David McLaughlinWater is the essence of life on our planet. The health of the world’s ecosystems depends on it. This summer we experienced near record drought conditions in many parts of the world. Most of the planet is water but it seems scarcer than ever.

Yet, Canada and New Brunswick are awash with water…aren’t we? We have nothing to worry about…right?

David McLaughlin, former President and CEO of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, will deliver his talk, “Water World: How Climate Change and Resource Extraction Will Impact Water Use,” on Thursday, October 11 at the Wu Conference Centre, UNB Fredericton, beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Growing the economy and feeding hungry populations demands increasing amounts of water. To extract natural resources to power that growth and create fertile lands for farming and food production means more water, not less. But as our economy grows and energy use with it, so too does the amount of carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere. That is bringing increasing evidence of climate change with shifts in established weather patterns, unpredictable often violent storms, record temperatures and melting Arctic sea ice. Uncertainty has become the new normal.

So, what does this mean to our expectations of future water availability and use? Will we need to conserve more and use less? What about big resource companies and their need for water to extract natural wealth from the earth that creates jobs and growth? Do we even know the value of ecosystems that could be facing new and different stresses than ever before? Will access to water become conflict over water? Can water, as a public good, ever be reconciled with the economics of private gain? Finally, what public policy solutions can we look to?

David McLaughlin is the last President and CEO of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Canada’s only independent public policy agency with a mandate from Parliament to advice on sustainable development. Controversially eliminated in the last federal budget, David’s talk will draw upon the Round Table’s original research and his unique experience at both the federal and provincial levels of government. No stranger to New Brunswick, Mr. McLaughlin is a graduate of Mount Allison University and served as Deputy Minister of Policy and Priorities in the Executive Council Office in the government of Bernard Lord. 

David McLaughlin’s talk is part of the 2012 Year of Water speakers series sponsored by the Andrews Initiative, an academic program for adult learners at the University of New Brunswick. Ongoing and upcoming events in the Year of Water include Water, an exhibition of photographs by Thaddeus Holownia at the UNB Art Centre in Fredericton until October 22, and the Hynes Memorial Lecture featuring David Schindler, founder of the Environmental Lakes Area, on November 15 at UNB Saint John.

The Andrews Initiative is made possible through a generous bequest from UNB alumnus, J. William Andrews of Montreal.

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