Sunday, December 09, 2007

Open Letter to the Minister of the Environment

Dear Mr. Baird,

I am writing as one of many Canadians concerned about the state of our planet. Like many others, my eyes have been firmly set on Indonesia as I eagerly await some good news out of the Bali Conference on Climate Change. Like many others, I have been sorely disappointed.

I remember a time in the not-to-distant past that Canada was very well respected on the international stage, fighting so valiantly in the second World War, to establishing the Peacekeepers, to abstaining from the war in Iraq, I have always been proud of my countries actions on the world stage. However, I worry that our days of being internationally respected are nearing an end.

I was deeply saddened, but not the slightest bit surprised, when I read that Canada was listed 53rd out of 56 industrialized countries on a recent ranking. The real shocker of the list, was that we were ranked second to last in terms of government policies. One of the countries, which we were ranked higher than, Australia, recently had a change in government with new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, winning on a green platform. This means that next year, we will fall even further in the rankings, unless you take quick action.

Canada has an opportunity to be a real world leader on the issue, but yet we find ourselves severely lagging. According to 2004 data, Canadians contribute over 20 metric tons of CO2 per capita, making us the 11th worst polluters on the earth.

This is simply unacceptable.

We are a nation with immeasurable natural resources, a true land of plenty. I find it completely unreal to think that somewhere between the huge tides in the Bay of Fundy, the Chinooks of the Rockies, and the arable land of the prairies, that we find ourselves so heavily dependent on fossil fuels. We are in clear possession of the means, and our country is full of the will, we are just lacking one central component, the leadership.

This is where you have failed us, Mr. Baird. You on your fellow Conservatives, have routinely tried to undermine the environmental will of the people, going so far as to call the Kyoto Protocol, a "socialist scheme". This is something that I clearly do not understand. We have very clearly passed the point of denial on this increasingly important issue, and yet here we sit at a crucial juncture in the history of our species, and you seem so very determined to circumvent the process of saving our planet.

While I understand the frustration that comes with the three biggest contributors by volume, the United States, China, and India, not accepting any binding targets, I find it very petty and un-Canadian to only follow rules which other countries agree to follow. Had we taken this stance, our country would not be the great nation that it is today. We stood up to the Nazis three years before the Americans did, and we refused to enter a pointless and unjust war in both Vietnam and now Iraq, despite the actions taken by our neighbours to the south. We do not need to wait for our ubiquitous "Big Brother" to make a step on the path to justice before we do. We are our own nation, full of concerned and caring individuals, who are looking to you, Mr. Baird, to take the first step.

All over the world, there are a variety of very unfortunate individuals who are suffering from the effects our societies affluence. The sea levels are rising, the deserts are expanding, and the world we know is changing very rapidly. Many, many people are in serious jeopardy as a result of this looming catastrophe. As someone standing in the way of positive and meaningful change you must shoulder part of the blame for what is occurring as a result of your inaction.

For every hurricane that batters the Caribbean, you are to blame.
For every flood that strikes the shores of Bangladesh and India, you are to blame.
For every inch of expanding desert, you are to blame.
For every species that is disappears from this planet forever, as a result of a warmer world, you are to blame.
For every polar bear that comes into contact with humans because their habitat is shrinking, you are to blame.
For every child who suffers an asthma attack on a smog day, you are to blame.
For every tropical disease that spreads into temperate regions, you are to blame.
For every single individual who dies as a result of the consequences of global warming, you are to blame.

Mr. Baird, you and many others have the opportunity to make some profound change. I want my children, and grand children to look back the actions of this generation with the same pride and reverence that I am able to look back at the generation of my grand-parents. Right now, though, your actions are making me feel something that I have never felt in all of my life. You are making me feel ashamed to be a Canadian.


Glen R.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy I am getting a kick out of this (I didn't read the whole thing but you'll understand what I mean tomorrow)

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to bet that Glen has never read the actual Kyoto Protocol or any of it's supporting documents in the IPCC's Assesment Reports, etc. He probably hasn't even read the summaries for policymakers either But then, maybe he wouldn't understand them anyway or the fact that the IPCC's case is built entirely on computer models. Remember the old programming adage "Garbage in, garbage out"? That pretty much sums up what governments worldwide have spent tens of billions on so far.

G said...

Well anonymous (if that is your real name), thanks for the comment!! I was starting to feel that I was writing to myself here!!!

You are totally right, I haven't read the actual protocol, because, really it's too freakin' long. Sure I may be a lazy guy when it comes to this sort of thing, but I don't think that it is fair at all of you to imply that I wouldn't understand them. Taking a personal attack on me really does nothing to advance your argument, but what do I know?

As for the fact that the case is built around computer models, you have to ask, what else could they build them on? Do you want to wait and see if we are going to have an environmental catastrophe and then try and do something afterwards? That is horribly irresponsible. Even if you don't think that human activity is contributing to a climate change, you have to agree that it can't be healthy for us to breathe in all of the smog and other industrial emissions that we have been doing. If people die when they run their car in their garage, then it is reasonable to assume that if billions of people are running their cars and coal plants outside, that eventually it is going to catch up to us....

Anonymous said...

1) If you put a fishbowl on your head and breath, you're going to run out of oxygen and die. Now imagine what happens when you have BILLIONS of people breathing at once? Oh, that's right, the analogy doesn't hold up (to clarify, I don't disagree with climate change being a reality, just pointing out a flaw in your argument).

2) The biggest problem with Kyoto was the demarcation between "Developed" and "Developing" countries. Right now the USA and Canada are in an economic war with China and India. By hiding behind per capita results, and the label of "Developing Country" China gets to drool at the prospect of North America having to make substantial and costly CO2 cuts while our economy is under direct assault. Because of this, the USA can't afford to sign on and put itself at a competative disadvantage to china (they are already under siege) and frankly, Canada cannot do what the USA does not (putting ourselves at such a disadvantage to the USA would be suicide).

I'm not suggesting the best course of action is inaction, nor am I suggesting the conservative government is on the right path, but I agree with them that Canada can't afford to shoot ourselves in the foot. The answer lies in new technologies, the only question is how to facilitate the development of said technologies while having as minimal an effect on our economy as possible.

G said...

1) There are these things called trees, not sure if you've heard of them, they are pretty rare these days, and anyway, what they do is they give us oxygen back to counteract the deadly effects of billions of people breathing. Unfortunately there are no magic plants that get rid of the horrible stuff that cars and factories exhale.

2) Sure the US is in an economic war with China, but they are also in one with Europe, whose emerging market is really coming to a head with the States. Yet, who are the ones leading the charge for the planet?

One of the key differences between "developed" and "developing" is technology. The West has the power to make some pretty dramatic change, yet China and India do not. While it seems hardly fair and anti-Capitalist, we are in a position where we need to share our green technologies with the developing world. Our planet really can not afford to go through another 150 years of industrializing for the rest of the world like it did for us.