December 2009

Was it genocide or reckless indifference? That’s the question a group of Alberta university students was asked to grapple with in relation to the Holodomor, the desperate famine in the 1930s that killed somewhere between 3.5 million and 7 million Ukrainians during Stalin’s rule. Award-winning author Myrna Kostash audited that course and has produced a thought-provking essay about the nature of information, memory and historical inquiry. The answer to the question the seminar was considering may surprise you.

For most of our lives, the American greenback has been the world’s reserve currency, the ballast that keeps all nations’ finances afloat. But is that likely to continue, or through withdrawal of international confidence is the dollar about to be swamped by the euro, the yuan, gold or the esoteric Special Drawing Rights, a creation of the IMF? The Globe and Mail’s European Bureau Chief, Doug Saunders, tackles this momentous possibility in his incisive review of The Future of the Dollar, a collection of essays edited by political economists Eric Helleiner of Canada and Jonathan Kirschner of the United States.

While the world gathers in Copenhagen this month to make post-Kyoto commitments to halt or at least slow down climate change, Robert L. Evans (author of Fueling Our Future: An Introduction to Sustainable Energy) lays down a set of what he calls “real world solutions” that go beyond rhetoric and hollow promises. His focus on electricity – mainly in the form of battery-powered vehicles and domestic heat pumps to replace oil and gas furnaces – provides the kind of on-the-ground analysis that has been sorely lacking from our environmental debates.

Season’s Greetings to all our readers,

Bronwyn Drainie