Carbon Taxation

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

By Leah McKinney

In recent decades the issue of climate change has become increasingly politicized. While some political parties plan to invest in a sustainable economy, others fear the short-term economic losses that could be a result of restrictions on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuel. During the last Canadian election this debate centered on carbon taxation. This is a type of taxation levied on carbon dioxide emissions, which aims to deter companies in the travel and energy sector from emitting greenhouse gasses while making green energy more affordable. 

A carbon tax puts a monetary price on the emissions which put the environment at risk, but is it enough? British Columbia was one of the first provinces to put in place a tax on carbon. This applies to fossil fuels used for transportation, home heating and electricity. According to the World Bank carbon taxation in BC has improved fuel efficiency without harming the province’s economy. Additionally, a 2013 report by Sustainable Prosperity, stated that fossil fuel consumption was reduced by 17.4% per capita during the time the tax was in place. These positive results have led many to believe that the carbon tax is the key to reducing emissions nation-wide and weaning off of fossil fuels altogether. However, there are concerns about the implementation of this strategy. 

The primary concern of objectors to the carbon tax is the timeline of the strategy. The last century has already seen 1℃ of global warming which has had devastating impacts such as severe weather, rising sea levels, and destructive wildfires. According to the World Meteorological Association, this is set to increase to as high as 5℃ of global warming by the end of the 21st century. The UN has warned that in order to keep this value down to 1.5℃ immediate and unprecedented action must be taken. Critics of the carbon tax say that incentivizing clean energy is not enough, as it will not reduce fossil fuel emissions to the extent necessary. They believe that for Canadian leaders to truly commit to the health and wellness of future generations they must start directly investing in clean energy sources such as geothermal, wind, and solar energy. 

Currently, Canada is the sixth-largest producer of oil and the fifth largest producer of natural gas. These are not rankings to be proud of. Canada is contributing to an issue that damages the environment and therefore poses an existential threat to all living things. A carbon tax may be a step in the right direction but it does fix the damage already done nor safeguard the lives of future generations.

Amazon Deforestation

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

By Grace Du

Once a 5.5 million square kilometer haven for 10% of the world’s known species, the Amazon has been reduced to a mere three-quarters of its original glory. The unchecked clear-cutting and burning will lead to irreversible ecological disaster unless the world intervenes. Why is the Amazon being destroyed? 

The answer is surprisingly simple: our love for meat. Initially, the deforestation only occurred so farmers could use the land to support themselves and their local community. However, in the second half of the 20th century, this destruction accelerated to accommodate the needs of the growing population. Hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest were cut away to support large scale agriculture, mainly cattle farming. Since 1978, 750,000 square kilometers have been cleared to feed our desire for meat. 

Should this continue, by 2030, 27% of the Amazon will have perished to deforestation. Due to the large amounts of fires used to expedite the deforestation process, the tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide released will further worsen the greenhouse gas accumulation in our atmosphere and accelerate global warming. As previously mentioned, the Amazon Rainforest is home to 10% of the world’s known species, making it the most biodiverse region on the planet. The continued burning of the forest would transform a once thick, thriving forest into a savannah sparsely populated with trees and grasses. While some species will be able to adapt to this drastically different environment, it is likely that many of them will not be able to, and Earth will suffer a hefty blow to its biodiversity.

What can we do to help? 

  1. Make ethical, sustainable choices with your diet: Cutting out beef would be a good place to start. Cattle ranching accounts for 80% of the rainforest cleared in the Amazon.
  2. Support Indigenous populations: All of this is happening at the expense of Brazil’s indigenous livelihood. Support organisations such as Amazon Watch which provide funding and education to indigenous communities.
  3. Protect an acre of land: Reach out to organizations such as the Rainforest Action Network to look into protecting an acre of the Amazon.
  4. Bring the pressure: Sign petitions and contact your local representative to pressure them to invoke change. Corporations inflict the most damage to our environment; challenge them to make sustainable choices.

If we continue to ignore this crisis, the worsening climate crisis will soon turn into an emergency. The loss of the Amazon would completely throw off the delicate ecological balance in the world. Continue to educate yourself and others and take action. Together, we can prevent catastrophe.

Climate Change – Who Is To Blame?

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

By Katarina Krivokapic 

In 2018, the United Nations released an alarming report asserting that humanity has less than 20 years to cap global warming within a limit of 1.5°C in order to avoid catastrophic consequences. The effects of climate change are already evident – rising sea levels, unseasonably long and severe droughts and floods, and in turn, human displacement and suffering. These devastating results of human activity – the likes of which are only beginning to be experienced by life on this planet – begs the question: who is to blame 

In 2015, Scientific American released a disturbing article alleging that the energy and fuel conglomerate ExxonMobil – yesthe same company responsible for the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1991 – knew about the dire effects of climate change as far back as 1977 – and continued their destructive practices. In fact, the corporation has been described by the New York Times as “the biggest climate change denier” – a fitting epithet earned for their multimillion lobbying efforts.  

It is estimated that approximately 50% of the world’s manmade greenhouse gasses were released into the atmosphere after 1988 – only 32 years ago. This statistic makes me wonder if we would be on a different trajectory today if rules were in place to police fossil fuel multinationals such as Exxon that were, and continue to be, complicit in the destruction of our environment.  

With every passing year, we are closer to exceeding Earth’s safe temperature threshold and, in turn, further from salvaging life as we know it. Although a lot of pressure is placed on the individual and family to “save the planet”, initiatives such as reusable straws are a drop in the bucket with little to no quantifiable change in the realm of human carbon emissions.  

It is important now more than ever to pressure our government into creating long term solutions and legislation to hold predatory conglomerates accountable for the damage they are causing to our environment and way of life. Aggressive and timely alternative energy solutions are essential if we intend on keeping our planet’s temperature increase within 1.5°C to ensure it is safe for us and those who will come after us. 

Sustainable Lifestyles

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

By Leona Lam

Our current way of living is comfortable yet detrimental to the state of our environment. With the increase in population, there has been an intense demand for food, fashion, travel, housing, and related necessities. As a result of the growing numbers in our communities, many people are unable to attain basic living essentials. Environmentalists have noticed a significant imbalance in available resources around the world; a state may be abundant whilst the other state is struggling.

Living sustainably means understanding how humans co-exist interconnected in the world, and how our lifestyle choices may impact those around us. It is up to us to practice appropriate controlled consumption of resources. There are many opportunities to make sustainable choices that will positively influence the peoples around us. This starts on a personal level; how we run our homes,
what we chose to consume such as clothing, technology, and food, our form of transportation, how wecare for our planet, and what companies we support. Following that, individuals may expand their impact and attempt to create meaningful change by supporting and donating to global and regional
organizations and initiatives that focus on encouraging sustainable lifestyles.

Action items:

1. Become a member of a community garden community organization or initiative that promotes sustainable lifestyles

2. Use everything you purchase and own to its full potential. Maximize its purpose – Purchase only what you need and will use.

3. Become more efficient with your means of transportation – run all your nearby errands at once instead of doing multiple trips. You may also want to begin using different forms of transportation such as biking, public transit, and walking.

4. Replace some household items – invest in implementing more natural light and energy-efficient light products. Start using natural cleaners, there are several recipes online. Replace paper towels and napkins with a reusable cloth.

5. Device addiction has become a soaring issue worldwide. Reduce your use of electricity-run devices; instead, read a book or play some sports. That action is beneficial to your mental health and doesn’t drain our resources.

6. The famous Rs. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Make an effort to sort out your waste appropriately.

7. Choose renewable energy – install solar panels and implement actions that can offset your carbon footprint.

8. Runaway from plastic. No seriously – run away from plastic. Avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic, avoid using disposable plastic products. Instead, invest in reusable bags, straws, and other overlooked essentials.

9. Make your own! DIY projects are always fun and trendy. Make your own new products out of the scraps of old products.

10. Share and borrow! Go to a thrift store and shop for cute clothes. Borrow books from the library. If you need something temporarily, find a temporary solution; such as sharing.

11. Remodel your diet and make healthy decisions that ensure we are consuming an appropriate amount of meat. Even better; go vegan!

12. Do your research! Educate yourself!

This idea is targeted by the UN Environment Programme as it looks towards implementing changes in lifestyle and visions proposed by political authorities. On a larger scale, it is up to the government and businesses to provide education and information on this idea; the authoritative should publicly encourage positive change by assisting in the development of new business models and project
executions. Non-governmental organizations and research foundations should work towards analyzing data and proposing evidence-based policies that associate with interactive societal systems.

However, back to ourselves.

Every individual should be actively making decisions that support
sustainable lifestyles. A goal is to implement these concepts worldwide to the point where these actions, lifestyles, and sustainable development proposals become the norm. In order for us to fulfill our plan, we must raise awareness and educate those in our communities about how daily living decisions may negatively impact the environment and those around us. We should spread our message through creative mediums, influencers, platforms, and cultural figures in hopes of reaching every single person in the world. Change needs to happen, and change starts with you.

All Eyes on Mi’kma’ki

By Nithila Theivendrarajah

This article is part of our “blog series” — written by youth, for youth, by members of our very own VSBSC executive team. We hope you enjoy reading these as much as we did writing them and stay tuned for future posts!

In Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaq First Nations’ rights to fishing are being threatened– despite the existence of a legal obligation to protect that right through the 1752 Treaty. In late August of this year, a Mi’kmaw fisherman, Mathew Cope, had his lobster traps seized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Mathew confronted them, saying, “I have a pre-existing inherited treaty right for fishing and I have a right to do so unhindered.” Regardless, they seized the traps aboard the Canadian Coast Guard vessel, but Mathew will be filing an injunction against DFO for seizing them.

This sparked a series of injustices, and non-Indigenous fishermen began terrorizing Mi’kmaq First Nations’ for protecting their rights to fish. Starting in the late summer and continuing to the present day, non-Indigenous fishermen are creating blockades to stop Mi’kmaq from fishing and refuse to sell any fishing equipment/boat fuel from their stores.

The Mi’kmaq had no support from RCMP, the Canadian government, DFO, despite reaching out and sending letters. In mid-September Mi’kmaq decided to organize their own Fishery, this would mean they no longer have to rely on DFO for fishing licenses, as they would be able to give Mi’kmaq fisherman fishing licenses themselves. This is all to say, they don’t need a fishing license to fish according to the Treaty and the Supreme Court of Canada recognized this in the 1999 case, R vs Marshall.

This stand to protect their right was met with white fishermen setting aflame a Mi’kmaq lobster boat in their self-regulated fishery.

The racism, injustices, and abuse that the Mi’kmaq are facing are enraging. Their right to fish is not being protected, non-Indigenous commercial fishermen are being protected instead. All despite the fact that is it Mi’kmaq First Nations’ right and every settler’s privilege. Please have your eyes on Mi’kmaq First Nations. Ku’ku’kwes News is a great source to stay updated with.