Have we be­come numb to cli­mate change?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL - Jim Vibert Jim Vibert, a journalist and writer for longer than he cares to ad­mit, con­sulted or worked for five Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ments. He now keeps a close and crit­i­cal eye on pro­vin­cial and re­gional pow­ers.

It feels like much of the world has be­come com­fort­ably numb to the ur­gent pleas of the best and brightest sci­en­tists alive for de­ci­sive and im­me­di­ate ac­tion to con­tain catastrophic cli­mate change.

The In­ter­na­tional Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) re­leased a re­port Sun­day that was un­am­bigu­ous in its grim find­ings, de­spite ef­forts by govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the panel to tone the sci­en­tists down.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res called the IPCC re­port an “ear-split­ting wake-up call” that the world must hear and heed and added the omi­nous warn­ing that we’re run­ning out of time to save the planet as we know it.

A cou­ple of days ear­lier in Cal­gary, On­tario’s Tory Premier Doug Ford and Al­berta’s United Con­ser­va­tive leader Ja­son Ken­ney ral­lied and railed against all ef­forts to re­duce Canada’s CO2 emis­sions by tax­ing them.

The irony, if there is any, is that the IPCC con­cluded Canada’s cur­rent ef­forts along with those of the other sig­na­to­ries to the Paris Ac­cord aren’t good enough to save low-ly­ing coastal com­mu­ni­ties, Coral reefs, or tens, per­haps hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple from be­com­ing cli­mate refugees or dying of star­va­tion.

Re­duc­tions in green­house gases need to be deeper and come faster than es­tab­lished global tar­gets to hold off cli­mate changes that will make the re­cent uptick in killer storms, wild­fires and lethal heat waves seem like the good old days.

Maybe the Con­ser­va­tives are right and there is a bet­ter way to re­duce car­bon emis­sions than the Trudeau govern­ment’s pric­ing pro­gram. But, if they know what that is, they’re not telling.

The IPCC said the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to keep global warm­ing to a rel­a­tively man­age­able 1.5-de­gree in­crease will close by 2030. In order to achieve that ceil­ing the world has 12 years to cut car­bon emis­sions in half, and then it must get to net zero car­bon emis­sions by 2050.

Sci­en­tists on the IPCC want you to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ences be­tween global warm­ing that peaks at 1.5-de­grees ver­sus the two-de­grees Cel­sius in­crease the world is headed for now.

At the lower num­ber about 10 per cent of the world’s in­sects, eight per cent of its plants and four per cent of its an­i­mals (in­cludes hu­mans) are en­dan­gered or will be elim­i­nated by the loss of more than half their ge­o­graphic range.

In Canada, the cli­mate change de­bate has de­scended into pure par­ti­san pol­i­tics where its be­come about taxes or no taxes, rather than what kind of fu­ture we’ll leave gen­er­a­tions al­ready born and all those to fol­low.

The fed­eral Lib­er­als and New Democrats sup­port a price, or tax, on car­bon. Most Con­ser­va­tives at the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial lev­els op­pose any price on car­bon and they’re con­vinced they have a po­lit­i­cal win­ner.

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