Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's not easy being green…

Josh here...

The Provincial government is running a TV commercial that reminds viewers "Good things grow, in Ontario". Unfortunately, they are referring to peaches, apples and strawberries, not ideas, generated (forgive the subtle pun) by our Environment Minister Laurel Broten and Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.

In a recent press conference reported in the August 10th edition of the Toronto Star, the current Ontario government announced that owners of hybrid cars would be issued green coloured licence plates instead of the blue on white, which would enable them to park for free at public lots and travel in highway carpool lanes (a.k.a. high occupancy vehicle – HOV lanes). Other perks are under development.

The banana peel our Ministers slipped on was that green licence plates are used to identify sex offenders in Ohio, Wisconsin and Alabama and may cause Ontario drivers to think twice about driving through these states announcing their environmental friendliness.

This morning's letter to the editor made me smile as it suggests, "red license plates of shame" for those who drive SUVs. Insert sarcasm here.

Hybrids help drivers use less gas, just as some low-cal foods help dieters eat less. What we need is a serious change in thinking. A properly organized rail/rapid transit system would get people out of their cars. If you live in London, Paris, Rome, or New York, you do not need a car. If anyone has travelled to Southern England, the rail links between London and the suburbs are fast and frequent. Consider a 25 minute train ride for a 50 mile (81km) commute as compared to 50 minutes in a car with all the expense and down time. Toronto and other cities have oceans of flat roofs that could be covered with solar panels or wind turbines. Toronto is going through a tax crunch where the city cannot seem to balance its books. One of the solutions to reduce costs was to shut down the newly completed Sheppard subway system, cut bus routes and raise fares. How is this "green"? How does this reduce carbon emissions?

Requiring solar panels/wind turbines on empty flat roofs, building and subsidizing an efficient rail/rapid transit system, heavy taxes on low mileage cars/trucks, higher taxes on non-energy star appliances are all tough decisions that would have to be made and likely cost both the public and private sector millions, but the payback would be equally large. Politicians don't make tough decisions with an election looming.

If everyone generated a little energy (solar/wind) themselves, conserved energy on an ongoing basis, then the decision to build a nuclear power plant could be delayed or shelved for years.

A green licence plate is akin to telling someone, the bag of Oreo cookies they have just eaten is made without "trans-fats". Guess what, it's still a bag of Oreos.

1 comment:

secret agent said...

that's awesome.......... green tags