We were sitting on drywall buckets, back in 2006, eating our lunch in one of the dusty condominium units under construction. My tile-setting coworker and I covered a lot of territory on lunch break discussions; lots of shop talk, pastime stuff, money, and of course the politics of relationships; but on this day we asked, “Why doesn’t anyone talk about global warming?”
Our vexation stemmed from just a few basic facts: Firstly, we learned about human caused global warming in grade 10 geography, so it seemed like nothing new (in fact, the idea has been around since the 1930’s and gained scientific attention in the 1970’s). Secondly, at that time, as we ate our lunch, an overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agreed that global warming could be attributed to humans burning fossil fuels. And lastly, it was widely reported that the effects of global warming were, and would continue, causing considerable difficulties and costs to citizens everywhere.
So, it really seemed obvious that actions should be taken. Through our discussions, what we came to believe was that we as a society seemed to be like frogs in boiling water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog). Well, as the wiki suggests, I now believe we were wrong. Since my election in November I have witnessed how the actions of voters have created local governments around North America that are willing to take real steps to mitigate global warming aka climate change.
And not only have we started dialogue about the cost of global warming and environmental degradation, but we have a mayor and council that is willing to examine the status quo. We have open minded individuals who want to know the long term effects, including benefits and costs, of how we invest our tax dollars.
Here is an article that will help us evaluate the value of cycling infrastructure on our overall tax bill, through cost benefits to our infrastructure, health care, insurance, mental health, environmental and economic systems. If you are interested in this subject on a more general level, you might watch this Canadian documentary – http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/better-urban-design-could-add-years-to-your-life-1.2932142.