Canadians must stop deluding themselves.
They face a simple choice.
People must decide whether climate change is a crisis, or not.
If the crisis exists, then it demands action, and sacrifice, to blunt its effects, which most scientists suggest are dire (more on that in a minute).
If it isn’t a crisis, if the science and mounting evidence is inconsequential, then we should abandon the dithering and expand the use of our considerable coal, oil and natural gas reserves to make the nation more money and power.
Those are the choices facing Canadians.
Currently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is appealing to both sides and essentially doing nothing.
“In the global fight against climate change, Canada will do everything in its power to help develop an effective, all-inclusive, international environmental framework that recognizes national economic circumstances,” Harper said in New York this week.
It’s an interesting statement.
The references “global fight against climate change” and “do everything in its power,” imply action.
But it deserves a paraphrase for clarity.
Harper is pledging Canada will do everything in its power to draft a framework — essentially a piece of paper.
And that framework will recognize “national economic circumstances,” not protection of the environment.
As such, it is a pledge to sign a deal on climate change that won’t threaten national wealth.
And that’s a pledge to do nothing, because it’s our collective economies that are behind global warming.
Therefore, Canadians must decide: is there a crisis demanding action, or not?
On Friday, the World Conservation Union released its “Red List” of endangered species. It added 200 names to the list. It now contains more than 1,600 endangered species.
The loss of those plants, animals and insects is being helped along by global warming.
Their loss is a direct threat to human civilization.
They cleanse our water and air, distribute seeds and, in the case of fast-disappearing bees, pollens. Their existence keeps the ecosystems that sustain the planet operating.
Lose them, and we probably lose everything.
Also last week, scientists reported that northern ice coverage had hit a record low — an area the size of five Yukon territories melted last year, opening more heat-absorbing Arctic Ocean to the sun, exacerbating the warming trend.
Similar effects are being seen across the Arctic world.
“We have colder colds, warmer warms and wetter wets and we’re seeing more extremes and less of what we used to call normal,” James Partain, of the US National Weather Office, said during a teleconference from Alaska last week.
Of course, all this may not be a problem.
If it isn’t, then Canada should expand its petroleum economy and stretch its influence in the world — establish us as a true “middle power,” as Harper boasted this week.
But, if global warming is a problem, then Canada must act.
And, given our dependence on the petroleum economy, that’s going to hurt.
In trying to straddle the two issues, Harper is doing Canadians a disservice.
“We owe it to future generations,” he said. “We owe them a sustainable environment just as we owe them the opportunity to have the economic prosperity we enjoy today.”
Unfortunately, you can’t have both — not in the short term, anyway.
Change is going to hurt. A lot.
Not changing our economy also carries potentially dire consequences for the planet.
The question for Canadians is, which is the lesser of evils?
Harper said Canada would cut greenhouse gases by 60 per cent within the next 43 years.
“The message is that we need to take action.”
That’s not action — that’s soothsaying.
And if Canadians buy it, they are fooling themselves.
Today Canadians face two clear choices.
Act. Or not.
Anything less is a delusion. (RM)