Sunday, September 30, 2007

next (big) steps

A tremendous sucess by all accounts. Saturday morning about 30 people representing faith groups in the Hamilton area gathered at the Melrose United Church for a mini conference on the topic of climate change and what to do about it.

Guest speakers talked for about five minutes each describing the eco-ventures their churches are involved in. To name a few;
Matt Xagorais talked about the film series he has organized for his church and the Melrose breakfasts that bring in guests who talk about social justice and environmental issues.

Dean Carriere talked about Recycle Cycles (Erskine Presbyterian) that takes donated or throw-away bikes and fixes them up for low price re-sale.

Bill Johnston of the Unitarian church caused a bit of a excitement with the extent of his faith group's activities;all things from carrying out energy and waste audits, to setting up a 'write to your elected officials club.'
Denise Neutel from the Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church described how the church was built to use geothermal energy and other 'green' features.

From Environment Hamilton, Don McLean gave good suggestions on directions faith groups can take to further their 'greening' work. Jarah West shared with attendees the resources EH can offer to help them on their way.
Sapphire Singh from Green Venture shared information about the Green Venture programs.

We enjoyed organic fruit juice, munched on delicious berry muffins and cookies baked by Jarah as well as drank fresh coffee courtesy of Matt.

Huge thanks to the 'Rebel' Richard Reble who MC-ed the event- very entertaining delivery Richard.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Walk it off ; from the Daily Grist

September 24th 2007

Walk It Off

Land-use decisions a key factor in emissions reduction, says analysis

How to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions? Building compact, mixed-use neighborhoods would be just as effective as much-touted policies like boosting fuel economy, cleaning up power plants, and building green, says a new analysis from the Urban Land Institute. The U.S. population is expected to grow 23 percent by 2030; under the sprawl-encouraging status quo, driving is expected to increase 59 percent in the same time period. But it doesn't have to be that way, says the ULI: some two-thirds of homes and other buildings expected to be needed by 2050 have yet to be built, and they don't have to be part of outward-oozing communities. According to the report, walkable neighborhoods can decrease driving by up to 40 percent -- which would reduce CO2 emissions, help save our arses, and perhaps reduce our arses as well.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Sara said

Door-to-Door Experiences

This past summer I was working for Environment Hamilton on their Climate Change Challenge Project. While it has a variety of components I was helping primarily with the door-to-door pledge work. Volunteers were going door-to-door in several neighbourhoods asking people to take the challenge and pledge to change their habits to reduce their impact on climate change.

We visited four neighbourhoods and each had its own challenges and attitudes. The four neighbourhoods were Corktown, Durrand, Westdale and Dundas. I was not yet on board for Corktown, but we were only there for a short while since we realized quickly that this was not a neighbourhood that we needed to target since the residents were already doing everything on our pledge forms out of financial necessity.

The other three neighbourhoods were much more worthwhile to visit and a lot of pledges were taken and a lot of Energy Savings Kits were distributed.

For most people, the idea of going door-to-door is very intimidating. I’ll admit I was one of these people myself at the beginning of the project. By the end, however, I was actually looking forward to my two hours every day of meeting people and discussing their role in environmental protection.

The key difference to our door-to-door work that makes it enjoyable and more successful is that we are not selling anything, in fact we are giving away free Energy Savings Kits. These were donated by Union Gas and some additional information from Environment Hamilton went in as well.

Often, if someone was immediately dismissive and trying to close the door on me right away I would mention that fact and sometimes it worked and I was able to get pledges. The vast majority of people in all three neighbourhoods who answered their doors were very receptive of the idea and willing to commit once they heard the concept.

I got a lot of positive feedback form people who loved that we were out doing what we were doing. There were of course, always people who were unwilling to listen or unwilling to pledge and they would list all kinds of excuses about why they felt they didn’t need to pledge.

The best course of action in these cases was just to leave and not waste time arguing. Overall, though, as mentioned, the response was positive which made the entire experience very enjoyable.

In the Durrand neighbourhood the biggest problem was that people were already doing most of the items on the pledge list. Some were even going above and beyond and gave us additional ideas of things to do. This was actually a bit of a challenge sometimes because we wanted to give away free kits but we couldn’t do that if people weren’t able to pledge.

Usually if people were stumped on what to pledge I would suggest the first item which was to install energy efficient devices and would point out that if they pledged that one, received the kit and installed it they would have it done already. Otherwise I would point to the tenth item which was to eat more locally grown produce and point out that all the information for doing just that was in the kit in the Eat Local Map.

Usually this would jump start the conversation and get the ball rolling and then people might chose one or two more items. For the people who said they were doing almost everything I would suggest the items in step three that are much more challenging or suggest that they get involved in the transit campaign and write a letter to city council.

Very few houses in this neighbourhood after a few minutes of gentle prodding were unwilling to pledge at all.

In Westdale the response was fantastic, this was probably the best neighbourhood not least of all because we had a lot more volunteers which made the work go much faster. The only problem here was that a lot of people said they had already received the kit and then were very dismissive.

We had to explain that this was not the same project and suggest that they pledge, take the kit and pass it on or just pledge and forget about the kit, or hand then the Eat Local Map without the kit. Otherwise though we got a lot of pledges and ground covered until we moved on to Dundas for a week.

In Dundas we were only able to go out a couple of days and I was only out for one of these days. I found Dundas to be the most challenging neighbourhood. At first, I was getting a lot of people listening to the whole description of the project.

I would suggest things people could pledge and they were very unwilling to commit at all. This was worse than people just dismissing me right away because I wasted time going through the pledge with people only to have them refuse to commit at the end.

Things began to pick up after an hour and the houses that did decide to commit were very warm and receptive. It was apparent that this neighbourhood was very suburban. The people in these homes were as affluent or less than the residents of Durrand and Westdale, but much less interested in what I had to say. I found that the feeling of community was much weaker.

For example, in Westdale people would often point down the road and tell me about their neighbours and let me know whether they were home or not. There was very little of this in Dundas. People were much less conscious of their neighbours and much less trusting of people who showed up to their doors. We still did get a few pledges from people and some very good feedback on the project again.

Overall the best part of going door-to-door for me was getting to talk to people and share in their experiences with this problem. This is something that is in the general consciousness and a lot of people have opinions and concerns to share.

Usually elderly residents had the most stories to share and I could spend over half an hour a one door sometimes just listening to fascinating stories of people who had emigrated here from Europe after the world wars.

Even younger parents would be happy to talk about the challenges of running a household and finding time to worry about environmental issues.

The best part about this project was talking to people and seeing how much people actually care about our world and how willing they are to change their habits.

MIke Nickerson was here

by Beatrice

Mike Nickerson came to Hamilton yesterday night (Car Free Day).
Hosted by Environment Hamilton's Climate Change Project and OPIRG McMaster he spoke to a mostly empty room!

What a great disappointment that so few people showed up but those who did listened to this eloquent and life affirming speaker give an inspiring talk on sustainability and the move away from over consumption and greed.

Nickerson, whose been immersed in questions of sustainability for over 35 years now, has developed some really helpful analogies to assist in clarifying the points he makes.

For instance he talked about our civilization coming out of it's infancy and adolescence (and what an enfant terrible we have been; "a young offender," really) and how now we're entering our "mature age."

Nickerson makes the analogy of a caterpillar whose main concern from morning to night is to grab at the bio- mass around it to feed itself. It does no more than feed, but once it emerges out of it's cocoon to become a butterfly, it barely consumes at all. Instead it lives as lightly on the earth as is naturally possible.

There are many that wish to remain caterpillars and would prevent the butterflies from emerging but the "Great Transformation" that will lead us into our mature state of butterflyhood has already begun.

You missed the talk but you can still buy his book Money life and Illusion living on Earth as if we want to stay, and you can always invite him to come out and speak.

Just don't pick a Saturday night!

Also Maggie Hughes of The Other side Radio CFMU 93.3 FM recorded the show(see her link at the links section). Hopefully you can catch it there.

Note; Nickerson and his wife Donna have been handing out business card size info about sustainability and long term well-being and his 7th Generation Initiative project for over a decade.
A question of direction: Is it proper, now that our biggest problems result from our size, to hold growth as a goal?
For more see his site;

Friday, September 21, 2007

Consider Using the N-Word Less;Voluntary actions didn't get us civil rights, and they won't fix the climate

By Mike Tidwell

Strange but true: Energy-efficient light bulbs and hybrid cars are hurting our nation's budding efforts to fight global warming.

More precisely, every time an activist or politician hectors the public to voluntarily reach for a new bulb or spend extra on a Prius, ExxonMobil heaves a big sigh of relief.

Scientists now scream the news about global warming: it's already here and could soon, very soon, bring tremendous chaos and pain to our world. The networks and newspapers have begun running urgent stories almost daily: The Greenland ice sheet is vanishing! Sea levels are rising! Wildfires are out of control! Hurricanes are getting bigger!

But what's the solution? Most media sidebars and web links quickly send us to that peppy and bright list we all know so well, one vaguely reminiscent of Better Homes and Gardens: "10 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet." Standard steps include: change three light bulbs. Consider a hybrid car for your next purchase. Tell the kids to turn out the lights. Even during the recent Al Gore-inspired Live Earth concerts, the phrase "planetary emergency" was followed by "wear more clothes indoors in winter" and "download your music at home to save on the shipping fuel for CDs."

Nice little gestures all, but are you kidding me? Does anyone think this is the answer?

Imagine if this had been the dominant response to racial segregation 50 years ago. Apartheid rules across much of our land and here are three things you can do: Take time, if possible, to feed three negroes who seek food at your lunch counter each month. Consider giving up your use of the N-word, or at least cut down. And avoid vacationing in states where National Guardsmen are needed to enroll blacks in public schools.

Obviously, there are times in history when moral, economic, and national-security wrongs are so huge that appeals for voluntary change are not only wildly insufficient but are themselves immoral as a dominant national response. By 1965 we had appropriately banned racial discrimination in housing, employment, voting, and other realms of national life. The majority of Americans understood this to be the only appropriate response to a colossal national injustice.

The CFL of glory!
Light bulbs are held up as a planetary solution, but they're just one part.
Photo: iStockphoto

Meanwhile, global warming represents an even greater source of potential human suffering, not just to us, but to all humans -- and not just now, but for centuries to come. And yet there is precious little popular discussion of banning the abusive practices that directly create violent climate change. Like Jim Crow practices, we must by law phase out completely the manufacture of inefficient light bulbs and gas-guzzling cars, as a serious start to fighting this problem.

Next time Aunt Betty goes to buy bulbs at the CVS, there should only be climate-friendly fluorescents for sale. When she shops for her next car, there should only be 50-mpg models across the lot, the sort even Detroit admits it can readily build.

Of course, there are politicians and activists already out there passionately calling for dramatic statutory responses to global warming. But they are mostly drowned out by the "10 Things You Can Do" chorus. And it turns out the voluntary "green your lifestyle" mantra may in fact discourage even individual change. One British study found that people tend to respond in one of two ways when told simultaneously that global warming is a planetary emergency and that the solution is switching a few light bulbs: they conclude that a) the problem can't be that big if my few bulbs can fix it, so I won't worry about any of it; or b) I know the problem is huge and my little bulbs can't really make a difference, so why bother?

While I do believe we have a moral responsibility to do what we can as individuals, we just don't have enough time to win this battle one household at a time, street by painstaking street, from coast to coast.

Demand that Congress step up the fight against global warming -- visit
Here, finally, are the only facts that matter. First, global warming is a full-blown emergency and we have very little time to fix it. Second, ours is a nation of laws and if we want to change our nation -- profoundly and in a hurry -- we must change our laws. I'd rather have 100,000 Americans phoning their U.S. senators twice per week demanding a prompt phaseout of inefficient automobile engines and light bulbs than 1 million Americans willing to "eat their vegetables" and voluntarily fill up their driveway and houses with the right stuff.

The problem at hand is so huge it requires a response like our national mobilization to fight -- and win -- World War II. To move our nation off of fossil fuels, we need inspired Churchillian leadership and sweeping statutes a la the Big War or the civil-rights movement.

So frankly, I feel a twinge of nausea now each time I see that predictable "10 Things You Can Do" sidebar in a well-meaning magazine or newspaper article. In truth, the only list that actually matters is the one we should all be sending to Congress post haste, full of 10 muscular clean-energy statutes that would finally do what we say we want: rescue our life-giving Earth from climate catastrophe.

Mike Tidwell is director of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network based in Takoma Park, Md.

Revenue Canada Event 19th September

What a response! The line up was extensive -people were falling over one another to make their pledges and get a free energy saving kits. We gave away a total of 428 kits and there's a waiting list of 40 people wanting more.
Interesting comments- some people said they would like to see better intercity bus system, a better local bus system, more car pooling opportunities, and bike lanes. One or two people said they would like to be able to work at home.
Many people said they lived too far to take a bus; others felt there was no way they'd take a bus because they have to take their kids to school/work etc. Some said they couldn't car pool because they all work different hours!

Thanks to Don, Brenda and Jarah for giving me a huge hand. And of course Mary from Revenue Canada and Lisa too. Thanks to Karen Grover for getting this going and hopefully we'll find ways to keep this partnership going.

Monday, September 17, 2007

North End Neighbourhood Association Night Out

Thanks to Brenda Johnson who represented the Climate Change Challenge September 13th at Hamilton's North End Neighbourhood Association Night Out.
She had 25 people pledge to reduce their personal green house gas emissions. 20 people received energy saving kits!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Success at the Locke Street Festival;

Emily and I arrived before 10 and set up. We handed out eat local maps, took pledges and gave out free energy saving kits. In 2 hours, all 35 kits were gone.

I was able to make some interesting connections that I want to follow up on-and I also gave away information on transit in Hamilton and had many people pledge to write letters to their elected representatives for more buses more often, better bus connections and extended bus routes to the outer reaches of the city.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

backgrounder: BUS CHEQUE?

Get serious about climate change - fix public transit in Hamilton

by Don McLean

Better public transit is the best way for Hamilton to fight global climate change AND local air pollution AND the transportation implications of peak oil. But the HSR has been given the short end of the stick by city council for decades. Hamiltonians should demand that change. Consider the following:

  • The HSR budget today is less than in 1994 even without taking inflation into account
  • There were 286 HSR buses in 1988. Today there are only 205.
  • HSR service hours have fallen 15% since 1994 while fares have gone up more than 30%
  • The HSR had over 30 million riders a year in 1985. Last year it barely hit 21 million
  • Annual per capita transit use in Hamilton is only one-third the level of Ottawa.
  • Most of the provincial gas tax monies given to Hamilton and nearly all the federal gas tax monies are not being spent on improving the transit system – the stated purpose of these senior government transfers
  • There are only two bus routes in Ancaster, two in Dundas, and two in Stoney Creek
  • Transit tax rates in old Hamilton are nearly five times higher than in Ancaster and Dundas and three times higher than in Stoney Creek

The news isn’t all bad. People who use the HSR consistently praise it and the great majority think improving it should be a city priority. A survey done earlier this year by Mayor Eisenberger’s office asked that specific question and 81% of those who took a position said yes.

Many of the 34 new buses purchased this year are low emission hybrids, but unfortunately they are all only replacements. The total number of buses on the road has remained the same.

Nearly 44 percent of those surveyed reported using the HSR in the past year, and ridership is continuing to slowly increase even with those service cuts and fare hikes, though not nearly as fast as the Canadian average primarily because a few cities are registering double-digit growth rates because they’ve made substantial new investments in transit.

The message from the plus side is the same as from the minus – public transit can do much better if given half a chance by our city politicians. Here’s a few practical suggestions:

  1. Reverse the budget cuts and rapidly expand the bus fleet. We need more buses, more often. The routes with the most frequent service – like Barton and King where there’s a bus every 7.5 minutes – are the most crowded (and overcrowded).
  2. End the bizarre system of “area rating” transit taxes. A home valued at $200,000 in the former city of Hamilton pays $168 a year for the HSR. One in Ancaster of the same value pays only $34. In Dundas the rate is $41, and in Stoney Creek it’s $52. Hamilton is the only municipality in Ontario to charge some urban homes higher transit taxes than others. If everyone paid the rate currently imposed on old Hamilton, the HSR budget would jump nearly $8 million a year – enough to provide better service to the suburbs and other improvements.
  3. Start increasing transit taxes instead of reducing them every year. The rates cited above are all less than what was charged on a $180,000 home in 2004. In fact, the effective tax rate for the HSR appears to have fallen every year since the mid-1990s.
  4. Dedicate gas tax monies to improving the transit system. Up until now, most of the money has gone to avoid raising taxes to cover the normal inflationary cost increases for fuel and other HSR expenditures.

Call write or email your councillor and the mayor. Tell them what you think should be done about public transit in Hamilton.

Contact City of Hamilton Representatives

“To Mayor Eisenberger and Hamilton City Council”
City Hall-1st floor, 71 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5

Climate Change Action; small steps too small? by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko

This piece is in the September 2007 issue of Mayday Magazine

The Mayor’s worried about climate change and our over consumption of energy. That’s why on august 14th he challenged people to a Black out Day challenge (in commemoration of the 2003 Ontario wide blackout).

The municipality of Woodstock led the way urging its residents to reduce energy use by 5%; so in friendly competition Mayor Fred Eisenberger asked Hamiltonians to plug out too (between the hours of 12 noon to 8pm).

“Anything we can do to heighten awareness, reduce consumption and get people to think about how they can be more energy efficient is a very helpful thing,” he told me.

At Environment Hamilton we’re thinking along the same lines. We’re circulating our Climate Challenge brochures in Hamilton neighbourhoods asking people to make pledges to reduce their personal green house gas emissions (We’ve been at it for a month now).

“Would you be interested in taking our climate challenge?” I asked the Mayor.

“I would,” was his response. He’s already doing a lot of the steps outlined in our brochure such as turning down the thermostat 1 degree in the summer and up 1 degree in the winter, taking the bus or walking, and eating locally produced food.

The Mayor whose own house is entirely energy efficient and has been for years (low flow showers, compact florescent light bulbs etc) knows it’s an investment that not all people can make but he wants to “encourage people so that they can all do their part.”

The City and Powerwise Energy were giving out free energy saving light bulbs to get people motivated.

While I agree that that’s one way to get people taking small steps in the right direction, for a city as large as Hamilton, it just isn’t good enough.

“Does Hamilton have a climate action plan?” I asked the Mayor. Perhaps in the months since Environment Hamilton outlined a detailed ten point plan for the Council, they might have taken a page out of it to develop.

It’s all very well to ask people to take individual responsibility. They should. But their efforts will go a long way further if elected officials take leadership on a larger, far reaching scale.

“I’m not sure if we have a climate change policy yet,” is the Mayor’s response. “But I agree that we should have.”

Mayor Fred assures me that he’ll be checking with staff to see exactly where they are at.

Granted, Hamilton has made “huge investments” in terms of public transportation, (the hybrid vehicles as part of the fleet, plans to light up the downtown with energy efficient lighting) and “I expect there will be more coming,” he says confidently.

Again, aren’t these baby steps...well, rather babyish in the face of impending climate chaos and the transportation implications of peak oil? After all, nearly 50% of individual greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation.

Yes, yes. Many of the 34 new buses purchased this year are low emission hybrids but they are only replacements. The total number of buses on the road has remained the same. And we have fewer buses today then we had in 1988. If we want people to reduce their greenhouse gases in a big way by taking the bus more often then we need to have ‘more buses more often’ and we need to have the incentives in place that will entice people to ride instead of driving.

Environment Hamilton’s Don Mclean has some helpful suggestions the Mayor and his team might seriously want to act on;

Reverse the budget cuts and rapidly expand the bus fleet.

End the bizarre system of “area rating” transit taxes. A home valued at $200 000 in the former city of Hamilton pays $168 a year for the HSR. One is Ancaster of the same value pays only $34-one fifth as much. In Dundas the rate is $41 and in Stoney Creek it’s $52. unfair.

If everyone paid the rate currently imposed on old Hamilton, the HSR budget would jump nearly $8million a year-enough to provide much better service to the suburbs and other improvements.

McLean has other suggestions; start increasing transit taxes instead of reducing them every year. The rates cited above are all less than what was charged on a $180,000 home in 2004. In fact, the effective rate for the HSR appears to have fallen every year since the mid-1990s.

Dedicate gas tax monies to improving the transit system. Up until now, most of the money has gone to avoid raising taxes to cover normal inflationary cost increase for fuel and other HSR expenditures.

Mayor Eisenburger says he wants to “lead by example,” (he takes commuter challenge and rides the bus too) and for that I applaud him. “It is not the responsibility of government and industry and public transportation agencies. It’s about individual choices that we make in our homes has probably the most significant impact.”

But Mr. Mayor, it’s time Hamilton stops toddling along but grows up and joins the many communities getting serious about climate change.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


An Annotated Bibliography


Environmental Literature

To broaden your awareness about the need for a new environmental ethic, about the social and environmental pressures impacting us globally, and about the appropriate responses they demand from us, here is an annotated bibliography of environmental literature. Please use it to help guide your reading. The works included are suitable for beginners but will likely have appeal to academics as well. The list will be occasionally updated. If you have read works you think should be added to the list, please e-mail your suggestions to Richard Reble at:

The following books are listed alphabetically by author or, in the case of multiple books by the same author, by date of publication from oldest to most recent. Each title is accompanied by an author quote that best reflects the central theme of the book:

Diamond, Jared, Collapse, 2005, Penguin Books.

ISBN 0-670-03337-5

ISBN 0 14 30.3655 6

Author quote: “Are the parallels between the past and present sufficiently close that the collapse of the Easter Islanders, Anasazi, Maya, and Greenland Norse could offer any lessons for the modern world?....It is not a question for open debate whether the collapses of past societies have modern parallels and offer any lesson to us. That question is settled, because such collapses have actually been happening recently, and others appear to be imminent. Instead, the real question is how many more countries will undergo them….Today’s larger population and more potent destructive technology, and today’s interconnectedness (pose) the risk of a global rather than a local collapse….If we don’t make a determined effort to solve (the problems) facing us, the world as a whole within the next few decades will face a declining standard of living, or perhaps something worse.”

Flannery, Tim, The Weather Makers, 2005, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.

ISBN 13: 978-0-00-200751-1

ISBN 10: 0-00-200751-7

Author quote: “(This) is my best effort, based on the work of thousands of colleagues, to outline the history of climate change, how it will unfold over the next century, and what we can do about it….The best evidence indicates that we need to reduce our CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050….The transition to a carbon-free economy is eminently achievable because we have all the technology we need to do so. It is only a lack of understanding and the pessimism and confusion generated by special interest groups that is stopping us from going forward.”

Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006, Rodale Books, Emmaus, Pennsylvania.

ISBN 13: 978-1-59486-567-1

ISBN 10: 1-59486-567-1

Author quote: “ I have learned that, beyond death and taxes, there is at least one absolutely indisputable fact: Not only does human-caused global warming exist, but it is also growing more and more dangerous, and at a pace that has now made it a planetary emergency….The climate crisis …offers us the chance to experience what very few generations in history have had the privilege of knowing: a generational mission; the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose; a shared and unifying cause; the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the restless human need for transcendence; the opportunity to rise.”

Heinberg, Richard, Power Down, 2004, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, B.C.

ISBN 0-86571-510-6

Author quote: “….the purpose of this book is not to provide yet another cheerful manual on how to save the world. But neither is it my goal to helplessly bemoan our inevitable collective fate. Rather, it is my goal to explore realistically our options for the next century. When I say ‘realistically’, I mean that I take as my starting point the belief, arrived at reluctantly after years of reflection and study, that we have already advanced so far in certain directions as to have foreclosed possibilities that we would all prefer were available….I take it as a given that we have already overshot Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans and that some form of societal collapse is now inevitable.”

Homer-Dixon, Thomas, The Ingenuity Gap, 2001, Vintage Canada (division of Random House of Canada Ltd.

ISBN 0-676-97296-9 Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006, Rodale Books, Emmaus, Pennsylvania.

Author quote: “In this book I’ll argue that the complexity, unpredictability, and pace of events in our world, and the severity of global environmental stress, are soaring. If our societies are to manage their affairs and improve their well-being they will need more ingenuity – that is, more ideas for solving their technical and social problems. But societies, whether rich or poor, can’t always supply the ingenuity they need at the right times and places. As a result, some face an ingenuity gap: a shortfall between their rapidly rising need for ingenuity and their inadequate supply….There is still time, I believe, to muster the ingenuity and the will, but the hour is late.”

Homer-Dixon, Thomas, The Upside of Down, 2006, Alfred A. Knoph, Canada.

ISBN 13: 978-0-676-97722-6

ISBN 10: 0-676-97722-7

Author quote: “These days, lots of people have the intuition that the world is going haywire and an extraordinary crisis is coming….I think that the non-experts’ intuition is actually largely right. Some kind of real trouble does lie ahead. That trouble doesn’t have to be calamitous in its ultimate results, though. If we’re smart and a bit lucky, we have a good chance of avoiding a terrible outcome….Catastrophe could create a space for creativity that helps us build a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.”

Jacobs, Jane, Dark Age Ahead, 2005, Vintage Canada (a division of Random House of Canada).

ISBN 0-679-31310-9

Author quote: “A culture is unsalvageable if stabilizing forces themselves become ruined and irrelevant. This is what I fear for our own culture, and why I have written this cautionary book in hopeful expectation the time remains for corrective actions….I single out five pillars of our culture that we depend on to stand firm, and discuss what seem to me ominous signs of their decay….These five jeopardized pillars are: community and family, higher education, the effective practice of science and science-based technology, taxes and governmental powers directly in touch with needs and possibilities, and self-policing by the learned professions.”

Kingsolver, Barbara, Small Wonder, Harper-Collins Publishers Inc., New York, N.Y.

ISBN 0-06-050407-2

Editor’s note: This collection of essays covers such a broad range of social, political, and environmental injustices that it is impossible to pull out one author quote representative of the whole. As in all her essays (and novels), these and others, she brings to the task a truly gifted writer’s skills, making each a joy to savour.

Kunstler, James Howard, The Long Emergency, 2005, Grove Press, New York, N.Y.

ISBN 10: 0-8021-4249-4

ISBN 13: 978-0-8021-4249-8

Author quote: “Above all and most immediately, we face the end of the cheap fossil fuel era….The American way of life, which is now virtually synonymous with suburbia, can run only on reliable sources of dependably cheap oil and gas. Even mild to moderate deviations in either price or supply will crush our economy and make the logistics of daily life impossible….I believe that we face a dire and unprecedented period of difficulty in the twenty-first century, but that humankind will survive and continue further into the future, though not without taking some severe losses in the meantime, in population, in life expectancies, in standards of living, in the retention of knowledge and technology, and in decent behaviour. I believe we will see a dramatic die-back, but not a die-off.”

Lovelock, James, The Revenge of Gaia, 2007, Penguin Books, London, England.

ISBN 978-0-141-02597-1

Author quote: “Humanity, wholly unprepared by its humanist traditions, faces its greatest trial. The acceleration of the climate change now under way will sweep away the comfortable environment to which we are adapted….The prospects are grim, and even if we act successfully in amelioration, there will still be hard times, as in any war, that will stretch us to the limit. We are tough and it would take more than the predicted climate catastrophe to eliminate all the breeding pairs of humans; what is at risk is civilization….There is a small chance that the sceptics are right, or we might be saved by an unexpected event such as a series of volcanic eruptions severe enough to block out sunlight and so cool the Earth. But only losers would bet their lives on such poor odds.”

Monbiot, George, Heat, 2006, Doubleday Canada (a division of Random House of Canada).

ISBN 13: 978-0-385-66221-5

ISBN 10: 0-385-66221-1

Author quote: “This book has an overtly political purpose. It aims to encourage people not only to change the way they live but also to force their governments to make such changes easier….(A) ninety-four per cent (reduction in our use of fossil fuels) sounds like a ridiculous target, but I have sought in this book to show that, thanks to new technologies and a few cunning applications, it is compatible with the survival of an advanced industrial civilization.”

Pawlick, Thomas F., The End of Food, 2006, Greystone Books ( a division of Douglas and McIntyre).

ISBN 13: 978-1-55365-169-7

ISBN 10: 1-55365-3

Author quote: “The corporate, factory-farm food system that dominates so much of North American agriculture today is destructive of nearly everything it touches. It degrades the nutritional quality of the food we eat, filling it with toxins and poisons, destroys family farmers and rural communities, blights the land and the environment, and tortures the living creatures it “manufactures” in its dark, satanic barns….And the only entities who seem to truly benefit from this system are a tiny group of already-wildly-rich corporations and their executives, and those, including our politicians, who have been co-opted by them….We need to take back control of our own food supply, our own meals, and our own humanity.”

Roberts, Paul, The End of Oil, 2004, a Mariner Book, Houghton Mifflin Company.

ISBN 0-618-56211-4

ISBN 0-618-56211-5 (pbk.)

Author quote: “We live today in a world completely dominated by energy….It is the bedrock of our wealth, our comfort, and our largely unquestioned faith in the inexorability of progress, implicit in every act and artifact of modern existence….Yet even a cursory look reveals that, for all its great successes, our energy economy is fatally flawed, in nearly every respect. The oil industry is among the least stable of all business sectors….Worse, it is now clear….that our steadily increasing reliance on fossil fuels is connected in some way to….significant changes in our climate….While climatologists and environmentalists fret about the quality of energy we produce, most other experts worry far more about the quantity of energy we can make and , more specifically, whether we can produce enough of any kind or quality to satisfy the world’s present and future needs.”

Simmons, Matthew R., Twilight in the Desert, 2005, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

ISBN 13: 978-0-471-79018-1

ISBN 10: 0-471-79018-4

Author quote: “The book asserts that every oilfield, whether super-giant or ordinary, will begin to decline at some reasonably predictable time. The risk that the oil-consuming world faces is that Saudi Arabia’s oilfields will begin declining sooner rather than later….Given reasonable political stability, world oil production will not plummet, but fade gradually through a twilight. Unfortunately, the world economy is not synchronized to the principles of petroleum geology. A growing gap between energy supply and demand will cause acute, convulsive disruption greatly disproportionate to the actual size of the shortfall.”

Wilson, Edward, O., The Future of Life, 2003, Vintage Books.

ISBN 0-679-76811-4

Author quote: “Stretched to the limit of its capacity, how many people can the planet support? A rough answer is possible, but it is a sliding one contingent on three conditions: how far into the future the planetary support is expected to last, how evenly the resources are to be distributed, and the quality of life most of humanity expects to achieve….What humanity is inflicting on itself and Earth is, to use a modern metaphor, the result of a mistake in capital investment. Having appropriated the planet’s natural resources, we chose to annuitize them with a short-term maturity reached by progressively increasing payouts….Meanwhile, two collateral results of the annuitization of nature, as opposed to its stewardship, are settling in to beg our attention. The first is economic disparity: in relative terms the rich grow richer and poor poorer….The second collateral result, and the principal concern of the present work, is the accelerating extinction of natural ecosystems and species.”