Sunday, August 19, 2007

Elizabeth May on "Russian Roulette"

In describing our continued dependence on cars and oil Elizabeth May, leader of Canada's Green Party, consistently warns we are "playing Russian Roulette with our life support system." I don't disagree; as a species we have certainly historically exhibited a lack of proper concern in such matters.

May implies the majority of the population are blissfully ignorant, suggesting that we are happy to consider climate change mostly as a subjective topic and not one neccessarily deserving our immediate attention. "If you were in France in the heat wave of 2003, watching the ice melt in the Western Canadian Arctic, or the water rise in New Orleans in August 2005, or British Columbia in the fires of 2004, you might well conclude that things are already pretty dangerous," states May in a recent Killam lecture.

For May to get a car when she herself knows/believes/has seen that these things are occurring boggles me.

May preaches that the planet needs to see carbon reductions of 80% by the year 2050 – which could truly only come about by an astronomical undertaking of people willing to make significant lifestyle changes. Yet for the sake of her own convenience and her political aspirations, she is now willing to become a carbon contributor rather than making a far greater statement by remaining carless and proving that it can be done successfully (albeit with some effort).

As a family we make a lot of sacrifices to live as much of a carbon neutral lifestyle as possible. One of them is that we haven't had a car in over 12 years.

I am certainly one of the early people to come to the notion that, regardless of the actual cause(s), our climate is changing and not in a positive manner. Not wanting to contribute further to this has been our motivation for a few simple lifestyle changes (recycling, water and electricity conservation, utilizing mass transit, living in a townhouse rather than a house, for example).

But the reality is that it is inconvenient. We are sacrificing.

And why? Because every little bit helps - and as more and more people make changes that will help too.

Elizabeth May has cancelled out our contribution towards a carbon neutral society. She may as well have bought a Hummer for all the real difference it makes now, optics and perception being everything in politics. The idea that not even the leader of the Green Party can live a car free life is somewhat demotivating, unpalatable and disheartening.

Screw it, I am getting a car.

No comments: