Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Making It Real - Dragging the Monster Out of the Shadows

I don't know how we're going to meet the challenge of global warming but I do know this. Based on the attitude shown by Stephen Harper and by Michael Ignatieff and by Jack Layton, we're not.

The Three Stooges of Parliament Hill are doing nothing to get reliable, "best case scenario" information to the Canadian people about what they should expect and need to plan and prepare for from the inevitable temperature increases, precipitation changes and sea level rises we and our children are going to experience this century.

Alex Renton, who prepared a report entitled "Suffering the Science: Climate change, people, and poverty" for OxFam says we'll get nowhere until we elect leaders who understand that, "the monster must be dragged out of the shadows and shown to the people who can get the world to act."

From Reuters AlterNet:

I’ve spent much of this year looking at the impacts on humans of climate change, eerily aware that for most of the rich world this is a phantom, a monster you may hear howling in the distance, if you want to - but as yet nothing to be seen or touched. If you believe - as Oxfam, who commissioned my report, does - that climate change along with poverty are the greatest threats to humanity this century, then the monster must be dragged out of the shadows and shown to the people who can get the world to act.

...The message from the scientists has been blurred, dangerously so, because it has provided prevaricating politicians with more excuses. But consensus is emerging. No one argues now with the fact that rice, soya and maize production is shifting rapidly across the hot regions of the world; that sea levels will rise twice as fast as we thought only three years ago; or that diseases are migrating geographically, often to populations with no knowledge of them, and little defence.

Another interesting indicator is the rate at which the scientists themselves are getting bleaker: 90 per cent of them, according to two recent polls, don’t believe the world can attain the emissions targets that will keep warming to an “acceptable” two degrees this century.

Lord Stern, whose hugely influential review for the British government of the economics of climate change was published in 2007, said in April this year: “I probably under-did it.” He now believes that a devastating five degrees of warming this century is “not a small probability of a rather unattractive outcome… [but] a big probability of a very bad outcome”. So what’s a cash-strapped, over-advised rich world government to do?

I think the answer is quite simple. There are two issues here: one is the causes of climate change. The other is the problem of adapting the planet, and humanity, to what is already proven to be a rapidly changing climate. The Dutch are spending $1.9bn (£1.1bn) every year now on improving their sea defences - that is because there is an immediate need; it is equally so across the world.

We can continue to debate why our ship is sinking, and how and when we must cut carbon emissions: but we must start getting the lifeboats ready. That will be expensive. Most agencies have put the costs of at $100-$150bn a year. One of Britain’s most eminent researchers on climate change, Professor Martin Parry, on Friday released a report estimating the price at three times that. It’s a lot, but not so much seen in terms of bank bailouts. And, as Lord Stern has said, money spent well in the parts of the world where climate change will hit hardest, will be money that also helps those countries develop.

Every dollar spent now helping people adapt and prepare will be measured in lives saved, in agony mitigated. It will also act to prevent the great migrations of which world governments are so frightened. There is a disaster coming: even my sceptical heart has had to admit that. But I’m confident we can still limit the extent of it.

If only, Alex, if only. It makes me ashamed to be Canadian that we have two major political leaders from the right and their butt-boy from the left who won't stand up for the world, this country and the Canadian people on climate change. They're a national disgrace, every one of them, Layton included. Harper's cadre of political commissars in the PMO keep an airtight lid on EnviroCan, preventing our best climate scientists from giving us the information we need right now. He does it because Ignatieff and Layton are just fine with it too.

Not one of them wants to see the monster dragged out of the shadows and shown to the Canadian people. Why who knows where that might lead? Once we get a look at what's coming our way, what's happening to everyone else on the planet may suddenly become disturbingly real to us. They don't want us riled up on this because, to a man, they know just how they're going to look when that happens.


Anonymous said...

One thing that is very interesting is the rising sea level in Newfoundland. They are definitely seeing, or at least some cousins are noticing what is happening to the shore line. As you may know, Newfoundland has a fault running through it. The west coast is a part of the American Appalachians (more secure) and the east coast slid across the Atlantic from Morocco. The east coast is very vulnerable to falling away... Newfoundlanders could lose the Avalon as it is just a parasite on the rest of the Island....I jest and you are supposed to laugh, however, it doesn't take rocket science to imagine what can happen there. If it wasn't so darn alarming one could laught at the "mumm" attitude of the Newfoundland Legislature. I supposed it comes down to only 500,000 people living on the Island and when they bark it is a squeak in the rest of the country if heard at all. William is all caught up with trying to find money to begin building the lower Churchill Falls power plant. One question....are you waiting until you can get to a meeting and ask your questions during the up coming election or do you think we will be prevented from doing so...asking questions about the environment that is? A. Morris

The Mound of Sound said...

AM, I have written at length of Mr. Ignatieff and to my own, Reformatory MP about this. My own MP has completely ignored my letter. Mr. Ignatieff had his climate change advisor reply. His response was, to paraphrase, "Stephen Harper is a shit." Nothing remotely substantive. That's why I've pretty much given up on the lot of them. This country needs genuine leadership and I don't see that in any of the current contenders.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! What alluring language from the PM in waiting advisor. What has happened to government employees and their ability to use curtesy?

LMA said...

Ignatieff's French ad, while at least raising the whole subject of climate change, was essentially the same, the Cons have done nothing. How are the Liberals going to "do better". We need detailed policies on fighting climate change from Ignatieff.