The environment

Sticky with humidity after 9pm, electricity demand in Toronto must be crazy right now. The Independent Electricity System Operator has data for the whole province: Back in April 2005, province-wide electricity use was 14,890 megawatts: 62% nuclear, 19.3% hydro, 13.5% wind, 4.6% gas. This connects to lots of climate change questions. Can we really afford […]

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New Zealand’s kakapo parrot is equally rare and bizarre: critically endangered, with 154 survivors living on three protected predator-free islands, the birds can’t survive the presence of rats, cats, and other potentially-carniverous mammals, can’t fly, and reproduce slowly and strangely. The chapter about them is perhaps the most memorable part of Douglas Adams’ excellent non-fiction […]

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One way in which the lives of contemporary urban dwellers must differ from those of most people in the 250,000 years of anatomically modern human history is in not knowing our neighbours. In a small settlement in a time before widespread travel and privacy, you would probably know everybody. Now, many of us couldn’t pick […]

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Howard Dean recently made some interesting comments about young people and U.S. politics: “They’re very independent-minded. They don’t like politics. And they mistrust institutions,” Dean said in his characteristically matter-of-fact style. “I think our problem as Democrats is, we’re the head of the oldest party in the West, and this party is an institution that […]

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I have written before about Norway’s awkward tension between wanting to be a responsible global citizen and wanting to continue to sell oil. Their ongoing election demonstrates the tension starkly. The Green Party, which may end up holding the balance of power in a divided legislature, opposes further hydrocarbon development. By contrast, a slogan of […]

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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:

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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 just finished a new research proposal on campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns in Canada. I am in the middle of a series of meetings with faculty members, working both to refine it into something the department will approve and to establish a committee.

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