We Don’t Talk About “OIL”…..NO….NO….NO

It seems to be the elephant in the room, especially for a resident of Alberta. We don’t discuss oil and gas; it’s a very political topic, designed to create division among Canadians. Lucy expected that there would be a cap on oil production announced by the Federal Government to help meet the targets of CO2 reductions for 2030 and 2050 with the survival of our planet at stake. That does not seem to be coming. The cap focuses only on emissions and not on oil and gas production. Because of the carbon tax imposed on companies, the focus for oil and gas companies is on reducing emissions and making the production of oil and gas much cleaner. Lucky for the oil and gas companies, the oil price of late has been high, as these efficiencies are expensive. As well the Feds are helping fund innovation. For example, the pricey ‘carbon capture’ seemed at one point to be unattainable, and now, within only a few yeas, is considered mainstream. Who knows, Canada may be well positioned to have the cleanest oil and gas by 2050, and this is good, since the world will want our oil and gas and a certain amount of it will always be needed. But, in line with recent CBC opinion polling, production limits should also be part of the equation, as every approach and tool and type of ingenuity will have to be part of the equation. We humans are continually behind in meeting every target that has been set to limit our planet from exceeding an increase of 1.5 degrees.

Options to cap and cut oil and gas sector greenhouse gas emissions to achieve 2030 goals and net-zero by 2050 suggested by the Government of Canada

Canada’s current target is to cut emissions by 2030 to 55 to 60 per cent of what they were in 2005. That will require cutting around 300 million tonnes a year from current levels. Canada plans to invest in alternative energies including biogas and hydrogen, smaller unit nuclear power and carbon capture, utilization and storage.

In the fall of 2022 the Federal government, with ‘Best-in-class draft guidance’ sought feedback on how to proceed in its two proposed options for capping oil and gas sector emissions.

Choice 1: Cap and Trade System that sets a regulated limit on emissions from the sector or

Choice 2:Modifying the pollution pricing benchmark requirements to create price-driven limits on emissions from the oil and gas sector.

(A decision is expected in 2023. The feedback sent to the Federal government from the Pembina Institute will be blogged at the end of this post.)

“Reaching Canada’s 2030 climate targets and achieving net-zero will require significant additional reductions, and there is no single or simple solution for transitioning Canada’s oil and gas sector towards net-zero by 2050. Given the unique features of each subsector, multiple pathways will be required. Solutions will also vary regionally, depending on access to infrastructure, carbon storage, energy grid mixes, and availability of clean electricity and other fuels.”  

Key Decarbonization Options for the Oil and Gas Sector

Electrification includes the deployment of co-generation, renewables, small nuclear reactors, or electrification of transport equipment, operational processes and low-temperature heat processes to reduce GHG emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels throughout the oil and gas sector.

Steam displacement refers to the use of solvents, such as diluent, propane, and natural gas that chemically dilute bitumen to reduce viscosity and allow it to flow at lower temperatures, reducing the need to generate and use steam by in-situ oil sands production, a major source of GHG emissions

Fuel switching opportunities include replacing petroleum coke boilers with natural gas equipment and the expanded use of low-carbon or renewable fuels for heat and energy, including clean hydrogen.

Energy efficiency and other process improvements include upgrades to equipment, use of advanced leak detection and repair technologies, digitization and automation of processes, among other solutions.

Methane Abatement options include continuous leak detection and repair, electrification of equipment such as compressors and pneumatic devices fueled by natural gas and limiting fugitive releases from tanks and wells. “

Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) has potential to mitigate a significant share of GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2050.

“About 88% of oil sands emissions come from burning fossil fuels to extract bitumen during mining or in-situ operations and to upgrade that bitumen into synthetic crude. Oil sands producers have been investigating ways to reduce the steam-oil ratio which would reduce the amount of natural gas required for bitumen extraction. The use of solvents to assist the steam extraction process can become cost-effective at higher crude prices. Advances in post-combustion capture could also help capture CO2 emissions from combustion equipment. For example, companies such as Svante and Fluor have been developing next generation absorbent and adsorbent technologies, and Shell Canada’s Cansolv technology has been deployed successfully to recover CO2 from the Boundary Dam coal-fired generating station in Saskatchewan.”

“Some emerging solutions, such as clean hydrogen blending to replace natural gas, the use of solvents for steam displacement, and methane capture and use, could be implemented in the coming years, while others such as small nuclear reactors could take more than a decade to implement.”

Investments Being Made By the Oil and Gas Sector

“The oil and gas sector is one of the leading investors in clean technology and innovation in Canada, making an estimated 58% of all energy research and development investments (averaging about $1B/year) over the decade to 2019. Oil and gas companies such as Shell Canada, Whitecap Resources, Wolf Midstream, Enhance Energy, and Northwest Redwater Partnership are leaders in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

“Other companies have announced investments and plans to decarbonize their operations in the coming decades. For example, Pembina Pipeline announced a $195 million project to fuel operations with wind power in 2021. Suncor Energy and ATCO are in the early stages of developing a clean hydrogen project that could reduce emissions at Suncor’s Edmonton oil refinery by 60 per cent and provide broader benefits for Alberta. Tidewater Midstream and Imperial Oil are advancing renewable diesel projects. These are just some recent examples of innovative projects for emissions reductions in the oil and gas sector.”

“Many Canadian oil and gas companies have already set net-zero-emissions targets and have developed decarbonization plans. This includes the Pathways Alliance, comprised of Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Conoco Phillips Canada, Imperial Oil, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy — which collectively account for 95% of Canada’s oil sands production. To achieve net-zero by 2050, this Initiative proposes a $75 billion investment to deploy a combination of clean electrification, operational efficiencies, emerging technologies such as low-emission hydrogen and carbon capture, small modular nuclear-image below), and offsets to eliminate 68 Mt from oil sands operations.”

“Central to these planned activities is the point-source capture of CO2 from oil sands facilities, which would travel by pipeline from Fort McMurray to be sequestered permanently underground. The Pathways Initiative, with a slogan “Let’s Clean the Air” envisions a phased GHG reduction over three 10-year segments to 2050, starting with 22 Mt of absolute emission reductions by 2030. The Pathways Alliance, representing Canada’s six largest oil sands companies, is (spending many billions of dollars) advancing early work necessary to build one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities in the oil sands region of northern Alberta.”

“Canada’s oil and gas sector is poised to leverage its expertise to gain a competitive advantage in a range of emerging industries. Clean fuels such as hydrogen are expected to help Canada achieve its net-zero target while creating jobs and economic opportunity in Canada. Given the essential role hydrogen plays as a feedstock in refining, increasing the use of clean hydrogen presents an opportunity to drive down emissions from the sectorFootnote 20. Growth in production of value-added non-combustion products such as asphalt, petrochemicals, zero-carbon fuels or carbon fibres also presents major opportunities in a world transitioning to net-zero.”


What Does the Pembina Institute Think?

PUBLICATION – Sept. 29, 2022 – By Janetta McKenzieScott MacDougallJan GorskiEyab Al-Aini

In September 2022, the Pembina Institute submitted comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada on its two proposed options for capping oil and gas sector emissions (as listed above).

This cap will be crucial in ensuring that Canada’s oil and gas sector contributes its fair share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions to Canada’s economy-wide targets (of a 45% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, and net-zero by 2050). Oil and gas production remains Canada’s largest source of emissions, and unlike some other industrial sectors, its emissions have continued to grow in recent years — by 19% between 2005 and 2019. To do its fair share, Canada’s oil and gas sector must also reduce its emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Recommendation Summary

“Environment and Climate Change Canada should finalize and announce a clear emissions cap target for 2026 and 2030. At a minimum, the cap for oil and gas sector emissions should be set at a 45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, with clear implementation timelines. Providing this level of certainty on the trajectory and ambition of the cap is critical to incentivize urgent investments in decarbonization. Recent opinion polling illustrates that most Canadians agree that it is time for a cap on emissions from oil and gas production, to ensure that this sector does its fair share in achieving Canada’s climate targets.”

“Both cap Options 1 and 2 are complex, and require careful design and implementation to ensure appropriate emissions reductions, while preparing Canadian industry for a net-zero global economy…… and with the urgency of reducing Canada’s rising oil and gas sector emissions, Option 1 (cap-and-trade) is preferred. It likely offers the earliest implementation date (in 2024 or early 2025) and could be designed to work with existing measures to further incentivize the oil and gas sector to do its fair share to meet Canada’s 2030 emission reduction targets.”

“If the Government of Canada does not believe Option 1 can implemented in these stated timelines, we propose a third option — a system of facility-level emissions limits similar to the federal coal-fired electricity facility limits. This interim option should be rapidly implemented to drive timely emission reductions at oil and gas facilities. Option 1 could still be developed in parallel and implemented when ready. At that time, the facility limits could be rescinded, if found to be redundant with cap-and-trade.


We shall see what the Federal Government decides in 2023. The conservative government of Alberta believes that the Federal government can not mandate cuts in oil and gas production, an speculates that the aggressive emissions reduction targets for the oil and gas sector is only possible with cuts to production as well. Interesting! This is also what most environmentalists are saying.

 The Government is committed to eliminating inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and developing a plan to phase out public financing for the fossil fuel sector including by federal Crown corporations. It has also established the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and the Energy Innovation Program (EIP).

Are CO2 Emissions Being Underestimated?

In an article by Nature.org titled” Measured Canadian Oil Sands CO2 Emissions Made Using internationally Recommended Methods” the abstract says:


CBC Survey “ Albertans Aren’t Afraid Of Transitioning Away From Oil”

November 16, 2022 random poll of 1200 people posted by Elise Avon Scheel for CBC News


So 62 % of Edmontonians and 64% of Calgarians and 50% of those in the rest of the province believe that transitioning Alberta’s economy away from fossil fuels could be a good thing. There is an attitude shift happening in Alberta! Maybe we can talk about oil after all!

Happy Healthy Hopeful and Inspiring New Year

Unsettled as 2022 has been, we close the year with gratitude, including for our Readers’ ongoing engagement and encouragement in following together with us in our climate action learning journey.

We are optimistic for the future, with clarity and a mix of confidence and humility to underpin our resolve to keep on our paths for more learning, changing and adapting behaviours to be ever more mindful of our footprint on Planet Earth—this home we share with 7.8 billion fellow humans and the contested estimates of anywhere from 8.7 million to 1 trillion other living species of plants and animals – and to honour our personal desire and commitment to do our part for a better, healthier, livable world for the generations who will follow in our footsteps, with any luck.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead, https://bit.ly/3jGvvBU)

The words of Margaret Mead resonate and inspire for the daunting effort still ahead to keep overall global warming to 1.5C. The real world action and impact of Adama Diémé, one everyday individual resolved to doing his part to make a difference in his corner of southern Senegal inspires us and renews our hope in our fellow humans and what is possible for moving ahead toward a brighter, carbon neutral future for all.

Ununukolaal – “Our Trees”

Mr Diémé was shocked to return to his village in southern Senegal and find an absence of trees where in his childhood they once had been lush along the Casamance River.  “With no great reserves of wealth, he began to raise money to make his dream a reality (to plant five million trees in five years) – and has used $5,000 from his own pocket to kick-start the initiative.” 

“Mr Diémé’s project is known as Ununukolaal, which in the local language Jola means ‘Our Trees’.” Read more in this BBC piece – BBC – https://bbc.in/3VKCAic

Historic Global Agreement for Nature, People and a Resilient World

Mr Diémé inspires us as an individual.

Fighting climate change and keeping global warming to 1.5C however, will take world-wide effort and cooperation, by individuals, organizations, governments of all levels, NGOs and the private sector, sustained for decades to come.

Protecting for global biodiversity is an inter-related and just as significant, urgent global challenge and call for transformational change in mindsets and practices, on behalf of ecosystems, humanity and a sustainable green global economy.

As 2022 draws to an end, we find hope and optimism for the future in the historic global agreement reached on December 19, 2022, in Montreal, Canada in the wrap up to COP15. Here is what the European Union (EU) reports on its website about the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” – https://bit.ly/3jH1QIJ

“Early this morning at the UN Biodiversity conference COP15 in Montréal, Canada, the EU joined 195 countries in the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This framework contains global goals and targets aiming to protect and restore nature for current and future generations, ensure its sustainable use as well as spur investments for a green global economy. Together with the Paris Agreement on climate, it paves the way towards a climate-neutral, nature-positive and resilient world by 2050.”

“The agreement is a solid framework with clear, measurable goals and targets, with complete monitoring, reporting, and review arrangements to track progress complemented by a robust resource mobilisation package.”

“More than half of global GDP depends on ecosystem services. 70% of the world’s most vulnerable people depend directly on wild species. The Kunming-Montreal agreement will accelerate ambitious policies around the world and mobilise financing for biodiversity from all sources – USD 200 billion per year by 2030. It commits the global community to actions to protect and restore nature and remove pollution – such as those that are part of the European Green Deal. This will ensure that nature continues sustaining societies, economies and communities for decades to come.”

Goals and targets for ambitious action by 2030 and 2050

“The Kunming-Montreal biodiversity agreement includes key global targets to:

  • Restore 30% degraded ecosystems globally (on land and sea) by 2030 Conserve and manage 30% areas (terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine) by 2030
  • Stop the extinction of known species, and by 2050 reduce tenfold the extinction risk and rate of all species (including unknown)
  • Reduce risk from pesticides by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce nutrients lost to the environment by at least 50% by 2030
  • Reduce pollution risks and negative impacts of pollution from all sources by 2030 to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions
  • Reduce global footprint of consumption by 2030, including through significantly reducing overconsumption and waste generation and halving food waste
  • Sustainably manage areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and forestry and substantially increase agroecology and other biodiversity-friendly practices
  • Tackle climate change through nature-based solutions
  • Reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50% by 2030
  • Secure the safe, legal and sustainable use and trade of wild species by 2030
  • Green up urban spaces.”

Mobilising finance and allow for business to take responsibility for biodiversity

“The deal will significantly increase the mobilisation of finance for biodiversity from all sources, domestic, international – both public and private – mobilising at least USD 200 billion per year by 2030. It will create incentives for domestic and international sources, including from business investment.”

“It also addresses subsidies harmful to biodiversity, with the commitment to identify by 2025 and eliminate by 2030 a total of at least USD 500 billion per year.”

“As part of the agreement, the EU subscribed to an international solidarity package, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and the most biodiverse. The new Global Biodiversity Framework Fund established under the Global Environment Facility will be open to financing from all sources.”

“In a major step to improve business action on biodiversity, large and transnational companies and financial institutions will be required to regularly monitor, assess and disclose risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity; and provide information to consumers to promote sustainable consumption.” To read more at the EU website – https://bit.ly/3jH1QIJ

Chihuly Glass and Garden Exhibition

We leave 2022 and look ahead to 2023 with a few quotes that we hope will inspire and close with images (and a plant list !) from the beautiful, shimmering, joyful Chihuly Glass and Garden space in Seattle to lift spirits and fire the imagination for growing (and/or travel) season 2023 ahead! (Stock photos above)

“As long as you have a garden you have a future and as long as you have a future you are alive.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett (https://bit.ly/3i4Z2oh)

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
― Audrey Hepburn (https://bit.ly/3jHAL8i)

“Chihuly has shown his artwork in botanical gardens all over the world, but this was his first time working with a landscape designer to create a space unlike that of any garden or exhibition elsewhere. The unique plant collection is specially chosen to complement Chihuly’s work and the striking colors and forms of the trees, plants, and flowers create a rich backdrop for the art. With an ever-changing, lush landscape, those who visit will enjoy a distinct experience with each new season.”  (https://bit.ly/3IcteZl)

Here is the link to the garden’s Master Plant list, where we were intrigued to find, and want to learn more about, perennials (among others) with names such as Fairy Wings, Kangaroo Plant, Mouse Plant and Dwarf Goat Beard. Enjoy and happy garden and/or travel planning 🙂 ! ( https://bit.ly/3VBxX9Y)

We wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, Hopeful and Awe-Inspiring New Year!

COP 15-Biodiversity Conference

The COP-15 Biodiversity Conference is being held now in Montreal, Canada, from December 8-19, 2022 where representatives from 192 countries are focusing on defining a framework for preserving world biodiversity. Negotiators say about 900 so-called “brackets”- points that haven’t yet been agreed on – remain in the draft text. The conference is being chaired by China.


SEASONS GREETINGS everyone! Before we get into this blog, we want you to know that the best way to view our blog is to go directly into our blog FRIENDS4TREES4LIFE.com via WordPress.com. The next best way to see our full blog is to have it sent to your email.

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So did you know about the COP 15 Conference on Preserving Biodiversity? Lucy credits Catherine for keeping her informed on this important biodiversity conference. The wildlife photos in this blog have been taken by Lucy.

At the main website undp.org (UN Development Programme) UN Biodiversity Conference is this opening statement :

“Despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide, and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual. The loss of biodiversity comes at a great cost for human well-being and the global economy. The UN Biodiversity Conference is the most significant conference on biodiversity in a decade. It will see the adoption of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The framework provides a strategic vision and a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.”

“What needs to happen at COP 15:

  • Adoption of an equitable and comprehensive framework matched by the resources needed for implementation
  • Clear targets to address overexploitation, pollution, fragmentation and unsustainable agricultural practices
  • A plan that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes their contributions as stewards of nature
  • Finance for biodiversity and alignment of financial flows with nature to drive finances toward sustainable investments and away from environmentally harmful ones”


These actions also help us protect the global climate, and protect us from the effects of climate change. As the architects of the Paris Agreement have said, “There is no pathway to limiting global warming to 1.5C without action on protecting and restoring nature.”


Posted on Wednesday 7 December 2022 by Greens/EFA (Environmental representatives of the European Government): An Interview with MEPs of Finland, Ville Niinistö and Jutta Paulus of Germany

Why the COP15 in Montréal must deliver a New Deal For Nature:

From 7 to 19 December, governments from around the world are gathering in Montréal, Canada, for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity – also known as COP15. Our MEPs, Ville Niinistö (Finland) and Jutta Paulus (Germany), argue that governments cannot waste this once-in-a-decade opportunity to advance the protection and restoration of nature worldwide. They need to strike a New Deal For Nature now.”

No climate protection without nature

“Our nature is in crisis. We have lost a third of the Earth’s wetlands and half of all corals – and we continue to destroy natural forests at an alarming rate. A million species are in danger of extinction. In fact, scientists believe that we are living through the sixte mass extinction, and the first mass extinction since humans occupied the Earth.” 

“But healthy ecosystems are just as important as a stable climate. They provide us with food and fresh water, protect us from disasters and disease, and form the basis of our economy. Oceans, forests and peat bogs also play a vital role in regulating the global climate. They absorb carbon emissions and shield us from extreme weather events linked to climate change. But they can only do that when they are in good health.”

At COP15 in Montréal: We Need a New Deal For the Nature

“The most important task for the COP15 Montréal conference is to hash out a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that will guide actions to protect biodiversity until 2030. This framework must be for nature what the Paris Agreement is for the climate – a clear guide to common action by governments around the world. The framework should include a range of numerical, measurable targets, such as the robust protection of at least 30 percent of the world’s land, freshwater and oceans by 2030, and global targets for nature restoration.”

A strong plan to implement biodiversity protections

“It is not the first time that governments set themselves targets on the protection of nature. But so far, they have failed to effectively reach those targets. None of the 2020 targets, the so-called Aichi targets agreed in Japan in 2010, have been fully achieved.”

“Even when they were partly reached, such as the designation of protected areas, they were not always effective in protecting wildlife. Countries have established “paper parks” without sufficient connectivity, adequate management and equitable governance.”

“That is why a solid implementation plan is just as important as well-defined targets. At COP15, parties must agree on an implementation mechanism alongside the global framework. Steps such as planning, monitoring and reporting, as well as reviewing and ratcheting up of action, must be clear from the start. They must also agree on a calendar for taking those steps.”

“Parties must be able to begin to implement the framework immediately by setting national targets and updating their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).”

“Sufficient finance is critical to achieve implementation. Money should mainly come from public sources and be redirected from harmful subsidies paid out today. Public investments in biodiversity conservation and restoration make little sense if they are outpaced by investments in nature destruction.”

No deal at COP15 without Indigenous Peoples and local communities

“The effective protection of 30 percent of the world’s land, freshwater and oceans by 2030 will not be possible without the full inclusion of and leadership from Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs).”

“Generations of Indigenous peoples and local communities have effectively protected nature, and used it in a truly sustainable way. They are nature’s best guardians. Lands owned by these communities cover at least a third of all land on Earth, including particularly valuable, nature-rich areas, and they are generally in a good state.”

“Today, 80 percent of remaining biodiversity is in the lands, waters and territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. If we want to mend our broken relationship with nature, we must learn from nature’s long-standing allies and support their efforts to protect, defend and restore their lands and waters.”

“The protection of nature begins with the protection of the Indigenous peoples’ rights, livelihoods and cultures. At COP15, their voices must be at the centre of decision making, management and funding for nature protection.”


According to CBC News on December 11, 2022, “There is a significant Indigenous presence on the ground, with at least 497 of the 15,723 people registered to attend the summit representing Indigenous nations or organizations. A concern is that none of those Indigenous nations have decision-making status.”We always have to have this sponsor to speak for us. It’s as if we are children,” said Jennifer Corpuz, who is a representative for the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity at COP15.”


Financial institutions have a role to play in preserving biodiversity:

“Canada’s negotiators at the COP15 conference say business groups and financial institutions have a role to play in preserving the planet’s biodiversity. Basile van Havre, co-chair of one of the Montreal conference’s working groups, says the private sector is looking for rules and certainty on the environmental effectiveness of its investments. He says it’s part of a larger push for performance standards that companies and investors can use to measure their activities against.  Van Havre says business groups have learned from climate change discussions that they need a way to assess risks. “They want measures of risk so that they can target their investment the right way,” van Havre said.”

“Although there is broad support for the overall goals at the conference, consensus remains elusive.”

The Canadian Press  
Published Thursday, December 8, 2022


CBC What on Earth

For more reading on COP15 and how it is different from COP 27 please check out CBC-What On Earth: What is COP15? Why does it matter and what’s at stake at the summit.

“COP, in United Nations jargon, simply means Conference of Parties. It is a decision-making body made up of countries that have signed a convention. COP15 is different from the climate change summit, COP27, which was recently held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. That conference was under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” 

“The Montreal summit, COP15, is a meeting under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 1992, 150 government leaders first signed that convention at the Rio Earth Summit. While biodiversity and climate change are related issues, the two conventions are separate.” 

“This meeting marks the second part of COP15; the first part was held last year as a mostly virtual conference based in Kunming, China. “


We will be looking forward to hearing the outcome of the conference, and future plans for saving the biodiversity of Mother Earth.


COP27 – “Conference of the Parties” 27th annual gathering – just wrapped up in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt after going two days over-time, almost going off the rails only to close with an historic first agreement on “loss and damage” compensation for countries bearing and ill-equipped to manage for disproportionate negative impacts of climate change on their environments and economies. (Think recent news of devastating flooding and loss of life in Pakistan for example.)

Begun in 1992, with the signing of the original United Nations (UN) climate agreement, 194 signatory countries of the 2015 Paris Agreement now meet at yearly climate summits (COPs) for governments to agree on steps to limit global warming and report on progress, in particular on measurable impacts of each country’s climate actions toward the critical target of keeping overall global temperature rise to 1.5C.

How to take stock of the importance and results of COP27?

How to do so with a view to keeping positivity, hope and motivation for change up and anxiety at bay in face of this complex and seemingly intractable existential threat to our Earth and humanity?

After all, these international talks on climate change have been going on since 1992 – that’s a long time!

Emissions are now being measured, tracked and tackled – that’s a good thing. Not so great is the still small number of nations – 25 (including Canada) – that file regular climate action progress reports with the UN, as agreed upon. More worryingly, notwithstanding international resolve to curtail emissions, overall global emissions of greenhouse gases keep rising (!). And thus, sadly and menacingly, so do global temperatures. Is 1.5C still possible many wonder? If not, then what?

Two BBC articles help us to take stock of COP27 and to frame why it continues to be so important that world leaders and their delegations met for the 27th climate summit, what are the key take-aways, including causes for hope, and remaining areas of tension going forward.



Why is COP27 Important?

First positive outcome and no small accomplishment in our view is the meeting itself – that 194 nations – virtually all the world – continue to meet and be engaged in addressing a common (albeit largely human-made) threat to life and livelihood is important and essential to facing and solving this threat.

As the first BBC piece explains succinctly — “The world is warming because of emissions produced by humans, mostly from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.”

Global temperatures have risen 1.1C and are heading towards 1.5C, according to the UN’s climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If temperatures rise 1.7 to 1.8C above 1850s levels, the IPCC estimates that half the word’s population could be exposed to life-threatening heat and humidity.”

“To prevent this, 194 countries signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, pledging to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.”

At the recent COP27 climate summit, three main areas of discussion were:

  • Reducing emissions
  • Helping countries to prepare for and deal with climate change (adaptation and mitigation)
  • Securing technical support and funding for developing countries for the above.

Themed days also focused on issues such as biodiversity. (BBC: https://bbc.in/3EZVAUH)

“COP27: Climate costs deal struck but no fossil fuel progress”

The BBC headline above assesses and sums up the overall results of COP27. A major win, and a huge disappointment.

“A historic deal has been struck at the UN’s COP27 summit that will see rich nations pay poorer countries for the damage and economic losses caused by climate change.”

“It ends almost 30 years of waiting by nations facing huge climate impacts.

But developed nations left dissatisfied over progress on cutting fossil fuels.”

“…This year’s talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, came close to collapse, and overran by two days.”

“…Luke-warm applause met the historic moment the “loss and damage fund” was agreed in the early hours of Sunday, as a confusing and often chaotic 48 hours left delegates exhausted.”

“It is, though, a huge symbolic and political statement from developed nations that long resisted a fund that covers climate impacts like flooding and drought.”

“…Expectations were low at the beginning of COP27 – it was meant to be an “action” summit that implemented agreements made last year, but would not reach anything new.”

“But the loss and damage deal could be the most significant development since the Paris Agreement.

“For almost as long as the UN has discussed climate change, developed nations worried about signing a blank cheque for climate impacts. Now they have committed to payments – though the details remain to be worked out.”

“…It tops off a conference marked with deadlock, and punctuated by dramatic moments – including Brazil’s President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s first appearance on the global stage since his recent election win. Speaking to rapturous crowds, he told COP27 that Brazil is back on the climate stage, promising to end deforestation and restore the Amazon.”

“It gave an injection of hope that many activists and observers of climate talks say is lacking at UN summits.”

Let’s take in and dwell for a moment on these causes for hope on the world stage, as we renew our own spirits and shore up much needed hope and resilience for the long haul at the personal level.

After 30 years of disagreement, progress is being made for the first time on establishing the historic Loss and Damage Fund.  Brazil’s new leader champions ending deforestation and restoring the Amazon rainforests– acknowledged as critical ‘lungs’ and ‘carbon sinks’ of the world.  Hopeful shifts.

COP27 – Sticking Points

We need and welcome hope to sustain us for the big challenges ahead. We choose to be positive-minded on climate action. This is not the same as being pollyana-ish, however.

And so, it is sobering for us to keep informed and reflect on the significant tensions still remaining.  This November 20th BBC piece discusses four major sticking points among nations as: Loss and Damage; Phasing out Fossil Fuels; Keeping 1.5C Alive; and, US and China.

For us, keeping faith in keeping 1.5C Alive looms large, and spurs us forward, to keep on with Friends4Trees4Life in our efforts to invite, inspire (we hope) and support personal climate action, in whatever ways and areas each individual deems personally relevant and meaningful.

If it is important to dwell in hope for the moment – we get it. (Feel free to skip ahead now to Blue Carbon Ecosystems.)

As and if Readers are ready to temper hope with more sobering food for thought, the BBC piece on remaining COP sticking points is a short read and offers a good place to start – https://bbc.in/3GHcF6Y

No doubt there will be more to discuss on COP27 in future blogs, including more about Canada’s climate action commitments, such as today’s expected announcement on a $1 billion adaptation fund.

We end this blog post with cause for hope put forward by Canadian researchers, as reported by Global News.

Blue Carbon Ecosystems – Oceans’ role in Fighting Climate Change

A Canadian delegation of researchers attended COP27 with the goal of raising awareness about the valuable under-represented role of oceans in fighting climate change.

This Global News piece put Dalhousie researcher Anya Waite on our radar.

Read more about how the ‘deep blue carbon sink acts as a buffer and impacts climate forecasts’.

While it is common knowledge about the important role of rainforests as lungs of the world (as we have earlier celebrated about Brazil’s new stance to restore the Amazon), Waite and her team contend that the little known good news is that ‘…oceans hold more carbon than all the rainforests on Earth’ and ‘..oceans have absorbed 90 per cent of the earth’s heat emissions so far…’.

Take hope in our Canadian talent championing knowledge building for cost-effective strategies to fight climate change! 

Climate change is a problem that takes huge resources to tackle, as everyone knows. Waite’s view and research is that “Canada is uniquely positioned to tap the ocean’s potential benefits..and balance its carbon output” and that “..a small investment (in ocean care) can bring enormous benefit for humankind. The problem we have is that the ocean is sort of out of sight, out of mind.”

Raising the profile on ‘blue carbon ecosystems’ seems to us to be the kind of tangible, do-able problem to solve that would move the bench posts and yield outsized dividends toward the bigger goal of driving to keep 1.5C alive to fight global warming and climate change.

We find this very promising and hopeful and a good note to end on for now.

To learn more:

Global News piece – https://bit.ly/3EYSyzP

Dalhousie News on Behind the scenes: How COP27 reached a deal that supports better monitoring of oceans to curb climate crisis – https://bit.ly/3tYN01Y

Ocean Frontier Institute



Grebes of Canada

There is nothing like a close look at a part of nature to inspire us to want to take better care of Mother Earth. Some of the grebes in Canada are considered “threatened” as their numbers are declining. This is mostly due to the accumulation of fertilizers and fewer ponds. Here is a photo book Lucy put together about the grebes we have in Canada with an intimate look at the lifecycle of the Horned Grebe seen in her local pond in 2021. It was most entertaining watching these Horned Grebes work in a bit of a chaotic, frantic way to create a nest, a vey soggy nest, and to lay eggs in that nest all the while reinforcing it. Then another visit to the pond showed how the nest did not survive the spring snow storm, and all that could be seen was an egg at the bottom of the pond. But fear not, for these tenacious waterbirds set to create a new nest across the small pond, and laid 3 new eggs.

Information was collected from Wikipedia: Grebes, from All About Birds, from Sibley Birds West, and from the Audubon Field Guides.

Here is a link to the BBC Life: The Grebes on Youtube:


Hurricane Fiona and Global Warming

It is hurricane season and it seems that the past few years there is one hurricane after another hitting the Carribean and eastern USA. This year Canada was not buffered from the storm. Hurricane Fiona, on September 24, 2022 was the strongest recorded hurricane to hit Canada (based on atmospheric pressure of 932.6 millibars) with winds peaking at 179km/h and waves as high as 30 metres leaving 500,000 people without power. Sadly three people died as a result of the storm: one woman in Channel-Port aux Basques was washed out to sea in her house, another man in Nova Scotia was swept out to sea and is presumed dead, and a third person died of carbon monoxide poisoning in PEI while operating an electric generator.

Worst hit was Port aux Basques NFLD where at least 20 homes were damaged or destroyed and 200 people displaced. Much of the town’s history is lost. In PEI there was severe erosion of the provinces dune system and Teacup Rock tourist attraction was destroyed. Overall the insured losses are estimated to be between $300-$700 million which would make it the costliest hurricane in Canada.

en.Wikipedia.org/Hurricane Fiona

In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona’s great destruction, Canadians will require much grit and resilience to face the rebuilding. So much of the land was swept away reshaping the coastline in some low lying areas, so decisions about where to rebuild and where not to rebuild will need to be carefully considered, as well as how to rebuild so the new buildings can better withstand the forces. Such a storm makes each of us consider how safe the location of our home is.

According to The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction there are ways to make new buildings stronger to withstand hurricanes. Their website has extensive information on ways to make one’s home stronger with some suggestions being free to implement, and others costly, and they say most suggestions work when building new, as they are hard to retrofit. They have broken down their recommendations according to type of disaster and offer much detail on their website.

Our Unstable Biosphere is a Public Health Emergency

According to Andrew Lodge, a medical director in Winnipeg, who wrote an opinion piece for the CBC: “We need to face the undeniable. Fiona cannot be viewed in isolation, but instead as one data point-albeit a dramatic and calamitous one for those affected-in an inexorable trend toward an increasingly unstable biosphere. The scientific evidence is consistent; the research is wide-ranging and generated by a broad base of disciplines. We are headed toward climate upheaval. With that comes a threat to our very survival. Climate change is a public health emergency.” He adds, “According to UN Secretary-General, ‘ the disruption to our climate and our planet is already worse than we thought, and is moving faster than we predicted.'” In general Andrew Lodge recommends the Government of Canada take more urgent action.

See: OPINION/Climate Change is a Public health emergency on CBC News

Have hurricanes increased in number?

We ask ourselves, “Are there more hurricanes than there used to be?” We decided to do some research on this to get the facts, first from the NRDC The Natural Resources Defence Council, a non profit international environmental advocacy group in the USA.

The NRDC says, “While there may seem to be a growing number of hurricanes snatching headlines each year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not see a general global trend toward increasing hurricane frequency over the past century. The exception is the North Atlantic, which the United Nations body notes has experienced an increase in both the frequency and intensity of its hurricanes. This is supported by the latest study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The IPCC projects that while there might be a slight decrease in hurricane frequency globally through 2100, the storms that do make landfall are more likely to be intense—category 4 or 5—with more rain and wind.”

“How does climate change affect hurricanes?

Warmer ocean temperatures
Over the past 50-plus years, the earth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the extra heat generated by man-made global warming, becoming warmer as a result. Since warn sea surface temperatures fuel hurricanes, a greater temperature increase means more energy, and that allows these storms to pack a bigger punch.”

Rising air temperatures
The burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have caused an estimated 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming since preindustrial times. Since a hotter atmosphere can hold—and then dump—more water vapor, a continued rise in air temperature is expected to result in storms that are up to 15 percent wetter for every 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, meaning an even greater capacity to generate flooding.”

Sea level rise
As the ocean warms and expands and as terrestrial glaciers and ice sheets melt, sea levels are expected to continue to rise. That increases the threat of storm surge—when powerful winds drive a wall of ocean water onto land—for coastal areas and low-lying nations. Hurricane Katrina’s 28-foot storm surge overwhelmed the levees around New Orleans in 2005, unleashing a devastating flood across much of the city.”

Longer-lasting storms
Research suggests that global warming is weakening the atmospheric currents that keep weather systems like hurricanes moving, resulting in storms that linger longer. Sluggish storms can prove disastrous—even without catastrophic winds—since they can heap tremendous amounts of rain on a region over a longer period of time. The stalling of Hurricane Harvey over Texas in 2017 as well as the slow pace of Hurricane Florence helped make them the storms with the greatest amount of rainfall in 70 years.”

“Are hurricanes getting more intense?

We may not be experiencing more storms, but we are riding out stronger ones, with heavier rainfall and more powerful winds (hence, all those news headlines). Recent research, for example, estimates that Hurricane Harvey dumped as much as 38 percent more rain than it would have without climate change. Another Harvey analysis indicates that the likelihood of a storm of its size evolved from happening once per century at the end of the 20th century to once every 16 years by 2017—again, due to climate change. Looking forward, the intensity of hurricanes that make landfall is expected to increase through the end of this century, with more category 4 and 5 storms.”

“Hurricane Prevention”

“As the evidence makes clear, the force, strength, and impact of today’s natural disasters is inextricably tied to society’s past choices. Our centuries-long reliance on dirty fossil fuels has driven the global warming trend, and we’re now experiencing the repercussions in the form of more severe weather events, including catastrophic hurricanes.”

“Of course, hurricanes are natural phenomena, and there is nothing we can do to halt any single storm in its path (though some people may try). We can, however, forgo the burning of carbon-emitting oil, coal, and gas for more efficient renewable energy options—such as wind and solar—and thereby reduce future warming and the ferocity of tomorrow’s storms.”

“And that’s a big point of the Paris Agreement, which was signed by nearly every nation on earth in 2015 and aims to curb the consequences of climate change by limiting global warming since preindustrial times to, ideally, 1.5 degrees Celsius. But getting there will require serious heavy lifting in the form of immediate, transformative global action, as the IPCC noted recently in its stark report drafted by some 270 climate scientists representing 67 countries. It will mean slashing global carbon emissions by nearly half by 2030, relative to 2010 levels, zeroing out emissions entirely by about 2050, and meeting as much as 87 percent of global energy needs with renewable sources. The alternative, as laid out by the IPCC, is clear: With a business-as-usual approach, the “extreme” weather of today will seem commonplace by tomorrow.” (NRDC at https://on.nrdc.org/3BYU6aA)

Pakistan and other Developing Nations Need Financial Assistance to Deal with Extreme Weather Events

“As Pakistan copes with the impacts of extreme flooding, leaders in the developing world want to make financial assistance for such devastation a key topic at the upcoming global climate conference, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. “
“Record monsoon rains since mid-June, along with glacier melt caused by warmer-than-usual spring temperatures, caused massive floods in Pakistan that have killed at least 1,400 people and destroyed millions of homes.”
“’The impacts of climate change are becoming more serious,’ Munir Akram, the ambassador and permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, told What On Earth host Laura Lynch. 
Akram, who is also the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries (G77) at the UN, wants to see the General Assembly adopt a plan to address the impacts of climate change in countries such as his.
“Developing countries are not responsible for the emissions that are causing global warming and climate change, and in order to adapt to the changes, to participate in the mitigation efforts towards the green global economy, developing countries need financial support and financial investment,” Akram said.”

“The plan would, first and foremost, see countries fulfil their longstanding promise to provide $100 billion US per year to developing countries for climate mitigation and adaptation. But even if that commitment was met, it’s not intended to cover what’s known as “loss and damage” — the costs of recovery from climate disasters such as the one Pakistan now faces. Eddy Perez, the international climate diplomacy manager at Climate Action Network Canada, said developed countries have long backed away from the issue of financial assistance for loss and damage because it leads to questions of legal liability. Perez called the floods in Pakistan shocking and “politically horrifying,” because there is no funding mechanism that countries can apply to when they’ve suffered climate-related disasters. 
“It actually exposes how in 2022 we have not yet created a system that is able to respond to the devastation that Pakistanis are experiencing with these floods,” he said.”

“Canada played a prominent role on the issue of climate finance at COP26 in Glasgow, co-writing (with Germany) a plan showing how and when developed countries will meet their commitment to deliver the promised $100 billion in climate finance. Perez believes that this year, Canada’s minister for the environment and climate change, Steven Guilbeault, could help advance the issue of financing for loss and damage for developing countries.”

Rachel Sanders for CBC What on Earth September 15, 2022

Resilience, Hope and Trees

Last word to the trees.

Just one week after the devastation and loss that Hurricane Fiona wrought on Canada’s east coast, citizens of Halifax were lining up for a tree giveaway with hope and even excitement “to regenerate what we lost in the storm,” reports CBC News piece CBC: https://bit.ly/3y6SA4M

“….residents snapped up 500 trees in about an hour at a tree giveaway Saturday morning…There were a variety of trees, including edible fruit trees, that were available to the public on a first come, first-served basis.”

Crispin Wood, with Halifax’s urban forestry department explained that “…the new event is a result of the city’s goal to increase its tree population. Halifax said it has planted more than 3,000 trees this year in support of its urban forest plan…There are many social and health benefits to planting trees in cities.”

Showing resilience and hope and contributing to replanting Halifax’s lost tree canopy in the wake of Hurricane Fiona’s destruction seem to us to show tangible evidence of immediate social and health benefits of tree planting in action.

We will all need resilience and hope to press forward with urgency on climate action, including by making a positive difference in our personal realms, for example, by planting one tree at a time, perhaps inspired by these positive, civic-minded Haligonians.

Halifax’s 400-page Urban Forest Master Plan is accessible here: https://bit.ly/3SsImnK.

Protecting Bees, National Tree Day and Fall Colours

What Happens if the Bees Go Extinct?

Photo credit Lucy

Our last blog post on Inspiration from the Arts included a focus on endangered species in Canada and the unsettling statement that “If the bee goes extinct the planet will only survive four years.”

This stayed with us, further reinforced by an excellent presentation that Catherine attended on why we should care about pollinators and what citizens and gardeners may do to protect them, sponsored recently by the Leaside Garden Society and presented by two of its member Master Gardeners.

The arresting image they asked us to imagine is what if every third bite of food we ate was no longer available, underscoring the importance and impact of pollinators, including bees, on our lives.

Here is a piece by Brian Palmer for the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) on the topic, “A World Without Bees? Here’s What Happens if Bees Go Extinct, which echoes a similar assessment and notes it could be even more dire.

“How important are bees to farming today? If you ask 10 reporters that question, you’ll get 11 answers. Some stories say that bees pollinate more than two-thirds of our most important crops, while others say it’s closer to one-third. A spread of that size indicates a lack of authoritative scholarship on the subject. My review of the literature suggests the same.” (NRDC – https://on.nrdc.org/3qFivMW)

The Ontario government’s website quantifies the economic importance of honey bees to the province’s agriculture sector.

“In Ontario, 3,000 registered beekeepers operate 100,000 honey bee colonies. Ontario’s managed honey bees and bumble bees generate about $897 million of the roughly $6.7 billion in sales for agricultural crops grown in the province each year. This is equivalent to about 13% of the province’s total annual crop value.” (https://bit.ly/3qFZ5Yf)

Guess How Many Bees Call Alberta and Ontario Home?

Photo credit Lucy

The world of bees is a study unto itself we are discovering as we dig a little deeper. There is much to learn and lots on offer. Fortunately, there are many organizations and research experts championing the bee and offering excellent resources to make it easy for members of the public to learn more, including how everyday citizens may help protect this endangered species.

We learned that Ontario (400 species) and Alberta (321 species) are home to about half of the 748 bee species found in Canada, and that in Ontario, beyond the honey bee, there are five other types (families) to be found buzzing around our parks – the bumble bee, carpenter bee, leaf cutter bee, mining bee, and sweat bee. (Ontario Parks – https://bit.ly/3DuklYP)

Photo credit Lucy

The Alberta Bee Council offers a brief lesson in taxonomy where we learned that Alberta bees are grouped into six Families.

“All bees are insects (Class Insecta) and belong to Hymenoptera, an Order that includes bees, wasps, sawflies and ants. Within the Order, bees are grouped into Families.  Alberta’s native bees belong to one of the following families:

  • Andrenidae (mining bees)
  • Apidae (includes bumble bees, digger bees, chimney bees, long-horned bees)
  • Colletidae (plasterer bees)
  • Halictidae (sweat bees)
  • Megachilidae (includes carder bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees)
  • Melittidae (melittid bees).”

Alberta Bee Council – https://bit.ly/3LfQ41H

The City of Toronto even has an official bee – a green metallic sweat bee known as Agapostemon virescens. (https://bit.ly/2zEUG0e)

You may learn more (lots!) from this 72-page Resource – Bees of Toronto: A Guide to Their Remarkable World – and perhaps get inspired to champion their protection and plant a pollinator garden or window box. https://bit.ly/2HdmA5Z

Photo credit Lucy

The Toronto Master Gardeners website (https://bit.ly/3dgQ98P) and, The City of Toronto’s website both offer tips to create a pollinator garden.  A fun fact that Catherine learned from the Leaside Garden Society Master Gardeners is that native plants with single bloom flowers are best as food sources for pollinators; double bloomers lack pistils and nectar and are also too challenging for them to enter. Who knew?! Also, planting early spring flowers as food sources are really important for the bees as they emerge from winter slumber. Some plant ideas she learned for colour and early spring blossoms include: pussy willow, single blossom daffodils, golden rod, service berry, red bud, elderberry, Solomon seal, cone flower, tiara foam flower, Russian sage (annual).

Summer blossom tips for pollinator gardens include hydrangea, milkweed (a top tip for the monarch butterfly), echinachea, pagoda dogwood, rebeccia, columbine, beebalm bergamot, Blazing Star Liatris, Mexican sunflower (good for monarchs). Late summer blossoms include: Aster, Black-eyed Susan, and Fall ideas include: Joe Pye-Weed and Iron Weed. Catnip and native geraniums will blossom from spring to fall. Also consider garlic chives, Scarlett runner beans, Giant Hysop and Sea Holly.

Even better, for Toronto gardeners who are inspired to help protect bees (pollinators), now is the ideal time to apply for a Toronto grant for your pollinator garden from PollinateTO. The application window is September 12, 2022 to October 27, 2022. Learn more at: PollinateTO.

Celebrate National Tree Day 2022

Photo credit Christine

What better way to celebrate National Tree Day – September 21st – by planting a tree and/or taking a walk or ride or drive to be with the trees and perhaps be rewarded with an early sighting of burgeoning fall colours.

“National Tree Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many benefits that trees provide: clean air, cooler cities, wildlife habitat and connection with nature.”  (https://bit.ly/3eTy94S)

Not to forget their essential role in carbon capture in the fight against climate change and global warming!

See Landscape Ontario’s calendar of events at: Event Calendar – Landscape Ontario (horttrades.com)

Why Do Leaves Change Colour in Autumn?

Chris Clennett, Garden Manager at Wakehurst, reveals why and how leaves change colour in autumn, on the Kew Gardens website  – https://bit.ly/3DulzD6

“Autumn colour is a fascinating phenomenon, where trees and shrubs that have been green all summer burst into flamboyant shades of yellow, orange and red. But why and how does it happen?

“Trees, like most plants, use a green pigment called chlorophyll to photosynthesise – that is to produce sugars from the energy of the sun, using water and nutrients from the soil. This is what gives trees the energy they need to live and grow.

Photo credit Jim

“Leaves are the centre for this process, exposing the largest area they can to sunlight to speed things up. But leaves also contain many other substances, some used in photosynthesis and some created as by-products from it. 

“It is thought the red or purple anthocyanins either protect the leaf from cold temperatures or deter pests, such as aphids. The presence of these coloured compounds might allow the tree longer to reabsorb other valuable nutrients as temperatures drop in autumn, so they are left in the leaf to help that process.

As the tree becomes dormant, a compound called abscisic acid triggers a seal to develop at the base of the leaves, before they fall off. This reduces water reaching the leaf and traps the chemicals remaining in the leaves. They gradually break down, changing the colour of each leaf before it drops to the ground. As the process is gradual, individual leaves will be at different stages, so a tree will have leaves of many changing hues as autumn progresses.

Trigger for autumn colour

“The trigger for autumn colour to develop is a combination of day length and night temperature. As days shorten, the amount of sugar generated by photosynthesis drops off, and hormones in the plant trigger the leaf sealing and shedding process. This is accelerated by cold nights, but the lower temperatures also act on the compounds remaining in the leaf, breaking them down more quickly.” (Kew Gardens – https://bit.ly/3DulzD6)

Fall Colours and Foliage Calendars

Photo credit Lucy

Trip Savvy lists these “best places to see fall colours in Canada” –

Rocky Mountains, AB

Algonquin Park, ON

Agawa Canyon, ON

Via Rail: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia

Niagara Parkway, ON

Bruce Peninsula, ON

Laurentian Mountains, QUE

Prince Edward Island

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, N.S.

Fundy Coastal Drive, N.B.

(Trip Savvy – https://bit.ly/3S897x7)

Destination Canada’s website offers more travel ideas to see fall colours in Canada, including biking on the seawall in Vancouver, B.C. (https://bit.ly/3Bl8wl1)

This Ontario Parks website offers a fall colour calendar to help plan your park visit for peak viewing dates: https://bit.ly/3qO8Mnr

Similarly, Curiocity’s website offers calendar information to help trip planning to see fall colours at their peak in Alberta’s National parks – https://bit.ly/3BMHpAN

Our last blog featured Inspiration from Art and Artists, quoting Claudia Rinke on “Why Artists will Change the Planet,” offering her view that, “I do think that art and creativity truly have the power to change societies and the world. It will take collective effort of artists, institutions, and individuals to envision a better future and to take steps toward that vision.”

Mother Nature’s natural beauty shimmers at this time of year. How fortunate are we in Canada to experience and enjoy the gifts and bounty of the four seasons, freely on offer to us to renew, inspire and lift our spirits and sightlines for a brighter future. We just need to remember to take a moment to stop, look, be still with and truly see and wonder at the magnificence and marvels of the world around us, and receive these gifts with gratitude and an open heart. What better time than now, amidst the vibrant changing fall leaves and colours, to celebrate trees and our gift of life? Perhaps a walk, bike ride or hike, whether on September 21st to celebrate National Tree Day, or, on October 9-10 to reflect during Thanksgiving weekend?

Inspiration from Words of Wisdom

Then perhaps the words of Onondaga Nation Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah may resonate and inspire us further, to treasure and take good care. Worth repeating and contemplating we feel –

“Being born as humans to this earth is a very sacred trust. We have a sacred responsibility because of the special gift we have, which is beyond the fine gifts of the plant life, the fish, the woodlands, the birds and all the other living things on earth: We are able to take care of them.” Onondaga Nation Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah.

Photo credit Lucy

Inspiration from the Arts

From the Article in Innovators magazine December 2020 called Why Artists Will Change the Planet, Claudia Rinke writes, “We are living in challenging and exciting times. The world is changing fast and not as we’ve known it. How should we address complex global issued from inequality over pandemics to climate change?”

MaryAnn Griffin’s (Lucy’s sister) photo won an award in the Creative Category at Toronto Camera Club

“Art has the ability to move people and offer new experiences. Art presents reality in a way that may change the vision and perspective of the audience towards the world. Be it a painting, drama, song, a novel or film, art may motivate people to think about life positively or differently. Art offers a unique way of understanding the meaning of life and how beauty and pleasure could be part of existence. It combines the imaginary world with reality and encourages people to change their thinking and perceptions. Good art has the power to engage the world to change the world.”

Rinke says “I do think that art and creativity truly have the power to change societies and the world. It will take collective effort of artists, institutions and individuals to envision a better future and to take steps toward this vision. As the playwright Jonathan Larson said ‘ The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.’ “


Note: Claudia Rinke’s Film NOW abut the climate movement won the international Golden Nymph Award in 2021 as best environmental documentary.


Lucy had the privilege of going to the Edmonton Folk Festival and the Edmonton Blues Festival and was moved by the music, and inspired by songs about taking care of Mother Earth. Susan O’Neill of Ireland shared her powerful 2017 song “Our Mother is Begging to Breathe“. Here is a link if you would love to hear this song.

So many songs have been written about caring for our planet and the plight of animals going extinct. . Rolling Stones Magazine in April 2020 edition “Earth Day: Now or Never: The Race to Save the Planet The Crusade of Greta Thunberg” featured 15 Pro-Environment Songs. Here is what was on the list:

  • The Beach Boys, “Don’t Go Near the Water”
  • Jack Johnson, “The 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)”
  • Crosby and Nash, “To the Last Whale”
  • will.i.am, S.O.S. (Mother Nature)”
  • Kenny Loggins, “Conviction of the Heart”
  • The Eagles, “The Last Resort”
  • Three Dog Night, “Out in the Country”
  • Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton “Big Yellow Taxi”
  • John Denver, “Sunshine on My Shoulders”
  • Miley Cyrus, “Wake Up America”
  • Celine Dion, “Skies of L.A.”
  • Dave Mathews Band, “Proudest Monkey”
  • Julian Lennon, “Saltwater”
  • James Taylor, “Gaia”
  • Yes, “Don’t Kill the Whale”

10 Most Endangered Species in Canada

Listening to this music, we hear many musicians make reference to endangered and extinct species. One quote we read recently said that if the bee goes extinct the planet will only survive four years. Wow! Here is a list of the most endangered species in Canada:

  • Peary Caribou
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle
  • Vancouver Island Marmot
  • Wolverine
  • Beluga Whale
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Rusty-patched Bumblebee
  • Sea Otter
  • Narwhal
  • Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl photo credit Lucy

As a birder Lucy is aware of projects in Arizona and Alberta that are set to help increase the numbers of Burrowing Owls. She visited one of these sites that had man-made tunnels for the owls to burrow in. Above is a Burrowing Owl at one of these sites.

Earth Day: 15 Pro-Environment Songs

Inspiration from Words of Wisdom

“Being born as humans to this earth is a very sacred trust. We have a sacred responsibility because of the special gift we have, which is beyond the fine gifts of the plant life, the fish, the woodlands, the birds and all the other living things on earth: We are able to take care of them“. Onondaga Nation Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah

Photo credit Allan Terplawy

Inspiring Inventors and Ideas for Avoiding Plastic

New Invention: Solar hydro panel captures 10 litres of clean drinking water out of the air per day.

The Nature of Invention

Fresh perspective and inspiration can come from many places, happily, and often times, serendipitously.

We would like to share some un-related stories of invention and innovation that we happened upon by chance recently, which we found energizing and oddly then inspired us to reflect on our daily habits with “fresh eyes,” asking ourselves what more we might be doing to shrink our carbon footprints.

We say “oddly”, since these stories of invention are not about climate change or global warming per se, and yet, however, we find a connection in a broad sense, through the hope in the future they inspire us with as they showcase the best of what might be achieved via human ingenuity and perseverance, aimed at solving real world, seemingly intractable problems. The stories of youthful inventors are especially inspiring we find. Teen inventors, such as Ann Makosinski, who “was inspired to help her friend in the Philippines who couldn’t study or read in the dark and had no lights in her home.” So, she invented a battery-less flashlight. Anne’s story and many more fascinating stories of invention are profiled in this 44-minute episode of David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things: The Nature of Invention, accessible on CBC Gem   (https://bit.ly/3vPv0Zu) and on Youtube ( https://bit.ly/3BYaV6X).

In it, we learned about “biomimicry” or “bio-inspiration,” via the story of Canadian doctor, Jeff Karp, and his lab at Harvard Medical School where they invented “heart glue”. “…He was asked to find an adhesive to deal with septal defects in babies — a hole between the chambers of the infant’s heart. When he encounters challenges, Karp often turns to nature for inspiration, a concept called biomimicry, or bio-inspiration. In this case, he looked at creatures like the sandcastle worm, slugs and snails. Their secretions contain components that can repel water, which is exactly what’s needed in the wet, messy environment of a beating heart.”  We appreciate this fascinating documentary, including the opportunity it offered us to learn about and marvel with “fresh eyes” at, Nature’s wonders.

Not all the profiled inventions necessarily have the “wow factor” of Karp’s “heart glue,” but they still make a big impact in improving people’s daily lives by solving practical problems. Such as Lift Labs’ invention of the Google spoon, aimed at helping people with essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease eat a meal with dignity and ease. The spoon is profiled in this short Youtube clip. https://bit.ly/3QyY932

Ideas for Avoiding Plastic Use

One of the common traits shared by the inventors is their capacity to look at the world/problems with fresh eyes and perspectives, coupled with a can-do attitude, agency and motivation ‘to act’. Somehow this inspiring energy propelled us to take a renewed look at some of our own daily habits with ‘fresh eyes’, wondering what we might do differently or better to reduce our carbon footprints further. For Catherine, there are two A-Ha’s and immediate areas to make change to reduce plastic bottle waste. Even while we both are avid recyclers and composters, appreciating these services offered by Toronto and Edmonton municipal garbage collection, the A-Ha for Catherine came in realizing that a new approach to her taste for carbonated water would avoid for the need to recycle bottles altogether. So, now she intends to make her own bubble water, rather than buy bottles of it shipped to Canada from Italy and France – much gentler on resource consumption, including transport, and waste production. In her household, on average this should obviate the need for at least 300 bottles per year.

According to this government of Canada piece profiling Soda Stream (not an endorsement),

“…just 32 people working together in Canada are able to prevent a whopping 217 million single‑use plastic bottles and cans from ending up in our landfills.”

“That is exactly what happens every year thanks to SodaStream, the at-home sparkling-water-making machine that turns tap water into carbonated bubbly water on your countertop, according to Rena Nickerson, SodaStream Canada’s general manager.”

“SodaStream’s environmentally friendly home carbonation systems are centred on a sustainable circular return and reuse system.”

“The canister that provides carbonation is refillable rather than disposable, and the accompanying plastic bottle for the final product lasts up to three years. The compact system, which includes reusable BPA‑free bottles and concentrated sparkling drink mix, greatly reduces the use of recyclables and disposables.”

“It’s kind of staggering how big of an environmental impact we are able to have. Canadians understand; they get it. They are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint.”  (https://bit.ly/3bLz9GT)

Eco Laundry Strips

Thank you, Lisette, for putting this cool innovation on our radar – eco laundry strips. Who knew?! Another way to avoid for and divert 100s of plastic bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans.

According to one provider, TruEarth (not an endorsement), “Each laundry strip packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured strip of liquidless laundry detergent that you just toss in the wash. Its low-sudsing formula works in all types of washing machines, including high-efficiency (HE).”

“Every 32-load package eliminates 1 plastic jug from potentially ending up in landfills and oceans.”

“According to #TruEarthMovement, 7 312 201 plastic jugs elimated to-date.”  (https://bit.ly/3Qu48WL)

Canada – Single-use Plastics Ban – December 2022

David Suzuki reminds us in this Now Toronto piece about Canada’s list of six single-use plastics that will be banned beginning this December, including single-use plastic grocery bags. Mostly, we both have made the shift already to bringing our own re-usable bags when we shop. However, Catherine still acquires some plastic shopping bags for use in emptying the cat’s litter box, in order to avoid “the yuck factor.”  Some changes are harder to make than others!  But, we can do it!! She is now motivated to make this final shift in practice, letting go of “convenience,” and plastic bag use entirely, in favour of more eco-friendly options such as using the biodegradable compost bin bags for litter box disposal too. (https://bit.ly/3doCTic)

Plant Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies

We were dismayed to learn that our beloved monarch butterfly is now on the endangered species list! For those of us with garden space, please consider planting milkweeds. According to this CP24 piece, it is one tangible impactful action we can take that will really help.

“What can home gardeners do to support the monarch?”

“If everyone reading this planted one milkweed plant, the benefit would be palpable. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) is the only plant monarch caterpillars eat, and it’s where the adult butterflies lay their eggs. Without it, the species simply could not exist.”

“ ‘But not all milkweed is the same,’ says Dawn Rodney, chief innovation and growth officer at the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Virginia. For instance, ‘there is an invasive species called tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) that we’re seeing more and more, and people are not understanding that it does more harm than good.’ ” (CP24–https://bit.ly/3BUHiTW)

A Better Way to Look at Trees (The Atlantic)

Rebecca Giggs writes in The Atlantic on “A Better Way to Look at Trees,” profiling new research on the forest and “the paradigm shift” in our understanding of “what a tree is – tree botany in its essentials – feels utterly changed.” 

“Meg Lowman and Suzanne Simard are two pathfinders who have worked for decades in this field (that is, the forest), and they have now written books not just to instruct, but to reorient and inspire.” To learn more – https://bit.ly/3Pb6ybF

New Favourite Tree

While volunteering at this year’s Leaside Garden Society’s Garden Tour, Catherine “met” for the first time, her new favourite tree – the larch, pictured above. To learn more about larch (larix) trees, see Encyclopedia Britannica resource at: https://bit.ly/3AjY3ah and be on the lookout especially for the Japanese Larix Dianna for its spiral cascading graceful beauty.  Happy summer gardening and touring!

Some Wildflowers of Canada and Invasive Species

Part of enjoying walks in the forest all summer long, is the world of ever blooming wildflowers. We thought we would share some of the wildflowers Lucy has photographed across Canada. As she read up about these plants she learned that many of them are considered noxious weeds, so Lucy labeled them as such. We are learning through this blog that there are so many invasive species all around us, not just the purple loosestrife commonly reported. Later in this blog are planting suggestions of good local alternatives to noxious weeds.

Lucy used her new iPad to identify these plants by opening the photo, tapping on the information button and the “look up” button and the computer labelled each flower for her. Clearly this new iPad is much smarter than her old laptop! Lucy is really still learning the names of the flowers and is trusting the computer to be correct, but apologies if there are some mislabeled. Another app you can put on your phone will identify the flowers as you walk. It’s called SEEK. Have fun enjoying the great outdoors, and smelling the wildflowers!

Invasive Species Centre of Canada Report for 2022

Not all wildflowers are welcome species. Here is how the Invasive Species Centre describes what is invasive and how these plants (and trees and shrubs) are harmful:

Here are a few of the invasive species found in Canada as listed in 2022 by the Invasive Species Centre.


What Can We Do to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species?

First of all it is important to get to know your invasive plants. Some plants like giant hogweed and wild parsnip can cause human health issues though direct toxic effects, and burn your skin, so do not just go out and pull out the plants without knowing what you are dealing with. Practise prevention, by knowing what you are buying as plants and seeds, by never releasing aquarium plants, and by purchasing mulch or soil from a reputable supplier. When landscaping, minimize soil disturbance and retain shade trees to prevent establishment of invasive plants. Burn local firewood, do not move firewood. Recreationally, inspect and clean mud and plants from recreational vehicles, pets, hiking boots and equipment before leaving any site and returning to your home. You can report invasive species to your ministry of natural resources or provincial hotline and share the knowledge locally with your neighbours and others. There are so many more detailed ways to deal with invasive species on your property if they are an issue, and so we encourage reading online.


Plant This Instead of That

Just reading about what to plant in Edmonton, the oxeye daisy posted as a wildflower above can harbour crop diseases and choke out other native plants so is not a great plant to have in Edmonton’s ecosystem and is considered a noxious weed or invasive species. As gardeners we are encouraged to plant as many native species in our gardens as we can. In this article called “Plant This Not That” the Edmonton and Area Land Trust suggests the following best choice of plants:

Instead of Creeping Bellflower plant Tall Lungwort

Instead of Himalayan Balsam plant Spotted Jewelweed

Instead of Dame’s Rocket plant Common Yarrow

Instead of Purple Loosestrife plant Meadow Blazingstar

Instead of Oxeye Daisy plant White Prairie Aster

Instead of Yellow Clematis plant Purple Clematis

Instead of Common Tansy plant Canada’s Goldenrod