News » Whistler

Educate on making a change for the climate

LETTER: For the week of Oct. 3


It's just great that people are waking up to climate change. In the '60s, we had hippies who demanded change. Yeah, but they became materialistic yuppies. Gen X was completely ignored because yuppies couldn't share the limelight. Gen Y/Millennials are now leading the charge from the comfort of what has been handed down to them. Maybe they will make the transformation to a better planet. What can we do to support their efforts?

I used to live in a part of the planet where homes didn't need heating. Heck, my shower in the morning was warm without turning the hot water on just because of the climate. If I were hot, I would go swimming and dive down to where the water layer was colder than the ambient temperature. That was my A/C.

I used to travel for weeks at a time to places that didn't have electricity, cell service or plumbing. The people living there weren't starving, but they did spend hours and hours every day on the hunt for their next meal. Sometimes taking the bus to the city and foraging through garbage dumps. Their life expectancy was lower than ours. Much lower.

We live in a place that we shouldn't be living. It is cold. Imagine Toronto without LNG in the winter. Human popsicles. No seriously. Millions would die. Whistler without natural gas? Please direct me to the nearest hotel or restaurant that doesn't use it.

So here we are, at the teat of fossil fuels. Our lives are better. We live longer. We are pretty happy, aren't we?

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is urging us to cut back on one car trip to work a week. The same RMOW that has 250 pieces of equipment in its fleet, with only 10 running on alternative fuels. Two-stroke engines fuel our landscaping and quads rip around with massive carbon footprints. The same RMOW funds millions into tourism without building alternative transportation options for our visitors. Yet I am to blame for our ever-increasing carbon footprint because I drive my car to pick up my daughter from her activities? Come on. Give me a break.

To quote Mark P. Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern: "Politicians and pundits like to invoke 'moonshot' language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently."

So much for every electoral campaign promise this autumn.

We rant and we rave. Energy solutions will take a transgression of ideology funded by innovation or by disaster. Probably the former so long as it's profitable in the next financial quarter. That's reality.

So, closer to home. What can we do to decrease our lust for gasoline? Here are some easy solutions with which we might begin:

1. Fund a transit solution to carry people from the Lower Mainland to our hamlet.

2. Instead of just advertising how great our town is to visitors, also delineate how there are options to travelling here.

3. Reduce parking spaces. Induced demand proves that if you build it then it will be used.

4. Change the entire fleet of municipal vehicles to electric.

5. Get rid of all two-stroke engines through a municipal bylaw.

6. Don't blame storeowners for leaving their doors open or hotels for having outdoor pools. They are the economic engines of this town.

7. Lobby the provincial government to make changes in the investment policies of the BCI towards funding clean energy start-ups instead of Uruguayan forestry companies as an example.

I submit that we need to educate more and that you have the funds to do it locally.

Patrick Smyth // Whistler