"Shell partnered with the brutal Nigerian military government to suppress the popular movement of the Ogoni people. On multiple occasions, Shell paid the Nigerian military, they requested the Nigerian military, knowing that it was a brutal force and that force committed horrific acts of violence against civilians who were peacefully protesting."- Marco Simons, Plaintiffs' Attorney, EarthRights International
“When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.
Recently the French government implemented a fantastic new green transit innovation in some of their major cities, including Paris. You ready for this? May we introduce the novel concept of BICYCLES:
Or, more specifically, specialized bicycles called "Bixis" that are provided to the community in the same way ZipCars are here in Toronto. For those of us not in the know, the ZipCar is a communal vehicle you can "rent" on a day-to-day basis for a yearly signup fee. Great idea, especially for friends of mine who are musicians requiring cargo space to move gear to and from gigs, but there's still the whole carbon emission issue. Bixi is basically the same idea, except in bicycle form. Fantastic idea, right?
Right, and Toronto tried it once before under the name Yellow Bike Share Program, which initially met with rave reviews and then promptly folded due to lack of funding. Instead, the city is transferring all sorts of funds to the TTC to build a light rail system including (wait for it) a subway extension to York University (because we haven't been hearing about that dog-and-pony show for the last thirty years). Frankly, I think our city would be better served picking up this Bixi idea at least in the interim, because we know good and damn well that the TTC will drag its feet on "Transit City" for the next few forseeable decades. I mean, even Washington has picked up the idea, and we all know their prevailing feelings on the French (anybody remember Freedom Fries? I do!)
Yet another good idea that's going to get trumped unless we do something about it. Email your local member of provincial parliament and demand Bixi. We want our bicycles and we want them now!
What you're looking at are the Siberian wetlands (didn't know they had those in Siberia, actually) with a precariously-perched oil rig in the middle of it.
Okay, there are two problems with this. The first should be obvious: they're WETLANDS. You know, home to thousands of species of birds, fish, amphibians and whatever else lives in wetlands. I can't imagine the existence of an oil rig in this area is going to do much for the natural real estate. The second should also be obvious: sooner or later, something terrible is going to happen to that oil rig. You can imagine the scene playing out like some Monty Python routine.
Russian Oil Expert:
Listen, comrades. I've built this oil company up from nothing. When I started here, all there
was was wetland. All the other oil magnates said I was daft to build a castle in the wetlands,
but I built it all the same, just to show 'em. It sank into the wetland. So, I built a second one.
That sank into the wetland. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into
the wetland. But the fourth one stayed up. An' that's what you're gonna get, comrades -- the
strongest oil rig in these wetlands.
Nothing good is going to come of this, I promise you that.
In February of this year, a British activist going by the name Nick Revolving took over Raven's Ait (a small island located in the Thames River) when he realized it was being totally neglected by the county as a result of the global economic recession. He and his friends built a treehouse, planted permaculture gardens, and have been squatting there in a totally self-sufficient commune. But they aren't doing this for selfish purposes – their goal is to turn the island into an “eco conference center” to raise awareness about sustainability and green alternatives. And since the government isn't doing anything with the land anyway, you'd assume they would be totally on board with that initiative, right?
The group is being evicted from the island, because apparently there are companies interested in doing something with the land – someday (the island has been vacant since November). The local council won't even bargain with the group unless they leave the island.
To me that rings of a small child who isn't playing with his toy train, but won't let any of the other children play with it in case he wants it at some indeterminate point in the future.
They say that ownership is 9/10 of the law; if that's the case, the law – and the concept of ownership itself – is terminally f*cked. Who made us in charge? Why is it that we get to decide who lives where, how, and in what capacity?
I am urging any and all readers to visit the group's website – read up on their plans and show your support. My good friend Lissa over at Living Lime notified me about this issue and is assisting in a project to raise £1.5 million in order to help save this piece of land and turn it into what Nick Revolving and his friends want it to be. I'm signing up – you should too.
Check out the original article here.
There used to be a ton of fun little shops along there that catered to green livers like myself: for example, I'm not into pot myself, but the Friendly Stranger sells a lot of hemp products outside smoking gear that I am really into – hemp clothes and all-natural soaps and the like. Lush is good for that too – I don't really dig a lot of chemicals in my soaps and moisturizers, not just because it's terrible for the environment but it's also terrible for my skin (being Scottish, I am very pale and my skin is extremely delicate).
I was sad to see so many of the cool old stores replaced with high-end haute couture boutiques, but I guess that's progress. Rode the streetcar for the first time in a long time (normally I bike everywhere) and all I can say is I can't wait for Toronto to institute their new light-rail system: it'll be more environmentally friendly and with any luck there will be a little more room!
There's good and bad about every city, I guess, but being somewhat well-traveled I think Toronto is one of the better ones out there. Sometimes I forget just how green this city actually is until I get up high enough to see the big picture. Sunday evening, just as the sun was setting, I was sitting on the patio of the Spoke Club on King Street (one of the best views in that area), enjoying a quiet beer and looking out over the downtown core, and it was genuinely beautiful. Sure, there are lots of urban developments going on in the area (there always are) but the city planners really work hard to ensure that a lot of trees and parks are threaded through the condos and block stores. It's heartening.
Okay, this was a little bit touchy-feely for an angry environmental blog; I think I'm just happy that spring has finally, finally arrived. In fact, I think I'm going to take another walk after work today, hit up the Spoke patio again, and take in the big picture.