2 February 2016
By David Krayden
North Vancouver may be the first city in the world to force gas stations to put climate change warning labels on their pumps. I say “may” because you just never know what some villa in Outer Mongolia hasn’t beaten them to it. It is a well-meaning exercise and has been greeted with the kind of jubilation on social media that is usually reserved for a medical break through.
The bylaw was spearheaded by the environmental activist group Our Horizons, viagra whose founder, tadalafil Rob Shirkey, information pills has called the decision a “historic global first.”
It will be mandatory for sellers to display, but of course, not for you the consumer to read, these labels. One example provides the following food for thought “Warning. Use of this fuel product contributes to climate change which may put up to 30 per cent of species at a likely risk of extinction.” Others speak of the alleged effects of greenhouse gases upon marine life and the health consequences of gas-producing smog on the quality of air.
One warning that has not been considered in this quest for public education is an economic one, indicating that the use of gas, especially when the world price of oil has spiked, can lead to financial hardship: the sort that prevents families from paying their bills on time or even keeping the shelves and refrigerator stocked with food.
I say this not to be unkind, unhelpful or dismissive but because I think these warning labels – and the well-intentioned activists who propel these campaigns – are missing an essential point: we consume gas because we live in a world that is dependent – perhaps fatally – upon petroleum. We are not going to the gas pump because we are seeking to harm the environment or have a latent desire to increase profits for the oil companies. We don’t spend sometimes one hundred or more dollars a week at the pumps because we have money to burn.
We are dependent upon gas in this society. It is true that we put warning labels on cigarette packages because we seek to alert tobacco users about the catastrophic health issues related to their habit. But that is a perfectly acceptable use of the metaphoric red flag; can nicotine addicts successfully contend that they would be unable to function in the modern world without their daily smoke?
But many people cannot get to work without cars – which are overwhelmingly powered by gas.
If we are concerned about the harmful and lethal effects of gas consumption in our society, we should not be instilling guilt in their souls for using it — unless we are prepared to offer an alternative. We should be putting our energies into ensuring that alternate energy sources – and there are some tantalizing possibilities in this regard – are reified for the average consumer.
What about driving less? I’ve driven with my wife in the “car pool” lane through Vancouver and Ottawa and found myself passing dozens of cars on my right with no one in front of me to impede my progress. Why are so many people driving alone when they are constantly bombarded with messages telling them to consume less gas? Obviously, a fast lane alone isn’t sufficient inducement to change our driving habits.
Warnings on labels and carbon taxes for that matter are not going to stop people from using fossil fuels anymore than a levy on water would stop us from drinking it. The producer and consumer just suffer in the process.
We don’t need a change of heart in the environmental movement but a change of mind. For too long, the environmental movement has relied on heralding disaster rather than suggesting our standard of living can stay the same or improve through better environmental practices. Environmentalist have too often emphasized the negative of today instead of pointing to the potential positive of tomorrow; have insisted we need to sacrifice rather than discovering a new road to economic prosperity by utilizing existing and untried technology. We should all be seeking to achieve the same net economic result without the gross environmental consequences.
Does it take a war for technology to produce the tools to achieve victory? Then let us declare war on energy obsolescence and seriously provide the public with real options to become part of the environmental solution and not a just an unhappy, penurious and state-pecked victim of a big government seeking to replace big oil.
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