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Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

So, today I heard someone suggest that the solution to the climate change crisis (the clever euphemism for “global warming”) is nuclear power.

My initial reaction? “That’s a GREAT idea! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? I’m really looking forward to when the sites begin to leak radioactive waste into the ground and major water systems!”

[For fun, here’s a story about the decommissioned Hanford Site in Washington State, that released nuclear waste into the Columbia River and caused all kinds of negative health effects: Downwinders’ court win seen as ‘great victory’.]

Maybe I don’t just know enough about nuclear power. I’ll admit that most of my knowledge about these matters comes from Homer Simpson and the horror stories of meltdowns at places like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would crawl out of the woodwork to tell me not one person died after these events (I’m not bothering to look those things up at the moment).

But there is no way you can convince me that nuclear power and its RADIOACTIVE WASTE is 100 percent safe for the planet. You can’t tell me that it was a good idea for the Hanford Site to toss its waste in one of the major watersystems in the Pacific Northwest.  And you will never convince me that nuclear power is the solution to climate change.

Maybe the key isn’t to find a magical source of unlimited electricity. Maybe the key is to stop using so much electricity in the first place.

Maybe the solution is to stop bailing out industries like the automotive industries and let them crumble. Cars make pollution. Less cars = less pollution.

I know the pro-automotive arguments: the industry creates jobs, you can’t get anywhere without a car, hybrid vehicles create less pollution. What about the counter-arguments though? Why don’t we employ people in different industries? If North American hadn’t had cars in the first place, would we even have suburbs? Would we have urban sprawl or would we dense, compact cities like in Europe?And since when did hybrid cars become environmentally friendly? You still have to MAKE the cars; you don’t just create them out of thin air and fuzzy feelings.

(And when did owning a vehicle become a right anyway?)

You know what the real problem is? The sense of entitlement that permeates modern society. People think they have rights to vehicles and food imported from halfway across the globe and all sorts of ridiculous luxuries that consume fossil fuels and electricity. You know what? We don’t. Humankind endured despite all those things for thousands of years.

This isn’t some bullshit, New Age, touchy-feely hippie thinking, either. I’m not going to claim that I’d be able to survive in the wilderness with nothing but my wits and a knife. Modern society has crippled ALL of us. Mine is likely the least-skilled generation I’ve ever encountered. We’re used to prepackaged food and entertainment from the idiot box and yes, even my beloved Internet.

But you know what? I wouldn’t be afraid to let it all go. I wouldn’t be afraid to move to a cabin in the woods and learn to chop my own wood and grow my own food and do without the thousands of modern conveniences that society now takes for granted—those conveniences to which society believes it is entitled.

The worst thing that happens is I die and return to the earth—and that’s something that is inevitable to the human condition anyway.

The only way to lessen the effects of climate change is to completely change societal thinking and eliminate that sense of entitlement. Create liveable, walkable cities and eliminate the “need” for automobiles. Start growing your own food in your own backyard instead of importing bananas from Central America or paying jacked-up prices for organic lettuce.

Things like B.C.’s current carbon tax are a joke. Instead of decreasing the amount of emissions, you turn pollution into a commodity. If you can afford to pollute, you will. It’s as simple as that. A $5 a tonne charge is nothing to the big corporations. The only way to make a carbon tax effective is to make the tax prohibitive! Charge $50-$100 a tonne to industry polluters! The corporations can afford it and, if they can’t, maybe they’ll change the way they do business. Maybe then we’d have enough money in the provincial budget to provide universal child care and a liveable wage to workers living in poverty.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I’m sure I’ll get more riled up in a few minutes here.

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