Sunday, February 24, 2008

Geography of Hope

I was at the Gladstone a few days ago to see Chris Turner's slide show about his book The Geography of Hope. This was part of the This is not a Reading Series.

The standing room only crowd indicates to me that people are thirsty for his kind of message. It's too easy to feel hopeless when those in power either don't get it, don't care, or strategically ignore the climate and pollution crisis. Too many of us just feel overwhelmed and as if we're just reorganizing the deck chairs on the Titanic but Turner wants to stress that the science and the technology required to solve or significantly mitigate our problems already exist. What's lacking is the will to do something about it.

Another point he made is one with which I agree: that we have to stop preaching to the converted and start speaking to corporations in their own language. I believe that there are strong business cases to be made for environmentally responsible approaches to business. The short form of the argument is to say that The Environment is the Economy.

Some governments are catching on and they come in all political stripes. Governator Schwarzenegger of California has surprised everyone by becoming one of the greenest leaders in America. The government in BC made their province the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a carbon tax. They are shaming their next door neighbours in Alberta who are turning their province into an environmental disaster zone with the hyper-developed Tar Sands projects which are under way.

Left to their own devices both corporations and governments can do a good job of messing things up. But corporations are very skilled at bringing about rapid and efficient change. Governments need to use the levers at their disposal to create the incentives and disincentives for business and let them do what they do best. The Conservative Party in Canada seems unwilling to even treat the Environment as a serious issue. The Liberal Party talks a good game but does not seem to have the will to carry out important changes. The NDP seems to distrust business and ironically will often support dirty industries to mollify their labour constituents. The only reasonable choice for responsible action seems to lie with The Green Party.

I've been voicing my support for the Green Party for some time here in this forum and amongst friends. A federal election is just around the corner and this time around I will be volunteering to help the Green Party.


Rohan Jayasekera said...

I've been a big Green Party supporter in the past (complete with lawn signs), but I don't yet have a good handle on how interested the new leader is in working with, rather than against, market forces. Recommended reading: the Energy Probe Research Foundation's 10 principles that guide us.

JakeJakob said...

I met Elizabeth May this week at an event. At least she seems able to speak to business in their own language. I get the sense that the Party understands that business needs to be part of the solution.