Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Only Election Issue That Really Matters

Climate change has gone past the point of no return, and civilization as we know it is now unlikely to survive. The Independent (UK) reports that this is now the shocking conclusion reached by “the Charles Darwin of ecology,” James Lovelock, the first scientist to explain planetary ecology as a single, self-regulating ecosystem.

Environmentalists are divided about whether to stay at the activist ramparts or retreat into a more defensive rebout. But how do Canada’s political parties rank in their commitment to take this challenge seriously?

In the only comprehensive assessment of where Canada’s political parties rank in the degree to which they take environmental challenges seriously, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are a distant last, with a score of 31 points. The Bloc is at 46, the Liberals 53, the NDP 91, and the Green Party 97.

On the life-and-death question of climate change, environmentalists agree that Stephen Harper is a “significant threat”. Harper has been clear that any government he runs would ignore the Kyoto Accord’s reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and would bail out of the Kyoto process entirely. The main Conservative response: tax-deductible bus passes.

Already, Canada ranks 35th among 40 leading industrial countries in the race to meet the Kyoto targets. Our greenhouse gas emission are actually 24 per cent higher than 1990 levels, and we’re supposed to be six percent below that threshold by 2012. In overall environmental performance, Canada is already 28th among the industrial world’s 30 worst performers.

What to do?

Here’s what Lovelock says: “First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realize how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilization for as long as they can. . . We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords.”

Last month, Chronicles readers heard the same message from Canada’s own Roy Woodbridge, author of The Next World War: Tribes, Cities, Nations and Ecological Decline. The point we made back then was Canada’s federal election issues consisted mainly of the trivial, the marginal, and the frivolous. That much has not changed; what’s changed is that the worst possible electoral outcome is even more likely now.

Here’s what Woodbridge told me here, last month: “What’s happening is just the same as what happened to New Orleans. That was a disaster that was totally predictable and totally preventable. We face the same kind of choices, right now, and the disaster, if we fail, will be a disaster that was totally predictable.”

1 Comments:

Blogger JenVirtual said...

Great edition TG.
Of all the things I could say in a comment, let me give readers this story: Fort Smith, NWT: not cold enough to build traditional ice bridge into the area to allow food and fuel. Drip, drip, drip

http://www.cbc.ca/north/story/road-chipewyan-17012006.html

9:04 AM  

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