Warming up to environmentalism

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 9, 2007 Ed Cartoon

American journalist Gwynne Dyer addressed climate change while speaking to students at The Wave Wednesday.

Among other things, Dyer claimed changing weather patterns could affect global food production and potentially lead to conflict between countries.

How aware are Canadians of climate change’s detrimental effects? More importantly, what are they willing to do about them?

Over the past decade, the media have increased their coverage of environmental issues. They have stopped discussing whether climate change exists and started focusing on its potential effects.

While the average Canadian has a general understanding of climate change and its side effects, few individuals are taking action to prevent it.

Many individuals seem to agree with the sentiments expressed in Al Gore’s environmentally engaging film An Inconvenient Truth. However, few are willing to sacrifice their SUVs and take public transportation in an effort to control climate change.

All three major Canadian political parties discuss the environment in their respective platforms and recent innovations like hybrid vehicles show businesses can align their economic and environmental interests.

While some small changes have been made, politicians and business leaders must make the environment an even greater priority in their respective agendas. Though some businesses have become more environmentally friendly, without laws forcing them to investigate alternate practices, most will continue harming the environment.

Despite these positive changes, Canada still isn’t living up to the Kyoto Protocol targets. Clearly Canadians have a long way to go if they hope to incite environmental change.

Ideally people would take it upon themselves to improve their daily practices. Realistically, breaking these habits requires imposing penalties or offering incentives.

Politicians must appeal to people’s selfish motives to incite environmentally friendly behaviour. Fining people or offering tax breaks for environmentally friendly actions may push people to change their wasteful ways.

One strategy for reducing overconsumption is creating taxes for individuals who use resources like gas and water excessively. This punishes wasteful behaviour without impeding anyone’s actions.

Promoting such policies could be difficult without losing votes and implementing them is likely more complicated than it seems.

Canadians must decide if the instant gratification they receive living wastefully is worth the potentially detrimental tradeoffs in the future.

Everyone can " and should " enhance their environmental practices to increase our longevity.

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