Climate change will change how Canadians live in the future. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/dpa, Julian Stratenschulte)

LETTER: Maple Ridge man sees both side of climate change argument

Canadians have to ask themselves some tough questions about the future, a letter writer argues

Dear Editor,

Climate change is a dirty word, similar to the pollution which creates it. The mere mention of it can ruin even the nicest social engagements, pitting people against each other. When the vital facts are unpacked, it is clear to see that many of the arguments from both sides want the same thing: a future.

Let me start by saying I am an advocate for climate change, but I wish change was simple. It’s not. Our lives are surrounded by things that pollute the atmosphere, and everyone of us is culpable.

What are Canada’s leading exports? Oil, coal and motor vehicles – all of which contribute to the increasing emissions which in turn continue to heat up the atmosphere. What do these three industries have in common? Jobs. The number of people who rely on these industries to support their families and communities is nearly immeasurable.

Let us not presume that only the oil industry would be affected by its decline. All areas of the Canadian economy would plummet. How stores would receive goods to sell? Eliminating Canada’s leading economic contributor would come with consequences which would affect the rest of Canada.

The loss of taxation would lead to a decline in other areas of Canadian culture. The elimination of the Canadian oil and gas industry would result in a collapse of the Canadian economy, but it would not eliminate the oil industry globally. The loss of Canadian oil would see a surge in other places such as USA, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. These countries would see the loss of Canadian oil as an opportunity and would absorb the market. The emissions would continue, the faucets would continue to flow and Canada would be left in the cold.

However…

There have been many long-winded individuals who support the oil industry and rely on comments which point fingers at China and India as the worst contributors of pollution. These individuals have overlooked Canada’s long-standing relationships internationally, one people are quick to forget and sit atop their moral high horse. Look closely at the products you purchase and Canada’s exports. The coal goes to China and the oil to India, among others.

Canadian and American companies open factories in China to save money by avoiding the strict environmental policies of North America and to avoid progressive labour laws. The items you use every day, at the bottom of the label you will likely see “Made in China”. Many of the items purchased from stores across the country have been imported. The cost of these products is far more than you see on your receipt. The money saved by consumers with each transaction is money given to these countries who employ hazardous environmental practices to produce it. Never mind the journey by which these items travelled to be available for consumers.

But the bottom line in one’s cheque book clouds people’s ability to see how they contribute to the problem. If these countries are to be villainized perhaps Canadians as consumers should begin to adapt their spending and make more informed purchases, one’s which don’t rely on the polluting practices of China and India.

Greta Thunberg is advocating for change in North America which pushes the agenda internationally as North America is where democracy is strongest. Look at how democratic protests go in Hong Kong. Corporations are now global. By advocating to the western world (even if we aren’t the worst contributors) change has the highest probability of reaching other corners of the globe. We should be progressive as models for change.

It’s true, the ice caps are melting, plastic will soon outnumber life in the ocean and the air we breathe may soon turn toxic. We have seen greater animal extinction in the last 50 years than any era previous, and the population of the planet is greater than it has ever been. There are many obstacles ahead and like so many things before, earth and the people who call it home will require a metamorphosis.

Cameron Rhodes, Maple Ridge

Climate change

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