Politics and NAFTA agreement

Illegal immigration

When negotiations for NAFTA started in 1991, Mexico had a developing economy while the United States and Canada had developed economies. The goal was to integrate the Mexican economy with those of the United States and Canada. The integration was expected to bring growth and jobs to Mexico, hopefully discouraging illegal migration.

Competitiveness

The United States and Canada hoped for an opening of new markets for their goods in Mexico. The lower cost of investment in Mexico was seen as an opportunity to improve competitiveness in the United States and Canadian companies.

The US auto industry remain competitive with Chinese competitors thanks to the reduced tariff reductions and protections of intellectual property rights in NAFTA’s agreement. This agreement allowed US auto makers to develop cross-border supply chains, contributing to increased productivity.

Lost of jobs

The NAFTA agreement had some negative impact on the job market, which is expected from any free trade agreement. Direct competition is likely to force some underperforming industries into liquidation. Jobs will be lost as a result.

Politicians seeking elected office have been using the expected job displacement to create anxiety about the agreement. They are omitting the overriding benefits for the economy and consumers due to the agreement.

Productivity

Free trade forces less efficient industries to become more efficient. It also allows more efficient industries to grow, resulting in an increase in average industry productivity.

Import competition curbs monopoly power, resulting in consumers’ benefit. The NAFTA agreement gave consumers access to cheaper goods.

Investment and trade

The US and Mexican investments in Canada have tripled. The US investments rose from $70 billion to $368 billion between 1993 and 2013.

The pact opened the Canadian economy to US markets. Canadian export to the US grew from $110 billion to 346 billion. Canada imported from the US grew about the same.

Conclusion

All trade agreements have positive and negative consequences for signatories. To focus on single aspect of an agreement without examining the overall benefits is unwise. The NAFTA agreement has a big impact on the price of consumer’s goods and survival of businesses within the trading bloc. Business leaders and consumers must make a contributions to this important debate.

Do consumers believe that the job losses amplified by politicians should jeopardize this important pact?

 

 

 

Free Trade Agreements

Objectives

Free Trade Agreements are intended to liberalize trade among member countries. The North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA)  was signed in1992 to liberalize trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Pro for NAFTA

Between 1993 and 2015, trade between the member countries from $297 billion to $1.4 trillion, which was credited to NAFTA. All three countries benefited through economic growth, profits, jobs and lowered prices for consumers.

Consumers benefited from lowered food prices resulted from the NAFTA.

Con for  NAFTA

There were many manufacturing  job losses in the US due to companies moving to Mexico to take advantage on lower wages. Between 1994 and 2010, the US had a trade deficit with Mexico of $97.2 billion dollars.

The Mexicans had their own problem with NAFTA. Serious environmental issues surfaced as a result of agribusiness using fertilizers and chemicals, resulting in costing $36 billion per year in pollution.

Both the US and Mexico have restrictions on trucks entering their jurisdiction, thus making the movement of goods more difficult.

Differences

The differences that are threatening the existence of NAFTA are the disputes between the US and Mexico. The third partner, Canada, is virtually silent with regards the negatives of the agreement.

The agreement has benefited the citizens of all the countries. It is the interest of all parties to find a solution that can make it acceptable to all parties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water consumption

Tap water

Some people are using bottled water over tap water because they think it is healthier. Others for the sake of taste or convenience.

Canadians should have no fear about the safety of their tap water. Unless you live in community without treatment facilities, water coming out from your tap is perfectly safe to drink.

Water quality

Tap water quality is regulated by Health Canada, the provinces and territories.The Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Qualities spell out the maximum levels of potentially harmful substances that are allowed in drinking water. Municipalities tests are mandated to constantly check the water sources to make sure limits are met.

Hamilton City Council, for example, results are maintaining a ‘Aa’ grade consistently during testing. This means that the water treatment (A) and distribution (a) have maintained highest grades since the system started in the 1960’s, with an extremely low risk of contamination.

Bottled water

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does conduct inspections on bottled water plants, but independent observers found that checks are conducted once every three years.

Bottled water producers do carry out their own tests,but the results are not made public.

Environmental impact

Although many companies are making efforts to cut down on the amount of disposable plastic bottles they use by increasing the proportion of recycled material, significant amount of bottles still reach the landfills. Water bottles make up a major part of landfills, creating problems for waste management authorities. Some bottles end up in lakes, oceans and pollute nearby environment.

Filters

Consumers can help to protect the environment by consuming less bottled water. It has been determined that ozonation, reverse osmosis and carbon filtration have the capacity to eliminate some organic compounds like the pharmaceuticals detected in drinking water. Bottled water are not generally tested for such compounds.

There are household carbon filters available to consumers for the same purpose that can work for tap water.

The use of tap water through carbon filter over bottled water is a simple way to help reduce plastic from our environment.

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Water bottles

water bottles
Health

Bottled water has become a large industry because people think that it is safer to drink than tap water. But it is not always the case. Between April 2008 and March 2009, only 6% of bottled water factories were tested in the Toronto area. Concentration of contaminants such as arsenic, bromide, bacteria and lead have been found in water samples.

Waste

It is estimated that Toronto consumes about 100 million bottles a year, of which 35% are not recycled. Some of the plastic bottles end up in landfills, but others litter the forest, lakes and oceans. It is estimated that millions of plastic bottles created each year reach the ocean.

Plastic bottles take 700 years to composting. (http://www.yorku.ca/susweb/resources/documents/Bottled_water_facts_002.pdf

Waste Management

The enormous growth of landfills has become a problem for waste management. Water bottles take up large amount of space in these landfills.

The amount of water bottles reaching landfills if consumers take more care to ensure that empty water bottles are placed in recycle bins and not in garbage bins. This  effort will minimize  recyclable bottles reaching landfill.

 

Related story:

Forest degradation

kaieteur-fall

Kaieteur Falls-Guyana

Protected areas

Greenhouse emission is a global concern. When greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, the resulting damage is not localized, it becomes a global concern. It is heartwarming that some developed countries have recognized that reducing greenhouse emissions must be undertaken collectively.

Underdeveloped countries are being encouraged to protect their rainforest through financial aid from developed countries. Let us take the Guyana Protected Areas Systems (GPAS) as an example. The German government has been investing in that country’s richest biodiversity sites. That investment also covers all areas relating to climate change and renewable energy.

This cooperation is an ongoing exercise that started since 1996, and covers different phrases in an ongoing process.

Norway is another country that is investing money to protect Guyana’s rainforest. The two countries in 2009 signed a REDD+ partnership which Norway will pay Guyana for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Strict Monitor

The Norwegian initiative is strictly monitored by the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation (NORAD) to ensure sustainability of the project. This initiative is a global exercise against climate change and deforestation

Ecotourism

Deforestation in Guyana, like most countries, is linked to economic activities. Logging, mining and agriculture are known contributors. The clearing of forests for those economic activities can have global repercussion in terms of climate change. Hence, there is need to help those countries create alternative economic activities to limit the degrading of forest for economic purpose.

One alternative to deforestation for economic reason is ecotourism. Tourists from developed countries who have interest in ecotourism can be useful partners in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Guyana ecotourism attractions are in abundance, but it faces strong competition from more established ecotourism destinations. Its marketing initiative is yet to reach a global audience because the industry was only recently taken seriously since the launching of the deforestation drive.

However,  Guyana’s eco tourism offering is as good as any of its competitors. It is the home of the highest single drop waterfalls in the world- Kaieteur- among it many attractions.

Interesting tourists can access the Guyana tourism authority on www.guyana-tourism.com

Support

Supporting ecotourism industries automatically places anyone in partnership with governments to save the forests and fight climate change.

 

Plastics

plastic-large

Manufacturing

The development of plastics into a durable synthetic material for industrial purpose has been phenomenon. It has made our lives easier through its versatility in the manufacturing of a wide range of products. The electronic and food package industries are areas where plastics roles are crucial. Plastic materials are inexpensive , lightweight and long-lived, making it an preferred option in manufacturing.

Plastic materials also feature prominently in the production of disposable items which  eventually end up in garbage dumpsites.

Harmful

Plastics making life easier for society come with a cost to human health and the environment. The production and disposal of plastics are contributing to health and environmental issues including:

• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
• Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.

People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products.

Control

The extensive use of plastics in manufacturing makes it difficult to even consider curbing its production to ease the negative impact. To ease the negative impact on human health and the environment, we must be prepared to use the product more sensibly.

We can reduce the amount of plastics reaching the landfills by recycling the recyclable plastics as much as they can be recycled.  

We can control the amount of disposable shopping bags we use by selecting reusable  bags instead.

We can favour products with recyclable package over similar products with disposable package.

By minimizing the use of disposable plastics, consumers can play a vital role in protecting the environment from the ill effects of plastics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environment

chem-lawnLawn

A well kept green lawn is a passion in Canada. It is highly regarded as a staple in many communities, particularly in Southern Canada. The enthusiasm over a perfect lawn is easily understood because of its picturesque view. To maintain that much cherished tradition, we must take a more eco-friendly and cost- effective approach to be sustainable.

 

It is estimated that Canadians spent over $2billion in 2007 on all lawn care products. Much of that money was spent on chemicals that pose serious health threats to humans, pets, birds and the ecosystem.

Environmental Threats

Most homeowners across North America are becoming more aware of the negative effects pesticides and fertilizers have on the environment. Cities and towns have restricted the use of pesticides on school ground and in parks. Some people are also considering whether a perfect lawn is worth the long-term environmental price we are paying for it.

Positives

A perfect lawn can still remain part of our tradition, and play a positive role in the environment. They muffle traffic noise and other noise pollution, and help reduce carbon dioxide levels. They act as filters by removing pollutants from the air we breath. And grass will always be important to us for recreational activities at schools, homes, and in parks.

Organic

Going organic can help us to avoid harmful chemical and still maintain a healthy lawn. By going organic does not mean you have too much time on your lawn either. You can have a healthy organic lawn by just planting the type of grass that suits the soil. Watering the lawn deeply, but infrequently and avoiding dangerous chemical fertilizers and pesticides will be helpful.

Changes

Many homeowners have inherited lawns with unsuited grass, maintenance standard and procedures. The time has now arrived for homeowners to adopt safer environmental standards. By planting an appropriate type of grass and avoiding fertilizers and pesticides, you will fall in line with safer environmental practices.

Cost

There are costs attached when planting a grass not suited to the land or its rainfall. We end up using soil amendments, fertilizers and pesticides to keep it green. Let us not forget the excessive watering.

Commitment

Governments have a commitment to decrease the present level of greenhouse emissions. It is inevitable that if it is necessary, laws and bylaws will be enacted to ensure the the level is met. All of us should be wise enough to prepare ourselves for strict environmental policies.

 

 

 

Environment

Solar Panel

Mounting solarcell panels

Image of electricians

As sceptics to climate change wane and the march towards achieving greenhouse emissions target intensifies, clean energy has become a household topic.

Solar energy is one of the leading technology touted as an alternative to coal and fossil fuels plants in the fight to cut greenhouse gases. However, the system is awaiting the improvement in battery technologies to increase power storage capacity. Increased power storage capacity will allow the system to deal more effectively with intermittent power supply.

Research is intense and encouraging to improve storage capacity in batteries. While we are awaiting the services of better storage batteries, solar panels are still being used in a subtle way.

Power Storage

Some new rooftop fitted with solar photovoltaic panels are connected to regional grid, pushing the excess power into the grid when solar panels provide excess power. The building then draw power from the grid when the sun does not shine. The meter spins backward and forward with the ebb and flow of power. 

Housing Developers

New houses fitted with solar photovoltaic panels provide value-added options to housing developers. Some new homeowners may go for the extra cost of a home fitted with a solar panel system, expecting lower electricity bills.

Homeowners undertaking major renovations to their home can take the opportunity to install solar photovoltaic panels. The initial investment for the installation varies depending on the capacity. The investment might be hard for some of us, but those who can afford will eventually enjoy benefits.

Benefits

Ontario Power Authority (OPA) buys the power from homeowners sending solar power into the Ontario grid. The province pays a rate to cover the cost of a typical project. The rate of return will cover the term of the contract.

Contributing clean energy to the provincial grid will help the province to phrase out the remaining coal and fossil fuel plant. The ultimate goal is to decrease greenhouse emissions.

 

 

Environment

Biochar

Biochar is a highly absorbent, specially-produced charcoal originally used as a soil amendment. It is produced in similar way to charcoal by heating wood or forestry waste with little or no oxygen.

While charcoal is often used for cooking, biochar is made under specific conditions with the intent of applying it to soil as a means to increase soil fertility and agricultural yields, and sequester carbon to reverse global warming.

Reclamation

Biochar is an extremely cost effective solution to bind toxins and prevent them from reaching into surface and groundwater. By sequestering the toxic materials in the soil, biochar also make them become inactive and stable long enough so they can degrade naturally.

Biochar has  proven to quickly facilitate the reestablishment of vegetation and typically fertile grounds and improve soil fertility, increase infiltration and reduce erosion. 

Emission Reduction

The production and use of biochar in soil create a long term carbon negative cycle by sequestering atmospheric carbon over a long period of time, and reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions from soil.

Research indicates that biochar-amended  soils can provide anywhere from 50-80% reduction in nitrous oxide emissions, which is significant considering that the nitrous oxide released from certain fertilizers is 310 times more potent than an equal amount of carbon dioxide.

Turning agricultural waste into biochar also reduces methane generated by natural decomposition.

Soil Fertility

It has been established that biochar-enriched soil grow bigger, stronger plants with greater yields. Biochar enhanced soil fertility improves and long-term crops yields that can increase anywhere from 140% to as much as 300%.

There are examples of naturally-occurring biochar found in fire prone North American grassland soils, which proved to be some of the most fertile in the world.

Compared to other organic soil amendments, biochar is much more effective at retaining nutrients and keep them available to plants. It confirms that it much more stable in the environment than other organic matter.  

Environment

We should be encouraged to place more emphasis on the use of biochar in our crops production over the use of chemical based fertilizers. Our efforts would allow us to play a bigger role in reversing climate change. It would also offer better protection to our water source and aquatic life. The bonus is increased food production.

Soil polution

Organic Soil Fertilization

 

Environment

Motor Vehicle PollutionAircare_vehicle_image

How you drive and maintain your vehicle affect the level of air pollution and impact on your safety. There are many simple methods we can use to lower the level of air pollution produced by motor vehicles. Some preventative methods may look burdensome, but they are beneficial if adopted.

Tyres

It is the duty of every driver to ensure their tyres are properly maintained. Properly maintained tyres can help:

  • reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas
  • reduce fuel consumption
  • save money by extending the life of your tyres
  • improve vehicle handling and safety for your family.

Tuning

According to studies done on vehicle emissions, if all vehicles were tuned correctly there would be up to:

  • 16% less tailpipe hydrocarbon emissions
  • 26% less tailpipe carbon monoxide emissions
  • 9% less nitrogen oxides emissions.

It is also revealed that on average, maintenance to polluting vehicle does not require replacement of major expensive parts. Tuning up mainly limited to:

  • replacing points and air filter
  • replacing fuel filter
  • replacing oil and oil filter
  • checking spark plug condition and gap—adjusting or replacing
  • checking distributor condition and operation and adjusting
  • checking and adjusting idle mix and speed
  • checking and replacing spark plug and distributor leads
  • checking and replacing hoses and other minor items in fuel/electrical/emission control system
  • examining vehicle diagnostics and replacing faulty components. http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Community-and-environment/Environmental-management/

 

Most drivers are may be aware of the benefits of those preventative measures, but dismiss them as marginal. What all of us must understand, if everyone adopt those measures, the collective effort would reap big dividend.