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Page added on April 1, 2007

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Americana in Montreal

The province of Quebec, recently dubbed by Al Gore as “the conscience of Canada on the environment,” was host to the 7th biennial “Americana International Environmental Technology Trade Show and Conference” at the Palais de Congres in downtown Montreal. With nearly 10,000 participants and more than 400 exhibitors, this event has become one of the largest of its kind in North America.

Unfortunately, a recurring theme throughout the three-day event was the overuse of the word “sustainable” in statements like “sustainable growth,” “sustainable development,” and “sustainable process.” There was no one definition employed for this word, and in many contexts it implied that “sustainable” is something that lasts for only one or two generations.
For instance, two delegates from Saudi Arabia gave a presentation about “sustainable development” in their country. They spoke of the explosive growth rates of 3-6% a year in their cities. And they spoke of the huge economic opportunities available to foreign investors to meet the demands of this growth. At the end of their talk I asked where all the water would come from to feed these cities, and they admitted to the audience that Saudi Arabia is facing extreme challenges due to their underground aquifers emptying at alarming rates. They said this is not a problem though, because water will be supplied by desalination plants, plants that do not exist yet and that would be fuelled by natural gas. This is in no way “sustainable development,” not by my definition (which is “capable of continuing indefinitely”).

The Republic

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