Here’s the link:
Subtitle: Comments in the U.S., actions in Canada, suggest too many can’t.
Imagine a double-sized Olympic-sized swimming pool. Now imagine a man with an
eyedropper and a bottle of black ink, walking around the pool’s edge. At
midnight, each day, he puts a single drop of ink into the pool, no matter what
part of the parameter he is passing at that exact moment. Two weeks later can we
see a difference? No. A year later? Nope. The 365 dissolved drops of ink are
miniscule compared to the volume of the water.
But suppose instead of one man it was several people, and instead of drops of
ink it was cupfuls, and suppose instead of them adding the ink once a day they
did it several times a day. Two weeks after this new regime would you see a
difference? Possibly not, but if enough ink were added often enough the water
would ultimately change. The relationship between adding the ink and the change
in the water is called “cause and effect”. Every action has an effect, a
reaction, although it may be, like putting the odd drop of ink into a massive
volume of water, too small for us to notice at the time.
And yet there is a dangerous way of thinking that is sadly prevalent on the
political right that somehow what we do and how much we do it does not matter.
And nowhere is this more evident than in the issue of global climate change.
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently collected some quotations from
politicians who won in the November mid-term elections. Todd Young, newly
elected to Congress to represent some folks in Indiana, said, “With the possible
exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We
have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify `climate
change’ was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda.” Equally
dumb was the comment by Ron Johnson, the new senator from Wisconsin: “I
absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is
proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that
sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have
changes in the climate.” Hmmm....sunspots “or something” can have effects, but
not the emissions of vast amounts of greenhouse gases?
Consider Steve Pearce, a newly elected congressperson from New Mexico, who so
elegantly said, “I think we ought to look at whatever the group is that measures
all this, the IPCC, [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] they don’t
believe the crap.” Well, Steve, I don’t know what “crap” you refer to, but in
their last report the IPCC found that there is approximately a 90 percent
likelihood that warming is anthropogenic, or as Senator Johnson would say,
“man-caused”. It also found that sea levels will rise, there will be more heat
waves, cyclones, extreme high tides, and that all of this will continue for more
than a thousand years. Instead of looking at the messenger, perhaps we should
consider the actual evidence, and the overwhelming opinions of the international
community of climate scientists.
And then we have Kentucky’s Rand Paul, newly elected to the Senate, who also
want to avoid the evidence and demonize the messengers. He said, “It’s a bigger
issue, we need to watch `em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but
they’re making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They’ve already caught `em
doing this.” Does that mean the ice caps and glaciers aren’t in retreat; seas
aren’t rising and the average temperature is really not increasing? Is it all
just a fiendish socialist conspiracy? Roy Blunt, the new senator from Missouri,
bluntly said, “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate
path of the earth.” I think it would take utter magic, not science, to explain
how humans could do so much in terms of producing greenhouse gases and
destroying plant life without consequences.
The climate change deniers have shifted a little from denying that there even is
climate change (since the evidence is overwhelming and consistent) to simply
saying we humans couldn’t possibly cause it, let alone reduce our contribution
And in Canada? Well for the last five years a lot of people in and out of
government worked very hard to draft Bill C-311, which called upon Canada to
establish five year plans to meet greenhouse gas emission targets by 2050. It
was approved of by Parliament, which consists of elected Members of Parliament
(MPs), and then sent to the Senate, which is not remotely like the American
Senate, as it consists of appointees. In parliament, the majority of MPs don’t
belong to the ruling Conservative Party. That is what is called a minority, or
hung, government, one with a very weak mandate from the people, most of whom
voted for one of the other parties. But although the Prime Minister, leader of
the Conservatives, ran on a platform of Senate reform, in fact he appointed
enough Conservative sympathizers to the Senate that in a surprise move late on
the night of Tuesday, November 16th, they abruptly voted the bill down. They
weren’t elected, they don’t represent the majority of Canadians, their action is
virtually unprecedented and nondemocratic, but they don’t care.
The Canadian Conservatives don’t even deny anthropogenic contribution to climate
change; they make it plain they won’t pay the socio-economic costs of doing what
is required to slow, let alone reverse, the process.
While many think of the risk the rising warmth places on polar bears, because of
their need for sea ice, in fact a large number of animal species are at risk to
global warming, rising seas, expanding deserts, and shrinking alpine habitats.
Our world is finite, actions have consequences, and if we can’t understand that,
our children and future generations face the kinds of upheavals and disruptions
that a small number of our gutless politicians, to afraid or too stupid to treat
their constituents to the hard realities, are now creating for them.