Thursday, May 02, 2019
What Yesterday Meant to Me
Since that first time I heard Greta Thunberg, I sensed that something wonderful might be about to happen.
Eventually she inspired a resistance. The school children's revolt and then Extinction Rebellion - children and adults saying there no longer could be, nor would be, tolerance of the status quo.
As altruistic Britons were refusing to move, they were arrested, charged and taken into custody - for what is genuinely trying, in a most modest way, to save humanity by changing minds.
And it worked.
With more than two-thirds of the population now realizing that the UK was in a climate change emergency, Jeremy Corbyn took that as his cue to table a motion calling on Parliament to declare a state of national climate emergency that easily passed in the House of Commons bolstering similar declarations from Wales and
As Westminster was declaring a national emergency, across the Atlantic, Canada's finance minister, Morneau, was beating his chest over fracked gas, LNG, as proof of Canada's ability to deliver on big carbon-energy projects. The prime minister, meanwhile, was begging Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, to save emissions caps by promising to just look the other way on bitumen extraction.
Brits take pride in their "stiff upper lip" image, the "Stay Calm and Carry On" national mantra. The people of the UK aren't afraid to look over their shoulder and spot what's coming and, when they did, they demanded action. Canadians, apparently, aren't made of such stuff. All we have to hear are empty threats such as "this will hurt the economy" and we're in full rout. It seems we don't care if this cherished economy or that small fraction represented by fossil fuels has led us to a cliff edge. We're not stopping.
We don't care. Not enough of us anyway. Sure, we're worried about climate change but not enough to insist that real measures be taken to at least give us a chance at a soft crash landing. Ah, the kids'll figure out something. They'll have to with the future we're bequeathing to them.
Maybe we can still change but the clock is quickly running out and our governments aren't courageous enough to declare climate change a national emergency even though Canada is vulnerable. We have the longest coastline of any nation, from sea to sea to sea. Our vast forests are being ravaged by heat waves, unreliable snowcap and summer precipitation, mass infestation by pine beetles and other pests that are now moving steadily out of the West toward the Atlantic. The Arctic ice and snow that once kept our tundra and permafrost stable is disappearing, giving rise to the release of potentially massive quantities of methane and CO2. To the south, "once a century" floods are now becoming once every few years, our "new normal." Science now shows that the prairie petro-provinces are looking at a future as parched wasteland. Mega drought imperils our domestic food security. Our essential infrastructure is in decay and in no shape to withstand the severe climate that is even now setting in. Even our fisheries are being changed as native species migrate in search of colder waters. Wildfire smoke now perfumes the skies of the West, forcing ordinary Canadians to shelter indoors at what used to be the very best time to be outdoors.
But no, we don't have a climate change national emergency and, if we do, we're too cowardly to deal with it. We won't change, not in time. When we go to the polls this October look for 70 per cent, perhaps more, of the vote to go for the very worst petro-state parties, the Liberals or the Conservatives.
Yesterday was a bittersweet moment, one eagerly awaited. I'm proud of the British people for forcing their politicians' hands. I wish we were made of that same stuff.