We need to do better than blissful ignorance on climate change

“It’s not a myth, a hoax or a conspiracy”

We need to do better than blissful ignorance on climate change

You should know by now.

If you cared, really wanted to know and took the time to search National Geographic regarding climate change you would find “It’s not a myth, a hoax or a conspiracy”. If you bothered to check Encyclopedia Britannica you would read “Solving the critical environmental problems of global warming, water scarcity, pollution, and biodiversity loss are perhaps the greatest challenges of the 21st century”.

There it is, in plain English from two of the many unbiased resources which include NASA and Environment Canada, that most would consider to be trustworthy sources of current scientific knowledge.

But yet, election results suggest that many people in our valley and across Canada are prepared to vote for people and parties who prefer to ignore the warnings of the most learned of atmospheric and earth scientists.

Members of our own elected regional governments (five at last count, two at North Cowichan and three at the CVRD) are prepared to publicly oppose even the acknowledgement of a climate emergency. While the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization and 11,000 scientists and academics are now telling us that we have less than a dozen years to radically change our society and our relationship with fossil fuels.

Is there some barrier that I cannot comprehend? It seems that many intelligent, thoughtful people have a persistent blind spot that keeps them from grasping the basics of the science, logically considering the potential costs of inaction and then behaving like they cared about the future of their children and grandchildren.

Of course, I am familiar with the refrain “what about China”, “What about India”. But in reality, when talking about the climate and greenhouse gasses, borders of countries are imaginary constraints. The average person in China has a carbon footprint of less than half of the average Canadian, while the average citizen of India emits closer to one-eighth of our per capita greenhouse gasses. And it is the poor of those countries that will feel the impacts stronger and sooner than we in the first world.

Is it reasonable that individuals who already lag far behind us in standard of living should “take one for the team” while we sit back and relax as one of the top four per capita emitters on the planet? Are we not all equal citizens of the earth and equally responsible for our individual impacts on it?

The other common excuse for inaction is that Canada accounts for only 1.6 per cent of global emissions. Which sounds pretty good until you consider that as a country, we are the ninth largest emitter, worse than 170 other countries. Many of them with populations that are more than double that of Canada and almost all with much greater poverty and social strife. Why should they change if we do not?

While I know that I am lucky to be a Canadian in 2019, I don’t for a minute believe that I am in some way entitled to a life of continued carbon excess that results in the suffering and death of people all over the world from climate related disasters, including storms, fire, flood, drought, famine and rising sea levels.

As a society, we have the luxury of wealth and comfort, but more importantly, we have the luxury of democracy that allows us to not only act as individuals, but to elect leaders who have the brains and the guts to set a course for a sustainable future. We have a brief opportunity to create a new clean economy and set an example for those less privileged individuals and nations as to what caring for the planet, caring for each other and caring about the future looks like.

While I appreciate that ignorance is bliss, the youth are watching us, expecting and deserving a lot more from us at this moment in history than our continued blissful ignorance.

David Slade

Cobble Hill

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