Sunday, December 11, 2005

Canada's Cities, Ecological Decline, and War

There’s six weeks to go, so there’s lots of time for Canada’s federal election campaign to get interesting, but so far, the “election issues” that fill the dailies’ political pages seem disgracefully frivolous. Spend any time talking to Roy Woodbridge, author of The Next World War: Tribes, Cities, Nations and Ecological Decline, and you'll conclude that most of Canada’s politicians, most of the time, are talking trivial, marginal rubbish.

“What’s happening is just the same as what happened to New Orleans,” Woodbridge observed during a conversation the other day. “That was a disaster that was totally predictable and totally preventable,” he said. “We face the same kind of choices, right now, and the disaster, if we fail, will be a disaster that was totally predictable.”

The result of our chat can be found here, and the column has already provoked some umbrage, not unreasonably, among certain Liberal Party cadre. They argue that Canada’s “New Deal” for cities is directed almost exclusively at “environmentally sustainable infrastructure.”

Fair enough. But Canada still ranks 35th among 40 of the world’s leading industrial countries in its reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite our Kyoto pledge to reduce emissions by six percent from 1990 levels, our emissions are actually 24 percent higher than they were before Kyoto. Canada is one of the industrialized world’s worst environmental performers, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. Of the 30 nation states within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada ranks 28th.

To read more about what Woodbridge has to say about Canada's cities, see his latest in the journal Policy Options, here.


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