Saturday, January 31, 2009

Green Recession Casualty Not Helped by Stimulus Package

While Wall Street execs and banking barons are busy lining their pockets with bailout cash, stories of green companies failing due to the recession are already coming in.

Hope that half-baked government relief plans will be of any use is slim.

Case in point: Railpower Techonologies, of Brossard, Quebec, has established itself as a viable producer of economical clean-running locomotives since 2001. However, uncertainty over the status of generous U.S. subsidies has brought the firm's new orders to a near standstill. The whole economic mess coming in the middle of a 55,000 sq. ft. contruction project in St. Jean sur Richelieu.

According to a January 28 press release, Railpower has just laid off 50 people, over a third of its workforce, and is looking at all sorts of funding and financing options, including outright sale of the business.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Eco-Art: Strategy for a planet with special needs

As parents of a child with special needs, we at the Co2-Art team have become involved in a non-profit organization seeking to enhance the services for children and adults with special needs in our particular community.

At the present time, our special needs community is developing its organizational strategy. Interestingly, we have found great conceptual parallels between this work and the eco-art movement.

The overt commonalities would be things like projects that would be shared by both endeavors, such as creating mosaics with discarded ceramics.

Other interesting angles include the long-term economic benefit to society of investing in either of these fields. More on this later.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

CBC's One Million Acts of Green hits 827,000

As of just a few minutes ago, the CBC's innovative One Million Acts of Green was at 827,000, representing a reduction of 46,253,512 kg in the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

On the CBC's site, anyone who would like to participate can just specify which "act of green" they would like to do - and the site calculates their greehouse gas reduction right away.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Glacier Gone - Eco art for our times

Tatiana Iliina has the 18th Glacier Gone painting available for purchase.


The Glacier Gone series is one of Tatiana's most successful series of eco art. This is a large canvas, 30x36 inches, done with a painting knife.

Hard to believe that glaciers are melting and disappearing at an alarming rate, with the -26 January morning we've got going on out there today!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ontario in the fast lane on the way to a "better place"?

Huge announcement on the electric vehicle front today for Ontario.

Better Place, a U.S. based venture company, has entered into an agreement with the Ontario government and Canadian green electricity producer, Bullfrog Power, with the objective of fast-tracking the introduction and adoption of electric vehicles on Ontario roads and highways.

Better Place, whose backers include Montreal's Stephen Bronfman already has projects in the works in Israel, Denmark, Hawaii and Australia.

The essentials of the agreement include substantial commitments on the part of the government to come up with a plan for:

* giving incentives for purchasing electric vehicles (evs)
* providing preferred access to roads for ev users
* enabling accelerated government fleet conversion to evs
* providing public education on the topic

Better Place meanwhile, will also work on the fast tracking plan, establish their head office for Canada in Ontario and set up a public education and demonstration center.

Bullfrog has wind turbines in operation in Ontario and will provide 100% emission-free power for the project.

The actual business model for the program is the disturbing part. What they are proposing is to go with the cell phone model, forcing people to "subscribe" to their service, rather than just simply buy power as they need it.

IMO no other mainstream business, with the possible exception of the equally slimy cable TV providers, has been shadier or less trustworthy than the cell phone industry. I can just imagine the monthly bill for the Better Place... a whole page of "creative" line items... "network charges", "roaming charges", surcharges for this and that, maybe a built in CAA type of thing where you pay for service insurance, rental charges for equipment and so forth. Whatever they come up with, I'm sure it will be extensive, expensive and very profitable for the investors.

Now, let's just make sure that:

1. It is not the only choice available
2. That it is possible to control your expenses according to your driving habits and preferences

Ontario produces more vehicles than any other jurisdiction in North America, refines more oil than any province in Canada, contains 1/3 of Canada's population and is not blessed with abundant clean electrical resources. So this agreement is something of a juggarnaut.

Gonna be fun to watch. The fast-tracking report is coming out in May...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

THE ARTIST: an individual who is actively seeking solutions to improve our world

I think Alan Sonfist really hits the nail on the head in this interview by John Grande which appeared in the RSA Arts & Ecology Magazine. The role of the artist in society is evolving. Society needs artists more than ever before and I guess it would help if artists knew what they are doing!

So you would recommend as a strategy for young land and earth artists involved in the public sphere, to try venues outside the art world, natural history museums, botanical gardens and so on and so forth?

All my art involves a clear understanding of environmental issues and their unique relationship with the local community. Within the 21st century we have to redefine the role of the artist as an individual who is actively seeking solutions to improve our world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The unceremonious demise of the screen door!

Here's one that comes under the category of "the more we improve things - the worse they get".

Several years ago, houses and homes in North America commonly came with a high-tech apparatus that allowed your home to conserve its heat (or coolness) even when the door was OPEN!

This clever innovation was called a "screen door".

These doors used to fit on the most exterior side of an ordinary door frame. The screen door was usually fitted with sliding glass or plexiglas windows and screens, so that you could adjust them according to the weather. In summer you could leave your big old door open and let cool or fresh air come in through the screen. In colder weather, you could bring in your groceries without losing all the warm air out of your house. That's because the screen door was fitted with an ingenious "spring" system that enabled the door to close by itself even if your hands were full!

These amazing devices did not require any power supply at all, they came in a full range of colours. There were absolutely no discharges of any type into the atmosphere, except when you would get a severe windstorm that could, in rare situations, send the entire door flying down the street.

The advantages of these marvels were almost endless. Believe it or not, many screen doors could be opened and closed by regular domestic animals, without any specialized training.

Screen doors would have been exceptionally useful in these days of heightened environmental awareness, global warming, etc.

Unfortunately, the worst possible thing has happened to screen doors: they have become unfashionable and many well-informed experts actually believe they are ugly. No self-respecting modern home owner can bear the humiliation of having something ugly and unfashionable hanging right on their front entry, so, we as a society are learning to live without screen doors.

In case you have not ever seen a screen door, I have managed to discover a rare photograph of one and have included it here.

Albeit, the one pictured above is an "art" screen door (not intended for actual use on a house). It was created by Vancouver artist Rodney Graham (and subsequently purchased by the Musee d'art Contemporain in Montreal for $300,000). This is a solid sterling silver replica of a screen door that Elvis had at Graceland.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Give prizes and recognition for the worst packaging

With all the buzz about sustainable lifestyles and green living in the last few years, there have been a few packaging trends out there that are so blatantly wasteful it is a disgrace.

1. The practice of packaging all variety of different items in shiny, molded, clear plastic, one use only containers. This is so terrible. I don't know for sure why the manufacturers are going to this type of packaging. One would assume that sales are increased because the products are readily visible in a display, instead of inside a box. It seems that there may be one or more rather sinister reasons also. Number one among these, if there is no box, the item or parts of it might be easier to lose, so that customers would have to buy a replacement. The item is also more difficult to store when not in use, so often people have to go out and buy a special box for the item.

2. The practice of packaging say 12 cookies in 6 separately packaged two-packs within one box of cookies. This is just fricking unbelievable!

There should be booby prizes and plenty of recognition for the worst packaging offenders.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eco Artware - already 10 years of "deja vu"

There is a sense that recycling, conservation and sustainable lifestyles is a "new" trend. It is true perhaps that most North Americans have only become highly energized about green awareness since An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006. But recycling, of course has been around much longer. Eco Artware is one example.

This online business was founded, and featured in the Washington Post Home Section in 1999, and has not wavered from its mission of providing gifts made from reused, recycled and natural materials.

Eco Artware was founded by director Reena Kazmann and offers an interesting range of gifts produced by artists specialized in their respective areas. Resource Revival, for example, uses tons of discarded bicycle parts each year. Another supplier, Vinylux Vintage Vinyl Design, turns approximately 100,000 unplayable old vinyl record per year into bowls, snack trays, picture frames clocks and ornaments.

Now that environmental awareness has moved on to the next level, watch for a new explosion in popularity of these and similar items.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Alternative Energy: Harnessing the power of imagination

I can't be 100% sure, but I do believe I am the first to propose this concept as an alternative energy source: Harness the power of imagination.

Although many would have you believe that you could get rich and successful, or get healed, by harnessing the power of imagination, I have yet to see anyone saying that this could be a source of alternate power that could be tapped in to in order to ultimately reduce carbon emissions across the planet.

I could, and am sure I will, give you lists of things that show what I mean. Some of these concepts you might even guess, if you had the inclination. But, there is a principle that for me was a little more nuanced, so I would like to put it down here now to kick off this discussion.

Any typical power generating process begins with an investment of capital. Whether to build a coal burning plant, nuclear reactor, wind turbines, solar reactor or any other project, the first step in actual construction is the investment of capital.

This is obviously a necessary step. What is not obvious, however, is that the act of investment effectively negates imagination from the equation. Once you have a monetary commitment to a certain operation -i.e. construction of a physical plant that will perform a task for a given purpose- it becomes directly counter-productive to continue to apply imagination to the problem of supplying power for the given purpose.

After all, the given purpose should be covered by the equipment to be acquired or constructed with the investment already made, therefore, it is assumed with good reason that any further imaginative effort in that specific direction is a waste.

But, what if we look at this another way? What if we propose that, if spending capital blocks imagination... then the reverse should hold true: if you apply imagination to the equation, energy will be created directly, rather than capital spent!

I believe this equation can be proven through art. Stay tuned for another Co2-Art project!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Eco Art by Tatiana Iliina

Richmond Fossil - a tribute to 1 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge spewn into the environment on Dec. 22 08.

Co2 Art presents a new abstract work by Tatiana Iliina. This is a new installment in Tatiana's "Smoke & Steel" series of Eco Art. This abstract painting measures 30" x 36, is painted with a palette knife, and can be viewed for a limited time at the link on the right marked "marketplace".


Tatiana Iliina has several series of Eco Art that are enjoyed by collectors and art lovers throughout the world. These series include: Glaciers Gone, Rain Forest, Grand Canyon, Rising Waters and "Wet Brush - Wet Paint - Wetlands," acknowledging various ecological crises including global warming across the planet.

The unique quality of these paintings is that they may address a sombre topic, however they are visually compelling and possess a vitality that indeed celebrates the natural wonders of our planet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

After the Deluge - Post Rising Seas Surrealism

Co2-Art presents an new work by Tatiana Iliina and a new series of eco art.

Tatiana's collectors already know that her eco series never fail to be popular. Over the past couple of years her abstract and surrealistic eco series have generated interest worldwide. Her Glaciers Gone series has sold 17 original works worldwide, from South Africa to Indiana... From British Columbia to Boston.

Her new surreal cities series, exploring the concept that perhaps now only artists have the power to conceive and create sustainable habitats for humanity, have sold to galleries and collectors in Europe, Norway, the U.S. and Canada.

And now the daring and tantalizingly beautiful "After the Deluge" series addresses the ominous idea of flooded cities resulting from melting ice caps.


This painting is entitled "Crash of Breakers", a Tatiana Iliina original presented by Co2 Art. Eco Art for the Ages.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Massive coal sludge spill threatens water and health in Tennessee

Since Dec. 22, over a Billion gallons of toxic coal sludge containing arsenic, mercury, copper and other dangerous metals has swamped 300 acres of Tennessee countryside.

The spill, originating at a coal-burning power plant where a retaining wall collapsed, is 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster, and has contaminated at least one tributary of the Tennessee River with high levels of toxins.

Clean coal? Sure.

The photo above shows the toxic sludge from a previous spill, in Martin Co. Kentucky, where a 300-million gallon sludge spill was termed the "greatest environmental disaster ever" in the southeast.