Zack Metcalfe

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What I Would Have Said

It's been a few nights since Nova Scotia's independent fracking review passed through Halifax, addressing a frustrated and distrusting crowd of concerned citizens. These brave PhDs stood before hundreds of people and presented some unpopular conclusions...on an even less popular topic.

Fracking - the controversial process of fracturing shale rock deep underground using a toxic mixture of chemicals in order to retrieve bubbles of natural gas. We've become a profoundly desperate people, haven't we?

The public meeting was held in a lecture hall at King's College. Some people from the audience spoke out of turn, while others simply shouted over the panelists trying to deliver their findings. I was caught between sympathy for the panelists and stark agreeance with the hecklers.

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Community gardens now able to sell produce - green thumbs rejoice

One small step for community gardens, one giant leap for Halifax at large.

There are 11 community gardens in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), public spaces in which people can grow their own food, to lower the grocery bill, to satisfy their need for local produce or to put their insatiable green thumbs to work. Thanks to a progressive move by municipal council, these soil enthusiasts can now sell their hard earned fruits and veggies to the public.

Moneys earned from these sales are not pocketed by the growers, however. According to the new municipal law, all earnings must be used for the benefit of the municipality or the community gardens themselves.

"This is a major change for the city," said David Foster, program coordinator with Halifax Diverse, an initiative aiming to connect the public with urban nature. "It adds legitimacy to urban orchards and gardens...and makes them the urban equivalent to a real farm."

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PEI caught between Cavendish and a hard place

There's been a moratorium on deep water wells for over a decade on PEI. It was established in 2002 because of major drought conditions that year, linked to the overuse of groundwater by these wells.

They pose a danger to the Island in particular because its residents depends heavily on groundwater. For example, the city of Charlottetown runs entire rivers dry with its water consumption; Winter River hasn't flowed for several summers now. Clearly this is a delicate water table.

When the PEI Potato Board requested the moratorium be lifted in 2012, all fingers were pointed at Cavendish Farms as the motivator behind this request. Potatoes are a thirsty crop and if Cavendish wanted higher yields, they needed to exploit groundwater.

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Small steps save fish, big steps save rivers

By Zack Metcalfe

zack.metcalfe@gmail.com

The single greatest challenge in my life has always been avoiding despair when facing the mistakes of the last century. Several months ago I read a book called Here On Earth, by Tim Flannery, and in one chapter he describes a terrible mistake made long before I was born. The spent nuclear reactors of Russian power plants were dumped into the Arctic Ocean. Time and tidal forces will eventually penetrate their casings and cause unimaginable harm to the oceans.

Problems like this are beyond my power to rectify, as so many of the world's problems are. I imagine diving into those icy depths and hauling each reactor back onto land, but this is of course ridiculous; perhaps it's a coping mechanism.

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Nova Scotia review on fracking confirms we still know nothing

By Zack Metcalfe

zack.metcalfe@gmail.com

Even now, after several reviews of fracking in this country, we aren't certain what it's doing to our air and water. 

One such review, conducted by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), discovered the body of research into hydraulic fracturing was incomplete - there were no reliable studies on the environmental impacts.

There were reports of people lighting their tap water on fire and gas wells leaking methane into the atmosphere, but for all the panel's efforts, they couldn't deliver anything conclusive. The research simply hasn't been done.

In their conclusion they say, "authoritative data about potential [environmental] impacts are currently neither sufficient, nor conclusive."