Alternatives Journal in October published a special issue addressing environmental education. The fifteenth annual Environmental Education Guide helps students heading to postsecondary education to identify and compare the 700 interdisciplinary programs available in 120 Canadian universities and community colleges.
Three accompanying articles emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary studies: “Academic Evolution: Innovation knows no Boundaries”, profiles the work of Dr. James Orbinski, who leads research on global health and climate change as the Research Chair in Global Health at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Tim Kruger, who is the Coordinator of the Geoengineering Program at the Martin Oxford School at University of Oxford, and one of the authors of the Oxford Principles.
A quote from Kruger sums up the point of the article: “Climate change presents systems problems, involving multiple, complex mechanisms…What is left now, are those problems which are not amenable to being solved by a single disciplinary approach.” “The Genius of the Generalist”, describes the educational paths of three graduate students- two of whom have Masters of Environmental Studies degrees from York University in Toronto and “Meet 6 Environmental Grads” profiles careers after graduation from various environmental programmes in Canada, and one in Freiberg, Germany.
For students heading for an MBA, Corporate Knights magazine released its annual guide to Sustainable MBA programs around the world in October. As in past years, York University’s Schulich School of Business ranked first, followed closely by the Sauder School of Business at University of British Columbia.
And two new online initiatives to promote climate change literacy and climate justice emerged from British Columbia in October. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation jointly created free classroom-ready materials designed for students in grades 8 to 12. Eight modules explore climate justice within the context of B.C.’s communities, history, economy and ecology. On October 28th the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria, launched “B.C Climate Impacts & Adaptation”, an interactive online module free to anyone interested in expanding their climate literacy. At the same time, PICS updated the content of the educational section of their website, which houses other modules and mini-lessons.
CLIMATE COMPENSATION: CONSIDERING THE LIABILITY OF OIL AND GAS COMPANIES ON THE TORONTO STOCK EXCHANGE
A report released on October 9 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and West Coast Environmental Law considers the total potential liability of five oil and gas companies currently trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange-EnCanada, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources, Talisman, and Husky. Informed by a discussion of the liability claims against the tobacco industry, the authors provide an overview of possible legal approaches to climate compensation, and conclude that those five TSX-listed companies alone could be incurring a global liability as high as $2.4 billion per year for their contribution to climate change.
See Payback Time? What the Internationalization of Climate Litigation Could Mean for Canadian Oil and Gas Companies at the CCPA website at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/payback-time.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on June 12 released an extended essay by University of British Columbia Professor Emeritus William Rees, the originator of “ecological footprint analysis”. He states, “Ecological damage and resource scarcity is largely the result of production and consumption to satisfy just the wealthiest 20 per cent of the world’s population.” (p. 2) … “Drawing on various disciplines from cognitive psychology through environmental science, sociology and economic history, I outline some of the broad framing necessary at the global level and specific policies needed at the national and (bio-)regional scales to achieve a planned descent to a sustainable steady state.” (p. 4). Read Avoiding Collapse : An Agenda for Sustainable Degrowth and Relocalizing the Economy at https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/BC%20Office/2014/06/ccpa-bc_AvoidingCollapse_Rees.pdf .
In 1963, economist Mel Watkins achieved international recognition with the publication of “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science. To mark the 50th anniversary, the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis published a collection of essays written by members of Canada’s Progressive Economics Forum, placing Watkins’ ideas in historical and global context. The section “Staple Theory and the Bitumen Boom” is essential reading, as authors Thomas Gunton, Gordon Laxer, Daniel Drache and Jim Stanford use staples theory to discuss the fossil fuel addiction of our economy, its dangerous impact on the broader economy, on cultures, especially Aboriginal culture, and on the environment.
Part 4: “Modern Applications”, includes “The Staple Theory and the Carbon Trap”, by Brendan Haley; “LNG: BC’s Quest for a New Staple Industry” by Marc Lee, and “Staples Theory: Its Gendered Nature” by Marjorie Griffin Cohen, among others. In the final essay in the collection, Mel Watkins writes: “My 1963 article has perhaps encouraged some readers to think too much about linkages and how to enhance them, to focus on incremental change when it is transformative change that is necessary…Fifty years on I have grandchildren, and know that the world must move ASAP from dependence on fossil fuels to reliance on green technologies. This will involve a wrenching change for Canada because bitumen is now the superstaple driving our economy and our polity…These may not be the best of times, and they may well get worse, but there is room for hope if we will but face up to our situation. In Canada, that means escaping both the staple trap and the carbon trap by weaning ourselves from the export of bitumen”.
The Staple Theory @ 50: Reflections on the Lasting Significance of Mel Watkins’ “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth” is available at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/03/Staple_Theory_at_50.pdf
Environmental issues will be a high priority for B.C. voters in the election, called for May 14. Follow the issues at The Tyee at: http://thetyee.ca/; BetterFutures B.C. at: http://betterfuturebc.ca/nextstep; the Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/media-releases; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C. Office at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/bc/news-updates.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides alternative budget proposals for 2013 which, they estimate, will create 200,000 to 300,000 full time jobs in any given year. Among a full-range of budget items, there are many environment- and energy-related proposals, including targeting research and development for “fostering innovation in energy storage, investment in Sustainable Development Technology Canada, supporting “Green Energy Bonds”, a National Green Homes Strategy for energy efficiency, and securing Arctic and remote communities’ local energy supplies.”
The Alternative Budget calls for a collaborative National Energy Plan which would “slow the pace of bitumen development and use it for domestic needs first; upgrade the resource in this country before it is exported, and develop linkages to upstream and downstream energy related activities.” In the category of Sectoral Development, the report proposes to enhance value-added production and investment in key sectors, including manufacturing, automobiles, aerospace and forestry, with funding to come from cancelling biofuel crop subsidies and the Green Car Levy.
See the Alternative Budget in Brief (34 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_BudgetInBrief.pdf and the full document (172 pages) at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2013/03/AFB2013_MainDocument.pdf. For French language versions, go to: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/abgf2013.