There are many good reasons to go Car-Free.

Because I do not have a car...

...I get a whole lot more exercise

...I save a whack of cash on payments, insurance, depreciation, maintenance, gas...
...I am more in tune with the climate and weather...
...I have to say no to a lot of activities, giving me more time at home...
...I notice more things about my town...
...I do not contribute to traffic congestion...
...I always have a parking spot...

Absent from that list is any mention of doing my part for 'the environment'. That is intentional. I am likely one of the few who are car-free who does not count the environment as one of my primary reasons for not driving. I have a few reasons why.

First, I tend to believe that while global temperatures are certainly rising, the impact that humanity has on that rise is negligible. The number one reason that global temperatures are rising is that the sun is getting more energy to us. The number one greenhouse gas is water vapour, not CO2. Water vapour causes over 90% of the greenhouse effect, CO2 causes less than 1%. Global temperatures have been rising for a good 15,000 or so years. 10,000 years ago, most of North America was under 3km of ice. I would venture to guess that most people would rather live with today's moderate climate, rather than the harsh, brutally cold climate of 10k years ago.

Second, eco-chondriac #1, Al Gore is a great salesman. If I want to sell something, I need a great salesman. If I want the truth, I need a poor salesman. I need someone who does not have a vested interest in whatever is being sold. Al Gore makes a killing off of his message. He is in the Carbon Trading business, he needs global warming.

Third, Eco-Chondriac #1 does not give us the chance to really understand his famous graph. You know the one that shows levels of CO2 in lock-step with global temperatures. The problem with his graph is that it hides the fact that CO2 levels in the atmosphere actually FOLLOW rises in global temperature. That means that global warming (perfectly natural and beneficial to life on earth) causes rises in CO2. Interestingly enough, CO2 itself is necessary for any plant life to exist on earth.

Fourth, I do not believe that we have any moral obligation to the environment. Persons have moral obligations to other persons, not to 'nature'. I do not have any moral obligations to animals because animals are not moral creatures. If a bear damages me or my property, I do not hold it morally accountable, it was only trying to defend itself or get food. If it is deemed dangerous, the authorities go out and kill it, they do not bring it to trial. Animals are not moral creatures and do not hold any moral obligations over me.

When meteorologists are able to accurately predict the weather over a week or even 24 hours, then I may start listening to someone telling me what the temperature will be in 100 years.

At least that is the way I see it. Keep the rubber side down.


Crazy Japanese Game Show 02

One of the reasons we loved Japan...
p.s. the kanji blocking out the jewels actually means "gold"/silver or money"! :)



cash advance


Car-Free Shopping

Grocery shopping without a car is sometimes a challenge. Up until now we have been doing our shopping at Coopers which is nice because it is a local business (although purchased by one of the big guys). But it is bad because it is significantly more expensive than shopping at Superstore. The problem is that Superstore is at the top of the hill and we are at the bottom.

Recently, I was informed by 'The Owner' at my LBS that there is a 'back way' up the hill that avoids Columbia street. Great.

This past Saturday, I hooked up the Chariot and headed up the hill. Parking the rig was a bit of a trick as there is a concrete curb behind the bike rack that is about 5 cm too close to the rack for me to park the whole rig. I managed to get it in, but not easily.

After that it took me way too long to find everything on my list because I am not familiar with the layout of Superstore.

I did manage to find most things but was then confronted with the fact that the amount of groceries that I purchased might not fit into the chariot in a manner that is conducive to descending from Sa-Hali to downtown in a safe manner.

I am pretty sure that I over-shot the 45.4 kg maximum weight of the chariot and thought for sure that I would flip it on the way down the hill, but I got the whole works down the hill safely.

Original plans had us hacking one of our bikes into an SUB with the Free Radical and Free Loader accessories available from xtracycle, but it looks like that may be a little out of our price range right now. Up for current consideration is either a BOB or a Burley Flatbed trailer.

Here is the load of groceries, including 4 kg of oranges, 4 kg of chicken breasts and a whole lotta other stuff.



In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


I am Pro-Life.

I don't say enough on this blog about pro-life issues. Here is an article that recently appeared in the National Post.

New Life Matters
Margaret Somerville
National Post

In the past three years, at least five pregnant women, along with their babies, have been killed in Canada in violent attacks. The most recent occurred last month in Toronto. Pregnant women are at increased risk of domestic violence. The sense of abhorrence this elicits, especially when the violence is lethal, is magnified because of the loss of the fetus. Yet, at present, it is not a separate crime when a fetus is killed or injured. This should change. A just-released Environics poll asking if killing or injuring a fetus should be a crime found that 75% of Canadian women and 68% of men would support a fetal protection law (the level of support amongst all Canadians was 72%). The same poll found that, overall, 62% of Canadians support legal protection of the unborn child at some point before viability. (The Canadian Medical Association guidelines define fetal viability -- the possibility that the fetus can survive outside its mother's womb -- to be 20 weeks gestation and/or 500g in weight.)

In short, many Canadians' moral intuition is that "there ought to be a law" -- or laws -- protecting fetuses from some harms, although we don't all agree on what those laws should be, especially in the context of abortion. Presently in Canada, there is no express abortion law.

The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently ruled that under our current law the fetus does not exist as a protectable human being, and the Criminal Code holds that a child becomes a human being for the purposes of a homicide offence only after it is born alive. This means that criminal liability specifically for the wrong of killing a fetus in the course of a criminal act cannot at present be imposed. Only the wrong to the mother is legally cognizable.

Proposals for an Unborn Victims of Crime Act are adamantly opposed by pro-choice abortion advocates, for fear that any legal recognition of the fetus will lead to the re-criminalization of abortion. They accuse pro-life supporters of promoting such legislation as a back-door means to prohibit abortion. It's true that such a law could cause us to view the fetus and, therefore, abortion differently. But willful blindness is not an ethical approach to dealing with abortion.

Seeing the fetus as an unborn victim of crime strips away the medical cloak that abortion places on the taking of its life, a cloak that dulls our moral intuition as to what is involved. It causes us to see the fetus as what it is, an early human life. Those who support abortion must be able to square that fact with their belief that abortion is ethical in certain circumstances.

Abortion is always a moral and ethical issue. That does not mean, however, that it should always be a legal issue. But neither should it never be a legal issue as is presently the case.

As the legal void highlighted by the tragic murders of pregnant women show, we need to re-think our overall approach to the law relating to prebirth human life, including in relation to abortion. And we should do this within a context that promotes informed consent for women and the recognition of fetal pain.

Informed-consent law requires that a woman be given certain information if her consent to abortion is to be legally valid. In particular, the woman must be given information about the mental and physical health risks abortion poses.

A "Fetal Pain Awareness Act," similar to those some American states have enacted, could require a physician to inform the woman, before performing an abortion, that scientific evidence suggests that after 20 weeks gestation the fetus can feel pain. Furthermore, she would have to be offered anaesthesia for the fetus, which it would be her choice to take or decline. This type of law would not prohibit abortion; rather, its goal is to try to prevent the fetus from dying in excruciating pain. After all, even jurisdictions that allow capital punishment prohibit certain forms of it on the grounds that they are cruel. Likewise, we have criminal laws that protect animals from brutal treatment.

The fetus is a new human life. That matters ethically, and should matter legally. An Unborn Victims of Crime law would recognize that in one particular situation. What law should govern abortion is a separate issue that raises some different considerations, but having no law is not a neutral stance. It contravenes values that form part of the bedrock of Canadian society.

-Margaret Somerville is an ethicist at McGill University and author of The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit.

© National Post 2007