Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seniors Skyping Seniors

Talk to your friends and family face-to-face, online and FREE!

21st century communication has arrived...

Seniors Skyping Seniors is a federally-funded, 12 month pilot project based in Guelph and sponsored by Harcourt Memorial United Church. We are trying to learn if Skype can be an effective tool for Seniors to visit with Seniors to help reduce the feeling of social isolation.

If you are a Senior living in Guelph-Wellington then consider becoming involved - the program is FREE!

For more information contact:

Terry McDonald -
or call the Harcourt Church office at
519-824-4177 or visit:

Friday, April 16, 2010

20 Years Later, Wildlife Still Eating Oil from Exxon Valdez Spill

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California

When officials said it would take 20 years for the corals on the Great Barrier Reef to recover after the Chinese coal ship slammed into it and grounded for a week, they may have even been conservative with their estimate. It seems that exposure to toxins and oil can have a long, drawn out recovery time - at least, that's what is found for wildlife that live in the area affected by the Exxon Valdez spill two decades ago.

According to Science Daily, the research was published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and shows long-term exposure to oil in harlequin ducks living in the areas where 10.8 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the sea.

It is still regarded as one of the most devastating human-caused contamination events, and the effects on wildlife populations and communities have been debated by biologists, ecologists, and the oil industry ever since. Now, using the biomarker CYP1A, which is induced upon exposure to crude oil, an international team led by Daniel Esler, from the Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, has measured prolonged exposure to oil in local wildlife populations.... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Much Hydration Do You Really Need?

You would think they would know better; at Brown University in Providence, RI, they even have their own branded bottled water.

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

A few months ago my wife and daughter were visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario and checking their bags. A woman ahead was told that she had to check her water bottle and she wailed, "But how will I stay hydrated?" My wife thought, but did not say, "you are in an art gallery, not the Sahara Desert."

But this obsession with hydration is everywhere, nobody seems to be able to get around anymore without either their own proper BPA free stainless steel bottle if they are politically correct, or their Fiji Water if they are not. Where did this come from?

The Guardian had a good article about the subject.... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Saturday, April 10, 2010

110,000 More Species at Risk Worldwide than Listed, Say Top Scientists

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Scientists to Create "a Barometer of Life"

According to scientists, the currently existing schemes that determine which species are at risk fall far short of what's needed. They argue in a recent study published in the journal Science that a more accurate "barometer of life" is needed to help educate the world on how many species are truly threatened, and that right now, invertebrates, fungi, marine, and arid land species are highly overlooked. They say that as of now, there are only 48,000 species being assessed for risk--when in reality, that number should be closer to 160,000.

Yes, that proposal includes the frightening implication that over 100,000 more species are at risk than are currently considered to be so. Which is precisely why some of the most respected conservationists in the world gathered to address the shortcomings of the current system. Among them, Harvard's EO Wilson and Simon Stuart, who heads the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The Shortcomings of the Red List

The IUCN's Red List is currently the international standard for recognizing species at risk, but it only assesses 48,000 species--and Stuart admits that it has a bias towards "higher vertebrates, which include mammals, birds and reptiles," according to the BBC. Arid land, freshwater, and marine species are underrepresented, Stuart says.

So what's to be done?... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

World's 4th Largest Lake is Now 90% Dried Up

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Not so long ago, the Aral Sea was the 4th largest freshwater lake in the world. Now, it's only 10% of its former size. In what the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling one of the most shocking disasters on the planet, the Aral Sea has literally all but dried up. So how does one of the most massive bodies of water in the world vanish?

A giant, Cold War-era Soviet project comes to town, that's how. A project intended to boost cotton production in an arid region of Uzbekistan diverted the rivers that feed the Aral Sea away from their natural source. Without the rivers feeding into the lake, it has simply and steadily dried up over the years. And now, 90% of the entire Aral Sea is gone.

It evidently left a huge fleet of ships and boats--the Aral Sea was once home to a thriving fishing economy.

Ban Ki-moon discussed the sea during his ongoing visit to the region: "On the pier, I wasn't seeing anything, I could see only a graveyard of ships. It is clearly one of the worst disasters, environmental disasters of the world. I was so shocked," he said, according the Huffington Post.

The Aral Sea catastrophe is one of Ban's top concerns on his six-day trip through the region and he is calling on the countries' leaders to set aside rivalries to cooperate on repairing some of the damage. However, cooperation is hampered by disagreements over who has rights to scarce water and how it should be used.... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Starbucks Shareholders Reject Recycling Initiative

by Sara Novak, Columbia, SC

The idea that Starbucks seems to be the last to jump onto the recycling bandwagon sort of blows my mind. Especially when their contribution to the problem is so massive. Currently, 3 billion of their paper coffee cups sold each year in the U.S. market alone end up in the landfill. The sheer volume has a huge impact. But according to the Seattle Times, still no action, last week shareholders at the annual meeting voted against proxy 3, the company's recycling initiative.

While 11 percent of Starbucks shareholders were in favor of a proposed recycling initiative, it was far from enough support for the measure's passage. The proposal asked the board of directors to adopt a comprehensive recycling strategy for beverage containers.

"I don't understand why they wouldn't make every effort to recycle. Why not?" investor Gail Trezise, of Seattle, said after Starbucks' annual shareholders meeting at McCaw Hall.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz didn't directly discuss the question at all during the question and answer period.... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Friday, April 2, 2010

Moriyama and Teshima Build Green City Hall in Guelph, Ontario

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

So many of our smaller towns and cities are in trouble; just a few weeks ago I wrote about one that was demolishing an entire street of empty buildings. Others pull themselves together and reinvent themselves. Guelph, Ontario is such a place; a few years ago citizens formed a Civic League to throw the bums out and put in a new, activist and green City Council and Mayor. They have taken a strong stance on ecological awareness and heritage preservation and it shows.

Now they have built a new City Hall that reflects those goals.

Guelph had a lovely old city hall that dated back to 1856, and that they had seriously outgrown; various departments were spread all over town. Next to City Hall was an arena that had been built on the site of an 1899 Winter Fair building. When they pulled off the aluminum siding they found that the original stone facade of the fair building was inside, so Moriyama and Teshima Architects integrated it into the design. It creates quite the dramatic lobby space.

... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Rising Spirit United Church

United and Connected

Guelph, Ontario - March 29, 2010 (Rising Spirit) -The United Church in Guelph is leveraging social networking and online conversation to connect in new ways with people of the city. With the launch of the website,, they are actively pursuing the 21st century ministry.

Heading up the Ministry is Guelph resident Rev. John Lawson, a 25 year veteran of the United Church.

"We know that the one-size-fits-all model of church doesn't work anymore,” Rev. Lawson stated. “Yet, how do people who have spiritual longings for something new connect and find each other? We hope this online network will help them connect and find new spiritual expressions and find a spiritual home."

The website lays out a vision of church gatherings in small groups with outdoors walks, conversations in pubs and cafés as well as online.

"The goal is having people gather out where people live their lives and make spiritual connections and have lives transformed by God", Rev. Lawson concluded.

You can check them out online at or call 519-836-0682

Contact: Rev. John Lawson, lead minister

Telephone: 519-836-0682

Email address –