Hey, drivers. The city of Montreal is offering free street parking in the downtown core during the holidays. So feel free to poison the air with your gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting vehicles, and spend, spend, spend.
OK. They didn’t exactly present it that way.
The city’s merchants “need our support more than ever,” Mayor Valérie Plante was quoted as saying in the announcement that there would be free street parking for a month during the evenings and on weekends in a bid to lure more shoppers downtown.
From what I read, there was no mention that city coffers would welcome the extra tax dollars. Nor did anyone seem to question the extra pollution all the cars would create and their effect on the worsening climate-change situation. It was as if a last-chance climate conference never happened in Glasgow this month and the weather-induced disasters in B.C. took place on another planet.
Sure, Plante’s heart seems to be in the right place, even if her vision may be shortsighted. Like so many other politicians, she wants to fix the pandemic-stricken economy asap.
Ditto for the provincial government in Quebec, and governments at all levels around the world. Many of them, including Plante’s municipal government, are calling for office workers who have been successfully working from home during the pandemic to go back to their offices — and spend, spend, spend during their lunch breaks etc.
Never mind that there would be a significant reduction in emissions if those office workers continue to work from home, as CBC indicated recently in a report with the headline “Staying put to save the planet: How remote work might help Canada cut emissions.” Never mind that it could save those workers thousands of dollars per year in travel expenses and daily travel time. Never mind that those workers might catch COVID at the office, whether vaccinated or not, and spread it in their communities.
Never mind that Plante walked with Greta Thunberg in a Montreal demonstration calling on politicians to act on climate change, or that Quebec Premier François Legault and a delegation attended the climate conference in Glasgow this month.
The economy trumps the environment for too many politicians, and it will to the bitter end.
It’s no wonder that so many environmentalists are exasperated. Consider the soft-spoken, beloved David Suzuki, who has been an environmentalist for most of his life. He is being vilified now because of a remark he made during a lecture about how the frustration he and other environmentalists feel could translate into violence targeting oil pipelines.
But you don’t need a crystal ball to see there will be a lot of fingerpointing and rage and chaos as the effects of climate change increasingly take their toll on our lives, as I wrote about in an earlier post here.
And, no doubt, there will be criminal charges against industrialists — and against politicians who were derelict in their duty to do something about it when they had a chance.
Too many people seem to think climate change is something that can be dealt with in 10 years from now, or 30 years from now, or at the turn of the century. They don’t understand that it is getting a whole lot worse right now from all the damage already done to the environment.
So, the politicians fiddle with their economies as the planet burns.
We’ve heard that story before (see Nero and Rome). But this will probably be the last version of that story because mankind is unlikely to survive to do it again.
And that may not be such a bad thing. Mankind has been the most destructive species on the planet.
And the stupidest.
How else could you describe a species that destroys its own home?