Crisis in Housing: Too Much House, Too Few Occupants
George Monbiot's recent article discusses an unforeseen crisis in housing: under-occupation of housing stock, which in part creates the need for more homes. Monbiot suggests that we need to use our built-infrastructure more efficiently, and start treating housing stock (public and private) as a common good. He suggests that someone come up with a "housing footprint" similar to a carbon footprint, which would provide a measurable notion of whether a family is under- or over-housed. Monbiot suggests dividing the number of bedrooms by the number of occupants as a simple method. I think that square footage needs to be considered as well, especially in a North American context. Using Monbiot's method, though, my family home comes in at 1.0 - 3 bedrooms, 3 permanent occupants. Yet sometimes the house feels bigger than necessary, especially when there's housecleaning to be done!
Plenty of Room: No Need to Worry About Over-Population
This has to be the most shockingly stupid editorial I've read in a long while (and I've read some pretty lousy editorials printed in the papers recently). Neil Reynolds of the Globe & Mail hypothesises that the planet can sustain a staggering number of humans, so we don't need to worry about over-population. Reynolds attempts to justify that all of humanity, all 6.8 billion of us, could fit comfortably into a land mass the size of Texas, utilizing only the farm land present in North America (with a healthy dose left over) to feed us, and drink only the water which flows from the Colorado River out to sea (nevermind that in the past decade that water from the Colorado River hasn't actually reached the Gulf of California…which leads me to wonder, was this whole editorial supposed to be a joke? If so, it's not funny). This naïve piece of tripe is yet another mainstream media piece designed to make us all feel good about our planet. Complacency, however, is the enemy of action. So I've got to call Mr. Reynolds out for writing this nonsense, and call the G&M out for publishing it.
Electoral Reform - Solution to Many Problems with Canadian Politics
A nice, succinct, blogpost. Jim Johnston writes about proportional representation, and why it's important for the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives to begin embracing this concept. Johnston writes that the First-Past-the-Post system of electing governments gives Canadians a government it doesn't really want, as political parties are forced to compromise core values in a shift to the centre of the spectrum, and where small shifts in voter intentions (between 3%-5%) can lead to strange electoral outcomes (the difference betweeen a minority government and a majority). Johnston also writes about those voters throughout Canada whose votes are simply wasted: Liberals in rural areas, Conservatives in Toronto, and Greens everywhere. He also could have written about the continued disparity between the power of votes in urban and rural ridings, which the NDP, Liberals and Cons don't want to do anything about.
The Liberals Talk Up the Tar Sands
Why the Liberals can't be trusted to do anything about climate change. Here's an interesting story about Michael Ignatieff's hopes for a Liberal breakthrough in Alberta. His winning strategy? Talk up the oil sands as being the best thing for Canada's future, and never mind the environment. If you haven't heard much from the Liberals in the past couple of years with regards to tackling greenhouse gas emissions, this story tells you why: the Liberal Party of Canada has no interest in doing anything for the environment, other than to continue poisoning it a break-neck pace.
Transit in the City: Priorities, Priorities!
A great letter to the editor of the Northern Life from Sudburian Maja Vojnovic, who shares her ideas about how money set aside for the Barrydowne highway might be better spent. Greater Sudbury's transit system has been taking a lot of knocks in the media lately. I often take transit, and I'm usually very satisfied with our system here, particularly given the structure of our City. That being said, there remains so much more that we could be doing to promote transit in this community. This letter writer offers her perspective about what our priorities should be and suggests that maybe building more roads for cars wouldn't be the wisest use of our scarce resources.