Confessions Of A Climate-Change Avoider

I have a busy weekend attending a local “Reel Green” Ecofilm Festival, so instead of writing a new blog article, I am reposting this one, which was first posted on December 30 of last year.  Have a great weekend!

I don’t know about other people, but I have been aware of climate change/global warming as a concern “out there” for years.  It was frustrating to have the Canadian government under Jean Chretien and after him Paul Martin pay lip service to the Kyoto Protocol after making Canada a signatory to it, but ultimately do nothing about it.  Then the Liberals were replaced by our current minority government led by Stephen Harper, who as recently as 2002 called Kyoto “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” In the same letter, addressed to supporters of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance Party, Harper writes that the Kyoto agreement was based on “tentative and contradictory scientific evidence” and that it focused on carbon dioxide, which is “essential to life“!!

Now I’m getting sidetracked – Harper can bring out the “ranter” in me. My point is that for “average” people, even ones who try to be informed about issues and who care about the environment, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the enormity of the climate change issue. And our confusion isn’t helped when our politicians fail to give us real, visionary leadership. Despite the huge impact global climate destabilization will ultimately have on the planet, it is almost too big for our human minds to grasp. Although change is occurring now, the climate destabilization effects will become more noticeable and widespread over decades, and the ecosystem shifts will occur over generations.

I confess, in the not-too-distant past,  to having turned off the radio or television when the topic of climate change would come up. I only watched An Inconvenient Truth a few weeks ago! The prospect of climate change/global warming disturbed me, and I felt helpless at the same time.  This changed for me after participating in the International Day of Action on October 24 and learning about the “350” campaign.  I realized that I didn’t have the luxury of continuing to be silent and inactive on this issue. My daughters’ futures  are at stake. The 350 campaign is helpful because it makes the issue very clear – 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is where we should be, and we are now above that.  And what was negotiated in Copenhagen in December will leave us with a level of 770 ppm!

I recently came across an excellent CBC News InDepth Report on Climate Change from March of 2005.  I may well have turned it off when it first aired – but it is very comprehensive  and includes stories that put a human face on climate change, as well as excellent photos. Click here to check it out.

Here are some of the voices from the CBC report:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chair, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, in November 2004:

We have to give climate change a human face – it is not all about ‘sinks,’ ’emission trading schemes’ and technology. Climate change is about people, children, families and of our relationship with the world around us. To Inuit it is a question of our very survival as a hunting people and a hunting culture. Our human rights – to live our traditional way – are being violated by human-induced climate change.”

Mark Nuttall,  Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and lead author of Chapter 12 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment:

The main message that has to get out to politicians … is that climate change has a human face,” Nuttall says. “It is not simply an environmental issue. The real issue [of] climate change is one that affects us as people, affects survival of culture. I think the hope is to try to get that human aspect highlighted.”

Inuit living in the small community of Sachs Harbour, Nunavut had never experienced thunder or lightning until a few years ago.  But what really concerns them is the moisture that comes with the thunderstorms – the Far North is getting rainier, by about 8% a year.  The extra precipitation can increase the rate of melting of the ice and permafrost, and change the ecosystem by introducing new plants and animals.

Across the north, the story is the same – elders say that winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, and summers are hotter.  Environment Canada’s records show a general warming trend over the Canadian North for the last 57 years.

Let’s join together and send our leaders a message that climate change/global climate destabilization is the most urgent issue facing humanity and we  need action now, not in 2020 or 2050.  Humans are infinitely creative and are capable of great things – let’s harness that creativity now!

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