GREEN ALERT FOR PLANET EARTH
by Ceri Au
October 25, 2006
There was a time, not too long ago, when environmentalists were stereotyped as a collection of misfits and outcasts who lived on the peripheries of modern society. In other words, they were barefoot hippies who ate granola and wore hemp. Those days are over. Now politicians and common citizens alike recognize that environmental degradation is a serious issue with large-scale ramifications not only for the planet, but also for “the American way of life” as US President George Bush is apt to call rapacious consumerism. When the World Wildlife Fund released it’s ecological report card yesterday, ranking the current state of ecological decay in 150 countries, it only added more statistical data proving our green home is quickly becoming a sooty wasteland devoid of natural resources. But like an environmental Cassandra desperate to be believed, the WWF has moved away from its traditional overload of depressing information and is trying to appeal to the average consumer with a simple message: By 2050, the world will require double the amount of resources required to sustain current consumption levels. In short, without serious change the prospect of future generations living healthy, prosperous lives is grim.
The WWF report uses an “ecological footprint” measurement to compare environmental damage in various countries. And when it comes to Canadian responsibility, our collective hands are soiled. The National focuses on the country’s unenviable fourth-place ranking in a list of the world’s worst polluters (behind the United Arab Emirates, the US and Finland). According to WWF botanist and zoologist Steven Price, Canadians are bad environmental performers; over-heating their homes in winter and over-cooling them in summer. Price argues it’s important for Canadians to make greener choices as consumers, such as buying green energy derived from solar and wind power. Yet despite North America’s current high-octane consumption habits, the economic growth of developing nations such as China and India is also becoming a concern for environmentalists. In developing countries, the side-effect of rapid industrialization is often a trail of unchecked ecological destruction. But until a company can commodify sustainable living like a hip new soft-drink, or until the size of an ecological footprint becomes an embarrassment to public officials, greener living will continue to be a tough sell to North Americans and the rest of the global community.