The risks and costs associated with climate change are already mounting--ice storms, severe flooding, crop losses, damage to critical infrastructure, $3.2 billion in extreme weather related Canadian insurance costs in 2013 alone. Yet, the climate crisis is rarely talked about at Queen's Park. The lone exception is Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller, who has stirred up controversy with reports pointing out that Ontario has no plan to meet its 2020 or 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.
The climate deal between the US and China is a historic moment. It's not enough to match the scale of the climate crisis, but it's implications for extreme energy projects like Canada's tar sands are major. Here are five reasons why. In announcing their climate deal, the US and China committed to "the longer range effort to transition to low-carbon economies, mindful of the global temperature goal of 2℃," referencing the ceiling for warming agreed upon at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009.
I want the government to send me my carbon cheque. And I think most people want theirs too. You don't need to be a climate scientist to know that extreme weather events are threatening your quality of life and costing you money. Dragging our feet on putting a price on carbon pollution is no longer an option.
Anyone claiming this pipeline is a done deal is ignoring the fact that Enbridge faces a major uphill battle. The federal government's approval of the pipeline was likely the easiest hurdle that Enbridge had to jump. The Harper government and Big Oil are looking East because they think it is an easier road to tar sands expansion than the road to the West. We can turn this project that Stephen Harper calls a "nation builder" into a movement builder. Energy East, its review and Harper's pipeline plans need a People's Intervention. Now it's our chance to give it to them. It is easy to approve a pipeline, but a whole lot harder to build one.
High on the icy, windswept plateau of East Antarctica an international team of scientists is about to assemble a time machine. First stop: back to the era when Christ was born. Most importantly, scientists hope that by revealing the past we will get a better grasp on how global warming will affect the climate of the future.
It's been a strange year. From the never-ending carnival of calamity at Toronto City Hall to the scandalous subterfuge on Parliament Hill, from horrific attacks by the Syrian government on its own citizenry to disasters inflicted by extreme weather on the people of the Philippines, 2013 recalls Queen Elizabeth's description of 1992 as an annus horribilis. On top of it all, those of us who have taken on the often thankless task of trying to encourage people to care for the air, water, soil and diversity of plants and animals that keep us alive came under increasingly vituperative attacks from the media and even our own government.
If human-induced climate change is the cause of death and destruction, is not Canada's failure to reduce its CO2 emissions at least morally negligent? Does not the conscious pursuit of economic policies that actually exacerbate climate change display "wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons," particularly so if alternative paths are available?
As people in the Philippines struggle with the devastation and death from the worst storm to hit land in recorded history, world leaders are meeting in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss the climate crisis. Given the slow progress at the 18 meetings held since 1992 -- when countries from around the world joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -- it's hard not to be pessimistic. Canada, in particular, has been repeatedly singled out among the close to 200 member countries for obstructing progress and not doing enough to address climate change at home.
Whatever you think of the causes -- man-made (through CO2 levels created by the burning of fossil fuels), natural (as part of a solar cycle) or divine (as part of a plan to destroy the world -- Canada's climate is changing. Even recently, people have said they "don't believe" in climate change, as if it is akin to Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. But chemistry and physics are not beliefs; they are ways of measuring the physical world. They don't negotiate, and they don't hand out second chances.