One privilege during my time at U of T was to take Peter Russell’s class on Canada’s history as a series of incomplete conquests in 2013. He taught the class for several years running to a mixed group of undergrads and grad students, using it partly to help him refine the new history of Canada […]

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It’s gimmicky and I find it hard to see personal cars and automobile infrastructure as part of a sustainable future, but this video still has historical relevance:


Through a variety of mechanisms, anthropogenic climate change is worsening wildfires. For instance, warm winter temperatures were a key factor in British Columbia’s apalling mountain pine beetle epidemic, and trees killed by the beetles may be more susceptible to fire. More directly, high temperatures dry out forests and raise fire risks. Page 44 of the […]

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I find the debate about Canadian arms companies selling weapons and vehicles to Saudi Arabia a little perplexing. The media coverage seems to turn on the question of whether the arms and equipment are being used to oppress the civilian population of Saudi Arabia. I find this perplexing because there seems to be ample evidence […]

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It’s astonishing that the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline remains unresolved. First, it shows how for activists determined to block a project it’s only necessary to make one jurisdiction say no. This is akin to the argument in computer security that the structure of vulnerabilities favours attackers over defenders; defenders need to protect every […]

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When we think about global trends, we tend to focus on their importance and how rapidly things are changing. China’s economic rise, along with massive economic development and urbanization around the world, all have unambiguous importance, though we will endlessly disagree about how they will interact and few of us will live long enough to […]

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I only just came across it, but back in January CBC News asked a bold question: can the oil sands be phased out? Related: Objections: cash, jobs, and taxes Re-training This is your adjustment time ‘Shut down the oil sands’ is not an extreme position Two things Canada’s oil industry needs to understand Climate change, […]

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From CBC News: Supreme Court quashes seismic testing in Nunavut, but gives green light to Enbridge pipeline I think the Supreme Court is erring in maintaining the view that Canada’s Indigenous communities should not have the right to reject proposed resource development projects that affect their territories. The land that supposedly belongs to the Crown […]


A new simulation called The Evolution of Trust does a good job of introducing the basic concepts of game theory. As described on BoingBoing, it demonstrates a range of strategies that are possible in a multiplayer game which is iterated and not zero-sum. Most of this was already familiar to me from the international relations […]


The decision of Alberta’s Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties to merge threatens the ability of Rachel Notley’s NDP government to stay in power. Almost certainly, the climate change policies the new party would implement are worse than those currently being implemented by the NDP, though it doesn’t necessarily follow from that that those concerned about […]