Archive for the 'Vancouver' Category

Vancouver – Paralympics Finish

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Vancouver finished hosting the 2010 Paralympic Games yesterday, and VanOC Chairman John Furlong is already on his way to the country of Georgia, to be part of the memorial for the Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili , killed just before the Olympic Games began.

How did hosting the pair of Games work out for British Columbia? We’ll talk about that a little this week, but Vancouver is endeavoring to return to normal as the tens of thousands of volunteers are still hard at work to make that happen. If you are still in the City, things will be calming down!

That spirit of volunteerism really set this pair of Games apart. They may even have money left at the end, instead of being over-budget, like just about every previous Games were. That’s a fabulous testament, and means that sports in BC will get lots more support.

In the Paralympics, Russia finally came into its own, after a dismal showing in the regular Olympics. They had a much smaller Paralympic team than the USA, (which was even larger than Canada’s), but those Russians were amazing.

Russia gained a total of 38 medals, 12 of which were Gold. Germany was next with 24 and 13 Gold. Then in third place was Canada with 19 and 10 Gold. In fourth place was Ukraine with 19 and 5 Gold. In fifth, was the United States with 13 and 4 Gold.

But, it was the United States which won the coveted Gold Medal in sledge hockey, with Japan the silver medal and Norway beating out Canada (in the last 4 seconds of the game!) for the bronze medal. This was only the fifth Paralympic Games to have sledge hockey. Canada had won the gold in 2006 in Turin after finishing fourth in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Canada won silver in 1998 in Nagano, Japan and bronze in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway but went home empty-handed this time, (after both able-bodied Canadian teams won Gold in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver). Canadians had hoped to sweep all 3, but had to settle for just the 2 earlier Gold medals.

Canada’s Lauren Woolstencroft earned an amazing 5 Gold Medals in Alpine Skiing (visually impaired class) at the Paralympics. She’s such an inspiration, and it’s wonderful that she can bring these medals with pride to her home, Vancouver, BC! Brava!

I wish the world had seen all these amazing athletes. Please try to push for better media coverage when the Games return in Summer in London 2012 and in Sochi, Russia for Winter 2014.

Bravo! Brava! to all in Vancouver BC who did such a splendid job. Now you and the tourists who come to your beautiful city can enjoy the enduring First Nation Art work and many wonderful memories from the Games of 2010.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Save Our Future and Our Planet 5

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Every time we travel, we can be ambassadors. Definite good can come from sharing information, and in this series, I hope I have shown you how you can help people overseas who are struggling with the problems that modern industrial countries have thrust upon them. And, when you travel, we do so to see this beautiful world, I hope that it encourages you to protect it, everywhere, for generations to come. Each of us has to do our share.

Surprisingly, one action is to eat in a responsible way! What do I mean by that? Well, catch-up on the first 3 parts and then continue reading below!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Corn
Poor U.S. policy resulting in subsidies of the ethanol industry have driven corn production through the roof, both in the U.S. and in the Amazon. Nowhere should a food crop be turned into biofuel. That should be made only from plant waste! While that sparked discussions in the U.S. about prices of corn and the ethics of growing food for fuel rather than — well, food, it’s also driving deforestation that counteracts any environmental benefits that result from using biofuels instead of fossil fuels, in the first place! Stop the whole concept in its tracks. Write legislators and don’t support biofuel until its only made from plant waste from farming, not land clearing, either. And, then corn is another genetically-modified crop which we are sending overseas. If you won’t eat it at home, likely it’s on your plate outside of Europe (where they will not allow American Frankenfood).

Sugarcane
Sugar is bad for us, and it’s a cheap ingredient so food manufacturers put it in everything to bulk it up and get people “hooked”. It’s the underlying cause for a massive expansion of diabetes and diabetic amputation all over the world. India has a huge diabetic problem which is about to explode on the scene and China will not be far behind.

Like corn, sugarcane has expanded rapidly in the last few years for its use in ethanol production. Seen as a more efficient source of biofuel than corn, sugarcane has been pushed hard in Brazil, which has gained a reputation as the first sustainable biofuels economy. How sustainable is it, though, if the world’s largest rainforest is destroyed in the process? Brazil, especially, knows better and should be chastised severely, as all of us depend on what is a global necessity, which they treat as a natural resource (the Amazon rainforest). Frankly, I think the area should be internationalized as they’ve shown such poor management of a global treasure.

Sugarcane has also been dowsed in pestides etc, and the usual burning of the fields shortens the lives of everyone who breathes the smoke. Just don’t support the sugar business, and spread the word about its risks if you are traveling there, as many will be soon for the 2016 Olympic Games!

What you eat, breathe, drink as you travel is all effected by the policies of the countries you visit, or their lack of policy or oversight. Recently, I saw how well Peru is managing its Amazon resources for the benefit of all of us, including its indigenous peoples, so support Peru with your travel dollars and spurn Brazil. Write to each of their embassy and let them know your position. In the end, if more tourists became real eco-tourists, voting with their dollars, maybe more countries would do the right thing.

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Save Our Future and Our Planet 4

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Every time we travel, we are ambassadors. Definite good can come from sharing information, especially with those peoples who have likely been left out of the loop and yet are struggling with the problems that modern industrial countries have thrust upon them. And, when we travel, we do so to see this beautiful world, and that encourages us to protect it, everywhere, for generations to come. Each of us has to do our share.

Surprisingly, one action is to eat in a responsible way! What do I mean by that? Well, catch-up on the first 3 parts and then continue reading below!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Rice
Much of Asia’s forest land has already been converted to rice paddies. This may have been OK when populations were small, but with massive rice-eating populations, this needs to change! Not only is rice-growing leading to the universal effects of deforestation such as habitat loss and threatened biodiversity, but these seemingly benign, serene fields are also the largest source of methane produced from human activity!

Rice fields emit between 50 and 100 million tons of methane each year. That amount could be reduced with changes in farming methods, such as draining the fields more often. And, as I mentioned above, the methane problem created by animal flatulence is also a huge problem!

Traditional methods may only have worked because of smaller production, but today, the whole rice-eating culture of more than one billion people needs to be reassessed, as do farming practices. Cultural change is never easy, but the planet has to remain viable and arable or they will be little to eat for anyone. Lundberg Rice is a very knowledgeable California producer, so I would expect they have their culture done the best of anyone, but I’ll still eat way less rice. (And, I’m not adding more wheat etc., in its place, as they are raping the land, too, just in different ways.)

Shrimp
An estimated 38% of the world’s coastal mangrove deforestation is linked to farmed shrimp production. And, trawling methods for shrimp fisherman also create environmental havoc. Either way, shrimp is not eco-friendly!

Commercial shrimp farms have been developed in coastal regions from southeast Asia to Africa. They often displace natural low-lying mangrove forest ecosystems, which had been generally regarded as not ecologically important, but everything on the planet was made because it was needed.

The mangrove waters actually protect coastal regions from erosion and storm damage, as well as serve as a natural space for hatchery and spawning for fish — directly and adversely affecting the very industry that is taking their place. In places like Bangladesh, the loss of the mangrove forests will likely cost millions of human lives in coastal storm surge, and in areas of Indonesia and Thailand, tsunami tolls will likewise be affected. Be aware of that when staying on these tropical beaches!

More of the list for the last of the 7 worst planet destroying foods, tomorrow.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Save Our Future and Our Planet 3

Friday, March 19th, 2010

We are ambassadors when we travel and good can come from sharing information, especially with those peoples who have likely been left out of the loop and yet are struggling with the problems that modern industrial countries have thrust upon them due to climate change by global warming.

People in Africa are fighting drought and crop decimation, and others in Asia and the Pacific have rising sea levels to deal with. You can help share the bigger picture; contact ecological organizations to see if you can help them during your trip in some way; and eat in a responsible way! What do I mean by that? Well, catch-up on the first 2 parts and then continue reading below!

Part 1
Part 2

Continuing with 2 more on the list of planetary-destructive foods to avoid:

Palm oil
Palm oil is a saturated fat, but is actually a healthy, traditional food, filled with necessary Vitamin A. It has been responsibly harvested in Africa for generations, but then the food industry stepped in to grab a cheap source of fat, increase acreage and decimate forest to grow these non-native trees.

Damage is happening especially in Indonesia’s archipelago. Palm Oil production is not only one of the greatest drivers of deforestation — destroying, along with old-growth trees, crucial habitat for the endangered orangutan and Sumatran tiger — it is also one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases and palm plantations do not sequester carbon dioxide anywhere nearly as effectively as virgin rainforest did. Multiple-whammy!.

One of the more widely reported environmental disasters, deforestation for palm oil plantations has led Indonesia to be ranked the third-largest contributor to climate change because of the massive fires they set to clear the land. These fires have burned, uncontrolled in the past, and have eliminated more forest than even these greedy government officials and land-owners intended. Again, they put the responsible indigenous tribes in jeopardy, along with the orangutans.

And it’s hard to avoid palm oil in your food, so write the manufacturer and say you are NOT buying their product because of it (do try to find an alternate product; there may be one at the health food store).

Unfortunately, in mainstream foods, not only will you notice the ubiquity of palm oil once you start looking (in everything from cookies to bread to baby food), but it’s often disguised on labels (as the generic ‘vegetable oil’). Don’t accept anything with that on the label for it is imperative to know the type and source of fats you ingest.

Soy
Most of the soy crop becomes cattle fodder or industrial ingredients, not tofu! The crop covers 11 million hectares of South America, alone, so soy is another leading driver of deforestation — not because of some sudden spike in demand by tofu-consuming humans, but because it is used mainly as feed for chickens, cows, and pigs in Europe and cattle in the United States.

Much of the deforestation affiliated with soy is indirect: because while soy farmers have done some of the clearing, it’s more often that soy is grown on already-cleared rainforest land. That then drives cattle ranchers deeper into the forest – more slash and burn and irreplaceable loss.

And, large areas of the United States food production is in soy and corn (another one of the Bad 7), and much of each of these is Genetically Modified. We need legislation to prevent genetic engineering, especially of food crops. Soy and corn are heavily-subsidized crops by “the Farm lobby” and Congress, and this needs to change, with money being put into helping organic fruit and vegetable farmers, instead, as they are the only ones growing healthy food.

More of the list tomorrow.

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Save Our Future and Our Planet 2

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Learn to be an eco-tourist everyday, where your good choices favorably affects the lands on which your food is grown, and helps the other life-forms with whom we share our amazing planet.

Eco-tourism is not just about animal photo-ops, seeing the situation elsewhere, providing dollars for locals to protect native animals instead of hunting them and returning monies to locals to help them in their plight caused by climate change — much of it caused by industrial countries of the first and second world. Although these are important objectives, and accomplishments, the issues are deeper and need more action.

Rachel Cernansky’s the author of this deforestation diet. She says that everyone hears a lot about the importance of eating organic and eating local, but what’s left out of the conversation are the growing methods of some of our staple foods, and their ecological “cost”, even if they are locally produced.

It is truly shocking how much forest land, and especially rainforest land, has been lost to grow (or raise) products like beef, rice and palm oil — the latter of which is in more foods than you might realize (start reading product labels).

When wealthy, educated or uneducated (or just greedy) landowners want the most bang in the world market, they have been choosing crops and livestock unsuited for their land, but wanted by wealthy countries’ manufacturers and fast-food chains.

Then, when their agricultural land becomes unproductive (usually after about three years), it is often cheaper to clear new land than to fertilize the already-decimated land to replenish nutrients that were drained from the soil. Often, in the slash-and-burn process, they seek to grab more land, too, often from lands responsibly managed by aboriginal populations; this is especially true in Brazil’s Amazonia. Brazil has not been protecting the tribes.

Monocrop agriculture is also a major factor in how modern food production has become unsustainable. Yet, coffee and banana production both serve as examples of smooth, successful transitions to better methods. They had been drivers of deforestation in the past, but more recently farmers have been using more inter-cropping and forest mid-level canopy “cover” (ever heard of shade-grown coffee?). All this helps to prevent deforestation and helps preserve biodiversity of both plants and animals. Preventing plantations of a singular species is important, whether it be monocrops of trees for lumber or food crops.

Definitely, this change in the banana and coffee industry is due in no small part to activist campaigns waged in recent years to educate consumers and manufacturers and local indigenous activists to generate change in the international manufacturing and supply chains.

Here’s the first of the seven worst common foods which contribute the most to deforestation — and hence, to climate change — around the world. Try not to put any of them on your table at home, and encourage restaurants and hotels wherever you go to do the same. Speak up; let them know better alternatives, and explain why you will not order these items.

Beef
Beef is by far the worst offender of any food item. (Bison is not an offender.) Ecological comments go on top and are apart from the issue of unhealthy cows being forced to eat non-natural foods in wholesale production, which makes them more susceptible to Mad Cow disease. Grass is the only healthy food for cows, and few cows are allowed to eat it anymore.

Beef as a deforestation cause, especially of Brazilian rainforest in the Amazon, is criminal because we know the consequences and the Brazilian government has bowed to wealthy, greedy land-owners instead of to the health of the planet and their land’s future arability.

All this cow farming does is wreck the rainforest, which is in such delicate harmony, that nothing grows there for long after the trees’ wood is harvested, or just burned (causing even more pollution).

Beef is the first food to eliminate, both because of its direct role in forest clearing as well as the huge amount of land converted for food for cattle, (vegetable crops which feed cows and other animals less efficiently could feed more humans, effectively, directly).

And then there’s the massive waste problem from these herds, which often is improperly attended to, if at all, which creates more imbalance and carnage (the same is true for poultry production). And, we need to mention that the methane problem created by animal flatulence is also a huge problem for our atmosphere to deal with!

According to Rhett Butler (of Mongabay, a great site for environmental reporting around the world), despite efforts to combat deforestation through illegal logging, the Amazon is actually losing forest cover faster than ever, (largely due to the cattle industry), which has been growing in Brazil by an average of 3 million head per year since 1974. Mc Donald’s and other fast-food chains get their beef from here. Vote with your dollars!

Read more at: Go Vegetarian at least one Day a Week for the Planet. Here’s why!

In many countries, you will not easily find a beef meal, or it will be exorbitant due to polluting transport and import etc., Instead, choose to eat locally produced foods and be willing to eat vegetarian meals — just like when you are in any home as a guest.

Dairy
It’s a subgroup of the cattle problem. First, support human breast-feeding of infants and toddlers! Secondly, if you are going to use animal milk for children, then use goat milk as it is the ONLY animal which has a nutritional profile close to human milk.

Cow milk is made by Nature for baby cows, not people, and it creates a very wrong nutritional source for people, and is implicated in the destruction of the Islets in our pancreas which we need to produce insulin. “Juvenile” diabetes (misnamed as it can appear at any age) (also called insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes) results from this! There’s nothing good about cow dairy!

Goat milk has a different flavor, and if you are not used to it, have you and your children order fabulous goat cheeses, especially in Europe, and get them at home, too.

Goats are also more eco-friendly, in every way. The Middle-East and Europe see their value, now we need the Americas to get rid of the large cattle herds and opt for goats, too.

Also read the first part of the series at: Save Your Future and Our Planet and the rest of the series will be in the article archives for Seattle, Vancouver and London. More in the series tomorrow.

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