood’s advisor is the well-respected Michael Ableman. I can say this much – for a primarily plant-based eater who sees his fair share of organic produce, the Rainbow Chard and Collard Greens we harvested today are some of the absolute best I’ve ever tasted. Soft and supple with vibrant flavours. And of course it doesn’t get any fresher (and therefore rich in nutrients).

Food grown in your city means it does not have to be transported for long distances and over many days (or weeks), which leaves a huge carbon footprint and arrives with greatly depleted nutrient density. Also, food grown close-by in small lots is not subject to the vulnerability of large scale farming in far away places, which can singularly be affected by a single extreme weather event.

What’s happening with urban farming in your city? They often need volunteers, and are most often started and run by people who know a thing or two or growing food (the best way to learn is to do it hands on!). What can you do to play a part in urban farming where you live?

Thanks for the opportunity Seann, and kudos to you and the SOLEfood team for your future-forward work to improve food security in my city.