Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. Jobs Blueprint has a few worthy goals that, if achieved, will go a long way toward addressing both societal injustices and economic needs: the provision of training opportunities for Aboriginal students, support for education and training for people with disabilities. a dramatic increase in the number of young people entering the trades and support for students who want to enter trades while they are still in high school.
But where the plan fails is in its focuses on an industry that not only spews vast amounts of chemicals into our waterways but also speeds up global warming, the driver of climate change.
There is now serious doubt that a B.C. LNG industry will provide one million, good paying jobs as the Blueprint promises.
There are also serious concerns about the environmental damage that fracking causes to land, water and air.
Every minute that we are breathing, oil and gas wells are leaking deadly methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane gas is 30 times more potent than carbon when it comes to warming the atmosphere.
Should this fact not give us reason to reconsider what we are doing to our province and planet?
Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark’s predecessor, had a “road to Damascus” moment in November 2006 when he went to Beijing to see the preparations for the Olympics. Instead of being in awe of the amazing architecture, he was instead struck by the quality of the air there. On sunny days when one should be able to see far off into the horizon, it’s possible to only see a few feet in front of you because of the smog.
Campbell’s experience of Beijing smog was what led to several actions by the then B.C. Liberal government to address pollution and climate change. Did you know that the B.C. government has had an Air Quality Action Plan since 2008?
What would it take for Christy Clark to have her own “road to Damascus” moment? More Mount Polleys?
What happened to the Green Dream of the B.C. Liberals of the Campbell era that lead to our current situation where our Premier seems to be allowing us to be blackmailed by a multinational corporation into giving up a pristine environment in exchange for the equivalent of relative pennies?
The current B.C. government already has all the means it needs to take advantage of this historic moment. All it has to do is to implement the environmental plans that have already been published by previous B.C. Liberal governments such as the Climate Action Plan for the Twenty-First century that calls for a significant increase in renewable energy use.
Germany’s dramatic increase in the use of renewable energy is a model of how this can be done. NASA’s recent release of a report indicating that we have lived through the hottest six months ever on the planet adds urgency to our need to invest in our children’s future not just in present profits of the fossil fuel industry.
We should be ensuring that our children are prepared for a world of wild weather as climate change speeds up.
Our children should be learning more about the environment, not less. One of the major flaws in the new curriculum proposed by the B.C. Liberal government is that it decreases the focus on environmental studies at precisely the time we should be increasing awareness of our impact on the environment.
If our children do not receive a good foundation in environmental literacy, how will they have meaningful discussions and debates, as citizens in a democracy, about what they will be witnessing in a dramatically changing environment?
Post-secondary institutions have already recognized the need for more environmental education with SFU just recently announcing the new Bachelor of Environment, the only such degree in Canada. A search of the term “environmental” on EducationPlanner.ca reveals 53 post-secondary environmental programs. These are what should receive the money earmarked for post-secondary education in the B.C. Jobs Blueprint.
We need to turn the B.C. Jobs Blueprint green.
We need to turn away from seeing environmental destruction and low wages as the only way to build an economy. We cannot wait until politicians finally realize that there are no jobs on a dead planet.
One of the most significant aspects of a green economy is that there is an added benefit, apart from jobs and a return on investments, of ensuring that we also have a healthy environment. A goal that our current economy does not even recognize as necessary.
We can transform our economy into one that provides good paying jobs with benefits, an economy that does not place people in an invidious position of having to choose between feeding their families and polluting the land, water and air on which we all survive. We have the means and the knowledge to create an economy that will not cost us clean air to breathe, does not cost us the chemical death of fish and fowl and does not cost us the earth.
We owe it to our children to turn away from the Faustian bargain that we are being offered by the LNG industry.
We can do better.