The scale and similarity of global problems

I had an interesting conversation with a researcher at our workshop in Brazil. She described the impacts of a dam in the Amazon basin and the decline in fish populations. She lamented that the government and industry did not head their warnings of those impacts. She asked me how projects like that were handled in Canada. I told her that large projects that would be handled under an Environmental Impact Assessment. Companies would have to evaluate the scale of the impacts of their project relative to the sensitivity of the recipient flora and fauna. I told her that this approach works well in theory because there is an attempt to compare before and after differences and ensure that the project has either no negative effects or that they are compensated/offset. She asked me, ‘what if the impacts were very large, would they stop it’. I had to think about my answer. Some projects get caught up in court, but from my understanding I couldn’t think of a project that was denied. My answer was “probably they would allow it, but ask for more compensation/offsetting”. Her reply shocked me, she said “in Brazil, this is the same”. This highlighted to me that the problems we face in Canada, are problem everywhere in the world and we might have more similarities than we might think.

 

About the Author

Mark Poesch

University of Alberta

My research focuses on freshwater fishes and biodiversity. My research focuses on three general areas: 1) understanding the mechanisms relating to species loss, especially in relation to anthropogenic disturbance like land-use change, hydrologic alteration, climate change, invasive species and their impacts to freshwater ecosystems; 2) developing better aquatic assessment methods, including how to measure global change; and, 3) developing methods to improve restoration and reclamation. As a member of Tracking change, I provide support for graduate students and community researchers in the project.

Website:http://poeschlab.ualberta.ca/

Email:poesch@ualberta.ca

Phone:780-492-4827

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