Green Certification and the Democratization of Sustainable Lifestyles

I Pity The Fool Who Doesn't Recycle

Environmental Ethics asks questions about how one ought to act, from which we derive social mores. Based on these, we develop rules, regulations, the social contracts that govern society. Moving to a green economy and a green society is essentially a project in the movement of societal values. There are a handful of tools that are typically used to move social values, some more effective than others. Mass coercion is generally frowned upon, and proven to ultimately be ineffective. So, we are left to the hearts and minds campaign. Meanwhile, we work to improve some of the legal, regulatory and business frameworks in ways that minimally impact people’s general happiness. The tools most often employed by NGO’s, grassroots groups for hearts and minds are typically some combination of education and/or incentives and good ol’ shame (which is just a negative incentive). We educate on the problem, offer a solution, incentivize the transition and shame those who don’t comply. (If you don’t recycle, you obviously hate nature!) Read More

Canada Needs a National Policy on Green Infrastructure

Despite its ubiquity in certain circles, you could be forgiven for not knowing what Green Infrastructure is. Unless you are one of those rarefied beasts that has a burning passion for environmental and/or municipal infrastructure and urban design policy. You may not have given more than a passing thought about the form and function of your urban green spaces, how urban water flows, or how big your watershed is. That is, unless you live in Windsor, Ottawa/Gatineau, Michigan or Houston, or one of the many communities across North America who have been hard-hit by the near endless rain that has marked the summer of 2017. If you live in one of these towns, you may be asking these very questions. You are certainly aware that a city’s infrastructure is tasked with managing water, and well, it seems many places aren’t managing very well. This is where Green Infrastructure comes in. Read More

Why Racism is Bad

No, I’m not going to actually discuss why racism is bad. If you’re seeing this article in your feed, then you likely already have a pretty good grasp as to why racism is not acceptable or beneficial in any way. That said, it would seem it’s a conversation we are going to have to have. And no, I’m not just talking about the USA, that troubled kid next door. Racism is a real and present issue in Canada too. One only needs to read comment threads on any news story that deal with any story even tenuously related to race issues or members of any racially marginalized community for that matter, to see the misguided, uninformed racially charged vitriol pour forth. Wait – I know what you’re thinking: “Misguided”!? “Uninformed”!? Yes. Don’t get me wrong – racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism etc. are all repugnant. But to paraphrase Nelson Mandela, “People are not born with hate in their hearts”. These attitudes are taught, and somewhere along the line, right attitudes are not taught. Read More

Open Letter to MP David McGuinty & Justin Trudeau on the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Approval

Dear Hon. David McGuinty,

I was quite dismayed at the government’s announcement yesterday to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline. I am one of those “radicals” that believe there should be no new pipelines – ever. While I care about water, bears and orca whales, my reason is climate. I am an environmental scholar; while I do not study climate directly, I have a good understanding of the systems, and the math. And math is the reason I say we CANNOT afford new pipelines. As stated in this article written by Bill McKibbon, here is the math:

942 > 800

Read More

Conflict Minerals – Intel’s “Less Bad” Intentions

This week the popular Corporate Sustainability communications group Triple Pundit published a rather saccharine piece, lauding Intel for achieving a supply chain free from Conflict Minerals. Wow. (Insert slow clap here). Well, sounds good, right? Well… yes… But does Intel really deserve all of the love?

If you follow social justice and/or Conflict_Mineralshigh-tech news, you’ve probably heard of Conflict Minerals by now. Tin, Tungsten, Tanatlum & Gold – all used in your favourite electronic devices, and all mined by slave labor in a black market minerals trade by DRC warlords. These minerals are the “blood diamonds” of the electronics industry. As part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, measures to restrict the movement of conflict minerals were introduced in 2010 under Section 1502. Since then, the issue of conflict minerals has received increasing attention. Read More