Forest News

Don’t forget that today is election day. And it may be one of the most important elections ever, because for the first time we have a chance to change the entire system.

Yes, I’m talking about the referendum on whether to switch to a Mixed-Member Proportional system. I can’t bein to count the number of times I’ve heard people say “Well, I’d like to vote for _____ [party they actually support], but of course they don’t have a chance of getting in, so I’ll probably vote for _____ [party they don’t especially like but consider the lesser of two or three evils] so that I don’t waste my vote.” Hell, I’ve said it myself.

Proportional representation, which they have in some for other in most European countries and some others, would mean that parties would have seats in parliament in proportion to how many people actually voted for them, rather than just how many ridings they got a majority in. So parties like the Green Party, who consistently get a pretty significant percentage of votes even with the current system, under which voting for them effectively amounts to flushing your vote down the toilet, could actually get seats. And think how many more people might vote for them if they knew their vote would actually count. Parties like the NDP, who get a handful of seats but mostly place second or third in most ridings, would also do better under this system.

The only party that would do worse would be whichever one actually won any given election, because power would be more spread out and less of a winner-take-all situation. They’d actually have to learn how to negotiate and compromise and work with other people.

The “mixed member” part of the proposed system means that we would still have representatives of geographical ridings like we do now, but there would be additional MPPs to make up the balance and ensure that parliament actually reflected the way people voted.


  • If you’ve ever voted Green, or even considered it…
  • If you’ve ever found yourself resorting to “strategic voting”, where you vote not for who you really want but for the least awful party that you think has a chance of winning…
  • If you’d like to see more co-operation and less arrogance and complacency in politics…
  • If you’d like to see a provincial parliament that reflects the way people actually voted…

Please consider voting yes on the MMP referendum!

No, the proposed system isn’t perfect. But voting for it is at least a start — it gives us something to work with, and gives the powers that be a signal that we at least want some kind of change. If it’s voted down, they’ll take that as a sign that everything is fine the way it is, and we’ll probably never have a chance at any kind of electoral reform again.

So rather than nitpicking it to death as a lot of people seem to have been doing lately, let’s at least choose change and get things moving! Because if we say no to it now, there isn’t likely to be another chance. Ever.

More Info:

Perusing one of my favourite blogs, Deep Sea News, I just came across the web site Filter For Good, which purports to be a public education resource on the environmental and health risks of the bottled water industry. That’s all very well, except that it’s not actually any sort of a grassroots group, it’s a joint project by Brita and Nalgene, makers of the ubiquitous water-filtering pitchers we all have in our fridges, and the spiffy clear-plastic reusable water bottles that a lot of people I know used to carry, respectively.

Why “used to carry”? Well, after Ecopledge launched their Detox Nalgene campaign to try and stop Nalgene from using polycarbonate plastic, which leaches the known endocrine disruptor Bisphenol-A, most people using permanent water bottles decided to opt for less toxic alternatives, like Sigg and Kleen Kanteen.

So people who take that site’s advice and ditch their bottled water habit for a Brita filter and a Nalgene bottle may be going from bad to worse, or at least from bad to another kind of bad. In that light, the Filter for Good campaign starts to look less like public education and more like corporate greenwashing, designed to try and detract attention from Nalgene’s own unimpressive environmental health record.

So… That got me wondering a little about Brita. Exactly what are their pitchers made out of, and how safe are they? Sounds like the jury’s still out on that to some degree. Thankfully, they don’t appear to be made from polycarbonate, but according to Debra Lynn Dadd, the company says they’re made from styrene acrilonytrile and styrene methyl metacrylate, which are not exactly guaranteed safe either. At least some styrenes also leach nasty things into water.

National Geographic’s Green Guide says that the specific compounds used in the Brita pitchers have been tested for styrene leaching and found safe, though they also emphasize that you need to find out what exactly is in your local tap water, and make sure any filter you plan on using actually removes those specific things, because most filters only remove certain contaminants, not everything, so no one type of filter is a cure-all. This article from the Natural Resources Defence Council has more detail.

So… Looks like Brita filters/pitchers are probably not too bad, but I’m still going to keep an eye open for news on styrenes, and maybe look into various other types of filters too.

Study: Female sharks fertilize own eggs – Yahoo News

Lesbian hammerhead shark moms! Well, all right, maybe not lesbian. But there is a baby hammerhead with three moms and no dad in a Nebraska zoo, apparently conceived parthenogenetically.

In an interesting bout of synchronicity, this comes just as I’ve lately been rediscovering Shriekback, a band one of my housemates back in the 80s used to love and play incessantly. And my two favourite songs of theirs are “Hammerheads” — relevance rather obvious! — and “Nemesis”, which rhymes the title word with, yes, “parthenogenesis”.

Well now, this is kind of cool: – Victoria’s Secret going green

Apparently, after a campaign by ForestEthics, Victoria’s Secret yanked a $100-million-a-year contract for the paper for their catalogues away from the company that was cutting in old-growth caribou habitat, and is now only accepting bids from companies that log sustainably.

Nice to hear. Now if only they’d actually make clothes in a wider range of sizes…