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Rem 200 Introduction to Resource and Environmental Management. Instructor: Duncan Knowler, Associate Professor School of Resource and Environmental Management http://www.thephotoargus.com/photographers/photographer-showcase-edward-burtynsky/. Course Information.
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Instructor: Duncan Knowler, Associate Professor
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Students must have one of REM 100, GEOG 100 or 111 or EVSC 100, or complete at least 30 credits.
Contextual Themes Cont’d…
Contextual Themes Cont’d…
The Downs Issue-Attention Cycle
Ship-breaking in Bangladesh
Devastation and outcry from James Bay hydroelectric dams on traditional Cree lands (early 1970s) — leads to the first ‘modern’ treaty with aboriginals in 1975
Berger Commission (1977) on Mackenzie pipeline development raised the bar with respect to protecting environmental and social values
Despite being a leader in development of fisheries science, collapse of East Coast cod fishery in the 1980s & 90s
Clayoquot Sound (1990s) on Vancouver Island; aroused protests that led to improved forestry practices
Other examples: Northern Diamond Mines and Aboriginal concerns; however, these are conflict-free diamonds
The jury is still out…
The country is blessed with abundant natural resources
Canada’s staples economy within the global economy still plays a major role in policy and practice, e.g. oil sands, seal hunt, etc.
While failures (cod fishery) and poor implementation (Kyoto, climate change) prevail …
Advances are being made with Aboriginal peoples
Communication and participation opportunities for a broader spectrum of Canadians in environmental decision-making; and educational opportunities
Not all bad news …
More than a metaphor… tied to anthropogenic stress
Ecosystem health is NOT tied to individual or societal preferences or tastes
‘Health’ is an objectively measurable property at all levels of biological organization
It can be objectively assessed based on changes in ecosystem structure and function
Needs a broad spectrum of measures (similarly, human health is measured not only as blood pressure and lung function)
Ecosystem boundaries are, to some extent, arbitrary
They are highly dynamic systems (how does one measure change in a changing environment?)
The complexity of ecosystems at multiple scales (microscopic and global)
The myriad of species and their interactions (some of which are invisible, and others are yet unknown)
How to maintain the three key attributes of healthy ecosystems: organization, vitality and resilience ?
Organization—the capacity to maintain their biotic structure (i.e., their characteristic biological diversity, their interactions between species and with the abiotic environment)
Vitality (or vigour)—the capacity to maintain their level of biological productivity
Resilience—the capacity of ecosystems to rebound from the perturbations such as those caused by fire, flood, drought, and so forth
And remember… humans are part of ecosystems, thus what is defined as ‘healthy’ is not restricted to only the ecological dimensions, it must recognize the human component
Energetic: natural systems are strong and not severely constrained (vitality)
Self-organizing: in an emerging, evolving way (organization)
Self-defending against the introduction of foreign elements (resilience)
Able to recover from occasional stress or natural calamities (resilience)
Aesthetically attractive (the human perspective, organization)
Productive of goods and services valued by humans (socio-economic vitality)
The merging of assessments of ecosystem health into an accounting system that integrates the ecological and economic dimensions of our society
We manage our nation, our provinces, and our communities without a balance sheet—that is, we need to account for ‘real capital assets’, not just economic growth, as measured by GDP
Thus, argue for monitoring of the five “capitals”: (a) Human capital, (b) Natural capital, (c) Social capital, (d) Produced capital, and (e) Financial capital
This approach proposes a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) in place of the GNP to monitor conditions
Globalization as chance for growth that is economic but is ecologically sound and socially responsible
Canada = resource dependency, yet global actor
Conflict: economy versus environment
Uncertainty is inherent in ecosystem studies, yet should not be used as an excuse for inaction
Proposed ‘solutions’ to environmental problems remain heavily weighted toward short-term benefits with little attention to what is required to restore long-term health
Aldo Leopold (1940s): ‘how to humanly occupy the Earth without rendering it dysfunctional?’