NSE to staff: Zip It!

Turpin Laboratories has learned employees of Nova Scotia Environment, led by the fiery minister Margaret Miller, have received a list of words they cannot use when dealing with their benighted public.wp

The Orwellian news was delivered orally, of course, to provide the leadership with that “plausible  deniability” so beloved by decaying governments.

The words and phrases consigned to the Memory Hole are:

  • Stewardship
  • Extended producer responsibility
  • Circular economy
  • Green economy

Even the word “economy” is apparently on probation.

I am not making this up.

Stewardship is the idea of having a responsibility to care for something, usually something that is not yours. The trustees of an estate are stewards. Lumber companies are stewards because they are entrusted with managing forests in a way that preserves or enhances their value for future generations. The opposite of stewardship might be squandering.

Extended Producer Responsibility already exists in Nova Scotia for electronic equipment. Customers pay a recycling fee at the point of purchase. This entitles them to drop off the product at a recycling centre, at no cost, when the it stops working. The product is then broken down into its constituent materials, most of which are used again. Even though there is no cost to business, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in NS is opposed to extended producer responsibility. It’s true that many independent business people work hard, but that doesn’t exempt them from the things the rest of us have to do to protect the environment.

Circular economy is the simple goal of re-using or repurposing goods when they’ve reached the end of their useful lives instead if throwing them away. It’s something like “waste not, want not” on  a grand scale. There’s lots of info about it on the web, but a key idea is manufacturing with re-use in mind.

The Green Economy has been politicized somewhat, but it boils down to the idea of sustainability: leaving behind a planet capable of sustaining our descendants as well as it sustained us. It becomes political, in my mind at least, because there are so many people already not being sustained as well as “us.”

These terms are likely in disfavour because they aren’t testing well in focus groups and surveys, and there’s an election coming up in Nova Scotia. God help any person, word or thing that doesn’t test well in an election year. Take, for example, Nova Scotia Power in 2013.

Government’s attitude to the environment has regressed horribly. In 2007, the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (EGSPA) recognized that a healthy economy and a healthy environment are linked and set clear goals for improvement.

The link was obvious: we need clean air and water to survive. But, for example, think how much more productive the Chinese might be if they weren’t choking on their crappy air or hunkering down during massive dust storms. You could even say the environment IS the economy.

Nova Scotia recognized that and, for a brief, glorious period, even had Environment and Economic Development departments working together regularly. Nova Scotians were the envy of other jurisdictions and admired for our vision. Then, not long after the 2009 election produced a new government, a policy person stuck her head in my office at NSE and said: “The word is out. Any mention of EGSPA in a proposal is the kiss of death.”

Such is stewardship in Nova Scotia. No wonder it doesn’t test well.



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