Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 

Have We Got Our Priorities Mixed Up?

I thought I'd jump to the other side of the conservative/liberal fence for this post about a subject which ought to be (is?) at least as controversial as same sex marriage: Global Warming. And besides, if the predictions come true, it'll make things like Adscam and ssm and the CBC extremely moot points.
Keep in mind that this is not about David Suzuki. Or Greenpeace. Or tree huggers. Or PETA. These are not people who have any obvious economic axe to grind.
This is about many of the world's most eminent scientists expressing a unique consensus on a subject which is refusing to go away.

The National Science Academies of all 8 G8 nations as well as those of Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, have today signed and published a statement on the global response to climate change (pdf format).

The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action and calls on world leaders, including those meeting at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005, to do the following.
* Acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing
* Launch an international study to explore scientifically-informed targets for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and their associated emissions scenarios, that will enable nations to avoid impacts deemed unacceptable.
* Identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognise that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and will likely incur a greater cost.
* Work with developing nations to build a scientific and technological capacity best suited to their circumstances, enabling them to develop innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, while explicitly recognising their legitimate development rights.
* Show leadership in developing and deploying clean energy technologies and approaches to energy efficiency, and share this knowledge with all other nations.
* Mobilise the science and technology community to enhance research and development efforts, which can better inform climate change decisions.

The Royal Society issued a press release highlighting this statement on 7 June 2005

To mention some recent events that should bring this closer to home for Canadians, there have been tornados near Winnipeg, massive flooding in the Maritimes, a drought in Northern Quebec which has spawned dozens of forest fires, and in southern Alberta, constant torrential rain over the past few days which are unprecedented in my memory. Also roads and airport runways in Northern Canada are deteriorating due to melting permafrost as well as calls for a national smog alert system like Toronto has (and which nobody needed 20 years ago).

It is a mystery to me how otherwise rational, sensible people can continue to disregard the collective wisdom and opinions of many of the world's most respected scientists. After all, we're no longer talking theory. These issues are here now, all around us.
If you look at it from the point of view of how dealing with any long-term plan is beyond the capabilities of politicians whose idea of long-term planning is ensuring that they win the next election; and business people whose plans don't go much past the next annual shareholders meeting, isn't that reason enough to be thinking for ourselves on this issue?
The one thing politicians and business people don't seem to grasp is that Mother Nature doesn't play favourites - in her eyes, we are all equal.



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