What follows is a letter I sent by e-mail today to the Liberal Party Leader, Michael Ignatieff. I will promptly post any reply he may chose to make.
Dear Mr. Ignatieff.
Congratulations on the success you're showing. It looks as though you have a fairly good chance at becoming the next prime minister.
I'm writing because I'm troubled by a couple of aspects of your leadership that, for the only time in more than 40-years, are undermining my ability to support the Liberal Party. I know that I'm not alone in these concerns.
I gravely dislike your tendency, when you get on the wrong side of an issue, to dismiss your critics or impugn their motives. You did this when you had to retreat from your support for the totally illegal conquest of Iraq. More recently you did this same thing on the Tar Sands. After declaring the Tar Sands the cornerstone of Canadian prosperity for the 21st century and a key to national unity itself, you smeared Tar Sands critics within the Liberal ranks as being anti-Alberta. Do you really believe that is the only motivation anyone could have for being steadfastly opposed to the Tar Sands? Your blithe suggestion that environmental concerns relating to the Tar Sands were a mere matter of carbon emission controls betrayed either a grave lack of understanding or an indifference to this environmental disaster.
Mr. Ignatieff, our country and our world are facing enormous problems. When you were born the earth's population was about two million. Today it's nearly seven and headed within just a few decades to somewhere in the high nines. As the experts say, we've exceeded our carrying capacity. We're eating our seed corn. Our global, ecological deficit is manifest in our collapsed fisheries, spreading deforestation, species extinction, desertification and salination of coastal regions, resource exhaustion, a looming and global freshwater crisis, air, water and land contamination and global security threats from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to disease migration.
Canada is blessed. The worst of these impacts are being felt elsewhere but they are spreading, in some cases quite rapidly, and their reach is global. Yet we're focused on but one problem - global warming and, even on that, we're not getting beyond the talking phase. As Jared Diamond explains in his excellent book Collapse it does mankind little good to solve one of these problems. Each and every one of them must be solved if it is not to present an existential threat.
There are organizations that take this very seriously even if their political masters do not. Among them are the Pentagon and the British Ministry of Defence. On the CBC programme Ideas, Gwynne Dyer presented many of their voices in a 3-part series entitled Climate Wars. If you genuinely care about Canada and our children's future, you need to listen to these. You'll find them at this link: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/climate-wars/
There's really nothing new in them except for one thing. Dyer explains, very convincingly explains, how the prospects of getting the necessary international consensus to respond to our problems is going to be derailed by war. In fact, the odds of this happening are very high. That is because some very large and very powerful nations feed their people from farmland irrigated by glacier-fed rivers. The stability of China and India very much depends on the Himalayan glaciers and those are right now in full retreat. Not only will water shortages destabilize China and India but they will put them at odds with their respective neighbours, Russia and Pakistan. One thing all four of those nations have in common is that each fields a nuclear arsenal. I assume you have a working knowledge of the theories of nuclear escalation and what is commonly known as nuclear winter so I won't go into them here.
History abounds with nations or tribes that have collapsed when they're suddenly overtaken by an inability to feed their people. One of Dyer's guests familiar with these things says that each of these entities had one thing in common. When their resources became inadequate, they attacked their neighbours. Wars of subsistence at times transform into wars of extermination.
But Dyer's series isn't entirely negative, not at all. He concludes that we need to get off fossil fuels now. Not sometime later in this century but now. Then his guests go on to describe alternate energy sources that are both practical and affordable and either non-carbon emitting or carbon neutral that are proven and available today. Two powerful forces stand in the way. One is obstruction by the fossil fuel industry. The other is an absence of political leadership. One who foresees projects such as the Tar Sands continuing through the 21st century would seem to fall into that second category.
For the sake of Canada and the sake of our children and their children, I would ask you to listen to those radio documentaries and use them to inform your opinion. You seek the position to lead our country into the future. The Climate War broadcasts show the leadership we need so urgently if we are to have a future and what probably lies in store in just a decade or two if we don't get it. I urge you to visit these issues not as an annoyance or a burdensome obligation but as a genuine opportunity, perhaps the best you will ever have, to become the great leader Canada needs at this very moment in time.
Thank you for giving this your consideration.