It's come to this. I didn't want this anymore than anyone else. Perhaps I saw it coming a little more clearly, a little sooner than some others but that's about it. That distinction is meaningless now.
What was once something that had to be read between the lines has been boiled down to a direct warning now. We know what the problem, the threat is. We know what we have to do if we're to avert that problem. We know the consequences that will, not may but will, befall us if we don't heed this warning.
How much more blunt do you need? We either rapidly decarbonize our economies and our societies or your kids and especially your grandchildren are going to take it in the neck. They're smack in the middle of the crosswalk, you're in the car, are you going to take your foot off the gas and hit the brake or are you just going to see what happens?
Let's complicate that horrible scenario. You're not at the wheel. You don't have your foot on the gas. The person you elected is at the wheel. That person has their foot on the gas, pedal to the metal, and that person you elected doesn't know your grandchildren from Adam. That person you elected brushes you off, saying, "oh, they'll think of something; they'll get out of the way." What are you going to say, "you know best"?
Right now Justin Trudeau is at the wheel. His gas pedal is the TransMountain pipeline and he's just itching to floor it.
Trudeau's environment minister, Cathy McKenna, recently awoke from her slumber to state the obvious. She said ours is the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change and the last that will be able to do anything about it - before nodding off back to sleep.
So, you've got the dire but typically soft-pedaled warning from the IPCC that we have just 12 years to effect a 45% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions or we'll trigger runaway global warming and you've got an environment minister who points out that ours is the last generation that will be able to do anything about it and you have a government bent on flooding world markets with the highest-carbon ersatz petroleum on the planet, bitumen. The prime minister is failing even to meet his climate-denier predecessor, Stephen Harper's lame emission cuts promises.
I once thought that Trump supporters were Gullibillies - ignorant, bone-headed saps who would gleefully swallow whatever Trump spoonfed them. These are people who are belief based and freely reject fact and knowledge. When it comes to climate change and the urgent threat it poses I think we've got plenty of Gullibillies of our own. The Liberal and Conservative ranks are chock full of them.
We're under threat. Real, urgent threat. We're on the defensive whether we like to admit it or not. Military leaders when thrown onto the defensive normally organize lines of defence. You don't want the bad guy breaking through your front line and driving unopposed straight to the steps of your parliament.
When it comes to climate change, what are our lines of defence? Where's the depth? Our front line should be our governments, federal and provincial. The problem is they haven't deployed to that front. They haven't even mobilized. That front line is not even manned. But what about defence in depth? What about the other lines? What other lines? There aren't any. There are no reserves. Our defence begins and ends with our governments and they are not moving to defend us.
This occurs to me when I ponder George Monbiot's latest column in which he points out the dreary obvious. We cannot rely on our governments to act. We can't trust our governments with the future of our children and grandchildren. They are not on our side.
We have been brought up to trust these people or at least obey them but now that could be our ruin. They're working for somebody else. They're not working for you, much less your grandkids.
Even if we could organize a sufficient segment of the population to spark some sort of disruption, there's scant time for that. We need our federal government to change course, to recognize and fulfill its duty to the public interest, not special interests.
We need to act now. Fortunately we have an election next year, the one time that our political caste at least pretend to serve the public. This is where they're vulnerable. This is where they need to be hit. It's time to twist their arms and keep increasing the pressure until they squeal.
I am no longer averse to Monbiot's call for disruptive, non-violent disobedience. What forms that would take is unclear but, with an election looming, there should be a broad spectrum of options. It's time to connect with like-minded people willing to take tangible steps to defend our children's future.
There's no longer time to mess about. We all must decide what side we're on.
When speaking with people who have given up, figuring we're doomed anyway so why change, my response has always been that we can't give up the fight. Yes the future our grandchildren will face will be more difficult and dangerous than anything we have dealt with and some of that we can no longer undo but, and this is a big consideration, what we do, individually and collectively, from today onward can make whatever they face far worse. We can flood world markets with bitumen. Future generations will pay the environmental price for that. But what kind of people does that make us?
I was encouraged today to read a brief interview with climate scientist, Michael Mann, on CBC's web site. His message echoes what I just wrote. It's not too late. We can still prevent many of the worst impacts of climate change if only we choose to.
There are some things that may be lost, but much else that can be retained, too. Often, we allow the conversation to become binary, as if we either succeed or fail. But what it's really about is degrees of success or degrees of failure. We can still prevent many of the worst impacts of climate change from playing out, but some bad things will happen — indeed, already are. If you are Puerto Rico, or Bangladesh, or Tuvalu, or Miami Beach or California, you have already witnessed dangerous climate change impacts. It's simply a matter of how bad we're willing to allow it to get.This is what Schellnhuber meant when he told the delegates to the 2015 Paris climate summit that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could still be achievable but it would require the "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry. Governments have to euthanize the fossil fuel giants. They have to choose - do they support the carbon energy industries or their people? They too have to choose sides and, if they're not on our side, we need to send them packing.
The main challenge is defeating the juggernaut that is the fossil fuel industry. They have used their tremendous wealth and influence to block all meaningful efforts to limit carbon emissions and accelerate the transition underway from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. The only way that we will defeat them is by turning out to vote and electing politicians who will act in our interest over the special interests.