Maxed Out 

Sustainability in the eye of the beholder


Page 2 of 3

That experiment worked so well we tried extending it to other kids but the law of large numbers caught up with us and in no time we were sharing comics with cretins who defaced them with peanut butter and allowed younger sibs to have at them with Crayolas.

When co-operation failed to get us through the week we tried running a crude protection racket. As soon as that began to look like a possible solution, the law of large kids caught up with us and we were soon paying protection to someone bigger — meaner — than we were.

The only experiment with innovation and new technology we tried was aborted in the post-planning, pre-doing stage. Having convinced Butch our summertime salvation lay in buying Tampax — I showed him the ad in my older sister’s teen magazine that said we could swim, play tennis and ride horses with Tampax — we were set straight by the amused druggist who explained, without going into much detail, that Tampax wasn’t the solution to our summertime blues, despite what the ads implied.

So we pretty much gave up on sustainability and just let summer drift on until school started again and we were faced with the challenge of remembering what we’d spent the summer forgetting.

But the sustainability dance goes on in Tiny Town. The question is: when do we up the tempo?

The feistiness of council on this issue was shown recently when West Coast Freeride Guides’ thrill ride down the road of excitement was sideswiped onto the path to sustainability. “Time to walk the talk,” of which there has been so much, according to Hizzonor.

There are at least three problems with the proposed heli-biking — yes, we’re going to use a helicopter to take a few people and bikes up to the top of a mountain so they can coast down — venture. Parts of it take place in the 21-Mile Creek watershed, from whence a large part of Whistler draws water people mindlessly avoid in favour of less good water in little plastic bottles. It is not carbon neutral. And it moves us further away from goals we’ve painstakingly drawn award-winning plans to reach.

That being said, it appears heli-biking is just the kind of thing Whistler needs, at least in the eyes of Tourism Whistler.

In the epic struggle of environmental sustainability versus economic sustainability — the latter phrase often used, and perhaps not confusingly, to mean “growth” — environmental sustainability has always been the 97-pound weakling. But now it has a powerful ally, a magician’s cloak of superpower: carbon offsets. Of course, carbon offsets may well be simply a feel good illusion, a cloak not so much of power as emasculation, a salve to the emerging conscience. Plant a tree, ride a helicopter; good tradeoff.

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