The proposal to spend money on pollution control works that are not necessary is not restricted to Victoria. On the contrary, the pressures that have been described in earlier chapters are distorting national expenditures, educational priorities and even legislation.
Who would guess from the information fed daily to readers and viewers that most industrial and domestic discharges in Canada and the other advanced nations meet higher standards than they did a generation ago and those are better than the generation before that. If it were not so, we would be in the same situation as some parts of eastern Europe and South America.
Meanwhile, the problems caused by the millions of individually controlled inefficient power plants, called motor vehicles, are more damaging than any other type of discharge. In the advanced countries they cause over half of all accidental deaths, they possibly outweigh all other sources as a contributor to acid rain, they are a major controllable source of carbon dioxide discharges which some believe are a cause of the 'greenhouse' effect. Aesthetically they are ruinous to our cities. Accordingly, it is even conceivable that they outweigh all our other pollution problems combined. Meanwhile, money that might be spent on public transport is squandered on popular solutions to problems of little or no significance.
This is not to say that popular pressure brings no benefits. Without it, politicians do not provide the money to achieve results. Nor is it to deny that there are concerns raised by environmental groups that need attention and some are of great importance. The huge growth of non-biodegradable wastes is one.
Environmental engineers, who over a period of some 100 years developed the means to overcome problems as they arose, by the same token have developed a broad understanding of how to protect our environment. One cannot design facilities to avoid pollution without understanding it. Problems have arisen despite the work of engineers, not because of it. Nonetheless, the profession is not attracting young people and this specialist work is being taken over in growing measure by others who know less about it.
Modern society has depended for its development on learned professions, entry to which is by examination after four or five or more years of university study followed by many years of practical experience. Their role is being increasingly taken over by voluntary organizations which need no entry qualifications and whose members have no accountability. They sit on municipal committees of one sort or another and their voices are strident. The results are not surprising but the learned professions have been taken unawares and have no idea how to respond.
Composting, sewage farming and a host of other techniques are promoted as though they were unknown to engineers, whereas they developed them and know their benefits and disbenefits and how they fit historically in the development of pollution control techniques. Secondary treatment and tertiary treatment are advocated by people who do not understand their purpose.
The same story which has been revealed in this book about one local case could be repeated across the country for numerous cases, although few so extreme. It is coincidental that the author is knowledgeable about our local situation and, being retired, is in a position and has the willingness to write about it.