Individuals’ green impact insignificant
I believe global warming and environmental degradation are the biggest global problems today and that governments across the world need to make this issue their greatest priority.
However, I also believe that since it is corporations and governments who have primarily caused global warming, it is they who need to bear the brunt of responsibility in stopping it.
For the environmental movement to succeed, it needs to abandon certain misdirected platforms, particularly the idea that regular people, rather than those in power who are directly responsible, need to pay the price for cleaning up the earth.
Automobiles are the biggest contributor to air pollution by far. In today’s automobile-centered society, cars are the most efficient form of transportation just about everywhere – save for extremely dense urban cores – and practically mandatory to function.
For the most part, people drive polluting vehicles not because they’re apathetic about the environment but because affordable cleaner vehicles do not yet exist.
Clean energy vehicles are feasible in the near future, despite what air pollution apologists would have you believe.
Unfortunately, the reason that technological advancement in this area has been so slow is largely because the powerful oil industry has tied everyone’s hands, both on corporate and governmental levels.
Many environmentalists believe that this is a losing battle, and we need to turn to other solutions – solutions focused on the individual – that will inconvenience people everywhere.
They believe the oil industry is so powerful that the bureaucratic red tape has strangled governments to the point where it is simply impossible to hope for clean energy vehicles.
Instead, they have suggested implausible and undesirable alternatives, such as trying to move toward a totally mass transit based society or having everyone live in high-density housing.
Many people in this camp oppose the building of roads in general, even when it is necessary to relieve congestion, as exemplified in the recent opposition to the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver.
This is ironic, considering that relieving congestion also helps to relieve pollution, as moving cars pollute less than idling ones.
If the effort that went into opposing the construction and improvement of road systems went into supporting clean energy vehicles, it is likely that the push for such vehicles would be far stronger.
Having less efficient and more congested road networks will not dissuade automobile use; it will only create a more frustrating road network.
And ironically, even a congested road network is still preferable to using public transportation in terms of efficiency.
Furthermore, some environmentalists want to restrict how long people can have their lights turned on each day, and other such miniscule measures.
They seem to believe that comfortable lifestyles are inherently destructive.
In reality, the problem is specific issues such as pollution, resource depletion and environmental destruction, which are by-products of specific wasteful practices.
It is true that people should do whatever they can to help sustainability, but it is also true that whatever “little bit” we can personally do to help the environment is irrelevant compared to the huge part that governments and corporations could potentially play, but are neglecting to fulfill.
I am as much of an opponent of foolish indulgence as anyone, but I do not believe we need to derive ourselves of comfort and efficiency to save the earth.
The common people should not have to suffer for the crimes of the powerful.
We should not have to make harsh compromises and inconvenience ourselves simply because our government is too corrupt and ineffective to solve things the right way.