Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pollution, Politics and Platform Promises...Tuesday, September 9. 2008

Currently in the United States, as well as my country of Canada, there is an election campaign going on. The word "recycle" comes to mind as I watch these politicians use the same old rhetoric to get votes. The word "pollution" also comes to mind when you hear of all the bickering, talk, and empty promises coming out of politicians. One key issue on both sides of the border is the environment and issues relating to global warming. Yes there are other issues, like the economy, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe, and moral issues, but the environment is an issue that politicians can't ignore. The main hurdle is how to be environmentally friendly while making sure being environmentally friendly does not negatively hurt the already shaky economy.

In Canada, the Liberal Party's main platform is the carbon tax. A carbon tax is an environmental tax on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is quite simply a pollution tax. The Canadian Liberal party proposes a tax on fossil fuels and an overhaul of Canada's tax regime in order to offset higher costs to individuals and businesses. In fact, in their election campaign they recently stated, "the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our campaign tour will be neutralized through the purchase of carbon offsets, provided by CarbonZero". This is a great idea in theory, however many of us here in Canada are already heavily taxed and we certainly don't want to pay more for gas and other types of fuel. There is a less known political party in Canada, as well, lnown as the Green Party. They are known for their environmental beliefs. The Conservative Party, who presently holds a minority government, does not want to tamper too much with the economy and under the Conservative Party we would probably not see much change in environmental policies.

In the United States the two main partys, the Democrats and the Republicans are going back and forth on issues relating to the environment and global warming. Which party can you trust? Which party will be more environmentally friendly? The Democratic Party has been the more environmentally friendly party recently. As you probably know, Al Gore, who has recently platformed for environmental issues and sent out alarms on global warming, was the Democratic Party leader eight years ago. Barrack Obama has promised to Promote green technologies and fuel efficiency standards, protect the Great Lakes and US National Parks and Forests, as well as other environmental promises. The Republican Party seems to be less sensitive to environmental issues and more concerned about assisting big business and oil companies. There are other independent parties in the US and some have environmentally friendly ideas as well.

So which political party is the most environmentally friendly? It is sometimes a monumental task to cut though a lot of talk and promises to decide just which political party will really do as they say. Before an election they all seem to say the right thing to get our votes. If we could fuel our vehicles with all the hot air and talk from all of our politicians before an election we would not have to rely on a drop of foreign oil!

I personally believe in a carbon tax in some form. In theory it is a good idea. Big oil companies, energy companies, manufacturers and other businesses should not be given a green light to pollute and harm the environment at will and not give something back. We need to make polluters more accountable if we are going to combat global warming. However, we can't blindly just throw in a carbon tax overnight. We need to phase it in taking in to account that we can't pay more for gas and energy to drive our vehicles and heat our homes. In Canada, especially, we live in a vast territory with an often-cruel climate and we simply need energy to survive. We need cleaner sources of energy, however. So we need to balance environmental policies with reality and make sure it does not cripple the lower and middle class.

Politicians should be doing more to promote clean sources of energy. Whether it is rebates or incentives that entice businesses and individuals to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, we need to move in that direction. We need more hybrid cars on the road now. Finding alternative energy sources for vehicles will eliminate the need to purchase oil from other countries. It is also a good way to be earth friendly because vehicles that use this technology will not emit pollutants into our atmosphere like gasoline powered vehicles do. We need to develop wind energy, tidal power and solar energy. We need to explore the uses of natural gas and nuclear energy where it is safe and practical. We need to move in a different direction in the twenty first century as far as environmental policies and practices are concerned.

So which party will get in this fall? What environment policies will be administered over the next four years? There is no question that global warming, climate change; pollution and human health issues due to environmental issues are issues that cannot be ignored by any party. We must as citizens vote with our conscience regarding these issues and demand action from our political leaders on combating pollution and climate change when they are in power. Talk is cheap. We need action.

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