On June 4th, 2007, in Berlin, Germany, Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, called for an international consensus on climate change. Harper referred to the fight against climate change as “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.” Three and a half years later, the optimism that urgent action would be taken by the international community to combat climate change appears to have dissipated. In part this has happened as a result of the global economic downturn, and shifting of governmental focus on shoring up our moribund economies. However, certain pundits, politicians and special interests have used the economic downturn as an excuse to sabotage action on climate change in order to further their own agendas.
Since the release of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Assessment Report, there has no longer been any doubt that global warming is happening, and that it’s happening as a result of human industrial activities. Today, there remain those who want you to believe that the jury is still out on the climate change verdict, or who insist that the science is faulty. Or worse, they want you to believe that the scientists involved in the United Nations international effort to collect data and gather facts to inform world leaders are somehow complicit in an effort to mislead humanity, presumably for their own, shadowy ends.
The facts, however, are as undeniable as they are conclusive: humanity, through our industrial-scale use of fossil fuels, is having an impact on global climate. We are heating our planet. And as a result, there will be impacts associated with a changing climate which we need to begin to address at all levels of society.
There remains an urgent need to take action to combat climate change. Those who refuse to believe in scientific fact have shown again and again that they have nothing to bring to the table in terms of finding solutions. Systematically, they are being shut out of serious debates and discussions regarding what the international community should do to address climate change. The leaders of all nations are currently in agreement that climate change is happening, and that something has to be done. Disagreement between nations, often considerable, tends to occur when the discussion turns to finding ways forward.
Being shut out of conversations can be extremely frustrating, and can provoke negative, sometimes hysterical, reactions. Right now, that’s what’s happening to climate change deniers. Those involved in the denial industry (who often receive financial backing from companies who profit from oil and coal exploration and development) have been actively campaigning in the media against action on climate change. Their tactics include either denying that climate change is happening, or confusing the issue so that there is some question regarding how it is happening.
Many have fallen victim to believing the junk-science offered by climate change deniers. Indeed, the mainstream media, in their efforts to bring “balance” to news stories, often provide the denial industry with a platform from which they can expound their junk scientific theories.
The truth, however, is that there is no balance needed to be brought to a story where the facts are not actually in dispute. While there are many aspects regarding climate change which rightly should generate significant discussion and debate (such as “how is the international community going to address this dire problem?”), none of us benefit from stepping back and re-arguing the scientific merits of a changing climate. In fact, such discussions merely detract from the serious and necessary discussions which must take place in the next few years at all levels.
This week, the international community is gathering in Cancun, Mexico, for the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Many in the media have already written off this latest round of international discussion, pointing to last year’s failure in Copenhagen, along with a growing lack of interest in many western nations to take actions which may be perceived as jeopardizing economic recovery.
Western nations, however, do not make up the bulk of participants at this international conference. Although western nations are overwhelmingly responsible for creating the problems facing the Earth’s climate in the first place (because of historic emission levels), it’s the developing nations which are feeling the most of the negative impacts of climate change today. For many years now, developing nations have been clamouring for meaningful action to address climate change. We can expect them to continue to do so in Cancun. The question is, will the West agree to necessary action?
Stephen Harper was right: climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to humanity’s future. Yet, there remain special interests out there, often in the employ of the fossil fuel industry, who are seeking to prevent action at every step, often by questioning whether climate change is happening. Well, It is happening. And a majority of Canadians are demanding that their government take this threat seriously. We understand that the cost of inaction will be vastly more expensive than the cost of reducing our emissions.
This week, Greater Sudbury’s own Fred Twilley, the Green Party’s nominated candidate for Sudbury, will be in Cancun attending COP-16. Fred will be providing a first-hand look at the international process underway in Mexico to find solutions to address climate change. Fred will be sharing his experiences and observations with Sudburians, and indeed, with all Canadians, through this blogsite. I hope that you are able to follow Fred over the next week and a half. Fred will be hosting a forum to share his thoughts with all those who are interested later in January, 2011.
In the meantime, I urge you to tune out the nonsense being offered by those who deny the existence of climate change, and focus instead on sensible solutions which can be implemented by our governments, businesses and individuals, in a collective effort to take necessary action to head off the anticipated serious effects of a changing climate. We must now be focussed on solutions to the very real problem of climate change. We can no longer allow our own limited resources of time and energy to be high-jacked by those who, for whatever reason, fail to believe that humanity is warming our global climate.
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