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Our greatest obstacle to transitioning to a more sustainable future is the systemic inertia of the status quo. The simple act of pumping gas is a habitual, automatic behaviour that has been normalized for several generations. Complacent, disconnected markets don't drive change. While we may not be actively saying, "Give me oil," we have the perfect downstream environment to perpetuate the status quo.
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The idea of placing climate change warning labels on gas pumps is beginning to pick up steam, with several Canadian city councils moving forward with motions to study the proposal, but it’s being met...
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As I sat by the waterfront, I would think about this tiny rock in the middle of nowhere hurtling through space at an unimaginable speed. Everything we've ever known and loved has unfolded on this rock and what we do to it will be the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren. It's in this context that I think of climate change and how we've compromised the integrity of our home.
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Kodak was in the business of capturing memories and their particular method was film. Then, the unthinkable happened: a giant fell. A similar story is now unfolding in the energy sector. The quicker we acknowledge the reality of climate change and unburnable carbon, the sooner we'll innovate and develop low carbon solutions to export to others.
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As questions of jurisdiction play out over the coming months, I can't help but think that the air Canada's founders were breathing while enacting our constitution in 1867 was chemically different than the air I'm breathing as I write this article and the air you're breathing as you read it.
No matter the issue -- whether you're a mayor with a substance abuse problem or a society with an addiction to oil -- the first step in addressing that challenge is to honestly face it. So I'm asking you to have the courage to take that first step. Think about it: If we're too timid to even put a simple sticker on a gas pump, what hope do we have in actually addressing climate change?
Ever since launching our project to put climate change warning labels on gas pumps, people have frequently told me, "My friend still smokes, so warning labels don't work." They draw a very general conclusion from a very particular example. First, if you want to learn about the effectiveness of tobacco warning labels, you need to look at the studies. Second, if want to learn about the potential impact of our warning labels, you need to look at human psychology and the nature of climate change.
Our dominant economic paradigm is premised on a worldview that we are self-interested, wealth-maximizing beings that respond like automatons to price signals. I think we're more than that. Our labels engage this part of us and are ultimately more congruent with what we are as human beings.
Let's learn from the failure of the War on Drugs. We targeted supply: how did that work out? Squash one producer or dealer, up pops another. Block one pipeline for pushing product, and another channel opens up. Successful approaches engage demand. It's been said that we're addicted to fossil fuels, why not have an intervention?