How much are whiter teeth and smoother skin worth to you? Are they worth the water and fish in the Great Lakes? If you use the myriad other creatures the seas support? If you use personal care products such as exfoliators, body scrubs and toothpastes containing microbeads, those are the costs you could be paying.
When former federal cabinet minister David Dingwall was questioned about a generous buyout package he received in 2006, his oft-quoted reply was, "I am entitled to my entitlements." It caused much outrage. But as the biblical expression goes, let whoever is without sin cast the first stone, because perhaps we're all a bit guilty of entitlement.
Climate change is a critically important issue for the economy. The Clean Economy Alliance, which launched Wednesday, has united under some common principles to support Ontario's commitment to climate action and to make some suggestions for how the province should proceed. We've come together because addressing climate change can benefit our economy, and failing to address climate change would be very costly. Climate change has been called the single largest threat to the global economy, which is why the World Bank says a four-degree world must be avoided.
American and Canadian transit opponents paint themselves as populist supporters of the common people, a tactic also used against carbon pricing. They fail to note that poor and middle class families will benefit most from public transit and other sustainable transportation options. To reduce pollution and address global warming, we must do everything we can, from conserving energy to shifting to cleaner energy sources. Improving transportation and transit infrastructure is one of the easiest ways to do so while providing more options for people to get around.
Despite a long history of the impossible becoming possible, often very quickly, we hear the "can't be done" refrain repeated over and over -- especially in the only debate over global warming that matters: What can we do about it? Climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry apologists often argue that replacing oil, coal and gas with clean energy is beyond our reach. The claim is both facile and false.
Changing the way we move through cities is a critical step in reducing carbon emissions. The most direct way to accomplish this is to provide urbanites with reliable alternatives to automobile travel. A two-car household that replaces one vehicle with alternative transportation can cut its annual emissions by 10 per cent.
Mining is important to human well-being, but the current economic system means it's often aimed at maximizing profit with little regard for people or the environment. It's one area where Canadians can make a difference. Canadian mining companies haven't always had a great record for environmental and social responsibility in communities where they operate -- but public scrutiny and pressure may be helping to change that.
While Winnipeg residents enjoy clean water, the people of Shoal Lake 40 suffer from substandard water. It's an abrogation of the basic right of all Canadians to have access to clean, safe drinking water. The fact that such deplorable conditions persist in places like Shoal Lake, and in hundreds of other First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities across Canada, is a national shame and must be resolved immediately.
Society as a whole saw jobs created, collected tax dollars and bore at least some of the blame, for the harm caused by both tobacco and asbestos. And yet this did not absolve the manufacturers of responsibility for the damage caused by their product. So yes, we are all responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but fossil fuel companies are much more responsible.
The approved EA measures are very complex, and will include freezing in place the huge underground dumps of arsenic trioxide which pose the greatest health risk. It is likely to take 25 years to freeze it all. The freezing system will have to be actively operated, forever. The arsenic will stay poisonous -- it does not improve with time.
The idea of a right to a healthy environment is getting traction at Canada's highest political levels. Federal Opposition MP Linda Duncan recently introduced "An Act to Establish a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights" in Parliament. If it's passed, our federal government will have a legal duty to protect Canadians' right to live in a healthy environment.
So how do we ensure that all Canadians have the right to enjoy clean air and water and healthy food? We could follow the lead of more than half the world's nations and enshrine the right to a healthy environment in our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's one of the goals of the Blue Dot Tour
When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an "extremely rare" occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here. He failed to mention the 46 "dangerous or unusual occurrences" that B.C's chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites.
Those who don't outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can't or shouldn't do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, "No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country." But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are putting jobs and economic prosperity at risk, according to recent studies.
Although the conservation challenge is daunting, nurturing functioning ecosystems offers hope. Healthy oceans ensure we can continue to enjoy seafood -- and they're more resilient to increasing human impacts. If the global fishing industry wants to ensure its survival, it should advocate for marine ecosystem conservation.
Climate change is an environmental crisis like nothing we've ever faced because it transcends environmentalism -- it is not a fight against pollution, but a fight against polluters. It is a struggle to change the economic and political systems that uphold business as usual. The climate movement needs more out of each us -- we can't simply click, sign or wish this problem away.
In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a "war on cars." Of course, there is no war on cars -- but there should be. Combatting pollution and climate change, reduced dependency on private automobiles will lead to healthier people, fewer deaths and injuries and livable cities with happier citizens. And that's worth fighting for!