“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?
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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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.
The Green Interview is featured in the current issue of Bullfrog Buzz -- the newsletter of Bullfrog Power, the green power company which now serves Canadians from coast to coast. It's a fine piece, and it gives an excellent insight into The Green Interview -- who we are, why we're doing what we do. To read it, just click here.
We have Bullfrog power in our offices, which means we pay a little more for power – less than a dollar a day – and Bullfrog's clean generators inject renewable electricity into the regional grid to match the amount of power we use.
Bullfrog's electricity comes exclusively from wind and hydro facilities that have been certified as low impact by Environment Canada under its EcoLogo program instead of from polluting sources like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. The company now serves 8000 homes and 2000 businesses across the country.
What I want for Christmas is a forest.
I don't want just any forest. I want a 313-acre tract of woodland near Scotsburn, Pictou County. Until this month it belonged to Wagner Forest Nova Scotia Ltd, an American forest products corporation. It now belongs to the Friends of Redtail Society, a locally-based conservation group formed specifically to acquire it. I want my share.
I am standing atop a narrow ten-storey building in downtown Trois Rivières, Québec., gazing out across the immensity of the St. Lawrence. My companions include Rémi Tremblay, a senior administrator at the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, and Jeanne Charbonneau, who heads a social enterprise known as Vire-Vert. Jeanne is aglow with excitement. In a few days, when the deal closes, Vire-Vert will own this building, and in close partnership with UQTR, it will convert the old commercial block into Canada's first Écol'Hôtel.
Canada's first what?
And now for some good news. David Cameron – not my brother, the guy in No. 10 Downing Street – has been musing aloud that maybe the Gross Domestic Product, a narrow financial measure developed during the economic maelstrom of the 1930s, doesn't adequately describe human life in the globalized 21st century.
In these musings, Cameron echoes French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who in 2008 commissioned a panel of eminent economists to seek a better measurement than GDP. He also echoes Simon Kuznets, who invented the GDP but cautioned against using it the way we use it today. “The welfare of a nation,” Kuznets said in 1934, can “scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.”
With both Sarkozy and Cameron looking beyond the GDP, the idea of a better measurement of well-being really has entered the mainstream. And that's very good news.
Dr. Ronald Colman is executive director of GPI Atlantic, a non-profit organization that set out, a decade ago, to create a Genuine Progress Index for Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is an ideal test-bed for such a project, with fewer than a million people living on a peninsula – but with a full suite of sophisticated institutions, including numerous universities and its own provincial government.
I do a lot of public speaking -- please remember that, if you're looking for a speaker! -- and speaking generally involves air travel. That troubles me. I do buy carbon credits to offset my emissions, and I always manage to amortize the emissions over several projects by doing a variety of things at my destination -- picking up material for columns, doing new Green Interviews, networking and so on.
But the better solution would be to do the speaking without any travelling -- and the Prince Edward Island Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development recently gave me a chance to try that. We recorded the third of three sessions on a separate video camera, and posted that session on this site, so that participants from all three occasions could see it on the web.
That means you can see it, too, and I'd love to have your feedback both on the technique and on the content. To see the presentation, just click here: http://www.thegreeninterview.com/silver-donald-cameron-speaks-about-econ...