The New Inconvenient Truth
It’s been a while since I updated here, though this is certainly not for lack of related news. If anything, the climate has been in the change more frequently than I’ve ever seen. Hardly a day passes without a documentary on CBC, a headline story in a magazine, or a government announcement related to climate change. There’s a new documentary called The Great Warming about to be released into some theaters. Even evangelical Christians are getting into the game, as some are beginning to veer from their traditional “do nothing” view of the subject and urge sensible action.
All the exposure is good, but at times I begin to feel overwhelmed: so much talk, so many people (including myself) saying the right things, but does anything actually change? This is not an easy area in which to be an optimist.
Here in Canada, politics is again mingling with environmental policy as government plans to curb vehicle emissions are seen as targeting Ontario while letting Alberta, with its oil sands development, off the hook easily. The truth is, we need to target both.
Even these new standards pay little more than lip service to the issue. They won’t take effect until 2010; until then the auto industry will continue to fight them, and accommodating governments will continue to whittle them down until they become meaningless public relations exercises. In the meantime, four more very valuable years will be lost in the fight against climate change.
South of the border, the United States is about to cross the 300 million population marker. This is bad news for the entire world, because Americans use more natural resources than almost every other country in the world (Canada is a shameful exception). More Americans will mean more cars on the road, more Big Macs assembled from raw materials grown thousands of miles away, and more air conditioned mega-homes. The benefits gained by our half-hearted attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions risk being cancelled out by the growing population.
At times, I admit I feel like joining the mob. I feel like tossing out my books, buying a stack of People magazines with celebrities on the cover, and driving around in a giant SUV with tinted windows and a DVD player in the back seat. Perhaps the smart people are the ones who are enjoying the party while it lasts; in the end, the rest of us suckers who lay awake at night worrying about things we can’t control will suffer just as much as everyone else.
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