Transition Brockville

Newsletter 095, 22 September 2014


Why Greenland's "dark snow" should worry you

Slate / Eric Holthaus / 16 September 2014
There are several potential explanations for what's going on here. The most likely is that some combination of increasingly infrequent summer snowstorms, wind-blown dust, microbial activity, and forest fire soot led to this year's exceptionally dark ice. A more ominous possibility is that what we're seeing is the start of a cascading feedback loop tied to global warming. [Researcher Jason] Box mentions this summer's mysterious Siberian holes and offshore methane bubbles as evidence that the Arctic can quickly change in unpredictable ways.

This year, Greenland's ice sheet was the darkest Box (or anyone else) has ever measured. Box gives the stunning stats: "In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption."

Perhaps coincidentally, 2014 will also be the year with the highest number of forest fires ever measured in Arctic. Box ran these numbers exclusively for Slate, and what he found shocked him. Since comprehensive satellite measurements began in 2000, never before have Arctic wildfires been as powerful as this year. In fact, over the last two or three years, Box calculated that Arctic fires have been burning at a rate that's double that of just a decade ago.


Next up: Harvest Potluck Dinner

Newsletter readers and their friends and family are invited to our annual Harvest Potluck Dinner, to be held on Sunday, September 28, at 4:00 pm, in the program room at the Brockville Museum.

Bring one or two of your favourite dishes created from local foods, whether from your own veggie gardens, the Farmers' Market, or a neighbouring farm. It's amazing the variety of food – from appetizers and soups, to main dishes and salads, to desserts – that fill the buffet table at Transition potlucks.

We'll also take this opportunity to socialize and share news, to review Transition Brockville's accomplishments over the past year, and to look ahead. As the conversation about climate change goes increasingly mainstream, we'll discuss what role Transition Brockville – and you – can play in making a difference for the future.

WHEN: Sunday, September 28, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
WHERE: Brockville Museum, 5 Henry Street

Later Presentations

October 26: Chris Wood, City of Brockville: Solid Waste Management and Recycling
November 23: [TBA]
In the works: Emergency preparedness; A discussion on GMO foods

Please let us know what you'd like to hear about, or to hear more about, through this online form.


TB rain barrels available

Thanks to the donation of used, food-grade barrels by locally-owned and operated Burnbrae Farms, Transition Brockville now has a supply of rain barrels available for sale. You can reduce your watering costs and support the work of Transition Brockville at the same time by purchasing one of our barrels for the unbeatable price of $50.

Community outreach

Members of our Steering Committee are available to speak to groups throughout the community, whether it be a lunch-and-learn at your place of business, a presentation to your board of directors or group members, or an informal neighbourhood discussion. Contact us at

Our top 50 article tags


Brock Trail action backed

Recorder & Times / Ronald Zajac / 16 September 2014
The Brock Trail needs money, not more talk, city councillors believe. Members of council's finance, administration and operations committee agree the trail must be a fixed part of the city's budget for the next 10 years and they're recommending the full council make that a policy. T...

Common Ground: Sharing the Earth with species at risk

FAB / Newsletter / 05 September 2014
To all interested teachers/ educators/ citizens: Together, the Leeds-Grenville Stewardship Council and FAB have developed a special presentation to illustrate the importance of species at risk and biodiversity in our communities, and we would be happy to share it with you and your class or interest group. ...

REAL comments on Smiths Falls Draft Official Plan

REAL Update / 03 September 2014
While the plan lays out many laudable sustainability goals, REAL noted it does not contain a means of setting targets or of measuring achievements - "If you don't measure, you can't manage" - so REAL's primary recommendation was for inclusion of a measurement system. In addition, REAL made recommendations on: ...

Forman Farms fuels an innovative path

Eastern Ontario AgriNews / Jeff Moore / August 2014
The Formans now own and rent over 2,400 acres, run a property improvement and agricultural services business, as well as a pellet mill and mulch mixing and grinding enterprise. They also own a trucking and delivery service, and Christine runs a successful greenhouse operation at the farm, too. ...

Something new sprouting at fire station

Cornwall Seaway News / 11 August 2014
The Cornwall Fire Department and Transition Cornwall+ have joined together to promote home-grown healthy vegetables, and the fun of sharing as a community. Firefighters are caring for the thriving Children's vegetable garden planted by families and Transition Cornwall+ Food Action Group during the Incre...

Energy East vs. The Climate

Ricochet / Bill McKibben / 03 September 2014
Hundreds of thousands of people have come together to fight pipeline projects across the US and Canada, to stop mega-load shipments and above all to stand with First Nations in Northern Alberta and draw a clear line in the sand for politicians: being serious on climate change means rejecting the tar s...

TransCanada's proposed Eastern Mainline Project - Project update

TransCanada / Mike Wilfley / 20 August 2014
As a result of ongoing engagement with local municipalities, landowners and residents in addition to discussions with local natural gas distribution companies, TransCanada has reduced the project scope and is now proposing to construct approximately 250 km of 36-inch diameter transmission pipeline in f...


microFIT price review and 2015 procurement target

Ontario Power Authority (OPA) / 29 August 2014
On August 29, 2014, the Minister of Energy directed the OPA to conduct the price review for the FIT and microFIT programs. The OPA will begin the annual price review process immediately, starting with a stakeholder questionnaire, and post the new price schedule by September 30, 2014. The new price sch...

Atikokan generating station operating on biomass

Ontario Power Generation / Press Release / 10 September 2014
Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) is now operating on biomass. Biomass is an emerging fuel source that is recognized as beneficial to climate change mitigation. The station is the largest power plant in North America fuelled by 100 per cent biomass. ...

EV charging to boost eco-tourism in downtown Grimsby

Sun Country Highway / 04 September 2014
The Sun Country Highway electric vehicle charging stations installed by Doug Curtis' team from Grimsby Power are two 100 amp breaker models delivering the highest AC charging rate possible for a level two station. The speed of the charger helps to future-proof the infrastructure investment for many years...

Oxford Community Energy Co-op tours Oxford County

OSEA Newsletter / September 2014
Oxford Community Energy Co-operative (OCEC) is inviting Ontarians to become its members and investors. OCECs preferred shares and bonds are released at a face value of $1,000 each and 5 shares and/or 1 bond is the minimum investment requirement. There is no investment ceiling, but investments over $1,000,000 r...

Quebec-Ontario electricity trade is smart, but not simple

Globe and Mail / Christopher Ragan / 26 August 2014
Last week, Quebec's and Ontario's premiers announced their desire to work together on crucial issues, including climate change, interprovincial trade and infrastructure. It is very positive for Canada when our two largest provinces recognize the benefits of co-operation. We should certainly...

Redirecting anti-wind energy

Alternatives Journal / Susan Holtz / September 2013
During the last 10 years in Canada, as well as elsewhere in North America and other parts of the world, proposed wind energy projects have spawned fierce opposition and intense controversy. It's not headline news when members of the public react against possible changes to their neighbourhood...


RRSP eligibility for renewable energy co-operatives?

mondaq / Ian D. Shewan / 16 September 2014
One of the major obstacles facing renewable energy co-operatives is the concern that, although they are a co-operative for the purposes of the Cooperative Corporations Act (Ontario) (the "CCA"), they may not be co-operatives for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada) (the "ITA"). In order to be...

Common loon threatened by climate change: report

Global News / 10 September 2014
New research by the Audubon Society says the flip side of a one-dollar coin may be the only place most Canadians will be able to see a loon by the end of the century. A report by the environmental organization says the bird is one of 314 species whose habitat is threatened by climate change. That represents ...

IMF calls on Canada to raise carbon taxes, cut income taxes

Globe and Mail / Julian Beltrame / 31 July 2014
The International Monetary Fund says Canada and other countries can improve their economies and environment by hiking energy taxes – while cutting them on people and capital. In a new book, Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice, the IMF essentially endorses policies at times ...

NWT wildfires

NWT Live Fire Map / 24 August 2014
2014 to date: 69 Fought fires - 233 Monitored fires - 78 Fires out - 380 Total fires - 3,315,943.08 ha Total area

Tar sands, trade rules and the gutting of human rights

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy / Patrick Tsai / 21 August 2014
An increasing number of people are beginning to realize that the term "free trade" denotes an extension of corporate rights and profits at the expense of sovereignty, labor and the environment. The current free trade negotiations of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Invest...

Leaked CETA treaty: Major blow to buy local

The Tyee / Andrea Rexer / 14 Aug 2014
The outcome isn't what the provinces and municipalities had hoped for. CETA will likely severely crimp if not end "buy local" strategies at all levels of government in Canada. Many local governments and municipalities have used public tenders to foster a stronger local economy, requiring, for example, tha...


August was hottest on record worldwide, says NASA

The Guardian / John Vidal / 16 September 2014
August 2014 was marginally the warmest August worldwide since records began 130 years ago, according to new data from Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Temperatures measured by government meteorological offices using land, sea and satellite data suggest this year's global high was ve...

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

BBC News / Mark McGrath / 08 September 2014
According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year. "The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere...

Greenland ice loss increases fivefold from late 1990s / 21 August 2014
And so, by January of 2014, heat forcing had continued to accumulate at a very rapid pace. CO2e heat forcing had spiked to 481 ppm, enough to melt the entire Greenland Ice Sheet and much of Antarctica as well, if maintained or increased over a long period. And the Greenland Ice sheet was, indeed, melting a...

Water's edge: The crisis of rising sea levels

Reuters / Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson, Duff Wilson / 04 September 2014
WALLOPS ISLAND, Virginia – Missions flown from the NASA base here have documented some of the most dramatic evidence of a warming planet over the past 20 years: the melting of polar ice, a force contributing to a global rise in ocean levels. The Wallops Flight Facili...

Winged warnings: Built for survival, birds in trouble pole to pole

Environmental Health News / Alanna Mitchell / 25 August 2014
In North America's breadbasket, populations of grassland birds such as sweet-trilling meadowlarks are in a free-fall, along with those everywhere else on the planet. Graceful fliers like swifts and swallows that snap up insects on the wing are showing widespread declines in Europe an...

Drought conditions wreak havoc on Latin America

NPR / Lourdes Garcia Navarro, Carrie Kahn / 29 August 2014
Parts of Latin America are severely parched. The drought is fueling clashes, forcing rationing, decimating crops and affecting travel through the Panama Canal...

Ten reasons to take peak oil seriously

Sustainability / Robert J. Brecha / Vol. 5, Issue 2
Abstract Forty years ago, the results of modeling, as presented in The Limits to Growth, reinvigorated a discussion about exponentially growing consumption of natural resources, ranging from metals to fossil fuels to atmospheric capacity, and how such consumption could not continue far into ...

A big summer story you missed: Soaring oil debt

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 29 August 2014
Goldman Sachs now reckons more than half of the oil companies listed on the stock market -- are spending five times more than what they did in 2000 chasing extreme hydrocarbons. As a consequence they need an oil price of $120 a barrel to remain cash neutral in the future. Spending more cash to get ...

Limits to Growth was right. We're nearing collapse.

The Guardian / Graham Turner, Cathy Alexander / 02 September 2014
The first stages of decline may already have started. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 and ongoing economic malaise may be a harbinger of the fallout from resource constraints. The pursuit of material wealth contributed to unsustainable levels of debt, with suddenly higher p...


One of the REconomy Project's aims is to find new ways that communities can provide support and investment to local enterprises, who in turn offer benefits back to the community – not just in terms of jobs – but also strengthened local resilience, minimal environmental impacts and fairer ways of trading an...

The revenge of the circulating fan

Low-Tech Magazine / Kris De Decker / 10 September 2014
The steadfast rotating fan has been employed to keep people cool since the eighteenth century, and it remains highly effective, requiring much less energy and providing more comfort than air-conditioning. Cooling people by increasing local airflow is at least ten times more energy efficient ...

How to harvest, cure and store 20 storage crops

Mother Earth News / Barbara Pleasant / August/September 2012
Detailed instructions for food storage, including curing and storing onions, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, apples, squash and other produce that will last all winter.

Plant pollination primer for backyard gardeners

Mother Earth News / Barbara Pleasant / October/November 2014
Understanding plant pollination is more crucial than ever, as we are in the midst of a severe decline of native pollinators because of ubiquitous pesticide use in monocrop agriculture. While we may not be able to change this unsustainable practice overnight, we can make some changes in...

How to build a cold frame

Mother Earth News / Betsy Matheson Symanietz / 28 September 2011
If self-sufficiency is one of your goals and gardening is one of your passions, building a cold frame is a great way to take a step forward in both areas. You can extend your growing season to harvest more fresh food more months of the year, and also have a new place to start seeds...

Grocery stores or farmers' markets: Which offer safer food?

Globe and Mail / Jason Tetro / 20 August 2014
Over the past decade, another group has been investigating the locavore effect: public health officials trying to determine if locally produced foods were microbiologically safer. The risk of foodborne illness from eating foods at the retail grocery store was already well known, but officials want...

Fighting for a sane food system

Mother Earth News / Joel Salatin / October/November 2014
One common and extremely frustrating misconception I encounter is that my approach to sustenance makes me a food snob. I'm viewed as some sort of elitist if I spend my food dollars on local, compost-fertilized produce and pasture-based meats. But spending $20 or $30 on a meal of low qual...


  Francis Koster: Finding local investments that pay off / 07 September 2014
In this podcast, Francis highlights a number of the case studies he's collected at his website, The Optimistic Futurist, where motivated individuals have improved their local schools, roads, food, water supply, etc. while earning double-digit returns. These models can be adopted in nearly any community,...

  The Agenda with Steve Paikin: An Economy We Share

TV Ontario / Steve Paikin / 08 September 2014
They call it the "shareable economy." A collaborative economy that runs parallel to the regular economy and consists of bartering, exchanging, renting, trading, leasing and swapping of goods, services, time, capital, space and businesses; all sustained by new mobile and...

  Drought conditions wreak havoc on Latin America

NPR / Lourdes Garcia Navarro, Carrie Kahn / 29 August 2014
Parts of Latin America are severely parched. The drought is fueling clashes, forcing rationing, decimating crops and affecting travel through the Panama Canal...

  So what can Permaculture do for us?

Local Future Network / 18 November 2010
Permaculture educator Nathan Ayers explains the roots of permaculture, how it addresses peak oil and climate change, its connection to transition towns and sustainability, and the guiding permaculture principles.


Book Launch: The Myths of Safe Pesticides

Canadian Organic Growers
WHEN: Thursday, September 25, 7:00 pm
WHERE: West End Well, 969 Wellington St. W., Ottawa

During Organic Week, Canadian Organic Growers invites you to the launch of The Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu. Meet author André Leu, international expert on sustainable agro-systems, and learn more about the truth behind pesticides. The presentation will be followed by a social hour and food and beverages will be provided.

Free admission - donations welcomed. For more information visit: or contact Anne-Marie at or call 1-888-375-7383.

Paddle the Arch Tour - Brockville Islands

Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network
WHEN: Saturday, September 27, 7:00 pm
WHERE: St. Lawrence Park, Brockville

Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, together with 1000 Islands Kayaking, invite you to join one of the most scenic paddles of the season. The Brockville Islands tour will provide you with glimpses of the area’s rich history – which includes War of 1812 raids, a naval battle and numerous shipwrecks. See ancient geology and natural landscapes along the renowned St. Lawrence Seaway. This active paddle includes a Paddle Canada certified guide plus a delicious island picnic lunch featuring Local Flavours. Our “on the water” interpreter Murray (‘Life is short, paddle often’) Golledge will share his local knowledge of the Islands. Approx. 12 km. Kayak experience required. Rain-date Sunday, September 28. This is one of five non-profit tours in 2014 co-ordinated by the Frontenac Arch Paddling Trails volunteer committee, with proceeds going into paddling infrastructure.

For more information and to register, please contact Steve at 1000 Islands Kayaking, 613-329-6265.

UCLG Hazardous Waste Day

United Counties of Leeds-Grenville
WHEN: Saturday, September 27, 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
WHERE: South Grenville Patrol Garage, 2320 County Rd. 21, Spencerville

WHEN: Saturday, September 27, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
WHERE: North Grenville Patrol Garage, 720 County Rd. 44, Kemptville

Workshop: Organic on a Budget

WHEN: Sunday, September 28
WHERE: 475 Cambridge Street South, Ottawa

Eating healthy on a strict budget is hard to do – or is it? Learn all the tips and tricks to get the healthiest food for your money, without breaking the bank! - Why choose organic - Where and how to shop - When to choose homemade over store-bought - What to plant for healthy, easy homegrown food - Budget-friendly recipe demos and sampling (vegan and allergy friendly)

$16 per person, space is limited. Register by 2:00 pm on Thursday, September 25 to avoid disappointment! More info:

'Nature for Life' Public Presentation

Healthy Communities Partnership: Lanark, Leeds & Grenville
WHEN: Tuesday, September 30, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
WHERE: Gallipeau Centre (formerly Rideau Regional Centre), 361 Queen St., Smiths Falls

Nature can make us happier, smarter and feel better? Really, it’s that simple?

Yes, there is a strong connection between spending time in nature and overall health and well-being. The Healthy Communities Partnership: Lanark, Leeds & Grenville is pleased to offer this presentation by Dr. Cheryl Charles as one of two exciting events to highlight the importance of nature for children and families and to identify what we can do together to build nature into all aspects of our lives. Everyone is invited – come and bring your family and friends!

Cost: Free, no need to register. Childcare may be requested in advance at

Green Energy Doors Open 2014

Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA)
WHEN: Saturday, October 4
WHERE: Throughout Ontario

This is OSEA's 3rd annual, province-wide, single-day showcase event for sustainable energy projects. Green Energy Doors Open (GEDO14) includes event hosts from every corner of Ontario, and representatives from every sub-sector of our growing sustainable energy economy. Events in our area:
  • Electric Vehicles Workshop, St. Lawrence College, Country Club Drive, Kingston: Are you interested in learning about electric vehicles? Do you wonder what it would be like to own one? Come to a free workshop and find out! Space is limited and registration is required. 10:15 am - 12:00 pm.
  • Kudrinko's, 22 Main Street, Westport: Join owner Neil Kudrinko at his independently owned and operated grocery store in Westport, Ontario and learn how he has retrofitted the original 1964 physical plant into one of Canada’s greenest grocery stores. Discussion of building practices, technological and equipment deployment, and operational practices will reveal why Kudrinko’s leads the way among North America’s independent grocers. 9:00 am - 3:00 pm.
  • Zero Carbon Residential Build, 732 Heritage Drive, Merrickville: This house, now under construction, will ultimately have built-in features that will not only zero the house’s carbon footprint but will also produce energy for transportation and assist with the production and storage of food, increasing resilience in a time of uncertain energy costs and availability. What hasn’t yet been built will be explained verbally or with drawings and demonstrations. There will be more Open Houses as construction advances and after its completion, but this is your chance to see some of the fundamental components before they get covered up! Chris, Clare, Annie & James will be on-site of this new build from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm to show you around and answer your questions.
  • Burritt’s Rapids Community Hydro Project, Grenville Street, Burritt's Rapids: The Burritt’s Rapids Renewable Energy Association will provide information on the community hydro project and host a walk to the dam site, weather permitting. The information will include data and drawings from the engineering feasibility studies, feedback from other investigations, and information on setting up a community hydro project. 10:30 am - 2:00 pm.
More info:

Managing Energy 2014

WHEN: Monday, October 6
WHERE: Four Points by Sheraton Kingston, King Street East, Kingston

Managing Energy 2014 is a conference and exhibition for Southeastern Ontario's energy management professionals. This intensive day of speakers, panel sessions and networking will focus on practical strategies and will provide energy managers with the tools they need to:
  • Reduce energy consumption and lower costs for their organizations
  • Better understand the energy landscape
  • Identify new opportunities for savings
  • Get the most out of energy intelligence software
  • Gain the latest industry perspective
  • Discover emerging market trends
  • Be aware of regulatory changes that could impact business
  • Navigate current challenges
  • Identify future opportunities
More info and registration:

CARP's Health and Lifestyle Expo 2014

CARP - Brockville chapter
WHEN: Saturday, October 18, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
WHERE: Brockville Country Club, Brockville

More info:

REAL Harvest Dinner and Murder Mystery Evening

Rideau Environmental Action League
WHEN: Saturday, October 18, 5:30 pm
WHERE: Smiths Falls Curling And Squash Club, 13 Old Sly's Road, Smiths Falls

A buffet dinner catered by Joanne Edwards of the Cove, featuring foods produced close to home in Lanark and Leeds, with performers from the Smiths Falls Community Theatre.

Tickets $50 per person. Advance sales only by cash or cheque, available in Smiths Falls at REAL Deal, 85 William St. W. and at Modern Thymes, 11 Russell St. E. or call Leann at 613-205-0818

Ontario Municipal Elections

WHEN: Monday, October 27

Have any of your candidates acknowledged global warming or fossil fuel depletion?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives... nor the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

Charles Darwin

Mini-icons by Yusuke Kamiyamane. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.