I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Discussion on The Restriction of Plastic Water Bottles

There is always a tension between individual rights and collective rights.
We restrict all kinds of behaviour by law: even though I can make all kinds of money manufacturing and selling crystal meth, the law prohibits me from doing so.  Ditto the manufacture of child porn:   very few people question our laws on child porn .  (Except for Tom Flanagan!)   Slavery isn't legal either.  Here in Canada, we have restrictions on hate speech. Most people would agree with restrictions on       first three:  I'm guessing or hoping  most folks would frown on urging people to kill  LGBT people because their existence is an abomination. We also regularly send folks to a forensic psychiatric hospital in spite of said folks express wishes!

Once we admit that some actions and behaviours are not socially acceptable, and should be sanctioned, the discussion then becomes one of where the sanctions  should be drawn.   We may differ on where that line should be, but will agree that a line should be drawn somewhere that restricts  freedoms.
I think that the issues of environmental degradation/ destruction and climate change are of the same calibre as slavery and child abuse. Humans stand a very good chance of destroying our natural environments as the climate warms: once we do that, then it’s goodbye Charlie for humans.  ( Please watch the video in the immediately preceding post or read Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer for information on how bad things will get if we continue with business as ususal.) 
Even if one privileges humans over everything else, the choices we make, are causing the climate to change .  We are therefore are killing people right now with our choice of business as ususal : climate change is eroding land in Bangladesh; South Pacific islanders are buying land on larger continents so they’ll have somewhere above water to live; and people are dying of droughts in the Horn of Africa.  I think we have a moral responsibility to alter our choices and actions if our current ones are devastating other people.
So, although banning plastic bottles at the students request at TRU may seem like a small step that arbitrarily wipes out freedoms, I don’t think it is. Plastic bottles are manufactured with oil – are unnecessary for our  health as we have clean drinking water in Kamloops – and their ban would be small step on the road we have to take if we are to survive. If nothing else, the discussion on plastic bottles acts as consciousness raising and symbolizes our collective determination to cut down on affluenza.

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