Letters to the Editor for the week of October 10 

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Our health is not for sale

Consider this: $1 million in exchange for a part of your healthy body, let's say half a lung. You'll be paid over the course of your lifetime while sections of your lung are harvested each year until 50 per cent is removed.

If you're young when you sign the deal, you'll hardly notice the gradual impact on your overall health until middle age. At first, you might just notice that you're unable to keep up with your friends on weekend bike rides. Later, you might lose your breath just playing with your kids. In older age, supplementary oxygen tanks may become constant companions.

This is an extreme example that most Sea to Sky residents would answer with an emphatic "NO," no matter the price. We depend on our health in order to mountain bike or rock climb just as we depend on the mountains that make these activities possible.

[But] despite the high value we place on our health, decisions are being made all the time that sacrifice health for profits.

As a physiotherapist, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to maximize human health. My profession has realized that the injuries we treat are not as simple as we once thought. We have discovered that patients recover faster if we acknowledge the person connected to the sprained ankle we are treating.

As science continues to uncover the complex interactions between human health and our environment, we understand more and more that we are just as much a part of nature as the trees, birds, fish, rocks, water and air that we share our home with.

Our health relies on the health of our ecosystem, so as a physiotherapist, advocating for a healthy planet is more important to patient health than anything I do in the clinic.

Therefore, in the title of this letter: Our Health is Not For Sale, the word "our" includes not just humans, but all life forms that cohabit our planet.

It is unacceptable that fish in the sea share their home with a scourge of plastic waste simply because plastic is cheap and easy to produce. It is unacceptable that precious groundwater is being contaminated to liberate gas for profit. It is unacceptable that childhood asthma rates are increasing all over the world so that a select group of people can squeeze final profits out of a dying industry.

Unfortunately, many of our political leaders are still not grasping the gravity of the situation we are in and don't seem to care about our long-term health.

This is why we need to be even louder in voicing our opposition to projects like Woodfibre LNG and Trans Mountain [pipeline expansion project] and in voicing our support for a transition to a society that is sustainable and equitable for all.

The upcoming federal election offers an opportunity to voice these concerns.

Before you head to the polls on Oct. 21, take the time to learn which candidates value our long-term health and which value short-term profit at the cost of our health. Now, more than ever, we must come together to make our government understand that our health is not for sale!

Tyson Bell // Founder, Physiotherapists Uniting for Climate Action

A meaty argument

I must write a brief response to Zane and Natasha, as they responded last week to my Sept. 26 (Pique) letter to the editor.

Zane states that 42 per cent of carbon emissions are produced by animal agriculture. That is false—42 per cent of agriculture emissions come from animal agriculture. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture is only nine per cent of overall greenhouse gas emissions.

We will not get anywhere by trying to fix the small issues while ignoring the large ones. Twenty-nine per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) is produced by transportation, 28 per cent is from electricity production, and 22 per cent from industry. If we really are concerned about GHGs and climate change, let's look at the big problems. I don't hear anyone talking about taking fewer flights and travelling less.

As far as the amount of farmland needed and using less farmland for a plant-based diet, we need to look at a few things.

Cows, even if they are not purely grass fed, eat mostly grass (46 per cent of their diet), something humans cannot eat. The other parts of their diet are fodder crops, byproducts, crop residues, and only about 13 per cent are grains (check www.sacredcow.info).

As I wrote in my previous letter, grass will emit just as much methane whether it is eaten by cattle, or left to grow and rot. Also, cattle are raised on land that is not good enough to grow crops. Yes, their poop needs to be managed properly.

Soy is not something humans or cows should eat; it's very high in estrogen and has poor bioavailability.

Perhaps we should ban grass as well as cows, pave the wetlands because they too emit methane, and then stop breathing because we emit CO2.

Face it, we have an effect on the planet, but meat is something humans have always eaten, how is it now becoming wrong to do so, and how can it just now be bad for our health?

I'm sorry Natasha, were you comparing meat eating to using heroin? A human can live off one to two cows per year (and believe it or not, you can be very healthy on an all-meat diet, that is how I eat), and surprisingly, that means a lot less death than a plant-based diet.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report did not say anywhere to go vegan. It actually recommends well-raised meat. I'd recommend taking a look at the work of greenhouse-gas guru, Dr. Frank Mitloehner of UC Davis.

Also for regenerative agriculture look into the Savory Institute, and for how healthy meat is, well, I'll write another letter about that.

Greg Funk // Whistler

An honest mechanic

A huge thank you to Steven Turner owner of Local Automotive in Function Junction.

Without going into details about my long story of car trouble, Steve and his team outdid themselves, going so far beyond my expectations, that my head is still spinning.

As great and customer-friendly as many businesses in the corridor are, Steve just blew them all out of the water.

Helene Steiner // Whistler

(Full disclosure: Steven Turner is the husband of Pique editor Clare Ogilvie.)

Action, not apathy is needed

I feel I must respond to the Oct. 3 Maxed Out article in Pique, "Whistler, enemy No. 1?" and hope his real purpose was to make us think about supporting climate action.

Whistler is not the enemy. The enemy in the face of a climate crisis is ignorance, apathy, denial, procrastination and ultimately, defeatism. None of those are often seen in our community and I do not want to see any start now.

The enemy is those that dwell on reasons that they can't possibly change anything we do without causing "personal sacrifice" for ourselves. It is not about what we are doing today, but about how we must do it differently in the future to avoid expanded reliance on fossil energy, both physically and economically, locally and nationally.

How we power our economies today is obviously just the starting point and the decision now is whether we stay with our status quo and let the crisis overcome us or if we take meaningful action.

Read the "Mission Possible" proposals. Yes you might think these Green Party proposals are "overreaching" but there is a climate crisis and a crisis requires aggressive action. Since when was any major challenge overcome without ambitious goals?  

How can a transition start if we are still expanding fossil reliance? It is not just the local transitional changes to our current energy reliance, we must stop planning to expand exports that will deepen our reliance with coal port upgrades, Trans Mountain pipeline and LNG Canada facilities expansions.

What is the point of making efforts to not burn fossil fuels here just to have them exported to be burned somewhere else? If these infrastructures are constructed, I honestly do not know how we turn it around.

Might there be challenges in the transition? Likely yes, but nothing like the challenges climate consequences will wreak if actions to avoid climate change are not begun.

A local consequence may be the droughts we experience should our glaciers completely melt away. Maybe the power shortage when our hydro system fails for lack of river flow. How would a future generation of Whistler business owners, employees, visitors and residents cope? How much would it cost to mitigate if mitigation were even possible? Expansion of our fossil industry and exports that will contribute to future climate change must surely be avoided. 

To me, the "personal sacrifices" that Mr. Maxwell lists off only describe the magnitude of the crisis that should motivate us to start this transition lest future generations are left with no options at all. 

We know that continued and expanded reliance on fossil fuels will create climate consequences for our children and future generations. I hope we can prove Mr. Maxwell wrong and support making climate action a real priority in our next federal government.

I hope my generation's and Whistler's legacy will show in 2019 we realized the crisis and we were willing to start a transition. It did not require dismantling anything; we stayed optimistic, we adapted, we developed and began using alternative energy sources to fuel our economy. Visitors will go home inspired knowing that they and their home country could follow our lead. A crisis was averted. We must try.

Instead of getting behind the Green Party's admittedly ambitious proposals for future planning, Mr. Maxwell declares we are "doomed" and points out all the things that he suggests we are not "willing to even contemplate dismantling" without unacceptable sacrifice for our generation.

Isn't that an insult to the children and adults who walked in protests here and around the world pleading for climate action? Are we saying, "Sorry, boys and girls, that is just too bad?"

You say, "Screw it. Ski season is just around the corner." Greta would say "Shame on you!"

John Wood // Whistler

Ski pass should be more flexible

Are there people ... that they have issues cancelling their Epic Pass due to injury because they didn't buy the insurance?

Or people that bought the insurance and still can't cancel?

I'm one of those who didn't buy the insurance and would love to be connected with others to put some pressure on Whistler Blackcomb/Vail Resorts.

I think it's not right that you have to lose your money if you can't ski due to injury just because you didn't buy the insurance.

At least let people postpone the pass?

If it were a gym pass, they would let you postpone it if you brought a doctor's note. Why is the ski pass any different, especially if you are local and would just love to postpone it to next season when you are recovered from injury?

Sandra Banholzer // Whistler

Canada is not about labels

Canada is not a racist country and Canadians are not racist.

All Canadians do not become racists just because the odd dolt shouts or hurls racist remarks at a non-white. The abuser proclaims their stupidity and offers evidence of an improper upbringing.

Neither does the Prime Minister become a racist because he chose to attend a costume party dressed in his version of a character from the Arabian Nights. It was a costume party.

Parents will have to be doubly careful every Halloween to ensure that the costumes kids choose do not sully their image and come back to haunt them years later. Some long-time Whistlerites will have to be on their guard for pictures of them in costumes from "Priest and Prostitute" parties or the Rocky Horror Picture Show parties where some males were observed making a pass at a man in a female costume dressed by his wife and makeup artist. So why did the media make such a big deal about costumes Justin Trudeau wore many years ago?

What I find particularly egregious is how both print and electronic media choose to describe non-anglo Canadians, such as Native or First Nation Canadians, French Canadians, Asian Canadians, South Asian Canadians, Indo-Canadians, Chinese Canadians, Japanese Canadians, Afro Canadians even though these non-whites and their families may have lived in Canada for generations.

Yet no prefix is introduced for whites who may be from, or descendants of, people from Britain, Ireland, Australia, South Africa. No prefix is used for even white newcomers. This implies that the only genuine Canadians are "anglo" whites.

It is time to drop the prefix. We are all either Canadians or we are not.

I particularly relish remembering how my friend Gerry Watson greeted me, many years ago, when he learned I was a new immigrant to Canada. He said you are a new Canadian. He did not insert a prefix. With particularly Canadian warmth and friendship, Gerry and his wife, Lois invited me to dinner with their family and we remain good friends to this day. They also gave me two tickets to the Grey Cup game.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians. We live in the best country in the world and let us not allow anyone to sully it.

Keith Fernandes // Vancouver/Whistler

FireSmart Whistler

Having called upon the FireSmart chipping program provided by the Resort Municipality of Whistler in the spring and now the fall, I would like to give a shout out to the crew; Mike, Jesse and Sean.

These three young men along with the trusty "Bandit" (the chipper) made short work of my, and my neighbour's, pile of potential combustible debris. 

Start planning your "chipper day," it's a nice feeling seeing, hearing and smelling your tax dollars at work.

Tom Thomson // Whistler

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