Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Money makes the environment go round...

I'm a not-so-filthy-hippie. It's a fact. I'm all about the environment. I rant, I rave, and am generally passionate about the subject. I am trying to make my life as environmentally sustainable as I can, while still living in the city, maintaining a career, and not overwhelming my partner. I take public transportation, I buy organic for the most part, I try to shop ethically and in general minimize my carbon footprint.

So when I read the following article about how the best way to motivate people to be greener is by increasing the cost of fuel, I was surprised to find myself in cautionary agreement. While in theory I agree with the idea that money talks and that we're (as a society) only going to change when we're forced to, I'm not really sure that this is actually our best solution. I'm actually concerned that fuel tariffs will only increase the economic divides that already exist.

Higher fuel prices will translate into higher public transportation fees, raised grocery bills, and increased service rates. Even if the government taxes fuel and the money goes into the national coffer, will it be used for the people or to line the chests of the rich corporations. Or worse, will it go into increased military spending. I live in Canada and every time we turn around the government is cutting funding. Our healthcare system is a mess and education funding is a joke. I'm leary to suggest that we give our government more money to mismanage. Petrol is already heavily taxed in our country and yet the profits don't seem to be redirected towards tangible services in most communities. I am sure that the same is true globally and is not a problem unique to my country. I'm all for raising the cost of creating a large carbon footprint but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that such an act might actually be a greater disservice to people who are already struggling. I know that poverty in Canada is not as pronounced as it is in many other countries, but it is still a serious problem for us nonetheless.

The author of the article is correct in stating that the only way we'll see change is through our pinching wallets but if raised rates is the way we're going to go to make the change, I believe that it needs to come with several clauses and serious consideration on our parts.

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