Climate Change – A Humanity Threatening Non-Issue
The following op ed was offered to the mainsteam media but they declined it. Its author is Bill Henderson, a reader of this blog and a supporter of the BCEN LW list which I am so glad I was able to get onto.
Thanks Bill for your consent to me putting your thoughts on my blog
Canadians have simply no idea how serious climate change is because they have been and continue to be profoundly mis-educated about climate change – the danger is a slow overall rise in temperature effecting weather and subsequently resources such as water in each differing Canadian region; Canadians have until mid-century to lower emissions and this is possible within our presently configured socio-economy if we all just finally start making smart choices, maybe aided by government incentives.
This convenient conventional wisdom begins with what’s most important – our pre-occupations in this socio-economy – and then selects a climate change conceptualization from climate change science that will fit into this business as usual.
The best selling HOT AIR: Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge by Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson, climate change policy specialist Mark Jaccard and researcher Nic Rivers is a perfect example. Published in 2007 by informed Canadian climate change policy insiders, there is no mention of tipping points or latent positive feedbacks, carbon cycle time lags, sinks turning into sources or abrupt, whipsawing climate history.
HOT AIR contains no acknowledgement at all of non-linear climate change. There is no warning education of the increasing probability and immediate danger of runaway, no longer controllable, climate change which is a far greater danger to Canadians than bad weather, drought and bugs from gradual warming. No mention at all. No Hansen. Nothing about methane bubbling up from permafrost. Strictly a long term gradual problem that we can solve within business as usual beginning with thin edge of the wedge mitigation strategies such as the puny BC carbon tax Jaccard and Co turnkeyed for the BC Liberal government.
(This carbon tax debacle itself contributed to wrongfooting Joe Public – if climate change is a crisis how come the tax is just a few pennies a liter, much less then the rise in gas prices by oil companies making billions, and then why give the money back to spend instead of investing in renewable energy or efficiency? If climate change is a crisis? Are Canuck or Olympic tickets a smart choice for my rebate if climate change is a crisis?)
Each of the leaders of the parties in this past Federal election understand the increasing probability of humanity threatening danger from non-linear climate change – although some have investments that keep them much more in denial – but not one of them could or did try to inform and educate Canadians about this real climate change danger in the election.
Why? What do the HOT AIR authors and Canada’s political leaders share that rules out acknowledging climate change’s real, immediate danger? Search out Thomas Friedman’s ‘golden straightjacket’. Ask yourself just what degree of emission reduction is possible within our service sector dominated Canadian
The emerging literature about mitigation strategies by those who do take climate change seriously – who recognize the melting Arctic as a tipping point, 350 ppm as the precautionary ceiling necessary, 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2020 as the mitigation target necessary – importantly educate that there is no possibility of emission reduction of a scale needed within political and economic business as usual. No possibility of needed socio-economic reconfiguration in order to reduce emissions within BAU.
80% by 2020 is the bottom line and is still possible, but it requires profound systemic change in what must be emergency innovated politics and economics. Sutton /Spratt, Lester Brown and Britain’s New Green Deal –
Hundred Months group advocate an update of already tested wartime-style mobilization as the governance innovation needed first to unblock for change.
But this is heresy. None of the party leaders could endanger their team’s electability this election by actually advocating such a needed, precautionary, climate change mitigation strategy. Climate change might be an emergency; with time lags we might be near if not slipping over a tipping point to an extinction event too terrifying for us to even fully comprehend, but there is no taking climate change seriously in our present
Elizabeth May, Jack Layton, Gilles Doucette, and Stephane Dion know the science, know the increasing probability of danger, know the mitigation time frames necessary. Harper is PM because he united the right – you’d think that climate change should have been the emergency issue uniting the greens, but that would entail taking climate change seriously.
That would have meant leadership in making climate change the issue, sublimating all other issues, all trivialities and tribalisms, and we’re obviously not there yet. There was no leadership voice explaining the danger and the need to unite.
Alone Dion tried to advance a weak Green Shift but it was political suicide because the mis-educated public isn’t there yet and confused and afraid they didn’t vote or voted for Harper’s safe BAU. And so it goes: lack of leadership, more mis-education, a dumber public, more time wasted …