Four days in Montreal

I will be spending the Easter long weekend visiting my brother in Montreal and playing around with a rented 10-22mm EF-S lens. As such, I am unlikely to be adding anything here before Tuesday or so. In compensation, there should be some interesting and unusual photos appearing next week.

In the mean time, perhaps readers can ponder the following question. has gotten off to a good start in terms of content, with a large number of good quality posts from several contributors. What it has largely been lacking so far is discussion and community. How can such things be effectively encouraged? Has anyone ever considered posting a comment on either a climate change entry on this site or on BuryCoal, but then decided against it? If so, why?

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Four days in Montreal”

  1. Have a great time in Montreal and lots of fun with Sasha.
    I have wanted to comment on, but I feel that I do not have much knowledge to contribute. What if you asked some questions that would be more general or ask people to contribute their own experiences related to environmental concerns. Or, what if you invited people from other countries to give their views based on what they have seen there?

  2. I’ve often felt that I don’t have a lot to contribute.

    On the topic of discussion, I have noticed a kind of hackneyed theme that environmental presentations take. It seems that documentaries concerned with environmental degradation often follow the same “plot line”.

    1. Catchy introduction
    2. Expound on the beauty of natural life
    3. Slowly introduce impact of human civilization
    4. Make you more and more uncomfortable with the impact of human life on nature, until they reveal the terrifying statistics.
    5. Statistic bomb!
    6. Depressing note about how human life continues to destroy everything.
    7. Despair glossed over with content showing whales splashing about, and swelling music.

    And blog entries often end in something like:


    Now, I’m no editor. But I am a thinking reader. And as a thinking reader, I think one of the best, most influential web pages I regularly read is Dr. Weil (bearded health guru extraordinaire). He’s a doctor focussing on changing the standard American diet. Aptly acronym’d “SAD”.

    He focuses on where we can make changes and individuals, rather than giving the whole “food industry targets the poor and makes a killing off of mass obesity.”

    He encourages eating organic, local food, and provides easy recipes to incorporate them.

    Because I feel like I’m regularly learning skills that I can use in everyday life, it is a very attractive website to read.

    I wonder if BuryCoal, since it is in the imperative form anyways (take action!) could focus more on what individuals themselves could do to help.

    I think that might attract discussion and suggestions.

  3. “Individuals are the problem. Individuals are easy to compartmentalize and disenfranchise, to the point where eating organic food looks like a radical political choice. Action on climate change needs to be radical, collective, and inclusive. Unfortunately at present, all organized resistance groups I’ve encountered value what is immediately experienceable over the highly abstract – i.e. poverty, victims of war, marginalized groups. Since the mainstream individual is neither empowered nor oppressed in contemporary society, there is little room for a mainstream opposition to climate change – it always degrades to arguing about statistics and numbers.”

  4. If “individuals are the problem,” then there is no hope for any of us. I really think that taking a pessimistic view is hopeless and completely useless. In any work or relationship that I have done/had, a negative attitude has achieved nothing. Activism starts with one person and it takes a long time. If we tell people that they are the problem, it takes away any initiative that they make wish to take. If we tell people that any effort is useful , they may become more dynamic and take up their battle with companies/leaders etc. Telling people that they have no power, simply discourages them. Examples of positive actions do the opposite.

  5. I agree with Alena that by telling people their efforts are useful, these same people are motivated to take more action in that direction.

  6. I wonder if BuryCoal, since it is in the imperative form anyways (take action!) could focus more on what individuals themselves could do to help.

    Perhaps so, but I really think it needs to be political action that people are urged to take. Another appeal to replace lightbulbs or add more insulation to your house won’t have much psychological effectiveness, or added value.

  7. Keeping content regularly updated is important too.

    People will stop checking back if there is rarely anything new to find on the site.

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