July 2nd, 2020

We can’t choose between economy, environment

By Letter to the Editor on August 13, 2019.

Politicians are increasingly treating the tension between the economy and the environment as though we can happily choose one and ignore the other.

The current provincial government is promising the moon when it comes to the economy. But it seems to treat any indication of sound environmental action – from local environmental regulation to climate change – with disdain

Battle is declared on environmental groups with “war room” rhetoric. Even the quiet business of law making continues to relegate the environment. For instance, of the 14 bills and amendments that have received royal assent under the new government, none strengthens action on the environment. Rather, some partly roll back environment regulations.

To dismiss the environment in these ways is to dispel myriad critical issues that touch the life of every Albertan. These include local environmental use, air and water pollution, disposal of toxic wastes by industry, and the impact of extreme and unpredictable weather on our agriculture, and safety of life and property.

To be clear, we must not take for granted our economic strength. Indeed, our relative wealth has and will continue to provide some degree of bulwark against environmental stress. But that has its limits. Even the insurance industry is rethinking risk and insurable assets in the face of environmental stress. And failure to respond appropriately to environmental imperatives will not only undermine our economic base, we also deny ourselves the opportunity to lead the world in the economies of the future.

And we should not delude ourselves that we can somehow stay untouched by environmental instability in other parts of the world. Our food, clothing, electronics and other daily necessities depend on webs of supply chains that connect us to distant corners of the world. The powerhouse of our internet is based in places as far as Belgium and Finland. Our phones rely on cobalt mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even our wastes had to be sent as far away as the Philippines – who have recently sent back our dodgy export.

A lot is possible within the space where we pay equal attention to the economy and the environment. When trade-offs are inevitable, they should not be left to self-interested powerful lobbies or supposedly neutral market logics. The power of robustly informed public debate and civic participation must prevail.

Niyi Asiyanbi

University of Calgary


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10 Responses to “We can’t choose between economy, environment”

  1. Although Niyi does not show up on the U of C faculty, staff, and student listings, it appears he is a recent recipient of a fellowship there.


  2. John P Nightingale says:

    And your point is?

  3. Just wondering about the expertise of the letter writer John. More info.


  4. Southern Albertan says:

    Since money/the economy ‘talks,’ I went to Google and typed in “impact of severe weather episodes on Canada’s economy.” Here is one of what came up:
    “Severe Weather Causes $1.9 Billion in Insured Damage in 2018.” http://www.ibc.ca
    ….and our insurance costs keep going up every year. No wonder….
    So, try to do what it takes to try to decrease these severe weather episodes, or just keep doing status quo?
    Either way, we will all pay/are paying, the piper.

  5. When I received a letter from my insurance company telling me they had to raise rates because of climate change induced floods in Alberta, I knew it was time for a change. Got a substantially reduced rate from another company.

  6. Fedup Conservative says:

    Duane just keeps on proving how out of touch he is. He is always a good laugh. He is great at making a fool of himself. He claims we shouldn’t be concerned over the increase in temperatures in the arctic, he doesn’t care that the warm air came down into Alberta and was responsible for the massive forest fires this spring, he doesn’t care that Greenland is on fire at this time, or that 200 Caribou starved to death in the arctic because of the heat up there, He has never talked to any of the oilmen who work in the arctic and tell us they can’t believe how it’s changing. But this doesn’t effect Duane directly so he doesn’t give a damn, and some how ignoring these facts makes him a lot smarter than the rest of us. When he runs out of changing insurance companies and has to pay $400. per month to cover the cost of these world wide disasters maybe he’ll wake up, as my niece, who worked in the insurance industry says has to come.

    How much is he going to be willing to pay to clean up the orphan wells Klein dumped upon us or should Kenney just keep on letting the cost build up so our children will have to deal with it. We are told it could be $260 billion and climbing. I bet Duane doesn’t give a damn about that either. The oilmen I talk to certainly do they have children to.

  7. snowman says:

    fc; how much of North America was covered with ice in the big disaster were you out there crying when the ice was melting and we have today just dinosaurs to make oil . the oil man you talk to probaby made millions and are pleased they do not have to drill thru prairie ice for dead dinos oil.