Ottawa finally got ‘It’ — now what?

‘It’ is in. If you’ve got It, flaunt It. It’s all the rage about town. Conservatives boast they fully understand It and are…

‘It’ is in.

If you’ve got It, flaunt It. It’s all the rage about town.

Conservatives boast they fully understand It and are willing to act on It.

Liberals, according to Conservatives, had a chance to come to grips with It, but didn’t.

And now the NDP is willing to cut a deal on It.

Furthermore, media freely splash It on the front page, apply It with broad strokes across the screen.

France wants to be the first country to internationalize It. Norway wants to socialize around It.

But even though so many of us now appear to acknowledge It, few, if any, have a clue as to what comes next.

All of a sudden the world has had it’s a-ha! moment: we, in all our wisdom, have altered the Earth’s climate.

We are unnaturally cooking the planet and everything on it, including ourselves.

Soon one billion of us will be without water, hungry and homeless.

And, according to a United Nations report expected out later this week, It is about to get a lot worse.

It — climate change — is here to stay.

Now what?

We’re in a tight spot for sure and it’s become eco-vogue, politically correct and intellectually trendy to offer solutions to the environmental muddle ad infinitum.

To a person, we — including the leadership in Ottawa — knew climate change was fact. What we were uncertain of until quite recently was that the problem was exponentially much worse than any of us could have imagined.

We — including the leadership in Ottawa — also knew real solutions would most likely inflict a degree of economic and social pain on everyone.

Heading off environmental catastrophe will require nothing short of social, economic and moral evolution.

Tighten your restraint systems, the road ahead will be some ride.

All major political parties must now find the courage to tell It like It is.

Canadians need to know both the extent of the problem and the reality of the fix.

In words of Australian writer Reg Morrison, this is the problem:

“Here we stand at midnight, all six billion of us huddled together upon our small bank and shoal of time, with sea levels rising and an environmental storm gathering about us.

“The fate of our species hangs in the balance, and the matter will be decided for us within the next millisecond on our evolutionary stopwatch.”

And I believe this is what we need to do about It:

As a culture we need to develop and fully integrate nationalized environmental education at school, at home, and in the work place; and, in combination with this, we must invite and advance a new Golden Age of Walking.

This system of education must target the intellectual and psychological fact that the human species has one serious flaw: we continue to think we are well and healthy in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Such a system of education — in which all of us have the opportunity to become ecologically literate citizens — begins with a deep understanding of our own limitations and those of the planet.

And it must help us trim our sails accordingly.

To become fully pedestrian once more will be a gigantic leap forward.

It is a cultural and technological revolution without compare.

When Canada becomes a nation of walkers, it will become a nation of survivors.

Walking is a cultural activity whose time has come.

A Golden Age of Walking will require nothing short of a new contract between government and society.

Walking requires us to redefine our notions of space and of time. It relegates the automobile back to the role it once had: transportation when all else fails.

As our cities distance themselves further and further from automobiles and public transit in order to become “walking cities,” we move closer to becoming the “self-determining” beings we truly are.

Automobiles stretched us out, sprawling us upon the landscape. Public transportation reined us in a bit. Walking will bring us together.

Environmental education is redesigned education, a system of learning in which ecological, social and economic responsibility rise to the surface, at the same time.

This level of cognition tightens the loop between what is possible and what is required. Environmental education, like walking, will bring us together.

So now that Ottawa finally got It, let’s help them figure out what to do with It.

As a nation it is about time we ask for and receive the help we need to become our “better selves.”

We should settle for nothing less than an education that truly connects us all and moves us along at about five kilometres per hour.

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