I wrote a post recently about cycling and carbon footprints, and was chastised for being “a true granola crunching, cycling instead of driving, ‘what are you doing about your carbon footprint’ cyclist”. A “smarty pants”.
Let’s get serious for a moment. Global warning is for real. If you doubt this, I suggest you read the recent report from the The World Bank. Here are several highlights –
- The report highlights the acute threat of climate change to poor people.
- This threat can be contained through rapid and inclusive development that takes into account climate change, targeted adaptation measures, and emissions reductions efforts that protect the poor.
- Without such action, it warns climate change could push more than 100 million additional people back into poverty by 2030.
Think about that for a moment.
100 million people men, women, and children! That may not seem like a lot when you consider the world’s population is in excess of 7 billion. But that’s 3 times the population of Canada. 3 times the population of California. 1/3 of the population of the United States.
You can sit back, say this doesn’t affect me, and do nothing. Or, you can change your lifestyle to support a cleaner, healthier environment for yourself, and more importantly, the generations that follow. We have created an economy that is dependent on both the automobile and meat, the two things that are most responsible for carbon emissions. We can clean up this mess if we act now.
I didn’t begin cycling to save the planet. I began because I enjoyed it. And still do. And, I didn’t become a vegetarian to reduce carbon emissions. I changed for health reasons. The environmental and political awareness came later. Cycling taught me there is a better, more human, and healthier way to design our cities. ( Oh, how I wish I had been an architect 🙂 ) And, a plant-based diet, not only gave me more energy, but made me realize there is a more efficient way to produce and distribute the food we need.
Unfortunately, people only change when it affects their bank account. If that’s what it takes, I’m all for taxing polluters. We have had a revenue-neutral carbon tax in BC for 8 years now. Yesterday, the government of Alberta announced its intention to implement a carbon tax beginning in 2017. Today, the provincial premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada are meeting to discuss realistic, achievable emission targets. All of this is in preparation for the United Nations Convention on Climate Change later this month in Paris. Clearly, Canada has work to do, but intends to be a model for the rest of the world.
Initially, there is always resistance to change. But, as people become better informed, understand the consequences, and have viable alternatives, they adapt. What is needed is stronger, intelligent leadership. There are influential industry lobbyists supporting the continued use of fossil fuels. Against much opposition, President Obama stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, and in so doing, called the Alberta oil sands “dirty oil”. He was right. We need more global leadership like this. Hopefully, others will see the wisdom in this decision. The Canadian governments have certainly taken notice.
You don’t have to commute by bike, or eat granola to help. You can take public transit more often, walk whenever possible, and eat less meat. Eat chicken if you must. You’ll feel better, and your kids will thank you. You can also support cleaner power sources – wind, sun, battery, hydro … If you must drive, drive an energy efficient vehicle. Better still, use one of the car share facilities. Heat your home with solar panels. Turn the heat down, and put a wool sweater on. 🙂
You have heard this before, “Be part of the solution, not the problem”. Think about what you eat and how you get around. Here are a few statistics to ponder.
Read the entire diet comparison
Read the entire The Green Travel Ranking
Can you do more?
Clearly, I have over simplified the problem. There are many other factors to consider. My point is that everyone of us can be part of the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels.
Before I leave, I just same across this video. Thank you Sarai Snyder, Editor in Chief at Girl Bike Love. It is the official trailer for a new movie Bikes vs Cars from Zach Alexander on Vimeo. Watch it and you will see what I’m talking about.