The Green Blues Show – Edition 39

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In this edition of the Green Blues Show: Farmers, dyers and fabric producers from a single watershed, woven together into a fibreshed. Is ethnic cleansing a charitable enterprise? The Canada Revenue Agency will soon pronounce on this matter. And, on the 25th anniversary of little Rwanda’s hundred-day genocide, there are whispers in the hall.

 

Sobering report from the climate change front: As the concentration of Earth-warming carbon dioxide steadily rises (we hit 411.75 ppm in February, rising at an annual 2.8% rate), so may global rates of viral infection by mosquitoes that like warmth — mosquitoes that transmit viral diseases like dengue, Zika, and chikunguya.

In a scientific report published this past week, researchers describe how they combined projected temperature hikes under various greenhouse gas-emission scenarios, at various latitudes, with the known temperature preferences of two notorious mosquito vectors — Aedes aegypti and its cousin Aedes albopictus. Under a worst-case climate scenario, poleward shifts in mosquito habitat will expose billions of human beings to brand new diseases.

Interestingly, in traditional hot spots like southeast Asia and west Africa, Aedes albopictus-borne infections may drop. In places like Europe and North America, its hard to place bets. Shifts in the epidemiology of insect-borne infections are complex and non-linear. Things may turn out okay, more or less, or they may not, Big Time. Folks in Winnipeg, where two rivers meet and mosquitoes spoil summer barbecues, have good reason to worry.

Then there’s the blacklegged tick (genus Ixodes) that carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, agent of Lyme Disease, creeping relentlessly northward, tracking the heat. Eighty percent of people in eastern and central Canada are now exposed. Favoured tick habitat includes crowded urban centers from Victoria to Halifax. As CO2 levels rose over the past decade, the number of Canadians stricken with Lyme disease has shot up almost 700-fold.

Meanwhile, Andrew Scheer, very likely Canada’s next Prime Minister, is swearing up and down that he’ll kill Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax! Doug Ford, the premier of one of North America’s most populous jurisdictions – where Lyme-filled ticks abound – has just appointed a climate change denier to run the electricity network. Ford and his curiously-named ‘conservative’ colleagues in Saskatchewan and Alberta oppose the conservation of stable atmospheric chemistry through carbon emission pricing.

Hovering in the background, leaning over board room tables, fossil fuel moguls lobby governments to guarantee investments. Those investments may come back and bite them – them and us.

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A watershed, in ecological science, is an area of land where rain and snow melt drain into a single stream or river. For those who think globally while acting locally, watersheds are the natural unit and development grounds for sustainable human economies.

Enter the notion of the fibreshed: an area of land (ideally a watershed) where sheep, alpacas, angora rabbits and other woolly creatures are raised, their fibre harvested, dyed, processed, woven into clothing and sold.

First introduced in California — land of many watersheds — the fibreshed idea has spread globally. One such fibreshed has been established in the lands adjoining the Pembina river. The Pembina forms out of several streams emanating from the eastern slopes of the Turtle Mountains, on the Manitoba-North Dakota border, flows east across southern Manitoba prairie, then crosses into North Dakota, joining the Red and heading north to Hudson Bay.

Anna Hunter is a co-founder of Pembina Fibreshed. Listen to our conversation in this Green Blues Show podcast. Click on the link above.

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Charitable groups devote themselves to people and communities. Poverty reduction, education and environmental conservation are among the activities the Canada Revenue Agency acknowledges when conferring charitable tax status.

Of the 85,000 charitable groups registered with the CRA, few are as reputable as the Jewish National Fund of Canada. “Caring for the Land of Israel” and “Building the Foundations of Israel’s Future” are what the JNF and its Canadian arm are all about. Planting trees, setting up nature reserves, bike trails, reservoirs and roads, nurturing the poor are how it spends those nickels and dimes slipped into those famous little blue boxes in synagogues and Sunday schools coast to coast.

But JNF activities are apparently not all green and clean. According to a recent report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Revenue Agency has been auditing the JNF, honing in on its support for the Israeli military. Supporting foreign armies is not a legitimate charitable purpose.

The CRA investigation seems to have arisen from a 2017 complaint filed by the Canadian group Independent Jewish Voices. The JNF’s core mission, IJV argued in its complaint to the CRA, is to acquire land for exclusive Jewish use. A blatantly discriminatory aim, says IJV, in clear breach of CRA guidelines.

Indeed, some 93% of Israeli lands are controlled by the “Jewish” State. Thirteen percent of these are managed by the JNF, for exclusive use by Jews. With very few exceptions, Palestinians can neither own nor lease these lands. Some JNF-managed lands fall within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ayalon Canada Park is among these, established by JNF Canada on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.

Unlawful Jewish settlement, Ariel (David Kattenburg)

JNF Canada activities are discriminatory and illegal, under both international and Canadian law, the IJV argues, and should be grounds for revoking JNF Canada’s charitable status.

Bill Skidmore is one of the Applicants in the CRA complaint. Skidmore is academic advisor to the B.A. program in Human Rights at Carleton University, in Ottawa. Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast.

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Spring is well underway, summer will soon be here. Time for Canadians to enjoy the warmth. In the tiny central African nation of Rwanda, this is the time of year to commemorate mass murder.

Anastase Gahunga, beside National University of Rwanda arboretum (David Kattenburg)

Between April 6 and early July 1994, some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and their Hutu neighbors perished at the hands of Hutu extremists. Here’s a story I produced about the hundred-day Rwandan genocide and the challenges of speaking truth – on a university campus, no less – back in 2011.

 

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Richard & Mimi Fariña.

 

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