The challenge

Climate scientists are panicking.

In 1988, when the world’s top climatologists gathered in Toronto and declared that climate change was a threat second only to global nuclear war, the world embraced the challenge with gratifying enthusiasm.  Flush from success with the Montreal Protocol, which succeeded in reversing ozone depletion, governments the world over adopted ambitious targets and made dramatic promises.

By the time the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, the targets were far more timid.  We had come to realize that eliminating the lifeblood of our economy was not going to be as easy as switching to an alternative refrigerant.  Even as Kyoto was agreed to, scientists knew it was going to be inadequate, but it was hailed as a step in the right direction.

We’re in the middle of the Kyoto period now.  Many of the signatories are not expected to reach the targets they agreed to.  Some developing countries, which did not have to make any emissions cuts, are instead dramatically growing their emissions every year.  Emissions have grown faster than every scenario that climate scientists have modelled.  The only optimistic outlook that climatologists have seen recently, if it can be called that, is the falling emissions due to the plummeting global economy.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that the warming levels that climatologists believed would be safe are not at all safe.  We are already experiencing dangerous climate change, which has been held partly responsible for droughts, floods, insect infestations, disease spread, deadly heat waves, killer storms, desertification, melting glaciers and permafrost and other disasters.  Even now, when global temperatures have not climbed even a single degree above preindustrial levels, it is already estimated that climate change is responsible for over 315,000 deaths every year.

We are on course to put in motion the largest mass extermination of humanity ever, with some 90% of humanity disappearing this century if we continue on this track.  And we are rapidly losing options to avoid some of the worst impacts.

We urgently need to stop.

The fuels that keep us alive today will destroy our children if we keep relying on them.

In a very real way, the majority of work performed in our economy is done by energy from fossil fuels.  Without them, most of us could not get to work, could not bring food home, could not heat our homes through the winter, could not turn our lights on reliably, could not drink tap water and could not own an enormous amount of consumer goods that enrich our lives.  We take these things for granted.

Clearly the immense oil industry is not at all interested in pursuing emissions reductions.  But fossil fuels so permeate our economy that it’s almost impossible to imagine life without them.  So the problem goes far deeper than industry lobbying.  Political parties go into elections promising to keep things going for another few years each time, suggesting minor tweaks for greater efficiencies to prop up our addiction to fossil fuels and the dying industries behind them instead of moving boldly to the future we so desperately need.  We need a government with the courage and vision to embrace a new path, not of slightly less killer fuel, but that looks beyond the fossil fuel era into a time when we can live in cleaner, healthier and safer communities powered by what nature gives us, at the rate at which it is given to us.

It’s time to vote Green.

Leave a comment

To weed out spam, your comment will not appear right away.