Category Archives: #toxic

How to be an Environmentalist on Twitter

Environmentalist on Twitter
Bradley Whitford and Malin Ackerman with Americans Against Fracking From: Americans Against Fracking, 2013

Are You an Environmentalist on Twitter?

So you’re an environmentalist on Twitter, and you’ve been getting active in environmental causes. You’ve been tweeting links, retweeting interesting photos and comments, perhaps joining a few conversations about specific environmental topics you care about.

Get More out of the Conversation!

One of the most effective ways to tweet and learn about environmental topics online is through a website called The Tree (treealerts.org). This site allows you to become a more effective communicator about environmental topics you care about. Check it out. Pick a topic you’re interested in, such as hydraulic fracking (treealerts.org/topics/hydraulic-fracking/) or Idle No More, and The Tree provides you with relevant reports and studies, images, videos, and quotes about the subject. Some topics include a list of tweets and hashtags that are used by the cause’s community.

 

Also check out this list of environmental hashtags to include in your tweets: some people follow certain hashtags and this can be a great way to gain followers and start conversations with new people.

 

A Verdant Geisha’s Top Environmental Hot-Button Topics

Zeitgeisha will be highlighting select environmental topics and providing you with tweets to use, twitter and facebook accounts to follow, and blog posts that may be of interest. Check back later, Geishas!

Green Topics on Twitter

  • Pipelines in Canada, especially the Pacific Coast and BC
  • Fracking
  • Tar Sands
  • Tankers
  • Destruction and over-harvesting of old-growth forests
  • Loss of habitat for caribou and grizzly bears!
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Farm Sanctuary

What is Farm Sanctuary? It is a non-profit organization operated in California, which rescues and protects farm animals from various horrible situations.

What is the difference between the animals we share our homes with, and the animals we eat? Nothing, except cultural norms. In fact, pigs have proven to be smarter than dogs in many experiments, chickens can recognize and respond to their own name and recognize hundreds of faces, and cows have been known to adopt orphaned calves. Try looking into their eyes and you will see the spark of life that resides within all of us. I simply couldn’t imagine murdering, cutting up, and eating my precious cats. So why do we do it to pigs, chickens, turkeys, and cows?

Farm Sanctuary rescues animals and provides a better life for a few animals. So many more die in hopeless misery. For all those we cannot save, Farm Sanctuary honours them by giving rescued farm animals the best, most enriched life they can. Compassion is wonderful! While we cannot save every animal, it makes a world of difference to those we can.

You might not want to take the plunge and go vegan, that’s totally understandable. It’s not our fault we have been raised to eat meat and use animals for their skins, furs and for entertainment. But even reducing your meat and animal product consumption makes an huge impact. Take Meatless Mondays for example. It’s so easy to do. Eventually you may find meatless most days, except special occasions, and you will see how much variety is in vegetarian and vegan food. Try kale, tofu, quinoa, chickpeas, beans, lentils, tempeh, and many more!

Farm Sanctuary

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Organic Zeitgeist

West Show Jersey July 2010 43

Going to the grocery store is a lot more challenging these days. It is not as simple as bread, milk, cheese, and apples. Do you want sprouted grain or “natural” white bread? Organic or factory-farmed milk? Imported goat cheese, organic clover-fed camembert, processed cheddar or non-dairy shreds? Organic or genetically modified apples? Well it helps to know what these terms mean, so you can make an informed decision. For this installment in our series on lexicographical musings, I will be exploring some terms that the food industry likes to sticker all over our groceries.

“Organic.”

USDA approved organic foods are not treated with pesticides and grown in an environmentally-sustainable way. Usually your best choice, but price can be a factor. For meat, organic incorporates humane husbandry practices, along with organic feed and no hormone use. For produce, farmers must not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

The “Dirty Dozen.”

You may have heard of these dozen produce items that have the most pesticides and are the best to buy organic if possie. While this is a great list for budgeting, don’t forget that any fruits and vegetables are better than none, and that organic also guarantees environmental stewardship and living wages for farmers, so it’s not just about pesticides. But if cost is an issue, choosing organic for produce on this list and conventional for produce where you do not eat the skin will reduce your exposure to pesticides.

“Natural.”

This doesn’t mean anything for most products. They can literally slap this label on processed cheese product and say it’s “natural.” For meat products, “natural” means that the product wasn’t altered in any fundamental way, but for anything aside from meat, the label is simply a sales pitch. If you ask me, natural is more a sign that the product is trying to deceive you in some way. Check the ingredients. If it’s natural, you will recognize them as food products and there won’t be more than a few of them. When you see ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, put the box down and back away slowly.

“Free-range.”

Usually on eggs or meat. Means the animal had access to the outside. The animal still may have been raised in filthy, crowded factory-farm conditions and their “range” could be anything from a beautiful green field to a muddy pen next to a highway. Also the amount of time that the animals are allowed to have access to the outdoors is also not regulated and can vary greatly. A company doesn’t have to prove to an independent auditor that its animals had access to outdoors. So while the idea of free-range is great, it’s hard to trust that this means anything either.

“Certified humane.”

For meat, this is a third-party accreditation that guarantees that the animals have continuous outdoor access, adequate space, and humane slaughter practices. It guarantees that the animals will be able to express natural behaviours, such as chickens having space to flap their wings and dust bathe, and pigs having space to move around. Honestly, when I write that down, I am appalled that we have to have a certification to tell companies that a chicken needs room to flap its wings. Isn’t that obvious to anyone with a heart? It’s no wonder food companies put picturesque images of happy cows on lush fields on their packaging, as they do not want us to know how far down the rabbit hole they have gone into making farming an industrialized, de-humanized, soul-sucking machine.

 

Canada’s Shame: Disregarding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadian artist Franke James

Freedom of speech. It is a right. Well, that is what they teach you in school, and that is what they want you to believe. But, unfortunately, as the story of Franke James shows, freedom of speech has been under attack in Canada since the current government made it a practice to censor scientists and artists who do not parrot their party lines when it comes to the climate change and environmental science.

I grew up believing that Canada was one of the places in the world where freedom and democracy were still powerful forces guiding our society. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms champions certain fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression, thought, and belief. As I grew older, and as the “Harper Government” continued to demolish many of the laws that made Canada great and protected Canadians and Canada itself, I began to see that this basic right was not as safe as I once believed.

There have always been disagreements in politics. Part of what makes democracy a wonderful thing–something worth fighting for–is that those discordant voices, raised in coalition, actually build a stronger country. When we do not agree, constructive debate rises to replace argument and creates policy that could make Canada a place we could be proud of. At least, that’s how it should be.

However, under the recent “government,” which is unaccountable to the public and fraudulently elected under an old-fashioned electoral system, Canada has pushed past the boundaries of bad taste and into the arena of Orwellian thought-control and blatant propagandism. Like Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984, the current government wants us to believe that lies are truth, and the tar sands are clean. But unlike 1984, they have not been able to silence the voices of dissent.

The story of Franke James is a striking example of how blatantly the current Canadian government is disregarding the stronghold of free speech. Her book, Banned on the Hill (2013), draws the reader into the tale of how the only acceptable art in Canada is now propaganda. An artist who believes that climate change is a real problem and that we need to wake up and start dealing with it, she wrote a visual essay to the Prime Minister asking him to make polluters pay, and asking him what kind of Canada he is creating for our children.

She could never have expected that her expression of discontent with the current environmental policies of the government would get her blacklisted as an anti-government radical. Under this current government, expressing any opinion that doesn’t agree with the government’s policy, makes you no better than a terrorist or rabble-rouser. Funding for her international art show was cut, under pressure from various Canadian bureaucrats in various blunderbuss ministries. Only after years of painstaking freedom of information act requests did she find out the truth about how the government saw her as an enemy of the state, against the Canadian government.

To me there are several issues here. First, that the government saw fit to censor the opinion of an artist, whatever that might have been. Aside from hate speech, everyone deserves the right to express their opinions and make art about it. Art can open a dialogue about the environment that could be the beginning of a solution. The second issue, to me, is that Harper deems it a radical thought against government policy to say that climate change is real and we need to do something about it. Excuse me? Since when is cleaning up after your own mess a radical idea? It seems Stephen Harper did not pay attention in kindergarden when they teach you to put your toys away when you’re done playing with them. Or perhaps he paid attention but was expelled after failing miserably in basic human life skills. If it was up to Harper, the oil companies would spew their toxic waste all over Canada, and then they would all pick up and move to a gated community and wait for the rest of us to waste away of cancer from the poison in our water and air.

Not satisfied with banning freedom of artistic expression, the Harper government has made it a standard policy to censor public and private scientists whose findings do not agree with government policy. When science must agree with a pre-determined solution, it is no longer science but pseudo-science and propaganda.

In Banned on the Hill, Franke James opens the readers eyes to the dark path Canada is heading down. We need to listen to our trailblazing artists and scientists and allow an open, frank dialogue about the challenges of climate change. In a world where very few will be able to afford to retreat to gated communities with their own water-filtering systems, we need to take care of nature, which has always provided us with clean air and water. We need to take a hard look at a sustainable future, and it is time to stop impeding progress by insisting that we choose between the economy and the environment. I believe that innovation, science, and art will draw us out of the dark age of climate-change-denial and into a reality where we have a fighting chance for survival. The economy IS the environment. To attempt to chose between the two is to take a narrow, short-sighted view of the most important issue facing our society today.

 

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