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Decision Making

Language and Framing

Our research shows again and again how important framing an issue is, and even more importantly, it has the power to disempower or empower people. Those communities who are farther along in implementing climate innovations initially framed the issues to politicians as energy efficiency and once those benefits were demonstrated, then moved on to the larger sustainability lens. Similarly, the language we use to describe the environment and our impacts on that environment are equally powerful.

Expanding the Political Imagination

This blog by Alex Himelfarb, a former clerk of the Privy Council, is a thoughtful analysis of the drivers behind the recent election to the South. He mentions the need to transform government, and this is one of the things my research team is studying, what we mean by transformative change versus incremental and transitional change.

Communitas

Co-housing is a win-win situation with many co-benefits. As the baby boomers age, and lose their partners, co-housing is a viable alternative to retirement homes and nursing homes. As Anil Gawande points out in his thoughtful book, Being Mortal, “our most cruel failure is how we treat the sick and the aged. .

Climate Leaders Everywhere

A local energy company in Vermont, Green Mountain Energy, is leading the transformation of an electric system that depends on power sent along big transmission lines to a community-, home- and business-based energy system for both economic and environmental reasons. As a practical matter, the less electricity the utility pulls from the regional transmission system, especially at times of peak demand, the less it has to pay in fees, producing savings it can pass on to customers.

The Good Society

This TEDTalk is very cool, showing what the world looks like when you map it using people data, where we are and how we move, our scale of population and activities. And interestingly, although we are living in a new world, there is more good news than bad, there is a need for concern, but not to fear each other as we do.

A Picture is worth a Thousand Words

My team has been exploring how to make data more accessible and how can we make research more central to how people make their day to day decisions. This article in the Guardian on obesity is brilliant showing the power of visuals to reveal how we are physically changing over time and the rising obesity epidemic.

Ontario Government Leads the Way Again

The Ontario government is planning a total revamp of the province’s garbage-handling programs, aiming to reduce the amount of waste we make by 80 per cent over the next 35 years. Ironically when the blue box program was started in 1967, its main objective was not to create a recycling industry but to get people to think about their consumption patterns.

Can Religion be Part of the Solution?

This TEDTalk discusses a solution to the violence of religious extremism that is devoid of life, vision and soul, by reclaiming the heart of the traditions of multi-faith communities. There are four common principles among many who are working in this burgeoning community:

Energy Transformation

This article by the Worldwatch Institute argues pervasively that although private sector investments in renewables are soaring, without fundamental electricity grid transformation we will not be able to deliver on Paris climate commitments. The underlying architecture of electricity grids run nearly exclusively as natural monopolies, and where power flows in one direction is a dinosaur ill-suited to meet modern energy needs and climate imperatives.

Canadian Innovation Lags

The idea that suburban sprawl is a major contributing factor to the size of our carbon footprints (and climate change overall) is new: these images are a fascinating look into just how much municipal planning visions and implementations differ between North American and European cities.

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