BY ETHAN KOMPF
In the current political discourse, we are usually offered a false dichotomy between the environment and the economy. Politicians give impassioned speeches about the importance of jobs and job creation, which, according to them, would suffer if we chose to focus on the environment. This is a compelling argument that people buy into because it leads them to react with fear, the ultimate motivator. Logic shows that this is a false choice, but logic stands no chance against emotion.
The reason that we don’t pass laws to protect the environment is that it would be inconvenient to big businesses, particularly the oil and gas sector. The argument goes that stricter laws will scare these companies away and Canadians will lose their jobs. However, the oil and gas sector only makes up approximately seven per cent of Alberta’s employment, and is much less in the rest of the country. At the same time, these companies are at the forefront of carbon emissions. Stricter laws will not scare away the oil and gas companies, they go where the resources are.
Failing to protect the environment is short-sighted for two reasons. In the future, countries will come to rely on non-renewable energy sources more and more. Non-renewables are running out and it is slowly becoming apparent that climate change is negatively affecting our way of life. Those countries and businesses that have pre-emptively embraced more environmentally-friendly ways of producing energy will be well ahead of those still depending on archaic methods.
It is difficult to correlate weather patterns to climate change, but there are a few which have been scientifically proven to be linked. According to Dr. Jason Thistlethwaite, an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo and director of the climate change adaptation project, there have been more floods, Canada’s most frequent natural disaster. Between 2011-2014, Canada spent approximately $6.2 billion dealing with flooding alone. The 2013 flood in Toronto cost Ontario almost a billion dollars.
We are paying for climate change one way or another. We have two options: pay less now and put policies in place to protect our world, or pay much more as we suffer the consequences of our inaction. We can do this without ruining the economy, if we begin making intelligent changes now.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.