UWinnipeg creates green investment fund, faces criticism from students

Reposted from: The Academica Group. Originally posted on June 30, 2016

Representatives from the student group Divest UWinnipeg have criticized the school’s decision to pursue strategic alternatives to a full divestment from fossil fuels. The university has been consulting with the group for the past year. The group has asked the University of Winnipeg Foundation and pension board of trustees to end all investments in stocks and bonds of fossil fuel companies. This Monday, the school’s board of regents asked the foundation to instead create a responsible investment policy that applies environmental, social, and governance criteria. “The U of W’s choice not to divest from fossil fuels represents a contradiction with its commitments to sustainability, Indigenization and, ultimately, reconciliation,” said UWinnipeg Student Association Preisdent Kevin Settee. UWinnipeg Senior Executive Officer Chris Minaker responded that the school “has adopted a balanced approach to the divestment issue which is consistent with actions taken by other universities in Canada.”


Reposted from: Australian Environmental Humanities Hub. Originally posted on June 22, 2016.

Bath Spa University is launching the UK’s first taught MA in Environmental Humanities. Building on Bath Spa’s long-standing strength in literature and environment, this innovative interdisciplinary programme, led by Kate Rigby, brings (post-)human geography, environmental anthropology, environmental philosophy, ethics and religious studies, ecocriticism, and nature writing into critical conversation with the biological sciences in order to find creative responses to today’s complex socio-environmental problems.



By: Irena Knezevic with contributions from Peter Andrée


Photo credit: Maranda Grant

For most of us who think about the food system, the link between food and climate change seems obvious. Figuring out exactly what that relationship is can be more blurry. Carleton Climate Commons hosted a roundtable on this topic on March 17th which was attended by more than 50 students, faculty and community members. Andrew Spring from Wilfrid Laurier University and Dr. Sonia Wesche from the University of Ottawa opened up the discussion with vivid accounts of how climate change affects food systems in Canada’s North. From melting permafrost to increasingly unreliable ice-roads, to changing flora and fauna, they established a clear link between climate change and one of Canada’s most pressing challenges – food insecurity in the North. Though their accounts were mostly grim, they also offered hope through showcasing initiatives like the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, community gardens, and substitutions strategies where communities are moving to eating wild game that is more abundant now as caribou herds continue to decline. Dr. Leah Temper from Seeds of Survival (USC Canada) brought an international perspective to the discussion by describing the international programs focused on seed security and diversification. She offered an optimistic account of how seed saving and sharing can not only facilitate adaptation to climate change, but also support small-scale farmers who are struggling to survive in the globalized food system.


Carleton University’s Dr. Peter Andrée acted as a respondent and provided an insightful commentary reminding the audience that we need to consider these issues in the wider context of how the global food system contributes to climate change, through monoculture-heavy agriculture, industrial meat production, and monumental food waste. Dr. Andrée noted some key themes across the three presentations, including the centrality of issues of social justice, the links between realizing food security and food sovereignty, and the need for climate change adaptation processes to be based in the participation of those communities and individuals most severely affected. The general discussion that followed engaged the audience in an exploration of how we can contribute to addressing climate change and food problems through both individual and collective action. By bringing together speakers from three universities and one organization, as well as diverse audience, Carleton Climate Commons offered a space for learning, dialogue and hope for action.


Originally posted on: http://nourishingontario.ca/blog/2016/03/30/climate-change-and-food-politics/

uWinnipeg Student, Faculty Associations call for fossil fuel divestment

Reposted from Academica Top Ten (http://academica.ca/toptenOriginally published March 10th, 2016

The Student and Faculty Associations at the University of Winnipeg have asked the school to withdraw all of its investments in fossil fuels. The request applies specifically to fossil fuel stocks currently included in the portfolios of the University of Winnipeg Foundation and the school’s pension fund. The university reportedly has almost $2.6 M, or 5% of its foundation endowment invested in oil, gas, or coal industries, while the value of such investments contained in the pension fund is unknown. A public forum involving representatives from the community, the faculty, and the student body was held at the school yesterday to discuss the current and future direction of the divestment movement.

UBC rejects divestment proposal, proposes $10 M sustainability fund

Reposted from Academia.edu. Originally published February 5, 2016

The University of British Columbia has reportedly proposed a $10 M sustainability fund instead of divesting from fossil fuel companies, despite last year’s majority vote by both UBC students and faculty in favour of fossil fuel divestment. The decision was frustrating, said UBCC350 Co-ordinator and UBC student Alex Hemingway, “what we’ve seen at UBC is two decisive referendum votes from faculty and staff in favour of divestment that the committee has chosen to ignore.” UBC Vice-president of External Relations and Communications Philip Steenkamp released a statement saying that the finance committee had concluded that divestment may not have its desired impact on climate change or corporate behaviour, and “would not be consistent with the board’s fiduciary obligation to endowment donors.” The board of governors will reportedly vote on the proposal on February 15th.


Sustainability at the University of Ottawa

Sustainability at the University of Ottawa

Reposted from Academica Top Ten (7 April 2015)

uOttawa campus plan focuses on green spaces, multi-use buildings

The University of Ottawa has offered a glimpse of its campus of the future. The university’s recently released master plan identifies its development goals for the next 20 years, including greener spaces, multipurpose buildings, and new amenities for students, staff, and faculty. According to the plan, uOttawa will seek to incorporate more trees and parks, as well as pathways to integrate the campus with the nearby river. Parking lots in the university core will be replaced with open spaces designed to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly. In addition, plans are in the works for 5 or 6 new buildings. Some aging existing facilities will be demolished and replaced, while others will be re-purposed to suit the institution’s changing needs. The emphasis will be on multi-use buildings that combine classrooms, office space, research areas, and labs with banks, cafés, and other retail spaces. Ottawa Citizen

Job Posting: Election Organizer, Ecology Ottawa

Job Posting: Election Organizer

Ecology Ottawa is looking for an Election Organizer to join a dynamic team. The Election Organizer will organize in a local riding within the context of the upcoming federal election. The goal is to promote environmental leadership at the federal level while strengthening Ecology Ottawa’s volunteer and supporter network. This position involves immersion in the tools and techniques of grassroots organizing, canvassing, volunteer management, data management and communications.

Reporting to Ecology Ottawa’s Lead Organizer, the Election Organizer’s primary responsibilities are as follows:

  • Lead and implement a sustained campaign of direct community outreach, primarily including door-to-door canvassing;
  • Recruit and train volunteer leaders, using grassroots organizing best practices;
  • Take responsibility for inputting and analyzing canvass data;
  • Conduct strategic communications activities;
  • Organize local events; and
  • Take part in all relevant training offered by Ecology Ottawa.

Successful candidates will have some combination of the following:

  • Experience with grassroots organizing and direct outreach;
  • A passion for environmental and political advocacy;
  • A strong commitment to social and environmental justice;
  • A relevant educational, work and/or volunteer background (familiarity with database and contact management systems is a major asset);
  • Attention to detail;
  • Strong oral and writing skills (French language skills are a major asset);
  • Strong interpersonal skills; and
  • A good sense of humour.

If you are interested in working with Ottawa’s leading grassroots environmental organization and contributing to our efforts to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada, please send a cover letter outlining your motivation for applying along with your resumé to: robb.barnes@ecologyottawa.ca.

Compensation: $17/hour

Period: Full time. Starts immediately. Ends September 4, 2015, or whenever election period ends.

To apply: Please send a cover letter outlining your motivation for applying along with your resumé to robb.barnes@ecologyottawa.ca. Only complete applications sent by email will be considered. No phone calls please.

Closing date: Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

We thank all those who apply, but only short-listed candidates will be contacted. No phone calls, walk-ins or other enquiries please. Ecology Ottawa is committed to employment equity, and encourages applications from all qualified candidates.

For further information about Ecology Ottawa, please visit our website at www.ecologyottawa.ca.

Sign Up for the Act on Climate March in Quebec!

Sign Up for the Act on Climate March in Quebec!

Posted by Ben Powless 852cc on March 12, 2015

Join us and thousands of others who will make a historic trek to Quebec City on April 11 to demand that we Act on Climate!

All of Canada’s premiers are heading to Quebec City at that time to talk about climate. And so are we. We want to make sure our voices are heard, and send a unified message.

We want strong climate protections. We want renewable energy. What we don’t want is more tar sands or pipeline expansion, including Energy East.

Please sign up below to book a space on a bus to Quebec City.

We will aim to leave at 7am on the 11th, and return by 10pm that same night. If you’d like to make other arrangements for your return, please let us know.

Please check back on this page and in your inbox for final details on bus pickup and dropoff locations.

After signing up, you will be taken to a page asking for donations to help cover the cost of renting the bus and paying the driver.

We hope to see you there!

On behalf of Ecology Ottawa, the Council of Canadians, 350 Ottawa, Climate Reality Canada, and Greenpeace Ottawa.

Dans seulement 30 jours, des dizaines de milliers de personnes se retrouveront dans la ville de Québec pour « Action Climat » qui sera sans doute la plus grande marche jamais faite au Canada en faveur du climat.

Tous les ministres du Canada seront présents à Québec à cette date pour parler du climat. Et nous aussi. Nous voulons être surs d’être entendus et d’envoyer un message uni.

Nous voulons une forte protection du climat. Nous voulons l’énergie renouvelable. Nous ne voulons pas de sables bitumeux ou de prolongement de gazoduc, y compris Energy East.

Nous espérons que vous vous joindrez à nous à Québec. Nous allons réserver des bus et nous avons besoin de savoir dans les prochaines semaines si vous pourrez venir.

Répondez dès maintenant si vous le pouvez.

On se voit bientôt j’espère!

Au nom de Écologie Ottawa, Le conseil des canadiens, 350 Ottawa, Réalité Climatique Canada et Greenpeace Ottawa.

April 11, 2015 at 1pm – 4pm
Quebec’s National Assembly
Ben Powless · ben.powless@ecologyottawa.ca

Call for Papers: Poles Apart, Melting Together

Deadline: Deadline Extended: April 10, 2015
Contact: R. S. Deese, Lecturer, Boston University
Email: rsdeese@bu.edu
Phone: 857 998 7209

June 27th, 2015 at the Boston University Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning. DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS EXTENDED TO APRIL 10, 2015.

Keynote Address by Paul Robbins, director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The second biennial conference on Teaching Globalization at Boston University will explore the convergence of science and the humanities as we seek to understand the impact of current ecological and technological trends on the planet and on humanity itself. We invite presentations of interdisciplinary research and pedagogy addressing what has variously been termed the “end of Nature” and the “Anthropocene.” Featured topics will include, but will not be limited to, the following: catastrophic climate change, mass extinctions, geoengineering, synthetic biology, AI, and transhumanism. We seek original papers that integrate topics from science and the humanities in order to confront those aspects of globalization that have compelled scholars to rethink their conceptions of both “nature” and “human nature” in the twenty-first century. Papers presented at this conference will be considered for publication in a forthcoming volume published by Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield) as part of an ongoing series on Ecocritical Theory and Practice edited by Douglas Vakoch. Please send a curriculum vitae and a 200 to 250 word paper proposal by April 3 to Richard Samuel Deese, Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning at Boston University: rsdeese@bu.edu

Open Season on Climate Science

Open season on climate science

First posted on ipolitics

By  | Feb 17, 2015 8:57 pm

On February 5, a B.C. judge found that several Canadian journalists and the National Post libeled Dr. Andrew Weaver by defaming his character during and after the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, the most significant climate change policy negotiations yet undertaken.

The case is significant enough in its legal and journalistic consequences — but it also raises the question of how to communicate climate change science, and how to treat those communicating such science. The stakes are higher now than in 2009; the political pressures on the public communication of climate change will only intensify as the federal election, and the upcoming climate change talks in Paris, get closer.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot to learn from Weaver v. Corcoran. The journalists, according to the judge’s ruling, created a systematic “theme of deceit” to attack Dr. Weaver’s reputation by making false statements about him, by misquoting him, by attributing statements to him that he did not make. The journalists also attributed nefarious motives to Dr. Weaver for positions he did not hold.

When challenged on these points, the National Post refused to correct the public record or apologize, even when presented with clear evidence contradicting their claims. A pile of false statements and innuendo was published, amplified in reader responses, and left to sit on the Post website for five years. At any rate, the price of a climate scientist’s reputation is now set by court precedent — at $50,000, according to Justice Burke.

But the real insight in Weaver v. Corcoran lies in what it has to say about how hostility towards the science of climate change may be affecting the argument in the media. In her judgment, Justice Burke concluded that the defamation resulted not from malice toward Dr. Weaver personally — that the journalists failed to distinguish the scientist and his views from the broader picture of climate change science they had constructed in their minds.

In the judge’s words, “the defendants are using inaccurate information to paint an unflattering picture of Dr. Weaver, ultimately in a defamatory way, as part of expressing their view of the science that Dr. Weaver represents.”

In their desire to generate a negative view of climate science, the journalists set aside their concern with the accuracy of their statements. While Justice Burke rightly refrains from assessing whether the view of climate change held by the journalists has scientific standing, she does show that Dr. Weaver simply does not fit with the broader picture of climate science the journalists wished to circulate.

Malice against climate science is real. It is not a fiction cooked up by paranoid scientists. The extent and intensity of the public attacks on Dr. Weaver and climate science defied decorum and reason to a bewildering extent.

Let’s call this affair “SkepticGate” and consider it the context of “Climategate”, the name given to the leak of the email correspondance of climate change scientists at the University of East Anglia around the time of the 2009 Copenhagen meetings. There are two lessons to take from SkepticGate.

Lesson one — malice against climate science is real. It is not a fiction cooked up by paranoid scientists. The extent and intensity of the public attacks on Dr. Weaver and climate science defied decorum and reason to a bewildering extent. The details found in Justice Burke’s judgment are especially troubling in this respect.

The journalists did not appear to realize they were defaming Dr. Weaver. The desire to propagate a negative view of climate science created a resistance to fact, evidence, counter-argument and fairness. This happened at a news organization that claims public trust by promising to exemplify these values.

Lesson two — not all climate scientists respond to attack as Dr. Weaver did, and this brings us to back to Climategate. The most regrettable behaviors recorded in those leaked email messages are not evidence of systematic incompetence or deceit in climate science. In fact, it was the malicious misinterpretation of those messages that encouraged such beliefs and motivated the Post journalists to defame Dr. Weaver.

The Climategate emails are evidence of how the fear of malice distorted the communicative processes of those threatened. Some scientists attempted to avoid access to information requests and failed to meet standards of transparency regarding data, evidence and code that are crucial to conducting climate science. They believed malevolent intentions were behind the requests and criticism they faced, and this belief diminished their willingness or ability to distinguish legitimate questions from those motivated by ill-will. Some climate scientists went astray by forming a belief that all climate skeptics were deceitful, incompetent and filled with malice.

Many climate scientists suffered outrageous public attacks during Climategate, yet the communication of climate science has improved since — and because of — Climategate. The most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report includes a fuller range of perspectives and research on climate denial, and is more careful about potential sources of error. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has released reports that bring the question of climate engineering into mainstream political debate. Climate engineering, in particular, requires vigorous questioning and political debate, and it will be necessary to separate such skepticism from malice for climate science.

Climategate, in brief, has meant climate science is more likely to reflect Dr. Weaver’s persistent efforts to correct the public record than the regrettable behaviours found in the leaked email.

SkepticGate should force a more honest reckoning among journalists and media. Malice for climate science will intensify again later this year. The stakes in the upcoming federal election and the Paris talks — the most important climate change negotiations ever to take place — will be too high, the politics too contentious, for anything else to happen.

Climategate forced science communicators to understand the consequences of facing malice and to better prepare for the coming situation. The courts have played their role in making defamation a costly strategy. Journalists now need to take a hard look at the circumstances behind SkepticGate — and get ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

Chris Russill is a Fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) and an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University. He is the editor of Earth-Observing Media, a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication, and author of many papers dealing with public communication of the earth sciences. Chris_Russill@carleton.ca

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.