Climate change wish list

EARTHFUTURE by Guy Dauncey

Back in June, I invited Common Groundreaders to send me their best ideas on how to tackle global warming. You responded and I will forward them to the Premier, as promised. Your responses were mostly quite achievable, if we could only organize the political support to make them a reality. You had visions of wind turbines along the road from Hope to Agassiz and along the west coast of Vancouver Island. You wanted to see high school automotive programs that convert cars to electricity and initiatives to reduce the number of cars in urban areas, coupled with far more investment in public transit, biking and walking.

You wanted all new houses to be built with solar hot water on the roof, efficient light bulbs and a single switch that turns off all non-essential lights and appliances when you leave the building. You wanted incentives to be available for people to install solar panels, as there are in Germany, and in areas with water-shortages, you wanted all new houses to be built with Earthship technologies that save water and energy.

You wanted people to use smaller washing machines and super-efficient dual flush toilets. You wanted the exercise machines in gyms to be equipped to generate energy and you wanted education and legislation that would encourage people to eat a more vegetarian and vegan diet, with more local food. You expressed the desire for a spiritual revolution to convince people that they don’t need all their swimming pools, second and third cars and fancy imported clothes.

Stepping outside, you wanted to see people planting zillions of trees along our highway corridors, boulevards and medians, in industrial parks and in their own gardens. You made the intelligent point that it’s a whole lot cooler under trees and with hotter summers coming, it only makes sense to plant more of them, especially since trees store carbon.

You expressed support for a carbon tax, but you preferred that we use the income to pay for free home audits and subsidies for solar equipment and other carbon-reducing measures, rather than giving it back as a tax-break.

Moving up the scale towards the bigger issues, you wanted BC to stop drilling for oil and gas, leaving it in the ground for a future day when technology will have advanced and it can be burnt in a carbon-free manner.

You also wanted BC to stop exporting coal from Roberts Bank and Prince George until carbon sequestration technology is available. How can we go on mining and selling coal while claiming that we want to stop global warming? It’s like being publicly opposed to slavery while continuing to sell slaves on the side.

These are challenging thoughts that make total sense, even if they require us to ask how we would retrain the 3,000 workers in BC’s coal industry, compensate the companies and help the coal-mining communities build new, more sustainable economies.

Looking further afield, you want to see a country-wide Canadian Energy Grid built that could help make Canada self-sufficient in energy without the need for fossil fuels, nuclear power or the Tar Sands, using green electricity to expand light rapid transit, high speed trains and electric vehicles, with local manufacturing of solar, tidal and wind turbines.

Looking immediately ahead, you suggested that the Olympic Games be either cancelled or scaled down, making it an athletes-only games with a far smaller carbon footprint, as part of a message to the public that we need to engage with far more seriousness in tackling climate change.

How can all this be done? You called for a coalition government to be formed with the New Democrats so that we can begin working together to plan the scale of popular mobilization that is needed.

Around the world, many of these things are beginning to happen, but oh, on such a small scale and in so few places. What will it take for the whole world to wake up and realize not only how excruciatingly urgent the climate agenda is, but how amazing the task of rebuilding our world will be, as we fashion a sustainable world beyond fossil fuels? We sit on the cusp of such an incredible future – or such a disaster.

Guy Dauncey is the publisher of the free, monthly newsletter, EcoNews; sign up to receive it at www.earthfuture.com.

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