Tuesday, 5 July 2011

EcoSask News, July 5, 2011

Grasslands National Park
Living in Saskatchewan, we tend to take the prairies for granted, but the grasslands are one of the most threatened ecosystems in North America. Only a tiny fraction of the original native prairie remains.

Grasslands National Park is Canada’s only national prairie park and it provides shelter for a variety of endangered plant and animal species, including a small herd of plains bison. In 2010, the park celebrated the first wild-born black-footed ferrets in over 70 years.

In May 2011, Parks Canada announced the addition of 110 square kilometers to the park’s West Block. The land is part of the historic Dixon family ranch lands of the Frenchman River Valley and is home to the greater short-horned lizard and the Mormon metalmark butterfly. The formal acquisition process is expected to take about two years.

Solar Power, Holy Family Cathedral
The large stained-glass windows in the south wall of Holy Family Cathedral are designed to reflect the colour and movement of Prairie skies. But they will also include 1000 solar cells and will collect as much energy as is used by 5 households in a year.

The stained glass window is designed by Canadian artist Sarah Hall, who is the first North American artist to incorporate solar cells in her artwork.

Saskatoon’s Water Consumption
It came as a surprise to many of us when the City of Saskatoon introduced water restrictions and penalties this spring (due to equipment problems and high levels of silt from the high water), but the City was aware that they had a potential problem.

The average person in Saskatoon uses 230 litres of water a day, and the city has one of the highest water usage rates in Western Canada. We are fast exceeding the capacity of the city’s water treatment and storage facilities.

A 2010 report on water conservation commissioned by the City of Saskatoon’s Environmental Advisory Committee indicated that there is a 50% increase in water use during the summer months due to outdoor sprinkling. Toilet flushing accounts for 45% of indoor residential water usage while showers and baths account for an additional 30%.

The City’s website reports that a dripping tap can waste up to 3,400 litres a month and a leaking toilet can waste up to 7,800 litres a month.

The Conference Board of Canada reports that, as a country, Canada consumes 9 times more water than the United Kingdom and double that of a 16-country average. Industry accounts for 68% of Canada’s water usage; agriculture accounts for 12% and domestic water consumption accounts for a further 20%.

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
Yves Engler will be launching the book he co-authored with Bianca Mugyenyi, Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay, on Tuesday, July 5, 7:30-9:30 pm,  at Amigos Cantina (back room), 632 10th Street E.

“A transportation system based on the private car has so powerfully transformed the American environment that a new human species is emerging, say the authors . . . . Homo Automotivis is less social, more aggressive, weaker, poorer and worships at the Church of Automobility, say Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, the authors of Stop Signs — Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay.” (Turning the Tide)

Allan Casey, Saskatchewan Festival of Words
Allan Casey, author of Lakeland, will be one of the presenters at the 2011 Saskatchewan Festival of Words from July 14 to 17, 2011, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Lakeland: Ballad of a freshwater country won the 2010 Governor General’s award for non-fiction.

EcoSask News is a weekly Tuesday feature. Email us if you have news or events that you would like us to include.