To fight against catastrophic climate change, BC needs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to near zero before 2050. The Climate Justice Project (CJP) calls this a “green industrial revolution” that will have transformative impacts on the economy and society. Past industrial revolutions, however, have caused great upheaval and hardship, with some sectors of society bearing a terrible burden. This module starts with BC’s economic history of resource extraction, then shifts to ideas for creating new green jobs to achieve climate justice.
- Students will review BC’s economic history and the role of resource development and exports.
- Students will be able to identify the essential elements of the proposed “green industrial revolution.”
- Students will recognize the benefits of a BC green jobs plan.
- Students will reflect on and analyze green policy proposals for building retrofits, transportation, forestry, and energy conservation and efficiency.
Science and Technology 11
Social Studies 9, 10, 11; Civic Studies 11; Comparative Civilizations 12; Geography 12; Social Justice 12; Sustainable Resources 12
English Language Arts 9, 10, 11, 12; Communications 11, 12
Applied Skills 11; Business Education 8, 9, 10; Economics 12; Home Economics: Family Studies 8, 9, 10; Technology Education 9, 10; Technology Education: Industrial Design 11, 12
TOTAL SUGGESTED TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Digital projector and computer with internet access
- Whiteboard/chalkboard and markers/chalk
- Paper and pens/pencils
- PowerPoint slides: Green Industrial Revolution
- Printed copies of the Elements of the Green Industrial Revolution handout (coming soon) and the Green Jobs BC infographics
SUGGESTED LESSON PAIRING: Module 7 – Imagining the Future We Want
Note to teachers: Please be sensitive to the fact that some of your students may have family members who work in the fossil fuel industry. The point of this module is not for them to feel badly about this. We are all dependent on that existing economy. The goal of this module is to understand that we all need economic and employment opportunities, and that our collective challenge is to transition to a sustainable economy with well-paying green jobs.
Part 1 – History of BC’s economy
BRAINSTORM AS A CLASS: Create a list of BC’s economic industries throughout history. What were the main economic drivers over the last few hundred years? Use prompts and questions to jog students’ memories and stimulate educated guesses.
BC’s economic industries include:
- Fur trade
- Gold rush
- Energy (coal, hydroelectric, natural gas)
- Proposed industries: Oil (e.g. pipelines), liquefied natural gas
QUESTION: What thoughts come to mind when you look at this list?
- Much of BC’s economic past has been based on resource extraction and export. Income from these exports allows us to buy imported goods from outside of BC.
- BC’s economy has grown because of resource extraction, but sometimes this conflicts with climate change action.
- Older resource industries have established infrastructure, political power and money, and will be resistant to change that potentially impacts their economic interests.
- What makes a resource industry environmentally sustainable? Do all resource industries have the same potential to be sustainable?
Some are renewable (e.g. forestry can be renewable if the rate of cutting is not greater than the rate at which new trees grow) and some are not (e.g. coal or natural gas reserves are finite).
- Who has benefited from resource development? Who has been negatively impacted or exploited?
Those who have benefited may include: companies and their owners, international customers, workers who earn high wages, local businesses. Those who have been negatively impacted or exploited may include: local First Nations communities, Chinese labourers during the gold rush/railway construction, people whose water or air quality has been polluted by industrial activity.
- BC’s current economic strategy emphasizes fossil fuel extraction (increased exports of natural gas and coal from BC to Asia). How will this impact our GHG emissions?
Part 2 – Forestry: The history and potential of a sustainable resource industry
READ ALOUD: Forestry is an example of a local resource-based industry that can be sustainable if developed in certain ways. Forestry is one of BC’s most important industries and is at the heart of what built BC as a province. But forestry has also been controversial due to company practices such as clearcutting of old growth forests. Because of our vast forestry resources, existing infrastructure, skills, rich legacy and potential for sustainability, it makes sense for us as a province to reimagine how sustainable forestry can be part of BC’s future.
Many BC forestry towns have experienced great prosperity, but also some very hard times. Let’s look at a video that tells the story of how we got from there to here, and what we could possibly do to turn it around.
SHOW VIDEO: Town at the End of the Road, a story about Mackenzie, BC and its history and possible future as a forestry town (17 minutes)
- What factors contributed to the loss of Mackenzie’s forestry industry and local jobs?
- What actions are the people in the video suggesting the province take to revitalize BC’s forestry sector?
(Local control, local processing and local manufacturing.)
- What factors contribute to a resource industry being both economically and environmentally sustainable?
- What would it mean to you if the BC forestry industry was redeveloped in a sustainable way?
Part 3 – The green industrial revolution
READ ALOUD: Human societies have gone through various “revolutions” in the past that have transformed our economies and the ways we live. We began as hunter-gatherers, then, beginning several thousand years ago, many shifted to agricultural societies. About 200 years ago, the way many people lived shifted again with the Industrial Revolution.
ACTIVITY: As a class, discuss what you remember as the key features of the Industrial Revolution.
- Shift from farming in rural settings to working in factories and living in cities
- Spread of ideas and new technology (engines, machines, electricity)
- Rise of transportation and communications linkages over large distances
- Emergence of a wealthy “business class”
- Burning fossil fuels in large quantities for energy
- Economic shift to mass production of low-cost consumer goods