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Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment, releases a discussion paper on how the Emilia-Romagna model can give a framework of providing social services in Manitoba, after the 2010 Provincial budget, where it was disclosed that there would be a deep deficit. The paper argues Manitoba could use co-operatives in various social services like in health, training and education, while potentially kick starting the green economy through alternative energy co-operatives and green jobs training programs.

In the first of what will likely be a series of op-ed’s this year, Adam Johnston, the creator of Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology and the Environment, discusses that all three major Manitoba political parties lack a strong green tech vision and there needs to be more to engage citizens environmental issues by giving them a stake in the green economy.

With another two months of summer left, and another six weeks to go before university students hit the books again, it is time to give some recommended readings about environmental, technology and economic issues.

Economics

When Corporations Rule the World. David Korten.1995 (hardcover) 2001 (softcover). Berret-Koehler Publishers.

Post Corporate World: Life after Capitalism. 2000. Berret-Koehler Publishers.

Going Local: Creating Self Reliant Communities in a Global Age. Micheal Shuman. 1998.

Making Globalization Work. Joseph Stiglitz. 2007.  W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

Environment

An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore. 2006. Roldale/Melcher Media.

Our Choice. Al Gore. 2009. Rodale /Melcher Media.

The Climate War: True believers, power brokers and the fight to save the earth. Eric Pooley. 2009. Hyperion.

The Green Collar Economy. Van Jones. 2009 (paperback). Harper One.

Hot, Flat & Crowded 2.0. Thomas Friedman. 2009 (paperback). Douglas & McIntyre.

Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World. Tom Rand. 2010. Eco Ten Publishing Inc.

Globalization, Internet & Technology

The World is Flat: Release 3.0. Thomas Friedman. 2007. Douglas & McIntyre.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree.  Thomas Friedman. 2000 (paperback). Anchor Books.

Grown up Digital. Don Tapscott. 2009. McGraw Hill.

Growing Up Digital. Don Tapscott. 1997. McGraw Hill.

Born Digital. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. 2010 (paperback). Basic Books.

Manitoba Modern Economics, Technology, and the Environment, released a report today on biofuels. The report recommends that biofuels, should be used as a transition fuel from the fossil fuel economy to the green tech fuel economy. The report mentions that depending on the type of biofuel, the more energy intensive the stock is, the higher or lower the net energy benefit  (NEB) it will have. Some examples include those who use more food stock, like corn would have a less NEB, then residue, which would be higher.

Other findings include that food prices that went up in 2007/08 could possibly come from the increased demand for food stock for biofuels, while at the same time, countries should use comparative trade to their advantage for those countries who can produce more efficient fuels at lower cost (i.e. Brazil’s sugar cane).

The report also concludes that governments at both the federal and provincial level need to increase research and development into other green technologies like wind, hydro and solar, and also in Manitoba promote small-scale private businesses and co-operatives and provide necessary alternative energy forms, when Manitoba Hydro fails to.

Biofuels, The Environment, and the Transition to a Green Economy

For more information, contact Adam Johnston at moderneconomicstechenviro@gmail.com

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.

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.

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 .