Community Solar Garden to Open in BC

Germany, and to a lesser extent other nations, have championed community-owned sustainable energy production. In many ways it gives power to the people. Indeed, one way to encourage mass adoption of sustainable energy is to make policies which favour decentralized and community owned production. This means that big utility companies often oppose such efforts.

In British Columbia the city of Nelson may be the first city in Canada to take on this German-insipred approach. They are looking to open a solar facility which not only provides energy to the people it provides added revenue.

A community solar garden is a centralized solar panel farm that gives homeowners and businesses access to solar energy without having to install and maintain panels on their own roof.

The price of the electricity purchased from the proposed solar project in Nelson would cost residents more, but initial community feedback indicates people would be willing to pay the extra costs, said Proctor.

It’s about more than trying to save money, she said, and added costs eventually will even out.

Nelson Hydro is still working out detailed costs, but says people could end up investing something like $1,000 for a solar panel space for 25 years. They can either pay a lump sum up front or make monthly payments of about $3.47 until the solar panel space is paid off.

Read more.

Insite Can Continue to Operate: Supreme Court

Insite is a safe injection site for drug users which has had proven health benefits for individuals and the community. Through their work Insite has been able to help many addicts stay safe and secure while consuming drugs, this is in stark contrast to doing drugs on the streets which is way more dangerous.

In the past, Insite had to defend itself against the British Columbia Supreme Court and won, and today Insite won in the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a blow to the anti-safety, anti-drug, pro-prison campaign of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and will hopefully mark a turning point in how Canadians support drug addicts.

This is a huge victory for results-based and preventative health care and for people who are unfortunately addicted to drugs.

If Insite wasn’t allowed to operate it would prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered at the facility, threatening their health and their lives, the ruling said. Withdrawing the exemption would even undermine the purpose of the federal drug law, which includes public health and safety, the court said.

Health groups, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Public Health Association, also applauded the decision.

The Supreme Court said that if the health minister, currently Leona Aglukkaq, receives applications for more exemptions, she must continue to exercise her discretion and aim to strike a balance between Charter rights and protecting public health and safety.

Read more coverage and see the full court report at the CBC.

Remember don’t consume dangerous drugs!

Apps for Climate Action

The provincial government of British Columbia intimated a contest that had people submit their software programs that could help protect the environment. Some of these apps are really great and it’s great to see BC researching this sort of thing!

The Apps for Climate Action Contest challenged Canadian software developers to raise awareness of climate change and inspire action to reduce carbon pollution by using data in new applications for the web and mobile devices.

A leader in climate action, the Government of B.C. created a catalogue of its best climate and greenhouse gas emission data.

Developers used this data to design fun and innovative climate action apps.

Check it out there official Apps for Climate Change site.

Here’s an example of an app listed on the site:

Data Set(s) used: 1. Impacts & Environmental Change, Weather and Climate,Climate BC, UBC 2. Annual & seasonal precipitation (Wet Years) Canadian Atmospheric Hazards Network 3. Ground Water Wells – GeoBC
Summary: One way to prepare for the effects of global warming on water supply is to capture and save rain water running off of our roofs. This app allows you to calculate how much rainfall you can capture in a year by calculating the area of your roof.
Close
Description: Lack of water due to global warming, especially on areas that rely on well water.
What types of people and/or organizations do you expect to use the App?
The general public.
How does the App help address climate change or promote climate action?
The app raises awareness of the potential rainwater harvesting can have on preparing for the impacts of climate change

Using Psychology to Save the Environment

People will use less energy if told that their neighbours are more efficient energy consumers. That’s just one way to get people past their psychological barriers to acting more environmentally friendly according to new research out of the University of Victoria in British Columbia. New Scientist has the story.

This month, an American Psychological Association (APA) task force released a report highlighting these and other psychological barriers standing in the way of action. But don’t despair. The report also points to strategies that could be used to convince us to play our part. Sourced from psychological experiments, we review tricks that could be deployed by companies or organisations to encourage climate-friendly behaviour. Also, on page 40 of this issue, psychologist Mark van Vugt of the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands describes the elements of human nature that push us to act altruistically.

The affluent young, for instance, tend to be diet conscious, and this could be used to steer them away from foods like cheeseburgers – one of the most climate-unfriendly meals around because of the energy it takes to raise cattle. So when trying to convince them to forgo that carbon-intensive beef pattie, better to stress health benefits than harp on about the global climate.

Though conservative pundits have been known to attack such efforts, characterising them as psychological manipulation or “mind control”, experiments indicate that people are willing to be persuaded. “From participants in our experiments, we’ve never heard a negative backlash,” says Wesley Schultz of California State University in San Marcos. In fact, according to John Petersen of Oberlin College, Ohio, we are used to far worse. “Compared to the barrage of advertising, it seems milder than anything I experience in my daily life,” he says.

B.C. Carbon Tax Begins

Burning gas is a sure way to destroy the environement, and the province of British Columbia is joining other parts of the world by taxing this bad practice. B.C. has started to tax gasoline purchases at the pump – the first Canadian province to do so.

The carbon tax, introduced in the Feb. 19 budget, taxes carbon-based fuels — including gasoline, diesel, natural gas and home heating fuel — at a rate of $10 per tonne of greenhouse gases generated. The carbon tax will rise $5 a tonne for the next four years until it hits $30 per tonne in 2012.

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