Surviving Progress in the Greenbelt


Last week I went to see the film adaptation of Ronald Wright’s book and Massey Lecture series, A Short History of Progress. It is titled Surviving Progress, and is a Canadian-funded movie with a few familiar faces. The timing is somewhat ideal for this film to open with the recent successes and stumbling blocks of the Occupy movement and the climate change talks in Durban.

Since A Short History of Progress is on my reading list, I can't make any direct comparisons between book and film, but overall I would say the film elicits a powerful message. It’s a message most are familiar with, that we need to reevaluate our measures of success.

Success is not defined by money and power.


Surviving Progress looks at several factors that are contributing to our ‘progress trap.’ One is nature and our natural capital. Nature has been consistently undervalued throughout history and considered a means to make money (think deforestation), as opposed to providing things clean air, water and healthy ecosystems.



Right here in the Greenbelt we have 1.8 million acres of natural capital. In dollars and cents, it saves Ontarians 2.6 billion in taxes because the Greenbelt cleans our water and air, protects wildlife habitat, controls the climate and provides food. We have learned from global mistakes in nature, but we certainly aren’t doing enough to protect what nature provides.

Our natural resources are the key mechanisms for our survival. We must continue to protect and grow the healthy green spaces that we are fortunate to have.


So this holiday season when you are thinking about presents for loved ones, consider investing in the future of our green spaces:

Contribute to Your Local Conservation Authority

 Central Lake Ontario Conservation

Conservation Halton

Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority

Grand River Conservation Authority

Grey Sauble Conservation Authority

Hamilton Conservation Authority

Kawartha Conservation

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

Otonabee Conservation

Toronto and Region Conservation 

- Julienne Spence, Acting Communications Director

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