Tag Archives: canada

Home again

8 Feb

I’m back at my alma mater for a rotation.

It’s been really interesting to see how it’s done in Canada. I’m at a new hospital, at an academic center, with slightly less sick patients, so it is a biased look, but hearing the great talks and hallway lectures from the attendings about research and studies, and questions still unanswered, has reminded me of how fun and exciting it is to do research, and to have a project that you really own and shape.

I was pretty sad this week, as I thought seriously about whether to go back to Canada or the US for residency. Even though I’m back “home” where I lived for 6 years, being away from NYC, which has been home for the last year and a half, has me feeling a bit lonely as I get used to my new placement. I felt sad thinking I might feel lonely the next years, through residency and potential fellowship, as I keep moving place to place, and still don’t know where I want to and where I can or where I will settle and make my home.

But I just got to keep reminding myself that things change, and to enjoy this moment.

It’s snowy outside, and pretty cold, but life is good.

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asbestos and what’s fair

24 Jul

Asbestos is a known killer. Exposure to it increases the risk of lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. If you’re a smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer go up 1000x. It also increases risk of mesothelioma, which pretty much only happens to people exposed to asbestos.

The problem with asbestos is that it’s made of tiny fibers, which lodge in the lungs. The body isn’t good at dealing with foreign substances – can’t kill it like it would kill a bacteria, can’t break it down because of it’s synthetic make up – so it just engulfs it then stores it away. It builds up, and the reaction surrounding cells have to it can cause major (i.e. fatal) problems down the road.

Asbestos doesn’t just affect people exposed to it directly at work. It also increases cancer risks in the families of people who have been exposed to asbestos, even if the family members themselves weren’t directly exposed. It’s because asbestos fibers stay on the clothes of the exposed people, and they in turn go home and expose their families to it, along with anyone else who has a lot of contact with them.

Asbestos used to be used in developed countries, like Canada, as an insulator. Once the detrimental health effects became obvious, asbestos was banned from being used anymore. Many institutions have tried to replace asbestos in buildings, but in many cases it’s just left alone because disturbing it would put the people removing it at risk.

Asbestos is a major export from Canada, particularly from the city in Quebec called … Asbestos. Exports go to developing countries that have not banned it’s use, like India and China. While people who work with Asbestos in Canada are wearing full body suits, workers in India and China are equipped with just bandanas. Unfair? Or their fault?

It’s been tough times for everyone, especially small towns without diverse industries to rely on. Asbestos is a small town in Quebec which took a big hit when its asbestos mine was shut down earlier this year. But now that it’s reopening, thanks to this government grant.

Check out this quick-read article  written by a Canadian senator on what the dealio is on the thing called asbestos, a town called Asbestos, developing countries, and what’s good for Canada versus what’s right.

the link: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Asbestos+gets+lease+death/6895798/story.html#ixzz21Yh1tVKV

Swearing in the House of Commons is news

15 Dec

Environment Minister Peter Kent chides the other parties for not having been in Durban at the recent UN Climate Conference.

This is despite the fact that he is directly responsible for their absence, as he banned them from attending as part of the Canadian contingent (it is not unusual for opposition parties to be included, allowed to attend).

Justin Trudeau swears at Environment Minister Peter Kent then later apologizes.

“And I think the opposition has its back against the wall and doesn’t know what to do,” [University of Ottawa political science expert Michael Behiels] said. “Not a single opposition amendment has been accepted. Everything they try to do is basically laughed at, dismissed. So the opposition MPs have had it, and it’s just pouring out.”

Frustration all around.

Read more here.

Are the tar sands “ethical oil”?

14 Dec

Quotes from David Suzuki’s thoughts on the question: “Can oil be ethical?

Two days after he was appointed federal environment minister, Peter Kent […] trumpe[d] Alberta’s tar sands as “ethical oil“. We rightly criticize oil-producing countries that support or indulge in violence, murder, oppression of minority groups and women, and so on. But because Canada does not overtly support or indulge in such practices, does that mean our oil is more ethical? Levant acknowledges that exploiting and using fossil fuels has environmental impacts. Does that mean there is a hierarchy of ethical practices or that one ethical practice cancels out other unethical activities?

The application of ethical standards in our purchase and use of products should be applied universally and not selectively. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol, which became international law. When Jean Chrétien signed the document, he did so not as a Liberal but as the prime minister of Canada. This meant that, as a nation, we were committed to achieving the targets set by the agreement. On becoming leader of a minority government, Harper declared his intention to ignore Canada’s commitment. Is it ethical to ignore an internationally binding legal commitment? This is even more astonishing in light of Prime Minister Harper’s outspoken commitment to law and order.

Canada is one of the highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases. Our rapidly melting permafrost releases massive amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane, amplifying our contribution to the global crisis of climate change. Alberta’s tar sands require enormous amounts of energy and water to extract, further compounding Canada’s already excessive emissions. Is there not an ethical component to our demand for a greater share of the Earth’s atmosphere than most other nations? Rapid exploitation of Canada’s tar sands — by companies from countries including theU.S., Korea, and China — is not crucial for our nation’s survival or even well-being, yet we ignore the impact on the rest of the world. If that isn’t unethical, I don’t know what is.

Stop The Tar Sands

14 Dec

Not surprising but still ultimately sad. The guardian’s take here, which nicely sums up the (non)-repercussions of backing out of Kyoto at this point, and what it would have taken to meet Kyoto (it’s true that by now it was way too late).

From PostNoBills:

The Canadian government currently lead by Prime-Minister Stephen Harper is not gambling with our future, gambling implies that we are unsure of the result, Stephen Harper, his governement and the governemnt of Alberta lead by current premier Alison Redford as well as the various vested buisness interests are plainly and simply destroying our environment. Here are a couple of quick facts: About 90% of the water used to process the Tar Sands ends up in acutely toxic tailing ponds that line the Athabaska River and threaten the health of the whole river basin. For every barrel of oil extracted, six barrels of tailings are produced.  [Steph: For every 1 barrel of oil extracted, 3 barrels of water are used.] According to a recent Environmental Defense report, the ponds are already leaking over 11 million litres a day of contaminated water into the environment. Should proposed projects proceed on schedule, 2012 would see a five-fold increase, to over 25 billion litres a year.

For such a vast and beautiful country, full of boreal forrests and fresh water it is quite sickening that we are also responsible for one of the largest projects that is causing such catastrophic environmental damage to the entire planet. It comes as no surprise that Canada’s current political leaders would be withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocal. When you’re running one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emisions it makes no business sense to have to pay for it, does it? The fight is not about Kyoto now, it is about stopping the tar sands. How much more of the future are we willing to forsake to run the present day. We should be talking about sustainability not profitabilty.

postnobillz

“It’s in the way we live our lives exactly like the double-edge of a cold familiar knife and supremacy weighs heavy on the day it’s never really what you own but what you threw away and how much did you pay?”
Greg Graffin

20111212-204443.jpg

Today it was announced that Canada will be withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. It’s not too hard to see why, all one has to do is look towards Alberta and the Oil Sands. “The Alberta Oil Sands Operation are the largest single point source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada” Source, desmogblog.com If current development plans proceed, by 2020 the Tar Sands will release twice as many greenhouse gases as are currently produced by all the cars and trucks in Canada.

The Canadian government currently lead by Prime-Minister Stephen Harper is not gambling with our future, gambling implies that we are unsure of the result, Stephen…

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