Prof. Timmerman to address topic of future life on a finite planet at special presentation, April 27

The Canadian Association of the Club of Rome (CACOR) will host a presentation at York University exploring models of living for a future environment on April 27.

“Attitudes to Finitude: Future Life on a Finite Planet” runs from 1 to 3pm in HNES 141, and is organized by CACOR member and Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) Professor Peter Victor. The event’s guest speaker will be FES Professor Peter Timmerman.

Peter Timmerman
Peter Timmerman
Peter Victor
Peter Victor

Timmerman will explore the elements of the psychological and social dimensions of a shift from the current “frame” within which modern economic actors operate – a constantly reinforced belief in an infinitely desiring self, devoted to expressing itself and its need for “freedom” in a society characterised by a related dynamic of infinite progress – to a new “frame” of an interdependent, “no growth”, bounded and finite world.

He will discuss how the crucial need for this is recognised in the fact that it is not the burgeoning global human population that is the main threat to sustainability, but rather the burgeoning expectations of a global human population rapidly adopting the current Western “mindset”.

The presentation will argue that the recent drawing of boundaries around the earth (visually and scientifically) is already beginning to cause a crisis in a world devoted in recent centuries to this set of interlocking and mutually reinforcing infinities.

“I refer to this as an ‘implosion of sensibility’, with profound implications for how we envisage future life on a finite, bounded planet,” he says. “What is sketched out in support of this implosion are the resources for a finite and bounded ethos, particularly drawing on non-Western traditions, and earlier Western traditions (e.g. Classical Stoicism).

“Overall, what is proposed herein is a different model of the person that will resonate more appropriately with finite, no-growth models of our future social, economic, and planetary context, and strengthen their potential implementation.”

Timmerman has been working on environmental issues for many years, beginning with emergency and risk research, early work on climate change (his monograph, Vulnerability, Resilience and the Collapse of Society” was published in 1981), coastal zone management and global change.

He was the co-chair for the Canadian NGO Earth Charter process for the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and continues as a public activist and author on topics such as genetic manipulation and nuclear waste management.

His current work focuses primarily on environmental philosophy and ethics, including religion and ecology, with a special research focus on Buddhism and environmental activism in South and Southeast Asia.

Admission to this event is free. Those interested in attending should RSVP by emailing to Madeleine Aubrey at