How can we reach our 2020
Greenest City Targets?

Arthur G.

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  1. 54 votes
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    10 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Lighter Footprint  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    While this idea may well serve a beneficial purpose in curbing our somewhat extravagant tastes for animal protein, I think a bit of perspective is needed, based on how the idea has been presented here. The way animal agriculture adds greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere is a very complex and multifaceted affair that should not be taken all lumped together. It really doesn't hold up to general, pel-mel depiction. First, the actual way agriculture ties into the atmospheric system must be considered, because, in many ways, the two are actually fairly balanced. The carbon that comprises plant materials, which animals eat, and are in turn comprised of (and store), has all been drawn out of the atmosphere as CO2. When those animals then respires, or are eaten and metabolized, and that carbon is once again released as CO2, it's not so much being put into the air as being returned, completing the final step in a semi-stable cycle it has participated in. Thus, said animals aren't really contributing to any actual increase in the amount of CO2 in the air, as the only carbon they have to work with comes from the atmosphere in the first place. Of course, if the animals release methane (being much more potent than CO2), or decompose under anoxic condition (say, buried in a landfill), then they becomes net contributors to the overall greenhouse effect, and, as this happens in increasing quantities, concerns become increasingly justified.

    There are many other aspects to consider as well, however. It would take far too long to fully detail them, so I'll leave a single example for thought instead. Cattle farming for meat in the tropics, where larger tracts of rainforest must be cleared (releasing a great deal of otherwise stored carbon into the air and largely precluding its future uptake, along with host of other harmful effects), can definitely be seen as a less than desirable agricultural activity on the whole. Cattle farming in the semi-forested rangelands of B.C.'s interior and northern regions, however, sees cows roaming fairly lightly on wide tracts of open woodland and mountainous, discontinuous grassland, which otherwise would be difficult to use for anything else (being relatively unproductive), and wherein much of the plant matter consumed would otherwise have been fairly short-lived. In this situation, animal agriculture is actually capturing nutrition and energy for human purposes (that otherwise would remain unutilized) in a fairly non-invasive, non-impactful way; abundances of land, water and resources aren't being appropriated from alternative application that could potentially be much more productive; and people are being given livelihoods. My point is that animal agriculture isn't as cut and dry or homogeneous as it may seem from an environmental and/or sustainable perspective. No, it really needs to be teased apart into its play of parts and factors, and assessed discretely and carefully, if it is to handled beneficially and with any kind of justice. Anyway, just a bit of food for consideration.

  2. 49 votes
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    7 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Encourage local food  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    Hey there alicia chaa,

    While you've listed a fair complement of details in your description, this idea has already been put forward under the heading "local food production, vertically!". Instead of creating a competing entry for the same idea, why not delete this entry, add you votes to the existing one, and include your list as a supporting note in the entry's comments section? Anyway, just a thought.

    Arthur G. supported this idea  · 
  3. 1,002 votes
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    An ongoing process. Many of the City’s recent initiatives (e.g. downtown separated bike lane trial, additional traffic calming on existing routes) work towards this vision. The draft Greenest City action plan will support this idea, and include directions to help inform the upcoming transportation plan update and new active transportation plan.

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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    First, finding a way to better integrate cycling into public transportation systems would dramatically increase the bike's potential utility. We have the double-bike rack on the front of many buses, but this is a very limited system that's already overtaxed by the demands of present bike users (who not infrequently find themselves waiting for space), and our take-your-bike-onto-the-Skytrain system is undeniably clumsy. Devise and implement a system, however, that incorporates both more ease and greater capacity, and bikers may find themselves quite liberated. As already noted, 5 or so km of reasonably level terrain is fairly doable on a bike, even for people of only average fitness, and, if the distance or terrain becomes inhibitive (or even just daunting), then linking into the transit system would be the solution to the problem. From what I can see, this could work in several different ways, too. For instance, someone who doesn't want to use transit because they perceive that the distance from home to transit, or from transit to destination, is too far, may reconsider if they can bridge the gap on a bike and if they see the bike-transit system as a seamless, convenient whole. Alternatively, a person who can go 50 km out from the City in relative comfort (with family in tow) and then bike the last few kilometers to, say, a friend's house, all without batting an eye, may see little reason to own a car at all. In short, the transit system, if optimized, could go a long way towards overcoming many of the limitations that bikes posses, especially if the local bike-way & friends infrastructure is beefed up. This is, of course, not a new tune, but I think it bears reiteration in the bike discussion, and it's probably one of the more doable (and potentially effectual) transportation options available.

    As a second point, mostly to pollinate thinking minds and to set the idea aloft for consideration, I turn collective attention to the shweeb. (See youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhxVtUFZVzk&feature=related ). As I see it, this kind of idea, while still immature and still with its share of potential issues, nevertheless holds possibilities. It has the advantages of speed, efficiency (and thus more ease), weather protection, safety (out of the way of both cars and people) and even things like potential power assistance. Moreover, it would be a fraction of the cost of something like the Skytrain, or likely even light rail, to develop and build, and would likely have far more versatility in terms of potential routs and placement. Is it ultimately a viable idea? I don't have the resources to know for sure, but I think the concept (and possible spin-offs), at least, is worth keeping in mind.

    Arthur G. supported this idea  · 
  4. 770 votes
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    25 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    The City supports Metro Vancouver’s plans to ban food scraps from the incinerator and landfills by 2015. The City will collaborate with Metro Vancouver to develop and implement a plan to ensure apartments, condos, businesses and institutions have access to food scraps collection programs before the ban comes into effect.

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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    For those interested, there are several types of self-contained vermi-composting units available that can work quite well inside apartment units. (If they're well kept, they tend to be smell, mess and hassle free.) What do do with the composted materials once you have them can be a little trickier, but, if you have a balcony, some nice pot-grown tomatoes/vegetable/plants is always an option (and you get some of that urban agriculture stuff happening to boot).

  5. 64 votes
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    6 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Build carbon neutral new buildings  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    Vancouver’s Solar Homes Pilot is offering $4300 towards the cost of solar hot water systems in Vancouver – this is roughly 50 per cent of the cost of a system. The funding is available to 30 homes on a first come, first served basis. In order to qualify for the rebate, your system must be installed by December 31, 2010.

    Beginning January 1, 2011, we will be offering $3,000 towards the cost of a qualifying system. Systems must be installed by February 15, 2011.

    Will consider extension of program to other areas/technologies.

    Details here: http://vancouver.ca/sustainability/SolarHomes.htm

    Arthur G. supported this idea  · 
  6. 6 votes
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    0 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Use less water  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Arthur G. supported this idea  · 
  7. 13 votes
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    3 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce waste  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    This is only a good idea if everyone then composts the shopping bags and returns the captured nutrients to the earth (or to some other useful application). Otherwise we'd just be co-opting primary productivity (that likely could have been used for something else), creating competition, and syphoning fertility from our soils into our landfills, which might ultimately be worse than just using normal plastic bags in the first place.

  8. 171 votes
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    9 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Reduce greenhouse gas emissions  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    This is definitely one of the big ones: community-integrated energy systems (of various kinds). We already have the technology for them; they make use of balanced economies of scale; and they allow access to resources (inputs) and methods that would be inaccessible at the single unit level and rather unwieldy at the city level. Plus, they tend to operate using more naturalized (nature-linked or nature-mimicking) systems.

  9. 506 votes
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    12 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Encourage local food  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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    Arthur G. commented  · 

    This is the sort of thing that could/should really define the heart of a vibrant city center/square/etc. Too bad most of the space down there is at a premium, where there's even space for this type of thing at all. Still, here hoping.

  10. 314 votes
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    11 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Use less water  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Arthur G. supported this idea  · 
  11. 9 votes
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    0 comments  ·  GC 2020 » Create green jobs  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Arthur G. shared this idea  · 

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