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A ‘Green’ World Cup with a carbon footprint of 2,753,251 tons of CO2?

Amid the excitement of the World Cup it is easy to forget that international sporting spectacles as large as the FIFA World Cup in South Africa have significant environmental impacts. The media has tended to focus our attention to controversies surrounding the World Cup such the banning of the vuvuzela, predicting final contenders, and more serious concerns such as the inequalities that plague South Africa. However, the media has been quick to turn a blind eye to the carbon footprint of the World Cup. How ‘climate-friendly’ is the World Cup? According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the FIFA World Cup in South Africa is undeniably ‘green’. Three days before the kick-off, UNEP issued a press release highlighting its major initiatives to reduce the carbon emissions of the World Cup. The initiative is a result of a partnership between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNEP, and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).  Supported by US$1 million in GEF funding, the initiative includes three major greening projects: renewable energy interventions in six World Cup host cities, an awareness-raising drive on green tourism, and a programme to offset the carbon emissions of eleven World Cup teams. In addition, the DEA, identified five carbon offset projects to counter travelers' emissions. The projects include solar cookers, soil composing, energy efficient lighting, wind energy, and domestic fire lighting. But are these efforts at reducing the carbon footprint of the World Cup really enough? Not according to a study conducted by the Norwegian embassy and the Government of South Africa.  The study found that this World Cup will emit 2,753,251 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is roughly equivalent to the amount released by one million cars over the course of a year. In other terms, the games will emit as much CO2 as 6,000 space shuttle fights or a 1 billion cheeseburgers. Even worse news is that the emission levels of this World Cup are six times higher than the last World Cup in Berlin.  The reasons include the number of international flights, the ‘necessary’ new infrastructure developments, and the reliance on coal burning to meet the influx of tourists’ energy demand. Ironically, this World Cup’s massive carbon footprint coincides with the June 2010 Bonn international climate talks, where, once again, negotiators failed to move forward on a post-Kyoto text. Naturally, the international talks in Bonn have been completely foreshadowed by international World Cup fervor. So before we watch the next match, perhaps we should take a moment to consider how our thirst for entertainment might impact the global climate system.

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My thoughts are with the Haitian people

From David Adam’s article about the CARMA International report, Western Media Coverage of Humanitarian Disasters, January 2006:

“The western media’s response to … humanitarian disasters is driven by “selfishness and egocentricity”…  Domestic politics, tourism and feel-good tales about western heroism and donations make a story… rather than human suffering.” The Guardian, 30 Jan. 2006

I had two thoughts yesterday morning, when I heard the CBC news reporting the devastating earthquake near Port-au-Prince. The first was about how limited the capacity of Haiti will be to respond to this disaster, given that it is one of poorest countries in the world. Haiti has one of the smallest per capita ecological footprints in the world, at just 0.5 ha per person. Compare this to a whopping 7.1 ha/person for the average Canadian. Yes, one average Canadian consumes the resources used by a total of 14 Haitians. I just shook my head in dismay at the ongoing suffering of the Haitian people, recalling their continuing political turmoil of the last decade, which included the US-backed removal of their elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. And arguably, this history clearly plays a role in the suffering created by the impact of the earthquake.

My second thought was that because Canada’s Governer-General, Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, is originally from Haiti, that the kind of self-interested Western media response to humanitarian crises, described in the CARMA International report, may not, for a change, happen here. What do I mean? Well, the media plays a major role in defining a disaster and  CARMA (who are global media analysts) analyzed how various natural and man-made disasters that resulted in high loss of life were being covered in the Western press. The report’s main conclusion was that “Western self-interest is the pre-condition for significant coverage of a humanitarian crisis”. It’s great to read the report directly, but David Adam’s article gives a good summary (Western media ‘underplay disasters in developing world’ in the Guardian Weekly, Feb 10-16 2006 p.27, and Crisis of Communications, The Guardian, Monday Jan 30 2006).

The report examined 2,000 articles from 64 daily and weekly publications from among  9 countries (including UK, USA and Australia, with emphasis on the European press). The newspaper coverage of 6 disasters was compared:
1. Earthquake in Pakistani-Kashmir
2. Indian Ocean Tsunami
3. Earthquake in Bam, Iran (2003)
4. Darfur, Sudan - a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by environmental degradation
5. Hurricane Katrina, USA
6. Hurricane Stan, Central America, especially Guatemala

Each article started with a 50 point score and points were subtracted depending on:

Headline, Placement in the paper, Portrayal of the situation and Evidence of bias. The articles scored were those published from 2 days before to 10 weeks after the disaster. Here’s what the report found: that there was “no link between the scale of a disaster and resulting media coverage”. For example, Hurricane Katrina received the highest media coverage (referred to 3,105 times in UK papers), while Hurricane Stan received the lowest media coverage (referred to, only 34 times in UK papers). But, both hurricanes killed over 1,000 people.

"The hurricane Stanley emergency stands out as the worst indictment of the selfish western approach to humanitarian disasters. There is no obvious significant economic or political interest. Consequently, there is virtually no coverage of any kind beyond the first few days." (CARMA International, 2006).

And to think, that Haiti was on my mind only a week ago, as I headed back to Toronto from a one-week cruise in the western Caribbean. During my trip, I had a number of interesting encounters with several of the many Haitian immigrants to Florida, including an adventure with a taxi driver who got lost between the port and the Amtrak station. This story was going to be in one of my forthcoming travel blogs about whether it’s possible to holiday with a low carbon footprint – but hey, CARMA, I get it, and I hope that other people do, too – it’s not about me and my recent chats with Haitians - IT’S ABOUT DOING SOMETHING, BOTH SHORT AND LONG-TERM, TO RELIEVE THE IMMEDIATE SUFFERING OF THE HAITIAN PEOPLE AND TO SERIOUSLY ADDRESS THEIR “POVERTY-DRIVEN LOW-LEVEL OF EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS”!
Is it to much to ask every Canadian with an ecological footprint that is greater than 2 ha to reduce their footprint by 1/14th and to demand that the Federal Government  direct those resources to the average Haitian? Simplistic, yes, but worth reflecting on.

Dawn R. Bazely

Please note that the Ecological Footprint figures are from WWF Living Planet Report 2008.

COP15: The entitled, the resentful and the powerless


From one perspective, the climate change conference in Copenhagen looks rational.  It’s about science – understanding the implications of the largest scientific project in history – and it’s about deliberation – well briefed representatives of 192 nations brought together to write an international treaty.  But the meeting is not so rational.  People come to the negotiating table not only with interests, but also with emotions.  The negotiators in Copenhagen represent some who feel entitled, others who feel resentful and yet others who feel powerless.  This play of emotions seems to be the story of the conference, a global summit of desires, fears, outrage and frustration.  Out of this mix of emotions, the challenge is to feel and act on the latent but powerful feeling of mutual responsibility.

The feelings of resentment and powerlessness come into focus when the feelings of entitlement are acknowledged.  No leader of any developed country can say to its citizens, “We are not entitled to our way of life.”  The point of view is implicit in the language: “we” are developed; those who do not share our prosperity are “developing” or “underdeveloped.”  Surely the road ahead, as the international development industry has taught for decades, is for others to model themselves on us, to work hard and succeed, just as we have.  “We” can help the underdeveloped.  Money is available for assistance in climate adaptation and mitigation.  There are intellectual and organizational resources as well to support the transformation of the global energy system.

All this good will does not challenge the feelings of entitlement in developed countries, or even admit that entitlement is an issue.  People have become accustomed to - and the economic system dependent on - transportation, food and building practices that are comfortable and satisfying, but unsustainable.  Even leisure activities that produce high greenhouse gas emissions – air travel, destination holidays, cruise ships – seem unlikely to change dramatically on a voluntary basis.  This sense of entitlement is understandable.  Prosperous countries have meaningful historical narratives of hardship, struggle and success.

It is precisely this sense of entitlement that is the focus of the resentments that have surfaced so strongly in Copenhagen.  China, India and the others in the G77 use the language of “historical responsibility” - greenhouse gases accumulated in the atmosphere when the West dominated industrial production.   The West has been responsible for the problem; the West has the responsibility to clean up the mess. Because the West’s prosperity is based on creating a global crisis, it also has the responsibility to assist others with the clean technologies that the global crisis requires.  To do otherwise is to ask the victims to pay for the damages.  The resentment gets even stronger.  Consider the history of the India textile industry.  When India was a colony, village weavers, using low GHG producing hand looms, were driven out of business by the importation of cheap cloth from British coal fired textile mills.  Now, India, with its impoverished multitudes, is being asked to restrain low per capita green house gas emissions in order for the West to continue its prosperity and higher per capita GHG emissions!  Perhaps the expressions of resentment are partly verbal posturing, intended to produce an agreement more favorable to the interests of the G77 plus China, but the outrage and anger are much more than tactics.

Some other countries, lacking the political leverage of China, India and a handful of others, are the beggars at the banquet.  The 39 members of the Alliance of Small Island States are, with the exception of Singapore, low income and vulnerable.  They can plead, but their ability to influence is slight.  The Alliance includes the most desperate, and the most frustrated.

The outcome at COP15 depends on more than the science, the negotiators’ clarity on national interests, and the skills at compromise.  The outcome, and even more the follow through, depend as well on the emotions that come out of the conference.  The perpetuation of entitlement, resentment and powerlessness jeopardize global success.  Rising to the challenge of climate change requires other emotions, of mutual care and concern, across the globe and across generations.  Success will ultimately come from shared personal commitments, and leadership that evokes them.

Stuart is a long-serving member of the IRIS Executive.

Dawn R. Bazely

Sustainable Shopping, Feng Shui, Suze Orman and Debt

The personal debt of North Americans - both in Canada and the US is staggering. Oprah's "O" magazine's long-time financial advisor, Suze Orman, has published a great book on Women & Money that tells the reader how to track their personal spending. Apparently many North Americans can't do this. Suze makes the link between the lack of basic awareness of where the money's going and personal debt. The Certified General Accountants of Canada 2009 report, "Where has the money gone: The state of Canadian household debt in a stumbling economy" makes this link eminently clear. At the same time, there are tons of tv shows and books on how to declutter your life. They draw a clear connection between personal stress and the accumulation of stuff - as in buying it from the mall. A search of available book titles with the keyword "Feng Shui" - which, in North America, is basically about getting harmony into your life by throwing out stuff, returned 606 titles.

So, here's the thing - most people actually feel happier and calmer in emptier spaces with less stuff in them. If everyone bought LESS stuff, for many people, there would be LESS debt. These people would then REDUCE their ecological footprint and their resource consumption. They would also INCREASE their personal sustainability index. Such a simple idea, yet seemingly so difficult for most North Americans to accomplish.  Has it become easier during the current recession?  And will the notion of living within one's means and differentiating more between needing and wanting become entrenched before our ice caps melt? I don't know the answer to these questions, but they are certainly something that I think about a lot.

Dawn Bazely

Sustainability and exhaustion – don’t let it get you down

[photopress:Messy_desktop1.jpg,thumb,pp_image][photopress:Messy_desk2.jpg,thumb,pp_image][photopress:messy_study_3.jpg,thumb,pp_image]Being a director of a sustainability institute and an academic is very tiring - even for a hyper Type A personality who can still put in a 16 hour field day. Not only am I always having to think about my ecological and carbon footprints, and where to buy good offsets, but in a world of greenwashing, scrutinizing everything for its authenticity is also de rigeur.  Uggh - AND THEN THERE'S THE BLOGGING. I have always had two settings - on and off. I like to jump out of bed and hit the ground running, but these days, I often feel like a car engine that's starting on a cold winter's morning. So, it's time for a mechanical overhaul. Here's what I have used  in the past, and will again, to fix the stalled engine:

These may also be helpful for those of you out there who feel overwhelmed by your life, the state of the world and the fact that Terence Corcoran in the National Post is still insisting that the science of climate change is suspect:

1. A life coach (I wrote about this in the article, Coaching for My Life, University Affairs, 2005) (I don't have time for this, these days, but you might).

2. Some great organizational and behavioural modification (often, from business) books. My ipod is filled with audiobooks such as Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy, The Golden Rule of Schmoozing by Aye Jaye, Ready for Anything by Dave Allen, The 60 Second Procrastinator by Jeff Davidson (may be out of print, so borrow it from the library), Your Management Sucks by Mark Stevens, Women and Money by Suze Orman, Crucial Confrontations and Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson and colleagues, Making Work Work by Julie Morgernstern (Oprah's organizing guru - and my favourite organization person to read, including her other book, Never Read Email in the Morning), What got you here, won't get you there! by Marshall Goldsmith (and, of course, The Art of War).

3. Podcasts. If you are a poor student and can't afford to pay for a life coach or audiobooks, then download some podcasts, such as Motivation to Move's Daily Boost, The Suze Orman podcast (on itunes), Marcus Buckingham (big time life coach) and Oprah's Take Control of Your Career and Your Life (itunes), and while you are at it, grab some Yoga lessons from Yogamazing (itunes), plus the Manager Tools podcast (itunes) will give you all kinds of sound advice on organizing things.

4. Other people who are more swamped than me: and, you can see the incredible mess on my computer screen and in my home office (above), and feel a sense of superiority. I find that it's always comforting to know that someone else is worse off. Here's what I will be using today, in my surroundings to give me motivation and energy:

The 2006 farewell Globe and Mail article by Ken Wiwa about his decision to return with his family to the UK and to work with the Nigerian government,  pinned to the wall in front of me. The dried edelweiss flower that my former student, and current research collaborator, Andrew Tanentzap gave me as a gift, from a trip to Europe. The photos of past and present grad students and family that are part of the clutter: they make me smile and feel guilty at the same time - a great carrot and stick, combined into one item!


Dawn Bazely


"Every one of us does things in the course of a day that adversely affect the health of the planet. We don't decide to, we just don't give it a thought." It's true, I see people doing it mindlessly every single day. Sometimes even I still do, out of habit or lack of other options. Most people don't notice because there are no immediate noticeable consequences of our actions. Patagonia Inc.'s dedication to awareness has launched an interactive mini-site, called ‘The Footprint Chronicles' which allows you to track the impact of ten specific Patagonia products (yes they're a store too) from design through delivery. They also have a ‘Footprint Library' of PDF files which describe their efforts and policies.

Their mission statement is to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." This almost seems like a bit of an understatement when you visit their website and see that the shop is only a very small part of what they do. They are a big organization, and their sole profits do not come from their store alone which is what makes it a good place to shop. They're not JUST in it for the money.

Their ‘What we do' list is quite impressive, and includes an environmental grant program, internships, and creating a national park!

All this is mainly the reason why I decided to post this in Shopping the Talk, because its' an eco-store that leads you to bigger action. It looks like a good site to mine for information, and to shop at. It's a nice alternative to just sitting there and moaning. 🙂

As for the clothes, they're really cute, with more fabric patterns than most other e-shops. The swimwear looks particularly awesome.

Our Urban Experience

The students in the YSTOP program spent a day exploring the urban environment, travelling from York University Keele Campus, where they were staying, to Kensington Market via TTC, then south on foot to Queen Street and then back on the subway with a stop at Yorkdale for a late lunch.  When we were at Kensington market we discussed the study done by the York Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry in conjunction with Streets are for People on the effect of pedestrian Sundays on air quality. Yorkdale was one of the first enclosed shopping centres in Toronto, and is interesting for the impact that such malls have on the environment, relying on air conditioning and travel by cars.

For some of the rural students the trip gave them their first ride on a subway, and for many, even those who live in the city, it was their first ride on a streetcar. Included in this post are some images and some writing that the students generated from their trip.

Our urban experience was about learning what goes on in the city, such as the transportation, tall buildings, crowded streets, big malls and fewer forests. Transportation in the urban setting is different because there are street cars, subway trains and tunnels. There is a greater population in the urban setting and public transit helps to reduce the amount of pollution being produced by people travelling around the city.

The urban environment is the TOTAL opposite of the rural environment. The urban environment has more people and modern technology than the rural environment. As we found out, there are lots of people crowding the cities from different backgrounds and cultures. We got to experience new things like sour cream and onion flavored crickets and empanadas. The transportation in a rural community is very different from the transportation in the urban community. Many people in the urban community choose to ride their bikes and take city transit, like the subway, bus and street cars, which help decrease the pollution.

Urban Wildlife

Urban Wildlife


Urban Landscape

Urban Landscape





In the subway

In the subway

Canada, a climate change safe haven?

The UK's Independent reports that a British consultancy Maplecroft has scaled the world's nations along a climate change vulnerability index. The Climate Change Risk Report places Canada at the top of its list of Northern countries that will have the greatest ease in weathering the climate crisis, while sub-Saharan Africa will receive yet another mortal blow.

Given this recurring pattern of disparity, Canadians must ask themselves what their high-energy lifestyle (with energy consumption per capita eclipsing the US) will cost the world. This time with their greenhouse gas emissions and huge ecological footprints, Canadians are directly driving a climate catastrophe in the equatorial belt where most of the world's people live while escaping most of its effects.

For the most part, our abundance of land, water, and energy has given us Canadians a level of comfort and complacency unparalleled in the world. The Canadian North has been even more fortunate with a miniscule population sitting on top of vast natural resource reserves. Fortunately, protected area and alternative energy planning are quite advanced in the Northwest Territories, although energy-intensive and resource-based development are threatening to eclipse this progress. In Alberta, the picture is quite different with the province's unseemly and unsustainable rush to develop its tar sands, a ruinous path thankfully challenged by the recent Youth Climate Summit in Edmonton.

Interestingly, the Independent asks in a follow-up article whether Brits should think about moving to Canada. If the future holds even what even the most conservative climate change models predict, we may see a lot more people flocking to Canada as ecological refugees. For a look at this future, see David Brin's 1990 novel, Earth, with the founding of Little Nigeria in the Yukon.

Step by step, York reduces its carbon footprint

York's carbon offset crew. From the left, front row, Alexis Morgan, Professor Dawn Bazely and Annette Dubreuil. Back row, from left, Steve Glassman, MES student Tony Morris and IRIS coordinator Melissa Leithwood (MES '07).

York's carbon offset crew. From the left, front row, Alexis Morgan, Professor Dawn Bazely and Annette Dubreuil. Back row, from left, Steve Glassman, MES student Tony Morris and IRIS coordinator Melissa Leithwood (MES '07).

The following appeared in the Wednesday, April 02, 2008 edition of Y-File:

York University is the first Canadian postsecondary institution to make its course kits part of a carbon offset program. Now each one of the thousands of course kits created annually by the York University Bookstore is "carbon neutral".

This means that kits are produced using environmentally responsible printing practices that include incorporating locally produced papers manufactured using sound forestry practices and increased recycled fibre content. York is also contributing approximately 10 cents per kit to the not-for-profit organization Zerofootprint, to purchase local renewable energy and support other projects such as tree planting. When factored together, the changes effectively bring the net carbon footprint of each course kit to zero, making the course kit program carbon neutral.

"While the best footprint is no footprint," says Steve Glassman, director of the York University Bookstore, Mailing & Printing Services, "making the course kit production at York carbon neutral is a very important step forward for the University.

"The University is leading the way in Canada in this area. Making the course kits carbon neutral is just the beginning of a University-wide effort to reduce its carbon footprint," says Glassman. "Furthermore, students will not pay a cent more for carbon neutral course kits as the University will contribute the funds to offset the carbon produced by the production of the course kits to Zerofootprint."

Working with Glassman on the project is York biology Professor Dawn Bazely. Annette Dubreuil (MBA '07), a graduate of the Schulich School of Business, and MBA student Alexis Morgan, created the business case for a carbon offset program at the University.

York, says Dubreuil, is the only Canadian postsecondary institution beginning to institutionalize a carbon offset program. "Creating this program is the first step in evolving a mechanism that will allow other business processes within the University to be carbon offset," explains Dubreuil. "Other universities have created links on Web sites to show you where you can go to offset your carbon footprint, but it is a complicated and challenging process to incorporate the idea of being carbon neutral into their financial, administrative, legal and purchasing processes."

The term "carbon neutral" was the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2006, highlighting its importance in global warming. It is brought about by balancing the amount of carbon released with the amount of carbon offset. By purchasing carbon offsets, York University is able to mitigate some of the carbon produced that can not be avoided, says Glassman. While carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates do not actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, they prevent further carbon emissions from a particluar activity or process by supporting renewable energy, research and other activities that reduce carbon production.

Course kits, that provide access to course material, are used by students and are an essential part of the University's teaching environment. Developed by the University's professors, the content of each kit is customized to a particular course and may include the course syllabus, original material, course and lab notes, review questions, journal articles, chapters from books, or even an out-of-print book. The kits are produced through quick copying and are spiral bound, usually with a durable cover.

The idea to create carbon neutral course kits started with Bazely, who is also the director of the York Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), a University-wide interdisciplinary centre dedicated towards the pursuit of multifaceted approaches to the contemporary challenges of sustainability. "It was Professor Bazely's idea," says Glassman. "She contacted me a little over two years ago and after some fundamental points were sorted out, we set out to establish what the impact on global warming of printing York's course kits was and to review the production processes we use at the York University Bookstore.

"We then looked into different organizations who could help us offset the impact on the environment of what we do to produce these course kits and settled on the Canadian organization Zerofootprint," says Glassman. "Zerofootprint follows international standards and ensures that every dollar they receive to offset so many tonnes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere is spent on local green initiatives."

The carbon footprint of course kits was calculated by Zerofootprint according to how the paper is made, the percentage of recycled content in the paper, the processes used by the paper mill and the transportation of the paper to York University. Glassman and Bazely then examined the impact of the actual printing process. "We came up with pennies per course kit that would offset the environmental damage imposed by the production of the kits."

York students Tony Morris (standing), IRIS graduate assistant, and Melissa Leithwood (right), IRIS coordinator, conduct a carbon offset survey in Central Square

York students Tony Morris (standing), IRIS graduate assistant, and Melissa Leithwood (right), IRIS coordinator, conduct a carbon offset survey in Central Square

"The course kit program is an example for the University," says Glassman. "We do about 2,000 titles per year for various courses. Some courses may have only 20 or 30 students enrolled in them; others have upwards of 500 students. There is quite a substantial volume. The cost runs anywhere from $60 to more than $100 per kit, most of which is related to copyright fees for the material reprinted in each kit. For example, the carbon offset contribution is 10 cents for every $110 course kit."

The next step is a University-wide carbon offset survey. Dubreuil and her colleagues at IRIS are currently conducting an online survey to gauge student attitudes to carbon offset programs. "The survey asks students if they know what a carbon footprint is and what carbon offsetting involves. We are asking them if they want an expanded carbon offset program at the University. The survey also measures the attitudes of students," says Dubreuil. "Are they willing to pay more for various goods and how much more? Some of the people we have spoken to have expressed a concern. They don't necessarily have the vocabulary. Many students want more information and have an interest."

To facilitate students' knowledge, the back of each course kit contains an information page to tell students about carbon offsetting. The program falls under the umbrella of the Yorkwise program, a University-wide initiative to reduce York's ecological footprint and improve life on the University's Keele and Glendon campuses.

Visit the IRIS Web site for more information on the carbon offset survey and sustainability research currently underway at York. To learn more about York's efforts to reduce its ecological footprint, visit the Yorkwise Web site.

The York community can keep informed on sustainability through the new IRIS blog. Input is welcome.

Story by Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor.

What’s your March Break ecological footprint?

At current rates of resource consumption, we need at least 2 more planet earths to sustain our North American lifestyles. The NGO, Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF), develops sustainability curriculum content for schools across the country, and since their offices are in IRIS, I am constantly awed by their hard work and innovation. Now, I have two school-aged children, and therefore, some first hand experience through the homework that I see, of which sustainability issues are being integrated into classrooms and which aren't. I recently chatted with LSF Director, Pam Schwartzberg, about the fact that the biggest contributing factor to the ecological footprint of students in many Ontario schools is likely to be any family vacations that involve airplane travel. So, I wondered what sustainability education was doing to address this. Now it's one thing to vermicompost in class, but what would happen if little Johnny or Jane, in Grade 5, demanded that their March Break ski/Florida etc. vacation be cancelled, in order to reduce their family carbon emissions? And how likely is this to happen? I certainly hope that a conversation about the relative ecological footprint of local travel versus flying (or, if doing that, an understanding of how to purchase reliable carbon offsets) could be stimulated through current sustainability school curricula.

My older daughter and husband have flown for March Break and I am of the opinion that they should carbon offset their flights. In contrast, my March Break involved a rather more local trip to Niagara Falls. Given the limited outdoor options that exist in Niagara Falls in March, I decided to become a sustainability detective with my younger daughter ("BORING", she told me), and to search for evidence of our reduced holiday footprint. I was delighted to find that every toilet I inspected in both of the Niagara Falls hotels that we visited was a low-flow loo. The worst aspect of the trip, from an ecological footprint perspective, were the "meal-deal" components of the hotel package, which seemed to consist of huge meals and huge portions of steak. I couldn't eat it, and it certainly made me feel guilty, especially when one considers what most families around the world get to eat in one week (What the World Eats - Time). Check out this photo of our doggie bag - at least 8 oz of uneaten steak leftover from a family meal for 3 adults and 1 child. But, there were veggies, although simply boiling them did not make them very appetizing. Gordon Ramsay would not have been impressed.

I would love to see the emergence of challenges, in which, following classroom and school-wide calculations of ecological footprints, entire schools or classes compete to reduce their collective footprint. It would also be fascinating to use these calculations to explore the nature of the relationship between overall prosperity/family income level of the school population with the mean ecological footprint of a student in the school. I predict that the same kind of trend that we see globally, would emerge at local scales, with students in wealthier Toronto neighbourhoods having much higher ecological footprints than their counterparts in lower income neighbourhoods. Dawn Bazely