Twenty years ago, a confident nation strutted onto the global stage, ready to inspire a new era of sustainable development. But then Canada slipped into the gutter – muddling through at home, obstructing action abroad.
Wood identifies two possible strategies to address our uncertain freshwater future. We can build more dams, reservoirs, river diversions, aqueducts, canals, pipelines, wells, recycling plants and desalination facilities. Alternately, “we can choose how we use what we have now.” The latter, an approach Wood advocates, involves changing the way we manage our watersheds; using ecologically sound appliances and irrigation techniques; and changing our markets, our bookkeeping, and the laws that undervalue this life- giving resource.
Perhaps it is the economic crisis. Maybe it is climate change, soaring extinction rates or the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. Or then again, it could simply be the nagging sense among more and more people that the human project has somehow gone awry. Whatever the case, in recent years, we have witnessed an explosion of popular interest in books that question, even excoriate, the most fundamental assumptions of our current, growth-at-all-costs economic system.
In his newest book, Managing Without Growth, York University professor Peter Victor makes a convincing case that rich nations, such as Canada, can abandon economic growth as a national goal without compromising their citizens’ happiness. He suggests that helping developing nations approach the Western world’s standard of living would provide a better and safer future.