Wading in

Talking about climate change gets people hot.

A number of years back a very invested advocate on the issue of climate change attended our office worried about differing opinions on the subject that appeared in print. Her sincerity and dedication to the environment remains admirable, but clearly, not all people approach the issue of climate change in the same way. 

As evidenced in last week’s casual weekly poll, some online readers weren’t convinced climate change was a major factor in increased damage from wildfires in Canada. It may be hard to believe, but at the time of writing this column, 59% did not think climate change to be a major factor in the devastation that razed entire communities and displaced families for weeks at a time. 

We are aware of theories on both sides of this cause-and-effect discussion. From careless human activities to natural events like lightning and the more conspiratorial explanations – it all leads back to one immutable fact: a reported 37.46 million acres of forest in Canada has been lost this year alone. Communities will need to be rebuilt as a result and the cost will be staggering.

A separate hazard but of similar scope is the flooding that has occurred due to violent weather events. Displaced people adjacent to flood lands and lowlands face the challenge of rebuilding. Questions rightly emerge whether those developments should be repeated considering the obvious risk and potential for another catastrophic event. 

What is clear to some and less so to others prompted us to reach out to an old friend who has been “off the grid,” so to speak, for years now. He and his wife installed a combination of wind and solar to power their buildings and established a lifestyle that shows obvious respect for the environment. 

He contends the confusion around the climate change issue is that conversations often evoke emotional reactions as opposed to a thoughtful dialogue that will lead to a better understanding. Then, maybe, policies can be legislated that will help humankind better manage finite resources and make good choices on where to settle. The disruption from natural disasters will inevitably impact where populations reside.

As for the carbon tax, he shares the skepticism with which most greet such forms of taxation. That distrust weighs heavily on the financial implications to the economy but also the government’s track record for solving problems. When have all levels of government in Canada worked together to decisively solve a problem?  What are the chances of incorporating those solutions globally, particularly in light of current geo-politics?

To collect and redistribute taxes without wholly clear objectives doesn’t inspire confidence. Watching the rich and powerful gallivant around the globe gives the appearance that climate change is a burden to be borne by the less advantaged. There is very much a double standard here, causing people to wonder aloud how it is that properties modelled to be underwater in a few years, still are sold, financed and insured. At best, governments could incentivize business and households to adopt measures that enable conservation and sustainable living.

For average Canadians things don’t add up, which is unfortunate for those who truly want to do all they can to make the Earth a happier, healthier spot for future generations.