Tag Archives: climate change

Climate change: The Universities’ and Canada’s roles

In November I delivered an address on “The Ecological Debt” to the annual GreenAccord conference for environmental journalists in Naples, Italy. One of the attendees subsequently wrote me for more detail on some of the issues this talk raised about climate change. Here are my responses to her questions:

1) As an academic and an ecologist, what do you expect from this latest round of talks? [The COP19 Climate Change Meetings in Warsaw]

As an academic (human) ecologist, I expect nothing concrete from this meeting. (By ‘concrete’, I mean a binding plan which would require, for example, wealthy countries to begin carbon emissions reductions at the rate of 6%-10% per year, as necessary to avoid catastrophic warming.) Despite the best efforts of committed individuals and those nations suffering the brunt of climate change impacts, the COP sessions do not deal seriously with either the social justice or ecological implications of climate change. Vested interests ensure that they really emphasize short-term economics and politics and thus grossly discount the increasing probability of truly horrendous future costs. In effect, the meetings are really about ways to maintain (un)economic growth in the face of contrary evidence and finding ways to delay the hard decisions until the next round of talks. Continue reading Climate change: The Universities’ and Canada’s roles

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

On the Use and Misuse of the Concept of Sustainability

The concepts of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘sustainability’ continue to be subverted, distorted and otherwise misused in the ongoing political debates concerning global change and economic development. Society continues to be in deep denial of fundamental facts pertaining to contemporary biophysical reality and the increasingly global socio-cultural context within which the human universe is unfolding.

To address some of the commoner deceits and misconceptions, Ed Barry (The Population Institute, Washington D.C) and I teamed up in a presentation to the 8th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability held in Vancouver, BC in January. Here are some of the major points we argued in our presentations: Continue reading On the Use and Misuse of the Concept of Sustainability