Walk Softly

A couple of columns ago I started a dialogue about climate and how we could and should react to it. As I think more and more about it, I become more confused rather than enlightened as I strive to learn more about the issue and the proposed solutions. I have a few questions that trouble me:

If we should reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in our cars by driving less, why do we keep building newer, bigger and faster roads? Isn’t this counter-productive? Shouldn’t we keep fewer roads in worse condition, but better transit routes so we are forced to choose the better alternative?

Why is transit so expensive? If we want everyone to commute by public transit, why isn’t it more affordable? The problem is that transit is run like a ‘for profit’ business. It is not just about greening, it’s really more about greenbacks! Look at what’s happening to our Go Transit service in north Durham. It’s being drastically cut. Why? Economics–as simple as that–the bottom line doesn’t justify the cost. If we are expected to be serious about climate, why isn’t the government?

We speak almost daily now about single-use plastics – this is good. Growing awareness about the impacts of these materials is so important to providing a solution. But here’s the rub. We don’t actually know what to do and how to do it. So we jump on a bandwagon. Many fast-food outlets provide paper straws now–good for them! But, the lid on the drink container is a single-use plastic, and the cup is often coated so it is leak proof but not readily recyclable. Why is that? Why can’t they make paper lids? I bought some hardware items the other day. The weight of the plastic wrapping outweighed the things I was buying. Why? If you look into this a bit and you might be surprised to know that much of the packaging has little to do with protecting the items you’re buying. Rather, the packaging is all about advertising, preventing theft and sometimes making a tiny, expensive item look bigger so we don’t feel so bad about the cost.

Now in fairness, I find some stores ask me if I want a bag for my purchases and some of them are stocking some items in bulk and unwrapped. When I was growing up, we went to a hardware store and could buy a bag of unboxed nails or screws or nuts or washers or myriad other items. We simply chose the amount we wanted, weighed them and marked on the bag what they were and paid for them at the cash. Why can’t we go back to that? We do that with fruits and veggies. Why do I have to pay $9 for a small box of nails that has a plastic window so I can see the nails? Again plastics and unnecessary wrapping.

What exactly is a climate emergency? It is not actually defined but is more a concept we have to do something and do it fast. That may be a good thing, but random acts without focus serve little purpose. One of the federal party leaders is suggesting we think globally when trying to manage climate change. He says we should use our technology and knowledge to help others in need so we can all benefit globally yet he is mocked by many. Why? I don’t think it’s because he’s wrong–in fact he is right in my opinion. We can’t solve the world’s problems on our own soil because it is a global issue. What’s happening is that politicians, who are telling us what to do, really have no idea, but are still willing to pound the table and say their way is the only way. That’s not a good way to fight a global issue.

I intend to write one more instalment in this series to shed some insights on what we might be able to do to help our world be a better place. Please stay tuned!

Geoff Carpentier is a published author, expedition guide and environmental consultant. Visit Geoff on-line at www.avocetnatureservices.com and on LinkedIn and Facebook.