Rewarding change

Reports out of the European Union this week stated that global warming alarms have been ringing twice as severely as warranted by scientific evidence. It’s about time we heard that, seeing as the earth overall has been cooling slightly for a decade or so.
Global warming – the fact that it’s caused by mankind – has been highly overstated. Many times I have pointed out that if industrial emissions cause global warming, then why don’t scientists also blame volcanoes? A good volcano can spew out more dust, ash and gasses in a couple of days than all of industry can in a month.
Another story came out early this week that is related to global warming. The story is related to government spending and has this sense of entitlement. Scientists across Canada are protesting cuts to government spending on research. It seems that professors want to research what they want, the way the want to research, at the speed they want to research and at government expense.
If a person wants some depressing reading for an hour or two, read the list of things that are being researched in Canada or North America. 
The list of research topics and the number of government-funded organizations is mind boggling. Some of the topics are absolutely ridiculous and are of no value to us as citizens or to the government.
That said, what should happen is that researchers, universities and research institutions should raise their own funding. There’s plenty of people and foundations who will fund research and it – the funding – should not be so much a government expense.
Getting back to global warming, if in fact things like recycling actually might help reduce climate change, why don’t we actually take such topics seriously in Manitoba?
It seems that we fiddle with things instead of really attacking the problem. Here’s an example from an unrelated area. Back in the 1960s and 70s, it was deemed to be a problem to have cattle with horns. When horned cattle were shipped to market, they damaged each other with their horns, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. Hide quality and carcass quality was being affected. So, the government, in its wisdom, implemented a 50 cents per horn tax to be deducted at the point of sale. One wise agricultural department worker railed against the measure by saying, “If you want to create bureaucracy and build up a fund, then charge 50 cents. But if you want to get rid of horns on cattle, then charge $2 per horn.” 
He was right. Half measures are only a bureaucracy creating annoyance.
With recycling, the government charges us a drink container tax and it’s supposed to fund recycling. It doesn’t actually, but it makes the government feel better. Recycling household cardboard is funded, but commercial cardboard isn’t. Guess how much more commercial cardboard there is than household cardboard? Get the picture.
If we want to really recycle – and the benefits have a lot more to do with stewardship and cleanliness than it does with global warming – then we need to re-work our whole recycling program. There needs to be a levy on all recyclable materials and then the person gathering the recycling needs to be compensated for recycling. Remember the two cent levy on drink bottles? Every kid in the country knew how to collect drink bottles. If there was a 10 cent levy on drink containers and the gatherers got paid, then maybe we would see high rates of recycling.
Whether it’s research, recycling or affecting change, governments need to take leadership but then get out of the way. That’s a tough sell in a society where half the people work directly or indirectly for the government.

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