Environmental assessments in Canada

2009-03-16

in Canada, Economics, Law, Politics, The environment

Milan Ilnyckyj in the spring

Reading about the plans of Canada’s federal government to limit environmental assessments, I was left wondering whether the term ‘environment’ is itself somewhat marginalizing. These days, people seem to generally accept the idea that ‘environment’ and ‘economy’ are competing interests and, by extension, that the former should sometimes be sacrificed for the latter. I wonder, then, what would change if part of the environmental assessment was split off and called a ‘human health assessment.’ People seem much less willing to accept a trade-off between money and health.

If there was a separate study on things like lung diseases, cancers, and human toxic exposure likely to arise from a project, it might get a lot more attention. That being said, there does seem to be a risk that once you isolate human health from the rest of the environmental assessment, nobody will care about the nature portion. I mean, who really cares about birds, fish, or polar bears anyhow?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily March 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

Milan Ilnyckyj in the Spring! In a t-shirt! Such a rare sighting.. How did you catch him?

Emily March 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

(also, strutting down the street in his socks..)

Milan March 16, 2009 at 8:46 am

I stepped out to put out about fifty empty bean cans for recycling, when I realized it was… warm.

Hella Stella March 16, 2009 at 9:37 am

The socks are the BEST.

alison March 16, 2009 at 11:48 am

Appealing to human selfishness: If the environment is screwed, then human’s are screwed..

I think that can be a good tactic, maybe one of many in an environmentalist’s “toolbox”. Of course the success of that tactic depends on how much those in positions of power care about the health/wellbeing of the general population.

I’m a big fan of charging people and companies for how they pollute. That way there is an economic incentive to make sustainable decisions. Of course this requires legal and economic structures to enforce rules. .

Tristan March 16, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Milan,

If you find somehow that data exists which demonstrates the statistical probabilities of catching various diseases by area, I would be extremely interested. I’m quite concerned that people over-value living in the Okanogen, and under-value the social cost of non-organic farming, because they don’t know to what extent living in a heavily agriculturalized area increases cause of cancer, etc…

Milan March 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm

It seems likely that Health and/or Agriculture and/or StatsCan has this information, or that one of their provincial counterparts does. Try giving them a call, asking a reference librarian in the field, and so forth.

If it turns out the information cannot be easily publicly accessed, you could always file an Access to Information request.

Tristan March 17, 2009 at 10:13 am

Thanks, when I have some time, I want to work on this. I think it could produce some extremely effective viral spreading-the-word of the social costs of non-organic farming.

I shouldn’t say non-organic farming really, I should say the over-use of pesticides. It’s probably possible to use pesticides in a limited and appropriate manner.

Milan March 17, 2009 at 11:14 am

On a side note, I find that while the internet, Wikipedia, etc are very useful, they also have a bit of a suppressive effect on original research. There is lots of great materials in libraries and government archives that is basically being ignored because we now expect to be able to find everything online, for free, in a few minutes.

. March 17, 2009 at 11:50 am

Public Health and Climate Change- an intersection India cannot afford to miss

By Aparna Sridhar on World Health Organization

The public health dimension associated with climate changes is a critical interface that has yet to be fully addressed by the Government of India as they continue to push forward India’s action plan on climate change. Missing this key intersection would be devastating for India’s population, as it has been duly noted, is vulnerable to many of the negative consequences of climate change. It would be prudent for the Indian Government to take a closer look at the overlaps in opportunities and threats that bridge public health issues and climate change responses at this stage to address to very pressing issues for India’s population.

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