What is sustainability, anyway?

First Published in the Chronicle Journal Monday, April 20, 2015

SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS
By Jason MacLean
Dear reader, I owe you an apology. I’ve been writing this column on sustainability for nearly two years now and I’ve yet to define what sustainability means, exactly.
A close friend who’s evidently not a regular reader of mine told me how interesting he found a recent column. But he quickly — if a little sheepishly — added that “sustainability” seems to be a bit of a buzz word that gets used in a number of different ways, not all of them reconcilable.
He’s not wrong. Not entirely, anyway.

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This changes everything, but how is the question

With condolences to climate change deniers and other card-carrying members of the Flat Earth Society (yes, it’s a thing), the troubling reality of climate change has arrived (again).

Exhibit A is the U.S. Pentagon’s recent report asserting with Pentagon-like assertiveness that climate change poses a real and present danger to national security.

What’s at stake? For starters, climate change increases the risks associated with terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages.

The Pentagon’s report proceeds to map out how the U.S. military will adapt to rising sea levels, violent storms and widespread and protracted droughts.

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Canada’s third national policy — us

Canada’s Third National Policy is an essay every Canadian should read, and an idea that every Canadian should embrace.

In Canada’s Third National Policy, Rod Macdonald and Bob Wolfe argue that Canada has evolved through three national policies.

Canada’s first national policy (np1) was a response to the Great Depression of 1873 and consisted of tariffs to prop up Canadian manufacturers, immigration to the prairies and the construction of a transcontinental transportation infrastructure. Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy of 1879 was a superb — if cynical — campaign slogan, and it still fires the ambitions of his party today.

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Energy policies need attention

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will soon release its fifth report summarizing the latest science on climate change. A new IPCC report is kind of a big deal, so let’s look ahead to its expected findings and the response it’s likely to provoke.

Based on improvements in climate modeling since its last report was published in 2007, the IPCC is expected to conclude (again) that global temperatures are climbing, oceans are acidifying, Artic ice is melting (but much faster than previously predicted), dangerous methane emissions are escalating (ditto) and sea levels are rising.But even more importantly, the IPCC’s report will likely affirm with overwhelming confidence that these calamitous changes are largely being caused by human beings.

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Ring of Fire needs ecosystem planning

First Published in the Sudbury Star May, 2011

Julee Boan and Justin Duncan

The Ring of Fire represents a huge economic opportunity for Ontario. But more surprisingly, it also represents a big environmental opportunity.

As perhaps one of the world’s most valuable chromite deposits, the area represents a chance to open up a whole new field for the Canadian mining industry. With global demand for minerals soaring, there’s a tremendous opportunity in the Ring of Fire to create new jobs and economic opportunities after some hard years in Northern Ontario.

The environmental opportunity is less well-known. Ring of Fire is located in the heart of one of the largest remaining intact ecosystems left on the planet. That’s a pretty astounding statement and sounds like something you would more likely hear about the Amazon.

But careful mapping of the world’s intact forests has zeroed in on the boreal forests and lowlands of Ontario’s far North as one of our last chances to protect a natural system where all the pieces are still in place and working; from wolves and caribou to millions of nesting birds and lakes jumping with fish.

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