Since October I’ve drawn at least 20 editorial cartoons on the environment. I doubt I matched that number in the 9 years previous to October of 2006. Greenhouse warming, global warming, climate change – these are some of the buzz words of the green revolution that have become a part of our daily lives for the last 6 months. How does last year’s #1 priority issue of health care drop completely drop out of the collective mindset this year? The war on terrorism is so last year, and now we’re planted somewhere within an undefined space of time in which we so resolutely battle whatever is meant by the buzz words I mentioned above. “Go green now, or die”, seems to be the mantra accepted by many as this revolution sweeps the – well, modern industrialized world, I guess. Who knows what they’re thinking in certain third and second world nations where rainforests continue to be clearcut at an alarming rate and toxic waste is being spewed into the air and into the water without any thought of regulation. Really, do people here think that by signing onto the Kyoto Accord, China, India, and a number of environmentally comatose regimes in Africa, Asia, and South America, are going to be shamed into signing on for the good of the planet?
An interesting government report was leaked to the Toronto Star which identified three groups of Canadians said to be susceptible to changing their actions to improve the environment:
- The “Suzuki Nation,” making up one-fifth of the population, finds the negative state of the environment in conflict with their values, expresses high environmental concern and is motivated to take action. These are people who would be compelled to act even without offers of tax cuts and other economic incentives designed to change individual behaviour.
- “Invested Materialists” are the 28 per cent of people who do not find the current environmental state in conflict with their values and have low levels of concern. But these people will “act if given the right reason” such as an economic incentive or enhanced social prestige.
- The last category is “Ambivalent Materialists” the 15 per cent of Canadians who feel that a polluted environment is in conflict with their values, but are not concerned about current pollution levels.
Do you know which group you belong to? I think you could add a group above the Suzuki Nation who’ll never be satisfied with any government green plan unless a total ban is imposed on all fossil fuels. In fact, I think some people will never be happy until everyone, including John Baird and Stephen Harper, are forced to go back to nature wearing fig leaves on their naughty bits.
I’d like to suggest another group might be added to the ones above. One representing people who feel the current environmental state is in conflict with their values but understand that the economic sacrifices necessary to meet the Kyoto targets are too great considering barely a dent will be made in reducing global greenhouse gases.
I’d put myself in this last group and to paraphrase a well meaning slogan “think globally, and act locally”, I’d like to see ‘locally’ replaced with ‘continentally’. I think many more strides can be made if Canada, the U.S., and Mexico worked together to cap carbon and sulphur dioxide emissions and effectively monitor what’s being sent into our shared atmosphere. It would probably mean a new administration in the White House, but I think there could be real results other than the all-talk-no-action fantasy that is the Kyoto Accord.