At the intersection of entitlement and slaughter

My current home in Toronto’s annex neighbourhood is a weird place and time in which to live. Many of the people up and down my street are simultaneously funding cosmetic renovations to their houses, like installing smooth new bricks and stairs. At the same time, there are people who I see daily and who seem to earn their living by picking liquor bottles out of the city’s big blue wheeled recycling bins.

It all makes me feel like people here don’t understand what is going on. The rich landowners are shelling out in hopes of boosted social status or because of psychological insecurity. At the same time, glass and metal containers which could be recycled just as well by the standard municipal recycling service are worth collecting and bringing to specific stores, at the same time as society largely ignores the harm associated with alcohol, and even encourages its use. In Canada, the four kinds of drugs that cause the most damage to individuals and society are alcohol, tobacco, opiates, and benzodiazepines. People who spend their labour collecting liquor vessels provide no benefit to society, since it doesn’t matter whether municipal recycling or Ontario’s liquor sales system collects the glass and aluminium. Within three blocks of here, restaurants burn methane to encourage customers to sit outside.

This is all magnified by my concern about climate change. All the credible science shows that continuing with business as usual will destroy nations, yet people continue to feel entitled to burn as much fossil fuel as they can afford. People find the flimsiest excuse to justify wasting energy on heating or cooling large spaces, flying thousands of kilometres in jets, and constantly adding to their stocks of material possessions. If there are people in the future, they will probably be right to judge us harshly: as the ones who knew the ruin they were imposing for their own fun and convenience and who chose like psychopaths to do it all anyway.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

4 thoughts on “At the intersection of entitlement and slaughter”

  1. Oil, a commodity that nurtures dependency, has so coddled the Alberta mind that it has fostered a provincial culture of victimization as poisonous as the identity politics unsettling university campuses.

    If oil were a young university student, Alberta’s politicians would now play the role of paranoid helicopter parents or politically correct campus administrators.

    Every day the province’s oil-obsessed politicos warn Albertans that Canada is a dangerous place full of self-righteous climate activists (and some are indeed self-righteous), anti-pipeline protestors, dumb courts, stubborn First Nations, and nasty liberals.

    Moreover the province’s potential for offence-taking has become as grand as Justin Trudeau’s vindictive Liberal Party of Canada. It can’t tolerate any truth-telling either.

  2. But once emissions credits became a reality, libertarians almost unanimously rejected them, and switched from “free market environmentalism” to straight-up climate denial. As Quiggin says, the problem with tradeable emissions is that it rebuts the core tenet of libertarianism: John Locke’s idea that property rights arise spontaneously from nature, rather than being created by governments hoping to achieve specific policy goals.

    But more deeply, “Affluent white men who don’t like being told what to do are by far the most important constituency for libertarianism. Such men would consider it a dreadful imposition to have to pay, whether directly or indirectly, for the right to drive a car or use air conditioning.

  3. Last year, the International Energy Agency made a finding that stunned even its own researchers. SUVs were the second-largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, eclipsing all shipping, aviation, heavy industry, and even trucks, usually the only vehicles to loom larger than them on the road.

    “The global rise of SUVs is challenging efforts to reduce emissions,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, admitted.

    SUVs raced to a new milestone in 2019, surpassing 40 percent of all car sales worldwide for the first time. The world’s roads, parking lots, and garages now contain more than 200 million SUVs, eight times the number from a decade ago. SUVs’ share of car sales in the U.K. has tripled over the past 10 years; in Germany last year, 1 in 3 cars sold was an SUV.

    Combining the weight of an adult rhinoceros and the aerodynamics of a refrigerator, SUVs require more energy to move around than smaller cars and therefore emit more CO2, overshadowing the car industry’s climate gains from fuel efficiency improvements and the nascent electric vehicle market.

    Emissions analysis commissioned by the Guardian illustrate, for the first time in detail, how much worse for the climate SUVs are than smaller vehicles, and how they have helped transform our cities.

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