Letters to the Editor for the week of October 3 

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Bullying needs to be talked about openly

I was glad to see "The 4-1-1 on Bullying" article in Pique last month (Sept.19, 2019), particularly because I just have heard about another case happening in Whistler. How disappointing and discouraging is that!

"Bullying is a group process. It happens in the peer group. It's not just between two kids. It actually involves everyone in the community," [stated Dr. Jennifer Trach in the feature.]

If that is correct, it includes parents of the bullies! So what is their involvement in this situation of verbal abuse?

Have they talked to their child and have they asked their child what is the reason for them to hurt their schoolmate(s) the way they do? Have they been invited to school to meet with the other parents? I certainly would hope so!

Perhaps some answers to my questions will come in a future article on bullying. Let's continue with this subject and have a look into the Code of Conduct [at the schools] and what exactly the outlined expectations and the approaches used [are] in responding to misconduct.

The kids that bully must have problems themselves in their own families and they need help as well. They aren't happy and kind kids.

To have them sign a contract is a bandage and not a solution to a problem. Clearly, in many cases, bullying continues.

"It takes a village to raise a child." That is absolutely correct. It would be interesting to speak to the bullies and their parents themselves, don't you think? To have the bully repeat what he/she has said on school grounds to your child in front of his/her own parents and in front of you.

It is ironic that parents of the bullied children are sometimes forced to pull their children out of the school system. Shouldn't that be the other way around? Shouldn't it be the bullies pulled out of the system so as to not harm others?

Well, I leave the above with all of you as food for thought and invite everybody that has ever been involved in similar situation to have their voice be heard.

Katarina Schreyer // Whistler

Thinking about our priorities

On top of page 13 (in Pique's Sept 26 issue), we read the title "Caring about climate change is a necessity, not a trend."

[Writer] Megan Lalonde provides us a gentle reminder that we must change our habits and change our behaviour in order to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

I measured the characters of the article's [headline]; they are four to six millimetres high. Further down on the same page we read the announcement that "IT'S ATV SEASON!" The characters are 17 mm high.

No wonder we are not getting anywhere in meaningfully addressing global warming.

Thomas DeMarco // Whistler

It is simply better for the planet

It seems like everyone is jumping on the "go vegan, anti-meat bandwagon" lately, and for good reason. The U.K., France, Ireland and Canada have all formally recognized a climate emergency and animal agriculture is one of the top contributors of carbon emissions.

In the U.S., studies show 42 per cent of carbon emissions are produced by animal agriculture, and two thirds of this is from ruminants, which, according to Greg Funk's letter last week (Pique, Letters to the Editor," Sept. 26, 2019), have roamed the Earth for "God knows how long."

But have they roamed in such high numbers before? In a paper (World Agriculture: towards 2030/2050 [FAO, 2006]), they estimate that livestock populations have grown at a rate of 2.4 per cent while human population growth is at 1.2 per cent. Considering cattle were not introduced to the U.S. and Australia until the late 1700s, "We have had large ruminant animals on the Earth for God knows how long" seems a moot point.

But aren't plants just as destructive to forest and grassland? Mono-cropped grains require strict conditions to grow and require vast amounts of land, which impacts the local ecosystem. Often insects, mice, foxes, rabbits and birds are hurt in this process and is exactly the reason why a plant-based diet is less impactful to these species.

Seventy per cent of all soy grown in the U.S. is used for animal feed and five per cent of the world is vegan, which makes it easy to deduce who's using all the soy and requiring the most land (clue: It's not tofu) [US Department of Agriculture www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/coexistence-soybeans-factsheet.pdf].

Simply put, humans consume a fraction of all the plants grown on the Earth compared to animals and by switching to a plant-based diet, your total consumption of plants is reduced by staggering amounts. Varied studies show that between 70 to 85 per cent of global calories are provided from plants, with the remaining 15 to 30 per cent coming from animals.

Global farmland can be reduced by almost three quarters and we would be able to feed the entire world on plant-based diets. We devote 50 per cent of the total land on Earth for a fifth of our calories? The math just doesn't add up, meat is simply not an efficient provider of energy.

But is it safe? Like any diet you need to consume the right nutrients. Eighty-two per cent of patients with heart disease that switched to a plant-based diet had reductions in Atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries) whereas 53 per cent of the control group sticking to a meat-based diet had increased plaque build-up. If you're eating Beyond Burgers for every meal, you might face some issues but as Greg said last week, eat the most natural you can—plants.

The next time you're tossing up the choice between a grass-fed steak and a black-bean burger, just remember the size of the footprint meat production has.

Have a handful of beans, do your arteries a favour, and spare the life of an animal that doesn't need to die. It's better for you, it's better for the cows, it's better for the planet.

Zane Taylor // Whistler

Educate on making a change for the climate

It's just great that people are waking up to climate change. In the '60s, we had hippies who demanded change. Yeah, but they became materialistic yuppies. Gen X was completely ignored because yuppies couldn't share the limelight. Gen Y/Millennials are now leading the charge from the comfort of what has been handed down to them. Maybe they will make the transformation to a better planet. What can we do to support their efforts?

I used to live in a part of the planet where homes didn't need heating. Heck, my shower in the morning was warm without turning the hot water on just because of the climate. If I were hot, I would go swimming and dive down to where the water layer was colder than the ambient temperature. That was my A/C.

I used to travel for weeks at a time to places that didn't have electricity, cell service or plumbing. The people living there weren't starving, but they did spend hours and hours every day on the hunt for their next meal. Sometimes taking the bus to the city and foraging through garbage dumps. Their life expectancy was lower than ours. Much lower.

We live in a place that we shouldn't be living. It is cold. Imagine Toronto without LNG in the winter. Human popsicles. No seriously. Millions would die. Whistler without natural gas? Please direct me to the nearest hotel or restaurant that doesn't use it.

So here we are, at the teat of fossil fuels. Our lives are better. We live longer. We are pretty happy, aren't we?

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is urging us to cut back on one car trip to work a week. The same RMOW that has 250 pieces of equipment in its fleet, with only 10 running on alternative fuels. Two-stroke engines fuel our landscaping and quads rip around with massive carbon footprints. The same RMOW funds millions into tourism without building alternative transportation options for our visitors. Yet I am to blame for our ever-increasing carbon footprint because I drive my car to pick up my daughter from her activities? Come on. Give me a break.

To quote Mark P. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern: "Politicians and pundits like to invoke 'moonshot' language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently."

So much for every electoral campaign promise this autumn.

We rant and we rave. Energy solutions will take a transgression of ideology funded by innovation or by disaster. Probably the former so long as it's profitable in the next financial quarter. That's reality.

So, closer to home. What can we do to decrease our lust for gasoline? Here are some easy solutions with which we might begin:

1. Fund a transit solution to carry people from the Lower Mainland to our hamlet.

2. Instead of just advertising how great our town is to visitors, also delineate how there are options to travelling here.

3. Reduce parking spaces. Induced demand proves that if you build it then it will be used.

4. Change the entire fleet of municipal vehicles to electric.

5. Get rid of all two-stroke engines through a municipal bylaw.

6. Don't blame storeowners for leaving their doors open or hotels for having outdoor pools. They are the economic engines of this town.

7. Lobby the provincial government to make changes in the investment policies of the BCI towards funding clean energy start-ups instead of Uruguayan forestry companies as an example.

I submit that we need to educate more and that you have the funds to do it locally.

Patrick Smyth // Whistler

Fundraising thanks

Eight local Grade 9 and 10 students who are participating in the Sister City Youth Exchange Program with Karuizawa, Japan held a fundraiser last week to support our trip.

We would like to thank the many local businesses who supported our trip, including Creekbread, which offered a great venue and a donation from the evening's sales and the following businesses who donated silent auction items: Alpine Prints; Armchair Books; Corona Excavations; Escape! Whistler; Fairmont Chateau Whistler; Hammer Coffee; Ingrid's Village Café; Integrated Design Studio; Meadow Park Sports Centre; Milestone's, Mount Currie Coffee Co.; Nesters Market; Nicole's Aromatics; Old Spaghetti Factory; Pasta Lupino; Quantum Health; The Raven Room; Ryders Eyewear; Samurai Sushi; Scandinave Spa; Slope Side Supply; Sushi Village; Whistler Eco Tours; Whistler Golf; Whistler Granola; The Wildflower Restaurant; Whistler Sport Legacies; YES Tour; and Ziptrek Eco Tours.

Arigato!

David Peatfield, Lauren Hamm, Jacob Donohue, Savannah O'Heany, Robin Minton, Zen Moses, Addie Crawford and Gracie Crawford // Whistler

Understanding plant-based choices

This letter is a response to Greg Funk, who wrote in last week regarding the plant revolution we are in the midst of (Pique, "Letters to the Editor," Sept. 26, 2019).

Greg, thank you so much for opening dialogue regarding veganism. There are a lot of myths and confusion about this lifestyle and it is absolutely the right time to bring this up publicly. The more conversations about this movement, the better.

You certainly make some valid points, but when you refer to "the loudest voices," it is unclear whom you are referring to.

Dr. Tara Garnett, co-author and founder of the Food Climate Research Network at Oxford University says, "when it comes to climate change, people shouldn't assume that their grass-fed steak is a climate change-free lunch. It isn't."

A Harvard report published July 2018 in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that shifting U.S. beef production to exclusively grass-fed pastured systems would require 30 per cent more cattle, the average methane footprint per unit of beef would rise by 43 per cent due to slower growth rates and higher methane conversion rates of grass-fed cattle.

There are other issues, too, such as wildlife habitat loss from greater land use, fresh water eutrophication, soil erosion, the suppression of native vegetation from overgrazing and increased nitrous oxide emissions, the study indicates.

The foods you refer to as "vegan" are key for any human's diet, and most currently consider themselves omnivores. You are putting the blame on those who eat strictly plants for land-pillaging monocultures when everyone is eating them. If you aren't eating wheat and rice, etc., then I wonder where you get your vitamin C, and fibre from (to name two of many essential food groups which you must be deficient in if you are only eating grass-fed cows' flesh)?

It is actually possible to grow these "vegan" foods in a more harmonious way. You can use organic wheat, for example, which is not raised with glyphosate and chemicals.

Fake meat is a gateway for meat eaters who are dependent on steaks to convert to a plant-based diet, kind of like methadone for heroin addicts.

If you want a case-in-point, you can come to our Creekside vegan bakery and try some delicious sourdough bread made by Ed, who had heart surgery nearly 10 years ago.

When Ed had the stent fitted, everyone else on the ward was triple his age and things did not look good for him. And Ed, like you Greg, was the kind of guy to eat only the best meat, being a fine-dining chef. He was on 12 pills a day for the rest of his life! Amazingly, Ed got off medication within three months of taking up a strict vegan diet. On his last recent check-up, he impressed the doctors with his strong heart!

I hope I have helped you better understand the plant-based revolution.

Natasha Tatton // Whistler

Boogie success

A big shout-out to our community, volunteers, local businesses and participants who supported The Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium's trail run fundraiser, The Brandywine Boogie, on Sept. 21.

This year, 2019, was our fifth year of raising funds in a fun and achievable way. In our first year, we had 45 participants. This year, we had 130 registrations—all funds go to Rotary Youth Exchange, WORCA and Zero Ceiling.

Of course, none of this can happen without the support of our key sponsor, Helly Hansen. Nor without the support of sponsors Whistler Creek Athletic Club, Back in Action Physiotherapy, Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Sabre Rentals, The Longhorn Saloon and Pique.

Thank you amazing local businesses for your ongoing support with prizes from Whistler Creek Athletic Club; Yogacara; The Scandinave Spa; The Listel Hotel; Wildflower Restaurant at The Fairmont Hotel; The Whistler Sailing Cub; Lululemon; Blackcomb Liquor Store; The Adventure Group-Ziptrek; Whistler Blackcomb-bike rental and park experience; Ecologyst; Vine and Grill at The Westin; and WORCA. Thank also to Rob at Whistler FM and to the man behind the mic, Ira Pettle, who bought that finish line to life and made sure you were all "Boogiers!"

Can't wait to see you all next year!

Shannon Kirkwood // Past President, Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium

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