Green Water

A Virtual Water Economy

The term green water may conger up images of a murky swamp or a swimming pool that is needing some attention. A Virtual Water Market exists today.  The green water is embedded in crops; it takes 1350 litres of water to produce 1 KG of wheat  and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Many countries are now choosing to import products with a heavy “water footprint” (volume of water used per year) rather then use the resources to grow the crop in their homeland.

Changes in the world livestock production, the increase in consumption of meat world wide and the overall change in land use has created an unsustainable system. This is the most important fact that must be recognised and dealt with.

Water scarcity is now a reality in many places that have never known droughts.  Valuable farmland has been turned into golf courses and developed into subdivisions while the need for food has reached an all time high with no slow down in sight.

Last year  Oxfam, an international organisation that addresses issue of poverty and social injustice, released  a new report warning that food prices will sky-rocket in the near future.  With prices set to rise from 120 to 180% in the next 20 years, this will lead to food shortages and even more hunger.

Having recently attended a presentation at SFU I learned about the U.S. Drought Monitor which shows clear data on the climate situation state by state. The data is clear; there is trouble in the American south and now that we are in full growing season the effects of these droughts will soon be felt.

How we choose to use water has never been more important then now. If we continue down the present path we can  predict more water shortages will  happen.

Growing food for human consumption (instead of fuel or livestock feed) must be the priority. Governments, farmers, and consumers must all get on board with making changes that will ensure a future of food security.

Originally published June 2011

Humankind has not woven the web of life.

We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

All things are bound together.

All things connect.

~Chief Seattle, 1855

Green washing

The “Greener Living” headline on the cover of the local Metro newspaper today caught my attention. It turned out to be an add sponsored by a bottled water company!

The paper included a four page insert that features tips about Zero Waste, stories about things like Extended  Producer responsibility and the environment.  I was bemused and a little annoyed to read that “Metro has partnered with Dasani to “teach Canadians about  Choices” Really?

Clever marketing schemes like this disguise the truth, and while I appreciate the fact that some information in this ad is actually factual, the bigger story is the  Green Washing of this product.

Most people are aware of the environmental catastrophe that has resulted from the bottled water industry. Companies like Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola) want to green their image and help ease consumer concerns by creating plastic bottles made out of plant materials instead of the traditional petroleum plastics. The fact is that we are facing a food crisis, we are also dealing with a global garbage disaster, with a major source of the this garbage being disposable water bottles.(plastic or otherwise)

1 second — that’s 90,000 bottles per minute

From the reuseit site;

Fast Facts on Disposable Bottles

  • 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were thrown away in one year (2008).
  • Tap water is cleaner, cheaper and healthier than store-bought water.
  • 60 billion single-use drink containers were purchased in 2006, and 3 out of 4 were thrown out directly after use.
  • Plastic bottles are among the most prevalent source of pollution found on our beaches.

Understandably  water bottle companies are now taking a new approach and turning to non petroleum based plastic for the bottles.  This does not stop consumers from throwing them away.

Bottled water has been proven to be less regulated then public drinking water, it is more expensive and  destructive to the environment, from the natural disruption in water flow at the source through the manufacturing and transporting of the water itself. It carries a large carbon footprint.

Single use items and products made to sooth our conscious, without long term thoughts about the impact these products have on our planet and sustainability are just a ploy to confuse matters.

Using Sugar cane Ethanol From Brazil is suppose to give us all a happy kumbaya feeling about this choice, but it leaves a bad taste behind.

When we choose to turn food into fuel, packaging, or anything other then nourishment, while millions of people around the world,(especially in places like Brazil) don’t have enough to eat each day it is not responsible. The production of sugar cane entails mono-cropping, the extensive use of pesticides, and perpetuates poverty.  We have to question the ethics here, and the reality of what choosing to support this product really means.

It is not just another choice. The reality of the matter is this;  if we  support products that harm the people and the planet we will all be forced to deal with the consequences.



John Taylor Gatto

In the realm of educators, John Taylor Gatto is somewhat of an anomaly. He was a New York City school teacher for thirty years. Over his career he earned many distinctive accolades including New York City, and State School Teacher of the Year many times. What is different about Gatto is obvious if you have read any of his  books and essays published over the years. He feels we need less schooling, and real choices in how we educate our children.

I am a huge fan of his, and with each of his books  I read, I am more convinced that our decision to home school our children is the right one.


Recently I picked up Dumbing us Down, The Exausted School and I have just finished reading  A Different Kind of Teacher. The latter is a perfect description of John Gatto. His ideas and appreciation of what young people are capable of is an affirmation of what I have always believed.

Genius is an exceedingly common human trait..”

In A different kind of Teacher Gatto asks just how public are our public schools?

He writes;

I feel ashamed that so many of us can not imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free

He goes into great depths writing about what the true history of compulsory schooling actually is.  Do people know they have a choice? The hows and whys of  “public schooling” is an education in itself.

The oppressive influence of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and their determination to build an efficient industrial state, led them to a plan to systematize the rearing of the young.

“At the core of this social strategy was the removal of important decisions from the familial and individual control and their reassignment to the legion of specialists.”

Without personal command over time and without the rights to associate freely with others and to speak freely, life begins to lose its meaning.”

“.. important life choices are not the proper province of any professional establishment

Whole people resist being told what to do and so are natural enemies of schooling

Gatto encourages people to seek the truth, for themselves and their children. He asserts that schools are not designed to encourage independent thought, creative or scientific minds. Look at history and you can plainly see that the school system is not broken, it is functioning exactly as it was designed to. The real problem is that we have surpassed the old design and need a new model to overcome the society of mindless consumption and bankrupt morality that persists in the west today.

To be free you need to celebrate your own history, humble and tormented as it might be, and the history of your own parents and grandparents, howsoever that history be marked by scars and mistakes. It is the only history you will ever have; reject it and you reject yourself.”

Live free or you won’t really be alive at all.”

Originally published November 2009

Naomi Klein’s Thought Bubble: Ethical Oil?

Keystone Pipeline XL

The Huffington post ran an article recently about the massive sit in going on in front of the White house right now. The protest is over the Keystone XL Pipeline, planned to run from the Canadian tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.  The project has garnered protests on both sides of the border.

This New York Times editorial opposes the pipeline, sighting two main concerns;  “the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, (including drinking water for millions of people and ground water used for over 30%  of the United States agricultural needs) and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.”

Building this pipeline would double production (extraction) of oil over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. While creating an equally alarming rise in green house gas emissions and cutting down at least  740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir.

This Keystone Pipeline Infographic clearly documents the 12 SPILLS that have already occurred in the one year old Keystone 1 pipeline.

Can anyone stop the  corporations and two governments that are set on putting profits before people?

From Occupy Vancouver October 15th 2011

Occupy Vancouver _ today’s experience.

I was down at the the Occupy Vancouver movement  on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery again today. It was a nice day, dry, and my six year old daughter Ava was with me. We made a donation to the food tent, Girl Guide cookies, of which we have an ample supply. We walked around the “tent city” and visited the healing tent and free people’s library. Then Ava had to climb the stairs all the way to the lion and sit on the outer most ledge, for the “best view”.

We made our way back down to the fountain and someone gave us some side walk chalk. We proceeded to draw stars and flowers and  a hop scotch. Other people joined us and we all decorated some of the concrete there. Lots of people mingled around. Many people were eating, dogs and  poy spinners were there, an especially good roller skater was doing some tricks,  there was music playing. People were arriving and setting up signs and posters. People in business suites where there, people in ripped, dirty camouflage were there.

The place had a feeling about it that was part carnival, part camping comradery, and part exciting platform of change.

That is what is going on at Occupy Vancouver.

What does a movement that will change history look like?  This.  If you accept we are already  living in a new paradigm.  If you have been waiting for a message to arrive there couldn’t be a clearer one. People want change. We can’t continue to marginalise people and stand by while corporate greed is rewarded.

While I was on the Occupy Vancouver grounds I was approached by a member of the media. A female reporter and her camera man came over and asked me if I would answer some questions. Always happy to give my opinion I agreed.

It turns out the “Santa Clause Parade” which is known as the “Rogers Santa Clause Parade” in Vancouver,  has decided to move the route, instead of strolling down the same street that currently is the domain of the Occupy Movement. I was asked how I personally felt about the route being moved ” being this is the biggest fundraiser for the food bank of the year” somehow implying that this movement was impeding the collection of donations? I was also told my presence there was representing the 99%, and I corrected her with the fact that I was only representing my self there.

. The reporter told me some people “would not feel comfortable bringing their children there.”   I couldn’t think fast enough of all the clever retorts I could come up with over the next few hours. I was able to say  it felt like a safe place to me, I had my child there.  It seemed to me they didn’t need to reroute in my opinion. But the implied fact was we couldn’t let the families see people and tents in the middle of a cold and damp November day.Apparently  that does not make happy shoppers!?

What is the message?  They are not going away.  All People deserve to be treated equally.  A corporation is not a person, and should not be pandered to by our “elected officials” and others who stand to profit at the expense of our environment,the rights of people, jobs , food security, biodiversity and the list goes on.

What the reporter failed to realise is that the food bank exits for the very people who are out protesting the state of world affairs. The irony that this parade and food collection can not co-exist on the same street as the Occupy Vancouver movement goes to show how narrow minded people still are. It is time to rise up and Occupy some deep thoughts about the kind of world we are creating.


World Food Day – October 16th

October 16th is World Food Day.  Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of The United Nations, the purpose is to raise awareness about food security issues, agriculture, poverty and hunger around the world.

Each year a different focus is taken in an attempt to encourage dialogue, highlight areas of concern, and as a call to action. In 2011 the theme is Food Prices -From Crisis to Stability. Food Security is on the minds of everybody these days. From shopping local at farmers markets and growing food in community gardens, to  buying sustainable and fairly traded foods.  The media is saturated with stories and images about hunger, from the horn of Africa to our local elementary schools.The story is the same, poverty leads to food insecurity and in the poorest nations, death.

Yesterday I went down town to Occupy Vancouver, to stand in solidarity, and bear witness to this important movement.

What do the Occupy Protests have to do with food security?  The movement is a voice for us all, it is students, and families and seniors. It is the unemployed, and the underemployed. It is a global call to action for every person who feels the system needs to change, starting now.Occupy Wall Street is the direct result of the dissatisfaction felt by  millions of people.

The issues are varied, but one message is clear; We can not continue to consume and exploit natural resources.

The famine that exists today is a direct result of greed. Will we allow this to continue?  Sometimes these issues seem far away and we can feel overwhelmed and helpless to make a difference. Action speaks louder then words.  Grow some of your own food, volunteer in any capacity working with food. Help people in your own neighbourhood, donate to local food banks, and organisations around the world that are helping the most vulnerable. You can make a difference.

URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at