Ketchup, Global Warming, and Why I Love Heists.

litbonanza.jpgI am ketchup. I was first produced en masse by the Heinz Company in 1875. They wanted to make bland American food taste more delicious. I was perfect for the job. I was poured onto meat, potatoes, bread… and that’s it. I did not invade the meals on which I had no personal expertise. I made no appearances next to broccoli, or on noodles with cheesy sauces. Unlike now. Now the food world has made me its virus, and I have no control over which culinary masterpieces I preside. I was an innocuous condiment, content with my limited circle of meal friends, and now I am ruined, squirted atop poutine, and tacos, and ice cream. And macaroni and cheese. Wasting me atop inappropriate foods is a trendy thing to do, and since the world loves its trends, I have been ruined. No longer a precious or important sauce. Soon, I will be forgotten.

Trends have an aptitude for following this pattern – years of quiet development, a boom of popularity, and then a silent denouement as they are forgotten. One of the biggest trends of today is concern regarding global warming. And although it is a legitimate cause, the trendy-ness of ‘caring’ about the world’s temperature is making it a sketchy subject. Global warming is just too cool to be true.

At this point, it’s pretty much generally accepted that something wacky is happening to the world’s climate too monumental to be blamed on El Niño. It’s also pretty much a fact that it’s sort of our own fault. But the forerunners of the campaign against carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses often don’t seem to be in it for the good of the world or out of sheer personal interest. They seem to be hypocritical crusaders in it for a good public image. Take Al Gore, former US presidential candidate, and snooty star of An Inconvenient Truth, the Oscar-winning documentary that conventionalized carbon emission worries. Kudos to him for making climate issues a mainstream concern, but why did he drive around in a giant SUV whenever an ‘in transit’ shot was required?

An Inconvenient Truth also epitomizes what so much of anti-global warming propaganda is guilty of: pushing the proverbial big red emergency button and then neglecting to discuss how to avoid catastrophe. At some point, the scientific community has to stop with the PANIC and usher in an attitude of ‘we’re not doomed; here’s how YOU can fix it’. It’s all fine and well that 2006 was world-wide the hottest year on record, that according to the U.S. Geological Survey predictions, Glacier National Park will have no more glaciers by the year 2030, that 400,000 square miles of Arctic sea ice have melted in the past 30 years, and that 15 to 37% of plant and animal species are at risk for extinction by the year 2050 because of global warming [1] . However, I fail to see how taking shorter showers will save the world. I fail to see how donating 50 cents to a telephone surveyor will save the world. I would love it if someone could explain that to me.

I also fail to see why media commenting on political policy has decided to scapegoat individual country’s leaders for a global issue. Politicians, although in our country held accountable for their own actions and elected by the people to make decisions that reflect the people’s values and concerns, are not really the ones responsible for the people’s problems. Whether Stephen Harper legislates changes or not, Canadians will alter their energy-consuming and carbon-emitting habits in favour of normal weather patterns if they understand exactly why and how they’re to do it. The people who occasionally go to demonstrations on Parliament Hill – en lieu of a workday – to aid the legislating process, although driven by the best of intentions I’m sure, would do more good by infiltrating the system from the bottom up – by influencing their co-workers and peers, instead of attempting to change the mind of a man who, above all, really just wants to be re-elected at the end of his term.

The 2007 federal budget does have changes for the environment listed in it. More than 100 new environmental enforcement officers will be hired, and a performance-based rebate program will offer up to $2000 for the purchase of a new fuel efficient or efficient alternative fuel vehicle. There are also plans for an extra $36 million to be set aside to help get older polluting vehicles off of roads. But those extra environmental enforcement officers only double the national population: a rare species indeed. And apparently, the only car on the road eligible for that $2000 award is an unnamed Toyota that is marginally more fuel efficient than other cars in its class. Legislation for change only makes a difference when the people affected by the legislation truly follow it. The United States justice system declared in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that separate was definitely not equal, opening up a whole new world of equal treatment in the southern US and starting minorities on an anti-racism spree of demanding equal rights. Yet racism still exists, because as much as people campaign and governments legislate, attitudes don’t change unless every last person views the issue from the same perspective, working in perfect unity to change a bad thing.

So. If we can’t eradicate climate change by making documentaries or having our political leaders do it for us, how is the human race to survive the next 50 years? There is an element of internalization that needs to be adopted by our country’s population; a learning of values that is incorporated within us instead of passed down from our leaders in the form of sheets of paper and complicated laws. The solution is a mass scale heist… on a personal level.

Heists are wonderful because they’re no nonsense. The people doing the heist are non-apologetic, fearless, impassioned, ingenious wonders. They don’t wait for a higher power to hand them the money they’re after, nor do they simply accept their jealous situation by sighing and waiting it out. The reality is, Canada’s population has the power to change their energy consuming and carbon emitting habits all on their own, and there are countless organizations that essentially give money away to people who are willing to do so, never mind the money saved by cutting energy use. Wrapping a water heater in an insulating blanket saves electricity, as does situating furniture in places other than on top of heating vents and in front of radiators. Painting houses light or dark colours depending on the environment they’re in can save up to 2.4 tonnes of carbon emissions per year [2]. A business owner in the UK claims that by turning equipment such as printers, computers, and microwaves in his office off over weekends and other holidays, he saved £6,000 per year, equivalent to just over $13,500 Canadian [3]. These are all things the average person is capable of doing.

When someone is going to steal valuable objects from someone else via heist, they’re not euphemistic or diplomatic. They say to the victim: “YOU ARE A TOOL, WE WANT YOUR MONEY, HERE’S THE HELL WHY.” Then they take it. No concern for the victim, no concern for the police, no concern for ANYONE but themselves and the people they’re working with. We all have to become fearless and don’t-mess-around heist performers, with complete disregard for everyone except ourselves and the people who will also benefit from our actions. We have to realize that our future kids and grandkids will be toast if we don’t change now. We have to say “LISTEN EARTH, YOU’RE BEING A DINK. WE DIDN’T MEAN TO RAISE YOUR AVERAGE TEMPERATURE AND POLLUTE YOU, AND WE’RE SORRY. PLEASE WORK WITH US AS WE ATTEMPT TO RIGHT OUR WRONGS SO THAT OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS MAY ENJOY YOUR FORMERLY HOSPITABLE AND ENJOYABLE NATURE.” Instead of letting global warming be a forgotten trend, a piecrust promise easily made and easily broken, we have to steal back the way the world used to be.


1. Today is February 17, 2007.



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Rebecca Blakey is a product of this fine nation’s capital, and proud of it. She is currently enrolled in the Coordinated Arts Program at UBC in the Faculty of Arts hoping to someday be given the privilege to be referred to as Doctor in the discipline of Media Psychology. On occasions when she is not accomplishing tasks in the most efficient way possible, she enjoys activities such as skiing, swimming, people-watching, adventuring (cross-town or through-wilderness), and curling up - a novel in hand and a good view out a window – inside on Vancouver's all-too-often rainy days.