Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Exploring Climate Change in the West

Alice Swabey,  Mount Royal University

Next month, academics, activists and artists from around the world will convene in Calgary to share ideas on climate change in the North American West. As the world microscope sharpens its focus on activities in Alberta’s oil sands, the conference at Mount Royal University is timely indeed. “Under Western Skies: Climate, Culture, and Change in Western North America” will examine environmental issues from a multitude of perspectives, and with an impressive roster of speakers.

Photo Credit: Barbara Macleod
The conference program sets itself apart from typical academic gatherings by its truly cross-disciplinary scope. Speakers will address climate change through the lenses of literature, aboriginal knowledge, business, peer reviewed science, religion, gender, government policy, linguistics, film, tourism and radical activism – to name just a few.  

The matter of climate change in our neck of the woods has drawn interest and investigation from around the globe, and speakers from India, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the United States, Taiwan and Canada are expected. Internationally renowned Indian environmental activist and feminist Vandana Shiva will deliver a keynote address, “Soil Not Oil: Food Security in Times of Climate Change.” She will be joined by a number of prominent Canadians. Former Senior Advisor to the UN on Water and current chair of the Council of Canadians Maude Barlow will discuss the global water crisis, in conjunction with a screening of the film Blue Gold: World Water Wars. Also in attendance will be Andrew Nikiforuk, the Governor General’s award winning author of Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Big Oil, and most recently, The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent.

The highlight of the four-day conference will be the public roundtable on October 16. It will bring Shiva, Barlow and Nikiforuk together with Stanford’s acclaimed environmental historian Richard White; Bron Taylor, professor of Religious and Environmental Ethics from Florida; and Leo Jacobs, Associate Vice President of Aboriginal and Government Relations at Keyano College in Fort McMurray.
The conference runs October 13-16 in MRU’s Roderick Mah Centre. Information on registration, and tickets for keynote addresses, is available at www.skies.mtroyal.ca

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