Monday, January 29, 2007

Climate Change: The New Gold Rush

Now that all the ice up north is melting, we can get at more of the precious, precious oil. Which will cause the ice to melt faster, which will let us get at even more oil... Good work, everybody.

On a related note, I'm with the skeptics on that CTV poll that says Canadians are willing to sacrifice for the environment. If that were true we wouldn't be in this mess.

Or, let me take the optimistic outlook: Canadians are willing to sacrifice for the environment, but for most Canadians sacrifice isn't a viable option. A person who can only afford a used Civic as conveyance isn't able to spring for a Prius. A person who can't afford the rent in a major urban centre may reasonably choose to live in the 'burbs. (They're simply wrong on that count, btw. Factoring in car costs, it's almost always cheaper to live downtown. If you already need/want a car, then the calculus changes...)

That said, the poll does contain some good news for leftier types like me who support strong measures by the Feds to intervene in the economy. To take just one example, the government needs to take strong measures to a) stop sprawl, and b) densify the least-dense areas. You could continue to add condo towers to the downtown cores around Canada, but the marginal improvement in people per km2 isn't much. Add corner stores, and sidewalks for God's sake, to suburban developments and you'd be much better off.

Land use patterns are one of the least-covered but most important aspects of environmentalism. In Canada, I suspect many people assume that because this country is so friggin huge land isn't a problem. The fact is, there's Canada, and then there's "Canada", the place that people actually live. "Canada" is, what, 1/10 the size of Canada, and so land-use patterns are actually incredibly important.

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