And you question global warming …

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I’m watching

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.

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Read the entire diet comparison

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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.

🙂

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9 thoughts on “And you question global warming …

  1. You’re still a granola crunching hippy.

    Look man, or should I say Mann, we could get into “hide the decline” and the persistent changing of the temperature readings and temperature outposts to make global warming appear to be a reality but there’s a much simpler fix… When you were in your 20’s they were worrying about global cooling and the impending ice age. Remember? Well, CFC’S were to blame. We got rid of them and now we have global warming. The answer is to phase CFC’S back in if you follow the logic.

    I, on the other hand, am a true believer in the good that is global warming. The most prosperous times in human existence have historically been during warm periods, so anyone who says that prosperity will increase poverty, I find suspect. It makes more sense that they’re just lining up at the cash trough.

  2. Oh, and just because I ribbed you doesn’t mean I like you any less. I hope you didn’t take it personally. My wife is a granola crunching hippy and I care for her immensely. I just think she’s too close to the kool-aid barrel.

  3. 🙂 Love the clip in the video from political heavyweight Rob Ford… Seriously though. You could also point to the recent spate of articles that have been linking climate change and terrorism. Following that logic more cycling=less terrorism, thus affirming my long held assertion that bike riding will save the world.

  4. A well written post, thank you for this. Oh, and don’t be put off by bgddyjim’s “the earth must be flat, otherwise we’d all fall off” mentality. Unfortunately, that level of misunderstanding of science will always be with us.

    I’d just like to add a couple of points. Many of us, myself included, live in poorly planned cities where public transport and the means to cycle safely are overlooked. Also, the rise of large supermarkets has seen the end of small, neighbourhood stores where people could walk to, and buy a carry-able load of groceries. So we now have a situation where even if we need to do something as basic as go fetch some food, we are forced into taking a car. And short trips in a car are the most fuel inefficient of all.

    Systems determine behaviour, and cities are a system. When they are poorly planned, or planned to maximise profits at the cost of people’s well-being, we all suffer.

    We can’t all be town-planners and city designers. But if we are lucky enough to live in a democracy, we must consider these factors when voting for our local governments. If someone doesn’t support public transport and safe facilities for people to walk and cycle – vote ‘em out.

    Personally, as a cycling enthusiast, I enjoy the challenge of getting from A to B on a bike at every possible opportunity. But I acknowledge that not everyone shares that enthusiasm or is capable of doing so. So therefore civic leaders must provide means for people to get around in ways that eliminate or at least minimise the burning of fossil fuels for transport.

    Cheers
    Michael

    • Thanks Michael.

      I am fortunate to live in a city with a progressive, cycling-friendly local government that has been responsible for enlarging the city’s cycling network, building dedicated bike lanes throughout the downtown, and increasing the number of traffic calmed streets within the network. As a result, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyclists over the past 10 years. It illustrates the importance of a supportive infrastructure.

  5. Pedal, my partner spent his entire career working for a national Canadian oil firm. Also with an engineering degree. So really, I hear from him directly just how defensive people are about carbon footprints. Meanwhile I work in Canada’s oil – now depressed province.. Rather interesting with NDP prov. premier who wants to lead on reducing carbon footprint, etc.

    • Jean, I understand many jobs, particularly in Alberta, are affected. The transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable but this will lead to other opportunities in cleaner technologies. We will continue to produce oil in this country, just less of it.

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