How Peer Pressure Makes Us Greener

It worked for smoking and seat belts; now social marketing can change your eco-habits, too.

ON A JUST-ABOVE FREEZING MORNING in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the residents of Collins Street emerge from their Victorian homes, lugging bags and bins to the curb. It’s garbage day, not normally cause for anxiety, but on this particular day in April 2007 people may be feeling a little exposed. For the first time, their week’s trash will be on display in newly mandated clear garbage bags. The worry is not so much that the neighbours will get a peek into the refuse of their private lives (residents are allowed a single opaque “privacy bag” for anything embarrassing), but that if a bag contains any trace of organics or recyclables, haulers will mark it with an orange sticker and leave it at the curb, branding its owner as the neighbourhood eco-boob. Continue reading

Fort Chipewyan’s Strange Sickness

Downriver from northern Alberta’s oilsands, the people of Fort Chipewyan have been taking ill and dying. The province says nothing’s wrong. The community’s residents beg to differ.

THE CATHOLIC CEMETERY IN FORT CHIPEWYAN, Alberta is not grand or granite-studded, but it is getting full. Steve Courtoreille tells me this on a cold April morning as he leads me through the picket-fenced plots in search of his nephew’s grave, which isn’t immediately apparent after the previous night’s snowstorm. “It used to be that we buried our old people,” he says, “but now we’re burying the young.” We stop at an unvarnished wooden cross hung with fake-flower wreaths. Pressed into the wood, a gold plaque reads: “Grant Sterling Remi Courtoreille: Only the good die young.” Continue reading

Melting the Myth

As global warming shrinks Arctic sea ice cover, sovereignty experts are fretting about a less perilous Northwest Passage. Will rising temperatures invite a parade of foreign cargo ships through the sought-after sea route?

IN A SHOWY DISPLAY OF CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY, defence minister Bill Graham stirred a minor uproar this summer when he took a chopper to a forlorn speck of rock between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. By stepping on Hans Island, Graham revived a decades old spat with the Danes, who say the island is part of Greenland, and accordingly Danish territory. Since the 1970s both counties have periodically sent a delegation to the barren rock to plant flags and flaunt their dominion. “Welcome to the Danish Island,” read a note Denmark’s minister of Greenland affairs left on a visit in 1984, stuck to a bottle of brandy. Continue reading