Teaching sustainability

When it comes to teaching environmental and social responsibility, schools are relying on students to do the heavy lifting.

It’s been two years since I left my post at Corporate Knights to pursue a career in environmental education.

Today, as program manager of EcoMentors, the environmental youth leadership program established by Earth Day Canada (EDC), I work with people between the ages of 14 and 25 who have no shortage of ideas to change the status quo.

The energy and ingenuity of young generations has carried me to peaks of optimism in the bipolar emotional terrain of the environmentalist. For now at least, it looks to me that our hopes of someday getting this right aren’t yet vanquished.

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Oh, the humanity!

Canadian luminaries shed some light on what's needed to give our economic system a makeover for the greater good.

Over the years, capitalism has been an effective and impressive shape-shifter. At the dawn of the industrial age, it appeared as a magnificent behemoth, emitting boastful plumes of soot into the sky and flattening vast landscapes in the name of unadulterated progress. Today, its skin is markedly softer, and a few tinges greener. Sustainability initiatives appear in company mandates, and hopeful messages of corporate social responsibility are offered to a citizenry more and more concerned about environmental and social well-being. Yet the internal engine that drives capitalists remains unchanged, fuelled by the same fire: profit.

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The city’s gone bananas

Why your Mayor should have tropical fruit and tree-forts on the brain.

While bananas and tree-forts sound like primate priorities, we humans take these simple pleasures for granted. There is a good chance that someone, somewhere in your city is enjoying a banana—over a bowl of cereal, in a peanut butter sandwich, or taking it on-the-go for quick fuel. Across the country, the sweet and starchy fruit is a frequent choice on brunch buffets and in juice bars, packed in school lunches, and dressed up at ice cream shops. However, in 20 years, bananas—currently shipped into our cities from distant climes—and treeforts—supported by our oldest trees—may be hard to find if our cities don’t start taking sustainability seriously.

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The Canadian Ambassador to the United States talks energy.

Ambassador Gary Doer has been a proponent of developing an east-west integrated Canadian energy strategy since his days as Premier of Manitoba under the New Democratic Party. Now stationed in Washington D.C., he deals primarily with matters of north and south. Corporate Knights spoke with Ambassador Doer about Canada’s energy potential, and the realization of a renewable energy grid.

CK: How is Canada’s energy potential unique?

DOER: We start with so many natural advantages in energy. In terms of renewable energy— something that doesn’t get a lot of attention— we have one of the highest percentages of electricity produced. That’s something I think we take for granted. We’re close to 70 per cent renewable energy for electricity production and if you compare that to most other countries, including the U.S., we’re way beyond them. The public wants clean air and clean water, and by having renewable energy in such abundance, particularly hydropower, it’s a tremendous advantage for the country.

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Food for thought

When it comes to meal diversity in nursing homes, the proof is in the pudding - and the oatmeal.

Despite the fact that a majority of Toronto seniors are immigrants, diversity is diluted at the dinner tables of many nursing homes.

Over 300,000 citizens over the age of 65 call the City of Toronto home. Five per cent of these seniors live in collective dwellings, including nursing, or long-term care homes—a demographic many of us will someday occupy.

Like their city of choice, these seniors are multicultural. A 2006 City of Toronto Roundtable on Seniors report found that in 2001, two out of three were immigrants, predominantly from Europe, China, and South Asia.

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Growing capital

As land becomes more valuable Prairie First Nations and North America's largest farming corporation form an unlikely bond.

As the population expands, the need for agricultural land is driving investment in what could be the future’s most precious resource: soil.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, arable land on Earth will diminish by 30 to 50 per cent over the next century. That’s a lot when you consider that a mere 11 percent of total land area is arable. Even more daunting when pitted against a global population that is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050.

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