Saturday, August 05, 2017

Let's Stop Cheating Our Grandchildren

The headline in The Independent is as powerful as it is true:

Every second we waste denying climate change exists
 is time we steal from the next generation
 who will suffer the terrible consequences

"Time we steal from the next generation" indeed. Our relentless and rapacious exploitation of the Earth, our one and only biosphere, will leave it gravely diminished for future generations. And, by 'future generations' I mean our grandchildren and their kids. This is not some vague, theoretical construct we can easily dismiss. A lot of these children are already born. We buy them gifts, invite them over to visit us, collect photographs and such.

We would never think of causing them harm or ruining their future and yet we do just that. We've already done a lot and we're content to do more, much more.  We elect governments and leaders who are unrepentant petro-pimps and, by our votes, we are fully complicit.

Our planet is being destroyed. But it is not only the forests and the oceans, the wildlife and the Arctic sea ice that is being wiped out – soon it will be the people, too.

The Lancet has today published a report that lays bare the devastating impact climate change will have on populations across Europe. Between 1981 and 2010, extreme weather events killed about 3,000 people a year.

According to the research, this will increase 50 times to an estimated 152,000 people who will die in weather-related disasters every year between 2071 and 2100.

There are people alive today who will witness these deaths. I could be one of them – in 2071, I would be approaching my 86th birthday. Climate change is not a far-off problem of the future. It is happening right now – and if we do not take action, our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, will be put at risk.

152,000 Euros a year. That's for starters. It doesn't include secondary deaths from knock on effects such as famine and war, resource wars in particular. Gwynne Dyer observes in his book, "Climate Wars," that war, not climate change, will be the big killer.

Perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that those with wealth and power, who have such a disproportionate effect on the planet, will pay little attention until it is their livelihood and their peers under threat from extreme weather.

Donald Trump’s favourite golf course will need to be underwater before he starts to pay attention to the environmental havoc he has played such a pertinent role in. But by then, it will be too late.

As our European neighbours enter their fifth day of a blistering heatwave, as Portugal mourns more than 60 people killed in its worst forest fires in recorded history and as Cornwall cleans up after a mid-summer flood, we must heed the warning signs.

Watch the NBC Nightly News clip posted at Politics and Its Discontents.  This is America's "new normal." Ours is slightly less punishing, for now, but it's also here sure enough. Now ask yourself what your government is doing to meet this looming catastrophe? Do you think building bitumen pipelines is going to help? Why do we support a government that embraces nihilism? There must be something I'm missing.


Lorne said...

People seem to lack a sense of urgency Mound, especially when they hear that things will start to get really bad by 2100. Eight-two years from now seems too remote for most. I think the models predicting this date are too optimistic, given what we now know about melting ice and permafrost, great sources of methane, as well as the feedback loops they feed, subjects you have often written on.

Should we be fortunate(?) enough to live a couple more decades, Mound, I have a feeling that we will have seen some very bad things before the train leaves the station.

The Mound of Sound said...

The science indicates that climate change impacts will steadily worsen but it won't be a linear process. Instead they will come in spurts that may catch us by surprise, unprepared. We've had many years to observe climate-related crop failures but, so far, they've tended to happen in one locale but not others. For example the Russians had a major crop failure but other grain growing regions were able to blunt the impacts. Now it's suggested we need to prepare for simultaneous failures in two, perhaps even three of the major growing regions. With a razor-thin reserve of about 60 days that would be cataclysmic for the poorer, more vulnerable states.

There was a time when it was so convenient to slag Tories over this but now we're seeing that staunch Liberal voters aren't much different. For all the fine reasons we have to be proud of Canada, it's hard to be proud of our indifferent society.

Anonymous said...

The more humans that die now the better. Our greed has already driven us off the cliff. The death of five or six billion humans (and, sadly, other creatures) would be beneficial to the survival of human civilisation. If you are interested in the survival of human civilisation, that is.

Toby said...

Here in the Okanagan we have endured at least a month of smoke in the air from forest fires. At times we can't see the nearby mountains or across the lake. There is frequent coughing, sneezing and runny eyes. Before the fires and smoke there was flooding. People are enduring and complaining but not making the connection with global warming. How bad does it have to get for people to figure it out? How bad for them to demand that their politicians deal with it?

Toby said...

To elaborate on my previous post, it appears to me that most people don't keep up to date with current events, what we call the News. It's not that they don't read newspapers, listen to the radio or watch TV news, they don't pay attention to the news anywhere. Oh,, I hear people say they get their news from Facebook. That's not news, it's gossip. There's no understanding of what is happening, historical background, or complications. Nada. Curiously, even well educated people have joined the ranks of ignorants.