Monday, June 30, 2008

Sometimes People Just Do Not Get It - The BC Carbon Tax

I was reading The Province newspaper at Starbucks this morning and found this article on the carbon tax. It includes interviews with various people to see if their lifestyles will be changing, and whether or not they will take a vacation this year. It got me thinking about what I have been doing to conserve fuel and be more sustainable.

Thanks to The Amtrak Cascades, I've saved huge amounts of fuel and kilometers on my vehicle, during numerous trips to Seattle and Portland for business and pleasure. The kicker is, this choice has greatly improved my quality of life! I arrive and depart fresh and stress free. I get loads of work done coming and going. I have time to get on my cell phone and reach out to clients and associates. Since February of this year, I have saved a conservative 8,000 kilometers on my vehicle's odometer by using the Cascades. The ticket prices have amounted to a fraction of the costs related to vehicle fuel and maintenance. My fellow passengers and I are making a huge contribution to saving the environment and conserving resources. In the coming months I will seek out other opportunities and things that I can do to continue on this course of sustainable living. But each little step seems to yield big results.

I wondered why people have gone from paying $1.25/per liter to $1.45/per liter, while basically continuing to tool down the highway. Now suddenly, Premier Gordon Campbell is equivalent to satin himself, as the carbon tax will add a petty 2.34 cents /per liter to the cost of our gasoline. Suddenly the sky is falling down, people cannot take vacations, and we are now dispatched to Carbon Tax Hell. Not thought to the amount of money we will get to keep in tax savings.

Are these people from Mars or what? Get real folks! The rest of the world has realized long ago that times have changed. You can deny global warming all you want, but please take a look at the changing world around you. I too used to enjoy the independent ride in my car and the open road. But as the Premier rightly pointed out, we have all been part of the problem and not the solution. We behave as if oil is an endless resource and we can leave future generations to find their own solutions. I am guilty. You are guilty.

I believe the carbon tax will allow people to STOP and think for a short period of time. For me, its all worth it. It is also causing some people to make decisions for the betterment of society and that is another good thing. I'd like to see our government show some innovation now and reactivate the interurban as communities around the globe are doing. I'd love to see streetcars down the Fraser Hwy. and up 200th Street. I long for the day when I can board a streetcar at my office and ride it down 200th to my favorite Starbucks, leaving my vehicle behind. When will we see meaningful options that allow us to park the cars and develop a new love affair with energy-efficient Light Rail and streetcars?

I also read that the Conference Board of Canada has issued its new report card to Canada. I'm thankful that this group doesn't sugar-coat the results and tells it like it is. We got a "C" for our care of the Environment, or 15th out of 17 nations for our poor performance in greenhouse gas emissions, smog, and waste generation. We generate more waste per person than any other country. Only Australia produces greater per capita greenhouse gas emissions.

Sadly, we got a "D" for Innovation. Oh Canada, why? We are told that we have some of the brightest minds and technology at our disposal. Yet this report card goes on to say,

"It's a "myth" that Canada has one of the highest living standards in the world, the board said, noting that living standards here have fallen to ninth in the world from fourth in 1990, citing as other myths the idea that Canada has a highly educated population and that it is a world leader in science and technology. The BlackBerry is the exception, not the rule, it said. Over seven million Canadians do not have the literacy skills to cope with the demands of everyday life and work in modern society."

I'm thankful for opinionated people. Despite my living and working around the world, I have never met more opinionated and passionate "for the cause people" than here in Canada. But if all this talk and rhetoric does not lead to innovation and change, then why waste your breath? I long for innovation and more sustainable choices. How about you?

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