By Al Lehmann
We inhabit a world of rapid-fire tweets and twelve-hour news cycles, quarterly stock reports and day-trading. Email alerts ping out their imperatives with irritating frequency. We live electronically as if there were no tomorrow, let alone a next hundred years.
In contrast to our jittery swiftness, nature is really slow. Crops mature and ripen over long seasons. Salmon swim up and down our rivers on multi-year cycles. Clear-cut forests take over a century to recover.
Our complex environment, a common good, is the basis of all economic security. If economics is the frothy waves agitating the surface of things, our environment is the vast sea underneath, the fundament supporting all human endeavor. The biosphere may seem eternal, but we must protect its integrity and resilience.
Government protection of nature from the assaults of human exploitation is less than a century old. Environmental policies requiring decades of patience to reveal their benefits are often removed by scientific illiterates pursuing short-term, economic gain.
Odd, how in our urban lives the “environment” has become a mental construct of idealistic fantasy, while monetary transactions—paycheques, bills, bank statements—take on the status of holy writ. The three parties in the B.C. election all pay at least lip service to the notion of environment, and even to the slowly unrolling catastrophe of climate change. Who best manages this important issue?
The originators of our carbon tax, the BC Liberals under Premier Clark, have backtracked by failing to raise the cost of carbon according to schedule. Large donations to their party by oil and gas companies have likely influenced this short-sighted decision. The Liberals have also failed in other areas of environmental stewardship such as in failing to hold Imperial Metals financially accountable for the damage to Quesnel Lake from the Mt. Polley tailings dam failure.
The NDP proposes to expand the carbon tax on schedule, while rebating most taxpayers the same funds (or more) than they are taxed. Other carbon tax receipts are slated to be spent on improving energy efficiency in the province’s housing and buildings. But the NDP, too, generally support LNG development.
The Greens’ platform has several solid proposals for leading actions against climate change. Greens also seek public input about protecting our remaining old growth forests, limiting possible damage from the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, and ensuring access to wilderness by citizens.
With the best environmental policy proposals, the Greens do not have a candidate in Skeena. Of the other two parties, the NDP offers the more responsible environmental policies.
Retired English teacher Al Lehmann lives in Terrace, B.C.