We recently posted our interview with Bunker Roy, the founder of India's Barefoot College, and an educational thinker of ruthless robustness. He won't educate people who have been spoiled by formal education, and he doesn't think highly of men as students, either. Among his greatest successes have been grandmothers from Africa, Afghanistan and the Himalayas, whom he's trained to be solar engineers and to bring electricity to their remote villages. In many ways, Bunker Roy's ideas turn our concepts of education on their heads.
The Green Pieces is a pot-pourri of Silver Donald Cameron's environmental writing – reprints of earlier articles, speeches and essays, and copies of current columns and other writings on environmental topics. Many of these are fairly lengthy pieces that are no longer accessible anywhere else.
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“Canada,” said the US journalist, “is heading toward becoming an authoritarian state to an extent that surprises observers even in China.”
Another comment on Bev Oda and the garrotting of Kairos? Nope. A reflection on the Harperites' infatuation with harsh sentences and larger prisons? No. Kyoto, Afghan detainees, the G20 repression, the flouting of the Supreme Court in the Omar Kadr case? Our humiliating defeat in the UN Security Council election? Could have been, but in fact it's none of the above.
[NB: This column was written on Wednesday, February 16, 2011]
When the policewoman slapped the young fruit-seller on the street in Sidi Bouzid a week before Christmas, she was not thinking of Hosni Mubarak, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Nevertheless her action set off an tsunami of grief and fury that is quickly transforming the Middle East, and will probably wash Mubarak clean out of Cairo.
Andrew Nikiforuk is one of Canada's leading journalists, a man who can write memorably and incisively about education, public health, energy and the environment, among other subjects. He's won seven National Magazine Awards as well as the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction, Canada's top literary prize. In 2009, he became the first Canadian to win the prestigious Rachel Carson Environment Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists for his book on the oil sands in northern Alberta, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.
That's the book we discussed when I interviewed him in 2009.
Last month, 138,000 farmed salmon escaped from feedlots on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, which scarcely caused a ripple in the Maritime consciousness. Elsewhere – in Norway, Scotland, Chile, British Columbia – salmon farming is a highly controversial industry. Here it skates along smoothly under the radar.
Salmon farming is controversial for two main reasons.
This lecture is my most extensive and detailed examination of the ideas and issues I'm now pursuing through The Green Interview. Although it's ten years old, most of what it says is still valid and important. It was delivered at the University of British Columbia on March 25, 2000.
You can stream or download an audio recording of the lecture here:
Energy, Environment and the Left
How can it be that I can know the right thing to do, do the wrong thing instead, and still consider myself an intelligent being? We've all had that experience. I shouldn't eat any more of those fattening canapes, we think. I should not smoke. I should not take another drink. And then we eat the snack, light a cigarette, pour the drink, and ogle our neighbour's spouse, to boot.
If we understood why we act this way, maybe we could understand our wide-awake self-destructive behaviour as a species. That's the issue that really concerns Dr. William Rees in the 90-minute interview we've just posted on the site.
“The ecological footprint is a very simple measure, and it's intended to measure one thing,” says Bill Rees. “How big would the little planet required to support Silver Donald Cameron be?
I need to know more about Mahatma Gandhi.
“You'll be pleased to know that the emissions for your air travel to this conference have been offset by the purchase of carbon credits,” announced the Executive Director.
The delegate next to me leaned over.
“What language is she speaking?” he whispered.
“Futura mondiale,” I said. “The language of the world's future.” Actually I didn't say that, but I really wish I had.
Carbon offsetting is a scheme that allows you to cancel out your personal greenhouse gas emissions by paying someone else to reduce their own emissions. It's like an inverted bank account. If driving my car 1000 kilometers puts a tonne of carbon dioxide into the air, for instance, I can neutralize the damage by paying someone to plant enough trees to draw a tonne of C02 back out of the atmosphere.