Earth Day, first celebrated in 1970, was one of the first global environmental actions. It’s shocking that, though the environment has been on the agenda for decades, it’s taken until the 2000s for the issue to be become truly mainstream.
An argument has long been made that, by taking tough action on polluters, we’ll somehow ruin the economy. By not acting, we’re well on the way to ruining both.
Our reliance on oil is just one example. Politicians advocate resurrecting the failed auto industry as a short-term solution to the economic problem. Yet last year’s triple figure gas prices showed how much our disposable income is dependent on oil. Our economy is global. Make no mistake, stock markets will not rise when environmental catastrophes, such as floods and droughts become ever more common.
From a transit perspective, tough decisions need to be made now. In this respect, the City of Ottawa is rather like a student who has left his term paper to the last minute, and is struggling to cobble together an answer.
However, Earth Day is about taking positive steps. A local branch is active in Ottawa (earthdayottawa.ca), and has a number of events planned. From a transit perspective, the most interesting is the Solar Sprint, which sees students build and race solar-powered cars.
But it’s also about personal gestures, such as walking or taking the bus to work. You never know, you might even like it.
Nationally, some six million people are expected to get involved. The numbers alone suggest the environmental movement is healthy at the grassroots level. We also need our leaders to show they understand economic and environmental prosperity are more intricately linked than they previously liked to admit.