Canada’s Green Challenge

A new book by Joy Porter, forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press.

A summary of the argument has been published as, ‘Who Fights for Canada as the Climate Changes?’, The Eccles Centre for American Studies Plenary Lecture, Eccles Centre for American Studies (2019)

Synopsis of the Book

Canada’s Green Challenge is a synoptic, interdisciplinary analysis of Canada in broad environmental context. It presents ideas and information with a direct link to any Canadian’s personal concerns, be it the relationship between Canadian health and air and water quality, the reasons behind the gap between Canada’s environmental self-image and reality, the future of Canadian cities, or the types of lifestyles likely to be adopted by Canadian children. The analyses presented set out to meaningfully advance existing debates for researchers, policy-makers, students, and the reading public interested in Canadian literary, cultural, economic, legal, political, agricultural, First Nations, environmental and future-orientated themes.

Written in clear, accessible language and supported by up-to-date interdisciplinary research, this book explores the historical, intercultural, legal and political imperatives that have resulted in Canada’s environmental context today.  It eschews the partisan and instead seeks advance debate beyond the bounds of the solution-sets advanced by the political left and right. Its point of departure is sober recognition of the reality of mining as a national economic imperative, existing Canadian environmental policy alignment with that of the US, and the necessity for broad-based change to address environmental stress. Its analyses confront the reality of Canada as one of the world’s largest exporters of minerals and metals, a nation that sells over sixty different mineral commodities to over one hundred countries.

Canada’s Green Challenge argues that despite their vital, ongoing efforts to protect Canadian land, it is unreasonable to look to Canada’s indigenous peoples to solve the climate crisis, however, a respect for balance that has long been advocated within a number of indigenous traditions is likely to be central to the task of equipping Canada for a sustainable future.  Renewables are an important and well-publicized part of such re-balancing, but it is vital they do not eclipse less seductive solutions geared towards lowering both waste and the consumption of energy in all forms. Therefore, this book’s concluding chapters evaluate possible Canadian futures that take such a re-balancing seriously. They explore revolutionary changes afoot within agriculture, the drive for “smart cities” such as at Google’s Quayside site in Toronto, issues surrounding Canadian population levels and increasing Canadian life-spans, as well as the potential impact of Generations X and Alpha as they respond to a technologically immersive world under climate stress. This book’s final chapters examine Canada’s role as custodian of 20% of the world’s freshwater resources and the challenges the nation will confront in future decades as it expands its reach so as to encompass new environments in outer space.