Read just about any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and this is the answer you will find. And of course the project will bring significant benefits or we wouldn’t be contemplating it. #Duh
But think about this for a moment. If there are no significant negative effects, shouldn’t the environment be pretty much pristine? It’s not pristine – so what gives here?
We the public ask the assessors the wrong question. Now, I am most familiar with the process in Canada, but it is my understanding that to a large extent, EIA’s around the world approach project assessments similarly. To greatly simplify it, the question we ask those who must assess the benefits and costs of proposed projects goes something like this, “compared to today, will there be any residual (left over) negative effects after we apply mitigation (first aid)?”
The key here...
Reports of human loss and suffering from flooding are reported at least weekly, if not nightly, in mainstream media. And while the axiom “if it bleeds it leads” may heighten our perception of how bad it is, the impacts of floods on people and their homes is on the rise. According to the report Cities and Flooding  commissioned by the World Bank, the 10-year moving median # of reported flood events is rising steadily and is a full 16 times higher in 2010 than 50 years earlier.
But floods are nothing new. Rather, they are natural events that have been happening for millennia, shaping the earth we live on and creating much of the natural bounty that supports us today.
Still, we villainize nature when she brings us harm. Floods, like wildfires, have gotten a very bad name because of the harm to people we associate with these events. But Mother Nature is not the problem. Dr. Gilbert White, the late founder of the internationally recognized...
We British Columbians have a common vision for our future – one that sees us benefit and enjoy the land, air and waters that sustain us today – but one that also recognizes that today’s use of these resources must be tempered by the knowledge that we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, rather we borrow it from our children. This common vision is reflected in our commitment to sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It’s even deftly captured in the Provincial motto of BC – Splendor Sine Occasu – translated from Latin to mean Splendor Without Diminishment.
And despite this awareness, the path towards our future seems strewn with conflict, misunderstanding, mistrust and frustration. Disagreement over land use is one of the biggest sore spots. Whether it is the conflict at Burnaby Mountain over Kinder Morgan’s pipeline survey work,...
Recently I had the opportunity to participate as a speaker and a delegate at two excellent conferences in British Columbia, Canada centered on cumulative effects assessment;
Columbia Mountain Institute Applied Ecology’s Environmental and Social Assessment Forum http://cmiae.org/event/enviroandsocialassessment/
Canadian Institute Energy Group’s Cumulative Effects and the Future of Natural Resource Management http://www.canadianinstitute.com/2016/343/cumulative-effects-and-the-future-of-natural-resource-management
First let me share that both events were extremely well organized and a pleasure to be a part of. Both Hailey Ross (CMIAE) and Elizabeth Dempsey (CI Energy Group) are outstanding organizers. Both events had excellent speakers and delegates providing good learning and dialogue from range of perspectives.
I found much of what was discussed was in-line with what I believe are crucial requirements for getting Cumulative Effects...
Prime Minister, you are right, Canada's environmental assessment (EA) process needs a major overhaul. The current process leaves everyone feeling muzzled, confined and lacking trust. Here's a 3 - point plan to fix EA's in Canada:
If we can get these 3 right, then we'll be well on our way to rebuiling trust from Canadians, building buy-in for responsible resource development and respecting the rights of those most affected.
The root of current mistrust and conflict in the resource development arena lies in restrictive land use decision-making processes that exclude many Canadians and that are not adequately examining the cumulative effects of all land uses and natural disturbances across meaningful time and space. Here’s how we change that.