Nov. 13 marked the one-year anniversary of the Paris attacks, where 130 individuals lost their lives as several Islamic State (ISIS) militants brought an onslaught of violence and chaos. The bloodshed and terror was a symbolic and ruthless attack against the western world, as Paris is the epitome of occidental culture, and has represented western ideals since the French Revolution in the 18th century.
Cities are more important than ever in efforts to address climate change. By 2050 global city populations are expected to almost double in size, but urban areas already account for nearly 75 per cent of total carbon emissions. Cities all around the planet have the opportunity to transition "from grey to green."
We are witnesses to history as we watch countries come together this Earth Day to formally sign on to the Paris climate agreement. In December, we cheered as 195 countries agreed to keep global warming beneath a 2C threshold, and aim for just 1.5C from pre-industrial levels. While that agreement was hard fought and much celebrated, it wasn't the end of our work. It was just the start for governments, businesses and organizations. And now we've come to the next step: signing the agreement.
Gone are the days of uncomfortable metal cots and tattered rented towels. No more slipping gingerly into sketchy sheets - hostels are stepping up their game, appealing to the more sophisticated jet-setter. The posh hostel (or '¬poshtel') is here to stay. With the rise in demand for fancier digs, many hostels now provide high-end toiletries, afternoon wine tastings and sheets with an actual thread-count. Think non-conventional, boutique amenities at hostel prices.
When our children's children look back to what we did to keep our planet livable, they may see this year's United Nations climate conference in Paris as a turning point. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) may have been our last chance for a meaningful agreement to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy before ongoing damage to the world's climate becomes irreversible and devastating. Government ministers, negotiators and world leaders spent the first two weeks of December creating a guide for the next stage of humanity's action on climate change.
I've always believed that if you shut people in a room for long enough, they'll find something to agree on. A fiery debate maybe more fun, particularly over a drink with friends, but if it never reaches resolution it never actually achieves anything. Agreements can come naturally, but more often they don't -- in which case they require capitulation or compromise. Given that no one likes capitulation (unless it's by the other person) compromise has to be the norm. So it was at the COP21 in Paris.
As the dust settles on COP21 we know that while historic steps have been taken, the demands of justice are still unfulfilled. Together we are challenging the fossil fuel system, we are ushering in the era of solutions, and we are moving the political yardsticks of what it possible. While our political leaders walk, our movements run.
Whether our numerous interventions are justified or not, we cannot continue to let our self-imagined grand delusions make us blind to the fact that our actions abroad can come back to haunt us here at home. The problem with this admission, however is that it forces us to look in the mirror to confront our very own imperfections. Yet until we're able to do so, peace in our times will continue to remain an elusive fantasy and the carnage is destined to continue.
When something terrible continues to happen, over and over, all of us are to blame. By allowing news outlets to turn these seminal events into cheap sensationalism, by believing that changing your profile pic equals action, by not resisting old ways of thinking nor doing whatever you can to open eyes, by not demanding better of your country or culture.
As is usually the case in the rush to war, this chorus of angry voices ignores the messy and uncomfortable reality of the situation. They propose a course of action that would put Canada in greater danger, strengthen its geopolitical foes, involve a far greater sacrifice than Canadians are willing to make, and fail to improve the situation in Syria or Iraq.
The coordinated killings that rocked Paris over the weekend are an unspeakable horror. But we must not allow the horrific nature of this atrocity to drag Canada back into the racism, Islamophobia and war-mongering that characterized our last government. The burden to hold firm on the change that we demanded in the October election is jointly shared between Canadians and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The act of madness is followed by a wave of madness, where states are bombed to rubble and the cycle of irrational thinking becomes the rule that governs the game. I wish, as we utilize our resources to discuss issues facing our societies, we could do the same with these acts of violence so that we can discover a solution.