Kari's Corner June 27, 2012

Ten Steps to Help Save The World?

I recently got a copy of the Sunday Phoenix from the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and something caught my attention.

After the recent Earth Summit in Brazil there are some suggestions for following a greener path. Thousands of delegates from around the world gathered and the message was daunting. It has been described that the world and the 7 billion human inhabitants is on a global suicidal path and if we keep going how we are the earth cannot survive.

The initial earth summit was 20 years ago and evidence shows that the world has failed to deliver on many of the promises made in 1992.

Earth systems are being pushed towards their biophysical limits and in some cases they are exceeded so the situation is worse than ever. We need to step it up as a global community.

Points made are:

1. Start a Revolution
A lot of economic growth was fuelled by the abundance of natural resources but consumption doesn’t come without consequences. We need revolutionary thinking and action to have global sustainability.

2. Energy Game Change
Burning coal, oil and gas pumps so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that it is threatening to melt polar ice, fuel heat waves and leave millsions homeless as sea levels rise. The climate is warming so fast that the mean global temperature by 2070 (or earlier) is expected to be higher than ever since humans have inhabited this planet. If greenhouse gases are not minimized there is no way to avert catastrophe howver there is no easy path to a clean energy future. This is likely why the countries who signed onto the UN’s Climate Change in Rio 20 years ago have failed to deliver on the promise to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and are instead pumping more than 45% more than 22 years ago. Some alternatives that need to be worked on more extensively are: solar, geothermal, wind etc. We need clean, carbon-free energy.

3. Put A Price on Carbon
One thing we can start being more proud of in Canada is that Quebec and BC have put a price on carbon through taxing. This can put alide on how much carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere and are seen as one of the best ways to drive down carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels. This is one of the biggest things that needs to be addressed. Energy companies have to pay more so hopefully this gives incentive to turn to other types of fuel.

4. Overhaul Corporate Motives and Mindsets
Major corporations are often in the driver’s seat when it comes to excessive demands. Maximizing their profits is often to the detriment of the pubic good and close to $1trillion/year of harmful subsidies that supports the “brown economy” includes more than $300 billion in subsidies for ‘mostly’ unsustainable agriculture and fisheries and $650 billion in price and production subsidies for fossil fuels. Apparently the Government of Canada subsidizes the oil industry about $2 billion a year. Special Adviser to the UN Pavan Sukhdev calls for transparent accounting of both financial and environmental costs and wants regulations to force companies to act for the public good. Some, including PUMQ and Indian IT firm, Infosys, have already started to do this.

5. Green Canada’s Blackened’ Record
While Canada was hailed the hero in 1992 at the Rio Summit when PM Brian Mulroney signed onto UN conventions to protect both the planet’s biodiversity and climate today we are seen a lagging as PM Harper’s government moves to weaken laws and rules for environmental protection and speed up extraction of minerals and fossil fuels.
Many people think we can do better with our abundance of natural resources. I think we have the brains and the ability to become one of the leaders in sustainable production of natural resources.

6. Transform Cities
Recently we have heard a lot about Vancouver’s controversial bike lanes and Toronto’s ban on plastic bags-these are just a taste of radical changes on our horizon. North American’s are, per capital, among the world’s highest consumers of energy, water and resources. We love our big inefficient houses and our fancy gas guzzling vehicles. Maybe we need to give some more incentives to sway people away from these and model ourselves to live more like the Danes or Swedes who use a fraction of the energy that we use.

7. Connect the Dots Before You Buy
Watch what you buy. Eco-labels could help make us more aware of what we are purchasing, sort of like the nutritional labels we are now all used to viewing. The world’s insatiable appetite for things like shrimp, coffee, timbers and minerals threatens the survival of 30% of the vulnerable animal specials in poor countries. Most threats to hundreds of species comes from logging, coffee and cocoa. Wow.

8. Eat Less Meat
Hey, I am helping! I haven’t eaten red meat or pork for 20 years so I am guessing this has helped a small bit. While you don’t need to become a vegetarian cutting down could help the environment. A recent study concluded that meat eaters in developed countries need to cut consumption by 50% by 2050 to avoid the worst consequences of future climate changes. Beef is the most damaging and the reasons why made me giggle but cow flatulence and manure release methane which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, not to mention cattle feed needing a lot of fertilizer and energy to produce.

9. Embrace Education and Contraception
The 7 billion people on the planet dominate 43% of the earth’s land surface and 1 billion go to bed hungry. By 2050 we will likely have 9.5 billion people. Birth control is needed. There are millions of people who don’t want children but who are currently not using contraception. Education of young women is another way to reduce the chance of conception so this is win-win.

10. Get Politically Active
The state of the environment is terrifying but individuals can make a difference. Politicians are likely not going to do anything until the public forces them to do so.

It starts with us as individuals. I have a Saskatoon real estate client who has started a company called Future Proof which is there to help improve quality control with the environment in mind.

Future Proof keeps the environment in mind and is to bring awareness to how we can make changes in our daily lives. I commend my client for his efforts and hope more people will follow suit.

Kari Calder
Saskatoon Real Estate Agent
Century 21 Fusion