McGill Undergraduate EnvironmentJournal Volume 3 - Winter 2014
BRANCHES McGill Undergraduate Environment Journal
VOLUME 3 Winter 2014
McGill University Montreal, Canada BRANCHES acknowledges that McGill is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee Territory
Acknowledgements Copyright © Branches: The McGill Undergraduate Environment Journal, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 2014. Editorial selection, compilation and material © by the Editorial Board of Branches and its contributors. Branches is an academic journal of McGill University with submissions by undergraduate students. Printed and bound in Canada by Solutions Rubiks Inc. All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted and cited from external authors, no part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any way of form without the permission in writing from the publisher. Special thanks to the Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University and the McGill Environment Students’ Society for enabling the publication of this journal. Cover photo by Megan Howes.
BRANCHES McGill Undergraduate Environment Journal EDITORS IN CHIEF Nessa Ghassemi-Bakhtiari & Sarah Fioravanti UNDERGRADUATE EDITORS Elliot Tan Melody Lynch Valeriya Sokolenko Elena Kennedy GRADUATE EDITOR Alejandra Zaga Mendez DESIGN EDITOR Justine Provost
For more Branches, visit our website: mcgillbranches.tumblr.com
Letter from the editors-in-chief We are honoured to present Branches’ third issue, the first printed publication from the McGill Undergraduate Environment Journal. This year’s issue is very special to us as we have rebranded our journal’s design, adding creative arts elements and promoting the diversity of the field of Environment and its multidisciplinary components. The following papers were written by some of the McGill School of Environment’s undergraduate students from the faculties of Arts, Science, and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Photographic art and poetry are also presented in this issue, in an effort to inspire you to convey environmental issues through your creativity. We particularly strived to gather pieces that focused on issues of sustainability that spark conversations on untraditional topics relating to the environment. Aside from originality, an important criterion in the selection for this publication was the manifestation of the interdisciplinary nature of the McGill School of Environment, exposing issues ranging from environmental justice at local and international levels, as well as undergraduate research pertaining to urban landscapes and food security. In the end, the success of our new journal would not have been possible without the thorough dedication and collaboration from our exquisite team of editors. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the many students who submitted their work for this publication—it was an honour to read through such a great body of work. We hope that this production will encourage more students to share their work for future issues of Branches, further revealing the extent of quality work that exists within the School of Environment. Bonne lecture!
Nessa Ghassemi & Sarah Fioravanti Editors-in-Chief
TABLE OF CONTENTS Queering Nature: Navigating the Heterosexist Nature/Culture Duality to Find Queer Alternative Narratives Cameron Butler
Tomayto, Tomahto: A Case Study on Sustainable Produce Acquisition in the Montreal Wintertime Saamiah Ali, Andrea Wyers and Jane Zhang
The mountains are calling: March in the Chilean region of Patagonia Chloe Laflamme
Millenium Development Goals: A Critical Analysis Gabriella Fanous
The Benefits and Challenges of Protecting Urban Green Space in Montreal Victor Lam, Melody Lynch, and Rianna Deprez
Environmental Justice: Oil Politics, Indigenous Land and Natureâ€™s Rights in Ecuador Jaya Bordeleau-Cass
Colonialist Pollution: An Exploration of Environmental Racism Towards the Indigenous Peoples of Canada Nessa Ghassemi-Bakhtiari
King Frog Justine Provost
Among these leaves Salman T. Hussain
Giants of the Great Bear Sea Kim-Ly Thompson
About the contributors
Queering Nature: Navigating the Heterosexist Nature/Culture Duality to Find Queer Alternative Narratives by Cameron Butler Abstract: This paper provides an eco-queer critic of the heterosexist constructions of nature and culture that fundamentally shape where we place ourselves within, and outside of, the ecological community. First, Descartesâ€™ mechanization of animals is contrasted with a queer study of nonhuman animal gender and sexuality. Then, hegemonic constructs of urban space and wilderness are explored as they enforce a false dichotomy, and they marginalize queer individuals and communities. These constructs are then contrasted with queer natural spaces. Finally, the concept of natureculture and ways of deconstructing the nature/culture duality are presented, along with several examples of queer communities as well as the plurality of values that can be learned from their successful promotion of positive social relationships and adaptation to their local ecology. Introduction Sex matters. Whether studying the population dynamics of ducks in a conservation area, the migration of plant species, the geographic distribution of society, or the consumption of individuals, sex plays an important role in understanding the world. Sex involves a multitude of gender expressions and sexual orientations, in the serving of diverse purposes, including reproduction, the formation of social connections, and pleasure. Unfortunately, current environmental narratives often perpetuate and reinforce heterosexist values that oppress and marginalize queer humans and nonhumans animals; our society views nature, and ourselves, through narrow lenses that deny the existence of lifeâ€™s diversity. Eco-queer theory
deconstructs these harmful narratives and provides an alternative that allows us to live in more harmonious ways within nature. This paper will primarily explore the ways queerness influences the formation of an environmental conception and narrative, and how exploring queer spaces can inform sustainable communities. The understanding of heteronormativity and heterosexism will be expanded to also incorporate the biophysical world; I aim to develop an understanding that nature and spaces can also be oppressed and marginalized. This will be explored through the different ways in which wilderness and urban spaces are constructed and perceived, and the ways heterosexism fundamentally shapes these constructions. Lastly, it is
important to acknowledge that this paper looks almost exclusively at Western discourses—its conclusions and examples are specific to the Euro-American context, and, as such, they would be quite different if situated within different geopolitical contexts. Queer animals: Who knew! Two parallel and re-enforcing concepts are the naturalization of heterosexuality and the heterosexualization of nature (Azzarello 2012: 15). The former is the process by which heterosexuality is promoted and has become the only “natural” sexuality, while all other gender and sexual expressions are seen as deviant, or the result of damage; for instance, the antigay rhetoric often used in public discourse relies heavily on the “unnaturalness” of queerness in order to validate the disregard of human rights. The concept of heterosexualization of nature assumes that all nonhumans engage solely in heterosexual intercourse for the purpose of reproduction. It is clear that these two concepts have been played out in the way we perceive nonhuman animals, their bodies, and their sexual relations. These assumptions have distorted our understanding of the environment, and, only by deconstructing them can we fully appreciate the vast diversity that exists. Foundational to our conceptions of nonhuman animals is the adherence to a strict gender binary. “Nature” is seen to consist of two anatomical sexes within which all individuals fit, and all individuals “naturally” desire those of the opposite sex (Azzarello 2012: 17). This view demonstrated in Rene Descartes dualist thesis strips nonhuman animals of their agency and proves to be an ill-fit for reality. Descartes, in the mid-1600s, sup-
ported a human/animal duality, presenting nonhuman animals as merely matter, reproducing, feeding, and moving, but not having any thoughts or feelings; they were machines, and nothing more (Alaimo 2010: 60). Humans, on the other hand, were unique in the world, as they alone had a mind; this made them superior to nonhuman animals and, thus, gave them the right to be masters of nature. Moreover, within this conception, nonhuman animals cannot be anything but strictly male/female and heterosexual. The sole purpose of sex is reproduction, so any sex that does not lead to reproduction has no place in nature. Jonathan Marks, a present-day molecular anthropologist, maintains Descartes dualism and highlights the denial of nonhuman animals’ sexual pleasure in his book What it Means to be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes (2002), when he signals our detachment of sexuality from reproduction as uniquely characteristic to humans, setting us apart from other primates who almost exclusively engage in reproductive sex (Alaimo 2010: 56). This view reduces the sexuality of animals to merely a mechanistic process for perpetuating their stock. It also fails to hold together when confronted with clear examples of sexual diversity in nonhuman animals. The bonobo highlights many of the flaws present in the “animals are mindless machines” narrative. Female bonobos frequently engage in same-sex sex (Alaimo 2010: 56), and they also use sophisticated language and toolmaking for sexual stimulation. Studies of bonobo interactions and sexual encounters show that a series of hand gestures are used to “initiate sexual activity and negotiate various body positions with a partner (of the same or opposite sex)” (Bagemihl 1999, in Alaimo 2010: 61). Additionally,
female bonobos have been documented using twigs, leaves, and grass blades in order to fashion objects to insert into their vaginas for masturbation (Alaimo 2010: 62). The bonobo is just one of many examples of nonhuman animals whose sexualities are far more complex, varied, and diverse than Descartes machines. Despite the many examples of queer animals, most scientists attempt to maintain the heteronormative constructs of nature by discounting same-sex activity as simply a sociosexual function, which is a sexual behaviour that is done explicitly to serve some social purpose; the fact that this behaviour is sexual is incidental and unimportant (Alaimo 2010: 63). Others propose that this behaviour is based on mistaken identity, an accidental encounter, or that it is a result of the absence of partners of the opposite sex (Garrard 2012: 171). This attempt to explain away observed non-heterosexuality in nonhuman animals continues to strip them of their agency and autonomy, and it discounts pleasure and sexual gratification as sufficient reasons for nonhuman animals engaging in sex. These flawed views and faulty assumptions have led not only to inaccurate scientific documentation of nonhuman animals and their practices, but also they have caused confusion, misinforming public policy. In the 1990s, a team of ecologists studying a seagull population in the United States discovered a high rate of lesbian activity within the population (Mortimer-Sandilands 2005: 18-19). They assumed that some ecological disaster or release of toxic chemicals must have caused this deviation from “normal” sexual patterns and called for immediate action to find the cause, until further inquiry found that lesbianism is simply a common feature of seagull life.
The way the environmentalism movement has handled the issue of endocrine-disrupting (ED) toxins demonstrates how environmentalists too have held onto heteronormative assumptions, and it also highlights the connection between human and nonhuman animal health. ED toxins have a myriad of health impacts: heart diseases; immune system breakdown; neurological problems; numerous form of cancer; obesity; diabetes; and increased rates of intersex or infertile offspring (Di Chiro 2010: 202). Despite the wide range of health impacts, anti-toxin discourse has focused almost exclusively on the supposed assault on “natural” masculinity and the destabilization of “normal” gendered bodies of humans and nonhuman animals (Di Chiro 2010: 201). The effort to evoke fears around ED toxin gender-bending has two results. First, it creates a discourse that is inherently exclusionary towards queer people, by using homophobia and transphobia to elicit public response and action. Second, it diminishes the severity of other health concerns by comparison. By focusing rhetoric solely around gender-bending, the other health implications appear insufficiently significant problems or worthwhile reasons for advocating for healthy ED toxic-free environments (Di Chiro 2010: 203). Sandra Steingraber, by comparison, demonstrates a successful anti-toxins approach that shifts attention off environmental normality, onto the importance of health and well-being (Di Chiro 2010: 218). In tackling the negative effects of early puberty in girls caused in part by ED toxins, Steingraber says “it is a multi-causal threat to the well-being of girls and women that ultimately requires a comprehensive, integrated, unified response” (Steingraber 2007, in Di Chiro 2010: 219). It is this focus on the full and
complex systems at play, as well as the aim to achieve holistic health, rather than maintain normality, that sets Steingraber’s work apart from the typical anti-toxin rhetoric. Two major bodies of work have presented a more eco-queer interpretation of nonhuman animal sexuality. Bruce Bagemihl published Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Nature Diversity in 1999, in which he describes Biological Exuberance as “above all, an affirmation of life’s vitality and infinite possibilities: a worldview that is at once primordial and futuristic, in which gender is kaleidoscopic, sexualities are multiple, and the categories of male and female are fluid and transmutable. A world, in short, exactly like the one we inhabit.” The second work is Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, published by Joan Roughgarden in 2004. These two works reverse common narratives, naturalizing queerness through the depiction of queer nonhuman animals, while simultaneously denaturalizing homophobia, presenting it as purely a cultural construct, as evidenced by the lack of animal hostility exhibited towards same-sex acts in their presence (Bell 2010: 137). Bagemihl calls for the creation of a new paradigm that explores the nature of sex, celebrating excess and extravagance (Bell 2010: 138). Donna Haraway argues that nonhuman animals cannot be viewed as “genetically driven machines but as creatures embedded within and creating other ‘worlds’ or naturecultures” (Haraway 2003, in Alaimo 2010: 55-56). Naturecultures, a concept proposed by Haraway, highlights the essential interconnections between nature and culture, challenging the prevailing nature/culture duality that exists. This
concept will be explored in greater detail below, but it is worth to present Haraway’s argument that sexual activity is always indivisibly material and social, and therefore must be explored in a more holistic way (Alaimo 2010: 60). In all of these calls and proposals for alternative understandings of nonhuman (and human) animal sexuality, the consistent themes are the effort to positively study sex in more connected ways and the celebration of the diversity present, as expressed light-heartedly by Stacy Alaimo’s exclamation of “who knew?” in response to her study of queer animals (Alaimo 2010: 56). Nature and culture: Separate but not This section shall highlight and deconstruct the problematic ways in which nature and culture are dealt with, as well as the faulty duality that separates them (with the divide between wilderness and urban, nature and human). Eco-queer critiques of both wilderness and urban spaces will be explored, after which several queer ecological constructs will be presented in fuller detail to contrast the current hegemonic dichotomy. With the Industrial Revolution came increased consumption and pollution, which led to an increasing disconnect between people and nature as urban centers became rapidly degraded and dirtied (Almodovar 2008). The distinctness of the polluted urban spaces and more “pristine” nature enforced the nature/culture duality. Coinciding with the dirtying of urban spaces was the rising visibility of homosexuality, the influx of immigrants, and the rising of women’s economic independence (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 3-4). Thus, urban space became closely linked with the degeneracy of queerness (Sbicca 2011). This
strengthened the “crime-against-nature” views of queerness, because they were tied to clear causes of environmental damage. In fact, the early forms of North American environmentalism was largely formed in response to industrial urbanization (Gosine 2010: 154). These connections laid the foundation for environmental “ethics” to be used as a tool for the oppression and marginalization of queer people. The increased visibility of queer people in urban centers came partly as a result of queer people migrating to larger populations, in order to find other queer people, which is often lacking in small towns (Unger 2010: 174). As queer people came together, communities formed. In some cases, they were based primarily upon informal social connections (Unger 2010: 175), whereas in other cases, like in the Vancouver West Side, the community had a clear geographical presence in the form of a collection of queer-owned homes and businesses, which were taken over to claim the space as queer (Ingram 2010: 259). These communities provided support and solidarity amongst those seen as like-minded (Ingram 2010: 269), meaning that many still had issues of racism, classism, or sexism embedded within them. Despite the formation of supportive networks, open hostility and violence was, and still is, a reality. As a response, more natural spaces such as parks and forests were often used to engage in sexual activities (Ingram 2010: 260). The trees and underbrush provided cover and safety from violence and allowed queers, predominately gay men, to enjoy sexual pleasures in relative privacy (Ingram 2010: 276). However, public views of this activity were highly negative, as it was seen to go against the explicit purpose of parks (Gos-
ine 2010: 150). In the planning of urban spaces, parks hold a particular purpose of supporting and promoting the heteronormative sexual narratives of traditional families. Gay men having sex in the parks threatens that narrative by democratizing parks, forcing an acknowledgement that different people and groups have different relationships with a space; in other words, that natural or built spaces can have a diversity of uses and cannot be reduced to a single function (Sbicca 2011). In order to repress this gay sex, public sex was criminalized in parks, and police often conducted sting operations to arrest those engaging in such public activities (Gosine 2010: 155). The media and messages favouring the criminalization of gay sex in parks often centers on the idea that “public, homosexual sex is bad for the environment” (Gosine 2010: 155). This consistently used argument is based on the “unnaturalness” of queerness. There are four main arguments that stem from this basis. The first is a connection between gay men having sex and ecological degradation, based in the argument that discarded condoms and lubricant packages heavily litter the area, and despite the claim not actually holding up to further scrutiny (Gosine 2010: 158). The second is that public gay sex is directly responsible for the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/ AIDS, and promotes drug use, all of which harms the individuals and causes suffering and death (Gosine 2010: 163). Similar to the treatment of sexuality in nonhuman animals, this argument denies the pleasure of those engaging in sexual activity, but also ties the health issues directly to the act of public gay sex itself, rather than to issues of access to comprehensive sexual education or homophobia. The third argu-
ment is that children may witness the sex and be corrupted or harmed, as their innocence is destroyed (Gosine 2010: 161). This argument rests on the assumption that gay sex is inherently harmful and destructive, and that any close proximity to it is also destructive. This is a restatement of the corrupting, contaminating force of “unnatural” queerness, which has been addressed above, and will be further addressed below. Finally, a fourth argument that is worth exploring is the refusal to acknowledge gay men as part of society. This is demonstrated in comments made by police officers like Australian Senior Constable Mark Spencer with “I was receiving complaints every day from mums and dads taking their kids there and it got to the point no one wanted to be there,” (2007, in Gosine 2010: 161) or Minnesotan Police Sergeant Jeff Witte, who said “we’re not here to judge people on their behaviour. We just don’t want it out in public in our city parks” (2007, in Gosine 2010: 161). Spencer’s comments reflect the notion that the gay men having sex in parks are not people, because when they were there “no one” was there. Witte’s characterization of “our city parks” denies the gay men as being citizens of that city and therefore having a right to those parks, or a say in how they are used. In all of these different arguments, the fundamental argument is that queer people are part of neither society nor nature; they are a contamination that ruins all. Ironically, another common tactic used to discourage gay sex in parks is the removal of undergrowth in the parks (Gosine 2010: 160). By doing so, not only are queer people further marginalized with the loss of those “safer” spaces to engage in sex, but also the natural ecology is degraded, all in the name of protecting na-
ture and the traditional family unit. The heteronormative family unit plays a central role in the way urban spaces are designed and how they function, so it is important to understand what that narrative entails, and the kind of environmental relationship it establishes. The predominant sexual narrative promoted is that of the married heterosexual man and wife (signifying the patriarchal structure), with 2.5 children and a dog, living in a large house in the suburbs. Though rarely stated so frankly, it is important to recognize that “families do not float free […], independent of the consequences of their material practices, whether they are industrialized or hunter-gatherers (Sturgeon 2010: 123). The suburban family norm is dependent on extremes of global inequity, and the extent to which is a causal factor in the present environmental problems is often overlooked in discussions of population dynamics and growth (Sturgeon 2010: 107). Within the mainstream environmentalism movement, discourse around overpopulation in developing countries shifts the blame for environmental problems away from the “consumption activities of the white middle-upper-class American who often make up the movements’ membership” (Gosine 2010: 153). As a result, pressure to critically evaluate the way families in the Global North relate, or don’t, to the environment is lessened. Thus, the heterosexist narrative on how people should live and work remains largely unchallenged, outside of calls to improve technological efficiency or make minimal adjustments (Sturgeon 2010: 127). This sexual narrative must be deconstructed, evaluated, and likely replaced by a diversity of ecologically informed narratives that create a positive place for families, communities, and individuals within
nature. Within urban spaces, the encompassing symbols of culture or human domain, there must be a fuller understanding of how the industrial ecologies of Western countries are, in fact, ecologies that are interconnected with, and inseparable from, “the planetary ecological workings on a global scale, as well as […] communities, families, and species, determining the ability of animals, families, and cultures to reproduce in healthy and sustainable ways” (Sturgeon 2010:122). At the same time that the identity and sexual politics of individuals play out in material spaces changing them through beneficial or detrimental relations, those spaces reveal limits that govern access and behaviour (Sbicca 2011). Culture shapes nature, just as nature shapes culture. Recognizing these indivisible forces is fundamental to a full eco-queer critique. As a final note to queer people and urban spaces, it is important to stress that queerness does not inherently reject the capitalist consumerism of Western society. With the strong associations of queerness and urban spaces, queer narratives that support this society have formed. Homonormativity is “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them, while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (Duggan 2003, in Sbicca: 2011). It is a politic often portrayed in mainstream presentations of queer people, such as in shows like Queer as Folk, where “to be gay and male, the story goes, is to fully indulge capitalist consumption” (Gosine 2001, in Russell et al. 2002: 58). Thus, an eco-queer politic does not simply encom-
pass the perspectives and livelihoods of all queer people, but rather uses radical queer politics to challenge heterosexist oppression of human and nonhuman animals and nature. Noël Sturgeon aptly summarizes that “mainstream environmentalists, in their emphasis on wilderness, species extinction, and in general seeing the environment as excluding human beings, often fall into services to this dominant Western logic of seeing the natural as pure, unchanging, untainted by social influence and without history” (Gosine 2010: 158). Unfortunately, nature does not actually have any of those attributed characteristics. Nature is the product of a continuous and changing history, with every aspect having a temporal and geographical context. It is also highly influenced by social constructs, even for the conservation and preservation movements that supposedly aim to set aside portions of undamaged nature to protect indefinitely. The preservation ethic is based on the protecting unspoiled nature for its own inherent value, whereas the conservation ethic, as articulated by Grifford Pinchot, is based on using natural resources, including wilderness, wisely “for the greatest good for the greatest number of people for the longest time” (Hunter 1993: 119). Both of these ethical movements maintain the belief that humans are not part of nature, but rather a source of contamination that degrades nature. However, not all humans were deemed to be equal sources of contamination, and an exploration of who had access to these wilderness areas demonstrates how the movements served as a new space to promote white, straight, male superiority and the marginalization of queer people (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 3). The rise of these move-
ments coincided with the rise of industrial urban centers, with the ties to queer people outlined above. As such, the recreational wilderness spaces were formed as a counter to the “social ravages of effeminate homosexuality” (Gosine 2010: 155). Thus, these spaces were shaped by heterosexist ideals, tied to heteronormative constructs of masculinity; they became, as said by Mei Mei Evans, “the exclusive province of straight white men, who adventure in nature in order to establish their manhood” (Stein 2010: 287). As wilderness became tied to masculinity, queer people, amongst others, were then disconnected from nature. Because of the “unnaturalness” of homosexuality, the presence of queers within wilderness was seen as an affront to the pureness of nature; same-sex activity in these areas was criminalized to discourage the unwanted contamination (Gosine 2010: 155). Lesbian feminist poet Adrienne Rich highlights how the solitude in wilderness so promoted as a positive experience is only possible for those who conform to societal standards, whereas for those who are seen as deviant, such as queers, solitude in wilderness means being vulnerable to hatred and violence (Stein 2010: 291). In her poem “Yom Kippur 1984” Rich writes: “...to love solitude—am I writing merely about privilege/about drifting from the center, drawn to edges/a privilege we can’t afford in the world that is/who are hated as being our kind...” (Stein 2010: 292). In another of her poems, she uses the mainstream environmentalist term “endangered species” to describe homosexual access to wilderness (Stein 2010, 293). By doing so, she queers nature, questioning its heteronormative assumptions and re-articulating queers as a part of the natural environment, rather than an out-
side threat. Eco-queer interpretations of nature have been explored and presented in several different artistic media. In the film Brokeback Mountain, wilderness is “portrayed as a vast field of homoerotic possibility; the two rugged men romp and tumble freely, watched, for the most part, only by the rugged mountains” (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 3). This aligns with the long history of pastoral representations of male same-sex eroticism, whereby man homosexuality is aligned with the natural, and heterosexuality is the learned, or “unnatural,” sexuality (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 4). Lesbian poet Minnie Bruce Pratt uses her poetry to explore the way nature becomes a protective safe-house for her to live and bond with her children, after unjust sodomy laws violently dislocate her from her family (Stein 2010: 290). Nature becomes the site of her struggle to overcome the supposed lesbian/mother contradiction that marks her life; she queers nature by “presenting natural settings, often rivers, as the physical and figurative place of possibility for outcasts/outlaws from the social order” (Stein 2010: 300). Lastly, Joseph Hansen explores the interconnections of queerness, race, class, living environments, environmental justice, and conceptions of nature in his 1984 detective novel Nightwork: A Davie Brandstetter Mystery (Hogan 2010: 246). The story of illegal chemical dumping provides the backdrop against which to understand how societal systems of oppression are connected, and how they affect relationships with the environment; he questions the heterosexist, racist, and classist bases of “nature,” and instead opens up an understanding of the environment that incorporates marginalized communities. All
three of these examples share the common theme of challenging the heterosexist exclusivity of nature and instead finding a place for queer people in nature. Hansen’s work, in particular, challenged the notion of nature as a people-less landscape and society as removed from nature (Hogan 2010: 248), which acts a strong example for a literary adaptation of Haraway’s natureculture. Natureculture: Looking forward to a paradigm shift The Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, along with the Emancipation project, both helped shape a Western narrative that separated humans from nature; humans sought to free themselves from nature and instead achieve dominance over nature (Leiss 1994: 151). This divide has grown over time. Philosopher Dale Jamieson argues that “nature... implies sameness while culture implies difference,” and that it is the diversity caused by culture that prevents a natural ethic from being universal (Azzarello 2010: 12). Fuck For Forests (FFF), a notfor-profit organization that embodies an ecopolitic of using sexed bodies as a platform for nature-centered activism, strives to reclaim sex as a natural act, but maintains the view that culture is distinctly separate from, and destructive towards, nature (Bell 2010:143). Several writers have rejected the nature/culture binary promoted so strongly in Western environmental narratives. Biologist Nancy Langston argues that the nature/culture divides an illusion which falls apart in the study of environmental histories (Di Chiro 2010: 215), while Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, in her gender studies, queer theory, and critical theory work, attacks the duality by saying that “the im-
memorial, seemingly ritualized debates on nature versus nurture take place against a very unstable background of tactic assumptions and fantasies about both nurture and nature” (Azzarello 2012: 18). Haraway proposed her concept of “natureculture” in her 2003 The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. She posits that “the very idea of nature itself is not natural; nature is cultural” though that is not to say that nature is subsumed within culture (Bell 2010: 143). Rather the concept provides a useful reminder of the inseparable interconnections between what we perceive to be nature and culture. Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands also rejects the population-environment discourse, arguing that it is inherently antagonistic because within this discourse “nature exists only as a ‘resource’ for human use; more people inevitable means more degradation” and “nature’s primary appearance in human life is as a limit to human excess, including, potentially, an excess of human freedom (especially in the context of a crisis)” (Gosine 2010: 163-4). This critique runs directly counter to the “environment comes first, human rights are secondary” environmental ethic that Herschel Elliott argues for in his Ethics for a Finite World (2005). By placing humans within the environment, as members of the biotic community, Mortimer-Sandilands demonstrates that human well-being is an environmental issue, not the antithesis to ecological well-being. Genderqueer writer Eli Clare blurs the lines between bodies, oppression, and the environment: The body as home, but only if it is understood that bodies can be stolen, fed lies and poison, torn away from us. They rise up around me-
-bodies stolen by hunger, war, breast cancer, AIDS, rape; the daily grind of factory, sweatshop, cannery, sawmill; the lynching rope; the freezing streets; the nursing home and prison. […] Disabled people cast as supercrips and tragedies; lesbian/ gay/bisexual/trans people told over and over again that we are twisted and unnatural; poor people made responsible for their own poverty. Stereotypes and lies lodge in our bodies as surely as bullets. They live and fester there, stealing the body.” (Di Chiro 2010: 199) Clare calls for bodies to be reclaimed as home, tying them to an ecology that provides material grounding for a social-environmental politic that learns from bodies deemed against nature (Di Chiro 2010: 200). This politic integrates diversity, interdependence, social justice, and ecological integrity. This politic is closely tied to Haraway’s natureculture, and Sandiland’s queering of environments, which Sandiland describes as a process “by which all relations to nature become de-naturalized, by which we question the uses to which ‘nature’ has been put” in order to create queer environments where “the boundaries between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ are shown to be arbitrary, dialectical, mutually constitutive” (Stein 2010: 288). The metaphor of a garden has been used in multiple ways to illuminate that blurring between humans and nature, and the queering of natural spaces. In Native American cultures, as noted by Joni Adamson, gardens are seen as “the middle space,” where humans and nature engage in a relationship of reciprocity and co-construction (Stein 2010: 295). Rich uses garden metaphors to “revalue the productive
power of same-sex commitment, in direct challenge to the heteronormative condemnation that reigns beyond the boundaries of the lovers’ garden plot” (Stein 2010: 297). This concept of integration and dependence on the environment is thoroughly part of our discourses surrounding nonhuman animals, but it is rarely applied to us because it conflicts with our duality narrative (Sturgeon 2010: 115). However, it is precisely those relationships of mutual adaptation and dialogue that must be fulfilled, rather than the current monological slave-like relationships (Plumwood 2006: 116). As a final point, it is worthwhile to look at the pluralistic values reflects and held within different queer autonomous spaces by surveying some of these communities for consideration. Beyond the rejecting of discursive binary constructions (gay/straight, male/female, and nature/culture), which have been discussed above, a number of other values are worth highlighting. On a fundamental level, they tend to be based on “respect, consent, nonnormativity, sexual liberation, and developing alternative ways of being” (Sbicca: 2011). The informal queer communities formed within urban centers strove to provide connection, support, and solidarity through common identity outside of the social norms (Unger 2010: 175). Lesbian back-to-the-land movements, which were particularly popular in the 1970s, “sought to adapt to the natural environment rather than transform it,” viewing the land as a source of physical and spiritual healing; they valued salvaged, recycled, and handcraft materials over industrially produced ones, and focused on preventative health care by living healthy and eating organic vegetables (Unger 2010: 181-2). Pagoda, a lesbian community at Vilano Beach, fo-
cused on creating an equalitarian community, and strengthening community bonds and identity through rituals and weekly gatherings to discuss interpersonal issues (Unger 2010: 183-5). These values, integrating oneself into nature, recognizing interdependence, promoting resourcefulness, and maintaining social connections, would serve any community well, whether based on queer identity or not. Conclusion Eco-queer theory provides an alternative to existing heterosexist constructs of nature by blurring the divide between society and the environment, while also celebrating the vast diversity that exists. The heterosexist assumptions that currently shape much of environmental discourse result in distorted depictions of the realities of nonhuman animals, the marginalization of communities, and the flawed nature/culture dichotomy. In order to overcome this problematic paradigm, the relations that connect human individuals to each other and to other components and constituents of the biophysical work must be understood fully and explored. Eco-queer theory provides a framework to reconceptualize sexuality and relations in a way that fully encapsulates diversity. Individual bodies become a site for the resistance and change that must occur. As argued by Clare, those in non-normative positions have the potential to offer new insights and solutions to create a just and sustainable society. “And as for the lies and false images, we need to name them, transform them, create something entirely new in their place, something that comes close and finally true to the bone, entering our bodies as liberation, joy, fury, hope, a will to refigure the world. The body as home” (Clare 2001, in Di Chiro 2010: 225).
Definitions Queer is both a noun and a verb, referring in one sense to individuals who do not conform to societal gender binaries or heterosexual desire (those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, pansexual, asexual, intersex, and others, as this is not an exhaustive list), an in another sense to the questioning of heteronormativity itself within social and environmental discourse (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 5). It is this combination of both individual experiences and active deconstruction that results in the queer perspective having such a unique contribution to societal narratives. Oppression is “the systematic control of a group of people by another group of people with access to social power[…] result[ing] in benefits for one group over the other and is maintained by social beliefs and practices” (Positive Space Network). Marginalization is “the social process of being relegated to a lower social standing... to being separated from the rest of society and forced to occupy the edges” (Positive Space Network). The marginalization of people occurs both socially and geographically; this can be seen in the way racialized and low-income groups are often forced to reside in more industrial and polluted areas. Heterosexism is “the ubiquitous framework that identifies heterosexuality as the norm... and all other expressions of both sexuality and gender abnormal, deviant, or exceptional—and not in a good way” (Azzarello 2012: 9). Heteronormativity, closely tied to heterosexism, is the assumption that all individuals fit within the male/female gender binaries and are heterosexual, but also involves the marginalization and op-
pression of those who do not fit those categories. Eco-queer theory is a developing field of study that aims to bridge the gap between environmental and queer studies, creating “a sexual politics that more clearly includes considerations of the natural world and its biosocial constitution, and an environmental politics that demonstrates an understanding of the ways in which sexual relations organize and influence both the material world of nature and our perceptions, experiences, and constitutions of that world” (Mortimer-Sandilands & Erickson 2010: 5). Works within this body of inquiry focus on deconstructing dualities and exploring interconnects; the artificial separation of nature and culture is of primary importance, as is highlighting the links that exist between issues of gender, race, class, sexuality, and environmental degradation. References
Alaimo, S. (2010). Eluding Capture: The Science, Culture, and Pleasures of ‘Queer’ Animals. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 51-72. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Almodovar, L. (November 5 2008). “The Industrial Revolution and Pollution.” Web. www.voices.yahoo.com [accessed December 9, 2012]. Azzarello, R. (2012). Queer Environmentality: Ecology, Evolution, and Sexuality in American Literature. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing. Bell, D. (2010). “Queeernaturecultures.” In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 134-145. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Elliott, H. (2005). Ethics for a Finite World. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing.
Hogan, K. (2010). Undoing Nature: Coalition Building as Queer Environmentalism. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 231253. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Hunter Jr, M. L. (1993) Natural Fire Regimes as Spatial Models for managing Boreal Forests. Biological Conservation (65), 115-120. Ingram, G. B. (2010). Fragments, Edges, and Matrices: Retheorizing the Formation of a So-called Gay Ghetto through Queering Landscape Ecology. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 254-282. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Leiss, W. (1994). The Domination of Nature. Quebec: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Mortimer-Sandilands, C. (2005) Unnatural Passions?: Notes Toward a Queer Ecology. Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture (9), 9-39. Mortimer-Sandilands, C. & Erickson, B. (2010). Introduction: A Genealogy of Queer Ecologies. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 1-47. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Plumwood, V. (2006) The Concept of a Cultural Landscape: Nature, Culture and Agency of the Land. Ethics & the Environment (11), 115-150. Understanding Oppression. Positive Space Network, accessed December 1, 2012. http://web.uvic.ca/psn/resources/manual/oppression/ Russell, C., Sarick, T. & Kennelly, J. (2002) Queering Environmental Education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (7), 54-66. Sbicca, J. (2012) “Finding the Eco-Queer Movement: Challenging Heteronormative Space through Re-imaginings of Nature and Food.” Web. www.plantingjustice.org [accessed September 20 2012] Stein, R. (2010). ‘The Place, Promised, That Has Not Yet Been’: The Nature of Dislocation and Desire in Adrienne Rich’s Your Native Land/Your Life and Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Crime Against Nature. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 285-308. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Sturgeon, N. (2010). Penguin Family Values: The Nature of Planetary Environmental Reproductive Justice. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 102-133. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Unger, N. C. (2010). From Jook Joints to Sisterpace: The Role of Nature in Lesbian Alternative Environments in the United States. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 173-198. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Di Chiro, G. (2010). Polluted Politics? Confronting Toxic Discourse, Sex Panic, and Eco-Normativity. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 199-230. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Garrard, G. (2012). Ecocriticism. New York: Routledge. Gosine, A. (2010). Non-white Reproduction and Same-Sex Eroticism: Queer Acts against Nature. In Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, 149-172. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
A colony of sea snails (L. littorea) crowded between two rocks during low tide at Crescent Beach State Park. Taken June 2013 in Scarborough, ME.
Photo by Megan Howes
Tomayto, Tomahto: A Case Study on Sustainable Produce Acquisition in the Montreal Wintertime by Saamiah Ali, Andrea Wyers and Jane Zhang Abstract : As rapidly growing global population and increasing urbanization have raised concern over food security and brought attention to the sustainability of metropolitan food systems, urban agriculture initiatives have cropped up in response to these challenges. While the feasibility of such practices has been studied to an extent, studies often fail to encompass the effects of seasonality on production. This is particularly true in continental cities where extreme climate variability brings agricultural production to a halt during the winter. This case study analyzes environmental and economic metrics to explore the relative environmental costs of wintertime production in urban agriculture compared to more conventional methods of acquisition in the city of Montreal. For this study we chose to measure the costs associated with bringing a 1-kg basket of tomatoes to market due to the magnitude of their consumption and relatively high input requirements. We measure differences in production via imported conventional agriculture, domestic greenhouse-grown, and local urban agriculture. Urban agriculture tomatoes were brought to market at relatively low environmental and economic costs, while imported tomatoes had by far the most detrimental impacts, despite being the least expensive to the consumer. These findings suggest that urban agriculture is environmentally sound and potentially profitable as a method of produce acquisition. Introduction Among the various problems associated with climate change, questions regarding food security are of particular consequence. The global rate of urbanization has increased rapidly (Pinstrup-Andersen 2009), and the subsequent development of food deserts (Larson 2008) in many cities has brought the structure and
sustainability of metropolitan food systems under scrutiny. In response to these challenges, urban agriculture, or growing food within cities, has become increasingly popular as a more environmental and socially-accessible alternative to conventional food production. These practices aim to bring food sovereignty back to local communities, and claim to play host to
multiple ecosystem services, such as better urban air quality and greater presence of green space. The success of both public and private initiatives, in the form of community gardens, rooftop greenhouses, and inner-city farms, in cities around the world have sparked much debate over the extent and necessity of global food system reform. While the arguments for conventional food production are varied depending on their source, many focus on the economic and ecological infeasibility of growing enough food to feed growing urban populations (Sexton 2011; Desrochers 2013). To debunk some of the concern over spatial constraints, Haberman et. al (2012) conducted a study on Montreal’s spatial potential for urban agriculture and found that there was more than enough rooftop and land space to feed the city several times over. What their study did not account for was seasonality; Montreal has a highly variable climate, which essentially halts agricultural productivity come wintertime. The winter alternative to summer production is greenhouse agriculture, where crops grown indoors require relatively higher input costs (Latimer 2009). Whether or not these inputs are higher than those required by conventional agriculture inspired this examination of both the feasibility and favourability of urban agriculture as an adequate food source in Montreal. To better understand the impacts of different food production systems, tomatoes were isolated and their variable costs measured. Because of Canada’s unfavorable growing conditions, domesticallygrown tomatoes require higher energy and carbon inputs and thus likely represent an appropriate upper bound for what is required to grow during Montreal’s winter months. The research question to be an-
swered is as follows: What are the relative costs of acquiring tomatoes using urban agriculture versus conventional methods in Montreal wintertime? These costs have been quantified using both environmental and economic metrics. The study aims to examine Montreal’s productive capacity and economic feasibility for urban agriculture during the winter months, as compared to conventionally sourced tomatoes: imported field-grown from abroad and commercial greenhouse-grown in rural Quebec. By comparing the environmental impacts of each of these three production methods, the ecological footprint required of each method to meet current consumption demands was evaluated. By addressing the question of seasonality and weighing urban agriculture as an alternative against conventional agricultural production methods, this paper will hopefully contribute to the dialogue on sustainable urban food systems and provide a starting point for future research on urban agriculture as a viable solution. 2. Methods 2.1 Case Study Design Spatial and temporal boundaries of this study were defined seasonally, by focusing on the seasonal effects on agriculture and consumption. Looking specifically at the production of tomatoes, winter months between November and March, i.e. the annual period where Montreal’s sunlight and temperature conditions are least conducive to tomato growth, were chosen as the period of study. This timeframe also corresponds with months when greenhouses require higher inputs to be productive. Spatially, we focused on tomato consumption within the Island of
Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Tomatoes are among the most popular and most abundantly consumed fresh vegetables in Canada. The total supply of fresh tomatoes in 2012 was about 5.52kg per person. In 2011, Quebec households spent more annually on tomatoes than those in any other province, with an average of $60.00 per household per year (Statistics Canada 2013). The popular variety of Tomato-on-Vine (TOV, S. lycopersicum) were chosen to standardize data because they are available year-round in Montreal supermarkets, including the winter months. In order to compare tomatoes across three different production methods, a case study was designed around three representative acquisition types as outlined in the Table 1. The metrics and case acquisition methods are detailed in the following sections. They are water usage (in L/kg tomato/month), carbon emitted (in kg CO2/kg tomato/month), and market price (in CAD$/kg tomato). 2.2 Comparative Metrics To evaluate the environmental sustainability and economic viability of the selected acquisition methods, three
different metrics of comparison were chosen that together capture a holistic picture of sustainability. 2.2.1. Water usage As a measure for regional sustainability, water usage is a constant and significant input for all agricultural operations, whether indoor or outdoor, using hydroponics or soil culture. The three methods were evaluated for their intensity of water usage, what water was used for, and whether water was recirculated. The CI method uses water for crop irrigation, mostly in the form of drip irrigation, and industrial sanitization processes. The CG and UA methods both use water solely for hydroponics and recycle some or all of their water. 2.2.2 Carbon footprint To capture each farmâ€™s global impact on climate change, a carbon footprint was evaluated for each. The embedded and direct carbon footprint for each method was a combination of its energy use, fertilizer and chemical use, and transport emissions. In terms of energy, the monthly amount used, where it was used, the ener-
Table 1: Case study design: comparing three metrics across three case methodologies.
gy sources, and energy-saving techniques were considered. Greenhouses were expected to be fairly energy-intensive for their heating and lighting needs and the CI method to use mechanized energy in its industrial processing. All three methods use chemical fertilizer and/or pesticide inputs. For the hydroponic greenhouses, a certain level of chemicals is constantly needed for the nutrient solutions. In Florida, large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are employed throughout the growing season. Lastly, transport emissions were considered, relative to the distance travelled for delivery to Montreal. The use of standard Diesel-engine delivery trucks were assumed for calculations. In this case, direct emissions were expected to be highest for CI, much smaller for CG and smallest for UA. 2.2.3 Market price The incorporation of personal or household consumption was done by evaluating the affordability of each method’s tomato as a proctor for attractiveness to consumers. To evaluate the financial stability and affordability (attractiveness for consumers), the above environmental metrics were compared to the tomato market price per kilogram. Values for CI and CG were based on a survey of supermarkets across Montreal and for UA through Lufa Farms’ online marketplace. This dollar value was used to see whether consumer costs aligned with environmental and social costs of tomato production in each case. 2.3 Methods of acquisition Three types of food acquisition common to Montreal were compared in order to see how each of these methods
measures in environmental impact and monetary cost on the market. The control methods were conventional import (CI) and conventional greenhouse (CG); urban agriculture (UA) was the independent variable. Data was sourced from representative companies and literature on tomato production. All numbers were standardized to a value of per-kilogram basket of tomatoes for comparability. 2.3.1. Conventional Imports (CI) As one of two regions in North America suited to grow field tomatoes year-round (Reinhardt 2008), Florida is Quebec’s main supplier of tomatoes during winter months. Because the majority of the industry data was proprietary, data was collected from the extensive scientific literature pertaining to Florida production rather than a single case company. Optimal production methods as described in the literature were used to calculate inputs of typical commercial farming methods used to grow, harvest and distribute produce. For growth, production methods utilize ecosystem services such as natural sunlight and rainfall, but also rely heavily on technologies like fertigation (applying fertilizers through irrigation) and drip-irrigation, the conventional method of watering field crops by dripping water onto soil. In measuring these input costs against naturally provided savings, we hope to gain a more comprehensive picture of this acquisition method’s true expense to the environment and those who inhabit it. By auditing individual steps in the field-growth production line, typical input and output values are calculated with known production data. Figure 1 shows the tomato-growing process (adapted from Olson et al. 2013), as it would typi-
Figure 1. Commercial tomato production line, where (C) indicates carbon emissions, (E) indicates electricity-use, and (W) indicates water-use. Source: Olson, S.M. et al.
cally occur in Florida, where most imported tomatoes are grown (Statistics Canada 2013). The diagram also indicates which metrics are measured in each step. Further explanation of each metric follows after. Monthly tomato production values were obtained from the USDAâ€™s National Agricultural Statistics Service as well as from their Economic Research Service. Monthly yield was calculated by multiplying the number of 25-lbs cartons by 25000 (original data was provided in 1000s of cartons), and then converted into kilograms. For monthly harvest, the monthly yield was divided by the seasonal yield (USDA NASS 2012), multiplied by the seasonal harvest (USDA NASS 2012), and then multiplied by 0.405 to convert the final value into kilograms of tomato/hectare. Water usage was calculated by adding irrigation water with generated dump tank water. The irrigation requirement is determined by dividing the crop water requirement by the application efficiency of the irrigation method; the crop water requirement is determined by multiplying the crop coefficient by the reference evapotranspiration. The crop coefficient is different for each growth stage, and the
reference evapotranspiration value is determined monthly (Olson 2013). This results in a total number of gallons applied per acre per day. This is then converted into Litres per kilogram of tomatoes. The amount of water used for sanitation and processing purposes was determined by dividing the water generated each day by the quantity of tomatoes produced each day. Because of the large range cited in surveyed data, the value used to represent daily water use was determined by dividing the seasonâ€™s total water use by the number of days in the season. The generated answer falls within the range described in published literature. The carbon footprint was a sum of direct emissions from fertilizer use and soil conversions, farming machinery, and transportation. These direct emissions come from trucking between field and packinghouse as well as from farm gate to supermarket. All of these, with the exception of trucking from farm to supermarket were found in a University of Florida study conducted in 2010 (Jones et al.). Their results, in kilograms of CO2 per hectare, were summed and multiplied by the number of hectares harvested each
month (USDA NASS 2012). Emissions from transport between farm gate and supermarket were determined by choosing the lowest distance route between southcentral Florida and Montreal multiplied by the number of shipments per month. Energy usage was determined in a report (Reinhardt 2008) on the energy investments and CO2 emissions from fresh produce grown in New York State versus imported from other states. Energy use from electricity and diesel was calculated from field-machinery and post-harvest processing, including cooling and packaging. Simple conversion factors were used to obtain a value that could be multiplied by monthly harvest values to receive a value in kWh/month. Energy emissions were calculated using conversion factors for the types of energy and the percentage of the total energy use the types accounted for. The factors are: 1. Diesel: 0245 kgCO2 /kWh (Carbon Trust 2013) 2. Coal generated electricity: 1.577 kgCO2 /kWh (Carbon Trust 2013) 2.3.2. Conventional Greenhouse (CG) The second control method was the commercial greenhouse in Quebec that grow tomatoes through hydroponics. A subset of hydroculture, hydroponics allows crops to be grown in a soilless medium. The type used for both CG and UA cases is the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), where plants grow in a shallow stream of water with dissolved nutrients. Hydroponics allows the advantage of water recycling, with a trade-off of disqualification from “organic” labelling in Canada. Savoura, one of the largest tomato brands in Quebec, grows hydroponic tomatoes on
39 acres of greenhouses. Its operations are generally representative of tomato growing methods in Quebec. Data was supplied directly from Savoura’s Saint-Étienne-desGrès greenhouse site, the biggest of four tomato-only production sites, with 52,000 m2, and located 147 km from Montreal. The site grows six varieties of tomatoes with similar growth requirements and harvests 365 days a year. Monthly data was provided on water use, energy use, tomato production, and fertilizer use (Appendix C). For all metrics, monthly figures from all given years were averaged for a single wintermonth figure, then divided by total production to give a per kilogram value. The greenhouse produces an average of 166,016 kilograms of tomatoes per month, and this value was used to scale down the other input values to per kilogram figures. For water use, 40-50% of it is recycled, using 2.97L/kg tomato/ month for hydroponic solutions. Savoura’s carbon footprint was calculated based on its energy use, fertilizer inputs, and transport emissions; the values are 0.477, 0.14 and 0.012 kgCO2/kg tomato, respectively. Energy was calculated based on heating and lighting inputs. Tomato plants need eight to ten hours of sunlight per day, ambient daytime temperatures between 21°C to 26°C and night time temperatures of 16°C to 18.5°C (Jensen 2009). To satisfy these conditions, Savoura employs 12,500 standard greenhouse High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) light bulbs at 1,000 Watts each. These use 33.48 kWh of hydroelectricity per month per kilogram tomato. To heat the greenhouse, Savoura uses 13.53 kWh of energy, 97.2% of which is biogas from a nearby landfill, and 2.8% from natural gas. Energy emissions were calculated using
conversion factors for the types of energy and the percentage of the total energy use the types accounted for. The factors are: 1. Hydro: 0.01 kgCO2 /kWh (Hydro Quebec) 2. Natural gas: 0.422 kgCO2 /kWh (IEA 2012) 3. Biogas: density of 1.27 kg/m3 (Jørgensen, 2009) and 20 Tonnes CO2/Tonne of biogas (CAUSE, 2012) The Fertilizer component of Savoura’s carbon footprint was calculated based on mineral requirements for hydroponic solutions found in the literature. They were converted into emissions using the following conversion factors (Lal 2004): 1. Nitrogen: 1.3 kgCO2 /kWh 2. Potassium: 0.2 kgCO2 /kWh 3. Phosphorous: 0.15 kgCO2 /kWh For transport emissions, Savoura has used three 53’ Diesel engine trucks that travel 200km each per day. A conversion factor of 2.663kg CO2/L diesel (British Columbia Institute of Technology [BCIT] 2013) was used to calculate transport emissions. Despite this value, Savoura actually sells 9,000 tonnes of carbon credits per year (likely due to its use of biogas for heating), though it was not factored into the carbon footprint as this may not be typical of other commercial greenhouses in Quebec. 2.3.3. Urban Agriculture (UA) Rooftop gardening was chosen as the representative urban agriculture method because non-greenhouse methods cannot operate in Montreal during winter. Also,
in urban areas, rooftop greenhouses are likely to be the most convenient spatially since land is limited in cities. Lufa Farms, our representative UA company, uses rooftop greenhouses and had the most data available for our research. Lufa Farms is the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse, started up in Montreal in 2011, and currently serves over 3,000 urban households. They aim to feed a growing urban population, while minimizing their environmental impact. They conserve water by using precipitation, recycling 100% of the water used. They conserve energy by using solar energy, building heat, and by deploying energy curtains throughout the day as required. These reduce energy costs by 50-70% from a typical on-the-ground greenhouse. Lufa also uses biological controls instead of chemical pesticides, and they compost 100% of their organic waste. Their closed-loop system is part of the eco-friendly philosophy that differentiates them from the conventional methods described above. Using hydroponics, Lufa grows a variety of vegetables in its 0.712 acre greenhouse. Approximately 20% of the space is used for tomatoes, producing 2,500kg of tomatoes per week. Produce is grown and distributed year round. Five times a week, vegetables are hand-picked and delivered to drop points in CSA baskets by two delivery trucks. As a relatively new and commercial operation, Lufa does not yet have extensive data compared to the control methods. Additionally, the company is relatively new, and consequently their pricing and financial viability may not be completely settled yet. However, their estimates and rough data for resource consumption are meant to represent conven-
tional UA methods and are more rigorous than other researched companies. Data provided was for the entire greenhouse, and thus scaled down to 20% to capture tomato impacts. Water use was given as 8,000 litres per day for a one-acre facility. Heating and lighting figures were scaled down from greenhouse industry standards. Heating was 40% less than CG values, and lighting was given as 200 hours per month in the winter, using the same HPS bulbs as
Savoura. Because Lufa is already located in Montreal, carbon emissions from transport were calculated based intra-city delivery. Based on a Google Map of drop-off points and equal deliveries five times per week, a weekly distance of 484 km was calculated. Conversion factors were based on standard Diesel trucks, just as for Savoura. Emissions from fertilizer were calculated using the same method as for CG.
Figure 2: Comparative graph of water use across the three sources.
Figure 3: Comparative graph of carbon emissions across the three sources.
3. Data & Analysis After collecting data from the three acquisition methods, we compiled standardized figures into comparative graphs for each metric. 3.1 Water use Water use was highest for the CI method and similar among the greenhouses. Importing from Florida required about 7.6 L per kilogram tomato produced, compared to 2.972L for CG and 2.778L for UA. This is due to the large amount of water used in Florida for soil preparation and irrigation (99.8%) and a small remainder for sanitization vats in industrial processing. Despite Lufaâ€™s 100% recirculation of water, UA used slightly more water than CG per kilogram tomato because of Savouraâ€™s larger size and the relative economies of scale. 3.2 Carbon Footprint 3.2.1 Energy use Both the amount of energy use and the source were considered in carbon footprint. Conversion calculations for energy were based on respective energy sources. In terms of total energy use, CI used significantly less than the greenhous-
es. Florida only used 2.09 kWh/kg tomato/ month, whereas UA used 14.65 kWh and CG used 47.01kWh. The greenhouses require significantly more energy to create natural climatic conditions, whereas Florida has natural heat and sunlight. Because values were all per kilogram tomato, Florida also has the advantage of economy of scale; even though they use more energy in total, their crop production is also much larger. To account for the differences between UA and CI, Lufa Farms has natural energy advantages because of the urban heat island and rooftop heat savings, as well as its heat curtains. Moreover, Savoura has a significantly larger operation site, which requires more energy to heat and light. That said, when factoring in the type of energy used and where it comes from, a different image is presented. Based on given percentages for energy sources, Savoura actually used 99% renewable energy, versus 50% for Lufa and 0% in Florida. For CI, Savoura heats their greenhouse with biogas from a nearby landfill, thereby absorbing rather than emitting emissions. Moreover, their lighting electricity is sourced from Hydro Quebec, notably a renewable energy source. The UA method has the natural benefit of building heat, which supplies half of its
Figure 4: Energy sourcing for the three methods.
Figure 5: Per kilogram prices for tomatoes from the three methods.
energy needed. The other half comes from natural gas, which is offset by the reduction in distribution requirements over a 12-month period (Leah 2012). The CI method, however, is highly fossil-fuel intensive and uses all non-renewable energy sources. Electricity in the USA is supplied mainly by coal (see Appendix F), which is dirty in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions. 3.2.2 Chemical use Emissions from fertiliser use was greatest for CI, 0.39 kgCO2 /kg of tomato and very small for CG and UA at 0.014 and 0.009 kgCO2 /kg of tomato, respectively. The nutrient requirements for hydroponics seem to be overshadowed by CIâ€™s heavy chemical use, therefore having considerable externalities in terms of environment and health. 3.2.3 Transport emissions The transport emissions were a direct The transport emissions were a direct function of the distance travelled from production site to the consumer market in
Montreal. As expected, CI was by far the highest. Since intra-urban travel was only considered for UA, it gives the impression of having higher transport emissions than CG, whose transport emissions were only captured between greenhouse and city. 3.3 Market price For our economic metric, we compared the consumer market price across the three methods. For CI and CG, there was a striking difference between their supermarket prices, with CG prices about five times higher than CI ones. UA was found to have an intermediate price, signifying an affordable rate contrary to perceptions of UA being highly costly. Savouraâ€™s price was highest mostly due to the small weights of their packaging. However, comparing market price to the environmental metrics, the CI has the lowest price despite the highest inputs, whereas CG has the highest price and intermediate inputs, and UA has an intermediate price and the lowest inputs. The discrepancy was explored further by comparing the three prices to their social cost of carbon (SCC).
Figure 6: Market prices versus social cost of carbon.
Figure 7: Comparative graph of three methods across the three metrics.
A carbon price of $37/kg CO2 (Shelanski 2013) was used to juxtapose social costs with actual costs. The magnitude of the SSCs reflects the respective carbon footprints of the three methods, showing that CI is least reflective of its environmental costs, whereas both CG and UA appear to capture carbon costs. Surprisingly, the real price of carbon came out to a few pennies each, at approximately 1-4 cents, thus it appears that
including the SCC at this price would not significantly impact market price. 4. Discussion & Conclusions 4.1 Trade-offs between methods An indexed comparative graph was created by directly comparing all the methods and metrics to better understand the tradeoffs. Acquisition methods did better in some metrics than others. CI had the highest environmental costs, us-
ing the most water and emitting the most carbon, but these costs were not reflected in its low market price. CG used the least water, and had the highest price, but uses renewable energy sources. UA came out as the overall best, with low water using only 2.74% more than CG, the lowest carbon emissions, and an intermediary price that is reflective of environmental costs. CI was the most carbon and water intensive, UA emitting the least amount of Carbon, and CG using the least amount of water. For CG, the energy and water costs from packaging operations were not incorporated, which would give carbon and water values below their real amounts. UA showed promising potential, especially when considering the extra social and ecological benefits that were not included in this paper. Water usage impact is kept down, reusing all their water and using precipitation water; externalities are low through the absence of agricultural chemicals and the associated production, ecological and health externalities; biodiversity is increased through the variety and celebration of the various types of produce, which adds to taste and aesthetic value; and finally, demand management techniques are efficiently employed, only providing what can be grown and aiming for goals beyond economic success. 4.2 Trade-offs within metrics 4.2.1 Water footprint When considering any agricultural operation, it is important to situate its geographic location within its greater watershed - for both the availability of water sources, and the importance of water use for agriculture relative to other uses (e.g. drinking, hydropower, etc.). Florida is situated in a wetland region, and its ecosystems are currently
degrading due to increasing population and consumption pressures (Holt 2005). The state sources 90% of its water from groundwater and 10% from surface water; half of that surface water is used for agriculture. With population pressures and the intensity of Florida agricultural industry, there are increasing strains on water resources in the region. Montreal and Southern Quebec are situated in the St. Lawrence River drainage basin, which provides most of the area’s fresh water. Agriculture in Quebec uses 5% of the province’s total water resources (Tremblay et al. 2008). Although Quebec’s water resources are relatively abundant compared to Florida’s, there is also an increasing trend in water consumption due to a growing population. Moreover, due to Quebec’s seasonal climate variability, much of the freshwater supply is frozen over winter months, thus less accessible for usage. Regardless, there is less total water available in Florida where more water is also required to for production, making consumption there less desirable. 4.2.2 Carbon footprint An important consideration for carbon is the nature of the production processes, and whether they are labour or capital-intensive. The latter tends to favour the use of fossil fuels, machinery, and electric-powered processes rather than manual labour, increasing overall carbon emissions. The Florida tomato industry is both capital and labour intensive. However, since labour consists of people who would be breathing and living anyway, their energy-use and emissions from respiration were not included in energy calculations.
A farm’s consumption of fossil fuels will be heavily influenced by the price of fuel and the availability of subsidies and security of government policies. In the USA, incentives to use fossil fuels exist in the form of subsidies and low fuel taxes. The United States are the world’s largest fossil fuel subsidizer, handing out up to $52 billion annually to coal, oil, and gas companies (Oil Change International 2013). On the contrary, Canada’s oil taxes are three times as high, and Quebec has recently entered a cap and trade carbon market with California, which aims to promote industries to move towards more renewable energy sources. Thus, Quebec currently has a more favorable political and economic climate to mitigate carbon emissions. Moreover, geographic location was important to determine what energy sources were available for each method, and whether or not they were renewable. Most of the Florida’s electricity is generated by non-renewable sources, the largest ones being coal, natural gas, and nuclear (Climate Connect 2012). As a world leader in renewable energy generation, Quebec uses 97% renewable sources, primarily hydropower (Government of Quebec 2013). Therefore, in the case considered here, products sourced within Quebec are cleaner sources of energy. 5. Summary 5.1 Sources of Error While we tried to be as accurate as possible, there are some sources of error that need to be taken into account. First, tomato consumption data was only available for Quebec so we assumed provincial values to be representative of Montreal, which in reality may have a higher consumption rate. Because we were unable to obtain
any direct data from Florida produce companies, those calculations are only estimates of actual inputs and outputs. While our manually calculated values were within range of the values found in literature, we also cited a number of different sources, with a somewhat large range of values. This shows that our data is likely on target for some of Florida’s production, but not all of it. Furthermore, while Florida is believed to be a good representative of imported agriculture, in reality tomatoes are still sometimes imported to Quebec from Mexico and other places. These places are likely to have differences in production practices due to their different climates. Also, transport emissions for imported tomatoes did not capture its rather complex distribution route between distribution centres nor the fact that tomatoes are usually transported with other food items (which also applies to UA). Although CI values were less direct than CG and UA numbers, calculations were made based on reliable sources and mostly align with literature values. That said, there may also be some uncertainty in the calculations themselves due to the uncertain nature of some of the numbers used. Moreover, UA energy figures were extrapolated in part from CI data. The statistics provided by Lufa were more general and adjustments were needed to ensure consistency in calculations throughout acquisition methods. Additionally, because only proprietary data was used for both greenhouses, this only provided a snapshot of what either methodology could be. We believe that the companies chosen were representative of their acquisition methods, but they will still each have certain unique practices that are not practiced by other companies. For example, Savoura’s utilization of landfill bio-
gas may set them apart from conventional greenhouses. 5.2 Further Research This research study can be seen as a launch pad for further research into sustainable vegetable production methods for cities. Several lines of research have been identified, which include, but are note limited, the following: There are many potential factors at play influencing the discrepancy between the market price of a certain basket of tomatoes and its true environmental, or social, cost. We began to explore this with the social cost of carbon, which already gave an interesting picture on the integrity of respective market prices. Other factors include government subsidies, the cost of labour, and the economy of scale. We recognize that government subsidizes may artificially lower costs as in the case of fossil fuel and chemical inputs for Florida, but may also be in the form of grants for start-up UA initiatives. Moreover, a large uncaptured cost in the CI method is the massive amount of low-cost human labour, which contributes to overall energy input and likely deflates market price substantially. Finally, it may be important to examine how economy of scale plays a role in production efficiency and overall sustainability. CI may have low per kilogram costs, but perhaps a larger-scale comparison would reveal different trends. The question of “is more always better?” can also be examined in the context of sustainability in the current economic paradigm. While this study focused on environmental impacts of production, there are many other social costs and benefits to be examined, such as labour as an input, health impacts of chemical use, and the quality, taste, and nutrition of tomatoes
themselves. On an economic note, more research could also be done on the change in costs by product, season and location, across each of our acquisition methods. How much do other produce items cost relative to tomatoes, and how much do their prices change with the seasons. It would be interesting to see if there is a longitudinal gradient in cost, wherein the tomatoes closer to the farm cost less due to a reduction in transport. There are also barriers to scaling up commercial rooftop greenhouses that may impact its reliability as a future food source. In order to support current demand, production would need to be increased enough to cover what stopped coming in from Florida. Increasing production requires the construction of more greenhouses. Buildings need to be able to support the weight of rooftop greenhouses, and furthermore, those rooftops need to be big enough to make the construction of a greenhouse profitable. When considering the required infrastructure for lighting, heating, and water, it becomes clear that the start up costs would be very high. Lufa Farms, as it is now, seems to provide a good environmental, financial, and organizational model. Lastly, while the study examined the production side of the tomato market, perhaps true sustainability comes from changing consumption patterns to match seasonal and/or local conditions. This begs the question “should we be consuming tomatoes in the first place?” Given globalized consumption preferences, perhaps substitutions need to be made, such as consuming not-in-season produce storing or preserved instead of fresh.
5.3 Summary Given the results of this study, it can be concluded that CI tomatoes are the least environmentally favorable choice on the market, despite their attractively low consumer price. The UA method appears economically viable despite popular conceptions and has a slightly higher ecological footprint than CG due to its smaller operation facilities. It should still be noted that Lufa farms is a relatively new company so their prices may not be totally settled. The current and projected expansion of Lufa Farms may lead to greater input and cost savings. The CG method remains a relatively sustainable method of acquisition based on water, energy and carbon usage. Its high costs appear to capture embedded environmental and social costs. Its popularity among consumers validates its economic viability and reflects the presence of other consumer decision factors such as taste, quality and nutrition. In the water category, CG came out to be the best method. Especially in a wintertime context, hydroponics appears to be a water-efficient alternative production method to soil culture, given its recirculation potential. With greater economy of scale than a smaller UA greenhouse and less water requirements than field-grown tomatoes, CG is the most water-friendly production method. For carbon emissions, UA has the smallest footprint, and both greenhouses emit much less than the CI method. Despite energy savings for heating and lighting, Florida’s industrial tomato agriculture remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels and mechanized processes, contributing to overall energy use. Moreover, its extensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides contribute significantly to CI method’s
large carbon footprint. The answer posed was whether or not urban agriculture was sustainable or feasible in the Montreal wintertime. Instead of finding one “best” answer, it was determined that the question of sustainability becomes complicated when different trade-offs are weighed, even just in environmental categories. Acknowledgements This study would not have been possible without the input and assistance of many people. The team would like to thank Audrey Boulianne, greenhouse director at Savoura; and Lauren Rathmell from Lufa Farms. We would also like to acknowledge the continuous guidance of Professor Brian Robinson, the peer support of the GEOG 460 class, and the panelists who attended our research presentation: Professor Navin Ramankutty, Carly Ziter from the ESM lab, and Professor Robinson’s two PhD students. References
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The Mountains Are Calling March in the Chilean region of Patagonia by ChloĂŠ Laflamme
Millenium Development Goals: A Critical Analysis by Gabriella Fanous Abstract:The Millennium Development (MDGs) consist of eights goals that aim to alleviate hunger, reduce poverty, promote gender equality, achieve universal health care, reduce maternal and child mortality, halt the spread of infectious diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and establish a global partnership by 2015. As the 2015 deadline draws nearer, an evaluation of the MDGs is warranted. This paper argues that the MDG framework is poorly designed and fails to articulate a coherent set of inclusive development objectives. Not only are the MDGs fragmented and conflicting, they marginalize communities whose livelihood is not fully integrated in the mainstream economy. More fundamentally, the failure to recognize biophysical boundaries as the limiting factor to economic growth undermines the MDG framework at its foundation. If the international development agenda is to be centered on these goals, their conceptual underpinnings need to be clear and integrate synergies among different sectors. The implementation of development initiatives should be specific to local contexts, and must be coupled with a greater international effort to address distribution concerns within and among countries. Introduction The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent an unparalleled global consensus about objectives and measures to reduce poverty (Fukuda-Parr 2011). They comprise eight goals, with targets and indicators, with the objective of increasing incomes and reducing hunger, promoting gender equality, achieving universal health care, reducing maternal and child mortality, halting the spread of infectious diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and establishing an effective global partnership. Formally de-
rived from the Millennium Declaration (2000), which identifies development and poverty eradication, peace, security and disarmament, protection of our common environment, human rights, democracy, good governance, and the protection of vulnerable peoples as key priorities for the 21st century (Waage et al. 2012), the MDGs find their origins in sector specific development ideas from 1980s and 1990s, formalized in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentâ€™s report titled Shaping the 21st cen-
tury: the contribution of development cooperation in 1996. The conceptual framework of the goals is embedded in neoliberal ideology and incorporates elements of the human development approach to “development” (Saith 2006; Waage et al. 2012). Neoliberalism promotes economic growth based on free trade and markets. It describes the economic philosophy and practices associated with contemporary globalized economies in the form of corporatization, adhering to a belief in unfettered market growth and deregulation (Chomsky 1999). It conceptualizes development as a linear process of economic transformation, social modernization, and technological progress (Fukuda-Parr 2011). It assumes that economic growth is not only necessary, but is a sufficient condition to achieve welfare improvement. By contrast, the human development approach is multidimensional in nature and focuses on enhancing human capabilities, emphasizing well-being as the purpose of development, and agency as an essential element of the development process (Sen 1999); it also incorporates a broader set of objectives including political freedom, cultural choice, and security (Fukuda-Parr 2011). In pursuit of a dynamic vision of development, the MDGs are broad-ranging and multifaceted, but do they successfully capture the emancipatory aspirations evoked in the Millennium Declaration? This paper argues that the MDG framework is poorly designed and fails to articulate a coherent set of inclusive development objectives. Firstly, the MDGs are fragmented, generating a poorly aligned mixture of means and ends, resulting in conflicting goals. Secondly, in their attempt to achieve ‘development’, the MDGs culturally homogenize people, marginal-
izing communities whose livelihood is not fully integrated in the mainstream economy; and lastly, the failure to recognize biophysical boundaries as the limiting factor to economic growth undermines the MDG framework at its foundation. Fragmentation and Trade-off between Goals The dissonance in the underlying conceptualization of development in the different goals undermines the MDG framework as a development objective and thwarts its effectiveness. The MDGs encapsulate a set of indicators to assess progress on poverty reduction and represent a ‘package’ reflecting an ‘idea’ or ‘global norm’ on development (Sumner and Tiwari 2011). They evolved from an interaction between USA-led neoliberal ideology and human development, which includes health, education, and gender equity as both development goals and development means (Waage et al. 2012). The understanding and definition of poverty, which underpins the MDG framework, is grounded in neoliberal thinking. The very first and most prominent goal, target, and indicator defines poverty as a level of income below a dollar-a-day, importing into the MDG framework all the conceptual problems associated with this particular measure (Saith 2006). The main danger posed by the income poverty line approach is that it inevitably leads to the misidentification of the poor and, subsequently, to the adoption of narrow targeting, monitoring, and evaluation criteria (Saith 2005). While the majority of the goals are focused on enhancing human capabilities, the definition of poverty expressed in MDG 1 marks a clear departure from the human development approach, revealing the diverse and separate concep-
tual foundations of the goals. The MDG ensemble is multidimensional in nature and broad in scope, but it is not necessarily comprehensive. The limited targets assigned to some of the MDGs fail to address the breadth and scope of the goals they purport to achieve, resulting in gaps in the coverage. For example, MDG 2, which aims at achieving universal primary education, places emphasis on primary education, myopically ignoring the importance of post-primary education. Focusing exclusively on indicators of educational enrolment, it denies the relevance of the quality of the education provided or the level of literacy achieved, and it fails to capture the drop-out rates in primary and secondary education. In the same way, MDG 3, which focuses on promoting gender equality and empowerment, is broadly defined but is narrowly circumscribed by its target and indicators. Advancing gender equality is reduced to eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education. Superficially, the goals discussed appear consistent with the human development approach, but an evaluation of their respective targets and indicators reveals the limitations and ineffectiveness in strengthening human capabilities. The omissions in the goals are significant, as they could have contributed to underinvestment in areas that are key to the realization of the MDGsâ€™ overall development objective of poverty reduction. For instance, Waage et al. (2012) argues that the absence of agricultural targets in goal 1 is striking considering that most of the worldâ€™s poor are rural farmers and that agricultural production and its distribution are key factors in reducing hunger; Urban and Sumner (2009) identify the near absent mention of climate change in
MDG 7 as one of the main criticisms of the MDG framework. The entire MDG scaffolding tends to ghettoize the problem of development into sector-specific issues. The very specific and narrow focus of the targets not only leaves considerable gaps in the coverage of the goals but also fails to realize the synergies that could arise from their joint implementation. The interaction between education, poverty reduction, health, and gender are complex: improvement in womenâ€™s socio-economic status is associated with reduced infant and child mortality, better infant and child nutrition and health, lower fertility rates, enhanced participation of women in the labor force and politics, and protection against abuse and exploitation (Ahmed et al. 2010). The fragmented implementation of the MDGs, nationally, sub-nationally, and locally by different ministries or non-governmental agencies, limits the potential for action in the same location and fails to capture the efficiencies from positive interactions. The gaps in the coverage of the goals coupled with the failure to recognize interactions amongst different sectors may result in trade-offs among objectives, weakening the MDG architecture. Environmental sustainability is a cross-cutting, underlying goal with potential synergies across various sectors. The formulation of targets 7A and 7B aimed at integrating the principles of sustainable development and reducing biodiversity loss, respectively, does not capture or express the link between human welfare and the environment. Biodiversity, and a healthy environment more generally, is a prerequisite for human well-being and the success of the development ambitions expressed in the MDGs. Biological products and ecosystem services are estimated to
account for 40% of the global economy; a reduction of its components will directly affect the world economy and agricultural lands, and increase poverty levels, thwarting the realization of MGD 1 (World Summit on Sustainable Development [WSSD] 2002). A stressed environment where resources are scarce places a heavy burden on all members of the family, particularly children, to forage for supplies such as fuelwood, making it harder for children to attend school (WSSD 2002). The links between ecosystem health and human health are numerous and include the provision of wild traditional foods, medicines, and fuels to meet daily needs (WSSD 2002). The relationship between the quality of the environment and environment-related diseases, such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections, are primary causes of child mortality (You & Wardlaw 2011); the reduction of the prevalence of infectious diseases is associated with preserving intact ecosystems and their endemic biodiversity (Keesing et al. 2010). More generally, 24% of the global disease burden is estimated to be linked to environmental factors (Waage et al. 2012). The failure to integrate the objectives expressed in the goals into an integrated MDG framework may lead to competition among goals: success in achieving one goal adversely impacts results in another. The degradation of the environment for industrial purposes or economic growth not only compromises the environment but also undermines human health, and could negate some of the health gains already achieved (Gangadharan & Valenzuela 2001). The very real potential for tradeoffs among goals threatens the integrity of the MDG framework and reveals its fault lines. This is made possible by the incongruity in the conceptual foundations of the
MDGs, the gaps in coverage of the goals, and the failure to recognize and integrate links and synergies among objectives. Cultural homogenization If the fragmentation of the goals reveals the shortcomings in the MDG architecture, limiting the overall effectiveness of the development agenda, the failure to respect diversity in livelihoods points to a fundamental deficiency in the MDG framework. Underscoring neoliberal economic thinking, the realization of the goals is thought to be linked to an increase in the rate of economic growth and the mobilization of external financing for social sectors (Nayyard 2013). The MDGs define development as poverty reduction in largely material and monetary terms (Sumner & Tiwari 2009; Saith 2007). Income may be an adequate measure of poverty in urban areas, but it cannot be indiscriminately and universally applied. Where money is not the primary measure of wealth, poverty as defined by the MDGs cannot truly be assessed. The inability or unwillingness to recognize the plurality in the definitions of ‘wealth’ and ‘poverty’ risks marginalizing those who do not engage in the mainstream economy. Nomadic hunter-gathers have limited wants and perceive the accumulation of material objects as burdensome (Eisenstein 2011). The notion of wealth defined in neoliberal terms as the abundance of material possessions, which is assessed monetarily, is not relevant to hunter-gatherers who understand capital as “knowledge that is shared and accessible to all” (Daly & Lee 2006). In the egalitarian hunter-gatherer community of the Penan of Sarawak in Malaysia, the concept of poverty does not exist. Poverty is a relation between individuals: since each member is considered equal
and receives equal access to the available resources, poverty is a condition that does not occur (Davis 1990). Advancing a development agenda that is externally –if not paternalistically– defined implicitly imposes an understanding of well-being that needs be achieved if the MDGs are to be successful. Implementing development projects in societies that do not define wealth and poverty in the same terms as the MDGs involves absorbing and integrating individuals within the mainstream economy, effectively undercutting their identity. Indeed, to introduce consumerism to a previously isolated culture, it is first necessary to destroy its sense of identity (Eistenstein 2011). Within the MDG frame, it is justified to engage in industrial activities to increase or encourage economic growth. Decades of logging and commercial activities of the Sarawak region have compromised the environment on which the Penan’s livelihood depends; as a result, only a small number of them have remained fully nomadic (Davis 1990). Pastoralists are equally likely to be misclassified as poor. Simplistic approaches to measuring poverty based on income, expressed in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), are uninformative in pastoral areas where much of the economy is subsistence based and where productive assets vary with the natural variability of the resource base (Davis 2008). Indeed, using assets as an indicator of wealth may show pastoralists to be comparatively wealthy or at least not universally poor (Davis 2008). The use of a single metric to assess poverty levels reduces poverty to a single dimension. Mobile pastoralism is an adaptation to highly uncertain environments where flexibility is a crucial management
feature. Opportunism is the most effective approach: to go where the resources are, when they are available (Davis 2008). Spatial and temporal flexibility are therefore necessary. Where such features are constrained, the inevitable outcome is economic failure and vulnerability (Niamir-Fuller 1999). Furthermore, pastoralism is environmentally indispensable and much land degradation is traced to the loss of pastoralism. However, pastoralism can only meet its economic potential and continue to provide environmental services when the nature of pastoral poverty is understood and when efforts are made to build pastoralist capacities, secure their rights, and strengthen, not substitute, their livelihoods (Davis 2008). The MDGs are not well-adapted to local contexts, failing to account for the diversity and plurality in livelihoods, marginalizing cultures that are incongruous with neoliberal thought, and assimilating its people. Individuals or groups that are identified as ‘poor’ under the MDG framework are effectively stripped of their agency. Ostensibly, the MDGs integrate and reflect ideals of human development, but their framework leaves limited room for cultural choice and fails to recognize the importance of agency in the development process. Worst still, the development efforts may lead to increased poverty and environmental degradation (Niamir-Fuller 1999). The understanding of education, as expressed by the third MDG, is equally reductionist and simplistic. It focuses on ensuring that “by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, are able to complete a full course of primary schooling”, and it implies sedentarisation. For nomads, like hunter-gatherers and pastoralists, this represents an attempt to change
their way of life. Dyer (2001) explores the implications of formal education for the Rabari pastoralists of India. According to her research, the Rabaris perceive schooling as a means of learning how to â€˜talk backâ€™ to those that threaten and oppress them, and as a potential route towards regaining some of the social capital that is being gradually undermined. However, formal education is also perceived to be of no assistance or relevance to the practice of pastoralism. Advantages in terms of physical and material survival are recognized, but schools promote values that are often alien to their culture and constitute a serious threat to the Rabari social fabric. While recognizing that schooling might be useful, they understand that their way of life is incompatible with existing educational provisions. Education within the MDG framework has an instrumental purpose and is aimed at providing new economic and social opportunities in a world in which pastoralism is perceived as tangential, if not obsolete. Where transhumant pastoralists are disrespected and oppressed, formal education assumes relevance as a means of gaining employment credentials. Dyer (2001) notes that the hegemonic belief that pastoralism is a bygone way of life is rapidly spreading among pastoralists and suggests that schooling functions as a process of cultural assimilation, a process recognized by the pastoralists themselves. Little et al. (2009) observes that formal education for the Maasai-related Il Chamus people of the Baringo District in Kenya has had mixed but generally favorable consequences. Formal education has favorably impacted employment and food security and, thus, reduced the risk of famine in the Chamus homesteads, which explains why the majority favors it. Edu-
cation, however, does not necessarily have a positive effect on herd management and can actually have several negative impacts on pastoralism, including increased pressures to privatize communal grazing zones and encouraging absentee herd ownership. While education may increase certain aspects of well-being, the consequences for pastoralism are not uniformly positive and can even be deleterious in some cases. Formal education also risks excluding the knowledge of how to manage local conditions in sustainable ways. Failure to make use of this knowledge is contributing to widespread ecological decline (Mahajan & Bharwada 1997), directly undermining the objective of MDG 7, which thrives to achieve environmental sustainability. The MDGs are not catered or adapted to specific local contexts; as a result, they risk marginalizing various livelihoods, particularly hunter-gatherers and pastoralists. The adaptive solution they provide is formal education, facilitating integration and assimilation in the mainstream economy. The goals that aim to eradicate poverty and achieve universal education are inclusive in essence but exclusive in design and implementation. The reductionist assessment of poverty in terms of purchasing power parity and the simplistic understanding of education as synonymous with schooling does not capture the diverse understandings of wealth, nor does it recognize or ascribe value to traditional and local knowledge; as a result, not only are human capabilities undermined, but the realizations of goals is compromised, revealing the conceptual incoherence underpinning the goals and the danger of failing to recognize the synergies that may exist among objectives.
Boundaries Fundamental to the design of the MDG agenda is the assumption that economic growth will enable the realization of development objectives. It presupposes that planetary sources can provide unlimited materials and energy, and that planetary sinks have an unrestricted capacity to absorb pollution and waste. Yet crucial sources are emptying and degrading, and many sinks are filling up or overflowing. Some sources and sinks are sufficiently stressed that they are already beginning to limit growth by raising costs, increasing pollution burdens, and elevating mortality rates (Meadows et al. 1972). The global trends in greenhouse gases (GHGs), for example, are indicative of an imbalance between sources and sinks in the GHG budget. Increase in the airborne fraction of CO2 emissions suggests a decline of efficiency of CO2 sinks on land and oceans in absorbing anthropogenic emissions (Canadell et al. 2007). This has adverse implications for the health of aquatic ecosystems, affecting a significant number of organisms (Hendriks et al. 2008). Rostrom et al. (2009) identifies nine â€œplanetary boundariesâ€?, estimating the safe space for human development. They include climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, interference with the global phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, high rates of biodiversity loss, global freshwater use, land system changes, aerosol loading, and chemical pollution. According to preliminary analysis, three boundaries have already been transgressedâ€”climate change, the rate of biodiversity loss, and the rate of interference with nitrogen. Uncertainty in the threshold estimates associated with lack of scientific knowledge, and the under-
standing of how complex systems behave call for a precautionary approach in policy strategies. Failure to acknowledge and integrate the notion of planetary boundaries into development strategies could have catastrophic consequences for human well-being (Stern 2007). Although the planetary boundary estimates have been criticized for arbitrariness and lack of global relevance and comprehensiveness (Nordhaus et al. 2012; Lewis 2012), the notion of limit implicit in the concept of planetary boundaries has not been challenged. Neoclassical economics, which underpins the MDG framework, does not recognize biophysical boundaries as limits to economic growth. Inherently, therefore, the MDGs fail to consider the potentially deleterious consequences of advocating a development agenda that is based on economic growth. Because economic gains provide significant welfare benefits, there is a deliberate tendency to disregard planetary limits in policies. However, as van den Bergh (2009) notes, there is little evidence to support the widely held belief that GDP growth is even correlated with improvements in welfare. This can be attributed to lexicographic preferences, which consider GDP per capita growth and the auxiliary rise in material consumption as compensation for a lack of satisfaction of basic needs such as serenity, clean air, and access to nature. Growth of GDP in developing countries, often the consequence of a shift of activities from the informal to the formal sector, may be accompanied by a loss of local community life and subsistence agriculture, as well as migration of farmers to informal urban settlement, with consequences for food availability, health, and quality of life. Even where there is real economic growth, economic gains may not trickle down to the poor (Nayyard 2013).
The rationale for economic growth is one based on the misconception of the relationship between economic growth and welfare improvements, which are implied in the development agenda. The reasoning can be doubly faulted for not recognizing planetary boundaries as the limiting factor to economic growth. The economy is an open subsystem of the ecosystem and is totally dependent upon it, both as a source of inputs and as a sink for outputs (Daly 1997). An estimated 40% of the global economy is based on biodiversity and ecosystem processes (WSSD 2002). Compromising the environment will directly affect the world economy, increase poverty level, and undermine food security and income through the reduction of crop diversity and the extinction of many livestock breeds, undercutting the MDGs (WSSD 2002). Increased economic activities, implicitly encouraged by the MDGs, have contributed to the degradation of the environment, most notably through the emission of greenhouse gases, undermining the benefits that can accrue from biodiversity and ecosystem services. According to research conducted by the American Center for Naval Analysis, climate change will significantly exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states (McGrady et al. 2010). Economic and environmental conditions in fragile areas will further erode as food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and populations move in search of resources (McGrady et al. 2010). Some economists contend that there is a positive relationship between economic growth and environmental
quality, as suggested by the environmental Kuznets curves (EKC) (e.g. Grossman and Krueger 1995). EKC studies assume that economic growth will change preferences toward environmental quality and will reduce exploitation of ecosystems, whether in terms of natural resource inputs or pollution outputs. However, if the economic process that generates economic growth results in irreversible environmental degradation, the very process that generates demand for environmental quality in the future will undermine the ability of the ecosystem to satisfy such a demand (Murandian & Alier 2001). The human economy depends upon, and is limited by, planetary boundaries. Economic activities, which to a lesser or greater extent, contribute to the exploitation of resources and degradation of sinks, not only undermine the benefits derived from ecosystem functions but actively contribute to damaging ecosystem processes. The MDGs promote economic growth assuming benefits will result but give no consideration to the social, cultural, or environmental costs that may ensue. The pursuit of one goal may thwart the realization of another. Natural capital â€”the environmentâ€” is the limiting factor to economic growth. This is associated with increases in the economy, and the scale and impact of human presence. The implications for development are significant: The level of per capita resource use cannot be generalized to the current world population â€“ it is ecologically impossible (Daly 1991). As development programs that rely on economic growth become less viable, focus needs to be placed on decreasing consumption in developed countries, the redistribution of resources, and population control. Investment should aim to
enhance natural capital through the preservation and restoration of the ecosystem, and technologies should be aimed at increasing the productivity of natural capital and the recyclability of waste products (Daly 1991). Within the confines of a finite planet, notions of ‘development’ are really about equitable distribution of man-made capital and resources used for production, and recognizing that pollution sinks associated with human activities are not evenly distributed. The World Bank recognized in the World Development Report 1992 that some environmental problems are “exacerbated by the growth of economic activities”, and that increases in environmental pollution in step with the rise of economic output would result in appalling environmental pollution, suggesting the need for a strategy to achieve both growth and environmental conservation with the aim of accelerating equitable income growth (Ekins 1993). The report also stressed that “gains from protecting the environment are high, and that the costs in foregone income are modest if appropriate policies are adopted.” While the report failed to fully integrate the notion of biophysical limitation to economic growth in its policy recommendations, the interactions between the environment and economic growth is clearly highlighted. While the MDGs appear multidimensional, they fail to realize and properly incorporate the interrelationships between different sectors that were identified and formalized in the World Bank development report written nearly ten years earlier; they also fail to capture the essential notion of equity in income growth, within countries and between countries, in any meaningful way. Where development involves redistribution of resources, all nations are impli-
cated. The MDGs framework involves both ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations, albeit not cohesively. Goals 1 through 7 set out benchmarks for progress in ‘developing’ countries; goal 8 sets out actions to be taken by rich countries, including action on trade, debt, technology transfer, and aid. It can be considered to provide a framework for assessing the accountability of rich countries. International action is indispensable for addressing obstacles that are beyond the capacity of national governments to tackle on their own. While financial and human resource constraints represent significant barriers to development, the asymmetry in global governance reveals the systemic weakness of global institutions and processes, and translates into unfavorable international policies. There is a lack of transparency and participation in the institutional structures and decision-making process. Developing countries do not fully participate in international decision-making and have limited political clout to influence policy. For instance, in World Trade Organization multilateral trade negotiations, developing countries have limited bargaining power, resulting in trade rules in favor of rich and powerful countries (Fukara-Parr 2006). The same is true in other institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the Basel Committee (Fukara-Parr 2006). Imbalances in decisionmaking and norm setting in international negotiations have resulted in policies that disadvantage developing countries. Intellectual property rights, for example, seriously limit accessibility of technologies to developing countries and undermine capacity building (Shiva 1997). It bars access to certain crop types, technologies, pharmaceuticals, and, more generally, to knowledge that has been ‘privatized’. For
example the cost of a patented retroviral drug for AIDS is $20,000, while the generic equivalent manufactured in India would cost $200 per year (Shiva 1997), a surprising fact given the objective of combating HIV in goal 6. Goal 8 is stated to address this problem but does not identify any concrete steps to resolve these concerns, nor does it outline any measurable, timebound indicators to assess progress. There is an urgent need for a restructuring of international institution to increase transparency, equal participation, and cooperation among countries if the MDGs or any development scheme are to be successful. Increased global interdependence has meant that peoplesâ€™ lives are much more influenced by events that take place outside their area or country of residence (Fukara-Parr 2006). An appreciation of boundaries is necessary to understand the limits to economic growth and realize the redistribution requirements for effective development. The MDGs are embedded in the neoliberal agenda. Within this larger framework, it is implied that economic growth is a prerequisite for the realization of the MDGs, failing to recognize the biophysical boundaries of the environment, and the limits on the sources and sinks of economic activity. The deterioration of sources and sinks undermines the other goals but, more significantly, calls into question the viability of the MDG architecture and the broader ideological framework it is founded on. Conclusion The MDGs signaled a renewed and strengthened focus on international development. The goals identify specific development priorities across a broad range of issues. The dissonant conceptual underpinnings of the goals, incorporating
human development ideas to a neoliberal agenda, compromise the foundation of the MDG framework. The scope of the goals is narrowed by their targets and indicators, which results in gaps in the coverage of the goals on the one hand, and the failure to explore interactions between the different sectors on the other. The fragmentation in the goals may result in trade- offs among them, revealing the structural weaknesses in the MDG framework. Associated with the structural fault lines, are issues of design of the MDG architecture. The goals are not inclusive: they reduce multifaceted issues such as poverty and education to a single metric, marginalizing cultures that do not measure success or â€˜developmentâ€™ by MDG standards. Communities can be misidentified as poor under the MDG framework, and development initiative can actually undercut livelihood preferences. The MDGs are not well-adapted to local contexts, failing to capture and to consider the plurality and diversity of peoples and cultures. Beyond the structural shortcomings of the framework, are the MDGs suitable and feasible in a world that knows physical boundaries? The exhaustion of sources and the near saturation of sinks for economic gains compromise the health of ecosystems on which the economy depends. A development agenda that explicitly or implicitly relies on infinite growth for development is oblivious to the natural boundaries of economic growth and may have nefarious effects on the environment and on society, undermining the quality of basic necessities, such as air, water, food etc. These limits impose restrictions on resource use and imply that consumption patterns observed in rich countries cannot be extended to poor ones, given the cur-
rent world population. These boundaries suggest that there is a limit to ‘development’ as it is expressed in the MDGs and that some individuals will be excluded from the material gains of economic growth, yet all will likely bear the cost, albeit to different degrees, of the deterioration of the environment. The superficial adherence to Goal 8 that committed ‘developed’ countries to a global partnership for development hinders any possibility of addressing design issues of the MDGs. If the goals themselves are exclusive and totalitarian in their implementation, the current global governance system is restrictive and oppressive, effectively disenfranchising developing countries and placing them at a disadvantage. The lack of a transparent and inclusive global governance system excludes ‘developing’ countries from trade negotiations, limiting their contribution to international policy and undermining the enhancement of their capabilities. The MDG framework is destined to fail because the interactions of goals work against each other. More consistent with the values that underlie the Millennium Declaration, which include freedom, solidarity, equality, and shared responsibility, and congruous with a notion of planetary limits is the redistribution of resources available, a decrease in consumption patterns in rich countries, and exchanges of technology and knowledge among societies. Under this scheme, equity considerations are prerequisites for the realization of development aspirations expressed in the Millennium Declaration. Recognition of the differential burdens and vulnerabilities to various global environmental issues, such as climate change, ozone depletion, and extreme weather events, can help pri-
oritize actions and more effectively deploy human and financial resources. Implied in equity consideration is respect for cultural and livelihood diversity, and traditional knowledge. Despites its structural and conceptual defects, the MDGs have successfully galvanized support for the idea that it is imperative to improve the living conditions of the poor (Sumner & Tiwari 2011). If global poverty reduction strategies beyond 2015 are to be centered on goals, their conceptual underpinnings need to be clear, comprehensive, and consistent across goals, acknowledging interactions and synergies among different sectors. The plurality of development ambitions should be reflected, and the implementation of development initiatives should be specific and cater to local contexts. More significantly, development on a biophysically limited planet requires both rich and developing countries to address distribution concerns within and among countries. References
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Photo by Valeriya Sokolenko
The Benefits and Challenges of Protecting Urban Green Space in Montreal by Victor Lam, Melody Lynch, and Rianna Deprez Abstract: This study assessed the ecosystem services provided by urban green space in Montreal and identified challenges facing its protection. Ecosystem services were recognized at global, regional and local scales. We followed a mixed-method approach and performed both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Parc La Fontaine served as a case study for examining local and global benefits. Carbon storage calculations were used to determine global benefits, while questionnaires and participant observation were conducted to assess local benefits. Regional benefits were determined by conducting conversational interviews with local organizations dealing with green space. Out of 2,566 trees, a total of 7,581 tonnes of CO2 was stored and valued between $220,000 to $873,000 in carbon storage services. Questionnaires, participant observation and interviews revealed important values and perceptions of urban green space. By conducting conversational interviews with local organizations dealing with urban green space, regional benefits were associated with a range of diverse ecosystem services. Challenges associated with protecting urban green space were mostly identified on the regional level and involved issues of politics and multiple stakeholder interests. A toolbox for protecting urban green space was developed to address some of the issues surrounding urban green space protection. Acting upon these measures and considerations may help address some of the most pressing issues on urban green space, ecosystem and human well-being in Montreal. Keywords: Urban green space; Ecosystem services; Carbon storage
Introduction 1.1 Urban Green Space and Ecosystem Services Ecosystem services (ES) are commonly understood as “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life” (Daily 1997: 3). Urban green space (UGS) is generally defined as all areas of land consisting “predominantly of unsealed, permeable, ‘soft’ surfaces like soil, grass, and or trees” (Swanwick et al. 2003: 97-98). Examples include parks, gardens, woodlands, grasslands and recreational areas all of which provide a number of ES, such as air purification, noise reduction, climate regulation, pollination, cognitive development and well-being (Gomez-Baggethun & Barton 2013) and span across global, regional and local scales. With over 80% of Canada’s population presently living in urban areas (Statistics Canada 2011) and over
70% of the world population expected to be living in urban areas by 2050 (United Nations 2007), it is becoming increasingly important to evaluate and understand the role of green space within urban areas (Bolund & Hunhammar 1999). With 6% of its area zoned as UGS, Montreal has less UGS in comparison to other Canadian cities, which have on average 10-13% (MUSE 2012). Our paper aims to investigate the importance of UGS in Montreal by identifying the ES it provides at the local, regional and global scales, and further identifying the challenges to protect it. In doing so, we are contributing to the diverse discourse surrounding UGS, which spans across the disciplines of environmental science (Nowak et al. 2002; Budruk et al. 2009; Millward & Sabir 2011; Baur et al. 2013), economics (McPherson et al. 1997; Nowak & Crane 2002; Nowak et al. 2013) and health (Kaplan 1995; Groenewegen 2006).
2. Methods and Analysis
2.1 Conceptual Framework We developed a conceptual framework to approach our research aim (Figure 1). This framework broadly describes ES as benefits to society, ranging from the global to the local or individual scale. Finally, this framework acknowledges the challenges that arise from our research. We developed a multi-method approach to collect data at each scale. To gain a broad understanding of the ES generated by UGS, we first conducted a literature review. This helped us to develop appropriate methodology for approaching our research question. For investigating global and local benefits, we selected Parc La Fontaine as a case study (Figure 2). Spanning 35.9 hectares, it is one of the largest urban parks on the island of Montreal and is a designated urban large park in the agglomeration of Montreal (Ville de MontrĂŠal 2013). With its variety of surface covers and park uses, we considered the park to be a good representation of the various types of UGS across Montreal. 2.2 Carbon Storage Calculation and Value Carbon storage is one of the most valuable ecosystem services of UGS at the global level, because it can play a critical role in helping combat anthropogenic climate variability (Nowak & Crane 2002). Given the pressing concerns of climate change, quantifying carbon storage can give us an initial understanding of the benefit of this service in Montreal. We used carbon dioxide (CO2) as a proxy for carbon and selected Parc La Fontaine as a case study for this analysis.
We obtained data on the Latin and English names, diameter at breast height (dbh) and date of record (20082010) of tree species in Parc La Fontaine from the Open Portal database of the City of Montreal (Ville de MontrĂŠal 2012). We reconstructed this data on a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. To minimize error and account for the lack of available data on root biomass, we only took into consideration aboveground biomass of trees. We gathered biomass equations from three principle sources: the GlobAllomeTree database, an international platform for sharing tree allometric equations (GlobAllomeTree 2013); Climate Action Reserve (Climate Action Reserve 2010); and Monk et al. (1970), which was based off of the bio-modeling dataset from a study done on the Totoket Mountains by students at Yale University (Yale University 1999). We used secondary data to identify tree species and calculate carbon storage, since primary field data can be difficult to obtain, time-consuming and expensive. These sources enabled us to determine specific biomass equations for each tree species in the park. We assumed subspecies with allometric equations held equivalent allometric relationships as the species, so if no allometric equation could be found for an individual species, we substituted in the equation of equivalent genera. If no equivalent genera equations were found, we classified the species through online tree database verification to generalize species with no species biomass equations within their respective tree classifications. These were classified as broadleaves, conifers or hardwoods (Climate Action Reserve 2010; Monk et al. 1970). Table 1 shows the top five spe-
cies by number of trees and their respective aboveground biomass equations. The most numerous species in Parc La Fontaine were maple trees, along with Common Hackberry. In total, there were 2,566 individual trees across 83 different species, with approximately 71 trees per hectare of park space. Because these equations were pulled from multiple sources, we standardized the units into centimeters for diameter at breast height (dbh) and kilograms for weight. Equation (1):
We calculated carbon storage in terms
of tonnes of CO2 (tCO2) using equation (1). E represents the aboveground biomass equation for respective species. W is the volume (m3) to weight (kg) conversion and D is the fresh to dry weight conversion. E and W were needed for standardizing equations from Climate Action Reserve (2010). We accounted for maintained urban trees such as those in UGS by assigning an urban tree factor of 0.8 and estimated carbon in tree biomass through a carbon factor of 0.5 as found in the literature (Nowak 1994). We used a stoichiometric conversion of 3.67 to convert kgC to kgCO2 and divided it by 1000 to generate tCO2. We applied this calculation according to tree species and their respective E, W, and D values.
Equation (2): CO2 Value = carbon storage (tCO2) * (SCC/HRS) Once we derived carbon storage, we used equation (2) to assign monetary values for each tonne of CO2. This calculation allowed us to determine and account for carbon storage in monetary terms. We multiplied carbon storage (tCO2) by either the social cost of carbon (SCC) or the high-risk scenario (HRS). Values were determined through probabilistic modeling of the low- and high-end estimates of costs of damage inflicted by climate change for Canada, where SCC and HRS were valued at $29.04/tCO2 and $115.18/ tCO2 respectively (Environment Canada 2013). 2.3 Conversational Interviews To understand regional benefits and challenges of protecting green space, we conducted conversational interviews with representatives of local organizations, which allowed responses to expose their personal perceptions (Dunn 2010). As these organizations are on the forefront of UGS protection and deal with both municipal governments and local communities, we considered them to be experts in
the field. We used a convenience sampling method to obtain our respondents, whereby we contacted over ten local organizations and received responses from five: Les Amis de Meadowbrook, Les Amis de la Montagne, Eco-Quartier Plateau MontRoyal, Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (QCBS) and the Association for the Protection of Angell Woods (APAW). These organizations all dealt with UGS in Montreal but undertook different roles and perspectives, which yielded diverse responses. 2.4 Overt Participant Observation and Questionnaire We visited Parc La Fontaine four times in October and November to collect local level data. To reduce bias in our results, we collected data on weekends and weekdays, during mornings and afternoons. Overt participant observation involved taking notes and photos of observations while on site (Laurier 2008). This process gave us a general understanding of how and when people used the space. We created questionnaires composed of open- and closed-ended questions, which allowed us to gain a more detailed understanding about the ways
in which people use and value the park and their perspectives surrounding UGS. Questions on psychological effects of UGS were developed following Kaplanâ€™s (1995) framework for analyzing the psychological ES of nature. We used a systematic sampling method, whereby we sought out respondents in different areas of the park to avoid bias. We interviewed a total of 24 respondents. The demographic of our sample population is described in Figure 3. We received approval from the Research Ethics Board of McGill University to conduct this research. We approached participants in person and presented an informed consent form. Participants had the choice of responding in English or French. Each questionnaire took approximately 5 minutes to complete. 2.5 Qualitative Analysis We analyzed the results of our conversational interviews, participant observation and questionnaires by follow-
ing a process of thematic coding, which entailed identifying recurring themes and ideas within our data (Kitchin & Tate 2000). We were able to compare these themes to those that arose in the literature, as well as those observed at the participant observation stage. 3. Results 3.1 Global Benefits: Carbon Storage Trees are integral to a globally balanced planetary system; trees in Parc La Fontaine are no exception. As Parc La Fontaine trees capture and store atmospheric CO2 throughout the year, they provide a global benefit. The average aboveground carbon storage of trees per dbh class is shown in Figure 4. As trees aged and increased in dbh, they stored more carbon. The total carbon storage in the park was 7,581.6 tCO2 and each tree averaged 2.95 tCO2 (Table 1). Some tree species were more numerous and thus accounted for more stored carbon, while
others had greater individual carbon storage potential. The sole Golden Weeping Willow for example, with a dbh of 751 cm, stored a total of 304.9 tCO2. While the general assumption that more trees equate greater carbon storage remains true, our results demonstrate the importance of considering tree age (as indicated by dbh) and species. Table 3 presents the SCC and HRS values for species with high carbon storage potential. The Silver Maple, the most populous species, was valued at SCC $131.73 and HRS $522.10 per tree, and SCC $110,386.75 and HRS $437,520.52 in terms of total number of trees. Conversely, Golden Weeping Willow, the least populous species, was worth SCC $8,861.83 and HRS $35,124.08 per tCO2. On average, each tree was valued at SCC $85.86 and HRS $340.31 per tCO2, and all trees were valued at SCC $220,320.30 and HRS $873,244.75. Montrealers emit an average of 7.2 tonnes of CO2 per capita (Ville de MontrĂŠal 2006), meaning that carbon storage in Parc La Fontaine is equivalent to slightly more than the annual CO2 emissions of 1,000 Montrealers. Even though urban centers are significant contributors
to global CO2 emissions, urban trees do provide this small but important benefit in offseting CO2 emissions. 3.2 Regional Benefits: A Diversity of ES We determined the ES provided at the regional level through conversational interviews with local organizations and compared responses to the literature. The first most common response was that UGS helps to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Vegetation from UGS can significantly cool down urban areas and is one of the most promising measures in mitigating the urban heat island effect (Rizwan, Dennis, & Liu 2008). Another common response was the role that UGS plays in mitigating urban floods. This response also aligns with the literature which states that vegetation is important for flood mitigation (Givoni 1991). Thirdly, respondents identified improved air quality as a valuable ES for urban dwellers (Kuttler & Strassburger 1999). Furthermore, UGS provide areas for people to conduct research, as well as educational grounds for children to learn about nature. Tourism is another benefit that UGS provides. Attractions such
as Mount Royal bring in many people to Montreal, which generates revenue for the city. One benefit that was indirectly stated by the organizations was community-building through sharing space with people in the community and organizing efforts to protect UGS. 3.3 Local/Individual Benefits At the local scale, all questionnaire participants stated that UGS like Parc La Fontaine are important. We analyzed the data from the question “do you think parks like these are important to have in Montreal? Why or why not?” and noted the recurring use of the word “space” in a variety ways. Respondents emphasized the importance of access to green space, community space, shared space and public space. Another prominent theme was the emphasis on experiencing or feeling connected with nature. The third most common theme was the importance of parks for mental health and relaxation. Other less prominent themes included fresh air and air quality, noise reduction and microclimate regulation, which indicate that awareness of other services provided by the park does exist amongst its users. Responses to the Likert scale questions displayed a significant trend. Each statement had at least 60% of par-
ticipants reply with the positive responses “strongly agree” or “agree.” 100% of participants responded positively with the statements “the park makes me feel happy” and “the park makes me feel relaxed/less stressed.” The statement “the park makes me feel socially connected” received the fewest “strongly agree” responses and tied with “the park makes me feel connected with myself ” as the statement with the lowest number of total positive responses. Results from the questionnaire are displayed in Figure 5. The most common use of the park as noted from our participant observation was exercise. Many people were observed walking, running or cycling in the park. When participant observation was conducted on Sunday afternoons, there was a greater number of people in pairs or in groups, often families, walking together, as opposed to on weekday afternoons where there were a greater occurrence of people alone in the park. This observation demonstrates multiple uses of the park and the variety of benefits received from it, with some people using it to socialize and others using it to be alone. As in the literature (Kaplan 1995; Groenewegen 2006), our observations and results support the idea that UGS such as Parc La Fontaine increase physical and psychological well-
being for its users. 3.4 Challenges The benefits of UGS reach across multiple scales; however, its protection is negotiated at the regional level. Municipal politics surrounding UGS are controversial, and there is tension between UGS conservation and urban development. With there being less UGS in Montreal, many organizational respondents felt that there is increasing pressure to develop on existing UGS. One respondent stated, “Territory is not elastic, so we cannot rely constantly on development to make a budget.” Another respondent suggested, “the city of Montreal just hasn’t been very proactive. They are waiting for local groups to come up with solutions, but haven’t said that they themselves will save eco territories. They have done some acquisitions, but because the money was there they could have made more.” In response to these ‘poor politics,’ local organizations have taken matters into their own hands.
However, this undertaking generates a new set of challenges. As most of these local organizations are volunteer-run, according to a respondent, the cycling of volunteers makes projects “active at some points, but fizzled out at others. It takes a lot of energy to keep these things going.” Thus, the protection of UGS within Montreal is seen as necessary but complex. 4. Discussion Our analysis launches several points of discussion. We showed a number of creative ways in which organizations aim to protect UGS around the city. We have thus compiled a toolbox for protecting UGS, whereby the choice of tool depends on the role and objective of the organization. The first and arguably most important tool or method for protection is to gain knowledge about the space in question. As one of our organizational respondents declared, “When you want to protect green space, you have to know it. We are extremely knowledgeable of our
territory.” Organizations approach this task in different ways, including but not limited to doing inventories of flora and fauna to measure biodiversity, traffic studies to quantify the number of visitors, calculating opportunity costs of the property or positive externalities of the greenery and investigating the historical use of the space. Knowing the biophysical or social uses and values of any specific area is necessary to make a case as to why its protection is relevant. Second, organizations and individuals take ownership of the space, regardless of public or private ownership. One organization pursued overt resistance, which could be anywhere on the spectrum from trespassing on private property to proposing plans to diversify the land use of UGS, which are submitted to municipal governments. In most cases, increasing connectivity or accessibility of the space is inherent to taking ownership, as it results in a stronger connection and case for protection. Third, organizations mobilize support for the protection of UGS by raising awareness in their communities. They do this in a number of creative ways. Some offer, according to one organization, “educational projects for all the Montreal area school groups. Kids come to learn about the forest and the history of the space. We also offer guided walking tours and exhibitions. We use Facebook to put up photos and videos to inform the public about biodiversity.” Others sell calendars, cards, bags and pins to raise awareness. And lastly, organizations keep up with laws, regulations and policies that affect the protection of UGS. One respondent stated, “We are extremely knowledgeable about planning laws. We know what they can do and cannot do. We know
their powers and we know when they are not doing as much as they could be.” As shown by this quote, knowing the laws and regulations that affect UGS can be a useful tool to defend its protection. Staying informed can facilitate further overt resistance such as protests or petitions in which communities may express their appreciation for the ES provided by UGS and demand more UGS around Montreal. Our valuation of the park based on SCC and HRS can influence urban planning policies in Montreal. Our results show that some species are more valuable than others due to variance in age, distribution, and biomass equation composition. SCC and HRS values vary, as we do not know how much damage will be inflicted based on climate change forecasts (Environment Canada 2013). Hence, we must consider this approach as an approximation and range of projected damages and costs, which can help policy makers determine the monetary value of carbon storage benefits from trees if they ceased to exist. These data and results can also inform how policy makers and urban planners draft tree policies (Ville de Montréal 2005). For example, selecting noteworthy trees by their species, age and carbon storage potential can act as a springboard for educating the public about benefits of urban trees in reducing atmospheric CO2 and other important regulating ecosystem services. We can also extrapolate the methods and results of our case study to estimate total carbon storage in Montreal. Assuming an average of 71 trees/ha of UGS (as in Parc La Fontaine) over the 1,715 ha of UGS in Montreal with each tree storing 2.95 tCO2, there would be approximately 359,000 tCO2 stored in 122,000 trees, which is equivalent to the annual CO2
emissions of about 50,000 Montrealers and would be equivalent to a SCC of $10.4 million or $41.4 million in the HRS. With the addition of the negligible contribution of urban vegetation and soils (Pataki et al. 2006), we can infer that the carbon sequestration rate of UGS in Montreal would be less than the total annual emissions of 1.9 million Montrealers (Vital Signs 2010). While the emissions offset by UGS may be less than hoped for, UGS nonetheless provides an array of critical ES for people in the city. Policy makers and urban planners should increase the span of UGS in Montreal, and local communities should continue pressuring the municipal governments to do so. These policies should be combined with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. A limitation of this study was that it accounted for only aboveground biomass of trees through secondary data given limited data on root biomass. Despite the comprehensive assessments on carbon storage and calculations, seasonality and carbon sequestration throughout the year was beyond the scope of this study, limiting the usefulness of carbon storage quantification. Furthermore, carbon storage is not a direct tool to put an inherent dollar value on these trees, but a tool to quantify the tree’s provision of carbon storage. Interviews with local organizations were informative to understand the nature and extent of their work, but this was limited to those who responded. Since questionnaires were conducted in the span of weeks in Autumn and during early daytime, the composition of the sample demographic may be limited to the sample period and season. A convenience sampling method may have affected how results were interpreted. Future work should consider sea-
sonality and carbon sequestration of all carbon pools. Research on carbon sequestration could help determine which trees are most suitable to plant in Montreal (Sæbø et al. 2005). Also, the vast knowledge on the numerous benefits and ES provided by UGS could open up discussion in the urban planning and decisionmaking process for reflecting demand of UGS in cities currently lacking UGS. 5. Conclusion UGS provides a variety of ES at the global, regional and local levels. With growing rates of urbanization, it is becoming increasingly important to protect UGS in order to preserve these benefits. Although this study examined benefits across multiple scales, it is not comprehensive in assessing all of the benefits that UGS provides. The amount of green space in Montreal is approximately half the national average for large Canadian cities, a number that will only diminish if efforts are not made to protect it. In this study, we assessed the benefits of UGS in Montreal to its actual users, analyzed its value on regional levels and provided a snapshot of its global value based on carbon storage within Parc La Fontaine. Our results contribute to the understanding of the multifaceted nature of UGS and human well-being. First, we have mapped out an approach to studying UGS across multiple scales. Second, we have generated a level of understanding and awareness of people’s perceptions and value of UGS. And third, our analysis and discussion in ES provided by UGS suggested a greater need for dialogue in regional and municipal policy realms in the future of UGS for all stakeholders. Altogether, this study identifies the tools and issues that can aid in resolving some of the greatest challenges of
protecting UGS. Surmounting these challenges is paramount to ensuring a greener future for Montreal. Acknowledgements This study was completed in partial fulfillment of the course requirements of GEOG 460: Research in Sustainability under the supervision of Assistant Professor Brian E. Robinson. References
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A gray tree frog (H. versicolor) resting on a stem appears green under a canopy of leaves. Taken July 2013 in Auburn, ME.
Photo by Megan Howes
Environmental Justice: Oil Politics, Indigenous Land and Nature’s Rights in Ecuador by Jaya Bordeleau-Cass Abstract: At the heart of environmental justice discourses lies conflicting views of the environment: how it should be treated and respected, its relationship vis-à-vis human beings, and its role in today’s ever-changing, globalizing world. The practice of environmental justice involves negotiating different understandings of injustice across widely varying perspectives, as well as between the human and non-human worlds. As a focal point for popular resistance to capitalist development agendas, Latin American is a place to look to for important examples of environmental justice struggles. One struggle in particular continues to receive much international attention today: as a result of the 1970’s oil boom in Ecuador, land rights and oil politics among Indigenous Peoples have become a contentious issue in which environmental justice has played an important role. Since oil was discovered by Texaco in the late 1960s, ongoing resistance has taken place in the Yasuni region of Ecuador, where the Huaorani Peoples have been subjected to forceful assimilation and relocation from their lands. Through the discussion of oil politics and indigenous land rights in the Yasuni region, this paper examines the various stakeholders involved in one particular environmental justice issue. Introduction In contemporary times, global environmental concerns and conflicts pertaining to environmental degradation have come to the forefront of politics and have infiltrated juridical systems worldwide. From this, discourses of environmental justice are becoming widespread, where nature and the environment are seen as creating spaces for the enactment of pluralistic ideas regarding the application of social justice. As reiterated by
David Schlosberg, “environmental justice has been a central concern in a range of disciplines, and both the concept and its coverage have expanded substantially in the past two decades” (2013: 38). Through an exploration of environmental justice (EJ) theories, this paper will examine the growth of this reactive movement through transnational environmental movement politics and varying views of ‘Nature’ and ‘justice.’ It will place a particular emphasis on Latin America and how environmental
justice applies to the case of oil politics and indigenous land rights in Ecuador – the first country in the world whose constitution provides specific rights to ‘Nature’ (Suzuki 2013). Defining Environmental Justice Early reflections on environmental injustices came from North American academic circles and “focused on the existence of inequity in the distribution of environmental bads” (Schlosberg 2013: 38). In the United States, academics found links between environmental risks and minority communities as well as communities of lower economic classes (Schlosberg 2013: 38). From the beginning, environmental justice studies have placed a focus on moving “beyond the simple description and documentation of inequity into a thorough analysis of the underlying reasons for that injustice” (Schlosberg 2013: 39). Thus, EJ seeks to explain why certain communities come to be victims of environmental injustices. Significantly, the environmental justice movement sought to include indigenous perspectives with regards to relationships between culture, humans and ‘non-human nature’ (Schlosberg 2013). In this sense, it seeks to move beyond the humanity-nature dichotomy so prevalent throughout Western history (Williams 1980). In fact, “the very first principle of environmental justice affirms the ‘sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity, and the interdependence of all species’” (Schlosberg 2013: 39). This language reflects indigenous cosmologies and logic regarding humans’ relationship with and responsibility towards the land. In this sense “the origins of environmental injustices are as much in the treatment of the nonhuman realm as in relations among
human beings” (Schlosberg 2013: 44), where laws and justice come to be applied to how the environment itself is treated. Through this, “it is the disruption and increasing vulnerability of the integrity of ecosystems that is at the heart of [environmental] injustice[s]” (Schlosberg 2013: 44). This viewpoint is a large leap from Descartes’ influential analogy of nature as machine: as a machine, Nature has no soul and no suffering (Williams 1980). Indeed, environmental justice has come to the forefront of transnational politics because it seeks to confront this type of mentality – where the separation of the human sphere from the natural one comes to support a political ecology of domination and exploitation of nature, and of other humans. According to Gregory Bateson, where things have gone wrong with Western culture and science is through the loss of a sense of unity with the biosphere (Bateson 1979). Through its emphasis on incorporating indigenous worldviews, environmental justice theory seems to be working towards bringing this unity back into contemporary discussions of environmental degradation. This involves the acknowledgement of what Aletta Biersack refers to as intersecting ‘localities’ (Biersack 2006), finding a balance between scientific, Western knowledge and local indigenous ecological knowledge in order to reimagine how political ecology operates today. In their study, Mohai et al. (2009) examine causes and explanations for contemporary environmental disparities, sorting them into three interrelated, yet cross-disciplinary categories: economic, sociopolitical and racial discrimination explanations. Economic factors examine the poverty levels of populations affected by environmental risks and injustices as well as how indus-
tries fail to internalize environmental and social costs. Secondly, the socio-political factors look at how “industry and government seek the path of least resistance when siting new hazardous waste or polluting industrial facilities” (Mohai et al.: 414). Since communities who are most capable of opposing environmentally-damaging development projects tend to be “affluent, white, and well connected” (Mohai et al.: 414), impoverished and minority communities make for easier targets. Finally, Mohai et al. draw on theses of environmental philosophers such as Higgins and Mills to demonstrate historical and cultural associations of peoples of colour with pollution, where “minority environments are seen as ‘appropriately polluted’ spaces” (Mohai et al. 2009: 416). Considering these explanations, in past years, environmental justice research has moved beyond its focus on inequitable distribution of pollution in the United States and “has been based on an acknowledgement of the plurality of environmental (in)justice experiences” (Schlosberg 2013: 40). In fact, the environmental justice movement has become an umbrella and organizing theme for various others lobby groups: the civil rights, antitoxics, anti-neoliberalism, indigenous rights, labour, and food security movements, as well as traditional environmental movements (Schlosberg 2013). Within these, a focus is placed “on building new practices and institutions for sustainability” (Schlosberg 2013: 48). The Environmental Justice Movement Environmental justice methods are complex, navigating relationships with the environment and conditions of degradation along with wider goals of justice, which
involve addressing the harmonious operations of communities (Schlosberg 2013: 48). This link to community is an important one. As reiterated by Schlosberg, “environmental justice battles… have never only been about individual illnesses or impacts, but always also about the impact on the social cohesion and functioning of the community” (Schlosberg 2013: 43). Many academics studying the EJ movement have argued that “the most important part of environmental justice activism is building community capacity and facilitating community empowerment” (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010:18). Thus, this form of collectivism can come to be placed in sharp contrast to individualistic liberal views of ‘justice.’ It can also be linked to collectivism as it is presented in indigenous belief systems (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010: 13). In their article, Schlosberg and Carruthers (2010) underline how, “in battles over environmental degradation, land rights, sacred sites, food security, climate change, local ecological knowledge and more, indigenous groups have embraced diverse notions of environmental justice” (12). They argue that recent mobilizations on the part of indigenous peoples worldwide have managed to incorporate a ‘pluralistic discourse of justice’ (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010: 12). As discussed above, this connection is a seemingly organic one, where Indigenous Peoples come to use these new juridical niches to defend their cultures, ancestral lands and relationships with nature. As such, the environmental justice movement also “utilizes a number of conceptions of justice” (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010:13). As stressed by Indigenous leaders worldwide, environmental injustices create situations that impede the full and
“Free the Amazon from ChevronToxico.” (Widener 2007: 94)
“This is our territory. We live here, our parents and grandparents lived here; this has always been our territory. But now cowode (strangers) call it Yasuni and say it is not our land. We want to live here, like our ancestors, in this territory; we want our children to live here. We want to live free, we do not want strangers to compel us and tell us how to live.” -Daboto, a Huaorani women (Kimerling 2013: 107) 65
healthy functioning of their communities (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010: 18). From this, “Indigenous [P]eoples and their allies are revaluing the ecological knowledge of their ancestors, and tying their struggles for rights and recognition directly to resource, land, and environmental claims” (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010:19). Environmental justice organizations (EJOs), along with activists and indigenous communities are sometimes able to stop harmful neo-liberal projects of development or mineral/oil extraction. Such initiatives “include exercising the right to previous consent under Convention 169 of the ILO [International Labour Organization], which applies to indigenous communities (when they are recognized as such)” (Martínez-Alier 2012: 56). Convention 169 is a legally-binding document that addresses the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. Its basic principles include non-discrimination, the duty to consult with Indigenous Peoples on issues that relate to them, the right to decide priorities for development, and special measures to “safeguard the persons, institutions, property, labour, cultures and environment of these peoples” (ILO 2013). Another guiding manuscript is the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007. Despite it not being considered legally binding within international law, it sets standards and directs how Indigenous Peoples should be treated globally. These new documents are significant to how the globalization of capital and transnational relations have affected legal environmental proceedings. As it stands today, “indigenous peoples stand at the center of debates over globalization’s consequences” (Hosmer 2012: 264), and are thus directly threatened by it.
In particular, environmental justice has been widely applied to environmental issues in Latin America where “detrimental effects of large-scale mining, water pollution, soil erosion, and the steady decline of indigenous communities suffering from the overwhelming influence of agribusiness” (Berger & Sineiro 2012: 63) are widespread. Here, indigenous peoples’ movements have become widespread in recent years (Schlosberg & Carruthers 2010:19) and Latin America has risen as a focal point for popular resistance to capitalist development agendas. Arturo Escobar daringly argues that “Latin America is the only region in the world where some counterhegemonic processes of importance might be taking place at the level of the State at present” ( Arsel 2012: 150). This resistance to previous detrimental neo-liberal policies has also been reflected in the emergence of what has come to be known as the ‘New Left’ in Latin America. This ‘New Left’ encompasses the political regimes of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, “united by their desire to construct a post-neoliberal approach to development policy” (Arsel 2012: 150). Furthermore, one can look to this part of the world to examine cases where communities are applying a shared sense of environmental justice as methods of self-defense. The Case of Oil in Ecuador One struggle in particular continues to receive much international attention today. As a result of the 1970’s oil boom in Ecuador, land rights and oil politics among Indigenous Peoples have become a contentious issue in which environmental justice has played an impor-
tant role. Failed neo-liberal policies in Ecuador led the country towards periods of political instability, in which Indigenous Peoples experienced the ‘double shock’ of diminished state support and increased penetration of foreign oil corporations into their territories (Arsel 2012: 151). As an example, one can look to the struggles of the Huaorani peoples of the Yasuni region – their interactions with Texaco Inc., the state and the international community. However, it must be noted that many other groups such as the Achuar and Shuar have undergone similar disputes with oil companies encroaching on their traditional lands (Widener 2007). Discovery of oil in the Yasuni area by Texaco in the late 1960’s was initially “heralded as the salvation of Ecuador’s economy, the product that would pull the nation out of chronic poverty and ‘underdevelopment’” (Kimerling 2013: 113). But for the Huaorani, hunters and gatherers who call the Amazon Rainforest their ancestral home, this ‘conquest’ of the rainforest and rush to set up operations that would suck out valuable oil led to severe cases of environmental injustice, discrimination and ethnocide. Only ten years after the Huaorani’s first ‘peaceful’ contact with cowode (strangers), Texaco struck oil in the Yasuni region and began exporting it in 1972, shortly after a 313-mile pipeline was constructed (Kimerling 2012: 236237). The Ecuadorian government’s quest soon became to modernize its economy, making petroleum its primary export and thus turning itself into an oil-dependent state. From this, Indigenous Peoples became subjected to “state sponsored assimilation efforts and forced land cessions, in the interest of broadening opportunity for some, by opening rich, “untouched”
lands to hard working settlers” (Hosmer 2012: 267), who were offered land if they migrated to the Amazon and planted crops or raised livestock. The Huaorani who beforehand had lived “free and sovereign… in voluntary isolation in the forest” (Kimerling 2012: 237) were rapidly subjected to a state-sanctioned integration policy inspired by the doctrine of Terra Nullius. This antiquated doctrine was used during times of European colonization to legally justify the usurping of indigenous lands. It maintains that the Huaorani’s “political economies were so ‘underdeveloped’ that their very existence as self-governing societies, in possession of their lands, could be denied” (Kimerling 2012: 238). During this time, Ecuador intertwined its interests with multinational corporations, working hand in hand with Texaco “to negate indigenous land tenure” (Hosmer 2012: 267). On top of this, the environmental damages caused by these initiatives were rampant. Despite the fact that early provisions “required oil field operators to ‘adopt necessary measures to protect the ﬂora, fauna and other natural resources’” (Kimerling 2012: 240), Ecuadorian governments failed to enforce these in practice. In fact, “[i]n the environmental law vacuum, Texaco set its own environmental standards and policed itself ” (Kimerling 2012: 241), disregarding environmental protection and the importance of training its personal about environmental issues. Between 1964 and 1992, approximately 1.5 billion barrels of oil were extracted from the Ecuadorian Amazon. When Petroecuador took over Texaco’s operation in 1990, 339 wells had been drilled (Kimerling 2012: 241) – 339 wells that produced over 3.2 million gallons of toxic wastewater. Appallingly, most of this un-
treated waste was subsequently dumped into surrounding environments (Kimerling 2012: 241). Moreover, multiple spills occurred throughout Texaco’s ‘oil reign’ causing “oil slicks on waterways— and foul water supplies and fisheries of downstream communities—for scores or even hundreds of kilometers” (Kimerling 2012: 242). Unfortunately, few initiatives to clean up these spills were undertaken (ibid). The chronic pollution from these operations and unforgivable accidents continues to affect impacted environments and populations today. Furthermore, raising environmental standards of companies is a slow process, despite recent governmental initiatives (discussed below). In fact, a recent rupture in the Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados (OCP) pipeline in the province of Esmaraldas on April 8, 2013 caused an oil spill of 5 500 barrels in adjacent farming areas (Garcia 2013). As a result, OCP Ecuador “said it may need until August to clean up the area” (Garcia 2013). Through her detailed examination of the struggles of the Huaorani peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon, Judith Kimerling follows the environmental injustices inflicted on this particular group, how international litigation have become involved as well as the ramifications of Texaco/Chevron’s oil extraction projects. She emphasizes: Their territory reduced and world changed forever, the Huaorani have borne the costs of oil development without sharing in its beneﬁts or participating in a meaningful way in political and environmental decision-making that affects them (Kimerling 2012: 239).
Known for their remarkable biodiversity, the ancestral lands of the Huaorani “span some 20,000 square kilometers and include the area now known as Yasuni National Park and Bioreserve, in the Republic of Ecuador” (Kimerling 2012: 236). As a people, the Huaorani have incredible knowledge of the ‘giving’ Amazon Rainforest and its wildlife (Kimerling 2012: 236). It should also be noted that, in 1990 an area of 125.6 square kilometers was entitled to the group – however with a significant caveat: “the legal title could be revoked if the Huaorani ‘impede or obstruct’ oil or mining activities” (Kimerling 2012: 239-240). Thus, these actions were merely tokenistic, since the state and transnational oil companies still ultimately maintained access to the subsoil of the region. Even since Ecuador ratified Convention 169 of the ILO in 1998, “under Ecuadorian law, no land titles are truly secure because all subsurface minerals are claimed as property of the state, and oil extraction is permitted in lands that are titled to indigenous peoples without their consent” (Kimerling 2012: 240). As a result of the widespread frustration caused by the invasive oil drilling, “in 1993, a class action lawsuit was ﬁled against Texaco, Inc. in federal court in New York, on behalf of indigenous and settler residents who have been harmed by pollution from the Ecuador operations” (Kimerling 2012: 242). Not surprisingly, Texaco denied any accusations and offenses, claiming that they had obeyed Ecuadorian laws and procedures for industries (Kimerling 2012). What more, the Huaorani Peoples were never consulted and were excluded from the series of plaintiffs involved in the case. Instead, the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia (the Amazon Defense Front), a local NGO, was founded to
allocate the funds from the proceedings. Despite its seemingly good intentions, through its ways of “speak[ing] for all, but work[ing] with only a few” (Kimerling 2013: 97), “its efforts to claim a monopoly of representation of all people affected by Texaco and mange local politics in an undemocratic fashion have alienated many people in the affected communities” (Kimerling 2012: 242). The Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc. (now Chevron Corporations) lawsuit continued into the 21st century with a court ruling in February 2011 which commanded that Chevron pay over $8.6 billion for counteractive procedures (Kimerling 2012: 244). Following this decision, both the plaintiffs and Chevron Corporation decided to appeal to Ecuador’s National Court of Justice (Kimerling 2012: 244). Kimmerling (2013: 96) explains the ccomplexity of the current situation:: After nineteen years of litigation, the impact of Aguinda remains to be seen. If the… judgment is not overturned by Ecuador’s National Court of Justice, the question of whether it can be enforced remains. The likelihood of enforcing the judgment in a U.S. court is uncertain, but does not look promising at this time. The likelihood of collecting the judgment (or portions of it) in other countries where Chevron has assets is impossible to predict, as is the question of whether the parties will settle the case instead of litigating in courtrooms around the world. To date, appeals to courts in Canada, Brazil and Argentina have all been attempted (Kimerling 2013: 97). As in the case of the Torres Strait islanders (Scott and Mlrennan 1999), land claims and environmental justice litigations are a long, complex process that can involve various appeals to different tiers of juridical bod-
ies. In spite of the various obstacles and conflicts encountered with the multiple stakeholders involved in these litigations, this lawsuit is said to have “demonstrated the capacity of Ecuadorian society, with critical international assistance, to organize and to hold a multinational accountable for environmental health injustice even after its exit from the country” (Widener 2011:22). However, even a victory in this case may not bring about significant reparations for the Huaorani Peoples. Win or lose, this court case continues to exclude Indigenous groups from participating in decision-making processes and has laid down the potential for new stakeholders (such as the Frente) to come in and “set back local struggles for environmental justice by promoting conﬂict, corruption and cynicism” (Kimerling 2012: 245). Regardless, many academics and environmental activists have looked to recent policies and ratifications within Ecuador’s government under Rafael Correa as a sign of hope and positive integration of environmental justice theory. Quickly after his electoral success in 2007, Correa worked towards implementing new, postneoliberal development plans and changes in Ecuador. “Many of these changes concern the role of nature, and by extension, natural resources, in Ecuadorian development” (Arsel 2012: 151), and demonstrated Correa’s endorsement of social justice initiatives. As expressed by Patricia Widener, Ecuador made a “shift to environmental justice at the national level” when the Ministry of Environment “assumed more responsibility for social issues, including shelter, clean water, health, and economic security that intersected with environmental considerations” (Widener
2011: 261) . Furthermore, Ecuador voted in favour of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September of 2007, which recognizes “that indigenous peoples’ rights over their lands, territory and resources are necessary for their survival” (Kimerling 2012: 240). Additionally, Correa developed a new Ecuadorian constitution in 2008 which allocated constitutional rights to Nature, and made indigenous notions concepts of sumaq kawsayin (buen vivir, in Spanish or ‘living well’) a pillar to future development and juridical operations, “moving the country away from a fixation on growth” (Martínez-Alier 2012: 66) and also allowing more space for the assertion of indigenous rights in Ecuador. In the opinion of Martínez-Alier, such introductions and shifts in consciousness are in part due to the influence and contributions of environmental justice organizations in the South (Martínez-Alier 2012). This ‘new law of nature’ has received much attention from the international community, considered groundbreaking as Ecuador is the first country in the world to provide specific rights to Nature (Suzuki 2013). In his article What if Mother Nature had rights? She does in Ecuador, environmentalist David Suzuki compares Ecuador’s holistic constitution to Canada’s discussions of nature, where the ‘Ministry of Environment’ “is more about managing human use of the environment than about Mother Nature herself ” (Suzuki 2013). A final environmental justice initiative on the part of Correa involves a remarkable “international proposal to abandon oil extraction in the ecologically signiﬁcant Yasuní National Park” (Arsel 2012: 151), where 20 per cent of Ecuador’s untapped oil resources lie. The
‘Yasuní-ITT initiative’ calls on the international community to be ‘co-responsible’ by contributing “half of the profits the country would be giving up: $3.6-billion. So far, they’ve raised $300-million” (Suzuki 2013). In his article, Suzuki is very adamant on congratulating Ecuador on this noteworthy initiative. However, what he fails to address is the impact this type of ‘nature reserve’ has on the Indigenous Peoples who have always inhabited these lands. In her articles, Kimmerling draws out the complexities with regards to the dynamics between transnational environmental concerns, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their land and self-determination. She argues: The enormous gap between what some Huaorani call the ‘‘pretty words’’ in the law and the reality on the ground reﬂects the chasm between legal ideals and political realities, and the enduring legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, framework of dominance and legal ﬁction of terra nullius (Kimerling 2012: 240). Thus, the Huaorani, so often typified as the “primitive, the exotic, the authentic indigene of the western imagination” (Hosmer 2012: 266), find themselves in a double-bind: through the stereotype of the ‘noble-savage’, Huaorani are presented as having fragile existences, seemingly rendering them powerless in the face of state power and large transnational. What more, supposed ‘help’ from indigenous rights and environmental nongovernmental organizations that arrive to ‘speak for’ the Indigenous Peoples and protect “Huaorani interests morph instead into another instrument of colonialism” (Hosmer 2012: 267). This type of colonialism is disguised in well-intentioned be-
haviours, but comes to strip the Huaorani of agency, preventing them from sharing their own viewpoints and weakening their own self-determination for the sake of ‘environmental protection and indigenous rights’ (Hosmer 2012: 267). Nowadays, Huaorani community members “worry not only about protecting their territory from oil companies, settlers, and loggers, but also fear for their right to continue to live in freedom as Huaorani in what remains of their ancestral lands” (Kimerling 2013: 107). However, it is most important to note that the Huaorani are not ‘helpless’. In fact: “It is likely that Huaorani understand these threats, and engage in lively discussions about strategies” (Hosmer 2012: 267), organizing to defend their unique ways of life (Kimerling 2012). This notion is demonstrated in a document written by Huaorani community members about the ITT proposal and conservation in Yasuni: “[W]e want everyone to understand . . . that the forest in Yasuni is our home, it is our territory, and we, the Waorani [Huaorani] families of Yasuni, are working to defend the forest and our human rights… We demand that the government and everyone with interest in Yasuni recognize and respect our rights, including our right to manage our territory and continue to live our culture in freedom in our ancestral lands. Do not come to bother us or impose projects and programs that have not been agreed to by the Waorani communities who live in Yasuni” (as cited in Kimerling 2013: 111). For the Huaorani Peoples, this land is not only a space to be protected, but “a space in which they can exercise genuine political self-determination, maintain their culture and identity, and live as Huaorani” (Kimerling 2013: 113).
Additionally, through globalization and transnational networks, projects of conservation of at-risk environments such as the Yasuni Reserve have attracted significant international presence. For instance, the ‘Program for Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Natural and Cultural Patrimony of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve’ is a project funded by Spain, in keeping with the UN Millennium Development Goals (Kimerling 2013: 107). Increasingly, the environmental justice theory has been reaching local, national and transnational movements (Widener 2011: 6). However, despite the potential of the EJ movement of creating important linkages between the South and the North, it has yet to translate into a successful global phenomenon. As explained by Widener: “Northern environmental justice activists have yet to establish strong ties with affected communities and the laboring poor of the South, while they have also failed to frame shared struggles that resonate in both places” (Widener 2011: 224). Regardless, environmental justice organizations in the south are themselves a “main force fighting against socio-environmental injustices and moving the world economy towards sustainability” (Martínez-Alier 2012: 66), engaging in their own independent research on environmental justices. As abovementioned, globalization directly threatens the wellbeing (buen-vivir) of indigenous peoples. “Yet paradoxically…the globalization of indigenous rights and environmental justice movements threaten the authority of national sovereignties” (Hosmer 2012: 265). Conclusion To conclude, it should be noted that at the heart of environmental justice
discourses lie conflicting views of the environment: how it should be treated and respected, its relationship vis-à-vis human beings, and its role in today’s ever-changing, globalizing world. As seen with the discussion of oil politics and indigenous land rights in the Yasuni region of Ecuador, environmental justice is a complex issue that involves various stakeholders. The practice of environmental justice thus involves negotiating different understandings of injustice “in and across different participants, from community or stakeholder groups to corporations or states; it requires recognition, conceptions of disadvantage, and political engagement” (David Schlosberg 2013: 45). It is through this that relationships between the human and non-human can come to be better negotiated.
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Arsel, M. (2012). Between ‘Marx and markets’? The state, the ‘left turn’ and nature in Ecuador. Journal of Economic and Social Geography, 103(2), 150-163. Bateson, G. (1979). Introduction. In Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1-23. Biersack, A. (2006). Reimagining political ecology: Culture/power/history/nature. In (eds) Biersack A. and Greenberg, J., Reimagining Political Ecology. Durham: Duke University Press, 3-40. Garcia, E. (2013). Ecuador OCP pipeline pumping oil again after breakage. Reuters: UK. Retrieved from: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/04/12/ecuador-pipeline-idUKL2N0CZ1C420130412. Hosmer, B.C. (2012). Indigenous communities, nation-states, extranational sovereignties and the challenge of environmental justice in the age of globalization. Environmental Justice, 5(5), 264-269. Kimerling, J. (2012). Huaorani land rights in Ecuador: Oil, contact, and conservation. Environmental Justice, 5(5), 236-251. Kimerling, J. (2013). Oil, contact, and conservation in the Amazon: Indigenous Huaorani, Chevron, and Yasuni. Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, 24(1), 43-115. Berger, M. and Sineiro C. C. (2012). Environmental justice in Latin America. Environmental Justice, 5(2), 63-65. Martínez-Alier, J. (2012). Environmental justice and economic degrowth: An alliance between two movements. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 23(1), 51-73. Mohai, P., Pellow, D. and Roberts, J. T. (2009). Environmental Justice. Annual review of environment and resources, 34, 405-430.
“The more clouds in the sky, the more people die.” Rhyme by children of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Reserve
Colonialist Pollution: An Exploration of Environmental Racism Towards the Indigenous Peoples of Canada by Nessa Ghassemi-Bakhtiari Abstract: Issues of gender and class, coupled with acts of environmental racism inspired the environmental justice movement in the United States, which has spread across the world. This paper explores environmental racism in depth, with a specific focus on the Canadian context. Defined as the disproportionate distribution of environmental burdens in marginalized and racialized communities, environmental racism takes on three forms in Canada: historical minorities that emerged from slave society, ‘environmental racialization’ originating from ideas of multicuralism in Canadian urban centers, and conflicts over First Nations sovereignty issues.The identification of geographical, social, and procedural inequities is essential in exposing cases of environmental racism, specifically in relation to indigenous communities in Canada. Canada’s ‘Chemical Valley’ in Sarnia, Ontario, is used as a case study that clearly identifies acts of environmental racism endured by the Aamjinwaang First Nation. In the end, environmental justice in Canada may only be achieved if social dynamics that enable environmental racism are addressed and reorganized. Introduction: The Growth of Environmental Justice Long existing social problems are being exacerbated by accelerated climate change and environmental disasters. Poor and marginalized communities— who often contribute the least to climate change—are projected to undergo the most detrimental impacts (IPCC 2013; Maillet & Ford 2013). For a long time,
the mainstream environmental movement was mostly concerned with ecological conservation issues and other matters pertaining to their predominantly white middle-class population. Indeed, as Martinez-Alier (2009) explains, the global environment and conservation movement has “[excluded] many organizations dedicated to environmental justice, including those in the U.S. environmental justice move-
ment and many others across the world.” A concerning fact, given that numerous studies have pointed to a correlation between disproportionate exposure to environmental risks with race, gender, and class—all of which are issues that the environmental justice movement has sought to change to this day. Properly defined, environmental justice “represents the history and continuing struggle of ordinary people for their civil, spatial, and human rights as members of a global ecological community” (Steady 2009: 1). In the light of increasing climate change, and increasing polluting resource-extracting activities, environmental justice seeks to rectify the social disparities that exist in societies, which create and often reinforce existing vulnerabilities and adaptation needs across the globe. In other words, “environmental justice is about the desire to gain and maintain healthy environments in communities, workplaces and homes by eliminating the obstacles to marginalized people through improving their quality of life” (Pellow 2000: 583). For environmental justice scholars and activists, environmental problems are social problems—the two cannot be separated (Bond 2000; Bullard 2005; Steady 2009). Despite a certain level of exclusion from the mainstream environmental movement, support has grown in recent years for the defense of minority groups against environmental violence that has been perpetuated against them. In fact, the first multinational People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit (FPCELS) was held in 1991 in Washington, D.C. where a document was formulated: To begin to build a national and international movement of all peoples
of color to fight the destruction and taking of our lands and communities, do hereby re-establish our spiritual interdependence to the sacredness of our Mother Earth; to respect and celebrate each of our cultures, languages and beliefs about the natural world and our roles in healing ourselves; to ensure environmental justice; to promote economic alternatives which would contribute to the development of environmentally safe livelihoods; and, to secure our political, economic and cultural liberation that has been denied for over 500 years of colonization and oppression, resulting in the poisoning of our communities and land and the genocide of our peoples (FPCELS 1991). Since then, the 17 documented principles they developed have served to lead grassroots movements of environmental justice. A main component of environmental justice is the recognition of existing environmental racism. As an original advocate against environmental racism in the United States, as well as a leading scholar on the subject, Robert Bullard has recognized that certain “individuals, populations and communities bear a disproportionate burden of environmental risk due to their race or perceived undesirability” (Teelucksingh 2007). Precisely, the study of environmental racism is the study of how inequities of environmental quality within human populations are related to race. In this paper, environmental racism will be explored in depth, focusing on the Canadian context, with the goal of creating criteria to identify cases of such environmental injustices, particularly in relation to First Nations. I will end with a
case study of Sarnia, Ontario, also known as Canada’s ‘Chemical Valley,’ where a stance for environmental racism lived by the Aamjinwaang First Nation will be made. Defining Environmental Racism in a Canadian Context The concept of environmental racism originates from the beginning of the environmental justice movement in the United States in the 1980s, when a focus was created on the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. Since 1994, environmental justice has been formally recognized as a legal phenomenon in the United States, and the US Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as: The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. … It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work (EPA, 2013). Thus, the relationship between the placement of environmentally hazardous industries and ethnicity began to be acknowledged and defended against with significant legal pertinence. Essentially, environmental racism may be defined as “racism practiced in and through the environment” and can refer to “environmental injustice whereby, for instance, toxic and hazardous waste
facilities and business operations are sited with disproportionate frequency in or near poor, non-white communities” (Westra 1999). In other words, an act of environmental racism is one form of environmental injustice, and points to the interplay between environmental issues and social indicators of race and class. This type of discrimination impacts both equity and health outcomes (Bullard 1994; Westra & Wenz 1995; Margai 2010; Greenwood & de Leeuw 2012). There is much contention surrounding the terminology of environmental racism, especially with the definition of intent. The first argument is that of environmental racism originating from institutional racism, whereby “institutional racism influences local land use, the enforcement of environmental regulations, the siting of industrial facilities, and for people of colour the choice of place to live, work and play” (Bullard 2005: 32). The counter argument, however, resolves around the chronology of such events, whereby the importance of the distribution is attributed to the timing of the siting of the hazardous source (Debbane & Keil 2004; Teelucksingh 2007). This frames environmental racism in a way that gives greater importance to its association with “agents’ purposeful subjective intent” (Teelucksingh 2007). In other words, if the marginalized community in question was not present at the time of the siting of the environmental hazard, intent cannot be attributed and claims of ‘racism’ cannot be made. However, this assertion may be rebutted by the acknowledgement that acts of racism have been impregnated within and perpetrated by systematic processes that have led to the acceptance of an “institutionalized form of doing business, taken for granted by most and ignored
by all” (Westra 1999). According to Bannerji, “all of this fits right in with the racist common sense of a people, whose selfdefinition and social organization, not to mention economic organization, has been fundamentally based on racisms and imperialism” (2009: 35). From this, it may be understood that we have internalized historical processes allowing racist behavior as a norm. Therefore, it is not necessary that intent be proven for the negative impact on minority communities—racist consequences (intentional or otherwise) constitute the very process that allows disparity in distribution of environmental burdens. Moving on to the Canadian context, environmental racism takes on a different perspective. Indeed, the research relating to environmental racism in Canada seems to organize into three broad categories: historical minorities which emerged from slave society (e.g. Africville, Nova Scotia); the idea of ‘environmental racialization’ through the unique expressions of multiculturalism in Canada’s urban centers; and conflict over land-claims, treaty rights and sovereignty issues concerning First Nations (Miller 2005). For the case of the first category, environmental racism is expressed much in the same way as has been discussed earlier in this section, where it is acknowledged in the “convergence of undesirable people together with undesirable land uses” (Gosine & Teelucksingh 2008: 45). Indeed, the placement of the municipal landfill in the black community of Africville has been attributed to historical processes of racism and colonialism, which culminated in the community’s eventual displacement and relocation (Nelson 2011). The second category of Canadian environmental racism pertains to the im-
portant differences in how race is socially and spatially oriented in Canada. Unlike blatant instances of American-style segregation and racialization, environmental racism in Canadian cities is less clearly defined and thus less easily investigated. In fact, Teelucksingh (2007) explains that “Canada’s unique history of immigration and the ideology of multiculturalism have led to a relationship between race, ethnicity and immigrant status which is the key to understanding the hidden and latent nature of racial oppression in Canada.” Though enough literature exists to make comprehensive studies of both of these previous areas of environmental racism, in a conscious effort to not erase different communities unique histories and experiences of oppression, and group different jurisdictional issues together under the same methods of analysis, the goal of this study is to focus on environmental racism with respect to the third category, which pertains to the First Nations. In the following section, I will discuss in further detail how the case of environmental racism towards First Nations of Canada is unique, and develop three criteria for identifying cases in the Canadian context. Identifying Environmental Racism against Canada’s First Nations There is no doubt that racism and colonialism has been a part of Canada’s history since as early as the first interactions of European colonizers with indigenous peoples, which include the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis. Land was seized from these communities with a clear lack of respect, as well as recognition of their rights to the land. According to Gosine and Teelucksingh: “The very processes by which land was seized and settled were justified by racist ideologies that cast
indigenous peoples as inferior savages and invading white colonists as civilizing agents” (2008: 36). The Indian Act of 1867 is a testament to colonial practices that have continued to this day. Though it has been revised, this law is the primary piece of legislation that brings authority over First Nation people; as well as having served to assimilate them using strategies such as the residential school programs, it seeks to establish who may be considered an ‘Indian’ (Gosine & Teelucksingh 2008). Resource extraction practices are a testament to the ongoing colonial state we live in, where ‘cultural supremacy’ erases the way of life of one people in favor of the one in power (Armstrong 2009: 50). Indeed, the act of destroying the land for economic profit is an act completely opposite to the culture of indigenous peoples in Canada, which calls for “cooperation and harmony wherever possible with all things, as a necessary means to survival” (Armstrong 2009: 49). Identifying environmental racism as a whole may be done in three parts: the recognition of discrimination geographically, socially, as well as in terms of procedural equity (Bullard 1994). The difference for First Nations in Canada happens in the details. That is to say, cases of environmental racism differ in Canada, not in the analysis criteria, but in the actual manifestations of the inequities. Indeed, as Greenwood and de Leeuw (2012) explain, a colonial legacy has resulted in “[First Nations’] distinct sociopolitical, historical and geographic contexts.” Before exploring in detail the application of these differences through the case study of Sarnia, ON, an overview of the criteria for analysis is revealed below.
Geographic Inequity Bullard (1994) defined geographic equity as “the location and spatial configuration of communities and their proximity to environmental hazards and locally unwanted land uses, such as landfills, incinerators, sewage treatment plants, lead smelters, refineries, and other noxious facilities.” Indeed, much research has been done that identifies a correlation between income and/or racial disparities in the location of unwanted polluting industries (Margai 2010). In identifying geographic inequity, however, it is important to be aware of the differences in the types of exposures possible. According to Margai (2010), the two distinctive pollution events are defined as ‘acute pollution events,’ and ‘chronic pollution hazards.’ Acute events refer to “quick, short-term events with immediate health consequences such as injuries, evacuations, or fatalities” (Margai 2010). For instance, a pipeline break would be described as an acute event. Chronic pollution hazards, on the other hand, are described as long term, and result in the “gradual deterioration of the environment in a given community” (Margai 2010). These releases could be from emissions of fixed facilities (e.g. a waste disposal plant). Furthermore, chronic pollution hazards tend to be of a cumulative nature, meaning that the public health impacts may not appear immediately (Margai 2010). Both types of pollution hazards have been found to be consistent with spatial and social inequities (Margai 2010). The differentiation between pollution exposures is important, because it guides the type of intervention necessary, whether in the form of emergency responses, or long-term system manage-
ment. As will be further discussed in the procedural inequity section, neo-liberal reform has had significant impact on the management of environmental hazards (Mascarenhas 2012), and “the remote nature of many First Nation communities … has led to a lack of clear responsibilities for the health of those communities” (Dhillon &Young 2010). Furthermore, instances of geographic inequities are often doubled for First Nations communities, as they have to face both acute and chronic environmental pollution hazards. A perfect case of this is found with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which are both geographic positioned in extremely compromising areas due to the ever-expanding tar sands industry in Alberta (Candler et al. 2010). Social inequity In environmental decision-making, social equity refers to the importance of social factors, such as ethnicity, class, culture, lifestyles, and political power (Bullard 1994). Social indicators have a great impact on the health and wellbeing of a people (Greenwood & de Leeuw 2012). This importance is also translated to political clout, as many studies have found that “marginalized residents have fewer opportunities and resources to practice [‘not in my backyard’-ism] in regard to locally undesirable land uses” (Teelucksingh 2007). Additionally, ethnicity and class has been found to influence response mechanism to environmental problems (Margai 2001). In other words, “white communities see faster action, better results and stiffer penalties than communities where blacks, Hispanics and other minorities live” (Bullard 1994). For First Nations peoples, tra-
ditional lifestyles, culture, and religious belief all hold a great importance when discussing social inequity problems pertaining to the environment. Indeed, health and safety are not the only concern of indigenous peoples, as their worldview and traditional ways of being require the land they inhabit to be free of toxic and chemical hazards in order for them not to suffer (Westra 1999). Accordingly, research has shown that “traditional cultural practices that express and reaffirm identity and culture, such as hunting and fishing [increase] the exposure of community members to toxic substances” (Arquette et al. 2002). Therefore, as peoples whose identities are intrinsically linked and dependent to the environment/area they are from, any attack on its quality or integrity may be construed not only as an attack on their health and wellbeing, but also as an attack on their identity (Westra 1999). Windsor and McVey (2005) identify this type of racist attack on identity in the case of the displacement and relocation lived by Cheslatta T’En First Nation due to the development of dams for the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan). In the 1950s, due to the flooding of their land by the Nechako Reservoir, the Cheslatta T’En were forced to leave their traditional lands and move to new reservations near Grassy Plains (Windsor & McVey 2005). This huge hit to their traditional way of being was extremely impactful. Their sense of being was disrupted, and they became extremely vulnerable to future inequities (e.g. further land disputes), as their social structure was completely dismantled and they lost their land (Windsor & McVey 2005). Procedural inequity All aspects of decision-making
processes, such as governing rules and regulations, or their evaluation and enforcement, are referred to in questions of procedural equity (Bullard 1994). The exposure of unfair and exclusionary practices, such as the under representation of a community during public hearings, are examples of unjust, inequitable procedural practices that support claims of environmental racism. This point takes on a particular significance in the case of First Nations of Canada. Indeed, unlike other minorities facing such injustices, issues of environmental racism towards First Nations “cannot be separated from issues of sovereignty and treaty rights” (Westra 1999). Where Native Indians of the United States are “regarded as ‘domestic dependent nations’ with some residual sovereign powers,” the majority of indigenous peoples in Canada continue to seek recognition of an inherent right to self-government under the Constitution of Canada (House of Commons 1991). This is especially important in the current state of neo-liberal reform, which has transferred most (if not all) of the power to manage and protect the environment to the private sector; allowing the approval of projects without public hearings, as well as reducing the monitoring and reporting requirements for industry (Mascarenhas 2007). Mascarenhas (2007) further explains that this neoliberal ecological and economic colonialism has been “particularly discriminatory against First Nations because of historical and material conditions that have created social, environmental, and political circumstances that undermine First Nations ability to build capacity in a culture of capitalism.” Yet, the ability to build capacity to counter development projects is essential to accumu-
late the power necessary to hold weight in decision-making processes. Furthermore, what makes this point especially concerning is that not only do First Nations face the neglect of being silenced in decisionmaking processes (Mascarenhas 2007), but it also makes them subject to “additional components of violence, repression and state terrorism” (Westra 1999). An example of such is found in the unfolding of the 1990 land dispute between the Mohawks at Kahnawake and Kanesatake, and the Township of Oka. The land in question is surnamed the ‘Pines’ and holds historical and cultural value to the Mohawks that defended it, claiming treaty rights against the expansion of the Oka Golf Club—a project that had been approved without the consultation of the Mohawks. Confrontation during the Oka crisis culminated in the Township’s resort to national self-defense and the use of police officers in attempts to raid the barricades the community had created to oppose the expansion, and demand for recognition of land claims (Westra 1999). A more recent demonstration of this type of violence in found in New Brunswick, where First Nations have been protesting against the shale gas extraction developments since earlier this year (CBC 2013). These cases are of severe importance, as they expose the procedural discrimination towards a marginalized community directly affected by the ‘economic development’ of culturally valuable land, for which economic valuation is entirely irrelevant (Martinez-Alier 2009). First Nation Environmental Racism in Canada’s Chemical Valley The Aamjiwnaang First Nation reserve located south of Sarnia, Ontario is found in an area that has come to be known as Canada’s ‘Chemical Valley,’
which is found at the southernmost part of Lake Huron on the border between Ontario and Michigan. The area acquired the telling nickname by becoming the home of a dense concentration of industrial factories; all of which have contributed to incredibly high levels of air and water pollution and subsequently high levels of chemical exposure for the area’s inhabitants. In fact, the air is among the most polluted in North America, with the second highest level of particulates air pollution in all of Canada (WHO 2013). The Aamjiwnaang community is located in the middle of this heavily polluted area, and has been suffering from exposure to chemicals for many years, increasingly displaying a large range of adverse health effects linked to the pollution (Basu et al. 2013; Belli et al. 2004; Fung et al. 2007; MacDonald & Rang 2007). This case displays examples
of geographical, social, and procedural inequity. Claims of environmental racism can strongly be made on the ground that the Canadian government has failed to respond accordingly to the decaying environmental and heath conditions of the people on the reserve. Home to over 800 band members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, the Chemical Valley also houses Canada’s largest concentration of petrochemical industries and associated air and water pollution (Dhillon & Young 2010). As Figure 1 demonstrates, 62 large industrial facilities each emit a range of dangerous air pollutants within 25 km of the Chemical Valley—approximately half of which operate within 5 km of the First Nation’s reserve— and include Bayer Inc., Dow Chemical Canada Inc., Shell Canada, Imperial Oil (ESSO), and NOVA chemicals (MacDon-
ald & Rang 2007). These industries emit roughly 10 tons of pollutants into the adjacent St. Clair River through approximately 100 chemical spills per year (Dhillon & Young 2010). This does not account for the substantial amount of pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff in the surrounding area also released into the water (Mascarenhas 2007). Though the water is contaminated with various toxins and would not be considered a viable source of drinking water for anyone, the St. Clair River continues to be the primary provision of drinking water to the Aamjiwnaang and Walpole Island First Nations (Mascarenhas 2007). Furthermore, the air quality in the area is not safe. The National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) recorded 5.7 million kilograms of â€˜toxic air pollutantsâ€™ released from the industrial facilities in the Chemical Valley in 2005 (Dhillon & Young 2010). These pollutants have been linked to reproductive and developmental disorders, as well as cancer, among humans (Dhillon & Young 2010; MacDonald & Rang 2007). MacDonald and Rang (2007) have established that the quantity of emissions released there is greater than in any other community in Ontario, as well as being higher than the entire provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Because of the high levels of exposure to air and water pollutants causing potentially adverse health effects, the Aamjiwnaang Reserve is located within the St. Clair River Area of Concern (Luginaah et al. 2010). Areas of Concern are assigned geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin that display severe levels of environmental degradation (Environment Canada 2013). The people in the Area of Concern have felt significant incidences of
birth defects, illness, and disease by exposure through their contaminated drinking water and air (MacDonald & Rang 2007). Despite a wide range of evidence of environmental degradation, the Canadian government has largely ignored the need for serious action and remediation, leaving the members of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation to lose confidence in the abilities of their provincial and federal jurisdictions to protect them from environmental harm (Dhillon & Young 2010). As described earlier, chronic and acute exposures to pollutants through drinking water and inhalation have left the Aamjiwnaang First Nation to deal with widespread negative health effects. Studies and surveys were conducted in 2006 and 2007 and revealed significant health burdens as a result of the air pollution: approximately 40% of band members needed an inhaler, while 17% of adults and 22% of children had asthma (Dhillon & Young, 2010). Risks of contracting cardiovascular, respiratory, developmental, and reproductive disorders (such as miscarriages and a declining number of male newborns), are all increased when exposed to the pollutants present in the Chemical Valley (MacDonald & Rang 2007). The last point was confirmed by Mackenzie et al. (2005), in which the study confirmed that indeed the proportion of male births has been decreasing from the 1990s to 2003. Correspondingly, higher rates of hospitalization have been recorded in the Chemical Valley than the rest of Ontario (Fung et al. 2007). Due to the huge burden of pollution exposure, the community has also felt many social inequities. Undeniably, aspects of their cultural and traditional background such as hunting, fishing, medicine gathering, and ceremonial activities, have been largely hindered by the pollution (Dhillon
& Young 2010). This disruption in their sense of being, as previously explained, may be interpreted as a direct attack on their identity (Westra 1999). Perhaps one of the more important points is that the First Nation community has lived in the area subsisting on the St. Clair River much before the industrial facilities were built. Under these conditions alone, one may make a claim for intentional environmental racism, where the majority of the burden from environmental degradation and substantial health effects is felt by the community of Aamjiwnaang that are forced to live in the middle of the various polluting industries. Tellingly, Vanessa Gray, a member and activist of the community, expressed the injustice by saying: “A white community is not surrounded by this. Stephen Harper doesn’t live next to this” (Toledano 2013). This correlates with Westra’s (1999) claim, whereby “the practice of placing hazardous business operations … in the ‘backyards’ of minority groups is practiced … with no consideration for the unjust burdens it may place on individuals and affected communities who are often too poor and weak to fight back.” Accordingly, despite increased and continued voicing of concerns from the community in recent years, little progress has been made in achieving sufficient regulations of the polluting facilities (MacDonald & Rang 2007). These social inequities, along with the procedural inequities that will soon be discussed, all contribute to making a strong case of environmental racism towards the members of the Aamjiwnaang Reserve. Many issues exists surrounding procedural equity for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. First, the lack of recognition of their treaty and sovereignty rights has created a significant gap in the manage-
ment of polluting industries. Similar to other First Nations communities, these unique jurisdictional and governmental issues have resulted in a problem whereby responsibility and accountability for the quality of their health and environment remain unclear (Dhillon & Young 2010). Because of this ambiguity, there is a serious lack of environmental protection towards the First Nation communities. Unlike non-native urban communities, which are protected by legislation against chemicals that ensure access to safe drinking water, First Nation reserves are often the victims of exclusion from defined provincial and federal jurisdictions, as well as from the planning and decision-making processes that affect their health and livelihood (Mascarenhas 2012). Additionally, Canada’s neoliberal reform has “[pushed] control and ownership of environmental resources into organizational structures and private interests rather than meshing them to local influence and control” (Mascarenhas 2007). This has allowed for ineffective regulation. In Ontario, there are set limits for each individual pollutants; this does not account for a case such as that lived in Chemical Valley, where there are multiple pollutants at play (MacDonald & Rang 2007). The mixture of these contaminants create a cumulative effect: one petrochemical plant is legally allowed to produce a certain amount of pollutant, while another plant is allowed to produce a different amount of pollutant; all of these pollutants combine in the air to produce a mixed cocktail of toxins in the populated area of the Chemical Valley (MacDonald & Rang 2007). Though there are measures in place to monitor the threats posed by environmental contaminants in First Na-
tion communities, their actual effectiveness and implementation is questionable. Indeed, the Environmental Health Program was implemented with the goal of “[protecting] and [improving] the health of these communities through the reduction of health risks, injuries, or death,” by means of “laboratory and field studies … monitoring and surveillance … in the context of risks posed by environmental contaminants to First Nations and Inuit Communities” (Woodward 2010). Nevertheless, the program has clearly not been effective for the Aamjiwnaang people. Finally, many wonder why the community doesn’t simply leave the reserve. This is a highly problematic statement as it precisely erases the importance and particular relationship the First Nation holds with the land, both culturally and historically. To be forced to leave their land, without proper injunction towards the industries that would have caused the displacement, would be a testament to Canada’s colonial legacy, which has continuously sought to “systematically [separate] First Nations from their land and resources” (Mascarenhas 2007). While African Americans have been forcibly excluded and segregated from white society, First Nations peoples, with their own cultures, languages, religions and territories, have been forcibly included. In fact, Michael Gross explains that by law, mainstream society sought “coercive assimilation: the practice of compelling, through submersion, an ethnic, culture and linguistic minority to shed its uniqueness and identify and mingle with the rest of society” (Westra 1999). To accept defeat and leave the land that is rightfully theirs, the Aamjiwnaang would experience incredible loss, and would be giving up on any progress that has been made in the
reaffirmation of their indigenous identity. Furthermore, away from the reserve and without historical connection to other lands they would potentially move to, the Aamjiwnaang would lose their ability to claim legal recognition. This presents a horrible irony: while industries expansions and lack of governmental regulation continue to pollute and poison the community (driving them away from the land they are from to less polluted, healthier environments), they are also preventing them from gaining land that is rightfully theirs. This may be interpreted as a perpetration of the colonialist agenda, as the likely environment the community members will move to (and have begun moving to) is the surrounding cities, where they lose many of their rights as First Nations members, and further lose their ties to their culture. In the end, whether the origin of the threat to the Aamjiwnaang was inherently racist becomes less important when faced with the evidence presented, which displays the clear lack of environmental protection and subsequent deficient health care afforded to the community. The lack of “recognition of harm, and recognition of other ways of knowing,” in the disrespect for cultural and historical identity, are also an act of environmental racism (Mascarenhas 2007). Finally, as the environmental and health conditions on the reserve continue deteriorating, the lack of accountability and effective remediation represents a huge failure on the part of the federal government to carry out its responsibilities to recognize the very apparent injustices faced by the First Nation community to this day.
Conclusion: A Need to Rethink Existing Capitalist Structures? Alongside issues of gender and class, acts of environmental racism are original starters for the environmental justice movement in the United States, and inspired environmental justice movements around the world, especially in the African Diaspora and in Africa (Steady 2009). Environmental racism has been defined as the discrimination of racialized communities in matters pertaining to the environment, which result in a disproportionate distribution of environmental burdens, such as the siting of polluting industries. In Canada, this definition takes on a different meaning, as the country’s history of immigration and culture of multiculturalism has made cases of environmental racism more difficult to address (Teelucksingh 2007). More differences are found in cases of environmental racism towards First Nations, where additionally to shared equity issues, indigenous peoples in Canada deal with a continued struggle for recognition of treaty rights and sovereignty (Westra 1999). It was also found that the identification of environmental racism can be done under the recognition of three forms of inequity: (1) geographical inequity, the spatial distribution of harmful land uses; (2) social inequity, the neglect of cultural and historical importance for particular minority communities in decision making processes; and (3) procedural inequity, the exclusion of the voice of minority groups, particularly those that feel the direct consequences of neglectful regulation. As Westra (1999) explains, First Nations’ “historical and legal claim to independent nationhood as well as their traditional lifestyle, culture and religious belief all con-
tribute significantly to their right to take a stance against environmental racism.” Using this framework, a strong case for environmental racism can be made for the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, who are located at the center of the pollution infested Chemical Valley, and have felt ongoing neglect and exclusion in their quest for recognition of harm and need for remediation due to poor living conditions. No matter causal effects of intent, it has been found that this community has experienced disproportional environmental impacts as a result of racist and colonialist institutions. Furthermore, it has been found that some host communities to environmental hazards have not only been forced to struggle with noxious facilities but have also been proven to be the least likely to benefit from remediation efforts (Margai 2001). This was, and still is, the case for the Aamjiwnaang community. The situation requires the proper recognition of a need for change: change for the way in which the community is excluded as a non-priority in terms of proper health remediation, as well as change in political structures that have allowed for such harm to occur in the first place. As Lidskog and Elander (2010) explain: To work for environmental justice is to seek to understand not only the particular environmental issue at hand, such as the disposal of hazardous waste in a low-income minority community, but to challenge the institutions and systems that allow environmental injustices to continue. In other words, in order to achieve environmental justice in Canada, we must address the social dynamics in place that
enable environmental racism—particularly in regards to indigenous populations. Teelucksingh (2007) suggests that we “consider the broader context of capitalism which is responsible for creating all environmental injustices”. In the end, the only way we will ever be able to attain any form of justice in addressing issues of inequity, such as the case of environmental racism towards First Nations, is by accepting that we must work together to develop governing frameworks that are both inclusive and equitable in all social levels and spheres. Perhaps the foremost issue we must address to take a step in the direction of environmental justice in Canada is to seriously consider the treaty rights of indigenous communities, recognizing their right to self-governance as well as regulate the land uses that have done so much to harm their health and well-being. References:
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KING FROG by Justine Provost
Photo by Valeriya Sokolenko
Among these leaves
by Salman T. Hussain
Scarlet, amber, jasmine The iridescent radiance dances before my eyes Vibrant foliage shimmers In Autumnâ€™s everlasting breath Upon occasion, they calmly trickle down Nearing death Wavering slightly upon the ground By which theyâ€™re met Rose, mahogany, cream Some remain green, for an eternity, it seems I am but a traveler in this world On a boat destined to cross every wave of sea But among these leaves, I approach serenity
Giants of the G
The Great Bear Rainforest is renowned as one of our planetâ€™s largest intact temperate rainforests, spanning from the tip of Vancouver Island along the coast to the Alaskan Panhandle. It is home to numerous First Nations and several unique species of flora and fauna including coastal wolves, medicinal plants, millions and salmon and the forestâ€™s namesake, the Spirit Bear, a population of black bears in which one of ten has a recessive white pelt.
Photo by James Miles
Great Bear Sea
by Kim-Ly Thompson
But if one glances out of the forest and into the coastal fjords, it is impossible to ignore the presence of another group of incredible species: whales. The following is a brief introduction the cetaceans of the Great Bear Sea, a habitat under threat of super tankers carrying oil and liquid natural gas.
Photo by Kim-Ly Thompson
This incredible behaviour is unique to humpbacks and involves corralling schools of small fish using walls of bubbles and sound. Every year hundreds of individuals migrate to the coastal waters of Northern British Columbia from Hawaii and Mexico to feed. Although humpback whales are generally solitary, a few groups do assemble every year to bubble-net feed as a unit. Because these groups are composed of the same individuals year to year, one could liken them to â€œexclusive dinner clubsâ€?.
Photo by James Miles
The Great Bear Sea is also home to fin whales, the second largest animal to have ever lived on earth, and orca whales. The unusual interaction pictured here can be explained by the fact that resident orcas feed only on fish, whereas transient orcas feed on mammals including fin whales. Not only are fin whales at ease around resident orcas, they may even seek their protection as residents tend to spend their time in larger matrilineal family groups and are known to intimidate their transient cousins. These matrilines can be identified by their distinct vocal dialects.
Transient whales hunt mammals including seals, sea otters, sea lions and other cetaceans. Because their prey can potentially hear them underwater, they are much less vocal than resident killer whales.
Photo by James Miles
These whales may have chosen the Great Bear Rainforest as seasonal feeding grounds due to its acoustic properties in addition to prey availability. Some have hypothesized that the deep fjords allow male humpbacks to practice their songs before migrating south. These songs change every
The cultural heritage and livelihood of the Gitgaâ€™at, one of several First Nations groups along the proposed tanker route, are intrinsically linked to the health of this ecosystem. For the Gitgaâ€™at and several other coastal First Nations, the risk of losing their way of life far outweighs any benefit of short-term job opportunities offered by the oil industry.
Photo by Kim-Ly Thompson
year and whales from the same region will sing the same tune. This area also has very little boat traffic, making it a pristine environment for animals to communicate by sound. This will inevitably change if tanker proposals are approved.
For more information on the Great Bear Rainforest and Sea: forwhales.org and pacificwild.org Photo by Kim-Ly Thompson
About the Contributors Saamiah Ali is a U3 student in the Sustainability, Science and Society program. Her primary research interests are in sustainability in developing countries in both urban and rural areas; urban planning for a sustainable future, in agriculture and transport specifically; and rural ethnic groups and how they are affected by development. Cameron Butler is a final-year Bioresource Engineering student minoring in Environmental Studies. He has focused on the field of queer ecology, exploring the ways gender and sexuality are interconnected with our constructions of nature and society. Through this lens, he studies the way heteronormativity and capitalism perpetuate ecological degradation and social inequities. His goal is to use these theoretical understandings to better support intersectional environmental and social justice efforts, and grassroots activism. Rianna Deprez is a U3 student in the Sustainability, Science and Society program with a minor in Economics. Her primary academic interests focus on energy and water resources. In the future, she plans to pursue a career path in business and hopes to promote sustainable practices within the private sector. Gabriella Fanous is a U4 environment student, focusing on the Ecological Determinants of Health, with minors in Geographic Information Systems and East African Field Studies. She is interested in a variety of topics, including the nexus of development and conservation issues, social and environmental determinants of health, and consequences of socio-economic policies on equality. Her hobbies include reading, travelling and long romantic walks to McLennan library.
Nessa Ghassemi-Bakhtiari is a third year Environment student, studying Ecological Determinants of Health in Society, and minoring in Anthropology. She is passionate about climate justice and indigenous rights, determined to travel the world, and hopes to pursue work in global health and development. Megan Howes is a second year MSE student. She is a hobbyist photographer from Maine who tends to focus her camera lens on wildlife and biodiversity as it is found in nature. She is passionate about the environment especially in the marine realm, and intends to become a conservation biologist. Megan believes that photography is an important communication tool and hopes to develop her hobby further to inspire a deeper appreciation of nature. Salman Hussain is a U4 Environment major who loves rapping, writing, and learning new things. An avid foodie, Salman enjoys providing pro-bono management consulting services to small businesses. He is currently writing his own book of poetry and recording his first album. Salman is excited for what is to come. ChloĂŠ Laflamme is a U1 Biochemistry student. She actively believes in pushing for systemic change in moving away from activities that exacerbate climate change such as fossil fuel extraction. She hopes to motivate others to do the same through capturing the landscapes of ecosystems that can only be preserved through cooperation in working towards a more sustainable future. Victor Lam is in U3 of the Arts and Science Honours program with a major in Sustainability, Science and Society and a minor in Philosophy. He is particularly interested in how sustainability is framed and the intersections of religion and ecology, more specifically, why and how religious individuals and communities can adapt and contribute to ecological changes on Earth. Victor also loves cooking for his peers, learning about sustainable agriculture and gardening, and living in community. 98
Melody Lynch is a U3 Joint Honours student in Geography and Environment, with a Minor in Economics. Her current research interests include livelihoods, resistance, and the socio-economic/ political aspects of environmental issues, particularly in South and Southeast Asia. When not working on her thesis in Burnside, Melody can be found practicing yoga or sharing stories with friends over a warm cup of coffee. Justine Provost is a U4 Environment student. Her research interests include the impact of the environment on human health, and particularily the contamination of food. When not studying, she is constantly on the lookout for projects that will put her creative skills to the test. She is thankful for being able to contribute to Branches, and hopes that readers will enjoy the design of the journal. Valeriya Sokolenko is a U2 student in Renewable Resource Management. She loves taking pictures, especially when they turn out well. Kim-Ly Thompson is a U3 Biology student with an Environment minor. She spent the majority of her last summer interning with the North Coast Cetacean Society (NCCS) while camping on an island in Northern British-Columbia. It was there her interest in the coast and its inhabitants blossomed into a passion to protect it. She plans on returning this summer to complete a research project on the use of humpback whale habitat space along a proposed tanker route, working closely with the NCCS and the Gitgaâ€™at First Nations. Andrea Wyers is a U3 student in the Sustainability, Science, and Society program. Her primary research interests are in feasibility of sustainability, natural resource economics and climate change policy. Her skills include written & verbal communication skills, being an adept systems thinker who is capable of broad conceptualizations as well as unpacking small components of a 99
single entity and being able to deduce issues logically. She has a keen and able mind and an unwavering drive to do some good for the world. Jane Zhang is a U3 Honours student in the interfaculty Sustainability, Science and Society program. Her primary research interests lie in urban & community planning for sustainable, healthy and equitable food systems. She finished the first year of a Masters in Urban Planning program in Lyon, France while on exchange for the 2012-2013 school year. She has done coursework involving GIS and environmental systems modelling and is currently conducting her honours research on local food and community-supported agriculture.
The McGill Undergraduate Environment Journal