Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Think Globally, Act Locally, Think Locally, Act Globally.

The four things we need to do in order to save our planet.

Sounds complicated right? Well, it is and it isn't, and then it is again. As you can tell, this blog is going to be a bit confusing. lol. I'm going to be talking about some Green Issues and good ideas that are important to me and are going to be important political platforms in the next election.

I'll start off by talking about how I wound up at a nice pub dinner with Elizabeth May, Leader of the Canadian Federal Green Party. Though she's really more of a spokesperson as the Green Party isn't structured like other Canadian Political Parties. There's no 'right' or 'left' to them. Like myself, there's a sense of 'In order to maintain the economy, you need a living planet to keep it going.' When thought about it this way, the environment is actually a pretty key issue, underlying everything else.
(Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party. I would've had a picture with her, but I still can't find my camera.)

Anyway, so we had a dinner with Ms. May (technically Dr. May, but even she talks about how the honourary doctorates feel a bit like cheating, lol. I've chosen to keep calling her Elizabeth, as I felt that kindof first-name connection from her. I wouldn't go so far as to call her Liz, but you never know, in future dealings, perhaps we'll get to that comfort level. lol.). and it was a series of discussion. It was a square table, so Phil and I were talking to a lovely couple who drove Phil down and are grassroots supporters of Elizabeth and the Green Party and have been quite active in Central Nova, where Elizabeth will be running for MP in the next election. Some of you may recall she ran in North London a couple years back in a bi-election and nearly got in. Which would have been exciting as I come from the riding just south of it (Elgin-Middlesex). But that has nothing to do with the current topic. Besides which, I probably would have never met her had she won there. Instead, now she's here near our academic community, which has provided several options to hear her speak and finally to actually meet her and discuss a few things.

Her talk tonight was on how to make policy local. Basically, ground-up efforts organized first by the community, surrounding their issues, and building up towards a multi-departmental, provincial-federal collaborative approach to dealing with these issues. Whether through proper policy or some other Government action available to us. Seems like a pipe-dream right? Well, in some ways it is - but in more ways, its makes so much sense it is ridiculous that we haven't been doing this all along. Especially when we have evidence of HUGE screwups with our antiquated, top-down policy regime. The Atlantic Cod stocks for example. The policy didn't match what was happening on the ground (in the ocean in this sense) Big Business had the Government's ear and was steering the ship, to the ultimate destruction of the Cod Stocks and the industry as a whole, collapsing an entire economy. You can't tell me that's good for business.

I also want to show how the Green Party isn't just a bunch of tree hugging hippies. While there is a fair amount of tree hugging (trees get lonely too), May did an excellent job at conveying how the idea of being Green branches out into the policy of basically every department and beyond. Just to take from her example, one of the Party Platforms is to rebuild and make better the train infrastructure in Canada, in order to relieve pressure from the Highways. It would do this through mass transportation (which from personal experience, riding the rails is a fantastic way to travel), taking more trucks off the road for shipping, easing traffic, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by taking so many cars and trucks off the road, while only adding a handful of train engines who's unit output of toxins may be higher, but when taken overall their net effect on the environment would be lower than that of those people and cargo individually in cars. Socially, it also has an effect. On those long journeys, you're bound to make a friend or two sitting beside you, or in the dining car over a meal.

Where to move from this? Oh yes. Little known fact time: Did you know, that Lucien Bouchard, founder of the Bloc Quebecois, was actually Minister of the Environment under Mulroney - and quite progressive at that. When brought through controversial environmental situations, apparently his first question was always "What's best for the environment?" Showing a truly fantastic focus on what a politician in their own department should be looking at. How does this effect what I'm doing? He was also the Minister that introduced the first climate cap.

Anyway, back to local governance after those tangents. Basically, it brings the idea that if you build policy from the ground-up the less you can ignore bad policy, because the people that live there and have their lives staked in a living, breathing community are going to tell you if something isn't working or that it will threaten their way of life. It promotes slower decision making, but those decisions made work out better for all parties involved.

I could talk about all of this for hours, but I don't want to rant on too much. Mostly, this kind of governance works like a living organism - and if we think of ourselves as living organisms, both as seperate human beings, but also part of the greater creature that is our planet we can see that these ground up approaches are really the way to go. More local control over what is happening in our own communities can serve to enrich us all and maximize our potential as humans on this Earth.

Suffice it to say, Elizabeth's talk was fantastic, and if you ever get a chance to hear her speak I would suggest taking that opportunity to hear a very eloquent speaker whose ability to communicate the Green message is phenomenal, as you can tell she deeply believes in her cause.
So nothing really about vegetarianism tonight. Not really much to say, things are going well, had a nice lunch and dinner. Moreso I figured I'd take this opportunity to talk about some of my political leanings and ideas, as this is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. lol. Though, really - when you think about it - Vegetarianism, which for me has evolved into animal rights, which connects to human health and agriculture, which attaches to resource management and the environment. It all kindof snowballs. When you become activist on one point, it follows suit that the others will begin to connect as well because its difficult to be enlightened on one subject while remaining ignorant of all those that interconnect with it.

Well that's it for me. I'm going to leave you with a quote from Elizabeth

'The fault isn't in your inability to understand politics, the fault is in politics inability to understand reality."

Cheers all


Mandy said...

Hey Adam,
Check this site out-- some good ideas... i particularly like the chai!!

Tam said...

People should read this.