Change Begets Change

If we are strong enough, brave enough to do what is right we will set an example for other cities. If enough other cities each care enough, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving an S.U.V. or eating a 24-ounce steak or illuminating your McMansion like an airport runway at night might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others – from other people, other corporations, even other countries.

The Bottom Line on Drive-thrus

There is one basic issue here.  That is the basic reality that drive thrus are wrong.  Simple.  End of discussion. The main issue is that there are going to be many more issues that will have to be tackled – issues that are not nearly as clear cut and simple.  So drive thrus have to go. If we cannot sacrifice a convenience such as drive-thrus in order to secure the possibility of life on this planet for our children – then how can we ever hope to make the hard choices, the hard decisions that we will have to make in order to save our species. We do not need the industry’s science. Because we share an environment, that does not mean we have to share the industry’s obtuse ideas on economics and environment.

Social Aspects – Community

So do we choose to protect and keep non essential items such as drive-thrus or do we choose to re-design our planet in which future generation can live?  The benefits are immense – environmental health, physical health.  People stepping out of their cars symbolize people re-engaging in community. Such a culture shift is a step to encourage people to slow down, walk or bike, and to ride mass transit.  Slowing down is necessary in this fast-paced culture. We must organize and embrace a resistance to the momentum of running.  If we learn how to slow down and nourish ourselves, we can pay more attention to living sustainably and mindfully in our communities.  Many of today’s problems are rooted in efficiency and convenience; we zoom from place to place without slowing down to enjoy the simple joys around us. Sustainable yet slower modes of transportation like walking and biking, getting us out of our cars and help us to do that. This gives us the clarity and mindfulness to recognize things as they are. When you are mindful, you recognize what is going on, what is happening in the here and now. Without mindfulness we make and spend our money in ways that destroys us and other people. We use our wealth in such a way that we destroy ourselves and other people.

The Bottom Line – Idling Kills

There are now more refugees displaced by climate change environmental disasters than there are refugees displaced by war.  People with families – just like us.  It is sad to know that the people who did little to  contribute to climate change are the very ones suffering the most.  The poor choices we continue to make are killing other people.  Other species.  Each and every minute.  Are we so entitled that we cannot see beyond our own wants?  Not even when it comes to the health of our own children?  Does this not go directly against the most natural instinct in every woman and man?  The natural instinct to protect your child at any and every sacrifice?  The damage to our children’s lungs goes largely unnoticed.  We don’t see our children’s lungs each morning at the breakfast table. Toronto’s medical officer has released a report stating a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions could save 200 lives, one billion dollars a year in health care costs and 68,000 asthma attacks for children a year.  If we had 68,000 children dying a year from leukemia – it would be nothing less than that of a crisis.  One must wonder why there is such apathy towards these numbers when pollution is something we can clearly defeat. The selfish excuse to use drive-thrus because you have children is the poorest excuse when it is ultimately our children’s lives, by way of their health and their future that we are destroying.  If we love our children – surely we can do something as simple as stop idling wherever possible. Whether it is at a railway tracks, waiting at the school or at a drive-thru – the end result is the same.  Idling kills.
Natural Resources Canada clearly states: If your car is stopped for more than ten seconds – turn off your engine.

Perhaps in addition to industry gifting our children with ‘happy’ meals and summer camp, perhaps fast food chains can start supplying puffers to children with Asthma.
When our children and grandchildren someday, (coming soon) ask us why we did not immediately cease all unnecessary forms of C02 emissions to mitigate against climate change – when we knew full well the consequences – what are we going to say?  “I’m sorry sweetheart – society really couldn’t give up the luxury of the drive-thru – that was just too much to ask.  I’m sorry we destroyed your chances for a future on the planet, but it was just more sacrifice than one could be expected to endure.”
What a legacy.
Our eco footprint is more than four times larger than what is sustainable.  We still want more? If there is to be a future on this planet – we need to re-design our lives to live using 80% less. We don’t have to sacrifice our quality of life to combat climate change, however, we do need to change the way we live.  And simple, is more often than not, beautiful.

Time to Re-design the Way We Think and Live.

We have reached a pivotal point.  This is now a matter of life or death. The statistics regarding children’s health are staggering.  We now know we have perhaps well reached the tipping point in regards to climate change – we can no longer bend and sacrifice to appease corporate interests at the expense of our children.  To do so – would be nothing less than a crime against future generations.
This is where we start to re-design the way we think and live.  This is where we take back our cities.  This is where we take back control of our lives.  This is where we start.

A Common Goal of Survival

Our planet is headed towards complete Armageddon – much faster than scientists previously predicted.  Glaciers are melting.  Ice shelves are breaking off.  Natural disasters are happening at unprecedented rates.  Deaths from pollution are skyrocketing.  What does it even say about our human race, our society as a whole that we even need to continue in such discussion?  There should be no debate.  At this point – we should all be working together in absolute unity toward a common goal.  A common goal of survival.  A common goal of protecting our children at all costs. If we are to survive as a species – we must reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050. The bottom line is that this means a bold and comprehensive shift in our energy priorities starting now. Cutting or emissions by 80% over the next 40 years will not be easy. It is the greatest challenge we have ever faced. The industry needs to be cutting emissions by 2% per year to reach this target. Not increasing emissions. Not defending emissions.
This is nothing less than the responsibility of every person and industry on this planet and multinational corporations are not exempt. Climate change leaves no room for apathy, laziness, selfishness or greed.

CO2 Levels – Highest Ever over the Last 650,000 Years.

May 13th 2008 – A US report was released stating that the world carbon dioxide levels have reached the highest levels ever reached over the last 650,000 years. Scientists say the shift could indicate that the Earth is losing its natural ability to soak up billions of tonnes of CO2 each year. Martin Parry, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s working group on impacts, said: “Despite all the talk, the situation is getting worse. Levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise in the atmosphere and the rate of that rise is accelerating. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change and the scale of those impacts will also accelerate, until we decide to do something about it.”
The Stern Review showed that scientific evidence of global warming was “overwhelming” and its consequences “disastrous”.  Nicholas Stern stated: “We have the time and knowledge to act but only if we act internationally, strongly and urgently.”
Our part of this international action needs to be meaningful. What we do as a municipality is absolutely symbolic to the private sector – we must continually be on the leading edge of, with the most progressive of policies such as we are suggesting under our ‘Clean Air for Children’ campaign.

The war to end all wars

The climate change threat needs drastic action. Only a cross-party approach can deliver it.

  • Rosie Boycott
  • The Guardian,
  • Tuesday May 20 2008
  • Article history

About this article


This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday May 20 2008 on p28 of the Comment & debate section. It was last updated at 12:16 on May 20 2008.

How do you define a war? There is the disastrous one that Britain is waging in Iraq, involving tanks and guns and the lives of our young men and women. There is the kind the government claims it is waging variously against poverty, terror, and obesity. But the greatest threat to us all, global warming – a threat far greater than any airborne disease or foreign dictator – has yet to be elevated to war status. Day by day, before our eyes, the planet is deteriorating: ice caps are melting, weather systems shifting, and the poorest are finding themselves facing life-threatening water shortages. Our wildlife is suffering, species are being lost before our children even have a chance to witness them in all their beauty.

Britain, with 174 other countries, signed up to the Kyoto protocol, but while the government has made great political play of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have decreased over the past decade, actual CO2 emissions have gone up. The only cuts that have been made have come from small, one-off technical fixes of things like landfill gas methane emissions. Labour might have great plans for cutting climate-changing gases, but most of its policies, from motorway widening to new runways, point in the opposite direction, and are actually worsening the situation.

As a group, some concerned mothers – myself among them- are coming together with their children this week because we want to leave our planet in much the same way as it was when we were born: rich, varied and able to support and feed us all. All across Britain, families are recycling waste, cutting back car use and giving up using plastic bags. But we know we are long past the time for small-time individual action – we need to direct a transition to a low-carbon economy. The government still seems to be terrified of motorists, frequent flyers and second home-owners, and is far too timid to take any measures that begin to address the scale of the problem. The targets in the climate-change bill are a good start, but there is no policy framework to actually achieve them – it is no good politicians saying each year, “Sorry, we failed”, as the world fries. The climate crisis must be our pre-eminent policy priority.

As the environmentalist Mark Lynas says: “We must peak global emissions by 2015 if we are to keep temperatures from rising beyond two degrees – after which point total climate catastrophe beckons, and that means international policy must be finalised by Copenhagen in 2009. The British government will have no political capital to demand cuts in countries like China when it is overseeing more coal-fired power stations and rising CO2 emissions at home.”

Last week MPs tabled a motion calling for immediate cross-party action on climate change. Their move comes as we launch a new campaign aimed at forcing the government to take the lead on tackling global warming. For many of those involved, it will be the first time they have taken political action. We call ourselves We Can (Can standing for Climate Action Now), and tonight we’ll be holding a candle-lit protest outside the House of Commons. During the evening, the children will deliver a letter to No 10 for Gordon Brown: it’s their future at stake here, not ours.

Climate change is too vital an issue to sacrifice to political infighting and cowardice. Clearly, it would be political suicide for any one party to introduce the changes needed, which is why a cross-party coalition should be formed (as during the second world war) to guide and direct both government planning and industry direction.

If his budget speech to the Commons is to be believed, Alistair Darling has made up his mind: climate change is the greatest challenge facing us all, and “there will be catastrophic economic and social consequences if we fail to act”. In response to this, with great determination and steely efficiency, the chancellor has utterly failed to act.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in 1941, the US threw its might behind the war machine, transforming its industries overnight. The bounties of my entire life as a postwar baby have come as a direct result of that giant political will bending towards the common good. Now my daughter’s generation demands the same drastic intervention if they are to enjoy the same kind of future.

It can be done and we know the enemy. But where, on our increasingly fragile earth, is the leadership?

· Rosie Boycott is a writer and broadcaster

Make A Leap: LEAP – Lowering Emissions and Particulates

The environment is everyone’s responsibility. We are all consumers. We are all drivers. One person can truly make a difference where their vehicle is concerned. By practicing better Idling etiquette, that is consideration for others when your vehicle is running but not moving, we can all make a significant impact on things around us. You can reduce harmful airborne particles, reduce global warming, avert a fuel crisis, heal our economy, and save the environment. Imagine if people were able to start today. The world would be a greener place tomorrow. Make a LEAP today to find out what you can do in your community.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.