Category Archives: Environment

‘It’s history, like it or not’: the Significance of Sudbury’s Superstack

By: Mike Commito and Kaleigh Bradley Standing at a height of 1,250 feet, the Sudbury Superstack is the second tallest chimney in the world and runner-up to the CN Tower for the tallest structure in Canada. Until 1987, Sudbury Ontario had the dubious honour of having the world’s tallest smokestack. Today, the Stack is seen by some as a marker… Read more »

Coal-Power with low Emissions: Is Boundary Dam a new Energy Paradigm

By Dr. David Zylberberg Energy sources are interchangeable for many purposes. Pre-industrial people burned various woods, peat, coal, dung and straw for cooking and basic manufacturing. In such societies, fuels varied between communities depending upon local availability and cost in either money or labour. Pre-industrial people cooked with whatever fuel required the least of their effort. Energy has never been free… Read more »

How Should We Measure Climate Change? What the Past Can Tell Us

By Dagomar Degroot Last month, world leaders met at UN Headquarters in New York City for Climate Summit 2014. As protests raged across the globe, diplomats established the framework for a major climate change agreement next year. The aim will be to limit anthropogenic warming to no more than 2 °C, a threshold established by scientists and policymakers, beyond which… Read more »

Graphic Environmentalism: An Interview with Comic Writer-Artist Steph Hill

Previous Active History posts (see here, here, and here) have examined the use of comics in telling – and interpreting – stories about the past. In this post, Ryan O’Connor (RO) interviews Steph Hill (SH), the writer-artist behind A Brief, Accurate Graphic History of the Environmental Movement (Mostly in Canada). RO: This is a really interesting project. What is it that… Read more »

Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History by Sean Kheraj

By Lani Russwurm It would be difficult to overstate the significance of Stanley Park to Vancouver’s identity. Visiting the park is obligatory for tourists, and locals from across the spectrum use it frequently for a myriad of activities. But the feature that distinguishes Stanley Park from most other large urban parks is its large forest that serves as a refreshing… Read more »

The Power-Politics of Pulp and Paper: Health, Environment and Work in Pictou County

Lachlan MacKinnon In recent months, concerns surrounding pollution at the Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie, Nova Scotia have prompted extensive local debate and filled the pages of provincial newspapers with columns and op-ed pieces. Controversy erupted in June, after Northern Pulp announced that the mill was shutting down operations to deal with a wastewater leak. Pictou Landing First Nation chief… Read more »

Digital Approaches to 19th Century Globalization

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By Jim Clifford The map below drew a lot of attention on Twitter when I posted it a few weeks ago in advance of a presentation I gave at an environmental history conference in early July. It was retweeted, not just by friends and fellow environmental historians, but also by Shawn Donnan, a World Trade Editor at the Financial Times. I… Read more »

Carpe Aqua: Asian Carp, Invasive Species, and the Great Lakes

By Daniel Macfarlane Invasive species in the Great Lakes have been a big problem for decades. From the alewife, which first appeared in the Great Lakes in the 1800s, to the zebra mussels in recent decades, the composition of the Great Lakes biomass has been constantly in flux. And the problem is about to get bigger – literally, as Asian… Read more »

Oil Pipeline Spill History at the National Energy Board of Canada Library

By Sean Kheraj This week, I am taking advantage of some of the historical research materials available at the National Energy Board library in Calgary, Alberta. As we discussed on a recent episode of Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast, federal department libraries are incredible resources for environmental history. With the closure and consolidation of so many of these libraries… Read more »

Ten Books to Contextualize the Alberta Tar Sands

By Stacy Nation-Knapper, Andrew Watson, and Sean Kheraj Last year, Nature’s Past, the Canadian environmental history podcast, published a special series called, “Histories of Canadian Environmental Issues”. Each episode focused on a different contemporary environmental issue and featured interviews and discussions with historians whose research explains the context and background. Following up on that project, we are publishing six articles… Read more »