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Walrus Magazine brings discussion on energy to McGill

Last Tuesday, McGill hosted “The Walrus Talks Energy,” an event intended to raise awareness about energy use and sustainable practices in Canada. The event was sponsored by Suncor, Canada’s largest energy producer and provider, and organized by The Walrus Magazine. It featured eight speakers of varying backgrounds and professions.

The Walrus Magazine is a general interest magazine that focuses on Canadian affairs as well as their relation to the rest of the world. According to Shelley Ambrose, co-publisher of The Walrus Magazine, the purpose of the event was to provide a platform for increasing knowledge about energy and driving the conversation on the future of energy in Canada.

“We need to have the conversation on energy in terms we can all understand,” said Ambrose. “To do that we need to achieve some energy literacy because creating a vision for the future is very challenging and complicated [.…] All of these amazing people doing these amazing things feed our brains and help us cope with these big decisions that we have to make.”

The speeches touched on a variety of issues, from the political climate surrounding energy and the pricing of energy to more specific topics such as the use of LED light- bulbs and the role of Indigenous peoples in a sustainable Canadian future.

Peter Calamai, fellow of the Institute of Science, Society, and Policy and one of the speakers at the event, talked on the importance of independent research in the energy sector and the need to change people’s perception of energy use in Canada.

“Canada’s use of energy is profligate, [it is] way above everyone else’s in the world, but most people don’t realize it,” Calamai said. “A lot of what’s going to help this problem are technical advances, but it’s also going to be major scientific discovery.”

According to Ambrose, the decision to hold “The Walrus Talks Energy” at an academic institution such as McGill was made as a way for promoting student awareness and involvement in the energy discussion. Kali Taylor, co-founder of Student Energy, a global movement of students focused on building a sustainable energy future, emphasized  the necessity of educating students on the issues in the energy sector.

“I think the way we think about energy is broken,” Taylor said. “Student Energy is a non-profit organization that focuses on educating the next generation of energy leaders and empowering them […] so our whole meaning for being is that we want students to be more educated, inspired and united to take on [….]energy in the future.’’

The event attracted over 200 students and members of the McGill community. Remi Kahwaja, U4 mechanical engineering, said he attended the talk because his career could be related to the topics that were addressed.

“You rarely hear about specific Canadian energy issues so I thought it might be interesting.” Kahwaja said. “I would like to work in the energy sector later in Canada, so it’s about getting involved.”

Mariana Smailes, U1 Arts and Science, said the talks were informative in relation to techniques on energy saving that can be applied across McGill.

“I’m actually working with the McGill Energy Project right now and so, as a student group on campus, we’re really interested with how energy is being efficiently used on campus,” she said. “It was very interesting to see some of the things they said that would be [applicable] at McGill that would change maybe the student perspective on energy.”

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