Friday, July 26, 2019
If I Had One Word to Describe Climate Change...
To me, one word captures the essence of climate change - faster.
The onset of climate change is coming at us faster than we ever imagined even just a few years ago.
Ten years ago we were still talking about how this or that might happen by 2100 if we didn't mend our ways. Time and again those forecasts have been proven wrong. The world of 2100 is here now. There's such a thing as optimism but to be this far off is, or should be, worrisome.
This has been building for a while but what really got me was an article in The Barents Observer relating how Svalbard, the northernmost settlement on Earth, 1300 miles inside the Arctic Circle, had already warmed 7 degrees Celsius above, not pre-industrial levels - the usual benchmark, but 1970 levels. Svalbard. The permafrost, the foundation of the far north, is thawing. Homes and other buildings are shifting as the ground beneath them gives way. And, yes, I do read the Barents Observer every now and then.
Is this the face of runaway global warming? Have we crossed the ultimate tipping point? I don't know, maybe. What I do know is that climate change is coming on faster than we thought possible. Whether it's the drought-striken US south where fields are now underwater or the heat waves wracking Europe, the evidence is plain. We are nowhere near prepared for this.
What isn't coming faster is government action on climate change. Our own government isn't keeping up with the acceleration of climate change. Instead of keeping up it's steadily falling further behind the targets set by Stephen Harper's government. Trudeau's gestural response, a $30 a tonne carbon tax on CO2 emissions, is laughable in the context of record heatwaves, crop failures, the melting Arctic. That might have sounded exemplary ten or fifteen years ago but the Canada of fifteen years ago is no more. The climate of that period has changed.
Our government has to catch up. It has to move faster to respond to the rapid change spreading around the world and at home. It is failing not just our grandkids. It's failing us too.