Success and Failure at COP 27

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Car fumes are killing us. So why isn't anyone telling us not to drive? | Susanna Rustin | The Guardian

 

The 27th meeting of the Council of Parties, or COP 27 as it is commonly known, was grinding down to a slow stop on Friday, November 18, 2022.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the delegates, “Ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions are supercharging extreme weather events across the planet. These increasing calamities cost lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in loss and damage. Three times more people are displaced by climate disasters than war. Half of humanity is already in the danger zone. We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts. To that end, I have called for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems within five years, with the priority to support the most vulnerable first.”

Success came when the wealthiest nations on Earth, capable of hosting distractions like World Cup sporting events, finally declared financial support for the severe weather event damages affecting some of the poorest countries on Earth. The establishment of an international Loss and Damage Fund was seen as a major breakthrough, although who would pay and how much each nation would pay was left to future negotiations.

Failure came when the delegations could not reach agreement on emissions reduction targets. Mark Campanale, Director of Carbon Tracker, issued the following statement at the conclusion of COP 27: “While critical that the goal of 1.5C survives, as reaffirmed by G20 leaders, we cannot ignore the challenges it faced in Egypt from the fossil fuel lobby which turned out in force, viewing COP 27 as an opportunity to dress up “natural gas” as a climate solution.”

It is easy to blame the international fossil fool lobby for their economic insensitivity. “Greed is good” right? “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” We’ve heard the same arguments since 1988 when the accelerating climate change crisis was first announced to the world. However, it struck closer to home as I was walking my dog in the pre-dawn hours last Friday morning. We live in a typical residential neighbourhood, and on this typical cold, snowy November morning almost every vehicle in every driveway that we passed was idling, spewing out petrochemical emissions into the air. The stench was so intense from some of the bigger trucks that we had to circle upwind around them.

Some driveways of small semi–detached homes had up to four vehicles parked. Some had super-sized pick up trucks jammed in the driveway and onto the lawn. Many were sitting idling with no one in them – the curse of the remote electric starter. Start up the truck from bed, make a coffee, have breakfast, idle the engine for half an hour, and our air quality be damned.

This is Canada. We should simply put on some warm clothes and a parka, get out our snowbrush/scraper, and clean off our vehicles! We don’t lounge around inside for half an hour waiting for our idling truck to reach an internal temperature of 22C as all the exterior frost, ice and snow melts off. It’s time to Canuck up!

Almost every community in Ontario has idling by laws. Here are some examples:

The Town of Caledon‘s idling bylaw states: No person shall cause or permit a vehicle to idle for more than two (2) minutes total in a sixty (60) minute period in an outdoor environment.

Vaughan: No person shall cause or permit a Motor Vehicle to idle for more than five (5) consecutive minutes.

Toronto: The idling Control By-law limits idling to no more than one (1) minute in a sixty (60) minute period

There you have it. Any mechanic will tell us that a two minute idle is all we need to get the engine warmed up. Anything beyond that is wasteful and can damage our engine components. We can just go out to start up the car, brush and scrape off the snow and ice, and head off on our daily rounds. We don’t need an international agreement. We just need to think globally and act locally.

We may not be able to shake some sense into the profit filled skulls of corporate fossil fuel executives, but at least we can follow our own community’s guidelines for being part of the solution to a global climate crisis. If we truly want to cut global emissions, it might be good to remember that charity begins at home. The way I see it.
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Skid Crease, Caledon

Partisan Politics

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Does anyone know this man? (photo taken by neighbourhood security camera) The papers in his hands are third party advertising “report cards” on candidates in our municipal election.

Last week in Caledon, this man was reported to be handing out “report cards” on the two mayoral candidates. He claimed to be a non-partisan citizen volunteering for an “independent” third party. A homeowner noted that  the material being handed out was totally biased towards one mayoral candidate. The homeowner, concerned about the man’s aggressive behaviour, shared his concerns in a letter to me. The full text of that letter is printed below.

The report card on candidates that the “volunteer” was circulating appear to be the work of Third Party advertiser Kathleen Wilson and her Facebook page “A Better Caledon” which is promoting the mayoral bid of only one candidate, 

The homeowner recognized the bias and asked the volunteer to identify himself. The man said his name was “Mike” but no last name was given. If anyone can identify “Mike” from that security camera  photograph, please respond to this post.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Anonymous Concerned Citizen’s letter, as sent to me on October 19, 2022 The letter actually names names, but I have replaced the mayoral candidate’s name with an “X” until verification of the identity of the man in the photo is confirmed

“Last Friday I was at home and heard the doorbell ring and I proceeded to open the door. I figured this was a candidate lobbying me for his support for the upcoming municipal election. Being a person who supports our democratic process, I always listen to all candidates and allow them to elaborate on their platform.Instead, I was greeted by a very aggressive man that presented me with what he said was an unbiased third party report card* on the current council. I allowed him to speak and present his points, however the more he went on the more I realized he was actually campaigning for “X” and defaming other candidates. When he finished I let him know that it seemed that he was biased and I asked him if he was working with the ‘X” Campaign because of the way he was speaking so poorly of the other candidates? He was very adamant that he was not working with “X”and that was working with an independent 3rd party to share this report. I knew something was off with his story and when I asked for his name he responded, “Mike.“

The conversation went on for about 5 minutes and I asked this man 3 times if he was supporting any candidate and he always replied that he was not campaigning for any candidates and he wanted to share the truth. We eventually ended our conversation. He left.

I know well enough that these types of reports are supposed to be objective. However I found this report to be very subjective, leading readers to false assumptions by not telling the whole story.

I was puzzled by this interaction and it left me feeling very uncomfortable. I reached out to a family friend who has been a citizen of Caledon for years and I explained this usual interaction. As I started to describe the individual, my friend immediately said that this was “X’s” Husband. I sent a photo of the individual and he confirmed that it was indeed the ex-husband of “X”.

Why would this man lie about who he was? Why did he give me a different name? Why wouldn’t he just tell me that he was out campaigning for his ex-wife? At least I would have understood his motives for knocking on my door.

Is this “X’s” strategy? Having her ex-husband lying about who he is  to manipulate and misinform citizens. Is this not a contravention of the Election By-law when an individual misrepresents their candidate affiliation to the electoral public.

This incident has me questioning “X’s” motives and integrity. Elections should be about going door to door listening to the community and their issues while promoting your campaign platform. Instead “X” is  using misinformation and bashing the other candidates.

I’ve attached a photo of “Mike” going door to door and a photo of the ex-husband wearing a shirt promoting “X” and I’ll let you be the judge.

The citizens of Caledon have the right to know that “X” is not playing by the rules. I believe you are the means of getting this out to Caledon public.

I am available to answer any of your questions but I would like to remain anonymous if you don’t mind.

Kind regards,

Concerned Citizen

 

Freedom versus Freedumb

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WARNING: This semi-satiric opinion piece contains descriptions of ghastly violence not suitable for young children or politically correct adults.

Freedumb" Sticker by Michaelnilson | Redbubble

Ah, remember being stirred by the dying shout from the actor Mel Gibson in the movie “Braveheart”  as he screamed out “FREEDOM!” from the executioner’s block?  Many people forget that the movie was a fictional account of the life of the real William Wallace. There is the reel world, and then there is the real world.

In actual historical fact, when Wallace was captured by the English, he was strangled by hanging but released while still alive. That act alone, causing bilateral vocal chord paralysis, would have rendered him unable to speak.

But then he was “emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burned before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts. His silent head was dipped in tar and displayed on a pike atop London Bridge.” His body parts were distributed to four towns and cities across England and Scotland. This is how King Edward I dealt with uprisings in 1305, his own style of our much more humane Emergencies Act.

After tallying the cost, damages, pollution, and desecration of our Capital City and sacred memorials by the so-called “freedom convoy”, Edward’s way may have been a more permanent solution to ending the illegal occupation and subsequent threats of a summer repeat. “Freedom” can quickly turn into “Freedumb” when in the heads, hearts and hands of far-right, racist, homophobic, anti-science, misinformation mob mentality, Q-Anon conspiracy theory cultists.

These home-grown “Freedumb” terrorists tried to appropriate our national flag as their symbol, as if their selfish and stupid, fossil fuelled occupation had anything to do with true Canadian values of freedom and the right to dissenting expression. No, I thought the Emergencies Act came in way too late and was far too gentle.

The French use of the guillotine is faster, but a return to the slower but equally permanent punishment of gibbeting would greatly deter disturbances by freedumb fanatics this summer.  Gibbeting was a punishment whereby the criminals could be left hanging in iron cages outside the entrance to the town until they starved to death and the crows and insects finished the job.

Have a safe and happy summer responsibly enjoying our hard won democracy. Let’s try our best to keep the “dumb” out of our freedoms. A little tar might help, the way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

You Take My Breath Away: Truck Traffic, Aggregates and Air Quality in Caledon

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AM PM Blog: Danger Of Diesel Exhaust And How To Protect Yourself | Diesel trucks, Sexy trucks, Diesel

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at  the Town of Caledon regular Council Meeting, Bolton resident Joe Grogan made a delegation to Council regarding his concerns about increased truck traffic,  diesel fuel pollution, and air quality monitoring. In his presentation, titled Air Quality and Life in Caledon, Mr. Grogan requested support from the Town for “science based data which will measure the air quality here in Caledon.”

His presentation outlined the health concerns attributed to diesel emissions raised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). Mr. Grogan provided data from Lancet Oncology, 2012 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which stated that exposure to the mixture of diesel engine exhaust and particulates “should be reduced worldwide.”

Although it was a scheduled Town of Caledon Council meeting, Bolton’s Ward 5 Regional Councillor Annette Groves was not in attendance and Mr. Grogan expressed his concern: “I’m disappointed. frankly, that Councillor Groves at the moment is not available, but hopefully she will appear and make some comments.”  

Mr. Grogan asked that Council respond to his presentation in such a manner as to “make public safety and protection of the natural environment a greater priority for the Town of Caledon.”

Councillors responded with praise and positivity to Mr. Grogan’s presentation, calling it “excellent”, “well researched”, and “informative.” Area Councillor Nick deBoer made a motion, seconded by Area Councillor Lynn Kiernan reading: “That a meeting with the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks be requested at the TAPMO Conference to bring forward air quality concerns in the Town of Caledon, and to request on-going active monitoring in the areas outlined in the Presentation and that this motion and the Presentation be provided to the top ten aggregate producing municipalities in Ontario requesting support for air quality testing at the provincial level.

The motion was passed unanimously by all present with the Clerk noting that “Councillor Groves is still absent.”

Following the delegation, Council members were asked for their impressions of the delegation. Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis responded with this observation: “It was evident that Mr Grogan had spent significant time researching and preparing for his delegation to Council.  He was thoughtful and passionate about the need for air quality monitoring and I was pleased that my colleagues on Council agreed.”  

Area Councillor Nick deBoer added, “Mr. Grogan’s delegation was very well researched and presented.  The Town is  committed to continue reducing the use of diesel in our own fleet as we transition to biofuels, electric and eventually hydrogen. I am pleased that my colleagues who were present unanimously supported the Motion to meet with the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.”

Area Councillor Lynn Kiernan, who seconded the original Motion commented: “As the Councillor representing significant rural and environment lands in Caledon, air quality and other impacts of growth are certainly concerning to me. That’s why I fully supported the Motion passed after Mr. Grogan’s presentation.”

That Motion will be taken to the meeting with the Ministry of the Environment that will take place with the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario (TAPMO) at the full Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference on August 14-17, 2022.

The full video and audio of Mr. Grogan’s May 24th delegation and Council’s questions and comments are available online at Council Meeting – May 24, 2022 – eScribe

BREAKING: The Town of Caledon staff have made the request as per the Motion as part of their AMO delegation requests, but will not know until August if they were granted a meeting.

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News report by Skid Crease originally prepared for Just Sayin’ Caledon

The Sunrise to Sunset Summer Solstice Trek

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  • The origins of this trek are probably as old as the first human recognition of the regularity of seasonal change and the cycles of life that followed. If we lived in an equatorial zone we had two seasons to acknowledge: wet and dry. Our storytelling mythology reflected this reality of geography. Similarly, if we lived in a temperate climate, we experienced the four cycles of spring, summer, autumn and winter that created the birth, growth, harvest, death and rebirth cycles. These are found in most of our northern hemisphere current holyday ceremonies and religious mythologies. Add the thirteen cycles of the moon in a lunar year and you get the beginnings of all sacred traditions we created in our attempt to understand the great mysteries.

The Equinox Treks are reflective ones, acknowledging the equal balance of day and night, the light and the dark of life,  the Return of the Sun King and the Departure of the Sun King. This a time for personal soul searching, a reexamination of goals, a celebration of returning life on the one hand, the asking of Gaugin’s three big questions on the other hand:

“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”

Whereas the Winter Solstice Trek on the shortest day of the year is a journey into the dark night of the soul, the Summer Solstice Trek on the longest day of the year is a celebration of the sensory – yes touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound but also the deeper senses like a sense of wonder, and a sense of belonging, and a sense of ecstasy.

In the beginning before the days of satellites and hard science, the Treks often lasted three days or more to ensure the traveler covered the time of the sacred seasonal change. Now most of us are lucky if we can put a day aside for each of those journeys. If we can, here’s a guide.

*****

We wake up in the very early morning, before the sunrise has even lightened the sky. We check the pack we had prepared the night before – water, fruit, biscuits, our favourite granola, knife, matches/lighter, moderate first aid kit, small sketch pad and pencil. On these treks there is no camera, no phone on, no watch. All the images we want to save will be stored in memory, like a slideshow in our mind. All the minute details we will record on our sketch pad, taking the time to truly see. We will have left our starting and ending point with a friend if we are going solo. But this is a trek best shared with a friend where a single look or touch between us says: How wonderful it is – this sense of life here.

We have researched our starting point where our trailhead begins, and have a bearing on where we should be heading to be safely out of the “wilds” before full darkness falls, But there is no designated route. That will be discovered. “Where are we?” Here. “What time is it?” Now.

We begin our trek in almost total darkness as we leave our trailhead. We walk carefully, slowly to let our eyes adjust to the details of the fforest around us. As the sun rises, the colours brighten, the shadows grow shorter and new details are revealed. We stop whenever something arouses our curiosity. We may sketch or simply absorb the moment. We stop to drink when we are thirsty or eat when we are hungry. There is little speech between us – rather, there is an intimate sharing of each discovery. We will change direction at a whim as something catches our attention, each taking turns leading the trek. When the sun is high we take a lunch break, lie back and rest. 

Refreshed, the journey continues with always a new discovery to share along the way, a new memory to hold. Gradually, the sunlight begins to fade and we begin the slow circle back to our trailhead. We will arrive in darkness. But that is not the end of a Solstice Trek. Now we will go to a feast, to celebrate and talk about the discoveries of the longest day of the year.

And then to sleep, perchance to dream.

*****

In the true John Muir style of the Trek, the walk is done in pure wilderness where other humans are not encountered. That is very difficult for those of us in the GTA. so we do the best we can with local conservation areas or trails like the Bruce Trail or magical parks like Mono Cliffs. There are still oases of wild yet to be discovered and perhaps best done on a slow, wandering, wondering sunrise to sunset journey.

The way I see it.

*****

Skid Crease, Caledon

*****

Footnote: A variation on this theme was designed by our friend and neighbour Pam Leudke, who simply leaves her home in the dark on the day of the Solstice and heads out down the local Humber Valley Heritage Trail and beyond. She walks until the sun sets, often with a friend, and then calls for a pick-up wherever the darkness finds her. Her route is usually not in complete wilderness but passes through small communities on the way with stops at shops and local eateries, nicely combining a little bit of culture with the natural spaces of our local area..