Climate Change

Change is our collective responsibility

Many people proceed in life as if no material changes are needed for humans to survive beyond the 21st century. But David Attenborough was correct when about ten years ago, he said:

We have a finite environment—the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.

Sir David described the moment he first understood climate change was driven by human activity while attending a lecture in the 1980s.

“The professor produced a series of graphs about the contents and changes in the atmosphere over the last 500 years plotted against the industrial revolution and changes in human population,” he said.

“You simply could not deny that a) the world was changing climatically and b) humans were involved in bringing that change about.”

He took issue with ideas that humans should protect nature simply because it might benefit us – such as the argument we should conserve the rainforest because it might yield a new species that could cure cancer.

“I can see why that’s a good practical reason for saving the rainforest, but it shouldn’t be the fundamental reason,” he said. “We should protect species not because it is affecting us, but because we have the stewardship of the planet. We are the only species that has dominated the planet.

“If you say ‘I will keep this and exterminate that’, I maintain that’s not a morally proper position. We don’t have the right to exterminate nature and manipulate it to that degree.”

Mongabay — David Attenborough

A few years ago, BBC described what lies ahead as climate change worsens:

The permafrost – up until now, permanently frozen land and soil – is thawing out, and revealing its hidden secrets. Alongside Pleistocene fossils are massive carbon and methane emissions, toxic mercury, and ancient diseases.

Pollution, anthrax – even nuclear waste – could be released by global warming

Days ago, newspapers reported the vast East Antarctica Ice Sheet, which is about the size of the United States, is at risk. Reports were based on a study published in the journal Nature by an international group of scientists. Their research indicates that if global temperature rise is not limited, sea levels could increase by as much as 5 meters (16.4 feet).

An Antarctic glacier larger than the UK is at risk of breaking up after scientists discovered more warm water flowing underneath it than previously thought. The fate of Thwaites – nicknamed the doomsday glacier – and the massive west Antarctic ice sheet it supports are the biggest unknown factors in future global sea level rise.

Antarctic ‘doomsday glacier’ may be melting faster than was thought

Despite many warnings that climate change poses an existential risk, politicians and business leaders continue to encourage the idea of business as usual. They hunger for GDP increases because that faulty measure is treated as useful, even though it does not assess the welfare or well being of citizens.

Canada’s political leader promote fossil fuel production, even though the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in North America is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.

We can blame politicians for worsening climate change, but they reflect values citizens find important. So if policies for survival are to be put in place, voters must decide they are a priority. Change is our collective responsibility.

An existential risk is any risk that has the potential to eliminate all of humanity or, at the very least, kill large swaths of the global population, leaving the survivors without sufficient means to rebuild society to current standards of living.

We Are Not the First Civilization to Collapse, But We Will Probably Be the Last, Chris Hedges, August 14, 2022

The poet Paul Valéry noted, “a civilization has the same fragility as a life.”

As industrial empires became global, their increase in size meant an increase in complexity. Ironically, this complexity makes us more vulnerable to catastrophic collapse, not less.

Soaring temperatures (Iraq is enduring 120 degree heat that has fried the country’s electrical grid), the depletion of natural resources, flooding, droughts, (the worst drought in 500 years is devastating Western, Central and Southern Europe and is expected to see a decline in crop yields of 8 or 9 percent), power outages, wars, pandemics, a rise in zoonotic diseases and breakdowns in supply chains combine to shake the foundations of industrial society.

The Arctic has been heating up four times faster than the global average, resulting in an accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet and freakish weather patterns. The Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia are warming up to seven times faster. Climate scientists did not expect this extreme weather until 2050. 

Categories: Climate Change

7 replies »

  1. All too true, all too increasingly evident to anyone paying the least bit of attention. Static inertia is a terrible barrier to progress and so many pairs of ears need some interior adjustment before governments will feel any pressure to move the dial.


  2. Our politicians cannot change, the system does not allow it. Everything is planned on 2 to 3 year election cycles and the desire to be elected and continue with all the trappings of government far outweighs thinking 20 minutes into the future and dealing with Global Warming and climate change.

    We will spend over $11 billion, extending the SkyTrain Expo and Millennium lines a mere 21.8 km.

    For the same money we could rehab the E&N Railway, providing a, 330 km, modern rural railway connecting Victoria to Courtney and Port Alberni, with a maximum of 3 trains per hour per direction – Cost $2 to $3 billion

    A Vancouver to Chilliwack rural railway, using the former (still operating) former 130 km BC Electric Fraser Valley rail line with a maximum of three trains per hour per direction – Cost $1.5 billion

    A relaying and operating a 110 km Salmon Arm to Kelowna Railway to a rural railway standard with a maximum capacity of three trains per hour per direction – Cost $2 billion

    A BCIT to UBC/Stanley park European style tramway – cost $1.5 to $2 billion.

    Total cost $7 billion to $8.5 billion, leaving a few billion left over to invest in social housing and healthcare.

    According to Translink’s own numbers the Expo Line extension to langley will carry less than what the Broadway 99-B Line did in 2019 and the Broadway subway will have a maximum capacity of only 7,500 pphpd, ONE HALF THE RIDERSHIP DEEMED NECESSARY FOR BUILDING A SUBWAY!

    What would be the better investment in transit dollars?


  3. It is questionable whether there is any time left for a concerted education program, or whether it could succeed against the built in denial coming from corporate vested interest. But that education is our best chance. Basic book keeping, ecological understanding, and needed social infrastructure.


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