The sky isn’t fall­ing, the sea is ris­ing up to meet it

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - FROM THE ED­I­TOR

I had an un­cle stay with me this past sum­mer. A bril­liant mind in many ways, he nev­er­the­less has cho­sen to be a cli­mate change de­nier. In re­ply to hear­ing his stance, I told him that the beauty of cli­mate change is that it doesn’t give a you-know-what about peo­ples’ opin­ions. Nei­ther do the 99% of cli­mate sci­en­tists try­ing to wake us to the ir­re­versible trend to­wards warmer oceans and at­mos­pheres that is al­ready lead­ing to more chaotic weather pat­terns.

When the UN In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) re­leased their lat­est re­port ear­lier this month, it had the most dire news yet about where our planet is headed. The year 2100 used to be the bench­mark by which we had to have our act to­gether as a planet. Then it was 2050. Since our species has done lit­tle to stem the car­bon tide, the IPCC is now say­ing we must keep plan­e­tary warm­ing to 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius by 2030.

Known cli­mate change skep­tic Rex Mur­phy opined in the Na­tional Post on Oct. 12 that the lat­est re­port amounted to en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists cry­ing wolf too of­ten. He likens the IPCC panel to mem­bers of a dooms­day cult who keep chang­ing the dead­line for when the uni­verse will shut off. Con­trary to Mur­phy's anal­ogy, cli­mate change sce­nar­ios have not been re­vised fur­ther into the fu­ture, the dates of con­cern, and the ac­tion re­quired, keep get­ting more ur­gent. Imag­ine go­ing to the doc­tor, get­ting a clean bill of health and a life ex­pectancy of 90 years. Ten years later, you go back for a checkup, hav­ing done no ex­er­cise and con­sumed junk food for the en­tire decade. The doc­tor re­duces your pre­dicted life­span to 70 years. Fol­low­ing Mur­phy’s logic, you would then call the doc­tor an alarmist for re­vis­ing your prog­no­sis.

On Oct. 14, the Ecol­ogy Ac­tion Cen­tre (EAC) held a meet­ing in Bad­deck about the province’s cur­rent ef­forts to draft coastal pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion. Three peo­ple at­tended. Now, one poorly at­tended meet­ing does not con­sti­tute a cri­sis. Sim­i­larly, a sin­gle weather event can­not be defini­tively linked to, or blamed on, cli­mate change. How­ever, the faulty logic oc­curs when de­niers ex­tend that to say that none of our cur­rent (or fu­ture, for that mat­ter) changes in our cli­mate, be it record storms, droughts or snow in July, can be linked to hu­man-in­duced or hu­man-en­cour­aged cli­mate change. Along those lines, while one poorly at­tended meet­ing is dis­ap­point­ing, a pat­tern of ap­a­thy is cause for con­cern.

The EAC re­ports that 70% of Nova Sco­tia’s pop­u­la­tion lives within 5km of ocean coast­line. In Vic­to­ria County, nearly our en­tire pop­u­la­tion lives within that prox­im­ity – and most within eye­sight of the ocean or in­land sea. The seas have al­ready be­gun to rise and po­lar cap ice is melt­ing at rates we never an­tic­i­pated.

As the what-can-i-do-i-amonly-one-per­son men­tal­ity sets in, we must re­al­ize our big­gest role as cit­i­zens is to sup­port the tough pol­icy choices that lay ahead and vote with our dol­lars to sup­port cor­po­ra­tions work­ing to leave a fu­ture for our chil­dren’s chil­dren.

There is a real pos­si­bil­ity at this point that we sim­ply won’t get out of our own way in time to do enough. Like too many prob­lems, it will be some­one else’s un­til we’re nose to nose with a dead­line we can’t ig­nore.

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