Monday, 18 November 2013

What does it take for Canada to act?

Typhoon Haiyan has devastated the Philippines with almost four thousand confirmed dead and tens of thousands more injured.

It is irresponsible to discuss this natural disaster without mentioning COP 19 — the United Nations Climate Change Conference, on now in Warsaw, Poland. It is at COP19 that the world is supposed to be working on solutions to climate change.

At this conference, the Philippines delegate, Yeb Sano, announced he "will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP, until a meaningful outcome is in sight." As part of his tearful speech, he pleaded: "What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw."

Traditionally, scientists shy away from linking specific weather events with climate change. Instead, they tend to say things like "more intense storms like Typhoon Haiyan are the types of weather events we can expect more frequently as a result of climate change."

Canada’s performances under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s leadership at climate talks such as COP19 have been absolutely shameful. For the last six consecutive years, the Climate Action Network has declared Canada the most obstructive nation at each annual conference.

These types of comments should be enough to inspire action. If the global community wants to avoid storms like Typhoon Haiyan, then we need to do something about global warming.

Professor Will Steffen, a researcher at the Australian National University and a climate change expert, has made an even stronger link between climate change and Typhoon Haiyan. He is quoted as saying: "Once (cyclones) do form, they get most of their energy from the surface waters of the ocean. We know sea-surface temperatures are warming across the planet, so that's a very direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm."

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are not the only reasons we need to combat climate change.
There are frightening conclusions just released via a leaked draft version of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report called "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability." IPCC publications are the most diligently vetted scientific documents ever produced.

There are many concerns worth noting, but just to give a scope of the potential damage consider these points:

•"Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, inter-group violence, and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks."

•"Throughout the 21{+s}t century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security, and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger."

We often think of climate change as a faraway problem. The image of a polar bear clinging to a small block of ice in the Arctic generally comes to mind. What we are learning through IPCC research publications is that climate change can be linked to and exacerbate serious, deadly problems that have major impacts on people across the planet.

Annual international climate change conferences like the one in Poland are the only opportunities the international community has to come together and develop an agreement to slow the rate of anthropogenic climate change.

Canada's performances under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's leadership at climate talks such as COP19 have been absolutely shameful. For the past six years, the Climate Action Network has declared Canada the most obstructive nation at each annual conference.

Our prime minister is currently offering condolences and aid money to the Philippines. However, in addition to condolences, Canadians should be offering our apologies. Canada has offered the Philippines $5 million and deployed our emergency response team to the ravaged nation. Instead of calling our financial support "aid," we should be calling them "reparations" for our reckless behaviour.

Above all else, Canadians have a moral duty to the world to remove Harper from power and replace him with a prime minister who has a competent strategy to solve this problem.

Hamilton 350 Blog

1 comment:

  1. so now "the sky is falling"???
    The world has always been changing. We didn't start it (climate change/global warming/whining) and are powerless to stop it.
    G. Baker