MY TAKE

COLUMNS:
DAVID SUZUKI
DEAR DIDI
DR VICKI BISMILLA
REV TONY ZEKVELD

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Educate girls to solve climate crisis

By DAVID SUZUKI

What’s the top solution  for resolving the human-caused climate crisis? According to Paul Hawken, it’s educating girls and improving family planning. Hawken is the author of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

Drawdown is “the point at which levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then steadily decline, ultimately reversing global warming”.

For the book, now grown into a project and website, Hawken and a team of researchers used peer-reviewed evidence to find the top 100 solutions to climate disruption under seven categories: energy, food, women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport and materials. Solutions range from solar and wind power to farmland restoration and marine permaculture.

The study looked at three scenarios. “Plausible” solutions “are adopted at a realistically vigorous rate over the time period under investigation, adjusting for estimated economic and population growth”.

Drawdown considers adoption of solutions optimized to achieve drawdown by 2050.

“Optimum” is when “solutions achieve their maximum potential, fully replacing conventional technologies and practices within a limited, competitive market”.

Although the top single solution is, surprisingly, refrigerant management, the best result comes from combining two related solutions, educating girls and family planning, which fall at 6 and 7, respectively, on the list. Drawdown finds these measures could reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases by 120 gigatonnes and human population by one billion by 2050.

According to Project Drawdown, “Access to education and voluntary family planning are basic human rights and should be secured simply because they are, yet significant gaps remain around the world today”. Advancing these rights affects fertility rates and population growth, which drive “demand for food, transportation, electricity, buildings, goods, etc., all with attendant emissions”. In addition to education and family planning, Project Drawdown includes addressing inequity in agriculture, mainly through equal access for women smallholders to “a range of resources, from land rights and credit to education and technology”.

Educating girls would result in “improved livelihoods, delayed onset of marriage, delayed childbearing, and fewer children than peers with less education”. Family planning, “including access to contraception and reproductive health resources,” would reduce fertility rates and slow population growth. Providing “resources, financing, and training to women smallholder farmers around the world” would improve agricultural yields and reduce deforestation.

Drawdown team member Katharine Wilkinson notes that climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable people, including women. “There’s greater risk of displacement, higher odds of being injured or killed during a natural disaster,” she said at a TEDWomen talk in California last year. “Prolonged drought can precipitate early marriage, as families contend with scarcity. Floods can force last-resort prostitution as women struggle to make ends meet. These dynamics are most acute under conditions of poverty.”

Education, family planning and women’s rights are extremely important for many reasons – avoiding climate catastrophe is just one – but many forces worldwide, especially religious, have prevented women from being treated equally and with respect. In many parts of the U.S., a growing backlash against all forms of birth control, including abortion, is threatening hard-fought rights women have gained over many years.

Over the past 50 years, as exponential population growth has increasingly strained Earth’s resources, the globally influential Catholic Church has remained steadfast in its opposition to all but “natural” birth control. That’s despite Pope Francis’s powerful 2015 encyclical regarding the need for change in the face of ecological crises such as human-caused global heating.

We’ve seen progress, but some is more in word than deed. The UN notes 143 countries had recognized constitutional equality between women and men by 2014, but 52 countries had not and, “Stark gender disparities remain in economic and political realms”.

The UN also says many of its recent 17 sustainable development goals recognize “women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution”.

There’s no single solution to climate disruption and other environmental crises we’ve created. Our refusal to take necessary action for so long, even though we knew about the problems, means we have to urgently employ every means possible.

Women’s rights – including education, family planning and equal opportunity in all aspects of society – are necessary for stabilizing population growth, creating a better world and ensuring the well-being and survival of our species.

• With contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor/writer Ian Hanington. More at davidsuzuki.org

 

 

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When your boss evaluates your work

 By DR VICKI BISMILLA

Whether you are a frontline worker, a unionized employee, a manager or an executive, your work will be evaluated by your organization.

This process is called performance appraisal, performance review, performance evaluation or a name unique to your organization.

It usually involves a multistep annual process that spans several months starting with an initial meeting with your supervisor and ending with a written report.

Such categories as attendance, work efficiency, attitude toward clients, team support, contributions to fiscal goals, commitment to organizational vision and personal accomplishments make up components of your evaluation.

There is often a range of grades assigned such as excellent, very good, good, satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

The final report is normally signed by you and your supervisor and stored in your employee file in human resources.

Often that report is linked to your salary increase or promotion chances.

This is an important process and needs to be approached with care and assiduousness. Usually an employee is regarded as “probationary” in the first year of employment. During this year the employee will be closely monitored by the supervisor with whom several discussions will be scheduled. A training program will be provided and goals and performance targets will be identified by the supervisor.

A probationary employee needs to take these discussions seriously and work diligently at achieving the goals set. If unsure, clarifications must be sought and course corrections made. At the end of the probationary year the employee is assessed, and two scenarios may develop.

If the employee has been unsuccessful in reaching organizational standards of performance then the employee may be terminated or placed on another year of probation with stringent supervision.

If you are unionized, then contact the union and follow their advice.

If the employee has had a successful year, a good grade is entered on the report and the probationary terminology is removed. The employee then enters the regular performance review cycle of all employees in the organization.

As an employee enters this stage of full-time employment, it is important to get to know the appraisal process well. The initial meeting with the supervisor will identify all the stages of the process and the expectations of the organization.

It is important to determine with the supervisor or with Human Resources that the same, consistent process is being used for all employees in your category to ensure systemic fairness.

So, ask for a template if there is one or the official document format.

Get to know the components that are used to measure performance.

Politely ask your supervisor for specific expectations and write these down into your daily notebook.

Ask for a blank template and staple this into your daily notebook.

Your supervisor should clearly state what the performance review will measure and you should be clear about any additional goals that you set for yourself.

You will be measured on all these parts. Upon completion of this initial evaluation meeting load the template on to your computer and get into the habit of recording your weekly accomplishments with data and proof that you are doing what you and the organization set out for you to do.

Your supervisor will meet with you from time to time to discuss your progress. Take your template, data and notes to these meetings. Be prepared to talk about how you are meeting the goals of the organization. Your supervisor may advise you about course corrections, change of direction or areas you need to improve. Write these down and be sure to clarify before you leave the meeting. In subsequent meetings your supervisor will continue to provide you with feedback.

If you feel that the feedback is harsh, inaccurate or otherwise unfair, try to politely obtain clarification and after the meeting contact your union for assistance if you are unionized or contact Human Resources. Record the feedback, new goals or your concerns in your notes template. Most often these differences are amicably ironed out but occasionally these red flags become problems that will impact your final rating.

In some cases, Human Resources will intervene and monitor the process. However, usually the largest percentage of performance appraisals in organizations go smoothly with supervisors satisfied with their team’s work and employees treated fairly. Remember that the supervisor too is being evaluated to assess the team’s success.

The performance appraisal is a critical component of your work. Be diligent and meticulous and may you experience all the fruits of your hard work.

Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer. She has authored two books.

  

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DEAR DIDI, why is a gap year such a no-no?

 By KULBINDER SARAN CALDWELL

 Dear Didi,

I want to take a break after high school, I don’t want to rush into university like my siblings have done, but when I broached the subject at home, everyone reacted like I had committed a crime. A gap year is a luxury for those who don’t need to work, they say. “We came to Canada for you and worked so hard to give you all the privileges and you are throwing it away.” I am not ungrateful, I just want some time to figure out what I want to do with my life. – TIME OUT

Wanting a break after high school and before going to university is what many of your teenage friends are talking about as they begin preparations for graduation and beyond.

However, it isn’t as common in the South Asian community and by the sounds of it, certainly not in your family.

Most parents have created a life plan for their children – where they go to university, what career to pursue and when it is time for you to get married and start a family.

Any deviation from the plan is often met with surprise and resistance, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because your siblings rushed into higher education one after the other, you don’t have to follow and actually you can break the mould.

I know I had to.

It wasn’t easy, but I was the first to go to university when all my siblings before me had graduated, worked and then got married without going to university.

I, however, didn’t want to just go straight into marriage and I wanted to choose a career of my own which included going to university.

I applied to the school I wanted to go to and when I was accepted, I had to convince my parents to let me leave my little town and go to the big city of Vancouver.

However, I had to present an alternate plan for them to agree.

I was going to live on campus in the residence and go stay with my older sister on weekends.

My sister would be my contact and she would look out for me.

You will have to do the same for your gap year.

Are you going to work during that year?

Will you try different jobs to make sure what to go to school for?

Remember, this  time to figure out what you want to do with your life is certainly a luxury and one you are entitled to since this will probably be the only period of your adult life without the responsibilities of school, building your career and family.

Plan and communicate it to your parents with confidence and I’m sure you will get the buy-in you need to figure out what you want to do with your life... or at least for the next few years.

Good luck and have fun!

 I may be able to help! Is there something that you wish you could talk to someone about? Email me at Kul@DearDidi.com or follow me on Twitter and Facebook at @Dear Didi_KSC. Want more Dear Didi? Listen to my pod-cast – Generation Immigrant – on all major platforms. Listen, rate, review, repeat. Hope to hear from you soon!

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HOW TO teach responsibility to children

 By REVEREND TONY ZEKVELD

Another year of school is behind us. The beautiful days of summer have come! Children are free from the responsibilities of homework.

In my visits to homes, I’ve been asking older children and teens, “So, what are you doing this summer?”

Most sound bored already! “Oh, I dunno”, some say. Others say, “Play games on my phone” or simply, “Nothin’.”  

I remember eagerly looking forward to summer holidays. I had ambitions, hopes but also opportunities to do things I had no time for during the school year. Part of that is because my parents, even in their busy schedule, took initiative to spend time with us – even if it was at home. They encouraged us to think and plan creatively.  

But one big reason we looked forward to ‘special times’ is because they taught us to be responsible with our use of time. The way they did that was by giving extra responsibilities in the summer holidays. We were given responsibilities year-around, but tasks were multiplied in the summer. The thinking was, “you don’t sit around, use your time constructively!” We had to help out extra in the house and also outside of the house, whether cleaning, pulling out weeds in the garden or helping dad with his work. We dared not complain. We were to participate in family life together. But that made our free times all the more special and something to look forward to.

“Working hard” never hurt us as children. We were given more responsibilities when we were teens. We were given responsibilities because our parents wanted to prepare us for life and help us to develop a strong work ethic. We wanted to pass on the same ethic to our children – shovelling snow, doing dishes, weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, doing newspaper routes. This eventually prepared them to earn some money by working for others in the neighbourhood. It required strong discipline but it was worth it. They learned the value of work and the hard-earned dollar.

But our guiding principle for teaching responsibility to our children was God’s Word, the Bible. God created us to image Him in three ways: resting, working and relating. Our fall into sin severely distorted His image in us, but through faith in Christ God renews His image in us.

 • Reverend Tony Zekveld can be reached at 416-740-0543 and tzekveld@primus,ca.

 

Image by  MATTHEW HENRY  from Burst

Image by MATTHEW HENRY from Burst

Why do some see red over amber alerts?

 By SHAGORIKA EASWAR

 We used to claim we were Toronto the Good – and wear our kindness and caring as a badge of honour.

But recent events may have shown us in a different light. A good night’s rest, it would appear, is more important to some of us than a child’s safety.

Over the past few months, loud, insistent beeps on the phone alerted people to missing children on three separate occasions.

Two of those children were found safe, one little girl was killed. All were located with the help of information from people responding to these amber alerts.

But how did many others respond? They called 911. Not with information that might help with the search, but with complaints. Why was the sound so loud? Did the police know how long it took them to fall back asleep? Why were they being woken up when they weren’t even in the area? But missing children don’t necessarily stay put in one area – they are often taken a fair distance away, sometimes to another country altogether.

Here’s where we need to remember that someone in Tilbury, Ontario, recognized a five-year-old missing boy, thanks to the amber alert system – a boy who had last been seen in far away Mississauga.

But people called in such large numbers, they tied up valuable resources. The police issued statements, requesting people not to do so.

Do we really need reminding that 911 is a number one calls only in an emergency? A real emergency, not one about potential dark circles under one’s eyes the next morning.

Reading reports related to the complaints and listening to comments that flooded the radio waves, I couldn’t help but wonder., whatever happened to empathy? To the fear that grips a parent’s heart, the there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go- I feeling? The instinctive response that makes a person standing at a playground lunge towards a child – any child, not necessarily one’s own – that falls from a swing? That makes people lead a child that is lost in a mall and crying for his or her parents to customer service to make an announcement? We don’t walk away thinking, my child is safe at home, I don’t want to lose a few seconds of my precious time.

We get upset watching movies in which children are harmed, but we complain when we are jolted awake by an amber alert?

Various authorities and experts have developed a list of specific situations that pose severe and urgent threats to life and property. These include tornado warnings, wildfires and Amber Alerts, in case of missing children who might come to harm. They take these threats very seriously and so should we all.

To put things in perspective: If one received a tornado warning in the middle of the night, would one give thanks for such a system and make one’s way to a safe place or would one complain about being woken up?

And taking the thought further, if, heaven forbid, one’s own child was missing, would one want the whole world to know and join the search party or would one say, “No, no, let them sleep, we’ll tell them in the morning”?

Emergency alerts save lives.

Amber alerts help find missing children.

Remember that the next time one goes off in the middle of the night. If you have information that might help with the search, call 911. If not, say a prayer for the family and have the grace not to grumble.

If the sound bothers you that much, turn the volume down when you go to bed or put the phone in another room. And hope that a tornado doesn’t make landfall near you.

Desi News