Letter: Adaptation and preparedness should be top priority

Green Party leader for Battle River-Crowfoot speaks to taxes and environmental concern.

Dear Editor,

When a politician tells you that they are going to keep taxes low, what they are really saying is that your roads, health care and schools are going to get worse, not better.

They’re also saying that they don’t believe that the climate is changing, and they’re not going to do anything to prevent or prepare for floods, wildfire, drought and disease outbreaks.

They’re also saying that, despite the imminent threat of nuclear war and a rapidly changing global trade environment, we don’t need to boost spending on international diplomacy.

Finally, they’re saying that we don’t need more first responders (despite the increased risks). And we don’t need more domestic security services — spies on the ground — to keep tabs on the people we suspect of terrorist threats.

Do politicians not watch the news? Or perhaps they think that we don’t. In any case, it seems clear that government is not taking the necessary steps to adapt to, and prepare for, an increasingly dangerous world.

We can do a lot to get ready. We should consider, for instance, what to do about drought. We could change building codes to allow for surface water collection in existing homes, and make it mandatory in new homes. If you look at a map of drought risk in Alberta, it’s only a matter of time before we’re going to run short of water. Right now, grey water systems, which collect lightly used household water, are not allowed here because there is a risk of fecal contamination. They’re not wrong, so we have to look at the options and decide on a solution. Someone has to do that work, and they won’t do it for free.

We should also look at how to create drainage to handle the extreme rainfall we can expect. That probably means changing municipal drainage codes, legislated protection of wetlands (which store water), building new wetlands, grant to farmers to building drainage and water storage on fields, legislating for hedgerows on cropland, and so on. Again, some of these ideas might work and some might be stupid, but we’ve got to get working on a solution. That work doesn’t happen by magic.

These are just a few things we have to do to adapt to changing weather. The geopolitical and terrorist threats are just as important, if not moreso. Preventing and preparing for all of these threats takes a strong and effective government, well-funded colleges and universities, and many non-profit, multi-stakeholder organizations, all working together on these problems. All a politician has to do is create the projects. It’s easy. But those people need to be paid and that takes taxpayer money.

We can do a very great deal to keep ourselves safe, even prosperous and able to help others, in this increasingly dangerous world. But if we focus more on keeping our taxes extremely low (which, in comparison to other developed countries, they are), then we will simply not prevent the threats coming our way, and we won’t be ready when disaster inevitably strikes. It will be nobody’s fault but our own.

Nora Abercrombie

CEO, Green Party of Canada for Battle River – Crowfoot