Sunday, February 23, 2020

An asset worth billions

Boreal wetland
Watercolour and crayon
Charlene Brown

According to the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices publication, Don’t drain the swamp, wetlands are an asset worth billions of dollars, and fully one quarter of the global supply is found right here in Canada. 

Besides their massive economic and ecological benefits of water cleaning and flood control, wetlands are instrumental in our struggle against a changing climate. Peatlands, for example, store twice as much carbon as forests. This means that Canadians can have a robust carbon mitigation strategy simply by protecting remaining wetlands. Conversely, if wetlands continue drying up, then not only will we lose our ability to sequester carbon, but stored carbon can be released back into the atmosphere—increasing our emissions.

Click on image to enlarge
Over 13 per cent of Canada (1.3 million km2) is classified as wetland ecosystem, a term that includes marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens. Almost two thirds of these wetlands are found in the Boreal zone.  A smaller percentage is located in Montane zones, such as the fenlands in Banff National Park in the painting on the right.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Another place in Mexico I won’t be seeing (this year)

San Miguel de Allende
Watercolour, oil pastel and marker
©2020 Charlene Brown

The historic Chichimeca War (1540–1590) signalling the beginning of the end of the Spanish Empire, centered in San Miguel.  In the twentieth century, its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures have attracted a significant number of foreign artists, writers, retirees and tourists, including many Canadians. It’s been on my bucket list for many years.

In a 2010 VirtualPaintout blog post, I mentioned that I’d avoided painting this church because it looked too difficult (I thought about that sort of thing more back then.)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Back to Plan A

Watercolour and oil pastel
Charlene Brown

Although Plan A, a UVic travel study program, ‘Journey to Israel’ in November, is looking a little doubtful, a decision about Plan B, ‘Mexico City to Oaxaca’ in April, had to be made at the end of January. I decided not to go on the Mexican trip and the location of this painting is one of the places I won’t be seeing – so I’m painting it now instead.

Cholula, one of the stops on the Mexican trip, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas. In the painting is the Virgen de Los Remedios church, which is located at the top of the Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuart for made-by-hand mountain), originally an Aztec temple. The church was built by the invading Spaniards who mistook the vegetation-covered pyramid for a large hill.  In the distance is the Popocatépetl (smoking mountain) volcano, about 50 km away.  

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Transitioning off fossil fuel – step 1

First hybrid-electric ferry arrives in Victoria
Watercolour and oil pastel
Charlene Brown

BC Ferries have taken delivery of the first two of several hybrid-electric ferries that will go into service on some of the short runs between the mainland, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. They came from Romania via the Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean and Panama Canal on a partially submersible transport vessel, then were towed under the Johnson Street Bridge into the Upper Harbour Shipyards where they will be prepped for service.

(Their working routes will not in fact take them under the Johnson Street bridge as shown in the painting above, which is based on a photo by Darren Stone of the Times Colonist newspaper.)

The new ferries are designed to be configured for full-electric operation, but until the infrastructure for on-shore charging is in place will operate on diesel-generated, battery-stored electricity. So, not a complete switch to clean energy, but one of many important first steps in transitioning to net zero emission of GHGs that we must accomplish by 2050.