Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Students to confront environmental problems at upcoming meeting

This weekend hundreds of college and university student representatives will gather to discuss issues such as fair trade mass purchasing programs, campus anti-racism initiatives, indigenous rights and how to protect education as a right in the face of market forces. Among these themes will be also be a debate on how to further students’ role in the environmental movement.

It has been barely a year since the students’ unions that comprise the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) vaulted their organization squarely on to Canada’s environmental scene. Since then, students have concentrated their efforts to contribute to the work of the David Suzuki Foundation, the Polaris Institute, the Sierra Youth Coalition and others.

This move could not have come too soon.

Consider that Canada’s oil sand reserves, which are on par with Venezuela as the largest known supply of crude in the world, just after Saudi Arabia[1], are under increasing pressure to triple their output in the next ten years, despite being one of the “dirtiest” sources of energy on the planet.

Consider that Canada’s fresh water reserves are under increasing pressure from the US cities[2] and private bottled water companies.

If students are going to translate local campaigns such as those designed to curb driving cultureand stopping the commodification of water, they must continue their collective work at the national level.

Other Links:

The Water Front Documentary—Trailer

Official energy statistics from the US government's e Energy Information Administration—International Petroleum (Oil) Production

[1] The US Government’s Geological Survey (USGS) says: “The two major sources of unconventional oil ... are the extra heavy oil in the Orinoco province of Venezuela and the ... tar sands in the Western Canada Basin. Taken together, these resource occurrences, in the Western Hemisphere, are approximately equal to the Identified Reserves of conventional crude oil accredited to the Middle East.” [http://www.runet.edu/~wkovarik/oil/3unconventional.html]

[2] Anderson, F. Richard, Brett Rosenberg and Judy Sheaham. 2005. National City Water Survey 2005. United States Conference of Mayors Urban Water Council. [http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/urbanwater/publications.asp].

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