Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231

Vol. 14, No. 7, September 25, 2009
Honoured Reader Edition

This is the honoured reader edition of the Gallon Environment Letter and is distributed at no charge: send a note with Add GL or Delete GL in the subject line to Subscribers receive a more complete edition without subscription reminders and with extensive links to further information following almost every article. Organizational subscriptions are $184 plus GST nd provide additional benefits detailed on the web site. Individual subscriptions are only $30 (personal emails/funds only please) including GST. If you would like to subscribe please visit If you feel you should be receiving the paid subscriber edition or have other subscriber questions please contact us also at This current free edition is posted on the web site about a week or so after its issue at See also events of external organizations at Back free editions from January 2007 are also available.


Both technology and cities were once seen as blights on the environment. Today both are often seen as environmental opportunities and perhaps necessities. “Back to the Land” and neo-Luddism no longer represent the rallying cry of most environmentally-concerned citizens. In this issue GL looks at both the role of technology and the role of cities and finds that, if we are to improve our relationship with the environment, they are probably both important elements of the future.

A review of a new book by Jeb Brugmann anchors our look at cities but we are also practical, reviewing our experience of downtown Detroit, Michigan, USA, earlier this year. If you can have a green city without people, downtown Detroit probably qualifies.

In an issue that includes some catching up on items postponed from the last two or three months it is almost inevitable that we switch to climate change. With the Copenhagen Conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change rapidly approaching, today’s review will likely be the first of several we do in the next three months. We are also including our review of the paperback edition of Gwynne Dyer’s new book, Climate Wars, which, in GL’s opinion should be mandatory reading for Prime Minister Harper and for all those who are still uncertain about the topic.

As regular readers will recall, GL has been on a bit of a campaign on the asbestos issue. Against that background a recent US court decision in favour of W.R. Grace is disappointing, though the jury’s reasons are interesting. The US EPA has followed up by declaring Libby, Montana, to be a Public Health Emergency under the Superfund law, the first time anywhere that this has been done.

Finally this issue catches up on some recent environmental news: the Niagara Escarpment, a court order against the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, a similar order in the US under the Endangered Species Act, some letters to the Editor, which we always welcome and try to publish, space permitting, a review of a new book, Good to Green, from John-David Phyper and Paul Maclean.

We are also listing a job for a senior sustainable development specialist.
In the next issue we’ll be updating our coverage of the environmental aspects of nanotechnology. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this one and find it useful.


The relationship between technology and the environment has been recognized, and somewhat controversial, since the early days of current concern about the environment. Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring, published in 1962, was inclined to blame technology for our environmental troubles. In those days the solutions were seen to be in ‘back to the land’ and adoption of pre-industrial models of human activity.

By the mid 1980s quite a few industry leaders were espousing the view that industry, and, by implication, technology, got us into this mess and that the very same approaches must therefore get us out of the mess. Such social revolutions as extreme high rise living and electronic bulletin boards were beginning to reduce our individual environmental footprint.

Today there are widely expressed views that technology is helping to address environmental risks. Automobile industry and labour leaders tells us that new cars are far more environmentally friendly than old cars, the biotechnology industry tells us that genetically modified organisms can solve the world’s food problems, and the biofuels industry tells us that their products can solve all our climate challenges, to give just three examples.

Meanwhile governments do very little to stimulate greener technology, huge government financial contributions are made to industries that continue to produce environmentally harmful products, and Canadian industry steadily falls behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to manufacture of products that truly help us to reduce our environmental footprint.

The reality is that there is nothing about new technology that makes it intrinsically better for the environment. Some new technologies, such as wind turbines and photovoltaics, do help but others, such as sport utility vehicles and chlorofluorcarbons, have caused much more harm than good. In most cases the environmental impact of a new technology depends far more on how it is used than on what it is. The recent release of DVDs that you buy and that cease to be playable after 2 days, thus being a sort of virtual rental that does not need to be returned, is just one of many examples of how the electronics industry is irresponsibly adding to the world’s garbage problem. The disposable mop that claims to bring a “whole new meaning” to the process of cleaning illustrates quite well that corporate environmental irresponsibility, in the form of increasing the supply of, and demand for, disposable products, is still alive and well in many sectors.

There are valid arguments that demands for the elusive perfection must not obstruct the incremental progress that is such an important part of the evolution of new technologies. Bio-based materials, for example, are likely to become an environmentally efficient replacement for fossil and mineral based materials only if we accept the early technology iterations that are less, or less than, environmentally beneficial. There is some validity to those arguments, though too many of the transitional materials come with environmental negatives that could be addressed if industry consistently applied some more environmentally responsible concepts. Design for Environment should be as important an element of the development of new technologies as design for profit.

GL’s editor has always found it difficult to proof read articles and letters on a computer screen. Schooling with books and papers seemed to entrench a style of reading that did not fit well with the way words are presented on a screen. A concerted effort, perhaps assisted by LCD screens instead of the old television-style monitor, has finally achieved something of a breakthrough and now I print fewer and fewer documents for proofreading. Wqhile mistakes still creep in, my newfound ability to proof read on the monitor has cut office paper consumption quite dramatically.

The same people that bring you Gallon Environment Letter also publish called Ecological Farming in Ontario. So far it is a print only magazine, in part because many of Ontario’s farmers have not yet fully adopted electronic communications - rural internet access is still slow or expensive in some areas. A future objective is to switch the magazine to the electronic format. When we do we will save a quarter of a tonne of paper every year, and that is for just one of Ontario’s small circulation magazines.

New technology can help us protect the environment. Protecting the environment can be assisted with new technology. But new technology is not intrinsically better for the environment and the sooner government officials and technology developers abandon the theme that new technology always leads to environmental benefits the sooner we will begin to put emphasis on properly evaluating what’s good and what’s bad. In the months ahead, Gallon Environment Letter will be increasing our focus on the good and the bad of current environmental claims. We invite to you stay with us, and to offer your thoughts, on what could be quite a wild ride.

Colin Isaacs


In the early days of the modern environmental movement, in the 1960s and 70s, many felt that the environment could best be served by dispersing human habitations. This view, that cities were rife with, and in some ways the cause of, pollution was manifested by the ‘Back to the Land’ movement. In the 30 or so years since then, most environmentalists have reversed their perspective. Today the earth clearly cannot support six and a half billion people living in dispersed settlements. If we are to have enough land to produce food and raw materials for other goods we must have cities and by far the majority of people must be housed within them. Interestingly this trend is taking place, mostly without government law or edict, and, although many cities still have problems with sprawl, pollution, poverty, and crime, people, including many environmentally interested people, are now learning how to live in cities and how to make cities better places to live.

In this issue we look at some of the current thinking about cities.


Jeb Brugmann is well known for his long involvement in cities. This past Executive Director of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives contends that "avoiding a crisis on an urban planet requires that we design cities and their districts as efficient, product systems governed and managed by communities with strategic purpose." His recently released book, Welcome to the Urban Revolution, is in some parts heavy going for those not steeped in the concepts and philosophies of urbanism. The concepts of "density, scale, association and extension" are rather abstract.

However, the more concrete content helps to encourage the reader to put some effort into understanding where Brugmann is going. Whether cities can ever be sustainable is grist included in the discussion as Prof. William Rees and others have contended that the city always has a footprint much larger than its own boundaries.

Brugmann’s statistics help to lure the reader further into the idea that cities are connected globally to each other and the whole planet:
In 2006, 150 million global migrants sent about $300 billion, mostly from foreign cities, back to their home countries. These "remittances" equal 40% of the total private investment in all developing countries and dwarf government-supported development funds.
On another rather appealing level, Brugmann talks about his personal experiences in cities such as Toronto, the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, and Detroit, He explores issues such as migration, criminal and illicit activities, ecology and urban design, the role of business - all humans, organizations, and wildlife seeking advantage in the city and in so doing creating and recreating it into what sometimes turns out to be a viable city. Migrants to the city, even those who live in slums, are seen not as victims but as entrepreneurial risk takers. Some corporations have evolved into longer-term civic engagement so that the accumulation of wealth for the business also advances social and economic community interests. Cities are more than markets and commodities of land and resources.

Brugmann laments the gap between cities' vision statements and their implementation. He discusses how poorly understood are the dynamics and strategies needed to create the liveable city. When the city inhabitants are stymied by the formal city system, they set up parallel cities of financing, land development including slums, sectarian and criminal sectors, and enterprise. Brugmann gives examples of Barcelona, Spain, Curitiba, Brazil, and Chicago, USA as examples of cities which have transformed decayed and downtrodden communities into "liveable, efficient, creative agents of global change."

The last part of the book discusses how to move from cities being a global burden to global solution, outlining a hopeful trend with the objective being to ensure cities are self-sustaining biomes for an ever-increasing world population.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The latest Statistics Canada report, Human Activity and the Environment, discusses food as the feature article and states, "As the global population increases, the interdependency of food, energy, water, land and biological resources becomes more apparent."

In 1931, 33% of Canadians lived on farms compared to only 2% in 2006. While Canada has a large land area, only about 5% or 47.5 million hectares is suitable for long-term annual crop production. Most of this is already farmed except for that which has been paved over or built on. Another 72.4 million hectares is suitable for grassland for grazing livestock but too marginal for annual crops. Expansion of crops means use of marginal lands.

Just over 70% of the food bought in Canadian stores in 2007 was produced domestically. The United States supplies more than half of imported food, and receives more than half of domestic food exports from Canada. On average the amount Canadian are spending on food as a portion of their total income is declining. In 1961 Canadians spent 28% of their personal expenditures on food compared to 17% in 2007.

In the north, the hinterland of the cities provides country foods such as caribou, seals, ducks, whales, fish and berries as part of the tradition of the Inuit. This provides high quality nutrition at low prices. On the other hand residents of northern isolated communities such as Repulse Bay, Nunavut and Old Crow, Yukon paid $350-$450 for the Revised Northern Food Basket. A similar food basket costs $195-225 in southern cities such as Ottawa and Edmonton.

Statistics Canada. Human Activity and the Environment: Annual Statistics.
Catalogue no. 16-201-X


Being in downtown Detroit during the annual Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference in June was a bit like seeing one of those science-fiction films where intrepid space travellers return to Earth and find cities still standing but empty of people. Detroit is, or was, the auto industry. In Detroit, hundreds of highrise and other buildings, some of magnificent architecture, are empty: for sale, for lease or just shut. Some are black with urban soot and broken windows, others look like they just closed yesterday and still others look like only some floors are in use. One closed retail store in a whole street of empty businesses improbably displayed a sign "Opening soon". There was no morning or evening rush hour. Other than a few clusters of people, mostly not from Detroit Downtown, and some people waiting at a bus stop, one could walk for several blocks without encountering more than a handful of people. In contrast, some of the suburban areas are so congested with traffic that jams are present throughout the day.


The silo-like highrise of the General Motors headquarters and GM's Renaissance Center with stores, restaurants and the Marriott Hotel dominate the Detroit River front across from the City of Windsor in Ontario. This was where the Detroit Economic Club hosted the National Summit featuring CEOs, government people and academics speaking about the economy. Speakers, panelists and moderators included Canadian Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Research in Motion, The Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Thomas P. d'Aquino; President & CEO, Canadian Council of Executives; Dr. Jayson Myers, President, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters; and Donald J. Walker, Co-CEO, Magna International Inc. Four critical disciplines – Technology, Energy, Environment and Manufacturing were discussed in terms of increasing America's competitiveness. A report is expected to be released within some months. The summit leaders apparently took a less conspicuous consumption approach including taking taxis and riding the PeopleMover (see below) rather than being driven to dinner in big limos.

Protestors, part of the People's Summit with speaker Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed their views that the government should be bailing out the poor people not the rich ones, that auto plant closures and lack of a living wage and healthcare was causing suffering of ordinary people and workers. The police guarded the entrance to GM HQ where a large fancy sign read GM NEXT.


We rode in the Detroit PeopleMover, an elevated, single track, electric automated (no driver) train which circles in one direction almost five kilometres through the what-used-be central business and shopping district, stopping at 13 stations connecting to restaurants, arena, conference center, casino, hotels and the banking centres. It is Canadian technology made by Bombardier, the same as Vancouver's Skytrain and opened in 1987. There are no transfers to buses. Each train has two cars and in the half dozen times we rode it, there were either no other people or no more than three other riders. Detroit is known for its high rates of poverty and unemployment so some say the transit may be misnamed. The Rich Folk's Roller Coaster has been suggested because of its low ridership (it doesn't move very many people) and a good portion of the riders are out-of-towners on weekend visits or attending events They are subsidized by the residents because the fare of 50 cents pays only a small part of the operation. For us subsidized visitors, however, it provided an easy way of spreading our money around to do purchasing from what felt like more local vendors, a number of which were clustered quite close to the stops for the transit compared to the conference hotel area. The view of the city is great.


While the top executives were looking for economic green shoots, greening Detroit is very noticeable in the downtown core with garden squares and trees. The mature trees have mostly been decimated by Dutch Elm Disease and emerald ash borer. The newer trees are often planted in groups of at least three in quite large strips with shrubs growing underneath. The trees are much more likely to survive under such conditions than when they are planted singly completely surrounded by cement. The visual effect of greenery is noticeable and pleasant. The non-profit group Greening of Detroit is promoting urban forestry, community gardens to combat hunger and increase food security, environmental education for school children and opening a nursery to grow the trees for planting in the city. According to the group, originally youth were employed through their Green Corps program, but adults have been employed since 2007 as well, "Through this expanded Green Corps Employment program, we provide Detroiters of all ages with on-the-job training in the Green Industry, including hands-on experience at The Greening's large-scale restoration plantings, tree nursery program and vacant lot cleaning and reclamation programs."

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A new global climate treaty may not be agreed to in detail in Copenhagen but back in March, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer recommended that an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol should at least answer 4 questions:

1. How much are the industrialized countries willing to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases?
2. How much are major developing countries such as China and India willing to do to limit the growth of their emissions?
3. How is the help needed by developing countries to engage in reducing their emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change going to be financed?
4. How is that money going to be managed?

Businesses around the world are making long term investments in power plants, buildings and technologies and need some clarification of government intentions.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Danish business activities at the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen December 7 - December 18 will be carried under the banner of the Climate Consortium Denmark. A web-based guide showcases cleantech suppliers and solutions. It is intended to be useful to
Both the private and public sector have been improving energy products and processes in the last decade. Danish export of energy technology and equipment tripled in the last decade and outperformed all other Danish export. Denmark markets itself as a leader in wind energy, which contributes 6.5% of total Danish exports. Danish trade councils and embassies are promoting Danish cleantech solutions. Of the 17 target markets, Canada is one.

EnergyTours has been set up with the national tourism organization so top management, technical management and commercial management of leading energy companies and developers, technology providers and consulting engineers as well as politicians and administrations can visit sites, demonstration facilities and hold face to face meeting with Danish company leaders.

The EnergyTours have environmental features of their own: EURO5 engines in buses or particle filters, flights from around the world to Denmark via Lufthansa*, certified green hotels and conference facilities. the Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the business travel management company, provides the CWT Sustainable Solutions with carbon calculator, post-trip emissions management reporting and services to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Government of Denmark is a strategic partner


Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


If you haven't read Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer as part of your non-fiction summer reading, the paperback edition has been released. If you weren't alarmed before about global warming, it will give you a jolt especially the scenarios of the future e.g. China 2042 and Wipeout. It is mighty fine writing and credible. Dyer himself interviewed many of the people he quotes including James Lovelock famed for the concept of earth as Gaia, Vandana Shiva in India known for award-winning leadership on women and ecology in development and James Hansen, director NASA Goddard Space Station.

It is a deeply pessimistic companion piece to Brugmann's more optimistic Welcome to the Urban Revolution (see separate article) in that there is a lot of discussion of global impacts of what humanity is doing: population, food, consumption, fossil fuels, and political decision-making. Scenarios include migration explored by Brugmann but here that topic is detailed on what could happen when coastal cities are flooded and refugees from those flooded cities become migrants to above-the-flood settlements. Conflicts and war are predicted outcomes.

Dyer sees it as unlikely that the US administration will implement 80% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, "With luck, they might aim to do half of that - in which case, we can look forward to only about half of the calamities that a complete failure to respond to the problem would entail. And then, in due course, some of those calamities will motivate us to make deeper cuts-although coming later, they will be of less use. And so on. It is probably going to be a long, miserable experience, with an uncertain outcome."

Gwynne Dyer

According to the book’s web site, "Gwynne Dyer has served in the Canadian, British and American navies. He holds a Ph.D. in war studies from the University of London, has taught at Sandhurst and served on the Board of Governors of Canada’s Royal Military College. Dyer writes a syndicated column that appears in more than 175 newspapers around the world."  GL’s editor adds that while Gwynne Dyer has a lot of credibility as a columnist and commentator with millions of people around the world it is unlikely that his words would have much resonance with Prime Minister Harper. What a pity!

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Sometimes it is surprising how long it takes for society to take basic steps to achieve social justice and environmental protection. In Canada, this is only the 35th year (1974) since our national police the RCMP accepted female officers. Among a number of reasons a US jury dismissed the case against W.R. Grace earlier this year despite the deaths caused by the hazardous release of asbestos in the town of Libby, Montana was that it was only in 1990, that the US Clean Air Act was amended to make it a crime to release a hazardous substance with the knowledge that it could cause death or serious injury. The mine closed in 1990 and some of the defendants charged had left the company by then. On May 8, the jury in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Montana acquitted W.R. Grace & Co. and three of its former executives of all crimes associated with the abnormally high rate of death and disease due to asbestos in Libby, Montana.

Public Health Emergency

In June, Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency declared a public health emergency under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) at the Libby asbestos site, which includes the towns of Libby and Troy. Libby is seven miles from the inactive vermiculite mine. The mine supplied 80% of the world's vermiculite while it was operating. Vermiculite was used for insulating buildings and as a soil amendment but was contaminated with asbestos. Many in the community with no association with the mine were exposed to asbestos. The soil, the water, the dust, and the sediment were contaminated. Roads, public parks, gardens, homes indoors were contaminated. Disease and death-causing exposure was mostl59through inhalation. Even if the town itself hadn't been polluted with direct application of asbestos via the vermiculite, the air from the mine was transporting asbestos into the town. This is the first time EPA has issued a Public Health Emergency determination under the Superfund law in its history. While the EPA has been "cleaning up" e.g. excavating soil and replacing it with non-contaminated soil, of the over 4000 home/commercial places, over 800 haven't been inspected yet and only 1100 have been cleaned with an expectation of cleaning about 100 more buildings and spaces in 2009. The public places such as parks where vermiculite was spread were done first. The emergency declaration is more for funding health care for the sick people.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Robert Patrick, President of the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment CONE sent along a copy of the latest newsletter (June 2009) which is issued several times a year. CONE is a non-profit alliance of environmental groups, conservation organizations, and concerned citizens and businesses founded in 1978 and dedicated to the protection of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment.

One article describes the history of the non-governmental effort to protect this unique land. Originally unorganized, "the noisy but passionate rabble" persuaded then Ontario Premier Bill Davis and his minority Progressive Conservative government to prevent repeal of a law restricting commercial activity and development of the Niagara Escarpment. Ontario Nature (then Federation of Ontario Naturalist) thought a coalition would be more organized to protect the 725-kilometre escarpment with a number of unique ecosystems. The group has fought many battles. One of the founding members GL mentioned in the last issue is John Willms, an environmental lawyer who helped advise on potential legal battles.

The pressures for aggregate and development continue. Part of the Escarpment is located in the Golden Horseshoe which stretches along the west coast of Lake Ontario from Niagara Falls and is the heaviest populated and urbanized region in Canada (8.1 million people, two-thirds of Ontarians and one-quarter of all Canadians). The Province of Ontario has designated the Greenbelt to protect natural and farm lands, but some development is leapfrogging beyond those greenbelt boundaries to continue the sprawl. onto very high quality farmland which could produce those luscious peaches and other fruit which we here in southern Ontario take for granted. Control of agricultural land severance and the provincial policy Places to Grow is requiring cities to set specified targets for density before they can expand beyond their boundaries and is forcing welcome change in city sprawl. But a lot of land is grandfathered and in the hands of developers and an amazing number of houses and developments are springing up. And just the sheer number of people put pressure on natural landscapes such as the treasure of the Niagara Escarpment.

Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment. Newsletter. June 2009. - June 2009.pdf

Statistics Canada. 2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006.


The freshwater Nooksack dace used to be common in BC and Washington State but began to disappear, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, "as a result of construction, development and other human activities." In Canada, drought leads to lack of water for them and in the US, creeks are filling with silt. The Species at Risk Act SARA and the stewardship activities since the 1990s was supposed to prevent the extinction of this small shallow water fish.

The environmental groups Environmental Defence Canada, Georgia Strait Alliance, Western Canada Wilderness Committee, and the David Suzuki Foundation sued the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The applicants contended that "The Applicants argue that the Minister knowingly failed to follow the mandatory requirements of s. 41(1)©) and ©.1) of SARA with respect to the Final Recovery Strategy for the Nooksack Dace." Justice Campbell of the Canada's Federal Court agreed, "This is a story about the creation and application of policy by the Minister in clear contravention of the law, and a reluctance to be held accountable for failure to follow the law. ... I find that the Minister acted contrary to the law intended by Parliament to protect the Nooksack Dace." Ministers of the Crown have to comply with the rule of law.

The Recovery Team had identified critical habitat as required under the legislation but when the final plan was posted no critical habitat was identified in the Recovery Strategy at the direction of the Minister and/or his delegate. The law requires that once the Minister determines that the recovery of a listed species is feasible then the recovery plan must include among other specifications the critical habitat of the species and where identification of critical habitat is inadequate a schedule of studies to identify critical habitat. "Critical habitat" means the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species.

The reason the identification of critical habitat is so important is that this identification kicks off the protective measures of SARA. Water withdrawal, toxicity from urban storm drainage, channel dredging, and removal or reduction in stream-side vegetation have reduced the population of the little fish. Insects landing on the vegetation fall into the water and are an important food source. Vegetation also prevent toxics and sediments from entering the stream.

The Wilderness Committee says that the same unlawful policy has been applied to 17 other species in British Columbia which will have to have their recovery plans rewritten. The change could affect many things including the development of cities to ensure the species critical habitat is adequately protected.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A ruling in the US on another very small fish known as the delta smelt designated under the US Endangered Species Act also slapped down a US federal Fish and Wildlife position. Justice Oliver Wanger in the US Federal District Court restricted the pumping of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to southern California to leave enough water to protect the fish. Counter litigation has delayed some of the restrictions but are pushing California and other drought-affected states to work harder on water management. Fishing associations say that the ruling isn't just human vs tiny fish but that protecting that little fish also protects salmon and other commercial fish species. The salmon are trying to return to spawning grounds, rivers which have dried up. The delta smelt ruling has been a wake-up call and set up a farm vs cities debate (who will get priority for the limited water).

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


            Subject: Gallon Environment Letter v14 n6 Honoured Reader Edition

Hey, I just wanted to say, really good letter this time around. Exactly the issues I have been debating with my friends - why and how Canada is missing the opportunity to make the shift to the New Green Economy, with renewable energy at the forefront.

Keep up the good work.

Matt Woods
            Subject: Gallon Environment Letter Vol. 14 No. 06 August 18, 2009

Dear Colin,

This edition is a superb summary of the state of renewable energy knowledge, policy, potential and pitfalls. I am currently working on a film (due out by November, I hope) which makes the nexus between our energy choices and the state of democracy, community and public participation it's central focus. I am thrilled with many aspects of Ontario's Green Energy Act, but very concerned by the perceived need to run roughshod over established environmental and social safeguard mechanisms for the sake of green energy. What I call the "bully" approach is never the best one, whether for nuclear, fossil or renewable energy.

This issue will be helpful to me as I complete the scriptwriting and start the editing in earnest this month. I look forward to being able to share details of my film Powerful: Energy for Everyone soon, perhaps for your next issue. In the meantime though, your readers can view the trailer and a whole host of videos taken from the film here:


David Chernushenko
Green economy educator / Living Lightly pathfinder / Speaking • Visual media production • Current affairs analysis 613-730-0870 david/// [replace to send email] 
Producer/Director: Be the Change Powerful - Energy for Everyone

View the trailer at
            Subject: Gallon Environment Letter Vol. 14 No. 06 August 18, 2009

This is just to say that it is one of the best ever. Nicely balanced but clearly positive in favour of renewables. And thank you for the note about the water-energy nexus. Few people are aware of how much energy it takes to pump water, to say nothing of how much water it takes to produce the energy to pump water.

One sidelight for your amusement re tidal power -- in the category of unexpected effects. When the tidal power station was built in the 1980s, the engineers designed it carefully so the turbines would not injure fish. They could get caught in the system, but, being streamlined by nature, they would simply emerge at the other side; hence no adverse environmental effect. The engineering-environmental analysis was right so far as it went. The fish do go through the turbines unharmed, but, to no surprise once you think about it, they come out dizzy. When a fish is dizzy, it floats to the top, and out there, just waiting for this bonanza, is every fish-eating bird in the Maritimes. United Birds of the Maritimes is now 100% in favour of more tidal projects, though they have also applied for a government grant to study obesity in fish-eating species.

Best wishes,

David Brooks

GL Note1: Nova Scotia announced approval of the Bay of Fundy tidal project.
Nova Scotia. Environmental Assessment Approval. Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, Proponent Minas Passage, Nova Scotia. September 15, 2009.

GL Note2: David's new book on water soft paths is coming out this month:

David B. Brooks, Oliver M. Brandes and Stephen Gurman (editors), Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management (London, UK: Earthscan, 2009); C$115


Kelly Hawke Baxter, Executive Director, The Natural Step Canada sent a general emailing about new Toolkits for Sustainability about best practices available free on the their website. TNS acknowledges the generous support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the Calgary Foundation and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation for making these toolkits possible. The organization also offers 2-day sustainability training for leaders across Canada this fall as well as a 5 month course in community planning towards sustainability.

The Natural Step Canada 355 Waverley Street Ottawa, Ontario Canada K2P 0W4 info//// (replace to send email)


Art means business according to Americans for the Arts, an organization promoting art in schools and in communities. In 2007, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.2 billion and 5.7 million jobs. In June, the national annual conference held in Seattle focussed on the sustainability of the arts sector and the role of culture and art in sustainable communities. One of the speakers on the Public Art Track was Canadian artist Sarah Hall.

In 2006, Hall created the art glass for the wind tower at Theology Library of the Regent College in Vancouver. It was the first installation of photovoltaic art glass in North America. The solar cells are sandwiched between two panes of glass so the window is double-glazed for extra insulation. Clive Grout, the architect designed the tower which provides natural ventilation to the underground library which is covered by a park in honour of the College's commitment to ecology and environmental stewardship. In April Hall and Grout were awarded the Design Merit Award for Sacred Landscapes from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Arts USA. News. [Find Arts & Economic Prosperity III]

Sarah Hall Studio Inc. and
Pioneering UBC Windows Provide Solar Energy: A New Partnership With The Sun Begins September 29, 2007.
Canadian Solar Industries Association. Vancouver’s Solar Tower Sparks American Institute of Architects Award.


The International Institute for Sustainable Development IISD is an independent, non-profit policy research institute headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba communicating on sustainable development with an annual budget around $15 million and 110 staff and associates. Other offices are in Ottawa, New York and Geneva. IISD is looking for a full-time innovative and energetic President & CEO to continue the growth and expansion of the last 20 years and to implement the new five-year strategic plan. Compensation arrangements will be comparable with other similar international non-profit organizations.

Applicants should forward a cover letter and curriculum vitae by e-mail to Stephanie Cairns, Wrangellia Consulting, at iisdsearch// (replace to send email) by September 30, 2009.

IISD's head office 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 0Y4 tel: 204 958-7700
Ottawa office (new address, effective October 5, 2009) 75 Albert Street, Suite 903 Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1P 5E7 tel: +1 613 238-2296

David Runnalls

David Runnalls is the current President & Chief Executive Officer with a long history of involvement with sustainable development, environmental and conservation groups, business and international organizations. For example, he is a member of the Advisory Council for Export Development Canada, the Council for Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the Ivey Business School Leadership Council and is on the Inquiry Team for Tomorrow’s Global Company, the SAM/SPG Leadership award, the International Sustainability Innovation Council of Switzerland (ISIS), and the Shell Report External Review Committee. As well as being a Canadian board member of the IUCN-the World Conservation Union for six years, he was a board member of the World Environment Center (New York), IIED (London) and Pollution Probe (Toronto). One issue of the GL would be too small to list his many contributions to the field of sustainability.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


There are environmental books for business on overall strategies and on specific themes. Good to Green by Canadians, John-David Phyper and Paul Maclean has larger ambition: to bridge a whole range of topics on business practices as well as environmental group positions, government regulations and emerging sustainability trends. That's a whole lot for anybody to write about and for the reader to chew but the book may be a useful tool for business people and others wanting to view a range of environment and sustainability issues and how these are potentially changing and impacting business.

The authors sent various drafts and chapters to people practising in the environmental area for comment including GL's editor, who doesn't necessarily agree with some of their conclusions (nothing new there for anybody who reads GL regularly). GL has no argument with their view that companies ought to "dig deeper" to develop understanding of the risks and opportunities of environmental issues in order to ensure "these issues [can] be properly managed at the strategic, tactical and operational level" although GL wants to ensure that companies realize that it is not just about business but also about the environment and social sustainability.

The authors call it "cosmetic environmentalism" when companies pick "easy to do things" such as recycling programs at Head Office; Recycling isn't in the book's index. However, to GL, recycling is basic, not cosmetic or aesthetic and no different than requiring doctors to wash their hands, which may be mundane and simple but is also essential as the growing concern about medically-caused infection indicates. If a company has little experience in environmental management, picking the low-hanging fruit, ie the easy things, is often a good place to start but hardly is a reason for boasting. Nevertheless, the value of the book, whether the reader agrees or not with the viewpoints expressed, may be more in the broader world of environmental concepts, trends, examples/cases and initiatives presented.

The chapter on executing a green strategic plan lists some of the costs to companies who fail to take environmental issues into account and describes CEO leadership at Walmart, GE, DuPont, Virgin Group, Khosla Venture, Tesla, Google and Project Better Place. And goes on from there to explore sample Sustainable Development Policies (Bayer) and Corporate Social Responsibility Policy (Enbridge), a discussion on long-term value to shareholders and key market influencers. That's just a small part of the chapter which also includes a discussion of the risk and opportunities of adopting greening strategies.

In total, the book includes nine chapters covering design, green marketing, environmental management systems, supply chain drivers, alternatives to petroleum, emissions trading, human resources, and a road map for the future and lots and lots of references. Case studies of some of the big companies show how they are implementing some of the concepts and strategies.

The book could use some polishing, for example GL found a number of the graphs and illustrations difficult to read because of a dark background combined with black or grey ink and somewhat obscure. Also one has to flip the book too often to read sideways. It would also be good to learn a bit more of small and medium-sized business initiatives rather than so much of the mega-corporations. And the book could use a bit more to the authors’ voices, those personal voices of experience which would help to increase credibility about the advice such as those at the end of each chapter: the take-aways. There is lots of advice. One favourite of GL's is "Build it and they might not come" which illustrates that the commonly-held belief that green products, technology and services will inherently and automatically be successful in the marketplace is often a myth.

A book such as this can choose important trends from all that news coming at us everyday and summarize key points for further thought by the reader. Perhaps we’ll see a Good to Green 2010 or 2011 with more corporate initiatives and approaches, consumer trends and changing government policies and regulations.

Phyper, John-David & Paul MacLean. Good to Green: Managing Business Risks and Opportunities in the Age of Environmental Awareness. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd., 2009. ISBN: 978-0-470-15942-2 Hardcover 464 pages April 2009 CDN $34.95.


Five Ontario environmental companies and the Ontario Centres of Excellence were participants in an Ontario Showcase at the annual conference and trade show of the Air & Waste Management Association held in Detroit, Michigan June 16-19. The showcase was organized by the Ontario Ministry of International Trade and Investment specifically by Marek Karwowski, Area Director - US Automotive, Construction & Environment Sectors.

Each company paid for its share of what would have been three booths but which was cheaper for each participant due to the extra number of companies sharing the space. Each company provided its own people although for those who came alone, Karwowski offered an hour or so of booth duty for each - several days of promoting your business at a trade show booth can be wearing and requires a break at least at mealtimes.

Instead of a booklet which is often printed for trade shows for Ontario Delegations, Karwowski made a small third-of-a-page double-sided leaflet which he thought was more environmentally preferable. GL notes that fewer people seem to pick up a lot of leaflets at trade shows but rather prefer to pick up business cards and check out the links on the web sites - a lesson for those of us who don't keep our web sites as up to date as we should.

Both Karwowski and Balinder Rai, Manager of Business Development at the Ontario Centres of Excellence did networking to link up potential business partners. If you are an Ontario company involved in environmental business, you would do well to get on the mailing lists of these two people. Both demonstrate, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" can actually be true.
The five companies were:

Altech Technology Systems Inc.
12 Banigan Dr Toronto Ontario M4H 1E9
Contact: George Bennett Director Business Development
tel: 416 467-5555 x243 email: gbennett//
Designs, develops and manufactures technology for air pollution abatement, industrial wastewater treatment and customized solutions such as controlling odours. Has Canadian and US license for System REITHER(TM) for controlling particulate, aerosols, acid mists and odorous gases.

CIAL Group, the parent company of the Gallon Environment Letter
Contact: Colin Isaacs CEO (address and contact information as above on GL banner) web:
Development of sustainability strategies for business. Clients in manufacturing, processing and distribution. Toolkit includes lifecycle analysis, cleaner production, pollution prevention, corporate and social responsibility reporting, environmental information systems, environmental management, climate strategies, and environmental finance access information.

HYGREX (TM) Technologies Inc
1040 Martin Grove Rd Unit 18 Toronto Ontario M9W 4W4
Contact: Erwin Spehr, President and Eder Leon Sales/Export
tel: 416 916-9014 email: ederhleon// web:
A patented air dry technology Super Dry Air eliminates the needs for exhaust vents and emission permits for industrial drying applications such as water or solvent paint drying, food processing, automotive applications, and waste management.

Macrotek Inc
4-400 Bentley St Markham Ontario L3R 8H6
Contact: Tom Payne , President
tel: 905 415-1799 email: macrob// web:
Designs and supplies air pollution control systems including scrubbers, dust collectors, mist eliminators and exhaust stacks. Specialize in complete integrated systems with instrumentation and controls. Technologies include annular throat venturi scrubber, powder injection dry scrubber, packed tower and spray tower scrubbers.

Riva Modelling
RB2-530 Richmond St West Toronto Ontario M5V 1Y4
Contact: Evan Liske, Account Manager
tel: 416 767-0265 email: eliske//
Has a fully configurable web-based software tool to perform strategic long range asset, risk and budget management by forecasting the full lifecycle of the assets including municipal roads, corporate buildings, etc

Ontario Centres of Excellence for Earth and Environmental Technologies
156 Front St. Suite 200 Toronto Ontario M5J 2L6
Contact: Balinder Rai Manager Business Development
tel: 416 861-1092 x 2425 email: balinder.rai// web:
The Centre of Excellence for Earth and Environmental Technologies is one of a number of Centres of Excellence supplies innovation and commercialization services, offered in partnership with Ontario's university and college community to help Ontario organizations compete by adopting innovative, environmentally responsible solutions. The Centre co-invests in the research and development of leading-edge, industrially relevant technologies and develops the team – partners and resources – required to deliver innovative solutions, including the recent graduates and young innovators who make organizations more competitive.

The Ontario Showcase was presented and hosted by
Ministry of International Trade and Investment
International Trade Branch
6th Floor, Hearst Block 900 Bay Street Toronto Ontario M7A 2E1
Contact: Marek Karwowski, Area Director - US Automotive, Construction & Environment Sectors tel: 416 325-9210 email: marek.karwowski// web:


Berlin-based SOLON SE, a manufacturer of solar modules and systems, says it is the first German solar company; its initial public offering was in 1998. Its corporate slogan, proudly displayed at the top of its web page, is ‘Don’t leave the planet to the stupid’. GL cannot help but wonder to whom this slogan is directed.

Copyright © Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
119 Concession 6 Rd Fisherville ON N0A 1GO Canada. Fisherville & Toronto
All rights reserved. The Gallon Environment Letter (GL for short) presents information for general interest and does not endorse products, companies or practices. Information including articles, letters and guest columns may be from sources expressing opinions not shared by the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment. Readers must verify all information for themselves before acting on it. Advertising or sponsorship of one or more issues consistent with sustainable development goals is welcome and identified as separate from editorial content. Subscriptions for organizations $184 + GST = $193.20. For individuals (non-organizational emails and paid with non-org funds please) $30 includes GST. Issues about twelve times a year with supplements.