The contribution I have to the discussion surrounding this important vote is informed by science. Portraying where we humans are at this time and in this place according to science might make the reader feel uncomfortable and powerless. On the other hand, I’m going to tell you that at this moment we have a chance to change everything. Everything changes during a vote—this particular vote is May 2—and that means we have the opportunity to empower people with the resources needed to address what science is telling us.
There are common misunderstandings about science and what it brings to politics. There is a gap between what science tells us and what politicians tell us. While political and business leaders reiterate that the economy comes first and our environment must deal with economic growth at any cost, people nevertheless instinctually see and feel that something is not right with our environment and many already act upon those instincts.
Science tells us that climate change is real, and 2010 was the hottest year on record. Year to year, the weather fluctuates, but since 1850 Earth’s running average temperature has increased from 13.7 °C to 14.6 °C, and the largest force driving temperature change is human activity that puts carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere. By comparison, the sun’s heating force has fluctuated by about one-thirtieth the force of these gases. We’re heating the planet.
Many people question the science of climate change but there is a single indicator of general ecological decline that should alarm us, regardless of where responsibility lies: the global rate of species extinction is 1,000 times normal and this rate is growing. Approximately 200 species perish from the face of the Earth every day and the rate is increasing. This species diversity collapse is the result of deforestation, ocean pollution, toxins, oil spills, radiation, urban sprawl, over fishing, global warming, and other human activities. Meanwhile the human population grows by 75 million people per year—that’s Canada twice over each year, and the rate increases. We will reach seven billion people this year. The science tells us that there comes a time when any species in any habitat must stop expanding to survive.
Science also tells us that we’ve burned about half of all recoverable oil (and we took the best and easiest oil to access first). We’re halfway through the world’s forests, three billion hectares left of the peak six billion hectares of forest, and we took the best of that too. We lose about 15 million hectares of forest every year. We’re draining the aquifers, depleting soil, and poisoning our water. Our old habits of consumption are threatening our children with ecological collapse. The evidence shows that we’re not going to turn this around with wishful thinking and a few hybrid cars or new light bulbs. For our children’s sake, our grandchildren’s sake, we need to make fundamental changes. It is tragic that we are limiting the options for our children and their children and it’s hypocritical that we live a “good life” supported by the destruction of our Earth habitat. Our rate of commercial fishing indicates that there will no longer be fish to eat in the sea by 2042. It is not in our best interest to allow current patterns of extraction and consumption to continue.
In spite of this daunting reality solutions abound in such number and breadth that they are compelling even to skeptics who may not be convinced by the science. In many cases the solutions are so simple that people miss seeing them, thinking instead that big problems require big solutions.
As a politician I take my cue from voters who have learned that nature gives us many answers. What voters and I are saying is to localize energy, work, communities, cities, and vacations. We are saying re-localize food production to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and develop critically important food security. Build resilient communities and restore self-reliance wherever possible. In a simpler world, we need to localize some of our social and health care options. We need to eradicate sickness before it occurs with preventative medicine, physical activity, healthy and nutritious eating, and a vibrant community that makes people feel secure and cared for. We need to eradicate hunger and feed our families with localized food security. We need to eradicate crime before it happens, by building communities where people know and care for each other. These efforts to build strong communities will also help build confident, secure children, who can grow into strong, resilient and healthy adults. And we can foster a political system that will encourage these community values over the wealth of international corporations. We need to revitalize our local economies, support local business, build genuine economic wealth and restore democracy for ourselves and our fellow citizens.
The family itself is the most important source of security and influence. We need to support our families. As every parent knows it is impossible to limit influences on a child. That’s why the next level, the community, is so important. Influences outside of the home and family impact our happiness, peacefulness, well-being, and intergenerational prosperity. That is why the political system must answer to a higher moral standard than we have recently witnessed.
I want to implement and activate ideas already at work in our riding by using the genuine and wide-ranging solutions offered by the Green Party of Canada and detailed in the Green Vision document available at greenparty.ca. These ideas and actions are informed by sound science and communal vision and they inform my candidacy and the basis upon which I ask for your support. I want to encourage and attract new business and economic activity to the riding that break dependencies on limited resources, I want to encourage new systems of energy use and implementation, encourage organic and urban agriculture, make efficient changes to economic patterns that result in waste and pollution, and attract technologies to the riding that fit with our value of the environment and complement the natural splendour and beauty of this riding. I want to build strong and flourishing communities that are connected to each other and the world. All of these things can be done with your help on May 2. Empowering ourselves once again means voting Green on May 2.
Brennan Wauters is the Green candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.