Norway Pays to Protect Liberia’s Forests

Deforestation is killing the planet and has been linked to the current ebola outbreak. Still, many places (Canada included) cut down hectares of land as if it’s nothing. Norway is apparently sick of tho attitude and has made a deal with Liberia to protect their woodlands.

“We have funded efforts in Indonesia and Brazil, but I think this is the first time we have entered a deal on a country level.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Norway will help Liberia to initially build up the capacity to monitor and police the forests.

Liberia will refrain from issuing any new logging concessions until all existing ones have been reviewed by an independent body.

The country agrees to place 30% or more of its forest estate under protected area status by 2020. It will also pilot direct payments to communities for protecting the forest.

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Iranian Drone Can Help Lifeguards

An Iranian company has built a drone that can help lifeguards save lives. The drone can carry flotation devices to weak swimmers faster than a lifeguard can. It’s a good use of drone technology and a demonstration of what is possible when we use this tech for helping our everyday existence.

The concept works well, and it’s an excellent example of how powerful drones—which are cheaper and easier to use than just about any other aerial delivery vehicle—can actually be. Here in the US, where the FAA remains steadfast in its desire to squelch the nascent commercial drone industry, this Iranian drone built of Chinese parts sets an example of what can be done when we set our eyes to the skies to do good.

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Peru Is Using Art to Change the Climate Change Debate

Happening alongside the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change is an event in Peru that is connecting locals with artists to make nature inspired work. While politicians at the UN are debating the future of our planet artists will be reframing the debate for others using art in rural Peru. The event will culminate in an exhibition from December 3, 2014 through January 9, 2015 at the Lima Musuem of Contemporary Art.

Over the course of ten days in October, HAWAPI 2014 will take a group of approximately 20 artists, researchers, organizers and local community members 13,000 feet above sea level to the Peruvian glacial mountain range, Pariacaca, where they will build an off-grid tented basecamp for sleeping, eating and working and relying on solar panels for electricity. Residents will be supported by indigenous llama herders who will act as camp staff, artist collaborators and assistants, and whose herd will serve as pack animals to help carry supplies to the residency location. Camping and working close to the glacier and leaving as little environmental impact as possible, the group of artists and locals will create a series of site-specific interventions, murals and performances to be left as a permanent installation. The hope is for these environmentally-inspired works to have the potential to encourage audiences to deepen their understanding and expand their perspective on issues related to climate change and their impact on the region and world at large.

Check it out here.

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ArtsVote Toronto Mayoral Debate Monday 29th

The Toronto municipal election is happening next month and this coming Monday there will be a debate between mayoral candidates regarding support for arts and culture. Hosted by ArtsVote at the TIFF Lightbox, the candidates will answer questions from culture leaders in the city. Each candidate will be able to discuss their plan for the future of culture in the city.

The best part is that the moderator is Damian Abraham from the band Fucked Up!

Date: Monday, September 29
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Location: Cinema One, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West (map)
Tickets: free general admission seating. Box office opens at 10:00 AM. Doors at 11:30 AM.

Progress is easy when we’re all working together toward something we all believe in. The ArtsVote community cares about mobilizing our collective talents, ideas, and passions for the benefit of Torontonians – and it’s not hard to see how much energy and enthusiasm the people of Toronto have for arts and culture. You can see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and feel it in parks, schools, churches, community centres, alleyways, markets, sidewalks, and all kinds of other spaces around our city. So where do our municipal candidates fit into this picture? Do they believe they have a role to play in growing audiences for the arts, and encouraging cultural participation?

Check out ArtsVote!

Disclosure: I’m an ArtsVote committee member.

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Rockefellers Got Rich From Oil, Switching to Renewables

As the UN climate summit continues there is good news coming from it. It’s worth noting that Canada is not part of any of this good news thanks to the climate-change denying Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The “pro-corprate” Harper is actively doing the opposite of corporations: supporting renewable energy. Even Shell (of all companies!) has called for stricter carbon regulations.

Yesterday it was announced that the Rockefeller family, who made billions from oil, have changed their mind on the planet-destryoing industry. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is divesting from all oil companies and focusing on renewable energy sources. This means that the efforts of Global Divest-Invest has helped to transfer $50 billion dollars from oil-backing to renewable-backing.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller’s wishes,

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Mr Heintz said in a statement.

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