Thursday, June 22, 2006


This is a follow-up to my posting last week about climate change. In that post I expressed skepticism that we'll ever really get our act together on that issue, in part because the general public isn't sufficiently motivated, both in Canada and globally.

There's a part of me that feels we should be channelling our efforts into addressing more local and more tangible issues such as smog.

Smog is undoubtedly affecting people in the present tense. It's a serious, visible problem in our major cities. When I travel, I can literally taste the poor air quality on my return to Toronto.

There are steps that governments could take to address this issue, and I wonder if this is the sort of thing us green people should be pushing for?

In some ways this plays into the Conservatives' hands. Their platform has taken on overtones of "Why worry about climate change when we can get results in REAL problems instead?" What I wrote above seems to echo this.

I don't want to support the shirking of our climate change responsibilities. But in the world of realistic outcomes, forcing the Conservatives to get serious results on issues like smog is a lot better than letting them shirk Kyoto and also pay mere lip service to other issues.


At 8:46 AM, Blogger Greg said...

You are right, it does play into the Conservatives' hands. They are trying to confuse the two issues so that people think they are addressing CO2 emissions, when they will not be. Every time the NDP gets up to ask about CO2, Rona Ambrose will say they have passed a "Clean Air Act" (this is assuming they even do that much). It is a cynical move, worthy of the Liberals.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger KevinG said...

It's easy to think of this as a defeatist's approach and I sat on my response for a few days.

There really is much more to do than just reducing CO2 emissions. Overall, I would like to see a reduction in our footprint -- the amount of energy we use, the amount of resources we consume, the amount of pollution and GHG we produce -- to a long term sustainable level.

Right now GHG gasses and climate change get a lot of press and is pretty high in the public consciousness. That's a good thing but at times it tends to swamp the other real issues.

From a pragmatic perspective, if we know the CPC is going to produce some smog reduction plans then it it makes sense to focus on that to achieve the best possible environmental policy.

It's not an either or choice though. We should expect and demand progress on multiple fronts. Helping to achieve good results in one area -- and applauding those results -- needn't buy any goodwill in other areas.

I'd also point out something I'm sure you know: while the two issues of smog and GHG reductions are separate, there is a fair amount of overlap. Public transport infrastructure, cleaner electrical energy sources, reduced energy consumption etc.


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