Tag Archives: CBC

Green Growth vs. No Growth – a debate on CBC’s Ideas

CBC’s radio show Ideas recently hosted and then podcast a debate on Green Growth or No Growth at the University of Ottawa.  The debate starts from accepting the idea that humanity faces serious environmental problems.  The debaters then debate the resolution: Be it resolved that building an environmentally sustainable society will require an end to economic growth.

I disagree with the idea framing the debate that human impact on the natural world is always problem. While reducing the environmental impact per unit of human wellbeing is good, we can also work to shift the impacts of human impact from a negative to a positive. Or in other words we can also choose to invest in the building, enhancing, restoring Earth rather than only reducing the amount we impact it.

The program was released as a downloadable podcast on February 28, 2011, and will be available until the end of March.  The podcast can be found at at http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/index.html?newsandcurrent. Click on the link and scroll about half way down the page, click “The Best of Ideas” link.

The ‘no-growth’ side was:

Peter Victor
Author of Managing Without Growth: Slower By Design, Not Disaster, professor (and former Dean) at York University, and former Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario government.

Tim Jackson
Economics commissioner with the UK Sustainable Development Commission, professor at the University of Surrey (UK), and author of Prosperity without Growth – economics for a finite planet.(external link)

The ‘green-growth’ side was:

Richard Lipsey
one of Canada’s pre-eminent economists, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University, and author of Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long Term Economic Growth.

Paul Ekins
Author of Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: The Prospects for Green Growth, professor at University College London, and Director of the UK Green Fiscal Commission.

CBC radio’s “How to think about science”

The Canadian Broadcasting Company radio show Ideas has an interesting eighteen part series of hour long shows called How to think about Science. These shows are available on the web as podcasts or streaming audio.  They describe the series:

If science is neither cookery, nor angelic virtuosity, then what is it?

Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world. Everything was subject to science, but science itself largely escaped scrutiny. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Historians, sociologists, philosophers and sometimes scientists themselves have begun to ask fundamental questions about how the institution of science is structured and how it knows what it knows.

Some of the episodes are a bit annoying, but some are excellent.  In particular I liked

  • Episode 4 – December 5 – Ian Hacking and Andrew Pickering A new generation of historians and philosophers have made the practical, inventive side of science their focus. They’ve pointed out that science doesn’t just think about the world, it makes the world and then remakes it. Science, for them, really is what the thinkers of the 17th century first called it: experimental philosophy.
  • Episode 5 – December 12 – Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour Few people ever apply a name that sticks to an entire social order, but sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of them. In 1986 in Germany he published Risk Society, and the name has become a touchstone in contemporary sociology. Among the attributes of Risk Society is the one he just mentioned: science has become so powerful that it can neither predict nor control its effects. It generates risks too vast to calculate. … Later in the hour you’ll hear from another equally influential European thinker, Bruno Latour, the author of We Have Never Been Modern. He will argue that our very future depends on overcoming a false dichotomy between nature and culture.
  • Episode 6 – January 2 – James Lovelock In this episode David Cayley presents a profile of James Lovelock. It tells the story of a career in science that began a long time ago.
  • Episode 10 – January 30 – Brian Wynne
  • Technological science exerts a pervasive influence on contemporary life. It determines much of what we do, and almost all of how we do it. Yet science and technology lie almost completely outside the realm of political decision. … In this episode we explore the relations between politics and scientific knowledge. David Cayley talks to Brian Wynne … one of Britain’s best-known writers and researchers on the interplay of science and society.
  • Episode 13 – March 5 – Dean Bavington David Cayley talks to environmental philosopher
    Dean Bavington about the role of science in the rise and fall of the cod fishery.