Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BC's Green Budget/Rant on "making a difference"

It was fun to listen to BC's "Green Budget" this afternoon on the good ol' CBC. While there seems to be a lack of attention paid (no pun intended) to the likes of affordable housing, poverty, and post-secondary education, I've got to say it was refreshing to hear about the upcoming Carbon Tax - You can read CBC's review of the budget here, and read the full budget itself here.

...Which leads me to a rant that has been welling up inside for some time now. I generally enjoy posting more positive things on this blog, but after listening to people call in to comment on the budget and the movement toward a realistic future in general, I'm sorry but I've just got to let 'er rip.

If you're already in the choir....all apologies. If you're not singing with us, I realize this will probably not do anything to convince you to join either. I'll be more approachable next post.

With that out of the way, let the Rant begin:

PURPOSE OF RANT: To get a few things straight regarding what the future holds in regard to "all things green/climate change."

1. When you wake up tomorrow, gas will be more expensive.
You're going to be paying more at the pump from here on in - whether it's due to taxes or not. As long as it's gasoline you're filling your car with, things aren't going to get any cheaper. Move closer to where you work, take the bus, tune up your a bike, do whatever it takes to offset the cost, but please, please, pretty please with a hybrid on top: STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT IT.

Suggested Reading: The Long Emergency

2. Food is going to get more expensive - unless, of course, it isn't "food."
Yes, organic is more expensive. Yes, local food is more expensive. But you know what - it's actual food and not petroleum based cheese, dyed fruit, or farmed salmon. That said, so long as your cheez-whiz and potato chips are being shipped to your local Wal-Mart via tractor-trailers, you can expect them to get more expensive too.

Suggested Reading: The 100-Mile Diet

3. Suburban Dreams are just that...dreams.
Yes, we do want everyone to move into the city. Suburban sprawl doesn't work. I mean, it works if you can afford it, but chances are you can't- so stop being such a whiner/spoiled brat. Be a big boy/girl and live within your means.

Suggested Viewing: The End of Suburbia

4. It does make a difference
If I hear the argument that Canada shouldn't care about climate change because our national contribution to the catastrophe is so negligible that "even if we all left our cars, moved into an Amish community and threw all petroleum-fueled technology aside it wouldn't affect the 'big picture'" I'm going to gouge my eyeballs out with the business end of a nerf baseball bat.

Change always has to start somewhere. Doing what's right is always "right" even if you can't see the difference it makes. An example/symbol is often more powerful than the actual effect of the action itself and when it comes to Canada's role what we have to offer is the hope, technology and bragging rights to say "we told you so: it is possible to live full and abundant lives with smaller ecological footprints. "

Suggested Historical Examples where things started small: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cedar Forests

End Rant.


AJ Renton said...

Yes!!! This is what I've been waiting for! A little JK fit! Love it!

To be honest, for the first half of your post I acutally thought I was reading Matty B's blog, and I was engagingly confused and surprised. When has Matty ever talked about such things? Has he been hanging out with JK or what? Did he actually read any of those books? All these questions are scrolling through my mind... and then I realize, it's your words I'm reading!

Wow, it was almost blowing my mind. Matty can stick to the things he's good at: rock'n'roll and cheering for horrible teams. You, JK, keep the info and rantings concerning all things Green, social, and design focused a coming. Love it!

The Renegade Librarian said...

Andy, you're a bit of a dink. I've know this a long time, in fact. I happen to exist of a bit more than just rock and roll and bad sports teams, so eat it!

Jimmy, magnificent. That's all I have to say.

Roger said...

What a crock of poo-poo.

1. Of course gas is going to get more expensive, but that will happen naturally over time, so why do we need to add another tax to one of the most heavily taxed commodities out there? If the government simpy re-dircted some of the taxes their already collecting on gasoline we would need a stupid carbon tax. Buses don't work for anything beyond point A to B commuting, and bicycles are completely impractical for many people

2. Not only food, but pretty much anything you purchase will go up in cost because of increased prodution and shipping expenses. Inflation is not good for any of us.

3. The suburbs work fine, in fact I prefer them. Urban living is not for eveyone, we should be able to decide where we want to live without someone trying to force us into their model. Who would want to live downtown and have to step over used needles and ethanol-enhanced indians on the way out the door every morning?

4. Go get the bat. We're not even talking about Canada as a whole, BC is insignificant. Besides, doing "the right thing" is fine, but doesn't necessarily translate into a carbon tax.

This is going to hurt most the people who can least afford it.

James Kingsley said...

Roger: Thanks for the comments. Hopefully I can clarify a few things in response.

1 a) The point of the carbon tax is to discourage the use of gas...something a gradual increase over time wouldn't be nearly as effective at accomplishing. That said, only time will tell on this one. I'm personally of the opinion that the idea behind this tax will do more to encourage new thinking/living than the actual dollar amount associated with it.

1 b) Your comment regarding buses implies they DO work for commuting from A to B. The issue is when people drive (often alone) along a bus route that would work just as well.

1 c) Bicycles are impractical for many people and downright foolish for others during a good chunk of Canada's colder seasons. All the more reason for those of us who they are practical for to get as much use as we can out of them. We can't do everything, but we also can't do nothing...

2. Agreed: inflation ain't fun at all.

3. If you re-visit my point here, you'll note that what I'm trying to say is that the "Suburban Dream" is an intangible reality for many. It's an issue of scale and reality, and while the sub-prime crisis continues south of the border I don't see the suburbs remaining as attractive as they have been in the past for long. If you can afford to live there, that's fine by me. Let's just live within our means shall we!?

And in regard to your question about who would want to live downtown, I'd counter by asking: who would want to live in the suburbs and have to send your children to school with the children of some guy who doesn't realize that racism went out of style 40 years ago?! Please, let's keep this discussion respectful.

4 a) Out vile jelly! BC is insignificant only in practical terms. Where this carbon tax etc is important is in its ability to set an example and prove to the rest of the world that something, somewhere can be done about climate change. It's now up to others to follow suit or teach us a better way to move forward.

4 b) Sorry to sound cheeky, but the very term "this is going to hurt most the people who can least afford it" is fundamentally impossible to argue against and not helpful in the least. I've heard this complaint a lot in the past few days, but I've yet to hear it mentioned alongside a specific example of how what it might ACTUALLY mean. I fully agree that there will be a lot of people greatly inconvenienced, and some gravely affected by these changes, but we're not going to be able to come to anybody's aid if we can't get more specific about how people will actually struggle to make ends meet....