The devastation which Hurricane Sandy visited on the American east coast has generated a lot of attention. So did Hurricane Katrina. But neither storm appears to have spurred legislators into action. And, in Canada, inaction is the name of the game. Matt Horne writes that, when the opposition proposed a nine cents a litre tax on gasoline, John Baird rose in the house and claimed that the tax would kill Canadian families:
That nine cents per litre — less than a dollar a day for the average Canadian family — could be the signal that helps flip the tables in favour of clean energy and gives government the resources it needs to invest in that transition. Applied to all fossil fuel combustion, the equivalent of nine cents a litre would raise $20 billion a year in government revenues.
When the government cheerfully announced it was withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol last year, it did so under the pretence of helping Canada’s economy. This conclusion ignored the simple fact that no economy does well when it is ravaged by storms, droughts and other extreme weather events. Canada’s true economic interest lies in finding global solutions to global warming — not in turning our back on the rest of the world.
Instead of trumpeting unfettered expansion of oilsands pipelines and mines, we need an economic vision based on a clean energy future for this country. Instead of allowing dirty coal-fired power plants to pollute the atmosphere until the middle of the century, we need to rapidly shift to the cleaner alternatives available today. Instead of squabbling over transit investments, we have to find ways to mobilize the necessary capital that will give people more reasonable, affordable options to leave their cars at home.
Baird's reaction was not surprising. The oil industry owns the Conservative Party of Canada. And, if the governing party gets its way, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and their vengeful sisters will continue to kill all kinds of people.
One way or another, we're going to have to pay. The sooner we begin paying, the less the bill will be.
This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.