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Ontario To Take Landmark Climate Change Action

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Last month, the province of Ontario passed revolutionary climate change legislation that lays the groundwork for them to join the largest carbon market in North America, linking them with the Quebec and California market already in place.

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This measure guarantees that the province will responsibly invest the proceeds from the cap-and-trade program into actions that will reduce greenhouse gas pollution, generate jobs, and assist both people and businesses make the change to a low-carbon based economy.

Under the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, the funds that are produced from the cap-and-trade program will be deposited into the province’s “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account.” Every Canadian dollar that is raised will be invested in initiatives to reduce harmful GHG pollution and further the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Upon royal assent, the province is expected to officially launch the new cap-and-trade system January 1, 2017. While it is still in development, the current plan is the result of a combined effort between the provincial government and the local business community, various environmental organizations, the public at large, and indigenous communities.

The Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act falls under the province’s Climate Change Action Plan, a radical plan with 80 different policies that encompasses nearly three dozen different “actions” that will be implemented beginning in 2017. The primary goal of this $7 billion plan is to reduce the current amount of greenhouse emissions Ontario releases each year. This will be done in stages, with the first goal of a 15 percent reduction from 1990 rates by 2020; 37 percent by 2030, and a massive 80 percent by the year 2050.

To achieve these goals, substantial expenditures will be made in several key areas. Here are some of the highlights of how the $7 billion will be spent:

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Almost $4 billion will be used to retrofit existing structures, enabling them to be heated from solar, electric, or geothermal sources while keeping energy rates low. An energy audit will be required before one is able to sell their home. New building codes in 2030 will require new construction homes and most buildings to be built without natural gas or other fossil fuels as their heating source. All new construction will have this requirement by 2050. $175 million is allotted to bring government buildings up to code.

Changes to the transportation industry will also require a major outlay. Almost $300 million will be used for electric car initiatives, with the government providing a rebate of up to $14,000 for each electric car purchased. Installing a home charging station will net a $1,000 rebate. Lower income residents may qualify for an additional subsidy to remove older vehicles from circulation.

Money will also be earmarked for building charging stations, and new construction will be required to include charging ports. School districts and the trucking industry will also receive almost $300 million for electric buses and lower carbon trucks. The GO Regional Rail Network will receive $300 million for upgrades to its infrastructure, and an additional $200 million will be used to make roadways safer for bicycles.

As continuing green research is of the utmost importance, $375 million in funding will go towards R&D, including the building of a Global Centre for Low-Carbon Mobility that will further research green transportation technology. The manufacturing industry will receive 1.2 billion for new equipment and machinery to assist with their compliance.

The majority of the funding to implement these programs will come from the cap and trade program. “Cap” refers to the limits that will be set on emissions. The limit will be gradually lowered each year so the goals for 2020, 2030, and 2050 are met.

The “trade” refers to the carbon allowance market that will assist businesses with meeting or coming in under these limits. The less they emit, the more money they save. The cap will set the limit they can emit, and if they exceed the limit, they will be fined. The cap limits will apply to all major industries, including the energy sector, both electric and natural gas producers, the transportation industry, and major manufacturers. Emitters will be allotted so many credits or allowances. One ton of carbon dioxide will be the equivalent of one allowance, and the total amount of allowances will be equal to the total cap. Business will be aware of the diminishing yearly caps and their allotted allowance, which will enable them to plan ahead.

Depending on the industry, some companies will naturally find it easier to comply than other industries. Many won’t end up using all of their allowances, while others will struggle with their given allotment. This is where the trade comes in. It will allow companies to buy and sell their allowances with one another. The reason this will work is because carbon dioxide is unique in that it is a global pollutant; whether it is released in Toronto or Chicago or Beijing, it all goes into the air, affecting the entire globe, not just the local air quality.

A company that is able to effectively cut their pollution will end up with leftover credits. They can then sell these to other companies who require more credits yet while they work to change their current operations. This will provide an economic benefit to the company that uses less, translating into a profit in their pocket for reducing their emissions output and reducing pollution. The pollution caps are still in place and met each year with this market system.

The natural gas industry will also be using renewable natural gas (RNG) content to help them meet their goals. RNG is a renewable natural gas that is created from the organic waste created from landfills and wastewater treatment plants. Their industry goal is to use five percent RNG by 2025 and 10 percent by 2030. It is blended with natural gas and requires no changes to home heating and cooking equipment to use. The use of RNG-blended natural gas in these amounts will be the equivalent of removing approximately three million vehicles from circulation.

The Chamber of Commerce has urged the Liberals to delay the cap and trade system for another year, saying too many questions remain unanswered, while the Progressive Conservatives support the reduction of emissions, but believe it should be a neutral tax rather than a market, fearing the Liberals will use the money to balance the books.

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Togo, West Africa Added To A Growing List of Countries That Are Banning Glyphosate

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Togo, a country in West Africa has decided to ban the use of toxic chemical pesticide, glyphosate because of growing health and environmental concerns.

  • Reflect On:

    Togo joins 20 other countries who have decided to ban this pesticide, do you think your country will ever do the same?

Recently, a country in West Africa, Togo has prohibited the ‘import, market or use of glyphosate and any other product containing it.’ This decision was finalized in December of last year by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Production and Fisheries, Noel Kouerta Bataka.

If you are unfamiliar with glyphosate, it is a chemical pesticide made by none other than agricultural giant, Monsanto, Bayer. Glyphosate can be found in RoundUp and used on crops that have been genetically engineered specifically to resist its toxicity, allowing farmers to kill the weeds and pests without killing their crops. The problem is, it is extremely toxic not only for the consumer of products containing it, but for the land and soil as well where it is grown.

There have been numerous studies, many of which CE has reported on that link it to cancer, liver disease, autism, birth defects, brain damage and more.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage (et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691)

After 2 years of political discussions in Togo, regarding the worlds most popular herbicide, many are celebrating the decision that was finally made to have it outright banned. Bataka has allowed a 12-month moratorium for all of the current glyphosate supplies to be either used or destroyed.

Ban Of Glyphosate Around The World

As awareness grows regarding the health concerns of glyphosate, so does government level support worldwide. Not only has Key West, Los Angeles, Miami and The University of California banned or restricted the use of this toxic chemical so, have 20 countries around the world. These countries are,

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  • In Africa — Malawi and Togo.
  • In Asia — Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar.
  • In Central America — Bermuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Costa Rica
  • In Europe — Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands

So we still have yet to see bans in Canada, United States, Mexico and many other countries, but hopefully stories such as these will keep the awareness and momentum going and help others to see that this toxic chemical pesticide should not be anywhere near the food we are eating or on our precious Mother Earth.

It’s a big problem, and it’s now entered into our food supply.

How To Avoid Glyphosate

One might believe that they simply have to avoid genetically engineered foods to avoid glyphosate, and while that is a good start, unfortunately it’s not that black and white. There are many non-GMO foods that are still sprayed with this chemical and thus have high concentrations of it.

In reality your best bet would be to grow all of your own fruits, vegetables and even nuts, but unfortunately in this day and age this is not very plausible for everyone.

The foods that are highest in glyphosate are: soy, wheat, almonds, peas, beetroot (including beet sugar), carrots, sweet potatoes, quinoa, peas, tea, meat and dairy, corn and oats. However, many other unsuspecting foods have also have tested positive for high levels of glyphosate including many fruits and berries such as: apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, grapes (wine as well), lemons, olives, peaches, pears and more.

To avoid glyphosate altogether sticking to an all-organic diet is necessary. If this is an obstacle for you, consider locally grown produce where you can talk directly with the farmers about their growing practices. Many farmers grow organically , but cannot afford to obtain the organic certification. You can also wash your produce in baking soda and vinegar click HERE for instructions.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem hopeless at times to even try to avoid environmental toxins like glyphosate, we have to remember that the more we do, and the more we put our money where are mouths are and vote with our dollars, the less these chemicals will be used. We have already seen many big brands step away from using GMO ingredients because of consumer demand, so it may not be as far off as you think.

As countries like Togo step forward and do what is right for their citizens and the planet, awareness will continue to grow and it will assist others in seeing the truth about these chemicals and inspire others to make a change as well. We have more power than we realize and anything can change, with enough awareness.

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Bees Absolutely Love Cannabis & It Could Help Restore Their Populations

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study published in Environmental Entomology shows that multiple bee populations are very attractive for hemp, and that hemp crops can be a very important factor for the survival of multiple bee colonies.

  • Reflect On:

    Remember when DDT was deemed safe? It was sprayed all over crops as well as children. Today, we are approving substances that are clearly having a detrimental impact on our environment. Why are harmful substances constantly approved for use.

New research out of Cornell University that’s been published in Environmental Entomology, shows that humans aren’t the only fans of cannabis. The recent findings also compliment a study published last year at Colorado State University that discovered the same thing, that bee’s love cannabis. The recent legalization of hemp in the United States seems to be having a very positive effect on multiple bee populations.

The Cornell study states:

We identified all bee visitors to the species level and found that hemp supported 16 different bee species. Landscape simplification negatively impacted the abundance of bees visiting hemp flowers but did not affect the species richness of the community. Plant height, on the other hand, was strongly correlated with bee species richness and abundance for hemp plots with taller varieties attracting a broader diversity of bee species. Because of its temporally unique flowering phenology, hemp has the potential to provide a critical nutritional resource to a diverse community of bees during a period of floral scarcity and thereby may help to sustain agroecosystem-wide pollination services for other crops in the landscape. As cultivation of hemp increases, growers, land managers, and policy makers should consider its value in supporting bee communities and take its attractiveness to bees into account when developing pest management strategies.

The authors go on to emphasize:

Bees provide essential pollination services in both natural and agricultural systems; yet, both wild and managed bees have been adversely impacted by numerous characteristics of large-scale, intensified agriculture, including the widespread use of chemical pesticides and insecticides, persistent pathogens and parasites, and the loss of seminatural nesting habitat and plant diversity (Goulson et al. 2015Dicks et al. 2016). Landscape-scale loss of natural areas and plant diversity, a defining characteristic of intensive agriculture, occurs as a consequence of the increased size and connectivity of areas devoted to agricultural production (Meehan et al. 2011). Habitat loss associated with agricultural land-use change imposes nutritional stress on bee communities (Naug 2009) by reducing the diversity of floral resources and imposing temporal gaps in resource availability (Di Pasquale et al. 2016). Changing land use patterns, therefore, threaten the sustainability of the pollination services that our agricultural systems rely upon.

With the recent legalization of hemp in the United States, more pollen sources are popping up for bees. which is an encouraging thought.

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Hemp flowers late in the summer releasing an abundance of pollen during a period of native and agricultural floral dearth (Dalio 2012Koh et al. 2016). As a result, hemp pollen may offer a vital subsistence resource to bees at a point in the season when they are resource-limited

The study goes on to cite multiple studies that have documented the importance of hemp pollen in supporting a diverse community of bees, especially during times of scarcity. This is a theme emphasized throughout the entire paper, the fact that it has strong potential to enhance pollinator populations.

The study concludes:

Hemp is a high pollen producing crop flowering during a period of floral resource scarcity and supports a diverse array of bees in the northeastern U.S. landscape. The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States (Schluttenhofer and Yuan 2017) may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics. The potential for hemp to serve as a floral resource for bees is influenced by landscape composition, the height of hemp plants, and temporal factors. Growers, extension agents and policy makers should consider risks to bees as pest management practices are developed for this crop (Cranshaw et al. 2019).

The Takeaway

Insecticides, and other pesticides and herbicides that have been sprayed heavily within North America and other countries have been linked to a dramatic decline in bee populations by multiple studies. This has made big news within the past few years alone. A decline in bee population has devastating consequences for the global food supply of human beings, the bees themselves and several other species. Everything is interconnected, and human beings have long had the potential to operate in various ways that are more harmonious with all life on planet Earth. So ask yourself, if the solutions exist, what’s the issue with regards to getting them implemented? When it comes to the substances that are killing off the bee population, they are also having negative consequences for human and environmental health.

It’s great to see the planet become more aware. Consciousness with regards to a number of different topics, like environmental awareness is drastically changing quite rapidly. Shifts in consciousness lead to action steps, slowly, but surely.

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Two Guys In Mexico Created Vegan Leather From Cactus

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Adrian Lopez Velarde and Marte Cazarez have found a way to make "leather" out of cactus. It's one of many ways we can stop harming animals and start to implement environmentally friendly practices when it comes to developing some of our products.

  • Reflect On:

    When it comes to such products, the best thing you can do is vote with your dollar.

Although there are some heart-warming stories that are coming out of Australia right now, it’s truly devastating what’s happening there, especially for the animals. Approximately 1 billion of them have lost their lives due to the fires. In the midst of all of this, however, let’s not forget about the fact that hundreds of millions of animals are killed every single day for human consumption, as well as products that we buy, like clothing, for example.

Compassion is the main reason that the vegan market is thriving, and continues to grow, from food, all the way to to the manufacturing of multiple products. There are hundreds of examples to choose from, and one of the latest comes from Adrian Lopez Velarde and Marte Cazarez.

After finishing university, they found themselves growing more and more concerned about the environment and the treatment of animals, and as a result decided to come together, after years of friendship, to create a cruelty-free alternative to animal leather. They recently debuted “Desserto,” which is an organic leather made entirely from cactus. It’s the first of its kind.

The product is a great replacement for both animal and synthetic leather. It’s breathable and durable, the touch and feel is very similar to leather, and again, it’s a completely sustainable material. It’s also less water intensive, free from phthalates, free from toxic chemicals as well as PVC-free.

According to Vegan First,

The duo showcased the product last month at the International Leather Fair Lineappelle in Milan, Italy.

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Plant-based leather alternatives are a growing market, with innovators turning to pineapple, olives and coconuts to produce eco-friendly materials. Earlier this year, high-street retailer H&M unveiled a vegan jacket made from pineapple leather, while German footwear brand thies launched a line of leather shoes made from olive leaves. Closer to home, Kerala-based brand Malai fashions leather and accessories from coconuts!

It took the inventors two years to come up with the material. ‘Nopal leather’ is made through a series of processes that produce a powder which is then mixed and layered over cotton canvas. The recently presented the material at an international exhibition in Milan.

Things are changing quite rapidly on our planet, with a shift in consciousness in so many different areas, we change the world as a human collective. One of many great example comes from the fact that America’s largest milk producer has filed for bankruptcy.

The world is changing, and it’s changing fast, we are currently in the process of a great transformation, and have been for quite some time. Exciting times!

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