This week CBC radio host Paul Kennedy retires from Ideas after many a years. Ideas as the title indicates is about discussing topics about our world, it is well done with many scholars, writers, philosophers who present their views based often on books or research they have done for years on a topic which affects how our human society functions and evolves. Paul Kennedy has a relaxing, pleasant mature voice, easy to listen to.
Today the topic was Climate Change and was part of his acting as moderator of the Muskoka conference in Ontario. The question was: Are we doomed?
Currently, if several polls are to be believed, some 84% of Canadians are very concerned about Climate Change and what is happening all around us. Here in PEI in the last 12 months we have seen changes with rapid erosion of the soft coast line, projection show that in 50 years the City of Charlottetown and surroundings will have disappeared under water. The Island at most stands about 30 feet above the sea level in some areas and as little as 3 feet in others. The Winter started early in November and ended late towards end April, the Spring Fishing Season was delayed 2 weeks due to storms and the planting Season for agriculture was also delayed to mid-June. The Summer so far has been cool and rainy. This has an impact on fishers, farmers and the tourism industry. The Chamber of Commerce says that tourism is down 50% this year due to poor weather. I believe it, it is abnormally quiet.
All around the world, if you care to read, it’s one big heat wave and huge storms, more unusual than the next. Nature is dying all around us, it is much more than melting ice caps or rising water levels. Entire species have disappeared, over fishing has depleted the oceans, plastic pollution everywhere. The statistics are frightening and still politicians and the public dither.
Despite all this, most people pretend it is not happening or simply cannot cope with the magnitude of the crisis. Some experts in the field believe it is too late to save ourselves. There is no Planet B.
On Ideas, some of the speakers said that if extreme measures are taken we could slow down the process or reverse it, an example the town of Sudbury in Ontario, pop 164,000 where 100 years of nickel mining had by 1960 transformed the entire area into a moon scape with a strong odour of sulphur, people still lived there. However in the last 40 years an aggressive program of cleaning and reforesting involving intensive action by several groups with the support of the local authorities have turned the tide and now despite having some 50,000 hectares still to be rehabilitated, Sudbury has been transformed for the better. The City has 300 lakes over 25 acres within city limits, natural beauty which is being brought back.
But is is not the case everywhere, in most places there is resistance to doing anything at all. Here in PEI constant resistance against electric cars, the City of Charlottetown turned down the opportunity to develop a bike path through the city core, bought diesel buses instead of electric, allows cancer causing pesticides to be spread to keep lawns green, City Councillors cannot see the importance of saving bees, are putting an asphalt plant in a semi rural residential area, etc.. The easy justification is jobs, it seems that jobs trump every other concern, obtuse thinking rule.
How do you educate a population who refuses to listen, should we just let the crisis take over, it seems human nature learns better when a catastrophe strikes.
Last Thursday the Legislature of the Province passed a bill to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.2 megatonnes by 2030, instead of the Paris Accord agreement of 1.4 megatonnes. Still 6 conservative members of the government refused to go along, they collectively simply do not believe in climate change, it’s a hoax. The majority in this case got its way, now we have to figure out how to achieve this target, won’t be easy. How do you bring on-board towns and settlements when our politicians don’t understand the gravity of the problem.
As it was pointed out on Ideas, you can build infrastructure to stop flooding and erosion, you cannot save nature when irreversible trends are happening, this we do not control. So maybe we will avert the worse but there is no guarantees and I am not hopeful.
At my age this is not really a concern because if I have 20 years to live, I will be dead and gone by the time the crisis is irreversible. What is sad is for children or anyone under 40 they will live through it.
Photo; Alberta Tar Sand exploitation and the environmental disaster it creates. Yet some people see nothing wrong with this picture. A picture of death near Edmonton.