Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Our children deserve no less- the costs of nuclear outweigh the benefits.

We must never forget about the consequences of our actions today on future generations, especially not when nuclear power is involved.
I just answered the following comment on a recent blog post of mine:

"Larissa, I agree with most of the positions that have been articulated by the Green Party. But I am particularly troubled by your dislike of nuclear energy. Nuclear, is, by no means, an optimal energy source, but in terms of radioactive pollution and radioactive waste, it is light years ahead of coal. If a nuclear reactor was proposed for the Moose Jaw area (at Lake Diefenbaker) to replace highly pollutting coal-fired power plants at Estevan or Coronach, would you be for or against such a development?"

There is unfortunately a lot of controversy with the nuclear issue, so I have posted my answer below for others:

At the current rate of usage without building any new nuclear power plants, we would be out of domestic uranium in 40 years! With the soaring price of uranium (approx. $10/pound in the 1990's to appprox. $170/lb these days) and with industry making false claims that nuclear is green, many new plants are proposed around the world and five new plants in Canada as well.

Each gigawatt of nuclear energy requires 170 tonnes of uranium. When the uranium is processed into fuel, 250,000 tonnes of carbon are emitted for every 1000 megawatts produced. Nuclear energy produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases. There is no safe way to store the radioactive waste produced. Nuclear waste stays toxic for one million years! It is highly carcinogenic, and so are the routine emissions of nuclear power plants.

Consider the following information quoted below:

"The KiKK study commissioned by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany and made public on December 10th 2007 examined cancer rates in young children between 1980 and ­2003. It showed a 60% increase in solid cancers and a 117% increase in leukemia among children up to five years of age living within 5 km of 16 German nuclear reactors. It also found a 20-40% increase for all cancers in children living within a 50 km radius of the plants. These nuclear power plants were operating under normal conditions, with radiation releases well within levels allowed for civilian populations."

I just lost my seventeen year-old cousin to cancer. When are we going to start taking responsibilty for our actions and start addressing any known causes of this cancer epidemic?! I have to represent our party's position on nuclear strongly, for Jen.

The quoted info above continues:

"The new evidence from Germany of an association between increased cancers and proximity to nuclear facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and young children be advised to move away from them? Should local residents eat vegetables from their gardens? And, crucially, shouldn't those governments around the world who are planning to build more reactors think again?"

I do not support and can not support a nuclear power plant being built in Saskatchewan, especially nearby. I hope you won't--can't, either.

As for coal, leave it in the ground! The health consequences from coal are completely awful too, and the effects to the environment from coal are HORRIBLE! That is why we must shift away from non-renewable resources (like uranium) and make the transition to a healthy, just and sustainable energy future.

All of Canada's uranium is mined in Saskatchewan, and 85% of it is exported to the U.S. In a recent book on the war in Afghanistan by Jack Warnock, he writes the following:

"Depleted uranium (DU) is produced during the uranium enrichment process. The U-235 used to produce fuel for reactors that generate electricity is removed, leaving the U-238 isotope. The remaining material is extremely dense and increases the penetration capability of weapons; it is used in the warheads of missiles and bombs. On impact the shell, with its uranium and traces of americium and plutonium, vaporizes, generating very tiny particles of radioactive dust. When this is inhaled it stays in the body, emitting radiation. The DU used in US weapons comes from the uranium mines in Saskatchewan.

Thousands of DU bombs and missiles have been used by US forces in the Afghan and Iraq wars. A typical bunker bomb contains 1.7 tons of depleted uranium."

I shudder to think of what we have done to the health of too many inncocent civilians in Afganistan, most of which are women and children. We all deserve a chance at a healthy life. This is not the legacy that I want Saskatchewan to have. We can't control the uranium mined here once we ship it south of the border. Nuclear is an international security threat and is destroying ecosystems too.

Plus, Saskatchewan's uranium is mined using dirty coal in Texas. How does this make nuclear better than coal? NEITHER should be an option, especially when we have more wind and solar power generating capacity than anywhere else in the world, right here in Saskatchewan!

I am a young women. I have to think of future generations. If I don't, who will? Certainly not Harper!

Can nuclear power meet our energy needs and be the solution to climate change? Not when one considers the cost, pollution and threat to global security associated with nuclear power.The Green Party believes that choices should be economically rational. The best energy choices to respond to the climate crisis should be those that deliver the greatest reduction of GHG per dollar invested. By this criterion, nuclear energy is among the very worst options. Reactors cost billions of dollars, take more than a decade to build, operate unreliably after about the first dozen years of operation, and only produce one type of energy: electricity. Even if the industry were “green and clean” as claimed by the pro-nuclear propaganda efforts, it fails on the economics. Nevertheless, it is neither clean nor green.

I'm sorry that we can not support nuclear to appease your opinion, but I can not lie to yourself or others about this issue. I am too honest by nature, and our children deserve no less.

Peace and Solidarity,

Larissa Shasko

Free transit in Moose Jaw Sept. 15-20: a good first step, but not enough!

From Septmber 15-20, the city of Moose Jaw will be offering residents free bus service. Acting city transit supervisor, Darlene Noble, said the free bus week not only gives riders a chance to try out Moose Jaw’s new seven-piece transit fleet, but promote environmentalism as well. I say it's a good first step, but it's not enough.

It's a shame that our city's brand new garbage bins (that hold five bags) weren't accompanied by local blue bin service, which would create local green-collar jobs in Moose Jaw and help to make our city cleaner for the people that have to live here for many years to come. Becoming a zero waste city with local recycling facilities would mean even more new jobs in Moose Jaw.

Here's some more good news for the City of Moose Jaw: the Green Party would allocate one cent (1%) from the GST on a per capita basis to municipal governments for “Green Cities” initiatives, ensuring (through contractual agreements) that the funding is not used in ways that encourage urban sprawl, but instead to reduce sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions, conserve electricity and water, increase densification, expand convenient, safe, reliable and affordable public transit, and build cycling and walking paths.

But if you're looking for multiplex funding from this Green M.P., sorry! I do not consider it a fiscally responsible project. I was not consulted, were you? Is democracy lost in this country?

The Civic Centre would, however, be getting a federally funded facelift and "greening" including energy retrofitting which will actually provide the Moose Jaw Warriors with more money by reducing utility bills. This would be accomplished with the Green Party's Sports, Cultural and Recreational Facilities (SCRF) Fund to support the development of green recreational and cultural facilities and refurbish existing facilities. If a facility already exists, it should be refurbished. Why throw away a whole building with a great history and force the burden onto Moose Jaw taxpayers when we have not been asked first. This is not fiscally responsible. This is certainly not green. Plus, what's the harm in asking Moose Jaw taxpayers first?! The Green Party is a grassroots party and that means we stand for DEMOCRACY!

Public transit is a very important part of urban sustainability, but Moose Jaw's bus routes and hours of service need to be improved in order for public transit to be adequate here. Since public transit is being featured as environmentally friendly by the City of Moose Jaw, this means that it needs to be adequate enough for those that work outside of regular business hours to be able to bus to work or stores in the evening hours. Right now, the bus only runs on Thursday evenings and not at all on Sundays. If you can't take the bus on a Sunday, how are you supposed to spend the day with family or friends if you don't own a car and live too far away? Biking isn't an option for our city's seniors or for anyone here in the middle of winter! Our public transit system needs work, but this is a good FIRST step! I hope many people take advantage of this opportunity. Thanks to the city for offering free bus rides next week.

As your Green Party M.P., I would double existing funding to stimulate a massive re-investment in public transportation infrastructure in all Canadian towns and cities to make it convenient, safe, comfortable and affordable. With the money already spent on the new transit fleet, an equal amount of funding provided by a Green Party Government could be invested in more bus drivers for extended hours and days of service, meaning, once again, more new local jobs in Moose Jaw.

You have the power to make that happen Palliser! I'm pleased to be your Green Party Candidate.

Peace and Solidarity,
Larissa Shasko

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Youth Have the Power!

Young environmental activists are popping up everywhere! We have a different view on life, and unless you are one of us, you may not realize how frustrated we feel, or that it is not a hindrance for our lives at all, but rather, it gives us power!

Many people my age are not afraid to express either our insecurities or our frustration about the way things are today, infact we probably want and need to. I think it's healthy for us to express these frustrations, especially since we have inherited an unhealthy planet to raise our own children in someday.

It is important to recognize that the younger generations are being told from a variety of sources that we will be the ones who will someday feel the full effects of climate change and environmental poisoning, and the outlook is even worse for my generation's children. As a women, these thoughts obviously way heavily on my mind and heart. It is my view that many older environmental activists will find that their message will hit the younger age demographic hardest, more specifically younger women, and we will become not only afraid of the "what if's" laid out by environmentalists before us, but we will be angry that we have to either live with or try to fix a problem that we did not create, at least not by our own doing. As a young person, I feel that this anger is healthy, as we have been dealt a rough card.

But please don't worry about me or the rest of us Young Greens for a second! Our frustration, our fear, our anger--- that's what gives us power as youth to create the change that is needed. It may surprise older generations to hear that many young people today are willing to sacrifice the traditional role of youth as carefree, driven by fun, and apathetic. But my generation, Generation X, is different! We are coming of age, and we recognize that we do have the power to change this world for the better! If the older generations are prepared to hear our frustrations, our worries, and most importantly, our anger towards those out there with bad intentions who have made our futures that much more complicated, we will succeed even faster!

Generation X fights hard, but we laugh even harder! No one knows how important it is to take time off, to have fun, and to come together for good times and great memories than generation X does! When we tackle the things in this world that we as a generation have deemed unjust, we gain a feeling of empowerment and great joy that has, unfortunately, been lost by so many other people our age. We are more interested in stopping the tar sands or learning about the risks of nuclear than in what Lindsay Lohan is doing or how many children Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have now, and we wouldn't have it any other way! We are proud of who we are and what we are doing, and this empowers us with joy!

After meeting a number of like minded youth over this past summer, the following are similarities in the priorities of environmentally progressive youth I have noticed:

*We care about communities. We want to experience the caring relationships and sense of sharing that comes out of these sort of arrangements where we take care of each other. Not only are communities sustainable, they are an essential part of human nature that has been misplaced for generation X by the computer age and widely dispersed families of the modern day. We are coming together to form communities, and we are already benefitting remarkably by doing this.

*We recognize the responsibility of technology. We know that computers are a tool and must not replace people, or control our lives. We are beginning to see cell phones as a mistake for our health, the environment, and our pocket books. We know that natural is better than artificial, and that profit often overrides human rights. We may feel this way about technology as a whole because we are the generation that would have the hardest time going back to a computerless world. Technology has brought so much good to us that we recognize the importance of using and developing it responsibly.

*We are willing to change our materialistic upbringing, often drastically. It is easier to change our ways when we are still young, and since we have many years ahead of us, we feel the urgency perhaps even more than older generations do. For example, many of us have given up driving, even more of us have given up meat or are eating less of it to lower our ecological footprint, etc. We demand organic because it is healthier for our young bodies and our young minds. We are willng to live with less "things" and to replace material goods with good times and friendship.

*We know the power of freedom of speech, and we are not afraid to use it. Never has youth been so passionate about the causes we tackle. The world is finally turning green out of necessity, and today's young environmental activists will potentially see the hard work of activists from the past 30 years come to fruition in our own lifetimes. It is exciting! We are on the verge of a revolution. My generation recognizes this, and we want to fight that much harder. We see that despite all the hard work of incredible activists who came before us, things like the tar sands or palm oil plantations have not ben stopped, and truthfully, we get scared by that. We feel that we must be that much braver, that much stronger, and that much louder than out predecessors. Amazing older activists will one day be passing the torch down to the younger generations, and we will be more than ready!

What I've learned from other youth this summer has not only fueled my ambitions, but has also brought the importance of friendship and community back into my life. I hope this message has shown you how honored I am to fight for a Green and just future.

It may come as a surprise that a 26 year-old like myself has chosen to devote my time to being a Green Party Candidate, Young Greens Councillor, and an activist, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! The brilliance and the joy of activism is that you don't have to feel powerless, no matter what you have to face. The people I continue to meet everyday in this journey make my heart smile, and the memories that I'm making will last a life-time!

In Solidarity,

Larissa Shasko