Why do we react instead of acting?

Wouldn’t preventative measures be far more beneficial than ones that attempt to minimize damage once it’s occurred?

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

In an attempt to make Paris not look like this, officials place an "every other day" ban on driving - but only until it doesn't look like this any more. Damián Bakarcic/Flickr Commons

In an attempt to make Paris not look like this, officials place an “every other day” ban on driving – but only until it doesn’t look like this any more. Damián Bakarcic/Flickr Commons

On March 17, 2014, the government of France imposed a driving ban on people who had license plates ending in an even number (because it was the 17th, so only odd-numbered plates were allowed on the road) to combat their sudden smog issue caused by temperature inversions and other climate and weather-caused issues. Odd numbered plates would have been banned the next day, obviously.

“With unseasonably warm days, cool nights and little wind, pollutants had settled in high concentrations over Paris and about 30 other French cities, especially in northern France,” according to the New York Times article on the driving ban.

Drivers caught on the road with a license plate ending in an even number received a fine of about $30, and by 10:30 a.m. on the day the ban went into effect, approximately 3,000 drivers had already been stopped.

The driving ban came into effect four days into public transportation (including city bicycles, which normally are for rent) being free in an attempt to get people to drive less and curb the exhaust issue.

The weather is expected to play its part soon and the pollution will move off, at which point the government will lift its driving ban and public transportation will go back to its full cost to users.

My question is this: Why?

They obviously realize that the pollution is due to excessive amounts of vehicle exhaust, but don’t see a problem with that situation normally, because it’s dissipating instead of hanging around.

Why not just leave that restriction in place? If people want to pay a whole bunch of fines to be able to drive every day instead of taking public transit, then let their fines supplement the public transit coffers or something.

I mean, you’d have to figure out the economics of having a permanent, half time driving availability legislation (like how to charge for insurance when people effectively only get to use their vehicles half the time), but it couldn’t be that complicated. There are economists and math people out there, after all.

Why wait until you can’t breathe to do something about the air?

It reminds me of watering bans here in B.C.

If I remember correctly, when I lived on Vancouver Island, you could only water your lawn on even days if your house address was an even number and on odd days if it’s an odd number.

But by my recollection, it was just during periods of drought or water shortages.

Pretty sure it’s the same here in the interior.

This just doesn’t make sense to me. If there’s a water shortage and you can just use half as much, then why did you need to use twice as much when there wasn’t?

Why do we wait until resources are scarce to start preserving them?

I’d personally be all for legislating driving to an every-other-day-per-car type scenario to improve the air quality (not to mention the traffic issues) in Kamloops, why wouldn’t they want to do it in places that occasionally have to do it so that people can breathe.

Well, I’m theoretically in favour of such a scenario. They’d have to make some serious improvements to the Kamloops transit system for it to be feasible for people here, and have bus drivers that didn’t hate their lives and take it out on those who use the system, but that’s another column for another time.

This one’s about using less if and when you can.

Put fewer emissions into the air when you can. Use less water when you can. Waste less packaging when you can.

Maybe if we do that a little more often in general, we won’t run up against being forced to do it every now and then to recover from our indulgence.