Newsletter 112, 22 February 2016

No winter for the Arctic in 2016 / 18 February 2016
Anyone who observes the Arctic – from scientists, to environmentalists, to emerging threats specialists, to weather and climate enthusiasts, to just regular people unsettled by the rapidly unraveling state of our global climate system – should be very, very concerned. The human greenhouse gas emission – now pushing CO2 levels to above 405 parts per million and adding in a host of additional heat trapping gasses – appears to be rapidly forcing our world to warm. And to warm most swiftly in one of the absolute worst places imaginable – the Arctic.

Not only was January of 2016 the hottest such month ever recorded in the 136 year NASA global climate record. Not only did January show the highest temperature departure from average for a single month – at +1.13 C above NASA's 20th Century base-line and about +1.38 C above 1880s averages (just 0.12 C shy of the dangerous 1.5 C mark). But what we observed in the global distribution of those record hot temperatures was both odd and disturbing.

[ See also: Update: Arctic sea ice minimum volumes 1979-2015 ]


Next up: Local Emergency Preparedness

Are you ready to survive for the three days it can take your municipality to provide you with help in a major area emergency? Think of the ice storm of 1998, which cut power to a vast region from Kingston to Montreal, from four or five days in Brockville's case to as much as a month elsewhere.

Brockville Fire Chief Ghislain Pigeon, the city's emergency management co-ordinator, will talk about the roles of citizens and their municipalities in preparing for emergencies, at our next presentation.

Weather-related events, such as a multi-day snowstorm that shuts down Highway 401 for days, or major power outages are the most likely emergencies in our area, says the chief, but there is always the possibility of a disaster relating to the tons of hazardous materials that cross our city and region by railcar, truck and pipeline every day. "There are three train derailments a week in Canada," he says, acknowledging that few are as devastating as the derailment and fire at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in 2013. However, the city must be prepared for such an emergency.

Pigeon will outline Brockville's emergency plan. He'll describe the various agencies he calls on in emergencies to help provide citizens with shelter, food, power and other services, and how their response unfolds. "I'll explain what you can expect from the city, but also what the city will expect from you," Pigeon says. "It takes time for a municipality to get emergency services in place and we need to count on people to be able to survive for up to three days."

WHEN: Sunday, February 28, 2:00 pm
WHERE: Brockville Public Library, 23 Buell Street, Brockville

Upcoming Presentations

March 20: Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health: Implementing the Healthy Communities Vision
April 24: Peter and Annette Kaldeway: Living Off the Grid
May 22: Feature documentary: This Changes Everything*

*Co-sponsored by the Brockville Chapter of the Council of Canadians

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

Transition Brockville supports the installation of a two-way cycle track along Laurier Boulevard, as approved in principle by City Council last December. It is consistent with City policy as established in its Official Plan, in its Sustainability Plan and in its Healthy Communities Vision.

A small group of residents has been vocal in opposition to the new track, which TB sees as largely uninformed reaction. In fact, the addition of a cycle track will address many of the concerns they have expressed, eg. through the calming of traffic along Laurier and increasing its safety for existing and new users, whether traveling by car, by foot or by bicycle. The rationale behind the cycling network is shown in a series of FAQs on the website of Brockville Active Mobility Matters.

THOSE IN FAVOUR OF THE CYCLE TRACK NEED TO SPEAK UP AS WELL. We urge you to contact City Councilors to express your support, either by email or by phone. And sign our petition to City Council.

Our guest speaker on January 24, Agata Bedynski, has kindly made her slide set available. She writes: I'd like to say to all of you folks on the Transition Brockville steering committee -- my heart feels so much warmth and empathy for you -- you are doing a wonderful job of informing those around yo...

TBSL shelves at Leeds County Books
The respective Steering Committees of Butler's Creek Community Garden (BCCG) and Transition Brockville are pleased to announce that the BCCG will continue as a Working Group of Transition Brockville, with the BCCG co-ordinator sitting as a member of the Transition Brockville SC. Now in its fourth year of operation, the BCCG remains a self-governing group of gardeners. The BCCG is located on the grounds of the Gord Watts Municipal Centre at 251 North Augusta Road.

TBSL shelves at Leeds County Books
The TBSL is open and operating seven days a week at Leeds County Books, 73 King Street West in Brockville. This collection of over 80 books offers 'big picture' analyses of the science behind climate change and resource depletion, thoughtful discussions on civilization, economics and ecology, and manuals for on-the-ground building of personal and community resilience. A complete catalogue and borrowing procedures are available on our website.

Think you might like to help out from time to time with TB projects or at events? Sign up here to our new TB-VOL mailing list to receive an occasional "call for volunteers".

Steering Committee

  • The Transition Brockville Steering Committee normally meets at 7:00 pm on the second Wednesday of the month at Bud's on the Bay, 17 Broad Street. Next month will be an exception, with the meeting to be held on Thursday, March 10, at 10:00 am. Our SC meetings are open. If you'd like to participate in some broad-ranging discussions on resilience and sustainability, please consider attending.

  • Members of the SC 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

Your library card has value! Show your library card when visiting our business partners and save! If you are a local business or retailer and would like more information about how to participate in the BPL Perks Business Discount Program, contact Brandy at (613) 342-3936 ext. 32 or

foodcoreLGL Food Inventory has been launched!

foodcoreLGL / 19 February 2016
The foodcoreLGL Food Inventory is a comprehensive list of all the food and nutrition-related programs, organizations and businesses in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark. It connects you to the local food systems in the tri-county. Explore the Food Inventory to find information and resources on: . Growing & Gathering Food . Preparing & Eating Food . Buying Food . Help for Getting Food . Sustaining our Future...

Credit union first in Canada to use 100% green energy

Ontario Co-operative Association / Co-op Current / 12 February 2016
Bullfrog Power®, Canada's leading green energy provider and Your Credit Union, a financial services co-operative with branches in Ottawa and Cornwall, recently announced a new environmental partnership - making Your Credit Union the first credit union in Canada to completely bu...

Understanding how, where and when energy is used in Kingston will help the community identify opportunities for energy-use programs focused on energy conservation, fuel switching, renewable energy generation or other smart energy-related efforts. The plan will help: Enhance local economic development: our community spe...

Red Squirrel update

Red Squirrel Conservation Services / 19 January 2016
The big topics floating around our office include green infrastructure (which reduces stormwater runoff and flooding), energy conservation in residential and commercial buildings, and indoor air quality. Red Squirrel is also excited to announce a new initiative designed to help reduce the i...


Ontario making electric vehicles more affordable

Government of Ontario / 10 February 2016
Ontario is putting its new Climate Change Strategy into action by introducing a new, modernized Electric Vehicle Incentive Program that will help reduce greenhouse gas pollution and make it easier for Ontarians to switch to an electric vehicle (EV). Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement today at...

Last night, the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association celebrated its 6th annual Powering Prosperity Awards dinner, recognizing the champions of the sustainable energy sector, and celebrating the achievements that help advance sustainable energy within the province of Ontario. "The Powering Prosperity Awards is an ann...


A new way for Canadians to invest in green energy

Toronto Star / Tyler Hamilton / 15 February 2016
Investing directly in green energy projects just became a whole lot easier for Canadians looking to shift their savings away from fossil fuels. CoPower, a start-up co-headquartered in Toronto and Montreal, has just launched a retail "green bond" that raises money for specific pools of solar...

IMF now pegs our fossil fuel subsidies at $46 billion

The Tyee / Mitchell Anderson / 01 February 2016
How can Canada meet our international climate commitments so recently inked in Paris with an increasingly empty economic larder? The International Monetary Fund may have the answer. Last summer, the IMF updated its global report on energy subsidies and found that Canada provides a whopping $46.4 bi...

Energy East would facilitate oilsands expansion

Montreal Gazette / Gordon Laxer / 31 January 2016
The verbal battles between Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and western premiers and mayors are reruns of a bad movie. Let's change the channel and look at TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline in light of climate change. That was not on anyone's mind 35 years ago during tussles around th...

8-dollar cauliflower shows the pain of falling oil prices

New York Times / Ian Austen / 20 January 2016
As prices for commodities have dropped, the value of the Canadian dollar has fallen, a direct link to an economy that is dependent on oil and other resources. It makes imports, like fresh American vegetables during the dark Canadian winter, look especially costly. Two years ago, one Canadian dollar w...


2015 shattered temperature records, and it wasn't just El Niño

Gizmodo / Maddie Stone / 20 January 2016
In a joint statement this morning, NASA and NOAA confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record by a huge margin. We basically knew this–scientists have been calling it since at least July–but now that the official numbers are in, we can see just how wacky a year it was. "2015 was by far ...

The hottest year on record, 2015, has confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards, according to a new analysis presented today. The top five most disaster-hit countries in 2015 were China (26), USA (22), India (19), Philippines (15) and Indonesia (11). ...

Ever since 1990, the world has experienced atmospheric CO2 levels in a range that hasn't been seen since the Pliocene geological epoch. A period of time 2.6 – 5.3 million years ago hosting carbon dioxide levels ranging from 350 to 405 parts per million and global average temperatures that were 2-3 degre...

Why the wild descent of oil is cause for concern

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 08 February 2016
The status-quo pundits say don't worry. The world is awash in oil due to the brute force of fracking and Alberta's faltering bitumen boom. Markets are just experiencing another wacky correction in supply and demand, and business as usual will continue. Relax, add the pundits -- lower energy price...

Zika and the human hothouse as disease multiplier / 28 January 2016
Not only are we turning many of the species of this world into climate orphans, into creatures without a safe space in which to live and thrive, we are also doing it to ourselves. For the children of Zika are climate orphans too. The tragic victims of an expanding range of environmental conditions that are h...

The tragedy of the horizon

Corporate Knights / John Lorinc / 19 January 2016
It was last September, and [Mark] Carney, presently the head of the Bank of England, had signalled to British parliamentarians that his institution, and the international Financial Stability Board, which he chairs, had just begun an in-depth examination of the systemic risks posed not just by cli...

More problems with synthetic nitrogen fertilizer

Mother Earth News / Joanna Poncavage / February/March 2016
As soil fertility declined because of repeated tillage and other industrial practices, farmers began using more synthetic nitrogen. About 25 billion pounds of it have been applied to crops each year in the United States for the past few decades. That's almost five times the amount tha...

Metropolitan foodsheds: a resilient response?

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences / Lengnick, Miller, Marten / November 2015
A review of the literature suggests that transition to a nationally integrated network of sustainable metropolitan food systems ("metropolitan foodsheds") would improve climate resilience by enhancing three key qualities associated with resilience in soc...

More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050: Report

The Guardian / Graeme Wearden / 19 January 2016
As a record-breaking sailor, Dame Ellen MacArthur has seen more of the world's oceans than almost anyone else. Now she is warning that there will be more waste plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, unless the industry cleans up its act. According to a new Ellen MacArthur Foundation report laun...


'I'm a climate scientist who doesn't fly'

The Tyee / Peter Kalmus / 17 February 2016
I'd assumed that electricity and driving were my largest sources of emissions. Instead, it turned out that the 50,000 miles I'd flown that year (two international and half a dozen domestic flights, typical for postdocs in the sciences who are expected to attend conferences and meetings) utterly dominated my emissions. Hour for hour, there's no better way to warm the planet than to fly in a plane. If yo...

How to change our transportation habits to reduce emissions

Business Insider / William Fierman / 17 February 2016
At the end of last year, the United Nations adopted the "Paris Agreement" to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, urging each nation to do its part to curb climate change. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan recently p...

The rise of 'buy me once' shopping

The Telegram / Eleanor Tucker / 03 January 2016
'Every time I read something about the environment, I would get this guilty feeling that I wasn't doing anything. I kept thinking, if people did buy things that were built to last it would have such a positive impact – both economically and environmentally.' In the last 50 years or so, w...

Can I use solar to charge my electric vehicle?

Mother Earth News / Vikram Aggarwal / 05 February 2016
Solar panels and electric cars are a match made in heaven – when you install a solar energy system on your home, you can use it to both power your home and charge your electric car for emissions-free transportation. The cost of solar is falling rapidly, and companies from Tesla to Nissan...

Garden plots available near Mallorytown

Miku Valley Permaculture Research and Projects
With the cost of fresh produce so high, and expected to continue to rise, have you given a thought to perhaps growing your own? Even if you don't have the room, I have loads of fertile garden plots, I will be tilling these plots in March and will custom till whatever reasonable size you want. Some raised 4' x 8' beds and straw bale locations are also available. Flower gardeners also welcome! Contact Kurt Liebe at 613-659-3823.

Garden planning for food preservation

Mother Earth News / Deborah Niemann / February/March 2016
Our vegetable gardens offer us beautiful, fresh bounty during the growing season – and they also have the potential to increase our food security the rest of the year. When you craft a plan to put up some of the crops you grow, you're preparing for the future, simplifying winter meals...


  Review: The Schizophrenic Society by Roger Boyd / Frank Kaminski / 25 January 2016
In a chapter titled "The New High Priests: Economists," Boyd summarizes a handful of the widely held false beliefs about our society's relationship to its ecology that lie at the heart of common economic wisdom. These include unquestioned faith in the infinite supply or substitutability of any natural resource, an espousal of free trade and deregulation as the optimal ways for a country to develop, the supposition that all economic participants have equal market power and the tenet that everyone makes rational, self-interested decisions. The author points out that these mainstays of economic thought are simply unproven assumptions that ben...

  Official trailer: Tomorrow

Cyril Dion, Mélanie Laurent / 19 November 2015
Many things have been tried to resolve the ecological and economic crises. They haven't really worked. According to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammed Yunnus, the strongest driving force in human beings is their desire and their imagination. He believes that today we must make films and tell...

  Update: Arctic sea ice minimum volumes 1979-2015

Andy Lee Robinson / 04 October 2015
This regularly updated animation provides a visceral look at the collapse of Arctic sea ice since 1979.

"We had a different notion of real wealth…we converted [our paper money] wealth into this land and home," says Steve Unger. Mary Coll adds that they're storing wealth in their knowledge, and by building a low-tech handmade house with no need for outside "experts" for maintenance.


New Perspectives in Plant Ecology & Biology

Brockville Museum
WHEN: Tuesday, February 23, 10:00 pm - noon
WHERE: Brockville Museum, 5 Henry Street, Brockville

Manager of the Queen's Phytotron, Dale Kristensen, will guide us through how new understanding of the plant world has the potential for new ways of solving important problems that face our modern world.

Admission is only $8! Light refreshments will be served. Due to high demand advanced registration is required – please call 613-342-4397 or email

This Changes Everything - Movie and discussion

Transition Gananoque
WHEN: Sunday, February 28, 1:00 pm
WHERE: Gananoque Public Library, 100 Park Street, Gananoque

This Changes Everything shows how ordinary people around the world are starting community-led initiatives to combat climate change. Stay after the movie for a short discussion about what we can do here in Gananoque to transition to a climate friendly life! As the directors say "movies don't change the world, but people do."

Free admission, but attendance is limited to 30 people due to space and fee constraints so be sure to pre-register at the Gananoque Public Library. More info: Pam Hudson at 613-382-2436.

Selling Food to Ontario

Eastern Ontario Local Food
WHEN: Thursday, March 2
WHERE: Two Rivers Food Hub, Galipeau Centre, Unit 5000, 361 Queen Street, Smiths Falls

Create new opportunities for your farm or food processing business by learning how to expand into new markets such as grocery stores, restaurants, food hubs, schools, universities and other public institutions. Topics include:
  • Succeeding in direct and wholesale markets
  • Food regulation and food safety
  • Local health unit requirements
  • Food packaging options and resources
  • Labelling requirements
Workshops will feature presentations by local health units, OMAFRA, and Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as well as a resource forum to connect you with local organizations that can help your business.

2nd Annual Seedy Saturday

Transition Brockville and the Brockville Public Library
WHEN: Saturday, March 5, 10:00 pm - 2:00 pm
WHERE: Brockville Public Library, 23 Buell Street, Brockville

Gardeners and seed savers are invited to join us for a free seed exchange! There will be a seed starting display, children's gardening activity and lots of opportunities to speak with representatives from local gardening clubs, including Butler's Creek Community Garden, Brockville Horticultural Society, Athens Garden Club, and Gananoque Horticultural Society, as well as Seeds of Diversity, Ontario Horticultural Association, Phil Hosick (Upper Canada Village gardener) and seed saver Ray Johnson. Anyone who saves seeds and wants to share them with other seed lovers is encouraged to come to Seedy Saturday. Contact Chris at or Brandy at for more information.

Seeds and Propagation

Gananoque Horticultural Society
WHEN: Wednesday, March 9, 7:30 pm
WHERE: Herbert St. entrance, Carveth Care, Gananoque

Our March meeting will feature the topic of Seeds and Propagation. Mary Ann Van Berlo will demonstrate how to save seeds and when to start them this spring. Seed exchange - bring and trade.

Visitors welcome! We are green - please bring a mug. More info:

GreenProfit Conference 2016

WHEN: Monday, March 21
WHERE: Four Points By Sheraton, 285 King Street, Kingston

Some of the topics being addressing at this year's GreenProfit include:
  • The Future of Rooftop Solar in Ontario
  • Rural Communitiesand Renewable Energy
  • Renewable Energy's Next Generation
  • Energy Storage and Our Sustainable Energy Future
  • Municipalities and Energy Policy
More info:

Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit 2016

WHEN: Wednesday, April 13
WHERE: North Grenville Municipal Centre, 285 County Rd 44, Kemptville
  • Local and Provincial 'Happenings' and Updates
  • Cycling
  • Pedestrian Walkways and Audit
  • Share the Road
  • Trails
  • Lunch break feature: Mayor's Slow Bike Race
Further details and registration info to come soon.

9th Annual North Grenville Sustainability Fair and Market

Sustainable North Grenville
WHEN: Sunday, April 17
WHERE: Kemptville

The fair is a free family fun day out featuring businesses, market stalls, electric vehicles, kid's activities, food, music, door prizes and more. For information, to book a table or to volunteer, please contact Jeanne or Clare at

Earth Day

WHEN: Friday, April 22

Earth Day is the largest environmental event in the world. More than six million Canadians – including nearly every school-aged child – participate in an Earth Day activity in their communities. We partner with and support hundreds of organizations across the country, as they engage Canadians in annual celebrations of this special day.

More info:

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.