Friday, June 21, 2024
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students

Resolving to save the planet

We can all relax about the environment, saving the planet was the most popular New Year’s resolution for ‘08. Oh…

By Ian Bickis , in Blogs This Business of the Environment , on January 18, 2008

We can all relax about the environment, saving the planet was the most popular New Year’s resolution for ‘08.

Oh wait, that’s not quite right. The poll was directed at shoppers, and they just resolved to “be more conscious about the environment,” which is about as meaningful as a New Year’s resolution.

Having a smaller ecological footprint is de rigueur these days, and products abound that make people feel like they’re doing their part. But are people actually willing to commit to the changes needed to make a difference?

Looking at recent initiatives, it’s not that encouraging.

The recent announcement of a possible carbon tax in B.C. has many calling it a money grab and are fiercely opposed. But there’s hope! A number of businesses, like wineries and eco-tour guides, have welcomed a carbon tax. Well, if eco-tour guides are willing to help the environment, power plants and saw mills are sure to follow.

B.C. tried to impose a vehicle levy a few years back to improve transit, but public opposition stopped it. The recent transit spending commitments have many grumbling about the money possibly coming from property tax.

Energy prices are projected to rise significantly in the next few years, in no small part from investments in the low-impact (well, lower-impact) run-of-river projects sprouting up around the province. That too has found opposition.

So, it’s great that organic food and other “green” products are gaining popularity, and people are willing to spend a little more to help the environment. But paying an extra 20 cents a pound for banannas isn’t going to save the planet.

What’s needed is significant reductions in the use of the internal combustion engine, electricity, and construction materials (specifically cement). You know, three of the main drivers of the economy and the things around which our lives are based (transportation, everything, and housing).

So enjoy feeling good about buying products in green boxes, but remember that things that come easy are rarely worth doing.


Leave a Reply