Intransigence and inertia leaves young with few possibilities

“Self-restraint over consumption is a hugely subversive idea in an economic system which has as its core proposition that greater and greater happiness will follow every increase in our personal incomes and spending.” Chris Goodall, “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life

A new study from Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative entitled, “Sharing Global CO2 Emissions Among1 Billion Emitters {out of 8.1 billion people in 2030}” points to humanity’s inability to find so far an equitable solution for the protection of our biosphere. This study tries to be a model in fairness with regards to capping world-wide emissions, and thus defuse the on-going conflict between the developed and developing world over who has to do what in order to get the greenhouse gas mitigation programs underway to avoid a catastrophic climate crisis. The study shows that the poorest 3 billion people can have a higher standard of living without any undue hardship incurred by people like ourselves. (Taking aim at world poverty on July 11 was UN World Population Day. We know the burgeoning population in this century means North Americans have to share more and ask for less.) Wealth and high GHG emissions go together: Europeans emit around 12.5 tonnes per person per year with North Americans doubling that amount, while the rest of the world averages less than 5 tonnes for each individual. Canadians would need to lower their emissions to a European level. Otherwise why should the rest of the world believe that any negotiations are credible between the rich and poor? Why would an Indian negotiator ever consider his Canadian counterpart’s proposals are made in good faith when we would not budge on our emissions? This just happened when the G8 industrial powers met the Group of 5 emerging powers last week in L’Aquila, Italy.  Canada refused to accept more than “aspirational” goals in meeting temperature and greenhouse gas mitigation targets for 2050. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was not at all pleased with the Group of 8’s action plans. According to World Wildlife Fund, Canada is the worst offender of the Group of 8.


Canada’s intransigence on these issues is mirrored in local municipal inaction. For example, three years after Collingwood’s Climate Change Resolution was signed by councillors there is talk about there finally being a formal inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for the Town of Collingwood. This inventory was first mentioned in a1998 Resolution! Without this inventory showing the historic levels of greenhouse gas emissions from 1994 any climate action plan is guesswork. The 2006 Resolution also stated that a sub-committee be formed to immediately implement the Town’s climate resolution’s. Unethically, this has not occurred.

More and more you can hear adults say that the planet is deteriorating so quickly that we may as well party to the last dance. Why should future generations have to suffer for our past and current excesses? These excesses also include the self-indulged use of planes and cruises as well as creating a disastrous cult around the priority of economic growth over Nature and community. Flying or boating into a pristine sensitive destination such as the Galapagos Archipelago as an ‘eco-tourist’ is many times defended because of the economic benefits that are derived from such tourism.   It’s far better to stay close to home to enjoy Nature.  While the entitled over-fifty crowd pontificates about a world that is not worth saving in 2050 the rest of the world’s ever-growing youth population demands that a small piece of the globe be left to them.

It should never be forgotten that in 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize was given to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There will be no security or democracy by 2050 unless Canadians and other nations begin to act in a responsible manner towards humans and other species.

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