As a speaker during the holiday season, riparian specialist Lorne Fitch took a contrary view to consumption that dominates the season.
His message challenged those in his Dec. 20 audience to reduce their focus on consumerism in the new year.
“Consider this simple proposition: buy less, consume less and live on a healthier Earth longer,” he told a meeting of the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs.
“Consuming our way to a better world seems self defeating.”
Fitch, an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary and a biologist with the Alberta Cows and Fish program, has long advocated protecting the environment from the ravages that people impose upon it.
However, environmental protection does not always mesh with Alberta’s model of economic development.
Audience members questioned Fitch on how the province can have a strong economy and sufficient jobs for its populace if environmental protection takes precedence.
He said employment exists in jobs that recognize the value and protection of the environment, but the flaw at the basis of the question is the placement of Albertans’ priorities.
“I understand that to succeed in business, you need to identify your particular assets and leverage them to create your own competitive advantage,” he said. “Alberta’s competitive advantage isn’t solely vested in barley, beef, oil or dimensional lumber. It is our clean air, water, productive soil and biodiversity along with associated ecological goods and services, coupled with an educated and healthy population that provides our strengths. Once you lose that foundation, the Alberta advantage is gone.”