Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Give It To Them, Both Barrels. Make Your MP Start Working for You

This post is only for those concerned about global warming driven climate change. If that's not of interest to you maybe you would do better moving on.

If you are concerned, don't you think your federal government should be giving you a clear and reliable assessment of what our country and your region can expect from climate change. It's not fair to ask them to look into a crystal ball and see whether we're going to get a meaningful carbon emissions control treaty. But, even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere tomorrow we won't be able to stop the warming processes already underway.

Our children and especially our grandchildren are going to live with the problems we've already created. Likewise, we have an obligation to start looking at the "best case" consequences so that we can plan and prepare at least some adaptation and remediation measures.

When it comes to the feds, there are no clean hands in this (perhaps except for the Bloc). The NDP and the Liberals have been utterly complacent, even indifferent in getting information out to the public from the climate change specialists we already have on the payroll at Environment Canada. Harper plainly doesn't want us knowing or talking about it and no one from the opposition ranks is putting a boot to Steve's backside over it either.

Maybe it's time you took matters in your own hands. Write to your MPs and demand answers. I've e-mailed my guy, Conservative James Lunney. The text of my message is below in case you might find it helpful in crafting your own e-mail. Feel free to take whatever you like.

Dear Mr. Lunney:

Climate change is already upon us. It's evident in the migration of southern species into the waters of Vancouver Island. Barely a month ago there was an uproar in San Diego over the appearance of Humboldt squid washing up on their beaches. Now they're washing up, by the hundreds, on Long Beach outside Tofino. The giant sunfish used to be a rarity in our waters and is now becoming relatively common. Anchovies are massing where we once saw herring.

Right now we have a new kind of El Nino that's being called El Nino Modoki because, unlike its predecessors it's not just present in the eastern Pacific but extends out far to the west.

What causes me to write is Hilary Benn, Britain's environment secretary.

Mr. Benn could serve as a role model to your government. About a month ago he released to the British public a "best case scenario" report on what they should expect by way of climate change over the next 50-60 years. It was 'best case' in that it was based on current emissions already in the atmosphere. Secretary Benn's report showed that most of Britain can expect an average two degrees Celsius of warming by 2070. Some parts in the south, including the City of London, can expect up to six degrees of heating.

Benn released his report so that the public and their local officials could begin discussing what's coming and then plan and prepare for it. There is much that can be done by way of adaptation and remediation but that's a generational challenge.

This week Mr. Benn did it again. His latest report concerns Britain's food security and the challenges climate change will bring. It calls for a radical restructuring of the way Britain produces and consumes food products.

I think Mr. Benn and his government are doing a wonderful job. They're treating the British public as intelligent and mature enough to handle this information. Mr. Benn is fulfilling his obligation to the British people. Not preparing and releasing this information would be a betrayal of the British people for it would delay the dissemination of knowledge they need now so that they can examine today's options before the passage of time forecloses them.

What is your government doing for the Canadian public? Mr. Harper has paid lip service to global warming as the greatest threat to mankind and then slammed the lid shut on the very sort of information Britons are getting from their government. It's not just Mr. Harper either. Ignatieff and Layton are going along with this approach. They don't want to talk about it either.

The real shame to this silent inaction is that Canada is uniquely positioned on the climate change issue. We're one of a mere handful of nations that has really good options. Compared to most of the world including the Middle East, South and East Asia, Africa, Australia, Central and South America we're positively blessed when it comes to this threat. We have far more possibilities in terms of adaptation and remediation. So why is this Conservative government not capitalizing on all of those advantages, truly looking out for the Canadian public? Why are you not giving us the same sort of information Secretary Benn is giving the British people?

You've got children. I've got children. We'll have grandchildren in due course. The future of Canada we leave to those grandchildren is being written today, written indelibly. We don't have any excuses for putting this off any longer.



LMA said...

Out of curiosity, I've emailed my MP, Dave Christopherson of the NDP, asking if the NDP has any plans to suggest policies to deal with the coming effects of climate change. Will let you know if/when I get a response.

The Mound of Sound said...

Good for you LMA. I'm taking a bit more forceful approach. To my thinking it's an irresponsible breach of their duty to the Canadian public not to make this information available, just as the British government has done for its people.

The argument that they don't want to get the public alarmed is utter nonsense. What's coming, on the best case scenario, is coming no matter what. We're going to have to face it at some point and, taken in that context, the sooner the better.

We'd have had a lot more options if we'd only known of this problem back in the 70s. We didn't and so some of our best options were lost to us. We still have a number of options remaining but the very best among them will be the first to go.

Do we want to take the best options with the most time available for discussion, planning and implementation or do we sit in the dark and then wait until we have to settle for worse options with a shorter time fuze?

To any sane person that's a simple proposition with an obvious answer which begs the question why the Conservatives, the Libs and the NDP aren't fulfilling their duty to the Canadian public?

When you start from a best case situation you're not stampeded into taking possibly rash and ineffective fixes.

I think our politicians are terrified of releasing this information and having this debate. Let's take sea level rise as an example. There are a lot of people living in some very high-priced, low elevation oceanfront homes on both coasts. If word gets around that their properties by say 2070 will have to contend with a half metre rise in sea levels compounded by storm surges, well you get the picture. And yet these are issues we need to begin discussing.

These are real, immediate problems. Vast swathes of the City of Richmond in the Lower Mainland lie below sea level and already require sea walls for protection.

Britain wants local authorities to plan for the future which may mean not allowing any further construction in specific low-lying areas or moving essential infrastructure.

That's why we don't need suggestions about policies but the very best, reliable, scientific information. Give us that. Let us work with it. That is not too much to ask, not too much to demand.

Anonymous said...

My MP is Phil McColeman, which is great if you play hockey, want to renovate your home, and you don't give a damn about Aboriginal issues. I don't think the environment is on his radar.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not sure mine is any better Anon but we have to do something to at least try to wake them up. Harper's been in power over 3 1/2 years and he's still trying to torpedo the international effort to arrest global warming. I'm positive that's why he gagged Environment Canada. The sorts of information they could give us would give us an awareness that Harper would rather we didn't have. Why the IgLibs and the Layton NDP are playing lapdog on this is beyond me but each must hve its own agenda - that doesn't square at all with the best interests of Canadians.

So, no matter what you think of your MP, write and demand to know.

Saskboy said...

Did your MP reply?

The Mound of Sound said...

No, of course not. If he doesn't like what you write, he doesn't respond.