Published by Senator Grant Mitchell on 15 January 2010
Last week, I wrote about the things I know about climate change. There are a few observations I derive from all of this:
1. If someone believes that climate change is occurring but that it is not caused by human activity, you would think that they would be absolutely terrified...Because if we are not causing it, we have absolutely no chance of fixing it. If you think climate change is caused by sunspots or sun winds, can you tweak those to make sure they don’t get the earth too hot?
2. What are the consequences of the argument that we should not start if other countries will not. If we understand the consequences of climate change, how can we say that? We are just going to continue without acting until the consequences descend upon us. It seems to me that if you take that position you are truly not a believer in climate change.
3. We don’t need more or different technologies to capture and reduce GHGs. We have all that we need to start. The problem is that there is not enough pressure from Canadians to make governments do what needs to be done because many people, I think, lack the fundamental understanding that climate change is a monumental problem with catastrophic impacts. They are therefore not demanding action strenuously enough to precipitate action.
We are also in an era of politics where it is almost impossible to have reasoned debate about complex issues. Debate is so easily dismissed with “carbon tax” or “hot air” or “wealth transfer”.
So, I am now convinced that what we need is a new technology that allows us to communicate, educate and debate complex and important issues in a way that allows for sufficient public commitment to policy solutions for difficult problems. What might that include?
- A government whose senior ministers and Prime Minister are prepared to go on the road relentlessly to tell people that we have a huge problem, that there are solutions that will not be prohibitively costly, that there is huge economic opportunity in the solutions as well, and that political leaders need to have the political leeway from the public to do what has to be done.
- An advertising campaign that supplements this effort by educating people about the science of climate change and the profound consequences of inaction.
- A government sponsored program of climate change scientists speaking across the country to help educate and encourage the public.
- Curriculum in the schools that teaches children about the consequences of climate change and climate change inaction. (I would rather have them learning about what could happen than having to live with it once it’s happened because we did not act and educate them to act too).