Column: Progressive views – Abandoning our Future

By Tristan Turner

Canada once held a sterling international reputation on seeking solutions to the issue of climate change – the defining issue of my generation. After all, in 1988 Toronto hosted the first-ever international scientific conference on climate change “Our Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security”. After the conference’s proceedings, international scientists reached the conclusion that “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.”

These findings are immensely disturbing. Our future depends on action on climate change. The ability for myself to carry on a life resembling the well-being of those fortunate to have been born in my parent’s generation is in jeopardy. I want my children to experience the ecological marvel of our planet, as I am able to.

Yet, if leaders are not able to develop responsible policy for dealing with the most formidable challenge of our generation; then my hopes for my future are truly lost. The Harper government – along with many others across the globe – have abandoned my generation and generations to follow with their deplorable inaction on this issue. While many European nation-states are posting remarkable emissions reductions, our emission levels during the Kyoto commitment period (2008-2012) are expected to be about 30 per cent higher than what our nation committed to. As if that wasn’t enough, The Harper Government then pulled out of the Kyoto accord, breaking our promise of building a world based on sustainable green development. This is nothing short of taxation without representation; punishing future generations for a catastrophe they did not create, without taking decisive action to protect their future.

The climate crisis has broad implications for contemporary society. From the flooding of coastal regions threatening major port cities to the increasing threat of desertification, and the development of more extreme weather patterns – this will affect the production of agriculture, the transportation of goods internationally and the livelihoods of those living in areas under increased threat of extreme weather or those living below sea level in coastal regions. These repercussions caused by human ignorance and a lack of political will have the potential to kill millions and destabilize the entire global economy.

With global CO2 ppm [parts per million] levels rising at over 3 ppm annually; If we continue down this path, we will soon rise from our current 389 ppm level to be in the climate ‘tipping point zone’ somewhere between 400 ppm and 450 ppm. Scientists have speculated that where we to reach these CO2 levels, it would spell international crisis.

It is out of my concern for my children yet-to-be, for my nation that has so long stood as a bastion of hope and progress and for my world that I say, advancement needs to be made on climate change before modern society sets in motion a series of events that may be civilization’s undoing.

Although the challenge of dealing with the seemingly insurmountable issue of climate change will not be an effortless enterprise, it is an issue government, industry and individuals must address to ensure the long-term continence of our global ecosystem.

We need governments that enact policy based on the needs of our global community, as well as local citizens. We must deal with major issues rather than put them on the policy back burner only to cause harm to future generations; we need to create a society that builds the economy to be prosperous now, as well as in the future; I need hope for my children, and if our governments continue acting incompetently when dealing with issues as severe as global ecological disaster, there truly is little hope for me to find.

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2 Comments

  1. While it is clear we should treat our planet better and as a society I believe we have started to. I do not buy the doom and gloom rhetoric that you and others are spreading.

    What about all the credible scientist that hold opposing views? You did not offer them fair billing in your well written piece. You should read some of their stuff too!!!!

    You did not mention the recantation of a scientist (well known but who’s name escapes me now) that held your same strong views and had much of the scientific community hanging onto his coat tails. When he changed his mind, he was shunned and discredited.

    You did not mention that just a few decades ago there was just as much of an outcry about the impending ice age. That is right. Ice age. Look it up.

    There is a large heat lamp in the sky that warms our planet and guess what? It goes in cycles. It gets hotter and colder over time.

    My bet is that as the sun goes, so do we. Or how is it that well before man could walk upright that the planet was much hotter and colder for that matter then it is today with no human intervention? Just asking?

    Keep up the good pieces. There fun to read.

  2. First, Joe, I greatly appreciate your compliments toward my writing skills. However, your statement on how I’m perpetuating a “doom and gloom rhetoric” is beyond incorrect. Its upsetting that we can’t debate green policy, instead we still have to take a step backwards sometimes to clarify that, yes, indeed climate change exists and it is caused by global industrialization, urbanization and human interference in the natural global ecosystem.

    It is true that the sun changes in heat intensity over time through nuclear cycles. However, a change in heat cycles takes millions of years, and the effects of the change have minuscule effect on the globes surface temperature. (This information is cited from the International Journal of Climatology, and can be found in most Grade 6 text books)

    Global warming through the process of the accumulation of human emitted greenhouse gases has been in the process of warming the globe for quite some time now. To cite a marvelous article in the Rolling Stones which accumulated United States average temperature ratings from over the past century: “June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.”

    Climate change is real and every bit as threatening as I claim, the vast majority of scientists are in agreement agreement with this. In fact this extensive Yale poll found that 97% of scientists agree with my perspective (http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/ClimateBeliefsMay2011.pdf)

    Now that poll was conducted in May of last year, and global scientific agreement on this issue is growing dramatically every year. The very few who disagree have zero solid analytical peer-reviewed evidence to back up their claims.

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