Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 17, No. 9, April 30, 2013

In this issue GallonLetter looks at partnerships, a topic that attracts much attention and support but which is not always as free of risk or as mutually beneficial as proponents may suggest. Our lead article suggests one indicator for evaluating campaigns which promote products and raise funds for environmental or social ngos. We look at one of the campaigns which is currently running and, in an editorial entitled Copyrighting Nature, we ask whether companies that raid the global commons for images and other aspects to support their advertising should have to pay a license fee to ensure the protection of those species and ecosystems.

One of the business / ngo partnerships which may be running into trouble is the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. We report on what is happening. Public-private partnerships (P3) are another form of partnership which is not always popular in Canada but which appear to be taking off in other countries. We look at some of the issues influencing P3 in water and wastewater. Community benefits can sometimes be a way to foster company / community partnerships. We look at a couple of examples. Partnerships can also exist in sharing of such things as cars, tools, and accommodation. We ask whether dis-ownership is a growing trend?

Eco-industrial parks are another form of partnership among businesses. Such tools as 3D printing allows for new kinds of relationships between designers, manufacturers, and customers. These new relationship may lead to products with smaller lifecycle environmental footprints.

Beyond partnerships, though still related, we report on a new OECD report on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and Canada's withdrawal from the UN desertification convention and its international and Canadian implications. We review a new Al Gore book Future: Six Drivers of Global Change and we report on the new ban on animal tested cosmetics in the European Union. One company is helping to green the crafts sector, though Gallonletter is not sure how well they succeed, an article in Toronto's NOW newspaper claims that "An economically effective, fair-minded, compassionate just about ready to be scaled up and rolled out", and a situation in Kansas illustrates something that GallonLetter has repeatedly noted: when industry wins less environmental regulation it often ends up with a more challenging situation that they had before. Some folks never learn!
It is anticipated that the next issue of Gallon Environment Letter will focus on Responsible Capitalism. Until then, enjoy this issue and keep coming with those Letters to the Editor at Whether we agree with them or not, we will publish a selection of those that address issues likely to be of interest to our reader.



Is it ethical for corporations and social/environmental groups to enter into partnerships which promote brands/products or which provide revenues to the corporate bottom line while also attracting funding for social and/or environmental initiatives? A documentary by Toronto-based Castlewood Productions, Philanthropy Inc. narrated by Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio’s Q, explores several cases (Coke, Walmart and General Mills) on what is called "Strategic Philanthropy." One of the cases relates to the RED campaign.

The RED campaign was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver in 2006 to encourage the private sector to raise awareness and funds to eliminate AIDS in Africa. Companies such as Apple, Gap, Starbucks, Hallmark and others could receive a license to produce a Product RED product with a portion of the sales donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The more products consumers buy from a RED campaign company, the more money would be directed to the AIDS effort.

Critics of the campaign said that donors would do better donating to the Global Fund directly rather than buying more stuff. Initially the money donated was quite small. GallonLetter notes that in December 2012, the RED campaign said it has contributed $200 million to the Fund. Although RED is said to be the largest private contributor, the Global Fund is huge, an international health agency which has allocated $22.9 billion for grants in 151 countries (according to Canada's CIDA) since it was established in 2002.

Advertising vs Contribution to Charity

In the Philanthropy Inc. documentary it is stated that one of the measures to judge corporate philanthropy is that the company should not spend more on advertising than it pays into the charity. It is the kind of statement that at first glance one accepts but on second thought it isn't necessarily as useful a measure as surely it depends on the goals of project. On that criteria, the film stated that the RED campaign wouldn't pass because donations at the time were estimated to be $18 million and the cost of advertising $100 million. But Bono said it isn't only about the money the RED campaign has collected; it is also that the program has raised awareness.

Raising awareness of the role of consumers in encouraging environmentally improved products was the reason GallonLetter's editor, in a past incarnation as Executive Director of Pollution Probe, accepted, with the approval of the Board, a partnership with the Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw to have Pollution Probe endorse a few green products such as recycled content diapers. Because of the technical skills at Pollution Probe and linkages to the Niagara Institute, a Canadian research group with early involvement in lifecycle analysis of consumer products, only product claims which could be supported were endorsed. In the late 1980s, the controversy itself helped to put green consumerism (buy only if you need to buy and buy green if there is an option) on the agenda in Canada. Because of the diversity of advertising for such products as groceries and household cleaners, it would be difficult to allocate the costs of advertising of a specific product but it is likely to have been more than was contributed to the various environmental groups which endorsed green products for the launch of the campaign. Yet the advertising itself made consumers aware that they had a choice and through the campaign other retailers were encouraged to consider whether they should offer environmentally preferred products. Today, though still relatively small compared to the number of products on the shelf, offerings of lines of green products are made available by many mainstream retailers and product manufacturers.
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Coca Cola(TM) is advertising its partnership with WWF to protect the polar bear. WWF's web site, calling for donations at (Coca Cola Arctic Home (TM)), displays the special Coke red cans with white polar bears. The company is donating $2 million over five year, quite an insignificant amount of money compared to what the ads are likely to cost, but the ads are likely to raise awareness of melting ice due to climate change, an issue that is clearly within WWF"s mandate.

A WWF Canada press release says that proceeds from specially marked 12- and 15-packs in Canada up to $235,000 will also be received from Coca Cola. WWF Canada is using the funds to survey polar bear populations, map denning sites and collect data to understand the sea-ice ecosystem. "The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, but with the support of Coca-Cola and Canadians, the Last Ice Area can help chart a future for sustainable northern communities and ecosystems." said Martin von Mirbach, Director, Arctic Program, WWF-Canada.

Copyrighting Nature

While many companies hold assets associated with by patents and trademarks, including words, images and processes, they often use images, sounds, scents and processes from nature without paying anything. While it may seem to be an esoteric concept, there is something to be discussed in the issue of whether or not images and the like from nature are part of the global commons, to be used for free by any corporation which wishes to do so, or whether they are part of the global commons to be shared equally and paid for when used disproportionately. It used to be that air and water were considered to be free resources; now companies increasingly have to pay to use these resources in bulk. Should the same apply to other resources provided by nature?

If companies had to pay even a small fee to use images etc. from nature, the funds collected could be used to fund protection of nature. If a company uses a person's image in its advertising, it usually has to pay a fee to that person for the license to do so. If a company uses images of polar bears in its advertising, should it similarly have to pay a license fee for those images with the proceeds going to something which is of direct benefit to polar bears, to arctic mammals, or to a broader environment? Perhaps it is time to set up a Nature Copyright to which photographers, advertisers, painters, designers, wild based pharmaceutical company's, seed companies and so on have to pay a fee for every use of natural resources in products, advertising, book covers, fabric design. So if Coca Cola (TM) wants to use a cute version of those awesome predators, it wouldn't be a voluntary option but a requirement that a fee go to habitat or other ecosystem protection. If companies can patent seed, human genes and other items that has been developed over many years by nature and through the cooperation of many peoples over time, surely it is reasonable to ask for a fee for nature for all those using mice, geckos and that no-people-wilderness-landscape that most of the automobile commercials seem to prefer.

 Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


On May 18, 2010, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was signed by 9 environmental groups, 22 forest companies, and the Forest Products Association of Canada. The Agreement covers 76 million hectares of Boreal Forest from British Columbia to Newfoundland. It set an immediate moratorium on logging in 29 million hectares of forest, said to be virtually all of the critical habitat for the threatened boreal woodland caribou. Among other forest lands the agreement seeks specifically to protect caribou habitat which is to be off limits to road building, logging and other forestry operations.

When GallonLetter reviewed the first year progress report (see Gallon Environment Letter Vol. 16, No. 8, December 7, 2011), we said, "GallonLetter is unable to determine whether this audit report indicates that the signatories bit off more than they can chew for the timeframe they set so things are less than perfect but will move along to successful implementation or if this audit report indicates that the agreement is landmark only because it was mostly a clever strategy on the part of the forest industry's association leadership to reduce the global and domestic pressure on sales of products from the boreal old growth forest. However, at this stage the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is looking suspiciously like it is achieving silence in the environmental community more than it is achieving progress for sustainable management of Canada's forests.”

Greenpeace Says Roads Are Reason for Withdrawal and Then Retracts

Greenpeace announced its withdrawal from the Agreement in December 2012, which the environmental group said was due to logging roads built in Quebec by Resolute Forest Products. In March 2013, Greenpeace issued a retraction saying that the statements about the company engaging in secret logging and road building in areas of suspended harvest are incorrect and have been removed from all materials. Despite the retraction, Greenpeace remains outside of the Agreement.

Manitoba Parks: Lawsuit on Logging Roads

The Wilderness Committee in Manitoba sued to prevent Tolko Industries from building a logging road across Grass River Provincial Park but lost. The judge ruled (and the appeal court agreed) that although Manitoba has a ban on commercial logging through provincial parks, and although Tolko would log to create the road, the law doesn't define using the logs from road building as commercial logging. The judge didn't assign legal costs to the environmental group saying that the case was in the public interest. The ENGO's press release said the road is bulldozing through an area set aside for caribou, "Tolko has also signed the much vaunted Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which is said to protect millions of hectares of forests for caribou, and was advertised as the end of the war in the woods. Except it doesn’t, and hasn’t, and Tolko is consciously bulldozing through caribou habitat in our provincial park." Writing to Premier Selinger is said to be the only way to stop the "loophole big enough to drive a logging truck through."

Canopy Leaves Due to Lack of Failure to Change the Game

"This collaboration with the logging industry was supposed to be a game-changer for the protection of species and conservation in Canada's threatened Boreal forest," said Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director of Canopy, a conservation group which announced its withdrawal from the agreement in April 2013.

Canopy says it will continue to seek collaborations to protect forests, species and climate as it works with suppliers and publishers such as Random House to protect forests e.g. by using Forest Stewardship Council certified products. The growing demand for green products in the marketplace is seen as key to achieving their objectives better outside the agreement.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The public sector is increasingly looking at mechanisms to leverage limited tax money. For example, in Toronto, outsourcing garbage pickup in one part of the city was probably mostly to save money by avoiding city level union wages and other costs and responsibilities but P3 projects can also be designed to provide quality infrastructure which might be financially out of reach of a municipality or other jurisdiction. Metro Vancouver is considering P3 for the Lions Gate Secondary Wastewater Treatment Plant which is currently in the Project Definition Phase.

Codes and practices relating to the P3 are informed by Partnerships BC and P3 Canada. Partnerships BC is wholly owned by the province with responsibility for planning, delivery and oversight of major infrastructure projects. Its mission is to structure and implement public private partnerships. PPP Canada is a Crown Corporation with the aim to promote P3s in Canada. The P3 Canada Fund is described as a "merit-based program with the objective of supporting P3 infrastructure projects that achieve value for Canadians, develop the Canadian P3 market and generate significant public benefits."

PPP Canada Water/wastewater Sector Study

Up to date information on water/wastewater infrastructure is not available but a 2013 report prepared for PPP Canada states "a 2007 survey of Canadian municipalities by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated the total national investment need at $88 billion ($31 billion for refurbishment and $57 billion for replacement and new systems). The Conference Board of Canada reports that actual capital expenditures (in 2002 dollars) in municipal water and wastewater averaged $1.0 billion annually from 1970-1997, and $1.5 billion annually from 1998–2006, reaching $2.4 billion in 2006."

Among the observations are:
The report describes a number of models for P3 which include which partner has responsibilities for different parts of the project e.g. asset ownership, design, construction, operation, expansion and pricing (this last responsibility usually is the responsibility of the municipality). For each model, e.g. Design-Build, Operate, Maintain there is a brief note of potential problems such as the contractor taking account of the initial capital costs but not the full accounting for the long term in their proposal. There is also a list of actual projects for which a particular model has been used.

GallonLetter notes that at the conference of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management held in London, UK this month, many speakers sounded alarm bells about the issue of water and wastewater in regard to changes in the planetary environment such as climate change. Speakers advised ensuring that every capital replacement project leads to reduced long-term costs and reduced carbon emissions. (see Gallon Daily)

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.

Isaacs, Colin. Olympic Park water recycling plant Gallon Daily. April 11, 2013. and report link at
and UK water management conference sounds alarm bells. Gallon Daily. April 10, 2013.


Good Energy Utility Pays Community Tariff

In the UK, wind energy is about as controversial as it is in other countries, including Canada. Most cases of community economic benefits promised are indirect e.g. taxes, jobs and so on but a case in the UK shows direct benefits to those most affected by wind energy e.g. by the visual impacts. A UK green energy electricity generator Good Energy has a Development Charter which seeks to engage with the communities closest to proposed sites including considering possible alternatives for siting, size and layout. One among other elements of the Charter is that the company offers a 20% discount in the electricity bill for the households closest to its onshore wind farm.

Community Benefits for the Oil Sands

On the CBC National At Issue Panel on April 4, 2013 on the topic of "The politics of carbon emissions and the environment", Bruce Anderson of the research firm, Anderson Insight, suggested that if Enbridge wants to succeed in building the Northern Gateway, British Columbians have to get some community benefits.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Two magazines which are always on environmental topics GreenBuilder and E-The Environmental Magazine had articles related to sharing (cars, bikes, accommodation) relevant to the theme of this GallonLetter.

Is sharing/renting cars, bikes, tools, living or office space a trend? An article in GreenBuilder magazine suggests that when Avis paid $500 million for Zipcar, a "car share" rental company, Avis was betting on a trend. Instead of owning cars, many people, mostly city dwellers, pay an annual membership fee and then can rent a car by the hour or by the day. It is estimated ownership of a car costs about $9,000 a year in the US. A company called Airbnb helps people around the world rent out accommodations for vacations, private rooms, and sublets by the night (in June 2012, the company said it had 10 million guest nights booked.)

E: Bikes for Mobility

An article in E focuses on the effort to enhance the role of bicycles in mobility. Many young people in cities don't want cars. Bike share programs in 30 cities are seen as a game changer. Montreal's program is said to be the largest on the continent. GallonLetter notes that when we were at the Montreal Jazz Festival a few years ago, we found that most of the bikes there weren't rented out; for us as tourists, the price seemed expensive compared to public transit but perhaps it depends on other factors and of course many people use bikes also for exercise and fun.

The E article says that one of the major barriers to bike use is the requirement to use a helmet. Where there are large number of cyclists such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the accident rate is lower because cyclists, pedestrians and cars have to respect each other and few riders wear helmets. As well as bike share, other changes needed are networks of bike lanes instead of isolated paths, lockers and showers at workplaces, education of both cyclists and drivers to respect each other on the road, allowing bikes on all trains and buses, as well as more bike parking at train stations. GallonLetter notes that although most countries require bikes to comply with traffic laws, some jurisdictions make more accommodations e.g. signs for one way streets which allow bikes to travel both ways.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Industrial partnerships in eco-parks, the first and most famous of which is Kalundborg in Denmark, are networks of businesses with symbiotic relations with a goal of improving economic performance while minimizing environmental impacts. Lecture notes for an
engineering course at Dartmouth University (New Hampshire) discusses these types of partnerships. For example at Kalundborg, BPB Gyproc is able to reduce extraction of natural gypsum used to make plasterboard by receiving 200,000 tons of gypsum from Asnaes Power Station. All the partners have reduced use of water by about 25% by circulating it amongst all the partners.

The flows of materials in other cases includes:
Benefits of eco-industrial parks include less transportation, waste management including being able to sell instead of paying to dispose and potential sharing of R&D and costs of compliance. Environmental benefits include less emissions to solid waste, air and wastewater and fewer accidents and spills off-site. Societal benefits include cheaper heating, cleaner air, cleaner water, more jobs and less demand on infrastructure such as landfill and sewer systems.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


There are increasing number of blogs and advice on do-it-yourself projects including creating new designs from old Ikea(TM) furniture (called Hacking Ikea) or adapting other products. For example, instead of buying a new child camera, a parent adapts an old but still working camera with rubber or foam so, if the kid drops it, it is less likely to break. Hacking design is taken a step further by UK designer Assa Ashuach in what he calls Digital Forming technology, called 3D printing.

Users can participate in co-designing their own pens, for example, by interfacing with a virtual pen and making adjustments. After both the designer and the user are satisfied, the pen is sent to production. Ashuach also designs furniture with the environmental advantage being that the design software optimizes structural strength with minimal material: "the unnecessary has disappeared."

Manufacturing to order has had some presence such as music and other books printed to order, and clothing such as custom made jeans but those involved with 3D printing suggest a range of possibilities many of which are thought to reduce the amount of waste.

Several researchers are also working with food printers to make burgers from cultured meat. Some applications such as making tools in small numbers for injection moulding are already in use. Of course as in many cases of new technologies, the advocates tend to tell us more about the benefits rather than the downsides; the making of weapons on the home printer is definitely a downside. On the other hand, we sure could be tempted by such scenarios as the potential to making one's own parts to fix things around the place instead of throwing things out. Some say that instead of outsourcing to factories elsewhere, companies will outsource to their customers for a twist on the just in time manufacturing and if there is concern now about lack of jobs it boggles the mind to think about such a future of do-it-yourself. The implications for patent protection area not to mention the Honey-Do list (no more excuses about not being able to do that job until that part is ordered) are huge as well.

A SAP blog by Ian McCullough, who is an independent project management and operations consultant, suggests that the effects of 3D manufacturing could change the industrial landscape:
NRC-IRAP Partnering for Design

In 2009, the NRC-IRAP program helped Axiom to redesign an airflow baffle for Chrysler automobiles, previously in multiple pieces of plastic and metal into a single unit in an injection mould. The new part was safer for workers to handle because previously the glue between the two materials sometimes failed cutting and bruising fingers. In this case, a 3D printer was used to produce the models to determine if it could be made entirely from plastic and still comply with the specs. Canada's National Research Council in various programs enters in a variety of partnerships with business.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Base erosion and profit shifting (known as BEPS) is the topic of a new OECD report. While there are tax compliance issues, the report states that national governments are not keeping up with the ability of corporations to shift their money somewhere else to avoid taxes: "While multinational corporations urge co-operation in the development of international standards to alleviate double taxation resulting from differences in domestic tax rules, they often exploit differences in domestic tax rules and international standards that provide opportunities to eliminate or significantly reduce taxation." Corporate profit shifting is seen as a "serious risk to tax revenues, tax sovereignty and tax fairness for OECD member countries and non-members alike." On average corporate income contributes about 3% of GDP and 10% of total tax revenue in OECD countries.

The OECD report identifies examples of corporate practices which affect profits including:
Whether the practices of corporations are due to BEPS is not that easy to determine as this is an area where hardly two studies use the same methodology. Reasons for OECD members to deal with BEPS include:
The OECD report suggests that this is a case where governments may have unilateral solutions but out of the box ideas are needed, for example, how to deal with existing tax treaties which often don't address these issues. An internationally co-ordinated approach would be more effective. Top of the list is developing an action plan with actions, deadlines and resources and methodology needed to implement the actions. Consultation with all member countries and non-member countries such as those in the G20 as well as with civil society is recommended.

While this OECD book fits into this GallonLetter’s theme of partnerships, it is also a segue to the theme of the next issue which is responsible capitalism: what is the role of regulators and corporate CSR programs when the supply chain reaches around the world and cases arise where not only profits are dealt with unacceptably but so are related environmental and social impacts.

OECD. Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. OECD Publishing, 2013. [for sale or can be previewed online]


Writing in the Huffington Post, David Suzuki calls the Canadian Government's pull out of the convention "sneaking" saying "That Canada snuck out of the agreement without even notifying the UN secretariat, just to save $300,000 a year, makes matters worse." The problem, Suzuki writes is that by pulling out of this convention and the Kyoto Protocol, we're sending the wrong message that exporting oil and gas are more important than partnership on global issues.

GallonLetter notes that this is a government which announces even quite small amounts, relative to total federal expenditure, with a photo op e.g. a recent grant of $163,000; quite a few media advisories are for amounts even smaller but the government increasingly deletes critical information and fails to announce decisions which have broad and significant importance. The government shut down the National Round Table for the Economy and the Environment effective March 31, 2013 and found the capacity to shut down the NRTEE web site before that date (in theory the information will be archived). The government is probably happy that environmentalists and even the media think that it is primarily the environment so targeted but GallonLetter thinks that Canadians ought to listen more to all those parliamentary watchdogs that have been barking about many other issues similarly miscommunicated and mismanaged.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science magazine Science starts its article on Canada's pullout from the UN Treaty to Combat Desertification with the lead paragraph, "Any doubts that Canada is an "outlier" on climate change were dispelled this week, say critics, after the Conservative government announced it is withdrawing from a UN convention to combat desertification signed by 194 other nations." Such reports are hardly a positive contribution to Canada's international reputation.

GallonLetter noticed that quite a few broadcasters stumbled over the word Desertification never mind understanding what it meant so it is possible that the Cabinet who followed the advice of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird didn't know either. While desertification can result in sand dunes as in a desert, the term refers mostly to other impacts defined as "the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems by human activities —including unsustainable farming, mining, overgrazing and clear-cutting of land — and by climate change." The second scientific conference held in Bonn, Germany in April 2013 on the economics of land degradation concluded that land degradation costs the global community about USD490 billion a year, a lot more than it costs to prevent it. Sustainable land management tools are seen as among the cheapest available to prevent land degradation and restore degraded land.

Due to climate change, if three large areas in the world are affected by drought at the same time, the global system of agriculture may not be able to offset the loss of food production due to regional droughts as it has done in the past.

David Suzuki: Sneaking Out of the Desertification Convention Sends the Wrong Message. April 3, 2013.

Kondro, Wayne. Canada Pulls Out of UN Treaty to Combat Desertification. ScienceInsider (Science Magazine-AAAS) 29 March 2013,

UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Background Document: The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought: Methodologies and Analysis for Decision-Making United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Prepared by
The Global Risk Forum GRF Davos on behalf of the UNCCD. 2nd Scientific Conference UNCCD. Bonn, Germany: April 9-12, 2013.

Desertification a Risk in Canada

Some of the major agricultural areas in Canada are drylands or semi-arid. A new report by the Council of Canadian Academies states that 'There is a high threat to water availability in areas of south-western Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and southern Ontario. There is also moderate to medium threat in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia." Droughts have occurred in the 1930s, 1980s and 2000s. The southern Prairies are prone to high variability in water flows. Climate change will require adaptive management for Canadian agriculture because floods and droughts will tend to be more extreme. Because agriculture in drylands needs water when water is in short supply, competition involving other industries, residents and the needs of the environment itself in ecosystems are also affected by impacts of water shortage on agriculture.

Council of Canadian Academies. Water and Agriculture in Canada: Towards Sustainable Management of Water Resources. The Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada, Council of Canadian Academies. April 2013.


The Dust Bowl of the 1930s - Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Saves Our Bacon
In the 1930s, the collapse of world grain markets left both Eastern and Western Canada farmers destitute. The Depression left a lot of people destitute: historian Desmond Morton writing in A Short History of Canada states that crude statistics in 1933 indicated 23% unemployment and editors and experts insisted that wages must fall until everybody could find work. Misery was a deliberate part of public policy: people had to give ups "cars, telephones, pets, ornaments, comfortable furniture and all but a single bare light bulb" before receiving any public aid. Business leaders said jobs were available.

Nevertheless, in the east many people could grow their own food but in the West many were on the verge of starvation because of the drought beginning in 1929 and continuing for 9 seasons. By 1931, the wind was gathering the topsoil and blowing it away. In 1932, a host of grasshoppers ate even clothing and wooden tool handles followed in later years with wheat rust. In collaboration of farmers and scientists, Morton writes, they learned to "fight the encroaching desert with trash cover, contour ploughing and new strains of wheat. Huge acreages, sold for cultivation because of the greed of railways and governments, returned to the grazing role for which they were appropriate."

Budget Cuts PFRA

Cuts in recent federal budgets could have impacts the UN desertification convention, which Canada has just withdrawn from (see separate article) seeks to avoid. The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, based in Indian Head, Saskatchewan developed the shelterbelt tree program which helped to prevent erosion in the 1930s and since. Over time the PFRA also addressed soil conservation, management of water resources, rural development and environmental analysis. Budget cuts are now eliminating most of the work of the PFRA with the tree nursery to shut down eliminating the shelterbelt program which was being used to develop new crop research with farmers unless the private sector funds it. The elimination of the community pasture program could open millions of acres to crops. Serious drought could strike again, a not unlikely scenario in view of the seriousness of drought in the US.

Agriculture Canada Used to Laud the Work of the PFRA

In 2008, the 600 millionth tree from Agri-Food Canada's Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration and Environment Branch was planted at the Saskatchewan headquarters. Trees were supplied to Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and minimally to British Columbia.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in a 2008 brochure Circling the Globe with Trees brochure says PFRA has been conducting tree improvement breeding for 60 years and is the longest running tree research program in North America. Economic values includes tree related products such as nutraceuticals, wood materials and fibre. Benefits include carbon sequestration, protection of water quality and enhanced biodiversity. Farming operations save energy because of the protection of shelterbelts. Other benefits of the 4 million tree seedlings planted in 2008 include:
GallonLetter visited PFRA once and found as in our own experience that tree growing is definitely a partnership. PFRA supplied education as well as trees, landowners allocated land and resources to plant and maintain the shelterbelt. Because of high prices for crops and land it isn't easy to encourage farmers or landowners who could receive land rental income to set aside land for shelterbelts. Some of the new crop research PFRA has been doing e.g. fruiting shrubs such as sea buckthorn would help to generate revenue while also preventing soil erosion.

Morton, Desmond. A short history of Canada . Toronto, Ontario: McLelland & Stewart Ltd, 2001.

University of British Columbia. Soil Web: Soil Classification - Factors of Soil Formation

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration and Environment Branch. Prairie Shelterbelt Program. Circling the Globe with Trees. 2008. and more information at


Ranging over history, politics, science and a vast array of topics, Al Gore's book Future: Six Drivers of Global Change at first seems almost too much, too much to think about, too wide ranging. Topics such as the Franco Prussian War, frankenfood, Freud, free speech, and Fukushima get equal space but it deserves its bestselling status because one cannot help but get interested in an approach that tries to view what is happening in the world in a more holistic way taking into account not only the economy but resource use, social dimensions and climate change. For example, Gore sees unemployment as the result of global forces. Corporations move operations to the lowest wage country, use machines to replace labour a trend called robosourcing. Self-driving cars of the future will lower demand for chauffers and taxis; self checkouts at retail stores and public libraries demand for clerks: these activities then are done without compensation or income.

Among the forces are:
Capitalism in Crisis

At the 2012 World Economic Forum, a Bloomberg Global Poll of Investors had about 70% of the respondents say that capitalism was in crisis. Gore writes that capitalism may have "inherent advantages..over any other system for organizing economic activity" but the "Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath" indicate that capitalism is indeed in crisis. High levels of private and public debt and unemployment, extreme inequalities in income with one billion people suffering from deprivation due to earning less than $2 a day, population growth and failure of the global markets to pay for externalities both negative ones such as the emission of global warming pollutants and positive ones such as healthcare and other public goods indicate the economic policy toolkit is failing to create the improvements needed for a sustainable future.

He particularly warns that reliance on the gross domestic product GDP as a compass needs to be reevaluated.

Gore describes governments as hostage to demands of the global marketplace rather than their own citizens. Big money is buying the political system. GallonLetter notes one's perception of Gore talking about the failure of the economic system to foster equality is sometimes difficult to swallow because Gore himself is one of the elites said to have too much power. For example, Gore is said to have owned 20% of Current TV which was sold for an estimated 500 million USD to Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, which intends to shut down the programming and the brand and use the network for a news channel called Al Jareera America beginning in the summer of 2013.

Canada: Barely on Gore's Radar

Canadian premiers, prime minister and ministers have been landing in Washington to lobby for the Keystone Pipeline to be approved. In Gore's book, Canada is mentioned so rarely that one wonders whether the American politicos in general view Canada with so little significance to their future. So here are the references Gore makes to Canada:

Canada is credited along with Brazil and Mexico for banning clones of human embryos for research which Gore sees as posing the risk of commoditizing human beings something the US is said to allow.

Canada was one of a dozen countries which were subject to cyberattack on highly secure computer systems.

The rate of sea level rise is said not to be the same everywhere: the weight of ice during the Ice Age pressed land down which is rising in Scandanavia and Canada but other areas like Venice and Galveston Texas are sinking

When describing global peak oil and the uncertain size of reserves he mentions the "exceptionally dirty tar sands of Canada."

Oil is the 2nd largest source of global warming pollution after coal and "the new projected supplies of oil-in the form of shale oil, deep ocean drilling and the tar sands (not only in Canada but also in Venezuela, Russia and elsewhere)-are considerably more expensive to produce and carry even harsher impacts for the environment."

A "Canadian province" is listed as likely to be involved in cap and trade.

Gore, Al. The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. New York, NY: Random House, 2013.


As of March 11, 2013, no cosmetics tested on animals can be marketed in the European Union. The press release said that "The development of cosmetics does not warrant animal testing." Those exporting cosmetics to the EU will be required to conform to the law as well as EU manufacturers. Animal testing in the Union for cosmetics has been banned since 2004. From now on no ingredients may be used in cosmetics made in or entering the EU if the ingredients or the cosmetic product have been tested on animals.

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A US magazine publisher, Stampington & Company, has a couple of dozen titles in their series on crafts and handmade items. One magazine, Green Crafts, has a green focus in every issue and some have environmental themes for 2013 Earth Day. Some of the people submitting ideas and designs have their own businesses which are often promoted through listing of their web sites.

Green Craft Magazine: Creative Art from Old Items

Artistic expression through use of normally discarded materials is the theme of the Green Craft magazine. Artists/readers are invited to submit art samples and project submissions.

Some of the items still require purchasing quite a bit of stuff like canvas for recycled ribbon bracelets and from GallonLetter's point of view some of the items seem to be not needed even if they do repurpose material e.g. excessive decoration of one-time use gift boxes. The creativity and fun of making things from other things may be less practical than the philosophy during war and depression eras: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" but the green crafting idea of making do with what is on hand seems like a good idea in general. For example, in answer to the Green Craft Challenge to use cd cases, one crafter turned them into stylish picture frames. Instead of buying new containers, metal food cans are painted and put together to make desk top containers for pens, scissors, etc and lots of jewellery examples use items which might go into the garbage otherwise and are as attractive as bought.

Altered Couture: New Fashion Instead of Trashing the Old

While Green Crafts has some textiles such as making purses from old shirts, Altered Couture focuses entirely on clothing and accessories. In the spring issue, upcoming challenges for future issues include "Thrifty Ensembles." Readers are invited to go to a thrift shop and spend no more than $20, to take a before picture and then to transform the outfit as "art to wear". Plain jackets are transformed with covered buttons and ruffles on the hem, old boots are dyed and embellished with rivets and rhinestones, denim jeans are embroidered, antique tablecloths are made into skirts, and the waistband of an old pair of jeans becomes a decorated "belt with bling."

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 "An economically effective, fair-minded, compassionate just about ready to be scaled up and rolled out" says an optimistic article in honour of Earth Day in the free Toronto-based NOW newspaper. While such optimism in future-casting is, in GallonDaily's opinion, mostly unfounded, the newspaper does list some steps which are seen in the right direction ("triumphs"). On the national level some examples are:

Environmental Heros

Local green champions were recognized in the green issue including:
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The oil and mining lobbies may not have found it too much work to get the Canadian federal government to jettison major environmental protection developed over decades in Canada but it turns out there might be an even easier way to get rid of that burdensome regulation. The aggregate industry in Kansas which uses explosives for their operations has been without regulations of that use for the past three years. The story is that a past Democrat assistant attorney general erased all the rules and regulations on explosives. But the aggregate industry is now complaining that a proposed Kansas Senate bill will allow the Fire Marshall to make new laws. It seems that the industry now laments the loss of the old laws because they were finely tuned over years.

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If you enjoy Gallon Environment Letter or find it useful for your work or interests, may we recommend the GallonDaily report. Found at , GallonDaily provides short articles and reports on topics of particular interest to green businesses. One article appears almost every day Monday to Friday - we recommend visiting at least once a week. Our real enthusiasts can also sign up for email notification as new articles are posted.
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