The Anthropocene, or the Capitalocene, is upon us, like a lumbering giant destroying Downtown Vancouver in its wake, especially for the collective global future to come very soon. British Columbia needs rapid action on transition to renewable energy source. Climate change is a global issue. By implication, it has national and provincial impacts, which means that British Columbia at large is impacted, too. British Columbians by being Canadians have responsibilities to the international community because Canada has responsibilities to the international community. Outside of the international responsibilities, there are individual choices as well. Lifestyle and policy voting are important. All factors and motions for sustainability matter.
We need to work to end carbon emissions as much as possible, as fast as possible, with transitions to renewable energies. We need to get away from fossil fuel sources in Canada, and British Columbia by implication. Individuals can vote for a carbon tax that can mean a national policy can reflect this. Governments function on the ‘will’ of the people. That means the consistent voting and activism. That’s how all change ever happens: through individuals getting together for collective efforts. There has been progress, but more needs to be done by us. One possible major solution is a provincial call for a price on carbon emissions, which can come in many forms.
There can be investments for massive public transportation that can reduce the amount of net carbon emissions by citizens within the province in addition to providing the needed infrastructure for the 21st-century. We can invest in a ‘Green Culture’ and a low-carbon infrastructure. There should be efficient vehicles with regulated standards. It can be expanded to other products consumers are buying.
Residents within British Columbia can travel in more efficient ways by using cars less. There are many options: taking more walks, riding a bike, taking the train, riding the bus, and so on. This may create problems for some high travel people. However, for others, and in fact probably most, it can be done. Through responsible, considerate, and conscientious decisions about transportation, we can reduce the net carbon emissions of all residents within the province.
Human activity is the main problem. The climate began to warm rapidly at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. High hydrocarbon producing fuel sources are a problem. Energy sectors depend on them for sustained economic growth and activity. I say this in sympathy for the difficulties to make such transition, for the employees, the managers, the businesses, and the communities built largely around them. However, with the Anthropocene/Capitalocene epoch present before us, and with massive species extinctions happening, we do not have another choice about avoiding the outcomes of this problem.
We do have choices about the means through which to do it. We are lucky. There are many, many options on the table. Canadian industry creates 35% of Canada’s net greenhouse gases, which is quite a lot. Furthermore, small numbers of industries create most emissions. Things like oil and gas extractors are some of the largest contributors, which comes to about 38% of that 35% of industry.
The simplest solution to become involved: get educated. Education at the individual level with provincial assistance is one way to keep things moving forward. It will take all of us together, but depends on individual effort for oneself and in inspiring others. This can be done at the individual level by going to your local library or bookstore to find and read books that have relevant and reliable information about climate change and sustainability. Business people can incorporate the readings and knowledge into the business practices of whatever business you have. So this can be both short- and long-term with respect to implementation. There can also be intervention in the economy through tax.
A carbon tax is the typical term for it: pricing carbon emissions to incentivize governments, and provincial and local, to transition into the future energy sector. This can facilitate the incentives of movement towards a renewable economy and infrastructure across the province. These are some possible solutions. What will happen if we do not implement any possible solutions? There will be many negative effects, such as a negative effect on water sources. A world, or a province for that matter, scarce in fresh water can create tensions among communities and adversely affect health.
This is because water connects to both the food and the health of communities and individuals. It is the lifeblood of an ecosystem. For example, water quality, air quality, food quality, and so on, impact lung health, gut health, and so on. For those with children, this can affect their health as well. For those with community-oriented minds, this means one’s own health, as well as one’s neighbours, children, and grandchildren. In a broader sense of family, this affects the family of British Columbia. In that light, it both can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
The individual and provincial responsibilities form an interconnected system of responsibilities from individual self-education and provincial educational programs and everything in between. To flatter ourselves, this includes youth-oriented organizations such as Check Your Head through writing about topics of importance to current, upcoming, and soon-to-exist generations. Education is an act, but it is not activism. Education with an impact can be the catalyst. That’s where things begin. Individuals are inspired to act, make further impacts, and make the necessary changes.
By Scott Douglas Jacobsen
* All views expressed in this blog post belong to the author and don’t necessarily reflect the views of CYH.