Thursday, August 28, 2014

Renewable Energy in Germany

There are a few countries that have begun taking initiatives in moving towards more renewable sources of energy. One of those countries is Germany. Germany has been one of those countries that have actively participated in bringing newer and more sustainable sources of energy to the forefront, and thus, they have put themselves into a potentially favourable position for the present, as well as the future.

In the first half of 2014, Germany has “generated 31 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources” [1]. “The U.S. produces far more renewable energy than Germany in terms of quantity. But as a percent of total energy production, America falls short.” [2] Germany has been a major proponent of change into renewable energy, especially after the Fukushima crisis in 2011. Germany has been a major country that has brought forth the future of energy, and in doing so, they have positioned themselves as a strong environmental power going forward.

There have been many drawbacks to these renewable sources of energy in Germany. Ultimately, it has been a very expensive ordeal, and it has cost more than benefited at this point. “Germany’s residential electricity cost is about $0.34/kWh, one of the highest rates in the world. About $0.07/kWh goes directly to subsidizing renewables, which is actually higher than the wholesale electricity price in Europe.” [3]. Also, the over-utilization of coal due to the current underwhelming power of renewable energy can have a negative impact on the environment [4]. This can pretty much even out the net gain from renewable energy, and even cause it to be somewhat pointless. This needs to be addressed as well. Even though there can be a long-term benefits, there are many current issues that can deter many countries from taking part in solar energy. More information on these issues can be found here.

Germany have definitely been progressive actors towards more renewable sources of energy, but there have been many costs to this change as well, especially for the short-term. The sheer cost of these projects is tremendous, as opposed to modern sources of energy. The main question going forward will be in how renewable energy can become more affordable. If it is not affordable, it will be difficult to make it wide-spread. That should be a major focus going forward. Nonetheless, Germany has been a major agent of change in the move towards more renewable types of energy, and if done correctly, it can be a benefit in the long-term.

[2] ibid.
[4] ibid.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kinder Morgan- Issues with Workers Safety (Part Two)

REX had a joint venture with, “Kinder Morgan (50 percent ownership), Sempra Pipelines & Storage (25 percent) and Phillips 66 (25 percent)”[1]. There were many accidents with REX. In, “Nov 11,2006, in “Cheyenne”[2], there was a “blade [that] struck an existing pipeline causing a rupture and explosion”[3]. Kinder Morgan did not ensure safety for those workers and during that crash there was no “yellow warning flags”[4] that could have been an indication for the employees. The sad part is that one of those workers in the first incident died in another “construction of REX West”[5].

Again, there are many problems to this story. One of them is that Kinder Morgan has not been able to adapt and learn from their mistakes throughout the countless incidents that they have initiated. Kinder Morgan has never changed their habits, and they have been told on countless times to use safety precautions. Nevertheless, Kinder Morgan still makes those same problems, and everyday citizens have to pay for the cleanup of oil spills, ruptured pipes, and explosions.

The second problem, which ties into the first problem, is workers safety. Kinder Morgan is not looking out for the best interest of their employees. Employees, who work for Kinder Morgan, have died or have been severely injured because of Kinder Morgan’s safety issues. BC residents should not look the revenue that BC can make, but look at the problems of having a pipeline in BC. 

Can we really afford an oil spill that will cost this province millions of dollars? Can we deal with BC residents, who work for Kinder Morgan, dying or getting severely injured from these pipelines? Those are the questions that we should all be asking.

[1] North American Oil&Gas Pipelines, “Rockies Express Pipeline Gets A Second Chance”, Feb 25,2014 Web. 22 Aug 2014.
[2] Tar Sands Free BC, “Fatal Explosion puts Kinder Morgan’s Past in Spotlight”, Sept 15th,2008 Web. 22 Aug 2014.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.

Written by: Inderpal Brar

Monday, August 18, 2014

Solar Power- Advantages vs Disadvantages

There are many benefits and drawbacks that can be made for solar power.

Once again, solar energy offers many things, including “lower electricity bills”, it’s “environmentally friendly”, as well the fact that very “low maintenance is needed” to run it [1].

There are some drawbacks to solar energy though. It helps the environment, but at the same time, it can potentially damage it as well. It takes quite a bit of space to build these solar energy panels, which can destroy local flora and fauna [2]. Also, long power and energy lines are needed for solar power, which can affect the environment and landscape in many different ways as well [3]. The question remains, are these drawbacks big enough to prevent solar power? Especially since the drawbacks from modern sources of power can negatively affect the environment in much stronger ways.

Modern energy sources lead to greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere. Fossil fuel is a limited source in this world. It’s not as abundant as everyone thinks it is, and eventually, it will run out. The sun, on the other hand, is an abundant resource that has a nearly unlimited amount of power for the long-term [4]. Using solar power does not affect the sun, or damage the sun, and it also does not damage the environment to the extent of modern energy sources. The lack of pollution that comes from solar power also trumps modern energy sources [5], and the fact that it can be used effectively in remote and poverty-stricken areas also is a major advantage [6].

So why the heck haven’t we completely shifted over to this form of power? It all comes down to economics and business. That is the only correct answer, because the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks in this instance.

[1]Green Stories: Why Solar Energy is Good, Go Green.
[2] Nathan Chandler, How does solar power help the environment?
[3] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.

Written by: Shaun Kular

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kinder Morgan- Issues with Workers Safety

The funny part is that Kinder Morgan does not just not break trust to the community, they break the trust to workers safety as well. With any company, having a safe working place is vital to the workers, the workers families, the public, and also for the reputation of the company. Kinder Morgan failed at this in Walnut, California, “Nov 9.2004…when Mountain Cascade back hoe operator was installing water district…punctured a high pressure Kinder Morgan pipeline”[1]. Killed in the blast were five workers[2]; and also a “fireball injured”, four others[3]. Luckily, Kinder Morgan , “reached separate civil settlements”[4]. Kinder Morgan, as usual had, “two, “serious willful”, violations of California worker safety….not marking the pipeline accurately”[5]. In my opinion, if I were a worker, or a family member of a worker in BC, I would be very cautious in Kinder Morgan hiring me, for the Kinder Morgan Pipeline project. The reason why is that as an employee for a company that has a history of not protecting their employees, and not always taking all the precautionary measures for my safety and well being, it would scary for me to work for them in any capacity.

[1] Lee.K Henry,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5], officials Dole out Fines in Fatal Pipeline Explosion,, May 5,2005.

Written by: Inderpal Brar

Monday, August 11, 2014

Solar Power- A potential alternative (Part One)

Solar Power is an interesting, yet feasible option to many of the ongoing environmental issues throughout the world. This is especially the case, since the sun has such an abundant amount of energy that won’t be found anywhere else on Earth.

Solar energy offers many things, including "lower electricity bills", it’s "environmentally friendly", it’s a "renewable energy source" as well as the fact that very "low maintenance is needed" to run it [1]. It’s a wonder as to why solar energy has not been implemented, or is it?

Ultimately, alternative energy is the way of the future. With sustainability starting to become a more prominent factor worldwide, sustainable energy and waste solutions will continue to rise to the forefront. Solar energy is a major catalyst for this, as it can help be an innovator in this industry. It can bring a sound source of power to nearly every country in the world, which can lead to potential advances in other industries, as well a boost to the international economy.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline is dangerous to the environment and their reputation speaks for themselves. As said in a previous article on this blog, disasters such as in Suisun Marsh have proven that Kinder Morgan can’t be trusted. The Kinder Morgan CEO also discussed how solar energy is not viable in an interview [2]. Is that honestly that surprising?. When their ultimate goal is money and power, the environment takes the 2nd place prize. This needs to change fast. Options such as solar energy and sustainable practices need to come to the forefront, or else these environmental disasters will continue, and only devastation can occur from here. It may be a more difficult process than the current models of energy and power, but ultimately, it is a necessity in order to preserve the environment as well as the Earth itself!

[1]Green Stories: Why Solar Energy is Good, Go Green.
[2]Reuben Ramirez, Kinder: wind, solar not the answer to U.S. energy needs, Reuters, June, 2009

Written by: Shaun Kular

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Interview with Westcoast Plastic Recycling- Peter

Recently we spoke with Peter from Westcoast Plastic Recycling

Tell us a bit about your company?
-Westcoast Plastic Recycling company was established in 2008. The initial purpose was that we saw a niche in the market. We started by operating as a film plastic recycling company. We provided storage containers to companies at no cost to them. Pickups at no cost to them as well. We've been running free plastic recovery program for 4 years, but recently just starting charging for them due to the China Plastic Policy.

We also do source separation. Market has crashed due to the China Plastic Policy. Have to introduce small fee to do it. Started with 1-2 trucks, now at 10-12 in 2014.

-In BC, there used to be just 1 other. Now there are 3 of us. As soon as the market gets better, more upstarts may join in. In last 5 years, I've seen 6-7 companies go out of business.

Any advice for students?
-Stay on top of current events and become independent members of  the recycling council of BC. Do a lot of networking. Have a lot of drive, get out there, and network

Do you think sustainability is important?
-Sustainability is the future. Without recycling practices, it will be difficult for future generations. Needs to be done now!

Internships/work experience?
-Have not yet, but doesn’t mean we won't in the future

What does sustainability mean to you?
-Proper business practices that enables you to continue to do business in the future. Making sure that it is around for future generations.
- In Vancouver, many people are really green. Important to be making money, helping the environment and being socially conscious at the same time.

Thanks to Peter for taking part in this interview!




Friday, August 8, 2014

Stories of Kinder Morgan- A partner that can't be trusted

Stories of Kinder Morgan- A partner that can’t be trusted.

One goal that all small businesses and corporations must have in order to sell products or services is they must build trust within the community that they work in. Just like how a boyfriend trusts his girlfriend not to cheat on him, and vice-versa. Municipalities, citizens, and workers must trust Kinder Morgan, just like a partner or spouse. The problem is the Kinder Morgan has lied, and cheated on the municipalities, citizens and the workers on several different occasions.

Here are the oil spills casualties for those sad girlfriends and boyfriends.

Failed relationship story 1: 2004-Suisun Marsh, California

Suisun Marsh, California has one of, “largest saltwater wetland in the western United States and is a sensitive habitat.” [1] The first thing a good oil company would say is, “Okay, there are wetlands here and species, so we should be really cautions and aware these problems”. However, Kinder Morgan did not have the moral duty or soul at that time to even think about that; especially after, “123,774 gallons tarred shorelines and affected or killed mammals and birds”, in 2004[2].

Kinder Morgan soon said, “We've taken a number of actions to improve operations and accountability. "[3] That’s pretty sweet, cute, and caring for Kinder Morgan, who makes billions of dollars to finally care for the poor town of Suisun Marsh, and help find better ways after spilling thousands of gallons of oil into Suisun Marsh’ s water, and habitat, effectively damaging the environment and many species within that area.

[1] Scott Marshall, Kinder Morgan to pay $5.3 million for fuel spills, Contra Costa Times, May 21/2007.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

                                          Here are some pictures, of Suisun Marsh, California oil spill.

Written by: Inderpal Brar

Monday, August 4, 2014

Interview with Clover Salon- Jen

This week, we spoke to Jen from Clover Salon. This is our interview with her

Tell us a bit about your company?
Our company is Clover - earthkind salon. We focus on sustainable practices, high waste diversion (99.8% this year) and commit to clean and cruelty-free beauty products and services.

When was this company founded?

Who started it?
Myself and my then business partner.

What advice would you give to youth who are looking to go into a similar field?
Salons are a tricky project and sustainable ones even more so. You are nothing without your clients and staff, and nothing to them if you don't remain sincere and loyal to your concept and practices. If anyone were to consider opening a sustainable or environmentally sound salon, I would simply tell them to have a strong outline for their concept and to stay true to it. And research. A lot of research has to be done to educate yourself about companies, ingredients and services available to be sure you can always answer to inquiring minds. It took me years to learn about chemical content and solid environmental practices and I have still barely scratched the surface. Dive right into it and go as far as you can. The world is full of earth-friendly options of you just work hard to look for them.

Do you think it is important for youth to get involved in sustainable practices? Why?
It is extremely important for youth to get involved in sustainability. Youth haven't yet adopted bad habits that are hard to break or the lack of desire to change. They could create a lifetime of environmentally responsible choices and behaviours by getting involved at a younger age. These behaviours could create more responsible companies, families, individuals etc. that would end in a cleaner, less carbon footprint laden planet for all.

Potential for internships/paid work experience at your company?
This is something I have always wanted to do, but haven't had the opportunity. I wouldn't want to start someone out casually and haven't yet been able to formulate what kind of work needs to be done alongside what would benefit them. As soon as I can get those things in place I may start looking.

In a general sense, what does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means, as cliche as it sounds, to leave things well enough alone. It means to work from what is abundant on the earth and to not to make it necessary to make product anew and from new and/or toxic components. Repurpose, reuse and recycle!

Any closing comments?Beware of greenwashing. I can't tell you how many company names or products include the word "organic" or "enviro-" that are anything but. Educate yourself to avoid the toxins and waste of money.

Special thanks to Jen for this interview!