We live in dangerous times. Like Easter Islanders we live in times of potentially existential threats of our own making. The survival of our civilization can no longer be taken for granted. If we are to avert the worst impacts of the way of life we have developed over the past three centuries, change on a global dimension will be required. There is simply no getting away from that. It is an imperative that, ignored, will wreak havoc on us.
Clear headed alertness and steely resolve will be essential to devising and implementing the measures we need to adapt to and mitigate global warming and the basket of other fundamental challenges we face - deforestation, desertification, air/water/soil contamination, species migration and extinction, disease migration, overpopulation, resource depletion and exhaustion, nuclear proliferation and spreading terrorism, and, perhaps greatest of all, the looming freshwater crisis. These challenges, potential threats, are often powerfully linked, interconnected such that solving any of them means solving them all. Yet, even on just one front, global warming-driven climate change, international leadership is wavering.
Today, in the Financial Times, International Energy Agency Chief Economist, Fatih Birol, and Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change chair Nicholas Stern, warn that, at the World Economic Forum, policymakers seemed to have become disengaged on the climate change threat. Now with political upheaval, economic uncertainty and soaring oil prices, the window of opportunity may be closing.
Birol and Stern call for an end to nearly $600-billion in annual, fossil fuel subsidies; a benchmarking system to maximize energy efficiency; measures such as effective carbon pricing as a disincentive to old, energy-inefficient infrastructure and a positive incentive to introduction of new, energy efficient technologies, and advanced fuels.
Of course will any heed Birol and Stern's call? How about the nation that purports to stand as the leadership model for the rest of the world? With Congressional Republicans firmly in the denialist camp and also in control of the House, you truly do have rule by crazy people. They're far too busy working to dismantle the EPA to bother with these warnings. In fact, you could easily call them today's "pro-carbon lobby."
Well then, what about our own Canada? When we've got the two top political spots occupied by inveterate Tar Sanders, unapologetic Bitumen Boosters, enthusiastic Fossil Fuelers, we've also got crazy people at the helm. One thing is clear, when it comes to the Conservative and the Liberal leadership, Canada needs and deserves an awful lot better.