As I wrote this, southern Alberta was being hit by vicious flooding, creating a state of emergency in Calgary. Thousands displaced. Unimaginable dollars in damage.
What do we do?
Sadly, the news feeds and politicians always run the same. After talking about the devastation and the courage people have shown, they talk about human resiliency and our ability to adapt to new changes.
True, but not adequate as a full response.
The news that should be screaming over the airwaves is how to try to stop — or at least slow down — the underlying causes of the devastation. Namely, anthropogenic contributions to climate change.
Studying the science, Premier Alison Redford, together with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are going to rethink our national dependency on fossil fuel and move rapidly to renewable resources.
They are going to abandon the boiling cauldron of black crude called the Tar Sands, and the ridiculous attempt to mainline our homemade sludge across the provinces into our pristine coastal waters, shipped off to China.
Fracking, the absurd destruction of our drinking water to get natural gas, is made illegal. It’s nothing short of a national — indeed, global — emergency.
Not a hope in hell. But this hell is not of religious origins.
We are stoking the heat ourselves, with the colossal pressure and encouragement of all the corporations that make billions in return for our dependency on fossil fuel, funneling a pittance in revenue to our governments, all the while decaying our democracy. Dumbing down its citizens with the toys offered in return.
And again, the reasons for denial are numerous, with none having to do with our ability not to make such a change.
We can make the change, but only by informing ourselves, and then figuring out how to start the revolution that will grab politicians by the scruff of the neck, telling them that this is our government, not theirs.
The first part – becoming informed – continues to be challenging, even for Canadians. For instance, a 2012 poll showed revealed some important attitudes:
“Almost one-third — 32 per cent — said they believe climate change is happening because of human activity, while 54 per cent said they believe it’s because of human activity and partially due to natural climate variation.
Nine per cent believe climate change is occurring due to natural climate variation. Two per cent said they don’t believe climate change is occurring at all.” [http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/08/15/calgary-climate-change-web-poll.html]
Perhaps one of the poll’s most interesting numbers, in light of the flood, is that “Prairie respondents are least likely to believe that climate change is occurring due to human activity.” Not meaning to be facetious, this number might have changed in the last few weeks for those in southern Alberta. Nature, its clear, doesn’t read polls.
In any case, while at least believing in climate-change is better than not believing at all, it still isn’t good enough. It’s our very real contributions, as polluters, that begs recognition.
Why is this so important?
The central reason is because this is what scientists specializing in climate-change research are telling us: “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” [http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus]
For some of the most dire news on how our climate is radically changing, listen to Bob Sanford, interviewed recently on CBC’s The Current. (Click the audio link to ‘Severe flooding in Southern Alberta’, with the interview at the 12:38)
True, some people will continue to deny anthropogenic climate-change, even some with degrees in the sciences. The very real issue, however, is that they certainly wouldn’t have such skepticism in other matters.
Imagine they have a disease that is debilitating, even deadly. Nine doctors specializing in the disease tell them to take medication X. The other doctor tells them not to worry about it. What do you think the deniers would then do?
The second part — getting our politicians to act — will also be difficult, but my hope is that our First Nations Chiefs will lead the way. Tell me where we start the protest, and I’ll be there. I’d bet that thousands of other Canadians will be there too.
Bringing ourselves to acknowledge the facts of anthropogenic climate-change, and then becoming politically organized to force our governments to change its policies, are daunting tasks.
Sometimes I think we’ll be able to do it, sometimes I think it’s all over. A stark reminder of how I can be so optimistic, and then desperately pessimistic, happened just a few days ago.
David Suzuki has devoted his life to trying to get us to pay attention to our planet. Recently he wrote a piece in the Huffington Post about climate change entitled, “We Ignore Scientists at Our Peril“. As of this writing, 37 people “Like” it.
Meanwhile, 899 people are discussing the article about Kim Kardashian’s name for her baby, with 1,141 comments.
Perhaps we rightly deserve our planet’s ire.