Friday, February 22, 2008

Carbon Schmarbon

There seems to be a big push, especially in the last few years, in the direction of "going green" or "saving the environment". It reminds me of when I was in elementary school, being taught about the "gluts" who take a bath instead of a shower, or used the washing machine for less than a full load.

We were enthused! One day, my sisters and I went out into the park to collect up the garbage laying around. Did it help? Not really, but we didn't know it at the time. The real problem wasn't the garbage, but the people tossing it, and a few days later, there was probably as much or more than when we cleaned it up.

Now it's going to the next level. Carbon! Carbon taxes, carbon footprint, carbon emissions, carbon credits!

What does all this mean, and how does it affect you and me? Let me start by staying that I try to limit my effect on the environment when possible. I don't litter, try to recycle when I can, and don't pour paint down the sewer. The "worst" thing I do is drive my car, and considering today's society, I hardly think that can be considered bad.

Somehow, today's attitude is that the responsibility for the earth's problem is the common day to day people and their activities. I drive my car to work, therefore I am ruining the environment. Give me a break.

So, the BC government recently imposed a carbon tax of 2.4 cents per liter of gasoline. This is supposed to make me want to take transit instead of driving my car. Which would I rather do: Pay 50 cents more every time I fill up, or ride inconvenient and indirect buses packed with people? You guess.

I'm not upset over the 2.4 cents a liter. They're already taking a good chunk of money out of my pocket every way I turn, what's a few cents more? What I am unhappy about is that this is an attempt to "save the environment" when all it will really be is a big money collection and no change. I don't see money as a solution to the problem. It's a way of life, and a society built around what is currently going on.

It gets better. They're going to give every person in BC a "Climate Action Dividend" of $100 this summer. We're supposed to use it in some way for to add environmentally friendly options to our lives. I could use some CF bulbs for sure, but I can buy these anytime. What's really going to happen to the money? Most people will fill up their tank and buy some groceries.

What's the real fix? Give people good options that make sense and are easy to implement. People want to do good things, but if they are difficult or expensive, they won't. Why buy a hybrid car when it's more expensive? Why take the bus when it's less convenient? Why buy a local product that has been produced with less energy when a similar product is available at the big box store for cheap? Our lives are built around cars, convenience, and general wastefulness. We need to find a way to make our day to day lives work in such a way that they are less damaging, but still cost effective, reasonable, and comfortable.

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4 Smart Remarks:

OpenID Sciurus said...

You got the point right: the way modern life works is just not compatible with low emissions etc. I am lucky enough to live close to work. It is a 15min walk, so even taking the bike is less convenient than walking, not to talk of driving. To make things even better, my better half works also closeby. That way, we used a car maybe once a month over the last years (if we would own one it would only get towed because that seems to be the main money maker of the town).

However, as I wrote I am a lucky exception, at least concerning my carbon footprint). How likely is it to find two jobs that close together? In addition, I don't want to stay in that crappy place I rent right now forever. Life looks so much more pleasant in the suburbs - much greener, with all the trees, too, but then I would have to drive, use more heating, etc. Will I stay in the city when I can afford to move out 'just' to save the climate? Probably not.

As for the taxes, I believe that making energy more expensive is the only way to get people to reduce consumption. However, I don't believe in one-time things. I would go as far as raising gas tax every year by a fixed percentage. That way people investing in more efficient stuff can predict the impact on their bank account better.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I enjoyed this blog. I agree with what you said!!

12:22 PM  
Blogger Winer said...

I want to disagree with something in this post. I really do. But I can't. :) You've made some really good points.

Have they told us what they're doing with that 2.4 cents? How about "nothing for the environment". Instead of discouraging driving, how about ENCOURAGING other things? $2000 tax rebate when you buy a hybrid car. Transit that is cheap (what's with $5 each way 3-zone? that's $10/day commute - not to mention the hours in transit...if your bus happens to arrive when it's supposed to!)

The only thing I'll disagree-ish :) on is the "buy local". I've been trying it lately and honestly my monthly bill when buying local produce is usually no more than $10-15 than in the past. So it's something I can do without spending a lot, and feel good about. Farmer's markets are great and often even cheaper than the big box stores, but winter's harder.

Beware products from BC Hothouse. Buying them to "buy local" is a mistake since they NOW grow their produce in Mexico and Asia. WHAT? Yep. Some of it's from here, but don't be fooled by the sneaky BC stickers.

I guess I could have written my own blog article on this but it's not really related to wine at all. Turns out I had lots to say, though! ;) Thanks for yet another interesting post!

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Trooper said...

One thing that disappoints me is that the government canceled a tax rebate for fuel efficient vehicles in their latest budget. I don't understand why. It seems like something very easy to do for a conservative government that would lean towards being environmentally friendly. Kyoto is too big to concern the every day person. A tax break, now that's incentive to do the right thing!

Then again, from their perspective, it's simply money lost.

I'm looking at a car purchase now, and would buy a fuel efficient vehicle if it were cheaper. A tax rebate sure would be nice! You can buy a good amount of gas for a few thousand bucks!

3:58 PM  

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