Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peace Geek on Climate Change (Blog Action Day '09)

This year's blog action day topic is Climate Change. The idea is to get as many bloggers as possible from around the world to share opinions on Climate Change and encourage our leaders to prioritize this issue and take action. Check out for more information.

I've been reading "Hot, Flat and Crowded" recently and getting charged up (pun intended) about the idea of cheap, clean electrons. It sounds rather obvious that the time for debate is long past us and every moment we spend not developing and implementing a systemic solution for reducing atmospheric CO2 levels is going to make the job that much more difficult, if not impossible, done the road. I haven't finished the book, so I won't recommend it just yet.

The author - Thomas Friedman - makes enough assumptions of his own to enable people to poke holes in his arguments. One "given" that I'm struggling with is the idea that growth is a necessary condition for lifting people out of poverty. The struggle I'm having is a lack of distinction between growth to support peoples' needs versus growth to support peoples' wants. If I cut my consumption in half (since 50% of my consumption is to satisfy wants, not needs) and use that other half to meet the genuine needs of two people living in poverty, then we have zero growth but still help get people out of poverty. I still need to think through this. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'm all ears (or eyes).

The implications for peace are that people who are not living in a state of despair are less likely to resort to violence to have their basic needs met. If the predictions of climate change impacts are anywhere near accurate, the competition for resources and violent struggle for existence will only increase if we don't address the problem sooner rather than later.

Peace Geek

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Canada introduces Department of Peace legislation!

Hot off the presses is the following article from the Vancouver Sun about how the Canadian lawmakers are pursuing the idea of creating a Department of Peace. Way to go, Canada! Now, what can the rest of us do to help make this happen? We can start by sending MP Bill Siksay a big "THANK YOU!" at or visit his web page. Read the text of bill C-447 here.

OTTAWA — A federal New Democrat has teamed up with a Liberal to propose the creation of an army of peace professionals within a new federal department to resolve violent conflicts within Canada and around the world.

The idea was introduced through new legislation tabled Thursday by NDP MP Bill Siksay, seconded by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis. Siksay said the proposed department of peace could change the role of the Canadian military, but not necessarily replace it.

"In a utopian vision of our world, maybe that will be possible some day but certainly we see this as an area that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves," said Siksay at a news conference.

"The inclination to seek a non-violent solution to conflict isn't always the first action that people take in our society and around the world."

Siksay's private member's bill was modelled after a proposal by an advocacy group that suggests Canada needs more trained experts to promote peace in its diplomatic corps as well as in the military.

Bill Bhaneja, a co-chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, said the proposed department could employ hundreds of professionals who would promote a culture of peace in the government's policies and actions, as well as help to resolve conflicts in a non-violent way.

"These peace professionals would be different from the diplomats and from the soldiers," said Bhaneja. "Right now we have suits and boots on the ground, but we don't have people who are trained to resolve conflicts at the cutting edge where the problem is taking place."

He said his group has also submitted its proposals to the Harper government which replied it was satisfied with existing policies and practices.

Siksay said it was unlikely that the legislation and its proposals would get adopted in the near future in Parliament since it is a private member's bill. Government legislation gets priority for debates in Parliament while opposition bills are debated in order based on a random draw.

But Bhaneja said he was encouraged by recent meetings with Liberals and New Democrats who appear to be more interested by the establishment of a ministry of peace, following other countries such as Nepal, Solomon Islands and Costa Rica.