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Posts from the ‘Environment’ Category

The Scales Project

The wonderful Bethany Gibson recently honoured me with an invitation to contribute something literary to her online art project, The Scales Project, “a conversation between artists … a call-and-response, a provocation, and a forum for connection and communication through art about the climate crisis and ecological collapse.” Going through the posts from other artists, I was blown away by the quality of the work, the depth of thought and insight, and the emotional power of the conversations.

 I contributed two pieces. One, “Blank Vision Board,” is an excerpt from a short story called “Mulch Glue,” about a teenaged aspiring activist who finds little support in town, where the toxic mill has economic control. The other, “Terrible Twos,” a response to Tom Cull’s excellent poem, “Anthropocene,” is about frivolity and being confronted with the knowledge of its destructiveness. At least, that’s how I read it.

If you’re an artist with something to say about climate and ecology, consider submitting something to the conversation.

Author Chris Benjamin’s 1-Minute Reading from BOY WITH A PROBLEM

Chris Benjamin & David Huebert Discuss Boy With A Problem and Humanimus

The ReCover Initiative

ReImagining the Energy Efficient Building. ReBuilding a Sustainable Economy

This story first appeared in The Laker News on November 19,2020.

BERWICK: Lorrie Rand remembers two pivotal moments leading to the creation of the ReCover Initiative, which aims to reimagine energy-efficient buildings in Nova Scotia. The first was in 2013, at a passive-house conference in Maine, where she was learning how to use smart design to build a house that uses 80 to 90 percent less energy. She attended a presentation about a program in the Netherlands that had successfully retrofitted thousands of homes to become net-zero—meaning they generate as much energy as they use for heating, hot water and electrical—at no extra cost to homeowners.

“I was like, ‘oh my gosh this is what we need!’” Rand recalls.

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Exclusive by Design

Originally published in Coastlands: The Maritimes Policy Reviewin December 2007, on pages 26-27.

By Chris Benjamin

In August I moved back to Halifax after an eight-year hiatus in Toronto. I was surprised to find that not much has changed. The north end is gentrifying somewhat and I see a few new buildings going in, but, by and large, it’s the same, slow-paced, well-spaced city I remember and love.

When I was 24, that slowness was killing me too quickly. After eight years of rushing around Toronto trying to prove how productive and hip I was, this place seems perfect. Yet, having suffered the teenaged doldrums without so much as a decent shopping mall where I could blow off steam (and money), I can appreciate the desire to liven up the place. Looking at the white flight out of this city, I can even understand the HRM by Design team’s ambitious “build it (up) and they will come (back)” dream. What I can’t understand is why they think building a bunch of steel and glass commercial towers, albeit buffered by trees and pedestrian lanes, is the way to do it.

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Climate Change and Terrorism

This story first appeared in The Coast on November 26, 2015:

Halifax to Paris, by way of Syria

Climate change is driving conflicts across the world, and we’re starting to see the results.

“When you have drought, when people can’t grow their crops, they’re going to migrate into cities, and when people migrate into cities and they don’t have jobs, there’s going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al-Qaeda and ISIS are using right now.” Read more

Just as the world agrees to climate change action, NS Liberals impose huge cuts to solar power

How short-term energy-price politics prevent us from making real progress in the fight against climate change.

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On December 14, Minister of Energy Michel Samson stood before the legislature and introduced Bill 141 – Electricity Plan Implementation Act.

“Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I’m pleased to stand for a third time to speak about this important bill…The plan and this bill are built on the input and advice government received from over 1,300 Nova Scotians, experts, and interest groups…This bill clearly puts ratepayers first.”

The bill passed. Its focus is on Read more

Environmental Columns from Halifax Magazine

The following is an excerpt from the April 2015 Halifax Magazine essay called “Time for a Revolution,” by Chris Benjamin.

Once upon a time the world waited breathlessly for someone to perfect the horseless carriage. But soon the gadgetry proved less significant than the infrastructure around it.

A German named Benz built what we now think of as the first car. But it was Henry Ford who came up with efficient means of production to make automobiles affordable for the masses.

And then you had the Read more

Colette Urban: Jan 29, 1952 – June 16, 2013

Last week I saw on my Facebook wall that it was Colette Urban’s birthday. I wrote about Colette’s work, mostly in Newfoundland, as an inspiring, environmentally conscious artist, teacher, small-scale farmer and host of eco-tourists for my book, Eco-Innovators. But she wasn’t much of a Facebook user, so I was surprised, and very saddened, to find she’d died of cancer over a year ago. A great spirit, who had a profound impact on so many, was lost.

There’s a lovely Globe and Mail memorial piece about her, which is well worth a read. But I wanted to also share what I wrote about her in my book, about what pulled her to Newfoundland, perhaps the only province as wild as her. Here it is, with fond memories of hearing her tell the tale:

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Fish farming into the future

This article originally appeared in Saltscapes Magazine‘s Summer 2014 issue.

by Chris Benjamin

I reach Red Bank Road in Hants County, NS after a blue-sky drive through sparkling frozen mudflats in high-tide country. I see a sign that says “Sustainable Fish Farming Canada.” Sustainable Blue is the company’s brand name.

The operation is 500 metres from the Bay of Fundy, near Centre Burlington. This June, its operators had hoped to sell the first Read more