Letters to the Editor for the week of January 10 

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Get real with carbon offsets

In your "Opening Remarks" column (Pique, Jan. 3) as ways we can reduce our carbon footprint you suggest, "offset your carbon emissions if you fly?" If we really want to reduce our collective carbon footprint we should offset all our emissions, not just the ones from flying.

Well, actually, we should drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, eat less meat, and drastically reduce our energy consumption. But clearly very few people are actually willing to do that.

So we buy carbon offsets. If you go onto PlanetAir's website you can calculate your emissions from your home's heating and electric consumption, your car's use, your flights, your bus rides, and other emitting activities. Then, adding all those items up gives you a partial total of your footprint. Partial because I still don't know any way of calculating the emissions from a pair of skis, food we buy, bikes, clothes, etc.

Well, you could read How Bad Are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee and then fine-tune your emissions calculation.

I take the emissions calculation from PlanetAir and go to The Himalayan Stove Project website (himalayanstoveproject.org) and buy carbon offsets. They are US$20 a ton.

Unless you really want to be able to show people your carbon offset certificate, just contribute multiples of US$20 to purchase stoves. This saves the admin fee of carbon credits and 100 per cent of the money goes to buying stoves.

I prefer the Himalayan Stove project as its stoves instantly change people's lives and reduce pollution. A real reduction is achieved immediately. This is in contrast to the hocus pocus of buying carbon offsets attributed to not cutting trees down—trees that may never have been cut down anyway.

Buying carbon offsets does help mitigate our footprint. However, it should not be viewed as a "get-out-of-jail-free card" that allows us to continue our gluttonous lifestyles.

In conclusion, I just have to share the best analogy I have for buying carbon offsets: "It is like beating your dog with a stick covered in a blanket, it doesn't hurt as much but you still shouldn't be doing it."

Bryce Leigh
Whistler

Losing a vote

[Editor's note: Last month, the Resort Municipality of Whistler sent a letter calling out some companies in the fossil-fuel industry and demanded they help pay for costs associated with climate-change effects, causing a firestorm of outrage (see Pique, Dec. 20, 2018). Following the backlash from industry, Mayor Jack Crompton made a video response clarifying the letter and its intent.]

I saw the video (by Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton) and it did not impress me as I watched him skirt around the issue.

It was the interview that moved me to contact him. 

To say that people should not feel uncomfortable coming to Whistler is a clever way of doubling down on the controversy and not taking full responsibility for his unfortunate miscue. 

In my view, his apology fell far short of what is an acceptable response to companies that drive our national economy and that of our community by holding high-level meetings here.

He has successfully lost my vote and support in any future election because of his unwillingness to offer a blanket apology without trying to justify a lack of understanding of the bigger picture. 

(The mayor needs to) stop and pause to think about his position statements before hitting the send button.

I don't need to emphasize the fact that the economy of Whistler is dependant not only on tourism but also on attracting multiple business meetings to the local hotels and to the convention centre. 

I am concerned—as are many of my friends and neighbours—that the mayor's approach will not only discourage oil and gas companies from coming to Whistler but also other business sectors. 

Many of the small businesses and restaurants depend on companies holding their meetings here. 

In speaking with a patient who is an oil-company executive, he doesn't think the mayor has any grasp on how much money is spent in Whistler during the four days they hold their meetings.

As he said, we have very significant expense accounts for entertainment and he won't be spending a dime in the future in this resort town. 

It has nothing to do about "feeling welcome" but more importantly about business and keeping political agendas out of the conversation. Crompton has missed the mark. He needs to reach out to the people he has disenfranchised. 

As mayor, your responsibility is to be an ambassador for our resort town, not a champion of personal opinion. As I said before, Crompton's raison d'être is to be sensitive to the concerns of all citizens of Whistler and leave personal agenda aside. 

Good luck in the future. The electorate will have the final word. 

Dr. PJ Pommerville
Whistler/Vancouver

Passing the blame on Climate Change

As a leader in the resort industry, I was quite shocked to see the letter the Whistler mayor and council sent the energy sector in Alberta claiming (climate change) is all their fault ... and to pay for it.

One only has to look at the traffic jam stretching from the north end of Whistler all the way back to Vancouver on any given weekend (to see) the energy sector is not to blame. The energy sector is not forcing all those people to drive to your resort.

Perhaps the council should be putting a carbon tax on all the restaurant bills, bar bills, hotel bills, lift tickets and everything else that gets transported to the village and beyond. Oh wait, maybe we shouldn't give Justin Trudeau any more ideas.

Set up a toll on the highway to tax/blame all the incoming tourists and leaving locals. Aren't they as equally to blame for using fossil fuels?

All those concrete structures called hotels and condos and lift stations are equally as liable. (The) concrete-curing process gives off huge amounts of carbon and is not easily recycled.

Huge amounts of waste and unrecyclable materials are generated by your industries.

Using helicopters to build more structures on the mountain burns more fuel than is necessary, as do all the heli-ski operations around.

Not having efficiently burning wood stoves, leaving storefront doors open, heating patios in winter, all the lights left on all the time all over the valley—I could go on but instead I choose to stay away, not so much because of the hypocritical stance and letter regarding the council's opinion (by the way, how many vehicles are in your family garages?), (but) because of the high cost to try and enjoy it.

I know of a lot of local Vancouverites are also simply looking elsewhere to spend their holidays.

As one old enough to see the recess of glaciers across Western Canada, I have made the choice to lower my footprint and do my part. I only use my vehicle several times a month and utilize public transportation and human-powered means to travel and get to work.

What exactly is the council doing instead of just blaming others?

Michael Davison
Vancouver

Feeling blessed

On Thursday, Jan. 3, our town got a nice big fat dump of snow. Many were delighted, of course, but some of us are beyond coping with the "blessing" in our driveway save to wait for our snowplow.

On this particular day, a few young men came to some of the houses on our block of Crabapple Drive and shovelled walking paths from street to door. I was too late to thank them in person, but am anxious for them to know how much that meant to myself and others.

Seems like Santa's elves worked overtime this year and we the recipients are grateful. 

Mary Murray
Whistler

Seeking a witness

I am sad to say that I had a very bad start to the new year and have lost a bit of faith in my fellow man.

I was driving along Nesters Road south toward Lorimer on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 6:05 p.m. A black Dodge pick-up truck was ahead of me at the stop sign. I stopped and saw the fellow flash a light in his cab and then promptly accelerate in reverse into my bronze Toyota Highlander.

He tried to drive away but stopped after I honked and yelled. He immediately claimed "that I must have rolled into him, that I was behind" and continued to lie while we exchanged paperwork.

I was so flustered by his outright lie that I called police. They asked us both to stay at the scene but he drove away down Lorimer and likely exited through Blueberry. He admitted using a flashlight in his cab to see if he was in four-wheel drive, but denied backing up and I suspect there was a reason he drove away before the police arrived.

But without a witness, I will be found 100-per-cent at-fault by ICBC.

He obviously knew this with his quick lie, but I was blissfully unaware that I would be held responsible.

I have left notes on the homes on Treetop Lane, talked to the daycare and Whistler Transit and my kids and I have posted all over social media. We may have an Instagram lead but if anyone out there witnessed this, please contact me at the Pique offices (or ICBC directly if you prefer).

And let's all be kind and honest in 2019! 

Catherine Power-Chartrand
Whistler

Looking at ecological irony

Over the past few weeks, there is one single term used repeatedly to describe—or more like "demonize"—everyone from the average skier to the average oil-patch roughneck.

This term, hypocrisy, is just one of many examples of how the entire debate on climate change is conducted nearly exclusively using logical fallacies or outright balderdash worthy only of a six year old in any sandbox.

I've been waiting hopefully for some of the skilled writers at the Pique to step in and correct this idiocy, but then Leslie Anthony only made it worse ("Oh, the hypocrisy," Dec. 27).

I feel the need to reveal to the great and noble snow-sports community in general, and Whistler in particular, how it is now being scrutinized and documented by various sociologists for what they term ecological irony.

Consider this from "Skiing, mobility and the irony of Climate Change" by Mark C.J. Stoddart published in Human Ecology Review in 2011: "The relationship between skiing and climate change is marked by what (Bronislaw) Szerszynski (2007) refers to as ecological 'irony': the gulf between expressed environmental beliefs, on one hand, and active participation in ecologically destructive practices, on the other. The ski industry and many skiers adopt a generally pro-environmental standpoint (Fry, 2006; Rockland, 1994; Sachs, 2001-2002; Weiss et al., 1998). However, skiing is intimately bound up with mobility networks (Larsen et al., 2006; Lassen, 2006; Sheller & Urry, 2006; Urry, 2004) oriented around airplane and car travel.

"Insofar as ski resorts are nodal points in networks of automobility and aeromobility, skiing contributes to global climate change at the same time that the sport is viewed as particularly vulnerable to its consequences."

Bad news that the shrinks are paying attention but the good news here is their nuanced use of the term "irony," which is generally more accurate (and forgiving) than "hypocrisy" in most cases.

For instance, a guy who works in the Alberta oil patch might also spend his weekends fishing in the Athabasca River, which is ironic but not particularly hypocritical. The guy has to work somewhere, and if it's Fort Mac, it likely will be in the oil patch. 

Besides, everyone uses fossil fuels to do nearly anything, even a standard granola cruncher going to a pipeline protest. No matter what our awareness and intentions, we are always constrained by our immediate conditions, which may well be quite ironic in how the values conflict to the point of a seeming contradiction.

But then there is awareness combined with cynicism, fatalism, denialism, laziness, narcissistic self-interest and a host of other rather unsavoury attitudes, which can magically transform irony into hypocrisy.

While an average oil-patch worker (or ski-hill employee) might not find much opportunity available to resolve the irony of working in an industry that threatens the other values they appreciate, the same cannot be said for, let's say, Whistler council or perhaps a big influential climate champion that recently created a video series entitled "The Choices We Make" ... speaking of some pretty funny irony!

Whistler council, Tourism Whistler, Vail Resorts, Alpine Canada, and others who are de-facto leaders of this great snow-sports capital of the universe are all no less a victim of irony than the rest of us, but they do have a greater opportunity—and thus an obligation—to make reasonable and achievable efforts to resolve these ironies, as only leaders can. 

Not just changing lightbulbs either. We all know that climate change is a political problem requiring political solutions and our community leaders have demonstrated fully that they are not the least bit shy to get political: Whistler council's recent letter is one example and Vail Resorts' funding of the Republican Party is a giant glaring one. Yes, both are horrible examples of leadership but certainly they are political. 

There are risks in being overtly political (not so much in changing lightbulbs ... maybe that's why they do it!), but considering the general low vulnerability and high influence of these particular leaders, the risks are markedly low.

Vail Resorts clearly demonstrated all this when it publicly and loudly (stopped advertising with) The Rebel Media ... on its website, resulting in no negative consequence.  

If our corporate and community leaders fail to take reasonable and achievable opportunities to lead in a domain where they claim to care and the risks to them are low, I think it's fair to say these leaders engage not only in irony, they engage in hypocrisy. The only real question at this point is whether it is deliberate. Considering for a moment that fundamentally there is exactly zero difference between The Rebel Media and the Republican Party, it seems to me that at least Vail Resorts knows what they now need to do, unless they hypocritically never actually intend to.

Bruce Kay 
Powell River

Aerial Silks thanks

Whistler Aerial Silks held an evening performance on Saturday, Dec. 15—a celebration for the silks athletes to show their skills to family and friends.

The Whistler Gymnaestrada team provided beverages and snacks, which added to the evening's amazing performances, making the entire event a huge success for both silks and Gymnaestrada groups.

The Gymnaestrada team raised more than $1,000 for its World Gymnaestrada performance in Austria in July 2019.  We would like to thank the following people and organizations for supporting this great display of athletics and performing arts: IGA, Pemberton Supermarket, BC Wine Studio, Deanne Palmer, Randi Kruse and Senka Flowers.  

A huge thank you to the silks and Gynaestrada coaches Dani Duncan and Tami Mitchell for organizing the event. Finally, thank you to all the amazing volunteers who put so much time and positive energy into making this a wonderful community event.

Vicki Swan
Whistler

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