He's the leader of the Official Opposition and therefore it's his job to press the government to do necessary things it hasn't done or at least point out what the government has failed to do.
I want Mr. Ignatieff to bring every bit of pressure he can muster on the Harper government to do a very simple thing the British government did for its people just last month. Very simple but of enormous potential importance.
In June, Britain's environment secretary released a report on how much climate change is in store for that country based on existing carbon emissions. No hocus-pocus stuff speculating on what might or might not happen to slash greenhouse gas emissions in ten years or twenty years or forty years. Just a hardnosed, realistic look at what's almost certainly coming.
The report indicated that, by 2080, about every place in Britain will reach the two degree threshhold that we keep talking about. It also noted that some parts in the south, including London itself, could see temperature increases upwards of six degrees celsius.
The idea behind releasing that report was to get the population and their local governments thinking about their future environment so that they could begin to plan and prepare for it. By looking at a conservative estimate for 2080 you can work back to identify what might arrive by 2030 or 2050. Those are real numbers for much of the population. Then they can begin to examine and implement their options for adaptation and remediation.
We're not going to get that sort of potentially lifesaving information from our environment experts because Stephen Harper has their ministry effectively gagged. We'll get whatever climate change information he wants to give us and, based on what he's given us so far, that's a lot of nothing.
Somebody has to tear that gag off our best scientists at Environment Canada and who is more responsible for leading that battle than the leader of the opposition? Nobody. It's Michael Ignatieff's job to do just that and Britain's environment secretary has given our opposition a very powerful weapon to turn on Stephen Harper. Why can't the Canadian government do at least as much for our people as the British government has done for theirs? By what right does Stephen Harper choose to keep Canadians uninformed, even misinformed about this?
We're a big country. We have many regional environments and we'll all be affected somewhat differently. We have coastal environments, southern and northern, a mountainous region, a vast prairie, the Canadian Shield, and the Great Lakes basin. None of these is going to experience the same conditions. While we may have differing local environments, we are one people and we deserve to start getting some straight answers. Not political answers, scientific answers.
In January 2007, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to five minutes to midnight, reflecting global failures to solve problems posed by nuclear weapons and the climate change crisis.
At that time, Professor Stephen Hawking, who is on the Board of Directors of the Bulletin had these words to say about the role of scientists to inform the public:
"As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devestating effect, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with everyday, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obselete and to prevent further climate change."
What I want from Ignatieff could be summed up by the phrase "Quiet support from a distance."
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