15. 05. 2007


Four days in Vancouver, courtesy of Alcan and Simon Fraser University. Such a good city. 750,000 people (so not exactly a big city), lots of water and mountains all around. Made one feel pretty good about urban living. Came in on the back end of a bit of a shock, in that the Premier of British Columbia (deeply conservative, apparently, bordering on neo-con even) has suddenly “got” climate change. Very ambitious new targets on energy efficiency and climate change, “inclusive approach”, long term vision and so on. It made me wonder how we might mass-produce these epiphanies. They seem to arrive so arbitrarily at the moment. Decades in denial, then a chance encounter with reality. And guess who provided the reality on this occasion? No less an Evangelist than Arnie Schwarzenegger himself – he of Hummer fame again. With his own unique brand of muscular environmentalism, full of scorn for boring environmentalists (“like prohibitionists at a fraternity party”), seeking to redefine sustainability in terms of passion for life rather than guilt. He has got a good point there, I have to admit. Sadly, Arnie is said to have given up on converting George Bush. Even the Governator has his limits. 

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17. 05. 2007
Mardi Neumann

It is a shame that even someone as conservative as the Premier in BC has 'got it' and not the Mayor of Vancouver. With the upcoming Winter Olympics happening in Whistler the homeless of Vancouver will certainly suffer. The previous Mayor worked hard to help those living on the streets and the low economic earners live in housing in a more ethnic area of town. Now the new mayor has decided this will be the Athlete's accommodation so these people will have to find new places to live. After my visit to Whistler last week where many businesses are really trying to be sustainable (many using The Natural Step to achieve this), the social aspect of sustainabilty will be pushed under the carpet as an embarrassment and something that will be seen but perhaps not heard about. A little like the Simon Fraser University, which is all about sustainability but didn't think alot about the rammerfications of where it is located or the sustainabilty of travel to and from its campus.

Pity how so much hard work can be suffercated by the 'too hards' or the 'unthought of' issues.

21. 05. 2007
Mike Maybury

How to achieve "epiphanies"?

Maybe not biblical changes, but people certainly can change. One needs to understand how individuals think and a little of their basic aims in life. So many differnet ways exist. The narrower one's agenda the less likely are people to listen or read.

To most people, health, relationships and money/success are driving forces. Offer solutions or better still demonstrate your ideas in your own life and people cannot disbelieve their eyes. They do not even need to take life seriously.

As a small example, at age 73 I get people approaching me "where do you get the energy to dance all night long etc?" Unlike marathons, that is what some people want to do! When they learn that no drugs/alcohol and a veggie diet helps, they are surprised. Of course they don't change overnight, but the seed is planted.

(the above 3 things do tie in with our whole wasteful life that has brought about, not only climate change, but our western diseases and other problems).

13. 06. 2007


Your return flight to Vancouver created over 2 tonnes of CO2, or one fifth of an average UK citizen's annual emissions.

Based on a CO2 reduction goal of 60% by 2050, coupled with there being 9billion people on the planet at that time, per capita, this would be twice the amount you would be 'entitled' to emit.

Let this be an flying epiphany for you.

16. 02. 2010
Miriam Yagud

I was interested to see that you visited Vancouver courtesy of Alcan. Is that the company that produce aluminium?
Producing one ton of aluminium consumes a staggering 1,378 tons of water and emits an average of 15 tons of CO2.
That's a lot more emissions than the average mother of 5 children in developing countries is going to emit. Using your figures, its about the same as 50 UK adults emit in a lifetime. (Your figures)
In 2008 Alcan produced 4 million tonnes of aluminium ( their figures). thats a lot of water and a lot of carbon emissions.
Maybe its a reduction in aluminium we should be cutting back on, not children? Since a high % goes to military use, it might reduce the number of wars too.
Just a thought

29. 06. 2009
Daniel Nelson

Comments on OneClimate.net in response to a report of your recent speech in Parliament:

by Ryzo on June 29, 2009

I wrote a piece about this on the 10th June. I'm glad this issue is tarting to be forced onto the agenda:

After having watched the documentary "The End of The Line" on Monday evening I feel we have been presented with yet another tale of resource depletion which fails to mention one of the main issues surrounding all forms of resource depletion; population.

Yes, almost everyone who campaigns in some shape or form on behalf of the planet avoids the mention of overpopulation for fear of the F-word - and I'm not talking Gordon Ramsay here!

Overpopulation is a problem that just won't go away. The human race has engineered an exponential growth in human population through technological advance without considering the impact of this growth on people and the planet. We are seeing those effects now.

Take a single argument;

If, at current levels of fishing, it is predicted that most fish stocks will be virtually gone by 2050, and by the same time the global population is expected to grow by around 3billion people, then does that not mean that the next 40 years of fishing will NOT continue at current levels, but will in fact increase massively to compensate for all these extra mouths? Does this then not equate to fish stocks disappearing much earlier than 2050? The same could be said for almost any resource.

Technological advance has increased our ability to use resources giving us a false perception of how many people the planet can actually sustain. We may be able to improve our technology, but if there is no basic product to make more productive then it will prove rather difficult; i.e. we can't be more productive at fishing if there are no fish.

Where do we begin to tackle the overpopulation issue?

Poverty is proven to promote population growth as well as increase environmental degradation. The Global North needs to get serious in tackling poverty - even if in their own interests given the anti-immigration stance of the majority of Western states - a more prosperous Global South would reduce migration to the Global North. How many migrants would actually want to leave their homeland given a decent choice?

Religion has a lot to answer for in their stance regarding contraception. For the Catholic Church to remain basically on the fence regarding contraception is, I think, a moral outrage, especially in countries in the Global South where educational and medical facilities are in desperate need of massive investment.

I don't profess to have all the answers, if any, but I am extremely tired that the debate on this critical issue being constantly kept away form the political agenda for fear of the F-word. This is probably even more pertinent given last week's results at the ballot boxes, but if we are going to get serious on tackling the growing environmental crisis this can no longer be kept off the agenda.

by Stewart on June 21, 2009

I could not agree more. I am a conservationist and I believe hole heartedly in population as one of the fundamental causes of environmental change. A big problem, and the main one that brings about the blank look on most environmentalist faces. Is how do we control it?

The suggestion of control, snacks of dictatorship. The other side is, if we don't take responsibility and do something our selves, Nature will do it.

My reason for starting sustain-life.org.uk Kind regards Stewart

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