Food costs expected to continue to rise

Canadians have on average paid less for food than people in other countries, but that will soon change. High transportation costs, low crop yields and export restrictions are responsible for recent spikes in food prices. Overall costs rose 4.5 % between November of 2010 and 2011, eggs rose 12.3% and potatoes rose 20.3%. The increase in food prices is likely here to stay.  Read more in the Globe and Mail.

Landfill selling waste as power

The Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission will be selling the methane gas emitted from its landfill’s waste to NB Power. The methane will be converted to electricity, enough to run 2,000 homes. The 6 million dollar project is expected to generate 20 million dollars over 20 years . Read more at the CBC 

Providing free food to students improves scores, reduces tardiness and boosts overall well-being

Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows that providing free healthy food to students results in an immediate jump in test scores alongside improved behaviour and reduced tardiness ,there is still no stable source of funding for such programs. Schools rely on donations from communities and businesses resulting in inconsistent delivery of programs. An article by Stephen Hume is the Vancouver Sun argues that providing stable funding to such programs would be the most efficient way to improve the performance of students in our schools. 

Small town in England aims for food self sufficiency

Todmorden, a small village of 15,000 is embarking on an ambitious plan to be self sufficient in food by 2018. The town already has 70 large vegetable gardens, and is digging up lawns to plant more veggies on an ongoing basis. No public space is sacred, the police station, train station, health centre and school are all providing free fruits and vegetables to locals. The local school recently won a £500,000 grant to start a fish farm. The benefits extend beyond the health benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables. Vandalism and crime are on the decline and the local economy is improving. Read more in Mail online 

Students rally to save arts focused high school

Students of Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School (PCVS) are protesting the Administrative Review Committee (ARC) of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s (KPRDSB) recent decision to close the school. The school is in Peterborough’s downtown core and students argue that closing down the school would violate the Province’s “Places to Grow Act,” which requires cities to intensify land in downtown areas. Students and supporters argue the school is unique, as students and teachers alike are passionately committed to arts, social justice and inclusion. Several videos are available on YouTube that show just how impassioned students are about saving their school, but the one below is by far the loveliest example. 

As Arctic sea ice melts, scientists discover large plumes of methane bubbling to surface

A team of Russian scientists studying  eastern Arctic sea ice has discovered large plumes of methane bubbling to the surface. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of tones of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide are locked in the Arctic permafrost. As climate change warms the planet these gases are being released at a rapid rate. The scale of the release of methane has shocked the scientists, 

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said. “We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal.”

Read more in the Independent.

Fracking – a likely source of groundwater contamination

After complaints about the water started to flood in from residents of Pavilion, Wyoming, the EPA decided to do some testing. Results showed “that ground water in the Pavilion aquifer contain[ed] methane, benzene, other petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds.” The toxic chemicals are suspected to be the result of nearby fracking. The long list of toxic chemicals used in fracking has many serious side effects, harming “skin, eyes, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; roughly 40-50% could affect the brain and nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% were carcinogens and mutagens.”  Read more in the Salient News. 

OECD releases study on the poverty wealth gap

The poverty wealth gap is growing in the majority of the 30 OECD countries. In fact, two thirds of the countries have seen an increase in poverty and income disparity. A recent report by the OECD shows that inequality is growing in Canada, Germany, Norway and the United States. But incomes in Greece, Mexico and the United Kingdom became more equal. Poverty is having its largest impact on young people and families with children. Read more about the report here. 


Cowichan’s new school board chair signals a shift in politics

The election of long time trustee Eden Haythornthwaite to board chair, signals a dramatic shift in politics for the Cowichan school board. Haythonwaite is accustomed to being an oppositional trustee, often having her motions quashed. She has routinely voted against cuts to classrooms and her dedication to fighting for education has finally paid off. Haythonwaite is now working with a solid group of trustees that are eager to make changes. At last Wednesday’s meeting the trustees “passed motions to honour all delegation requests, allow for comments during question period, and support teachers’ demands during ongoing negotiations, among others.” Read more in the Cowichan News Leader.

City of Toronto proposing major cuts to school board funding

A recent announcement that all city boards including school boards will be facing budget cuts of ten percent came as a surprise to many Toronto school boards. Two of the city’s largest boards had just met with the Mayor’s office to discuss coordination of services and cost saving measures days before the cuts were announced and nothing was mentioned. Meal programs and rent subsidies for daycare spaces are likely the first items to be cut. Read more in the Globe and Mail.