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The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: to fight for survival.” (Morris Udall)

What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?” (Thoreau)

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.
(Margaret Mead)

 

Squamish is currently wrestling with the difficult moral, economic and environmental questions around a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) plant along the shores of the recently revivified and somewhat healed Howe Sound waters. There is no shortage of opposition to the project as can be seen in articles from the Georgia Straight, Squamish Chief, Vancouver Observer, The TyeeGlobe and Mail, Huffington Post and a Facebook Page titled No to LNG – Squamish which currently has nearly 5000 likes. Although the project also has it’s proponents, this article is not about presenting any sort of balanced coverage and so there are no links to any articles supporting the project. This post is about my own personal reasons for opposing the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant on the shores of Howe Sound and near the small mountain community of Squamish BC – my home.

The communities of Howe Sound have already been through decades of polluted waters, reduced salmon stocks, reduced whale populations and other damaging effects of a mining operation at Britannia Beach which operated from 1905 to 1974. Cleaning up the devastating environmental damage from those decades of copper mining effluent polluting our waters has been a long and costly process. But this cleanup effort has been a resounding success and to the amazement of many, whales and dolphins have become a regular occurrence again in the waters around Squamish and Howe Sound. Although past environmental regulations and oversight were nothing like what we have today, and the potentially damaging effects of a mine vs an LNG plant may not be comparable, there is still a potential risk to the environment if the LNG plant and subsequent increase in tanker traffic goes ahead. And regardless of the size of this potential environmental risk, an LNG plant INCREASES the probability of environmental damage and INCREASES the chances of a plant catastrophe with potentially devastating long-term environmental and economic effects to Squamish.

Summary of My Opposition to the LNG Plant:

Reason 1: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant on moral grounds – it is the RIGHT thing for me to do since I value the health of the planet and our local environment far more than personal employment opportunities or economic development.

Reason 2: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant because I believe we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as an energy source, in order to create a sustainable future for the planet.

Reason 3: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant because it would contradict the growing reputation and image we are presenting to the world as being an environmentally conscious community.

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 “It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.” (Albert Einstein)

  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)

 “We do not act rightly because we have virture or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly” (Aristotle)

 

 

Here we are facing another municipal election in Squamish and once again there appears to be no shortage of high emotions, bitter disputes, accusations, suspicions, personal attacks and what appears to be at least one witch-hunt. Not the sort of environment which is likely to entice the 60% in our community who typically refrain from voting to get involved this time around. During the last round of municipal elections in 2011 I made the decision to vote and to become involved with local politics for the first time in my life. Since I am politically ignorant my only contribution was around helping candidates with getting out their platforms, aggregating election material on a site which became THE most popular election/candidate portal in town, engaging on social-media and facilitating/administering the creation of the Squamish Speaks Facebook Group. A personal donation of hundreds of hours of my time and hundreds of dollars in costs which I believe benefited every candidate, the community and the overall election process in Squamish in 2011. Although I enjoyed contributing in a small way to the previous election, there was also a dark-side to the process. A disappointing dark-side which demonstrated how strong emotions, passionate beliefs, inflated egos and in some cases how personal and self-serving agendas can often evoke the essence of someone’s character, both for the good and not-so-good.

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happy-at-workChoose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ” ― William James

This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ― Alan Watts

So, how do we find happiness at work? This is a very relevant topic, and question, for most people since I am sure we have all had a job or contract where we questioned the value of that working/contract relationship, or we are just plain unhappy in our current job. Often, particularly if the position or contract is financially lucrative, it is easy to justify maintaining the status-quo and “tough it out”, even when the environment becomes dissatisfying, stressful, unfulfilling or even toxic. But there is a heavy price to pay, both for you and your family, for putting aside your psychological or emotional well-being, or in some cases your integrity or principles, by remaining in a less-than-fulfilling, or dysfunctional work relationship, regardless of the financial benefits. This is an important topic I would like to try and cover more in-depth in the future, but let me see if I can offer up a few insights, starting with my own experiences with less-than-satisfying work environments. Continue Reading »

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Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life.” (Dalai Lama)

…the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.” (Joseph Campbell)

 

After watching the painful and disturbing interview between Donald Sterling and Anderson Cooper on CNN earlier this week following the controversy over Sterling’s racist comments involving persons of colour, particular Magic Johnson, I found myself (internally) passing harsh judgement and condemnation towards Sterling – along with a good deal of pity. I am sure I was not alone with these thoughts. However, this got me thinking about how we tend to respond to such poisonous conduct and persons with judgement, dismissal and often discrimination and separation. And in Donald Sterling’s case, even punishment and banishment. I began to ask myself – from the perspective of psychological, emotional, spiritual and social health – is this the best we can do? From an ethical and utilitarian perspective, are we doing the “right” thing to ensure maximum benefits and maximum happiness for the greatest number of people? I don’t believe we are when we respond to these “poisons” (or persons) with judgement, discrimination or vitriolic statements and I think Magic Johnson has showed us how to respond with grace, respect and even a bit of compassion. Continue Reading »

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Neal KingCharacter is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.
(J.C. Watts)

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Kant)

 

I really didn’t know how I would approach this blog posting so I wrote a few different versions ranging from the usual judgmental rant with lots of finger pointing, even one with a few “I told you so’s” mixed in. It is always easy to look back at a crisis and speculate as to where things went wrong and as is often the case, point fingers at those we believe are to blame. The disgraced (ex) president Neal King is certainly an easy target for blame in this unfortunate situation with Sofia University (Sofiagate?) and it probably makes us feel better when we can point the finger at one person. However, I think there is much more blame to go around behind the Sofia University scandal that is satisfied by simply pointing a finger at the apparent irrational, unethical, unprofessional and possibly illegal conduct of the past president Neal King. Everyone – students, faculty, alumni, founders and staff who witnessed or directly experienced many of the early warning signs of managerial, professional or ethical misconduct, yet did nothing, may hold as much if not MORE of the blame than one person alone. In my opinion Sofia University reached this unfortunate state not simply from the actions of one man, but from the INACTION of those who knew something was wrong for quite some time, but said or did nothing out of cowardice, self-interest or in the case of some, an exaggerated detachment indicative of spiritual bypassing – I am on a “spiritual path of self development, I don’t want to hear, read or discuss anything “negative’ about the program“. I spent one year in Sofia’s Global Master’s Program and I can tell you that even from the limited perspective of a graduate student in an online program who has never even set foot on campus, there was ample evidence of managerial, administrative, educational, technological and professional “issues” indicative of wide-spread and systemic problems. In spite of trying everything I could to engage fellow students and collectively raise many of these issues or concerns with senior staff, including the president Neal King and Provost Paul Roy, I was not successful and so along with at least one other student, left the program in frustration just before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

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