Like others, I viewed the images of the devastation and death brought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines with a deep sense of grief and loss and helplessness.
How can we not be moved by the impassioned plea of Yeb Saño, Philippines climate negotiator, as he committed to a hunger strike and begged the world to address the climate crisis?
“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness,” Saño said.
Dr. David Suzuki recently spoke a similar message to a packed house at the Capitol Theatre, restating that we have blindly ignored 25 years of warnings from the science community, and are now at a critical crossroads. Scientists are certain that climate change is caused by human impact on the environment.
UPDATE April 2014: The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says climate is not in the future, it is not just the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren to endure, it is happening now. We can expect damage to food and water supplies and slow economic growth. It may already be having irreversible impacts on the Arctic and coral reefs.
Here in New Brunswick, our government recognizes flooding in Perth-Andover and storm surges along our Acadian coast to be a result of global warming and following Dr. Suzuki’s talk, we watched a documentary on vulnerable coastal communities in all Atlantic Provinces that have been subjected to the flooding and surges. But what we have experienced so far cannot come close to the massive devastation experienced elsewhere….yet.
The Climate Commission reports there will be catastrophic consequences for all if we do not move toward renewable energy and leave 80 per cent of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. The time to change direction now. In only a few years, Massachusetts has created 80,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Others are doing it, why not us?
In a recent CBC interview, Ireland’s former president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson reminds us that this is – above all – a human rights issue. Beyond countries already suffering crop loss due to periods of drought and flooding, UN agencies now say a further 9.6 million people are at risk of food insecurity caused by erratic and extreme weather conditions.
People in vulnerable countries are dying as a result of industrial greed, political corruption and citizen complacency in the wealthy north.“This is a matter that requires the greatest of human solidarity – a movement to make the world safe for the future,” Robinson said, noting our grandchildren will bear the brunt of our choices today.
“We’re not, I think, a stupid race. I know that political timescales can be very short. But I believe that these next two years we have to change course….We need a forward-looking leadership, and that won’t come from Canadian politicians unless it comes from the Canadian people.” Mary Robinson
Meanwhile, feeling helpless and powerless, you and I burrow deeper under our cozy blankets of complacency.
If we have any hope of ‘stopping the madness’, you and I must take an active role and demand that governments seek a broader vision and reduce our nation’s dependence upon fossil fuels. This is now a necessity, not a choice.
If you and I do not educate ourselves; if you and I do not begin making better choices in our day to day living; if you and I do not vote consciously and then hold our politicians accountable – our grandchildren have no hope of a future.
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?’ asked Saño.
Indeed. If not you and me, then who?