Thursday, 12 July 2012

Who should pay for climate disasters?

The weird weather that all but wiped out this year’s apple crop is a disaster for local farmers and a setback for those of us who try to support them by buying local fruit whenever possible. But when are we going to start really sharing the pain of climate change and doing something serious about it?

In the last 100 months, we’ve had 17 rain storms severe enough to flood homes in Hamilton. Nearly half of those storms have been only supposed to occur once every 50 years. Most of the costs have been borne by those whose properties and possessions have been flooded.

It’s good to see local councillors seeking more information about flood dangers arising from more development of rural Stoney Creek, but it should be obvious by now that paving over agricultural land and natural areas will inevitably make things worse.

Beyond our community, the damages from extreme weather are far more severe. In the couple of weeks alone, 350 homes were destroyed in the Colorado wildfires and more than 40,000 people evacuated, while18 people were killed and two million left without electricity on the east coast as the United States suffered through a massive heat wave that set or tied over 2,100 high temperatures records.

Overseas flooding and drought clearly connected with climate change are killing tens of thousands every year according to the United Nations.

Everyone knows this is the ugly face of global climate change, but incredibly, the media barely mention this – apparently frightened that some Conservative ideologue will denounce them. Instead, the weather forecasters talk about the “new normal” and the “unusually warm winter/spring/summer.”

And our politicians aren’t much better – especially the bunch in charge in Ottawa who only seem to work for the big oil companies, and who ‘combat’ climate change by firing or silencing the federal scientists gathering evidence about it.

So have we decided – without any official admitting it – that we’re not going to do anything and just hope that it won’t get really bad?

The fossil fuel corporations make billions digging out tar sands, coal, natural gas and other causes of the problem, but no one dares demand that they at least be forced to pay the bills generated by their mad rush for profits. On the contrary, the Harper government continues to provide over a billion dollars a year in subsidies, and eliminates any environmental laws that might slow them down.

There’s a rumour out there that humans are the most intelligent species on the planet.

Too bad.

Hamilton 350 Blog

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