I’m a libertarian. Not the angry dogmatic kind who believes that public funding for the fire department is theft, but I do believe that almost every problem that governments try to solve they either make worse or fix only at much higher cost than anybody planned. Not because public servants or politicians are bad people, but just because it’s built into any system that acts on a large scale but with imperfect information. As a rule, the less government we can make do with, the better.
I’m also an environmentalist. I believe we as a species are making the earth a worse place for ourselves to live by polluting the air and water, emitting enough greenhouse gases to warm the atmosphere, and allowing our cities to expand unchecked. I don’t necessarily believe in preserving greenery for its own sake; I like a walk in the woods as much as the next person, but I don’t think I deserve a legislated right to have a stroll in somebody else’s forest. I do believe we as a society and a species are too dependent on non-renewable resources, that much of our development is unsustainable in its present form. The question isn’t the survival of the planet — the earth has withstood much worse than what we’re doing now — but the survival of our prosperity, particularly for those of us lucky enough to have been born in the industrial world.
So I think that we as a species have to stop doing a lot of the things we’re doing, and I not only dislike government regulation, I think it doesn’t usually work. This blog is where I try to reconcile these two principles I think are so important.
I look for market-based solutions to environmental problems. I think it’s crazy that a big factory is allowed to spew pollution into my personal air without asking me first, or paying for it, and even crazier that we use public money to subsidize objectionable behaviour, such as urban sprawl.
I try to figure out what’s both good and realistic. I pay attention to what politicians, especially Canadian ones, say about the environment, and either praise them or smack them, whichever they deserve. I respect honest differences of opinion and values, and criticize B.S., political or commercial, whatever the source.
Sometimes I rant.
Some things to know about me
I’ve voted for every major party except the Bloc Québécois in one election or another, plus the Greens, but the only candidate for any public office I’ve ever voted for who won was running for school trustee.
I’m a central Canadian, born and raised in Toronto, now living in Ottawa. I’ve also lived in Montreal and in Vancouver for a bit. I’m married into a big family that’s mostly in Alberta and my wife lived in Fort McMurray as a girl, before it was an oil boomtown, and still has family there. If I could live anywhere in the country, it’d be Cape Breton.
According to the government of Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions calculator, I’m responsible for about 3.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, below the national average of 5.5 and the Ontario average of 5.8. Nevertheless, if everyone consumed like me, the Earth Day Network tells me, we’d need 4.5 planets to sustain us all. I’m working on it.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I blog for the Ottawa Citizen here.