With the rapid and deep decline in the Canadian, and global economies, the environment has quickly disappeared as the most pressing issue facing Canada, and the world. With a recession that could last up to 5 years (maybe much shorter, maybe longer, it is impossible to say) Canada may miss its window to actually make a difference on global warming. I believe that it is already too late to avoid some very harsh effects of climate change. If we do not take serious action now, we could possibly be facing the greatest human catastrophe ever by the middle of this century. Potentially billions of people could be starving. Wars over food and water resources could become so common that we end up in a state of perpetual warfare. I also believe that if we take strong action now, if we drastically change the make up of our economy, and change the way we live our lives in the western world we can avoid the worst effects of climate change.

There is going to be a massive bailout for the North American auto sector. I understand how important the auto sector is to Canada’s economy. It is not just the people working directly for the auto manufacturers, but the legions of people who work in in the auto parts sectors, and the people who work in the communities that would all but disappear if their nearby auto plants closed down. The problem with bailing out the auto sector is that we would be pumping billions of dollars into a sector that will all but ensure that we continue to ruin our environment. The sad reality is that the auto sector cannot survive in its current form. We cannot continue to produce highly inefficient gasoline powered vehicles. We need to take this opportunity to radically change the auto industry in North America. Fuel efficiency standards should be immediately ramped up. Funding for more green autos should be a key part of any bailout package. There should be immediate negotiations with other major auto manufactuing companies to force them to open their markets to North American vehicles. The auto bailout must be smart, it must be green, and we must realize that the auto sector as it exists today cannot continue to exist into the future.

Going hand in hand with the auto sector, in my view, is billions of proposed infrastructure spending on roads, highways, and bridges. In BC, the Gateway Project is a mind boggling waste of money. The BC Liberals have taken some strong positive steps on the environment (the carbon tax is the best example), but the Gateway Project will undue most, if not all of the environmental gains that the province has accomplished. We do not need to encourage people to live further and further from where they work. Transportation infrastructure spending needs to focus on mass transit. In BC we need a SkyTrain/subway line to UBC. We need rapid rail transit from Vancouver out to the Fraser Valley. I am no expert on mass transit, in fact I know almost nothing about it, but I do know that the biggest single change an individual can make to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is to stop driving. I do not drive, not that I could really afford to if I wanted to, but I honestly believe that I do not want to drive. For people who currently do drive, I can see why they are unwilling to give up their cars and rely on public transit because the current transit system is so incredibly inefficient.

If we are going to pump tens of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, those projects have to be predominantly green projects. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions drastically in the next few years if we want to have any hope of avoiding environmental catastrophe before the end of this century. We have the technology required, we just need to spend money on new technologies. We need to give people a real opportunity to change how they transport themselves in their daily lives. The number one issue for Canada, and for the world, has to be the environment.

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