Don Pittis, the CBC's business reporter, usually focuses on things economic but today he is venturing into climate change and how miserably our federal and provincial governments are doing in coming to grips with the threat.
It is not unreasonable that the majority of Canadians and the 97 per cent of scientists who understand that climate change is real are feeling a certain amount of despair.
Optimism following the 2015 Paris summit that the world could and would halt the growth of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere and slow the devastating effects of rising seas, storms, drought and forest fires has turned to gloom.
And perhaps most disheartening is the fact that despite a strong, growing economy in many parts of the world, including Canada and the United States, governments have failed to reverse the damage. So what happens when the economy goes into retreat?
..."Climate change … is arguably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced," says Stewart Elgie, chair of the Smart Prosperity Institute, a think-tank based at the University of Ottawa, comparing it to the impact of nuclear war. "We are messing with the planet's life support system in a way that we haven't before."
But despite large support for climate action, governments have been captured by selfish forces that seem bound to sacrifice the planet for short-term interests. Well-funded voices of opposition use social media to discredit sound science.
In Canada the government of Ontario has tossed out carbon pricing, the favoured free market way of cutting carbon, on the grounds that it will slow economic growth. Yesterday they replaced it with costly taxpayer handouts to business that have been shown to be ineffective in parts of the world where they have been tried.
The governments of Alberta and Canada continue to use taxpayer billions to subsidize oilsands transportation when market forces have signalled we should stop.
Repeatedly, public funds are being spent to make climate change worse, instead of investing in alternatives that would make it better. And since Earth's climate is the ultimate shared resource, there sometimes seems no advantage in taking individual action, if others others just produce the carbon you have saved and more.
...Sarah Buchanan, a policy expert with Environmental Defence Canada, has had moments of despair. But she still hopes democracy and capitalism can solve the problem, in part because people will increasingly witness climate change in their lives.
"People who do not see these immediate impacts right now are going to start seeing them very soon," says Buchanan.
While she objects to increased government subsidies for fossil fuel production, she insists it is false to see a conflict between fighting climate change and supporting the economy. And while poll after poll show most Canadians realize something needs to be done, she thinks their voices have been overwhelmed by the financial clout of pro-carbon interests.
Post a Comment