Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

On 6 June, Walter Dorn (Chairman of the Canadian Pugwash Group) and I presented a joint Brief to the above Standing Committee.1

The Brief had been quickly prepared over about three days, as the Committee had not given Science for Peace enough advance notice. As a result, it is inadequate on several matters, for example, nanotechnology, and it lacks a section on GMO foods. Also the section on shared research needed expanding.

Part I of the Brief was presented by Walter, speaking as SfP’s UN representative, and Part II by myself as Treasurer of SfP. The Brief was, in addition, fully approved by the Canadian Pugwash Executive.

Walter’s section of the Brief (about 30 percent) was devoted to technological aspects of peacekeeping activities of the UN, a subject on which he has specialized for many years. The rest (Part II) contained contributions from Judy Deutsch, Adele Buckley, John Valleau and me, and was broad and forward-looking in its perspective.

The verbal presentations, which are strictly limited in time, appear in Hansard, as also the questions and answers. Walter’s presentation was directly taken from his portion of the Brief, Part I. This was not practicable for the much longer Part II, but I was able to list most of the recommendations in somewhat abbreviated form in to my very limited time. I received a question from a Bloc Quebecois member, asking me to explain “ecological footprint.” That question and my answer will also be reported in Hansard.

Hansard

The following was what I said to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, 6 June 2008, and is essentially what will appear in Hansard:

“Les limites des resources planétaires et la limite prévoyable de la population mondiale demanderont par conséquence une limite à la production industrielle et un arrêt de la croissanse de l‘économie mondiale.

Pour le moment, personne ne sait comment créer une économie soutenable et non croissante, mais nous devons nous occuper de cette tâche, et de nous convertir à une nouvelle mentalité, c’est-à-dire, adopter un nouveau paradigme.

“I will continue in English:

“This call for new thinking has led to the following recommendations, which have been abbreviated here:

  • enhance mechanisms by which Government and Members of Parliament can dialogue with independent scientists
  • act upon the reports of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
  • set up a committee or council to study paths to a sustainable future
  • become informed (educated) in the concept of ecological footprint (see reference in our written Brief)
  • recognize climate change as a world emergency
  • limit the usage of water in any district to the amount that is replaced by annual precipitation
  • initiate plans to halt the ecological destruction of the Province of Alberta (and of any other ecologically threatened area)
  • prevent inappropriate ethanol production (see reference in our written Brief)
  • set in motion a study for a new, electrified railway system for Canada (its extension to all of North America to be encouraged)
  • oversee nanotechnology to prevent pollution and ill-health effects, and set up the necessary physical facilities to achieve this
  • label GMO foods
  • make strong efforts to prevent poor choices of technology
  • reduce and eliminate subsidies to sunset industries
  • take steps to reverse the commercialization of universities

“We welcome questions of all these recommendations.

Thank you.”

[The list above excludes two recommendations in the Brief, one of which is implicit in the call for a new paradigm, and it adds the recommendation on GMO, which had not reached me when the Brief was completed.]

Notes

1 The Brief can be obtained by phoning or emailing Walter Dorn, 416 482 6800/ext 6538 and dorn@cfc.dnd.ca, or, Derek Paul: 416 532 6440 and farp@sympatico.ca ^