From an energy education perspective, the timing couldn’t have been more suitable. On Nov. 30 — days after Alberta announced a province-wide carbon tax and day one of the Paris COP 21 meetings — Alberta MLAs welcomed the RCGS to Edmonton, where Gilles Gagnier, Canadian Geographic’s chief operating officer and publisher, and Ellen Curtis, the RCGS’s director of education, introduced them to the Energy Production and Transmission Giant Floor Map and the rest of the Energy IQ program. They were joined by partners from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers as well as RCGS Fellows, among them Brian Hodgson, sergeant at arms for the legislative assembly; Gavin Fitch, Society vice-president and an environmental and energy regulatory lawyer; and Eva Koppelhus, a renowned paleobotanist who has studied prehistoric flora around the world.
The 8-by-11-metre map is a huge snapshot of where different energy resources, from petroleum and natural gas to hydroelectricity and solar, are extracted, processed and carried across Canada. Unfurled in the underground pedway between the Alberta Legislature Building and the Edmonton Federal Building, the map was visited by some 300 students throughout the day before more than 20 MLAs explored it for themselves.
As the politicians learned, the purpose of Can Geo Education’s Energy IQ program (which was made possible by support from CAPP), is to inform students about all of Canada’s energy resources, how the energy systems are shaped by the country’s geography and demand, how the students themselves interact with them, and what that means for both the environment and the economy.