We feature scientists, business owners, activists, entrepreneurs, cooks, and other experts from around the world who have found ways to live more sustainably.
119. Sustainable Affordable Housing
Jocelyn Burzuik is the President and Senior Construction Manager of Sundance Construction in Manitoba, and when it comes to her new housing development, affordability is directly related to sustainability!
Jocelyn combines her Metis heritage and First Nations concepts of community, with the physical housing designs of Icelandic culture, to build a northern Canadian neighbourhood built with wellbeing and sustainability at the forefront.
While housing developments often go up as fast as possible after a forest clearcut for the most profit possible, Jocelyn is building within nature, and using affordable designs specifically tuned to our northern climate for best efficiency, and affordability for demographics such as retirees and single parents. Concepts that promote maximum wellness and sustainable longevity for the home buyers is Jocelyn's top priority.
118. Carbon Tax Problems
Canadians pay a lot of taxes and have a lot of expenses. Far too many Canadians are struggling with poverty and have very high electricity bills, our phone bills are some of the highest in the world, and our internet is expensive. Our cities and towns were built in the spirit of American-style car culture that makes it difficult to walk anywhere. Much of these cities were designed as urban sprawl and we have to brave a 60 degree Celsius weather variation that goes from freezing cold to very hot in the summertime. It's expensive to live near our workplaces, in large part because our government allows for so much foreign real estate ownership and our immigration rates are so high, so many people get pushed out of city centres and need a vehicle to access food and employment.
The last time I was in France, a bottle of wine was 1/4 the price of the same bottle purchased in Canada, and we have to import a lot of our fresh fruit, nuts, and berries from places like Mexico, Chile, Peru, and California because it's too cold and dark to grow a lot of food here. Transporting fresh food into Canada take a lot of fossil fuels, although we do have fresh food grown during the wintertime in massive greenhouses that require lighting and heating, and our prairie provinces are star producers of many grains. We receive giant cargo ships of goods in Vancouver and Montreal from overseas that are loaded onto trains and trucks and delivered all over our massive country. Not only is it expensive to live in Canada, but we are completely dependent on oil and gas.
Dan McTeague spent 18 years in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal Member of Parliament and is currently the president of affordableenergy.ca. He joins the Zero Waste Countdown to talk about the trouble with Canada's carbon tax that was forced upon unwilling provinces who didn't come up with their own carbon pricing scheme. The results have not been pretty. In fact, the argument can be made that the carbon tax takes money from the poor, and gives it to the rich. For example $12M from a "climate fund" was given to the 2nd richest family in Canada to buy new fridges, and the Ontario government used to hand out up to $14,000 to wealthy people who can afford the $137,900 Tesla Model X.
I mentioned in this episode a CBC article that says the carbon tax reduces emissions. You'll notice the title is "Scheer says British Columbia's carbon tax hasn't worked. Expert studies say it has". Many people only read headlines as they scroll through social media, but when you actually read this article, it shows one year of decreased emissions then uses the excuse that population increase should erase emissions increase. Juggling data around like this is how you can lie with statistics to say whatever you like.
The CBC article says emissions have dropped in other places that have implemented a carbon tax but fails to mention any increase in efficient technology. Further in the article the CBC repeats the tagline that "most" families will get back more than they pay in carbon tax, but the trouble with using obscure words like "most" is that there's no proof, no data, and no concrete evidence.
I claim it is false that "most" families receive a bigger rebate than what they pay to the government in carbon and fuel taxes, because the carbon tax on my transportation costs is more than double my rebate, without even considering the increase in food prices and propane prices (propane heats my water and while I have an electric heat pump to heat my home, propane is required for temperatures lower than about minus 15 Celsius). If you scroll down to the bottom of the article you will see CBC felt compelled to issue a correction that the carbon tax is revenue neutral, which falls in line with what Mr. McTeague is saying, that this is just another tax that fills the coffers of greedy politicia
117. Solar Oysters
Oysters from Chesapeake Bay, Library of Congress
Oysters are little nutritional bombshells. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fatty acids, and particularly of note during Covid: Vitamin D and Zinc. More than 80% of hospitalized Covid patients were found to be lacking Vitamin D, and those with low zinc levels tended to fair worse with the virus than those with healthy levels.
Solar Oysters has designed a solar powered barge that will farm oysters vertically through the water column in the Chesapeake Bay area. Elizabeth Hines is the Vice President of Maritime Applied Physics Corporation engineering firm that's working on the design.
While solar panels aren't usually the best option for electricity grids, due to their intermittency and need for fossil fuel or nuclear backup, off-grid solar panels produce clean, free energy once built and installed. Oysters are a sustainable source of protein and nutrients that require little inputs.
116. Veteran Compost
Justen Garrity founded Veteran Compost over a decade ago after his military service. The company focuses on two things:
Employing veterans and their family members; and
Turning food scraps into high-quality compost.
Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average. That means that a combat vet has a harder time getting a job than the average person. Justen is not only compassionate about helping veterans, he's also helping the environment significantly by reducing landfill and making an eco friendly compost for healthy soils.
115. Plastic in the North Sea
Susanne Khün holding up a fulmar
Susanne Khün has a Ph.D from Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands where she has put years of research into her thesis called "Message in a belly - Plastic pathways in fulmars".
Tune in to hear all about Susanne's research on whether seabirds are ingesting plastic from fish, what's happening with toxicants from plastic once in their guts, and how ships are contributing to a fulmar's diet.
There's even some really good news about plastic pollution in the North Sea you won't want to miss!
114. Endocrine Disruptors and Plastics
Scott Coffin has a Ph.D in environmental toxicology from the University of California Riverside and works for the California State Water Resources Control Board.
Scott has done many studies on toxicants in plastic that involve some fascinating scientific techniques. He found that estrogen receptors are being activated by many different toxicants in plastic, not just BPA, and discusses how this is not only worrisome for fish populations but also for humans.
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