Economy versus environment

Pitting the economy against the environment as if they were mutually and diametrically antagonistic concepts

To the editor;

I have a pet peeve. It’s people who can’t seem to engage in a rational discussion or find middle ground and compromise. There are countless examples I could point to, but the example that interests me the most here in the context of B.C. is the one that pits the economy against the environment as if they were mutually and diametrically antagonistic concepts.

I have news for people: the environment and the economy are not opposites. They are different forms of the same thing and complexly intertwined. Take a look around. It’s painfully easy to see that our B.C. economy is almost entirely based on our environment. Our land and sea resources are incredibly rich. They sustain us. We are also situated in a highly strategic location geographically with one of the great natural ports of the world. The very rocks that make up our land base contain valuable metals which can be transformed into endlessly useful products like bikes, lifesaving hospital equipment and safe copper wiring for our homes.

Yet there are those on the environmental fringes, people who can’t seem to engage in a rational discussion or find common ground or compromise, who would leave our natural resource wealth locked in the ground. They would shut down all mines and leave thousands jobless. They completely ignore modern resource extraction practices that tread lightly on the environment and restore sites to their natural state afterwards. Their minds are closed to any view other than their own. Having a rational discussion with these people, as I’ve discovered, will get you nowhere fast.

Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I sincerely believe that there is common ground out there to be found if people are willing to engage one another rationally and respectfully. In fact, I’m certain of it; despite my frustrating experiences with an irrational few. Protecting and caring for our environment and supporting our economy are not diametrically opposed values. They are one and the same. Rational people know this to be true and know that we can value and have both as part of an integrated, sustainable whole.

Donald Leung

Burnaby, B.C.