July 23, 2015

Twinning Tweets: What does it really cost to save lives?

A few items that came in over the last few days …

Council, as part of its approval on upgrades for the Burrard Bridge, decided that $3.5 million is not too much to save a life.  That’s how much ‘suicide barriers’ will cost to prevent the one suicide a year that might be avoided by the installation of fencing that will likely alter the character of the bridge.

Yet here are three places where interventions could save countless more lives at a substantially lower per capita cost.

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Speed Limits

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Lower the limit.  A B.C. town just did it: Rossland lowers speed limit to 30 km/h throughout town

Result:

30-40-50-mph-chance-of-ped-survival

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Problem:

July 2, 2014:

Stone 2

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April 17, 2015:

Stone 1

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Sugary drinks

New research shows that beverages sweetened with sugar may have contributed to up to 184,000 deaths globally, mostly by causing increased rates of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Read more.

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Sugar

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Here’s the Mexican delivery system for sugar, fat and salt.  Oxxos are everywhere.

DSC05324

Oxxo 1

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Problem: They’re owned by Carlos (“richest man in the world”) Slim, who also has the Mexican Coca-Cola franchise.

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Climate Change

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says wildfire seasons like the one the province is currently experiencing will become more common because of climate change.

“Climate change has altered the terrain. It’s made us much more vulnerable to fire,” said Clark.

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Problem:

Christy Clark LNG Summit Mychaylo Prsytupa web_0

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As a practising politician, I was aware of how easy it is to charge hypocrisy and inconsistency – since it was so often true.  But then the accusers never had to make the trade-offs or choose the least-worst option.

Politics, truly, is the art of the possible – and timing is key to possibility.

But as the clock runs down on climate change, I do wonder how the Premier, who has commited her government to accelerating British Columbia’s role as carbon dealer to the world, reconciles that with the reality of a burning province – and a fire-fighting budget that will eventually cross the billion-dollar line, and continue to increase in the future, eating up the royalties locked in for the sale of LNG.

Oh the irony: we would need to increase the sale of carbon to the world in order to afford fighting the fires that are the consequence of climate change caused by … (join snake eating its tail here).

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To top off this irony-fest, my In-box just received this from The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert:

A New Climate-Change Danger Zone?

… holding warming to two degrees would, at this point, require a herculean effort—one that the same world leaders who agreed to the Copenhagen Accord now seem unwilling or unable to make. A number of commentators have recently questioned whether, practically speaking, it is even still possible. “The goal is effectively unachievable,” David Victor, of the University of California, San Diego, and Charles Kennel, of the Scripps Institution, wrote recently in Nature. (The commentary was accompanied by a drawing of a feverish and exhausted-looking globe hooked up to a variety of life-support systems.)

Thus, whether the “danger” zone lies below two degrees Celsius or above, the world seems bent on reaching it—with all the suffering and challenges to “civilized society” that go with it.

Drink that soda, step on the accelerator and ignore the smoke.  At least there’s a fence.

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Comments

  1. As always, you provide an illuminating perspective to issues that really matter. One thing I still do not quite understand is why the likelihood that combatting climate change will require a Herculean effort should be used as an excuse for not acting. Yes it’s a huge problem requiring an immense effort to address, and like you, I too am incline to see this as a motivation to get going right now. The longer we wait, the worse off we will all be.

    Perhaps global warming is not seen as such a bad deal by Canadians, but have you people stopped to consider that if Global warming cannot be stopped its likely that you folks will be over run by us Americans. After all, a strong motivation for establishing the nation of Canada in the first place was to prevent American annexation of large chunks of the territories that became Canada. For every Canadian there are approximately ten Americans and if out nation becomes a barren wasteland gthanks to droughts and scorching get temperatures, just where do you think we are going to go? I’ll give you a hint: it won’t be Mexico. We already stole California, Arizona and New Mexico from them.

    1. It’s already happening in a way. I keep meeting more and more Americans who have moved here. (It isn’t just climate, they’re also tired of the politics down there and don’t see any hope with that.)
      But yeah, what would the Canadian military do if the U.S. started rolling in the tanks? We’re allies so not supposed to do that but it could happen.
      More likely is that we’ll be a sovereign country but everything will be owned by foreigners. Aren’t we just Mexicans with parkas?

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