Most reality TV has little to do with the real world. But here's an online show that will reflect what is happening in and to our world: 24 Hours of Reality will feature 24 presenters in 24 time zones talking about the climate crisis in 13 languages. It starts Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. local time in Mexico City and wraps with a live multimedia presentation from New York City by Nobel laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15.
Climate change is reality. It's happening in front of our eyes, and massive volumes of research from climate scientists around the world confirm that it will get worse if we fail to do something about it. The facts are no longer in dispute. Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly caused by humans burning fossil fuels, are warming the planet. And the consequences aren't pretty: health problems caused by pollution; increasing extreme weather events leading to floods, droughts, and storms; shrinking glaciers and related impacts on water supplies and agriculture; insect infestations; conflict over dwindling resources; threats to the survival of plants and animals... the list goes on.
Some people don't recognize how serious the problem is, delaying efforts to resolve it. And the longer we put off finding and implementing solutions, the harder and costlier it will be to overcome the impacts. Former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern estimated that keeping heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that would drive climate change to catastrophic levels could cost up to two per cent of global GDP, but failure to act could be economically disastrous.
People accuse me and other environmentalists and scientists of being "alarmist". But the situation is alarming, and it's even more alarming that some people ignore it, perhaps believing it will go away -- or that the crisis doesn't even exist. In part, this disconnect with reality is because industrial interests spend billions of dollars sowing doubt and confusion, continually promoting discredited theories -- just as they've done with issues including the dangers of tobacco smoke and the harmful effects of chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer. They tell us climate change doesn't exist, or that it's caused by volcanoes or the sun, or that it's part of a natural cycle -- even that God will regulate the climate to the advantage of humans.
But as Al Gore points out, "The deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality." That reality includes mountains of published, peer-reviewed research by close to 98 per cent of the world's climate scientists, as well as real-time observation.
The David Suzuki Foundation's executive director in Quebec, Karel Mayrand, will deliver the 24 Hours of Reality French presentation at 7 p.m. French Polynesia time (midnight Montreal time). He'll be joined by two more Canadians, Peter Schiefke in Victoria at 7 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept. 14, and Carl Duivenvoorden from New Brunswick at 7 p.m. Greenland time (6 p.m. New Brunswick) on Sept. 15. They and others will show there is no debate among scientists and knowledgeable people over the existence of human-caused climate change. If there is to be debate it should focus on what to do about it. Doing nothing, as some of the industry shills argue we should, is not a viable option.
Solutions exist, although the cost and severity of the challenge is greater now than in 1988 when climatologists first called for emissions reductions. As more people become aware of the problem and its causes, and learn about the motives of the deniers, it becomes more likely that we'll find ways to reduce the consequences and put humanity on a path to healthier lives on a healthier planet.
We can't argue with people who deny reality. All we can do is to make sure the voice of reason speaks louder and that those of us who care about humanity join together to find better ways to live on our Earth. Please visit ClimateRealityProject.org to find out how you can tune in to 24 Hours of Reality. Choose the presentation and time zone you want, or take part in the entire event. You can even set up viewing parties with family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. And spread the word. We need to speak up for the future of humanity.
The time to act is now.
Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation editorial and communications specialist Ian Hanington.
Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.