Viewpoint: Don’t wait to take action

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By JIM STANDEN

Recently, we’ve seen climate scientists raise the warning to “crisis” or “emergency” level.

We are hitting and passing tipping points and unstoppable feedback loops. The term “extinction event” is now becoming common. Action to prevent irreversible damage must be taken immediately. In other words, an EMERGENCY. (Yes, in caps and in bold.)

Greta Thunberg in Europe sees the emergency. She is 16 and has been holding education strikes on Fridays. Other students have been joining her. They are on strike for their future and want immediate and decisive action.

So how does one act in an emergency? We should know. We were just there with our December storm. Crews were out all over the place with a “do or die“ attitude. They came from far and away to ensure our roads, hospitals and grocery stores were available. They worked Christmas Day and had long shifts. They did what was required and they did it . . . NOW!

Were there meetings to produce studies, ask opinions, generate reports, create budgets and discuss budget cycles, find consensus? No. It was an emergency. Damn the torpedos, get the job done. Later, determine how much it cost. Write some post-event reports. Make better plans for the next event.

The climate change challenge is clear, folks. The studies have been done, the questions have been asked and the climate scientists have responded with hard facts. This is an EMERGENCY. 

And we know that transportation is our biggest producer of greenhouse gases locally, so we islanders began taking action. We spent our own dollars. Over 200 of us already drive electric. And a team of smart, intelligent folks volunteered their own time to encourage the installation of 10 free public chargers on Salt Spring (providing 15 charging wands). Together with wise business owners, we have changed Salt Spring Island. We have lowered our greenhouse gas emissions, reduced the island needs for fuel, reduced the noise level and made the air better for our precious kids and pets. And we were happy to do so and are proud of our accomplishments.

What about government?

Action from the federal level? Precious little.

Action from our provincial government? Some nice assistance. Programs to reduce the cost of purchasing an electric car and/or scrapping your existing junker, installing chargers at multi-residences and providing subsidies for charging at home.

Action from the CRD? Gary Holman is supporting the declaration of a region-wide climate emergency and is looking for ways to support climate action on Salt Spring this year.

Action from the Islands Trust? Not much.

This is an emergency. So I am asking Gary and Islands Trust trustees Peter Grove and Laura Patrick the following question. Have you initiated projects to support lower transportation emissions from your organization on Salt Spring Island by 1) installing chargers at your business locations and 2) swapping out your fleet of vehicles for electric or plug-in hybrid equivalents? These actions will immediately lower your organization’s emissions, and the results will be easily quantifiable.

The Transition Salt Spring EV Group is here to assist you. Please ask. And please take action (NOW).

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