A catastrophe need not prove the point

On October 6, Jeffery Simpson of the Globe and Mail wrote:

“Therefore, to fulfill Kyoto, Canada would need to reduce emissions in the next two to six years by 265 megatonnes…That reduction is absolutely impossible — unless Canada did something extremely stupid….So the debate over whether Canada will meet its Kyoto commitments is a false one, because it’s over. Those targets will not — cannot — be met…Every sign points to this country’s emissions continuing to rise for years, short of an upsurge in public concern and the application of sustained political will.”

“Public concern” and “political will;” the very two things I most try to have a positive influence upon in my day job. It’s curious that a month or so ago I had occasion to address the grid’s performance this past summer to which I said:  

“While I would not want the following thought taken out of context publicly, it is almost as if we needed another blackout this past summer to generate renewed real and genuine concern, and to get the point of urgency across to those in a position to act. I am concerned, however, the energy grid’s continued excellent performance (especially in Ontario) this past, very hot, summer serves to create the false impression there is no urgency and that everything is mostly okay. And now heading into cooler months, although not as cold as in a previous decades, another ten months or so will pass before the grid is once again tested to the brink and for public opinion and concern to raise, only an eyebrow.”

As I think about all this – Jeff Simpson’s  words and mine – I see the opportunity to effect the kind of reductions in CO2 emissions that we NEED to effect as being absolutely possible, not impossible. There is no question in my mind that a major geological catastrophe in say Greenland or Antarctica, the kind some have predicted is imminently possible, would most assuredly provide the conditions necessary for public concern to affect political will in the proper direction and magnitude.

I am not a scientist. Therefore, I personally can’t render a firsthand or credible opinion as to the sense of catastrophic immanency. But then again who saw coming, as fast as it occurred, what happened at Larsen B. No one. But I can reasonably enough ask the question, can we afford to take a chance, and are the economic gains of not doing what needs to be done to reduce emissions, sufficiently worth the risk? I think not. Moreover, I think it’s a sad-sad state of affairs that it might take an environmental catastrophe to prove my point.

I have a hell-of-a-lot of respect for Jeffery Simpson, but as someone of his stature and who carries so much political and media punch, I think sending the message to Harper that Environment Minister Rona Ambrose was correct: Canada will not, and cannot, meet its Kyoto greenhouse-gas reduction target” is analogous to feeding the tobacco industry the kind of ammunition they don’t need either to further their cause.  

It’s bad enough that on Tuesday, October 17, 2006, we are going to learn just how far Mr. Harper’s head is stuck in the Tarsands without making him feel justified in doing so.

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