Andrea Rondeau column: Positives on the environmental front

Does hearten me so many people concerned about future of environment they’re taking it to the polls.

Things have been pretty depressing on the environmental front of late.

A recent report from the UN warns that one million species worldwide are at risk of extinction, a number unprecedented in human history. People, including our world leaders, persist in denying that man-made climate change is happening, and that we need to do something about it, even in the face of the latest science that tells us we have only a dozen years to prevent catastrophe. Our governments, even if they say all the right things, nurse along the fossil fuel industry billionaires in a way they sure never did when it was forestry jobs on the line. One could be forgiven for being cynical. But there have also been some bright spots. Paul Manley was elected member of parliament in a byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and he’s from the Green Party. Indeed, the Green Party has made inroads in many areas of the country, including PEI and New Brunswick. Even if I’m not expecting a Green government takeover, it does hearten me that so many people are concerned enough about the future of our environment that they’re starting to take it to the polls.

And in the Citizen on Wednesday we had a couple of good environmental news stories. First was notification from the Municipality of North Cowichan that it’s trying a new, more environmentally friendly way to kill weeds along roadsides and sidewalks. With no toxic herbicides involved, this new product uses mostly super-heated water, with a tiny bit of plant oils and sugars. Foamstream, as it’s called, has been proven successful in other places, so I see no reason why it can’t be a success here as well. Now if could only kill broom on a large scale…

The actions that various levels of government have taken over the years to control weeds on their properties has been a problem for those who have been trying to avoid noxious chemicals. Sprays have been used in public places, and adjacent to people’s private properties that they would hot have chosen to be exposed to for themselves. This move to a new product is good news for all of us.

The second environmentally interesting story was about the Cowichan Valley Regional District monitoring a new waste facility in Nova Scotia. This facility is using new technologies to take solid waste and make it into high-value fuels and recyclable materials.

Garbage is a big problem. In the Cowichan Valley it’s one we’ve chose to hide away from, in recent years. We ship our garbage to the U.S. in an out of sight, out of mind arrangement that can’t go on forever. We have to take responsibility for the waste we create. Increasingly composting and recycling, and actually reducing the waste we produce (an often forgotten component of the three “r’s”) is vital, but realistically, we’re still going to have some stuff to throw away, and so far we’ve failed to find a good way to deal with it. If we can build ourselves a facility to deal with our garbage, it would be a huge step forward.

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