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The hidden cost of debt

By Suzanne von der Porten
Pollution and over-extraction are amounting to a colossal debt owed to the natural world.

Have you ever considered how remarkable it is that your grandparents used to save up to buy things? It conjures up a quaint image of a ceramic piggy bank rattling with coins and a dusty walk to the corner store. By contrast, today’s Canadians have embraced the phenomenon of perpetual debt, holding a staggering net household debt of $1.4 trillion and counting. Some economists say that spending makes the economy tick. While it may be a major economic driver, it is not necessarily sustainable when you consider our environment cannot continue to support the consumption that goes along with this spending.

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Under pressure

By Carrie Terbasket and Suzanne von der Porten
The Similkameen people of B.C. are facing massive influx into their region. How does this affect community health?

The front door of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band office swings open every few minutes with a visitor or a band member. Nestled in the middle of the main street of the dry, mountainous town of Keremeos, B.C, the band council and Chief are always busy handling issues of health, education, culture and language preservation, social well-being, and the environment. All of these issues are complicated further by an expanding population. The Okanagan-Similkameen region of B.C. has the highest rate of migration in the province, so it has become important to both band leadership and community health planners to consider what effects these activities have on the health and well-being of the Similkameen people of the Okanagan Territory. Like many of their Indigenous counterparts in Canada, Indigenous peoples of B.C.’s Southern Interior are struggling to keep their way of life and their health intact in the face of these changes.

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Salty waters

Is desalination really the answer to the world's water woes?

I refrained from holding my nose and took a sip of lukewarm water from a plastic cup. ¿“good, uh?” said Jose Alonso Cozar, manager of the water desalination plant, with a genuine smile. I nodded, still not sure if I exactly liked it per se, but I was thirsty and the postocean cocktail was at least drinkable.

Despite being surrounded by water, the Spanish region of Andalucia is thirsty. To investigate this problem and take a sip of the proposed solution, I had come to spend the day at the Planta de la Desaladora de Carboneras, in the city of Carboneras on the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain.

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Troublesome waters

Fort Chipewyan residents concerned about oil sands production

At the age of 86, Mary Rose Waquan has a steady hand as she pours filtered water into a colourful ceramic mug and takes a careful sip. The Mikisew Cree woman, born in the bush at the shores of the Athabasca River, is one of many residents of Fort Chipewyan, a settlement 280 kilometres downstream of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Here the food used to come almost solely from the land. Mary Rose’s favourite is fish; her second favourite, moose. These days she won’t eat any meat from the area: “It’s no good anymore. Tastes bad since the factories were built upriver.” Her granddaughter concurs, showing how her grandma would push the plate away after one bite.

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