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Editor’s Note, September-October 2022

Meeting a critical moment
All hail the scholars addressing climate change

It has been another hot, dry summer for the West Coast. And with that has come the threat of wildfires in communities from Yukon to southern British Columbia. One such blaze came within a few kilometres of the village of Lytton, B.C., which was devastated by a wildfire just a year ago. (As I write this in late July, an evacuation order for the destroyed downtown remains in place – a sign of the long road to recovery.)

By now, we all know of the role climate change is playing in extreme weather, fuelling disasters the world over. Academics have played a crucial part in raising awareness about the unfolding crisis. But there is a related area of research focused on breaking down barriers that stand in the way of transformative action to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

One example is a recent study that pinpointed 10 “financial actors” linked to around half of all present and future emissions from the biggest energy companies. “A concentrated number of investors with the potential to influence the trajectory of the fossil fuel industry is either a problem, or an opportunity, depending on how you see things,” said Truzaar Dordi, a University of Waterloo researcher who led the study.

Patricia Hluchy’s feature story in this issue highlights a third way in which academia is responding to the climate crisis. She details the growing number of business programs embracing sustainability. As she found in her reporting, the trend is being driven in part by demand from companies in need of workers who can help minimize the impact of commerce on society and the environment.

It’s encouraging to see that so many of our brightest minds are taking on the challenge of meeting this critical moment for the planet with their scholarship. University Affairs is in the process of expanding our coverage to help shine a spotlight on their work, and I hope that you will follow along on this journey in the months ahead.

Ian Munroe