David Suzuki: December climate summit in Copenhagen is a crossroads

It’s amazing what world leaders can do when they come together for a common cause, as they did in Montreal in 1987 to ban CFCs to protect the ozone layer. This December, our leaders will have a tremendous opportunity in Copenhagen to take the world into a new era of innovation and prosperity.

But, as was the case in Montreal, this opportunity is born out of crisis. The threat of climate change is real and imminent. Scientists from around the world have confirmed this through continuous study and observation—despite what the increasingly desperate and nonsensical arguments from deniers would have you believe.

This is no longer a political issue. It’s an issue of utmost importance to all of us, no matter where on the political spectrum we feel most comfortable. And we’re finally seeing some agreement about confronting this challenge among world leaders from the left, centre, and right. It’s especially a conservative issue. After all, as Denmark’s minister of climate and energy Connie Hedegaard points out, a core conservative belief is “that what you inherit you should pass on to the next generation”. And that doesn’t mean passing on our mess!

Conservatives also believe that we should live within our means, save some of what we have for tomorrow, and act with care and caution. Conservatives with deep religious conviction know also that we are stewards of the Earth—and good stewardship means protecting the Earth, its resources, and its life.

The December climate summit in Copenhagen is a crossroads. We can continue to delay while the Earth’s natural systems reach tipping points beyond which we may not be able to find our way back, or we can move forward in our efforts to slow global warming, reduce pollution, and create new opportunities for healthier lives and stronger economies.

Many world leaders are already committed to negotiating an agreement in Copenhagen that is ambitious, fair, and binding, and many have started implementing solutions in their own countries. Unfortunately, Canada is falling behind. Our national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been called ineffective, and our performance at a number of recent climate meetings has been labelled “obstructionist”.

Our inaction comes from fear. Because Canada is a major oil producer, politicians and some businesspeople are afraid that reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will harm the economy. But that’s short-sighted. If we continue to rely on dwindling non-renewable energy supplies, we’ll be left in the dust as the rest of the world moves forward to a green economy, with innovation, jobs, and money from new technologies such as renewable energy infrastructure.

If we were to use our fossil-fuel resources such as oil more wisely, we could make them last longer and derive more national economic benefits from them while we make the transition to a clean-energy economy. The side benefits would include less pollution and environmental damage, a more stable economy, and healthier citizens.

If we continue down the same road, however, we risk catastrophic consequences to our economy and to our very lives. Scientists agree that if average temperatures on Earth rise just another degree, global warming could reach a point of no return, with melting icecaps, rising sea levels, increasing waves of climate refugees, extinction of plants and animals, and floods, droughts, and other severe weather events.

As a northern nation, Canada is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The impact is magnified near the Earth’s poles, largely because of the loss of ice and snow coverage. Canada also has the longest marine coastline in the world, so sea-level rise would have a dramatic effect with enormous economic consequences. Many Canadians are already feeling the sting of climate change, especially in the North and in other communities that depend on forestry, fisheries, and agriculture.

Change is never easy, and taking bold steps can come with costs in the short term. But refusing to change means we are condemning ourselves and our children and grandchildren to an uncertain and dangerous future. We can all take individual action to reduce our emissions, but ultimately, we must let our leaders know that we expect them to seize the opportunity in Copenhagen to create a secure and healthy future for our small blue planet and all the people who share it.

Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

Comments

9 Comments

MrCannuckistan

Oct 7, 2009 at 6:01am

David,

You need to pull your head out of the sand and realize that the facts are just not adding up to what you alarmists are saying. Cognitive Dissonance compels you to defend what Al Gore et al purport to be a “moral imperative”, but there is more to this issue if you dig deeper.

They told us that as the Arctic melted it would continue to melt more due to less reflective sea ice available. But the ice went from a minimum in 2007 to nearly 1.5 million square KMs more this summer minimum. How can that be? Without the reflective ice the waters were to get warmer and melt MORE ice, not less. http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

They say that Arctic temperatures are rising 2.5 times faster than the rest of the planet. Yet the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) tells us that Arctic temperatures have been stable since 1958. Check out the compiled animation of Arctic temps dating back to ”˜58.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/04/dmi-arctic-temperature-data-animat...

We are told that the warmer the oceans get the more CO2 will trap the heat in the atmosphere causing the planet to warm. It turns out that the warmer the oceans get, the more heat is radiated back into space. If climate models assume the former vs the latter, then their validity is called into question.
http://www.seas.harvard.edu/climate/seminars/pdfs/lindzen.choi.grl.2009.pdf (p.3 – Figure 2)

The AGW community tells us that since the air isn’t warming any more, the ocean must be taking up all the heat and will release it at some future date. In fact there is evidence from the Argo network that says there is no heat build up. http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Marine_Atlas.html

In the end, there appears to be more science and uncertainty than we are being told by the MSM. And I have yet to hear anyone try to explain these facts away. Instead it is more common for someone to come out and say, “we needed to correct that data.” Or the original data just seems to vanish.
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTBiMTRlMDQxNzEyMmRhZjU3ZmYzODI5MGY...

Reproducible science that follows the scientific method is what we should be striving for. There should be no secrets. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/an-inconvenient-truce-as-green/story...

So continue to perpetuate your dogma if you must, but I would feel more comfortable knowing whether spending our money on mitigation is practical or, in the event climate is beyond our control, should we save it for adaptation.

MrC

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seth

Oct 7, 2009 at 6:10pm

DaGucci is right - individual efforts count.

DaGuc's contribution, five years of environmental destruction, came as a result of the immense support he provided to the Gordo praising his ridiculous carbon tax and criticizing the NDP cap n'trade at every opportunity. Through the entire campaign not a word of criticism passed daGuc's lips on Gordo's climate destroying Tar Sands pipelines, coal exports, and gas production plans. Certainly his contribution was more than the NDP's 3% losing margin.

It's funny how DaGucci and his sometimes sidekick Andrew Weaver criticize global warming deniers with Dr in front of their name as having no climate science expertise, yet have no trouble extolling the virtues of carbon taxation despite neither having any expertise in economics. Now that an actual Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman in recent submissions to the New York Times, is utterly trashing the carbon tax argument - showing Obama's and the NDP's cap n'trade to be far superior - where is DaGucci and his Weaver, Berman, Harcourt, and Jaccard "environmental" team's apology to the citizen's of British Columbia.

Despite the DaGucci, Gordo, and Harpo approach to obstructing efforts to stop global warming, BC's citizens need to know the full extent of the effort required to end our GHG emissions doing our fair share to end global warming.

BC uses annually roughly 60000 gwh's of electricity almost all green, and 160000 gigawatt hours of fossils fuel for heat and transportation.

The maximum amount to be saved practically with conservation is 20% and that at a high cost. All the rest has to come from converting fossil fuel usage to electricity - about 15 gigawatts of baseload power. Gordo's Pirate Power schemes doubling our power rates over the next three years have given us about 1 gigawatt.

Measures such environmentally destructive wind, run of river, and dam projects and silly carbon taxes/cap n'trade schemes are really just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic wasting time and treasure.

Westinghouse estimates the cost for mass produced nuclear is at about a $billion a gigawatt, and it is by far the cheapest energy source available to Canadians. The cost of these builds would be paid for by eliminating virtually all of BC's gasoline usage saving billions annually. As electric car usage slowly builds, BC's vehicles would be fueled by BC's abundant supplies of cheap natural gas. Using Utah's example, natural gas as a vehicle fuel could be made available as of yesterday at less than 30 cents a liter equivalent with the difference from the current $1.10 gasoline cost available to finance nuclear construction, auto gas, service station and home electric heat conversions. Nuclear produced methane would gradually replace natural gas making that product increasingly available for export as well. Nuclear is only technology where the economics and non GHG pollution savings can get even global warming and peak oil deniers on side.

With mass production of Atomic Energy Canada's proposed ACR-1000, an enormous job boosting domestic and export market would be created. The third world would have a cheap and green alternative to coal.

So far, Canwest/Gordo is spending $45 billion producing 1 gigawatt baseload equivalent of intermittent run of river and wind power worth maybe $7 billion on the current springtime spot market. The power will be worthless in a little as ten years with new nuclear fusion plants starting to come on line. By contrast Areva recently quoted Ontario $24 billion for 30000 annual gigawatt hours over sixty years roughly six times the power for half the cost. That was for a onetime reactor build – mass produced would be less than half that.

Unfortunately, Gordo is bedded down with Pirate Power board of director appointments to party hacks and massive campaign donations. Harpo with his Big Oil/Coal campaign donation base refuses to support AECL.

seth

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Pish posh

Oct 9, 2009 at 8:11pm

pish posh Suzy. You're a sell-out.

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Back in BC

Oct 9, 2009 at 10:04pm

Carbon Tax the Humbolt Squid to safety.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/10/09/bc-tofino-squ...

The water is deprived of oxygen - generally from sewer and disposals.

There are some international interests in having offshore oil on our cost, prompting many sea "excursions" under the name of "science"

But this government still gets Suzuki's endourcement and continued silence.

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Xanthe

Oct 11, 2009 at 5:22pm

A new book written by Alberta author Satya Das, Green Oil: Clean Energy for the 21st Century? shows how Alberta can best to utilize the oil sands so that, as Suzuki says, we as Canadians can reap their economic benefits to invest in the transition to renewable energy sources. To learn more about the book and say what you think go to www.greenoilbook.com

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sell-out.

Oct 12, 2009 at 10:06pm

Suzi. Can you say Salmon farm's, run of the river power, tar sands pipelines, inside passage oil tankers, coal bed methane extraction, gas flaring. The NDP was quite specifically against all of those.

In fact other than the Green tax which anybody outside the MSM was telling you was nutball economics and Noble prize winning economist Paul Krugman showed up as the nonsense it is, what part of the Gordo's platform did you think was Green?

Please let us know.

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Meme Mine69

Oct 16, 2009 at 1:12pm

Why does Toronto have twice as many cold weather alert days as heat and humidity alert days, with none at all this year? So Toronto has lots of CO2, so what? We are living longer now than at any time in human history despite poor health care that you whiners complain about all of the time so I guess the environment isn't killing us you fools.
You climate fools and climate cowards and thermophobes and glowbull warm mongers keep beating this drum of impending doom for 23 freakin years like hysterical pu$$ies. No wonder you environ MENTAL ists have made this generation the politically correct, obedient and conforming sheoples that they are. Shame on you all. And you then have the nerve to tell our kids we have to SAVE THE PLANET? Save? My kids are going to die on a dead planet? How dare you!!!
A world court is needed to deal with those who promote this globull warm mongering mistake. Climate alarmists are like zombies. They just keep coming and coming. They will never die. We could see a century of cooling and they would all still be around, trying to find something to blame the human race for. If it gets really cold, they will blame humans for that too. We just need to get them out of government. In time, the “deniers” will be honored for their service to humanity, for their courage, and for hopefully saving this nation and others from the torrent of deceit coming out of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and every environmental organization in America and worldwide.

DAVID NUTZUKI
the BERNIE MADOFF
of CLIMATE CHANGE

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Media Student

Oct 18, 2009 at 10:09am

It is amazing how your comments accuse Suzuki of being close minded, yet do nothing but deny, deny, deny. Suzuki, as with many others, have a vision for Canada's future that stretches beyond that scientific evidence itself.

The fact is, that the era of privileged capitalists controlling monopolies over enormous energy companies needs to come to an end. In order to successfully integrate renewable technologies into our society, entrepreneurs and small businesses need to lead the way. Bottom-up economics will be the best way for everyone to profit off of new jobs and green technologies and will by far allow the quickest implementation of environmental progress. Large companies leave profits in the hands of few and are chronically slow when implementing change. This is simple logic.

Here is a lesson for you chronic URL "cite"-rs. It is in the best interest of those who are currently in power to deny the scientific validity of environmental studies. Many capitalists are still making huge profits from the oil industry, so why change? Often, these people own the very television stations, internet sites and books you get your "evidence" from. Moreover, this kind of logic suits current mass-media ideologies that attempt to keep citizens out of the way and passive when it comes to political issues.

As for me, I will continue to be critical of the scientific and political validity of decisions made to implement "green" changes. For now, however, I will leave it in the hands of some of the world's most educated people to pick the most accurate, relevant political data for the basis of global climate action. These people simply know more than we do about the scientific data.

The world needs something to fight for. In general, society is becoming more boring and more censured as we enjoy our bourgeois, comfortable life style. Global change and a new global consciousness will bring some life to our western society, the way the late 1960's did.

Global action on climate change is so much more than "saving the planet." It is widespread economic change, it is new jobs, new technologies, better art and a new global consciousness that finally steers away from the selfish psychology so many of us fall victim to.

Just a little food for thought from an 18-year-old university student...

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