Monday, August 03, 2009

If Britain Can Do It, and California Can Do It, Why Iggy Won't You Force Harper To Do It?

I wrote Michael Ignatieff some time ago asking that he try to force Stephen Harper into doing for the Canadian people what Britain had done for Britons and what California is now doing for Californians - giving them honest information on what conditions we can expect from the global warming that is bound to come from greenhouse gases we've already released into the atmosphere.

Ignatieff's people had his environmental policy advisor respond by saying Harper is useless but completely ignoring my point.

What the British government and now the California government have done is to give their people a "best case" climate change scenario so that they can plan and prepare for adaptation and remediation. Our climate is changing and it is going to keep changing for the rest of this century even if we get an effective climate change deal in place tomorrow.

From The Guardian:

"We still have to adapt, no matter what we do, because of the nature of the greenhouse gases," said Tony Brunello, deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, who helped prepare the report. "Those gases are still going to be in the atmosphere for the next 100 years."

The draft report to be released today by the agency provides the state's first comprehensive plan to work with local governments, universities and residents to deal with a changing climate. A final plan is expected to be released in the autumn.

...Most countries have focused on cutting greenhouse gases in the future, but researchers say those efforts will take decades to have an effect while the planet continues to warm. States have only recently begun to consider what steps they must take to minimise the damage expected from sea level rise, storm surges, droughts and water shortages because of the climate changes.

...The report warns that rising temperatures over the next few decades will lead to more heatwaves, wildfires, droughts and floods.

"We have to deal with those unavoidable impacts," said Suzanne Moser, a research associate at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "We can't pretend they are not going to happen and we have to prepare for that."

To minimise the potential damage from climate change, the report recommends that cities and counties offer incentives to encourage property owners in high-risk areas to relocate and limit future development in places that might be affected by flooding, coastal erosion and sea level rise. State agencies also should not plan, permit, develop or build any structure that might require protection in the future.

If Stephen Harper had the decency to take the gags off our climate scientists at EnviroCan and have them follow Britain's and California's initiatives or if Michael Ignatieff was half the leader he pretends to be and did something to force Harper's hand, we too might discover that we're going to have to deal with changes in precipitation and temperature patterns and with sea level rise. After all, doesn't Canada have more shoreline than any other country on the planet?

But so long as Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton stick with their "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" charade we're not going to get the information we need and deserve, we're not going to understand the "best case" scenarios, we're not going to do the planning we needed to start years ago and we're certainly not going to take any concrete action to prepare for what's coming no matter how hard these supposed leaders pretend it's not.


LMA said...

A while ago you posted a blog about the qualities of great leaders. You argued that great leaders oftentimes espouse policies that are unpopular but necessary. At the time I was more inclined to believe that great leaders listen to the voice of the people and essentially give them what they want.

The failure of any of our current leaders to speak out about climate change has made me realize the wisdom of your post. You were right. What we need now is a leader who has the guts to present to us the scientific facts about the changes that are coming and the sacrifices we will have to make to adapt.

The Mound of Sound said...

I've come to realize LMA that the key to mobilizing public opinion behind the fight against global warming is precisely what Britain and California are doing. Present the public, not with horror stories about apocalyptic, runaway climate change, but with "best case" scenarios. They're plenty grim enough to capture public attention and make the electorate insistent on hearing straight talk, coherent answers about how we're to keep the damage within the "best case" scenario.

LMA said...

So we start to develop plans for moving people out of areas prone to wildfires and floods, for coping with decreased food production due to prairie droughts, so that people are prepared? At the same time, we continue to reduce GHG emissions, develop a green economy, etc. Jobs could be created to clean up the existing environmental destruction from the Tar Sands. Also, all that permafrost melting in the Arctic will create many areas to be reforested.

If only we had a leader with a little imagination and vision.

The Mound of Sound said...

You're certainly on the right track, LMA. One thing we need to really appreciate as Canadians is that we inhabit one of the very few regions on the planet that will be presented with positive opportunities to deal with climate change. We can look at this process negatively or positively in the context of our advantages at adaptation and remediation.

I doubt it'll be more than one generation down the road where we'll find that 95% of mankind will be very envious of what we Canadians have.

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