Alternatives Journal

This multidisciplinary Canadian journal provides articles, research and book reviews on environmental ideas and action.

Articles from Vol. 30, No. 4, September-October

A Diamond in the Rough
THE CITY OF HAMILTON is known by a variety of names, none of them flattering. Steel Town, Steel City, Canada's Pittsburg, the Hammer--all are labels that conjure up images of a local environment compromised by a long history of heavy industrial activity....
Arsenic and Old Lakes
ARSENIC-LACED WATER may have met its nemesis. Recent studies have revealed that Pteris vittata, or ladder brake, can pull the poisonous metal out of contaminated water--at a ratio of 22 grams of arsenic per kilogram of plant matter. Researchers who...
Asbestos-It Still Makes Us Sick
CANADA HAS A DARK PAST when it comes to asbestos. Although the dangers of asbestos were documented as early as 1900, half a century passed before this information was made public. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral with a composition that makes it incredibly...
Canada's Military Landscape: Alternatives Interviews Ginger Stones, the Department of National Defence's Director General Environment
AJ When did the Department of National Defence (DND) create the Environment Division? GS It was set up as a directorate back in 1983 and then it changed to a division about ten years ago. AJ What was the motivation for starting to recognize environmental...
Corporate Invasion: Neither the Spirit nor the Letter of Their Contract Holds Water in Bechtel's Lucrative Reconstruction Deal in Iraq
TWO DEVASTATING WARS, a decade of debilitating sanctions and a recent lawless spate of looting have left the Iraqi water infrastructure struggling and, for the most part, failing to provide Iraqis with potable water. According to the United Nations,...
Dams, Guns and Refugees: Irresponsible Development and Environmental Conflicts Displace Rural People, Especially When the Tensions Lead to Violence
FIFTY YEARS AGO, Bengalis on the banks and the waters of the Karnaphuli River in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) saw something out of the ordinary. A strange small watercraft was being paddled up the river. It contained three Europeans wearing tropical...
Double Speak: Despite the Talk of Disarmament, the US Is Developing New Nuclear Weapons
IN THE PAST YEAR, reports of undisclosed uranium enrichment efforts by Iran and the discovery of a network trafficking in nuclear technologies, headed by Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist, showed a growing threat of nuclear proliferation. The International...
Ecohealth
Health: An Ecosystem Approach, Jean Lebel, Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2003. Our obsession with fixing and sustaining health care systems rests on the biomedical belief that illness can be cured and that a state of being healthy...
Eco Ingenuity
Inventing for the Environment, Arthur Molella and Joyce Bedi, editors. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2003. How have human relationships to nature changed through history? Can people learn to live harmoniously with nature? What technologies...
From the Grassroots: Lillooet Food Co-Op Still Thrives 30 Years after Its Creation
IN MY COMMUNITY we've been thinking together about food three or four times a year since the late 1970s. And we won't stop anytime soon if we have a choice about it. Acting together as a food co-op has shaped more than our eating habits. We hardly...
Hell on Earth
"WAR IS HELL." That terse summary is one common human response to military conflict. We use the word hell to describe a state of agony and anguish, a condition where the ordinary rhythms of human life are horribly suspended. But hell is also depicted...
One Cheer for DDT? Forty Years after Silent Spring, Resurgent Malaria Gives New Life to an Old Killer
THE END is clearly near for the weed man. Since 2001, when the Supreme Court decided that municipalities could regulate pesticide use, more than 60 have done so (as has the government of Quebec), even though arguments about the health effects of pesticides...
Parks for Peace: Around the Globe, Protected Areas Have Been Used Successfully as Venues for International Co-Operation
PARKS ARE RECOGNIZED as having great symbolic value for international co-operation. In 1932 the United States and Canada designated Waterton and Glacier National Parks (in Alberta and Montana respectively) as an International Peace Park. This celebrates...
Pillage and Plunder: The Vast Natural Resources of the Congo Are Once Again Fuelling War, Exploitation and Poverty-And Western Consumers Are Profiting
FOR THE BETTER PART of the past two years, Western media attention has trained an intense spotlight on Iraq. While the media fascination with Iraq is understandable, given the high drama of regime change and an occupation unraveling in the face of...
Saving the Skeena: Twenty Years Ago, a Community Rallied to Stop the Experimental Spraying of Herbicides-And Won
NEXT SLIDE. Shattered trees, spruce and cedar stumps bristling with splinters where they'd broken, severed limbs and branches, machines prowling through the debris like bears in a dump--it was vivid. I could almost smell the sawdust and hear the howl...
Spin out of Control
IN AN INCREASINGLY MEDIA-SAVVY WORLD, public relations schemes need to be more and more elaborate to pull the wool over the public's skeptical eye. When the status quo is backed against the wall or threatened with change, institutionalized creativity...
Value This
"WHY hasn't the market fixed the environment?" The leader for the environmental economics workshop leader looked across the room full of planners and engineers without expecting anyone to answer his rhetorical question. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] ...
War's Environmental Impact: Environmental Abuse Leads to Conflict and Conflict Leads to Environmental Abuse
WHEN WE THINK OF WAR, we typically (and appropriately) think of the tragic loss of human life. War also has many other economic, political and social costs, some of them tied to the environment. These environmental factors may be less obvious than...