Making the leap: the environment vs. convenience

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It has been interesting to read the comments being made in therun up to the Throne Speech from BC's government this week.

Everybody from business to labour to environmental groups and allof their assorted special interest organizations have something tosay about what they want it to say. And the government of coursehas been telling us that it is full of goodies. Mostly what it boilsdown to is pipe dreams from those with their hands out, and theusual political BS from the government.

Of particular note among the topics being bandied about are whatis being said about the environment and the economy. Theenvironmental organizations and most citizens want somethingmore positive done about the environment, particularly globalwarming. The business community wants to see a growingeconomy. The government is promising both. It is like promisingone can have their cake and eat it too, or like a promisethat one can win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.

The business community, of course, wants to see more economicgrowth and less taxes. Like hogs at the trough their only realconcern is to eat regardless of what happens to anyone else. Theissue is that the main reason we have environmentalproblems is because we have economic growth and the increasingpopulation that both stimulates growth and is a result ofit. In fact in the past century we have had so much growth that weare killing ourselves — consuming more globally than we cansustainably produce — much like a run-away cancer spreadingthrough a body.

A responsible government would not be looking to stimulate moregrowth. Instead they would be developing policies to reversegrowth and cut down on exploitation to the point that the planetcould once again produce more than was being consumed. Beingowned and operated by big business, there is fat chance that anycurrent government would be allowed to do that.

Environmental organizations, for the most part, understand whatthe problem is, but don't have the guts to push for real solutions. Acase in point is the government's proposal for a carbon tax.Nothing more than a shell game that penalizes those in middle andlower income brackets who will be hard put to pay the taxes, whileleaving the wealthy free to continue creating greenhouse gasses totheir heart's content, albeit at a bit higher cost. A carbon tax byitself is little more than another class-based policy that puts thegreatest burden on those who can least afford it. But, from abusiness controlled government, what else could one expect?

So, why do the Sierra Club and other organizations climb on boardthe government's carbon tax band wagon when it is little more thana bad joke? In a conversation with the representative of oneorganization the answer was that is was better than nothing. Sadlyit is also not much more than nothing, if not worse than nothing.One must wonder if economists and business interests havegained control of our environmental watchdogs. Or, maybe theyhave just lost sight of how important the issue of global warmingreally is?

One environmental issue that has been receiving some discussionlately is that of the huge dead zone in the Pacific Ocean off of theOregon coast. Every summer since 2002 about 1000 square milesof ocean off of Oregon which once was one of the world's mostproductive marine areas has suffered severe oxygen reduction,resulting in a marine wasteland littered with dead sea life.Researchers at Oregon State University suspect that weatherchanges due to global warming are a factor.

The loss of fisheries off of our waters is but one of many changesthat we are seeing that may be linked to the volume of carbongasses that we put into the atmosphere as we generate electricity,operate motor vehicles, air planes, ships and other things.

The answer to this problem is not merely making the creation ofcarbon gasses more expensive as a carbon tax would do. And itcertainly isn't the silly carbon trading schemes that have been putforward that move gas production form one place to another. Theanswer is to produce much, much less carbon gas, somethingwhich will not be achieved until there is a firm carbon cap in placewith no trading that says we produce this much gas and no more.And a policy that halts and reverses growth so that there is lessdemand for energy.

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