Archive for April, 2010

I prepared a short video, for the Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment. The video recommends that Manitoba, must revamp the current education system to be more high-tech and computer savvy, which will spill over into Manitoba being more competitive economically in the future.

The video supports a collaborate and interactive education system, which will not only keep students interested in learning, but can increase writing comprehensive, and potentially decrease drop out rates, compared to the current education system which does not have many of the interactive and collaborative mechanisms in delivering the methods of education.

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I had the pleasure of interviewing recently, Danny Blair, the chair of the Geography Department at the University of Winnipeg. Danny Blair as chair of the department, has a special interest with regards to climate change and the environment. With this issue always being in the news, and some people may not understand climate change, I asked him questions. These included: why we should be concerned with climate change, why we are we procrastinating, why are Canadians slow to respond, what will engage people in environmental issues, as well as what Manitoba could do.

1. Why should people be concerned?

Danny Blair: “In general, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and around the world need to be more concerned about climate change then they seem to be or admit to be in polls and so forth because I’m convinced as well as the scientific community that climate change is going to get a lot worse then it has so for, unless we do something very soon. For me the issue is urgency, we know what to do, we have known what to do for a very long period of  time for decades, and yet we continue to drag our feet individually, and collectively. We are delaying important decisions.”

2. Why are we dragging our feet (procrastinating)?

According to Blair, there are a lot of reasons. The first he mentions is competing interests. These include social and poverty issues (namely because some of the start-up costs to switching to alternative energy away from fossil fuels. He also notes denial as many do not like to admit that change needs to occur, as well people continue to resist change, especially at the political level.

3. Why are Canadians slow to change?

Professor Blair notes that Canada has not seen to much of the downside of climate change, but rather some of the upside to it, thanks to shorter winters. However, he notes that it is a different story up north ( i.e. shorter access for winter roads), as well when the threshold will become an issue, when our summers become to hot , or there is not enough water  resources to support agriculture, drinking water, or fisheries. Blair notes a negative effect already with climate change in Canada is the pine beetle and the devastation in Western Canada forests. With warmer winters, the pine beetle is damaging the forests and thus effecting the forestry industry (loss of jobs) but also forcing more firefighters to fight forest fires more often.

4. What will engage people more in environmental issues?

Professor Blair mentions that people are afraid of change, due to the costs. He notes that there must be a better effort in addressing the economic benefits of greener technology and abandoning fossil fuels, as quickly as possible to reduce green house gas emissions. Blair recommends to charge people for polluting and reward those who do not. This could be done via a carbon tax and reward people through maybe tax incentives, or a road tax and allocate the tax revenue to a green transportation fund, like light rail transit.

5. On Biofuels.

Danny Blair is skeptical on the use of biofuels. He said that it is a saw off between fossil fuels and other green alternative energy. He suggests that biofuels not be used as a long-term solution to the fossil fuel problem.

6.  On The Province of Manitoba.

The professor notes, that while the Manitoba government has the luxury of Manitoba Hydro, and while it’s a good thing, there is much more the province can and should do, namely in the areas of transportation, and energy conservation. He also pointed out that their has must be a transformation of thinking and the way they do business. Blair also said, part of the reason why Manitoba may not be as fast as they could be is because they are looking for the federal government to step up to the plate on the above issues like conservation of energy and transportation. He argues that Canada needs a federal government strategy, not just a provincial.

Overall analysis

Danny Blair’s analysis of climate change, why Canadians are not doing enough, as well what needs to change in terms of engaging citizens on environmental issues, is why he is one of the most respected people when it comes to the issues. Blair’s concern and concrete examples of what may occur if we do not do something soon, gives credibility to an issue that needs to be the focus point on the radar very soon, after this recent global economic crisis. Blair, along with other analysis, on this website have shown, an environmental crisis, could very well be also an economic crisis if governments, both federal and provincial do not start working towards a high-tech green economy that will create many new jobs.

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In Solutions to Poverty in Manitoba, this report written discussed the challenges and opportunities the Manitoba government faces in fighting poverty after the recent deficit budget of 2010 of $555 million. Some of the recommendations in the report include:

– Working with more non-profits and small businesses to give some services that the government now provides.

– Encourage using small business creation and asset building even more to build a base of financial capital for low-income people so they won’t be in poverty.

The report also mentions Bologna Italy as an example of how a local government used market principles by using small businesses and non-profit organizations to offer essential services, that usually in Canada run by governments.

For more, email at  moderneconomicstechenviro@gmail.com .

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In Another discussion report, for Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment. This is the second part in a two-part series on new media. The second part talks about how Manitoba can be a leader in Canada, in the video game and new media entertainment industry . The report mentions that video games have come a long way from their humble beginnings and now a main stream form of entertainment, in large part thanks to the Internet and expansion of on-line console gaming.

The report recommends investments by the government of Manitoba to expand the Interactive Media Digital Tax Credit, as well as encourage universities and colleges like the University of Winnipeg and Red River College to team up and offer joint degrees in video game/interactive entertainment production. Lastly the paper supports the idea of an interactive entertainment job fair to match employers with skilled workers.

For more information, contact, moderneconomicstechenviro@gmail.com

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I present a discussion as part of Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment on the Internet and today’s society. This is the first part in a two-part series on new media. The second report will deal with the video games and how to make Manitoba into a video game/new media entertainment industry hub in Canada.

This report deals with the impacts the Internet has had on society, namely Web 2.0. This report supports the idea that a free, and neutral web as allowed for the explosive growth of User Generated Content, and interactivity among people.

On the negative side, The report also discusses some concerns with some industries and culture groups who argue that the Internet is threatening revenue streams (news paper industry) and national identity (acting and arts professionals).

The report recommends that to keep the Internet neutral and at the same time allow new opportunities in business and culture, governments should do the following

– Invest in broadband infrastructure.

– Upgrade 3G network development.

– Not allow telecommunication companies to start charging per website or in packages to see websites.

– No government funds for creating on-line/new media content but instead;

– Tax credits that give incentives to on-line content producers in Canada to create high quality content.

For more information, contact: moderneconomicstechenviro@gmail.com

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I present a video as part of the Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and environment project, about Green Entrepreneurship in Manitoba. Filmed in front of the Assiniboine Credit Union, which is a credit union that supports small business and environmental initiatives, the short YouTube film discusses how environmental entrepreneurship can clean our environment and create employment opportunities in Manitoba.

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Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment presents a discussion on creating green jobs training programs in Manitoba and Canada, in front of the University of Winnipeg Richardson building of Science and the Environment, opening up in the Fall of 2010.

The video talks about the link between a highly skilled, technical workforce and a green economy. The video suggests that the Province of Manitoba encourage a broader alternative energy program which would allow for more alternative energy competition, requiring for more jobs training. Some ideas to encourage job training include tax credits for on the job training for small-scale alternative energy companies and co-operatives, as well as promote green research & development, to fuel innovation and create jobs.

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