I have asthma and so I'm always acutely aware of my dependence on air to keep me alive. The curse of asthma is also a gift in that way as it is a constant reminder to me that I do not live in the environment, that the environment is in me. That everything that is in the environment will eventually find its way into my body through the air I breathe, the food I eat and the water I drink. Which is why I think about the environment a lot.
Lately those thoughts have been focused on the changes that are happening in the environment as a result of climate change. As though in a demonstration of the scientific evidence of this change, fish are moving to colder waters, birds are showing up in areas that they have never lived, and insects are moving away from the tropics toward the poles.
But this is not about the mountain of evidence that climate change is happening. This is about the fact that we citizens are at a historic moment when we not only have the understanding and the tools to mitigate the effects of climate change but we also have the opportunity to do so in a way that will simultaneously address other intractable societal problems.
Premier Christy Clark's B.C. Jobs Blueprint has a few worthy goals that, if achieved, will go a long way toward addressing both societal injustices and economic needs: a dramatic increase in tyoung people entering the trades, support for students who want to enter trades while they're still in high school, training opportunities for aboriginal students, and support for education and training for people with disabilities.
But where the plan falls apart is that it focuses on an industry that not only spews vast amounts of chemicals into our waterways but also speeds up global warming, the driver of climate change.
There is now serious doubt that a BC LNG industry will provide one million, good paying jobs as the Blueprint promises.
There are also serious concerns about the environmental damage that fracking causes to land, water and air.
Gordon Campbell, Clark's predecessor, had a "road to Damascus" moment in November 2006 when he went to Beijing to see preparations for the Olympics. Instead of being in awe of the amazing architecture, he was instead struck by the air quality. On sunny days, instead of seeing far into the horizon, it's possible to only see a few feet in front of you because of the smog.
Campbell's experience of Beijing smog led to several actions by the then B.C. Liberal government to address pollution and climate change. Did you know that the B.C. government has had an Air Quality Action Plan since 2008?
What would it take for Christy Clark to have her own "road to Damascus" moment? More Mount Polleys?
What happened to the green dream of Campbell's Liberals when our premier seems to be allowing us to be blackmailed by a multinational corporation into giving up a pristine environment in exchange for the equivalent of relative pennies?
The current B.C. government already has all the means it needs to take advantage of this historic moment. All it has to do is to implement the environmental plans that have already been published by previous provincial Liberal governments.
All that is needed for Today's BC Liberals to leave an ethical legacy is the willingness to put children, not corporations, first. Wasn't that an election promise?
Our children should be learning more about the environment, not less. One of the major flaws in the new curriculum proposed by the province is that it decreases the focus on environmental studies at precisely the time we should be increasing awareness of our impact on the environment.
If our children do not receive a good foundation in environmental literacy, how will they have meaningful discussions and debates as citizens in a democracy about what they will be witnessing in a dramatically changing environment?
Post-secondary institutions have already recognized the need for more environmental education with SFU just recently announcing the new Bachelor of Environment, the only such degree in Canada. A search on EducationPlanner.ca reveals 53 post-secondary environmental programs. These programs are what should receive the public funds earmarked for post-secondary education in the BC Jobs Blueprint.
We need to turn the Blueprint green. We need to turn away from seeing environmental destruction and low wages as the only way to build an economy.
If Germany can turn its economy around, so can we.
This week, NASA published a report showing that we have just lived through the warmest 6 months on record.
What will it take for us to recognize that there are no jobs on a dead planet?
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