Posted by bobin Articles
Published in Come on In!, Moncton, N.B.
|I was shocked! Shocked I say! So much so that I had to pull my “gas guzzling” pick-up truck to the side of the highway so I could wipe the tears from my eyes. I was overcome by the news alert I had just heard blaring over my radio. Occupants of passing cars must have wondered why the Santa look alike in the foreign vehicle was in hysterics.
|“News Alert,” the voice on the radio blurted out, “United States President, George W. Bush has just acknowledged that Global Warming exists!” shouted the excited reporter. “However, China has resisted reductions in emissions, arguing that it is still a developing country and needs to balance environmental improvements while maintaining economic growth,” the reported continued. “The Group of 8 Summit, in Germany, has just awarded poorer nations around the world, $350 million if they will curb their irresponsible deforestation programs,” he went on. “Hostess of the Summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a physicist, assured the Group of 8 attendees that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had already made a conditional pledge to support world wide emissions controls,” concluded the reporter. “We now return you to our regular schedule of programs,” said the deep baritone voice buried deep inside the dashboard of my car.
|Just imagine, we have arrived at the year 2007 and the world is awakening to the fact that their might be a problem on planet earth.
|The Group of 8, or maybe they should be called the Group of the Naïve, are the most industrialized nations in the world; (Canada, United States, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and France) and together they are responsible for the majority of the world’s air pollution… until now!
|While President Bush won’t endorse the Kyoto Accord on carbon emission controls, he proudly informed the Summit attendees that American industry has been instructed to “voluntarily” reduce carbon and chemical emissions into the atmosphere. However, in the interest of truth and fairness, G.W. is not the only cowboy wearing a black-hat while minimizing the crisis confronting God’s Green Earth.
|Scientists have determined that by the year 2020, the newest major player in our booming global economy, China, will use four times more coal than the U.S. and dwarf the United States carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Apparently, the hundreds of millions of oppressed worker bees in China’s slave labour pool need more power to fuel their less adequate manufacturing machines.
|A recent study disclosed that China is opening two new coal burning energy plants a week to meet these needs. Unfortunately, for us, it does not appear that any world leader has the gallstones to demand that China consider the impact of its projected pollution emissions. And why should it? No one else is taking the issue seriously.
|As a matter of fact, my fellow Canadians, we are not without shame! "Canada is the homeland of the world’s worst polluter!"
|According to a recent study of the world’s leading industrial nations, the by-products from the oil sands being processed at Fort McMurray, Alberta are the single biggest polluter in the world. Ouch!
|The Group of 8 has determined that growing Third World economies like India, Korea, Brazil, and especially the Congo and the island of Madagascar should be awarded huge amounts of money “IF” they will refrain from their massive deforestation programs. The latter two are using clear-cutting (like our logging companies in New Brunswick do) and massive burning programs to eliminate millions of acres of once virgin timberland. The fall-out from these massive deforestation programs (burning) and fossil fuel burning energy plants are carried on trans-global winds eventually ending-up on and in the pristine shores and waterways of New Brunswick.
|I was recently babysitting two of my six grandchildren, at their home in Hollywood, California and was surprised to learn that most of the pollution and smog in the area is not a product of the daily bumper to bumper traffic and the millions of cars travelling the roads and freeways of Southern California but Asian pollution collecting on the western edge of the coastal mountain ranges along the pacific coastline from Mexico to Alaska. Ultimately, this poison laden concoction ends-up being deposited in the pristine waterways in New Brunswick. This condition is compounded by our own lack of respect for the environment and our contribution to the growing problem called Global Warming. Melting Ice Caps, rising water temperatures (3 degrees higher in Caraquet Bay in 2006 over 2005), rising sea levels, expanding ozone holes over the poles, and waterways filled with PCB’s and other carcinogens are a recipe for disaster.
|Once again we are confronted with the age old question; “What do we do now?” First, we must become pro-active! We must stop pointing the finger of blame at others and accept responsibility for our own lack of attention to the problem. When I was a lad I was reminded that every time I pointed the finger of blame at someone else I had three fingers pointing back at me. I was also reminded that my idealism was somewhat naïve and regardless of how hard I tried I would not change the world BUT I could have an impact on my little corner of it if I chose to embark on the adventure. Making this choice is the most difficult of any you will make in your lifetime. It requires you to become informed and once you possess the knowledge you are required to act upon it.
|Therefore, let’s begin with an introspective look at our province and how we can become pro-active contributors of change. Why can’t we become a model for the rest of Canada? North America? The world? If we, collectively and comprehensively, resolve our own problems we become a united body of concerned and unselfish citizens in our corner of the universe.
|Starting at home what do we intend to do with: Energy New Brunswick’s Belledune power plant ( 3.2 megatons green house gas emitter [GHG] per year), and other provincial polluters; The Irving Oil refinery in St. John (3.3 megatons of GHG); the Coleson Cove power plant (2.9 megatons); and the Dalhousie power plant (1.6 megatons). Three of these polluters are answerable to the Premier through his surrogate Energy New Brunswick. Therefore we must ask the question, “What will the Graham Government do to clean-up its own house as an example of stewardship for the rest of us?”
|David Coon, head of the New Brunswick Conservation Council applauds Premier Graham’s efforts to correct the pollution problem in New Brunswick. However, I question Coon’s support of the Government’s use of a band aide to cover a major wound oozing enormous amounts of polluted puss.
|Let me present my idea of a pro-active Global Warming Reduction Plan:
|The first question any logical human would ask is “How much will it cost?” The answer is a relatively simple one: “How much are we willing to pay for life?”
|If the Provincial and Federal governments were to place a moratorium on further power plant or refinery construction would we be willing to pay the price in increased fuel costs? Or rationing? Perhaps we should consider a Research and Development assessment (tax) on all licensed drivers to help pay for new discoveries in pollution emission controls? Home owners or communities could demand to receive a tax credit if they erect solar panels or energy producing wind turbines in their back yards or communities! Maybe the government could give willing home owners substantial grants or no interest loans to convert the inefficient insulation in their homes to more energy efficient ones? Imagine that, home owners could not only generate their own energy but sell their excess to the power companies for a profit. Unfortunately among us are a number of purists who will scream, “Not in my back yard!” and argue that too many of these energy producing machines constitute an eye sore and detract from the aesthetics of the neighbourhood. As future new home buyers are we willing to pay premium for a home that meets the new standards for energy efficiency?
|Maybe our local insurance companies will join our unselfish effort? Isn’t it in their best interest to reduce our car and home premiums if we go “green”? One way might be to limit driving privileges to those under 21? School and after school work programs only. After all, aren’t adolescents the cause of more accidents and excessive fuel consumption than any other group?
|Why not introduce a well managed and mandatory car pooling program within our cities? California has carpool lanes (two or more occupants only please) and they get where their going ahead of the crowd, too. In my plan, employees who carpool to work, three or more per car, would be entitled to drive into the inner city without penalty. All others would be required to park at mass transit depots and embark on a free transit system that travels exclusively within the city limits. Employers and employees would jump at this opportunity. You car pool to the drop-off sites, hop aboard your spacious “contemplation trolley,” resplendent with TV monitors carrying business and up-to-date news, and reclining seats with built in head phones carrying “your” kind of motivational music, air conditioning and a customer service representative ready willing and able to provide free re-turn able umbrellas and rain gear for those less than perfect days, and embarkation and debarkation assistance when requested. Et voila, in no time you arrive at your destination relaxed, refreshed and far more productive that you would if you had to fight morning traffic and compete for a parking space.
|Economically, you win; your fuel costs are reduced by 2/3rds or more, so you are earning money. You are reducing carbon emissions and improving the air quality. You are more productive at the office. You are home and at work on a regular schedule. You are a more compatible companion for your spouse, and a better parent; less rattled, tired and frustrated…….let’s hear it for the next generation! By becoming more unselfish, you have reduced the chances for road rage, there will be fewer accidents, lower insurance costs, and a more compatible population of workers and co-workers every day…..utopia? We could also impose a “Pay for Use” assessment on all provincial inter-urban roads. You use them, you pay for them! Politicians were afraid to impose this sanction a few years ago but Premier Graham should “Just Do It” and get it over with. Once we establish our revised plan, we will be ready to address our present problems.
|Why will my approach be considered “Back-ass-wards” by some? Simple, if we do not set our goals for a revised approach for cleaner air and a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere, we will find ourselves mired in the muck of yesterday while trying to plod our way to tomorrow. However, do we have the intestinal fortitude to demand that our elected public servants get down to business (eliminating all political interference) of solving the problems before us, NOW? Are we the people, as the ruling government, prepared to force industry and government bodies to join with us, in a mutual effort, or allow them to remain chattels of high powered lobbyists and unsympathetic multinationals? With all we know, if we are not prepared to get serious, now, we’ll go on killing ourselves slowly and leaving nothing but a polluted, sickening environment for our children and future generations to come. If we don’t move creatively now then maybe we will be forced into adopting some of the extreme proposals of the Green Peace organization, the Hemlock gang, insurance companies and other groups that espouse forced population sterilization, euthanizing the elderly (that’s our generation), those who pose a burden on our economic system, and those requiring medical attention after their productive years have passed them by.
|I consider our culture one of contradictions! We want life but espouse death. We want clean water but continue dumping PCB’s and Mercury poisons into it. We want wholesome foods but continue feeding our meat providers and spraying our crops with chemicals. We crave clean air but keep pouring contaminants into the atmosphere. We want someone else to lead instead of becoming leaders ourselves. Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was read a story entitled, “Bad things happen when good people do nothing!” If the shoe fits, and it does, we should not wait any longer we must take-up the mantel of change and urgently press forward to Save Ourselves Soon, by saving our corner of the world or assume the fetal position and accept the inevitable outcome.
|The passers-by, gawking at me in my truck, wiping tears from my eyes thought I was laughing uncontrollably when in fact I was wrought with frustration and disgust in a world that cares not for itself. Lets show that we can and will make a difference!