Monday, March 28, 2011

Church Leader's Green Initiative Heads East to Ottawa

United Church of Canada Moderator Mardi Tindal
photo credit: United Church of Canada

TORONTO, March 28, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - When Mardi Tindal was elected Moderator of The United Church of Canada in August 2009, she knew that managing her carbon footprint would be difficult during a three-year term where she would be expected to travel extensively. So she challenged the church to help her reduce the impact of that travel by taking actions that offset the carbon emissions that would accumulate as a result of fulfilling her role as Moderator.

But she also wanted to do more, so she pledged to limit her travel by air, and to do as much travel as possible using "green-friendly" transportation. She kept that promise last fall by scheduling her regional visits to northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta as a month-long journey—travelling much of the time by train.

Now Tindal's Spirit Express train journey is heading east—travelling between Toronto and Ottawa, with stops along the way in Cobourg, Belleville, Kingston, and Smiths Falls.

During this leg of her journey, Tindal will host three town hall meetings focused on environmental concerns and the care of creation in Cobourg, Smiths Falls, and Ottawa. Later in May, she will travel by train to Halifax to visit the church's Maritime Conference, and in October 2011, she'll board the train once again connecting her visits to Hamilton and London Conferences.

Tindal sees the town hall meetings as opportunities for soulful conversations about how we can find ways to live abundantly within the natural limits of God's creation.

"We need to be able to celebrate people's stories of hope—their green achievements—as well as hear their stories of suffering and concern about climate and ocean change," says Tindal.

People interested in tracking the Moderator's travels on the Spirit Express can do so by visiting

Saturday, March 26, 2011

UNICEF... In the US Pay $1 for Tap Water During World Water Week, Save Childrens' Lives (Video)

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California

Tap water at restaurants in the US is usually free, but UNICEF is encouraging restaurants across the country to ask patrons for a $1 donation for their free tap water this week. It is World Water Week, and the donations will go to UNICEF to help save the lives of children in areas where access to water is either difficult, or downright dangerous to health. How can you make a difference this week when you dine out? Read on -- it's easier than you think.

How We Engineered the Food Crisis

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California

With rising populations of people and shrinking supplies of food, it seems like ensuring access to three square meals a day for every mouth is an ever more impossible task. What have we done to get ourselves into this mess? The Guardian has an interesting piece called "How We Engineered The Food Crisis" on the hurdles we've placed in front of ourselves, not the least of which, the author argues, is regulatory barriers to the research in and use of genetically modified foods.

"...[P]rivate investment in R&D on innovative practices and technologies has been discouraged by arbitrary and unscientific national and international regulatory barriers - against, in particular, new varieties of plants produced with modern genetic engineering (aka recombinant DNA technology or genetic modification, or GM). Genetic engineering offers plant breeders the tools to make crops do spectacular new things. Can the flawed public policy that prevails in most of the world be rationalised?"

Would greasing the wheels of GMO research and implementation be a reasonable solution to the food crisis? Read the full article, and come back to let us at know your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Good Goes National: Scouts Ready to Rock Canada with Kindness

OTTAWA, March 23, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - In just a few days, The Good Goes National. From March 27 - April 2, 2011, Scouts Canada will celebrate its second National Good Turn Week, and Scouts across the nation will rock the country with thousands of acts of kindness.

It will start with just one Good Turn. In every province, city and town over the next week, hundreds of acts of kindness from the organization's youth members and adult volunteers will gather momentum. Each member has been given an official Good Turn wristband. They'll perform a Good Turn, and pass on the wristband to the recipient of that Good Turn. That person then does a Good Turn for someone else; passing on both the good turn and the wristband …until The Good Goes National.

Last year's inaugural Good Turn Week was a tremendous success for Scouting's membership, with over 100,000 Good Turns taking place nationwide. This year, kids and adults alike were so anxious to start, they began asking for their wristbands in early January.

Steve Kent, the organization's Chief Commissioner, is not surprised at all that Scouting youth are so hyped for their second annual event:

"Our members are ready to take on National Good Turn Week with the characteristic enthusiasm that is so very Scouting. We are not at all surprised, but we never cease to be impressed, particularly by the knowledge that our youth think doing a Good Turn is cool! Our current technology and social media tools will allow the entire country to see what Scouting is all about; what a positive and uplifting message. And given the increases in overall membership we've seen over the past two years, it's clear that Canadian youth and parents appreciate the values that make Scouting unique as a youth organization. It's nice to know that to Canadians, Scouting still stands for goodness."

National Good Turn Week will feature its own bilingual website accessible at All Scouts, leaders and others can post and share their Good Turn ideas in real time, text them, or share their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

About Scouts Canada

Scouts Canada, Canada's leading youth organization, offers fun and exciting outdoor adventure for boys, girls and youth ages 5 - 26 in communities across Canada. Youth in Scouts have fun adventures discovering new things and experiences they wouldn't discover elsewhere. Along the way, they develop into capable, confident and well-rounded individuals, better prepared for success in the world. For over 100,000 members in Canada, Scouts is the start of something great. It starts with Scouts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Canada's Burden: Being a "Responsible" Country in a Turbulent World

OTTAWA, March 18, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - It is in Canada's interest to continue to act responsibly, even though other countries are behaving irresponsibly in terms of their macroeconomic policies, The Conference Board of Canada argues in a publication released today.

"Being a responsible nation in a turbulent world can be a burden," said Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist. "Yet, Canada needs to remain a good global citizen, and encourage others to do the same. As long as public debt in other major countries remains high and global imbalances persist, we will have to roll with the punches."

The global economic system has been hit by new shocks, like political events in the Middle East and North Africa, and the horrific natural disaster in Japan, at a time when the deep structural weaknesses and imbalances among developed countries are becoming more apparent.

Canada has a respected voice in forums such as the G7/8 and G20, which it can use to encourage other countries to implement policies that consider the collective interests of the global community, rather than domestic self-interest.

After gaining ground on the world's leading economies during the recession, Canada is returning to a middle-of-the-pack ranking in the Conference Board's How Canada Performs. Canada is forecast to rank ninth in the Economy category in 2011, after moving up to sixth in both 2008 and 2009. Despite this slippage, Canada retains strong macroeconomic fundamentals, such as relatively modest public debt burdens and low inflation.

At home, the Conference Board's consistent message has been that federal and provincial governments should implement credible plans to restore fiscal balance within a reasonable time frame. Within the next fiscal year, they should use their budgets to detail plans to cap their debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio - and then to reduce it. Price stability should resume being the primary objective of monetary policy. And businesses will have to continue to adjust to a Canadian dollar at or above parity, since the forces that are driving its strength are not going to abate soon.

The publication, Oh Canada: The Burden of Being a Responsible Nation in a Turbulent World, is available to Conference Board subscribers or for purchase at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Environmentalism Ignores the Power of Religious Communities At Its Peril - Let's Change That

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY

Since the beginning of TreeHugger posts on the intersection of environmentalism and religion, on how the different spiritual traditions of the world are embracing more ecologically-friendly behavior, have been peppered throughout our archive. The fact of the matter though is that, consciously or not, we have largely shied away from highlighting how communities of faith are going green, how religious values can and are being a force for furthering ecological awareness.

Even a Strictly Utilitarian Perspective Demands Religious Inclusion

Instead we have largely focused on the practical aspects of going green: It'll save you money, it's better for your health, it's better for the planet's health (which is better for your health...), it'll preserve a world that your children and grand-children will thrive in, etc, etc.

Which is exactly why we--and I'm speaking now about the environmental community more widely not just my own little corner of it here on TreeHugger--need to recognize the value of religion in creating a more ecologically and socially just future. Before we even get to discussing different spiritual paths' take on the environment, as a practical matter religion is at the center of hundreds of millions of people's lives in one way or another.

It is foolish to not tap into this in a public way, encouraging and emphasizing the fact that there is not a major (or minor) faith tradition on the planet that does not speak positively on environmental preservation.

Religions Value Environment Differently, But There's Plenty of Common Ground

Granted, these values are differently emphasized, differently expressed (and certainly differently applied) in various communities and at different times, but at the core there is not a single path that explicitly endorses pollution, endorses ecological destruction, endorses environmental degradation. Furthermore, as awareness about humans' environmental impact grows more and more religious groups are actively emphasizing ecological protection and acting on these beliefs in practical ways... read more story at