Category Archives: Sustainability

Canada’s stance on climate change and our economic development plan

Do Canada’s stance on climate change and our current economic development plan constitute moral negligence? (A brief to the CBC and select Members of Parliament by William E. Rees)

Media reports and commentary on the havoc caused by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines have finally begun to acknowledge the possible connection to anthropogenic climate change. While no single storm can be positively attributed to human disruption of the global climate system, climate models predict that extreme weather events will increase in frequency and violence. Unprecedented natural maelstroms like Haiyan provide empirical evidence that the models are likely correct.

What continues to be almost entirely missing from media analysis is Canada’s role in all this, particularly the moral dimensions of the nation’s current economic development policies and those of several provinces (e.g., BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland).

Continue reading Canada’s stance on climate change and our economic development plan

People, not markets, drive sustainability

The world faces increasingly urgent, entwined, ecological, social and economic problems. Most people would agree that at least the following five human qualities are essential for solving these problems: high intelligence (e.g. the ability to reason logically), the capacity to plan ahead (e.g. to design policies that will shape a desirable future), the ability to cooperate in the achievement of common goals, the ability to make moral judgements and the capacity for compassion and empathy.

Which of the following is better able to exercise these abilities in the interests of society:

  1. well-educated, socially-committed human beings, or
  2. global markets as currently organized?

I vote for ‘well-educated, socially-committed human beings.’ Humans are uniquely capable of high intelligence and foresight and have the other key qualities as well. So: Why have Canada and other nations instead staked the future on the simplistic mechanics of economic models? Why have humans allowed the mindless marketplace to become the basis of economic policy and wellspring of social values? Continue reading People, not markets, drive sustainability