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What we are suffering from today as the greatest sustainability challenge is not poverty, it is not greed, it is not climate change, it is not declining fisheries … or forests or biodiversity. None of those things, though they are very, very important. What we are suffering from today is the lack of competence in our leadership…

Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Founder of The Natural Step.



Blogs and Articles that
support the Qualicum Institute Tenets

Back in 1992, the World’s Scientists published their first warning to humanity, stating we were on a collision course with the natural world. They emphasized that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”

We ignored their warning. We did essentially nothing.

Then, in December 2017, over 20,000 Scientists endorsed a second warning that noted:

“By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”

We have emphasized limiting population growth and reassing the role of an economy rooted in growth because, if we fail to address these two concerns, failure of virtually all the rest will follow.

The scientists concluded:

“To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

What will we do this time?

You can do something immediately by endorsing the scientists second warning as an individual at Scientist’s Warning.org

Debates between mainstream scientists and silver-tongued opponents cannot be won by the side of truth no matter how obvious the fallacies may be to an expert.—Steven Sherwood, Director of Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney, Australia

The scientists’ dilemma

Environmental scientists understand the damage we humans are inflicting on our planet. Our endless devouring of limited resources accompanied by massive pollution and waste by an ever-increasing population has pushed us closer to the demise of our life support system. The experts know change is essential and have been spreading the warning for decades. Some of us, including a number of political leaders, are listening and trying to do something, but many still blithely ignore the inevitable consequences of inaction.

Can we explain this foolhardy disregard for our own protection? Can we explain our seeming lack of concern for future generations? Surely our apparently superior intelligence will come to the rescue. Or will it? If we are so clever why are we dragging our feet? We know what has to be done!

The Qualicum Institute has wrestled with this problem at length and has concluded we are not doing it because there are factors other than intelligence at work, factors we haven’t taken into account. Despite the remarkable capacity of the human mind, it still falls victim to emotions and attitudes far removed from intelligent thought. A few examples outlined in the following dialogue illustrate how certain tendencies that remain embedded in our human nature can lead to disastrous decisions. We are currently witnessing the power of these lingering tendencies in our battle to alter the unsustainable path we are following. Our conversation at a QI meeting describes some of the barriers to action. (read more…)

We have added a new page that discusses government borrowing from the Bank of Canada and the myth that this would cause inflation. You can find the essay here.

New QI Presentation

Although we had decided to stop giving our presentations, BC Nature sent us a request and, because they had previously adopted a position on economic growth, which makes a powerful statement in support of sustainability, we chose to acquiesce to their request. This Qualicum Institute presentation, along with accompanying notes, can be found here: BC Nature Presentation.

2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

Public consultation has just ended for the government’s draft 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. The draft’s “vision for a sustainable Canada includes a strong and growing economy, healthy ecosystems that are protected from pollution and degradation, and an excellent quality of life for Canadians.” That simple statement demonstrates a fatal flaw in the strategy, for you can’t have a strong and growing economy and healthy ecosystems. To find out why, have a look at the Qualicum Institute’s general comments on the strategy.

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