The environment

The most pressing challenge for bringing climate change under control is replacing the world’s energy sources for electricity production, building heating and cooling, and transport. At the same time, humanity needs to learn how to do everything necessary to maintain a technological civilization without fossil fuels. That includes agriculture, as well as the production of […]


If finance minister Bill Morneau believes that Canada’s budget deficit “the challenge of our lifetime” he’s either tragically ill-informed, delusional, or disabled by finance-industry-insider blinders. Russia and Argentina, among others, show how states can default on their external debts and suffer relatively little consequence, as investors race back in within years. Even the worst economic […]

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Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s bid to save bill blocking Trans Mountain project After investing billions in project, Kenney marks start of Keystone XL construction in Alberta If the countries which have created the most total climate pollution up to this point continue to believe that they can build new fossil fuel projects which will operate […]


In the 1950s, when the RBMK design was developed and approved, Soviet industry had not yet mastered the technology necessary to manufacture steel pressure vessels capacious enough to surround such large reactor cores. For that reason, among others, scientists engineers, and managers in the Soviet nuclear-power industry had pretended for years that a loss-of-coolant accident […]

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In closing, a few words can be said about other aspects of the PCF [Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change]. The complete ignoring of the 2020 target illustrates the power of the Canadian dynamic of policy failure set out in chapter 1. Disguising the lack of will and effort needed to achieve an […]


One concern about the informal and non-hierarchical approach used in most campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns, and in the climate activist movement more broadly, is that it impairs institutional memory and thus prevents people from having a strong understanding of what has already been done and learned. In an effective and intriguing effort to counter […]


Back in 2009, I described various ways to try to deliberately engineer the Earth system to reduce the severity of climate change and noted: The first way to do this is to encourage the growth of biomass. This is relatively easy, but has limited potential. Biomass is like a giant carbon cushion: it can be […]


Besides, the historian William Cronon argues that there is nothing “natural” about wilderness, that it is a deeply human construct, “the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history.” Though I might be appalled by Marco Polo’s failure to swoon at mountains and deserts along the Silk Road, wilderness in […]


The Guelph University board of governors committed to divest from fossil fuels on Wednesday, after a sub-committee of their finance committee concluded that doing so was compatible with fiduciary duty and that a divested portfolio would have performed as well or better in the past. I was a guest on the board’s call, and it […]

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In the lead-up to the Canadian federal election in October, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals promised legally binding targets for Canada to be at net zero emissions by 2050. Specifically, they promised: “We will set legally-binding, five-year milestones, based on the advice of the experts and consultations with Canadians, to reach net-zero emissions by 2050” “We will […]