Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/12/2014 (2326 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Red River College instructor and author is helping to take the pulse of the planet.
The UN Environment Programme Global Survey for Sustainable Lifestyles will take a "physical snapshot" of the health of the planet, said Peter Denton.
The instructor with five university degrees who teaches about technology, communication and sustainability, is involved in preparing for the survey of the planet.
"They amass all data they can find, or get given to them, to get as close to a physical snapshot of the planet as possible," he said.
It starts at the end of February and ends in mid 2017, said Denton, who's been involved in its planning as a representative for civil society. The UN is overseeing the survey and gathering information from non-government and government organizations, agencies, institutions and the private and public sectors, he said.
"The information will at first be turned over to governments so they can be directing the decisions they need to make," said Denton.
"Eventually it will be made public."
Denton said the survey is scientific, not politically based, and that may not sit well with some governments.
"Some countries don't want to release what's going on."
The information offers the potential for change, he said. What people will do with that information is the question.
"We all make choices as consumers we don't think about at the time, but are self-destructive," he said.
An example is plastic-bottled water. When there is safe municipal tap water, buying cases of bottled water is unnecessary, damaging to the environment and ultimately self-destructive, said Denton.
He wrote a book about the history of how we came to live in a world where everything, including water, is measured and monetized. Titled Gift Ecology, the book got him an invitation to a seat at the UN Environmental Programme.
"We put the economy at the top of the ladder of sustainability," said Denton. "Now, to save the environment, we can't afford it. That's just nuts."
To return to sane sustainability, Denton says don't despair -- do something.
"One person can make a difference," said the St. Andrews resident.
After UN meetings in Nairobi, he took a safari to a Maasai village where he met people who have to walk seven kilometres for water. When he returned to Canada, his church raised funds to drill a well for that village. That one act helped the Maasai and the congregation.
"When you don't like what's going on around you, make different choices," he said. "It empowers people to take control over what they can around them," said the man who teaches students in electrical, civil and aircraft maintenance about sustainability.
Denton's latest book, Technology & Sustainability, is about standing in open-mouthed awe at our technological achievements while shrugging our shoulders at the state of the planet.
"We look at the world as it is and ask what it is we can do to make it better than it otherwise may be," he said. "Can we make better choices than we did yesterday?"
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.