That seems to be the attitude of the world's political leaders today in the face of warnings that our civilization's last best opportunity to avert devastating climate change is slipping through their fingers. "Thanks but I'll pass."
The dire and blunt warning yesterday from the International Energy Agency that we have until 2015 to reverse our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels or totally forfeit our last chance to keep global warming within the 2C safety zone seems to have fallen on deaf ears in capitals around the world, including Canada's.
Why less than five years? Because there's a limit to the quantity of carbon dioxide our atmosphere can absorb before we blow straight through that 2C threshold. By the most optimistic projections, that's 450 parts per million. Many, like NOAA's James Hansen, contend the safe limit is actually far lower, 350 ppm. We're already at 390 ppm.
Understand, this is the best-case scenario. The others are far worse. The IEA analysis concludes that, the way global fossil fuel consumption is trending and without drastic government action, we're on track for long term temperature increases between 3.5C and 6C.
Using the best-case scenario figures, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol says we've already used up 80% of the maximum carbon budget and we're heading toward 90% by 2015. At that rate, by 2017 we'll have consumed our planet's safe carbon carrying capacity and mankind's exit door will be closed forever. And that's the optimistic calculation.
So, what's with the "thanks but I'll pass" attitude of the NDP and LPC? This is what may be the final warning of an imminent existential threat to the future of our country. Isn't that serious enough to drive this issue straight to the top of the priority pile of the opposition parties? Shouldn't this be their prime focus in Parliament? If not, why not? Do they have some right to transform future generations of Canadians into Easter Islanders? This is the greatest challenge, the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity of our lifetime and it is up to the opposition to rise to it when the government will not. If they don't, they're complicit in Harper's deadly neglect.