If we’re going to do something to protect the environment, we need to elect people who won’t pretend nothing’s wrong. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

If we’re going to do something to protect the environment, we need to elect people who won’t pretend nothing’s wrong. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

OPINION: It’s time to stop pretending

SRD Director’s comments make a good point

On June 15, the Strathcona Regional District was discussing funding for renovations to the Strathcona Gardens pool when one of the directors said something that stood out to me.

At the end of the discussion, Cortes Island director Noba Anderson said this: “of all the things we’re going to borrow millions and millions of dollars for when the planet’s on fire, this is a pretty status quo, systems-normal thing to be doing. I find it increasingly difficult to be pretending that the world is normal when it is not.”

Anderson did say that she would agree with anything put forward by the Strathcona Gardens Committee and she technically didn’t have a vote in the matter, but I really appreciate that she actually said something.

Climate change is a huge problem that still seems to be on the horizon, though that horizon is creeping closer and closer every day (some would say it’s already here). It turns out that when we’re faced with huge problems, we kind of get paralyzed. These things seem bigger than we can handle so we just kind of… decide not to handle them.

This kind of passive nihilism gives us the mental space to focus on things we can handle, including fixing the pool. However, it is also the kind of thinking that got us into this situation in the first place. While I do see the value in fixing the pool — I was a lifeguard, swimming lessons instructor and competitive swimmer from kindergarten until I went to university at age 22 — we also need to start looking at fixing some of these bigger problems before they get out of hand.

Next time we have the chance to get millions and millions of dollars, maybe we should consider putting it towards something like electrification of transport, or improving the bus system, or revisiting zoning to allow for more dense and energy-efficient living, or any number of things that may not be as big and sexy as a brand new pool, but will allow us to keep living here for longer than a generation or two.

I know that governments have money set aside for various things. There’s pool money, there’s landscaping money, there’s library money and even some stuff that I don’t even know about. This grant was pretty open, and could have gone to any number of projects that make the regional district a more environmentally-friendly place to live.

So much of the rhetoric around climate change is about how difficult this task will be and individuals have taken most of the blame for it. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if I recycle more often than my neighbour. All of these little things do count, and we need to keep doing them, but change needs to come from everywhere. That especially means from people and organizations who have power.

We need people in power who find it difficult to pretend the world is normal when it’s not. There’s an election coming up where we can make that choice. These people can make change, but the status quo can’t go on. Just doing the bare minimum isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Things aren’t normal anymore, we can’t keep pretending.


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EnvironmentGovernmentIn Our OpinionStrathcona Regional District