Friday, 9 November 2012

What are we leaving for future generations?

On the issue of climate change, Canada is failing our global community.  Canadians are failing future generations.  We are also failing ourselves.

Public figures as diverse as Prince Charles and Stephen Hawking have declared climate change the biggest threat to human kind.  A report published earlier this year estimates that even early, relatively subtle, climatic changes cause as many as 400,000 deaths a year, mostly as a result of associated hunger and communicable diseases. 

It should not be surprising that climate change could be responsible for so much death and destruction.  Hurricane Sandy is just the most recent reminder of exactly the type of the damage we can expect.  Hamiltonians and local farmers are sure to remember the strange, early, warm spring followed by a cold snap which devastated so many local fruit tree crops.  Images of dead corn stalks as a result of this hot dry summer should also be fresh in our memory.  Climate change has the ability to diminish our most basic necessities: food, water and shelter.

Many prominent figures in the military industrial complex refer to climate change as a threat multiplier.  Gwynne Dyer, in his book Climate Wars often repeats the chilling mantra that “people always raid before they starve”.  It is no wonder that the United Kingdom’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy has officially made the same declaration we heard from Charles and Hawking. 

More alarming still, Jared Diamond popularized the idea that our unsustainable practices could lead to a collapse of civilization as we know it.  The casualties of such a serious event would be unprecedented.  The truth is that it is impossible to know how climate change will impact human civilization and our biosphere.  All we know is that the risks we are exposing ourselves to are immense.

Our Prime Minister is focused on removing oil from Alberta as quickly as we possibly can at the expense of significant action on climate change.  Canada is repeatedly been given Colossal Fossil awards for being the most obstructionist nation at climate change conferences, like the most recent one in Durban.  We also recently made headlines for lobbying against an international ban on oil subsidies, which tax paying Canadians still provide to the tune of $1.4 billion a year.

Canadians are some of the highest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet per populace, emitting more than a hundred times more emissions than people in undeveloped nations like Bangladesh, who will probably suffer most as a result of climate change. 

As a 29 year old, my generation has often been referred to as the new lost generation.  I wonder how all Canadians, young and old, will be remembered if we continue to contribute so heavily to the problem of climate change.  Surely, our behavior is an insulting tribute to the great generation that won World War II.  Many died for the democracy and freedom we have today and we have the responsibility to put these gifts to good use.  Canadian citizens have a moral duty to confront a problem as immense as climate change.

Please join Hamilton 350 as we fast for 24 hours starting November 23rd at 8am in an effort to highlight the relationship between climate change and food security.  This is just one small part of the response we, as Canadians, owe our global community.  Visit for more information.

Hamilton 350 Blog

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