Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Sinking Politics

I’ve recently attended two events addressing sea level rise due to climate change, bringing together experts and municipal government representatives to discuss adaptation strategies.

Sea level rise is scary, no matter how you look at it. The most conservative estimates say 1.2 m in 100 years – others are much more draImagematic. In any case, it will translate into a lot of flooding, storms, and billions of dollars being poured into infrastructure. There are climate change adaptation teams on municipal councils.

So what’s baffling me is this – how is it that our local governments are acknowledging this and making moves to adapt to it, and yet our federal government is pouring money and energy into propping up, encouraging, and enabling the fossil fuel industry, making it ever easier for them by removing legal and administrative barriers.

It’s like one parent agreeing with the doctor that their child has severe obesity related illness, and the other parent actively encouraging the kid to consume cakes, soda and chips, telling the kid that it’s good for them.

The contradiction for me is frightening and maddening. Today, when an ad on the CBC came on for the Canadian Government Economic Action Plan (note: comments are disabled. I guess they don’t want anyone pointing out anything controversial). In the ad, they tell me how we are developing our natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way. The only word that pops into my head is propaganda. What else can it be, when the government tells us one thing, but we know that scientists are being muzzled, and broad sweeping changes are being made to regulations to reduce environmental protection. Our government is joining a very unpleasant list of governments that wants its citizens to believe one thing, when the reality is quite different.

I’m angry. I’m angry that my own government is selling out my future and that of future generations in the name of economic development. I’m angry that our electoral system ensures that my voice is not heard. All the money we’re making off the tarsands development better be going into a pretty good savings plan, because Hurricane Sandy will not be the last major disaster to hit the Western world. We’ve been watching it happen to poor nations for a long time, but now, we’re going to reap what we sowed.

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day. I hadn’t really thought about World Water Day specifically before, but when I was listening to my daily BBC podcast today, I was rather surprised and frustrated when their mention of World Water Day was accompanied by a story about a man who turned his life around through the sale of bottled water.

I’m pretty sure bottled water is high on the list of bad for water issues. See my favourite video (yes, I’ve posted it before).

Water is an issue around the world. Here in Canada, we are blessed with ample, clean water. But many people take this for granted. Canada is 2nd only to the USA for water wasting. And apparently the Canadian government has decided that we don’t need to worry too much about protecting our water. On an individual scale, I see people every day who leave the water running while they scrub their one plate in the office kitchen, or who turn the washroom tap on full blast, leaving it on while they dry their hands with a paper towel, just so they can turn the tap off with the towel. (Don’t even get me started on the germ-phobia around here… but maybe it’s just because I’ve lived in Africa that I’m not bothered by germs. I also don’t get sick these days nearly as much as most people around me. Go figure.)

For the 6 months that I lived in rural northern Cameroon, my house, though built for it, did not have running water. I would pay my 8 year old neighbour to take my 2 40L water containers on his cart to get drinkable water from a tap about a couple blocks away, and hauled my non drinking water out of the compound well. Which was perfectly fine, I’m not complaining. And for a year, I lived where I had running water, but it would mysteriously be shut off most days between 8am and 2pm, and often all weekend. It gave me an appreciation, though, for how lucky we are to turn on our taps, and have clean, drinkable water come out at any given time. Can you imagine your water just being shut off for the day?

Next time you flush the toilet, just think about how much water (drinkable water, no less) just got used. Or when you leave that tap running for 2 minutes just waiting for the water to be cold enough to drink, think about that. If you just think about it, consider it, then next time, chances are, you’ll make more of an effort to conserve.

Water is not infinite. It’s worth taking care of. Where would we be without it?

Waterfall near Whistler, BC.