- In May 2013, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in human history.
- The upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million.
- The leading cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels.
- Rising CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere are the main cause of climate change.
- The 400 ppm threshold is widely recognized as a dangerous level that could drastically worsen climate change.
- Many scientists believe that climate change is the single biggest threat facing the earth today.
C A N A D I A N M A D N E S S
- Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. Yet we have one of the worst records when it comes to taking action on climate change. We are amongst the top 10 CO2 emitters in the world and we are the only country to have withdrawn from the Kyoto Accord.
- Canada’s Kyoto target was a 6% reduction of emissions by 2012 compared to 1990 levels. Instead, between 1990 and 2008, emissions increased by 24%.
- Since taking office in 2006, the Harper government has been steadily weakening environmental laws.
- In 2012, the Harper government totally gutted environmental regulations, forcing the legislation through parliament in 2 omnibus budget bills, C-38 and C-45.
- The reason for this madness? To protect tar sands development, which the government subsidizes to the tune of $1.3 billion a year.
LESSONS FOR CANADA: OTHER MODELS
The aggressive model of economic and resource development that Canada is following is wreaking havoc on the Canadian environment: air, land, forest and water. It is also helping to keep the world on the path to catastrophic global warming.
There are other models of economic and resource development. Here are 3 Canada can learn from.
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to replace nuclear power with renewable energy. Within G20 countries, Germany has the largest amount of its electricity produced from renewable sources. Canada ranks 13th.
LESSONS FOR CANADA: ●Stop subsidizing the tar sands industry. ●Start making substantial investments in renewable energy.
FIRST NATIONS IDLE NO MORE MOVEMENT
Idle No More is in part a protest against measures in Bill C-45 that weaken the environmental protection of Canada’s waterways. The bill also exempts pipelines from environmental oversight. In the words of Pam Palmater, an Idle No More spokesperson: “First Nations are Canadians’ last, best hope of protecting the land, water, sky, and plants and animals for their future generations.”
LESSONS FOR CANADA: ●Scrap all legislation passed since 2006 that weakens environmental regulations. ●Hold meaningful advance consultations before making legislative changes that affect First Nations.
In 2008 Ecuador passed a new constitution that gives rights to nature. Nature – rivers, trees, birds, fish, ecosystems – has the constitutional right to exist and prosper for its own sake. Now Ecuador is proposing to not exploit huge untapped oil reserves that lie under Yasuni National Park. Leaving the oil in the ground will protect the biodiversity of the park and help combat climate change.
LESSONS FOR CANADA: ●Begin to discuss the constitutional protection of nature. ●Leave tar sands oil in the ground.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Who’s to blame for climate change? Humans, according to 97-98 percent of 1,372 of the world’s most active climate researchers.–Globe and Mail, June 5 2013
The richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible. Unlike Ecuador, and Indigenous societies throughout the world, they want to extract every drop of hydrocarbons from the ground with all possible speed.–Noam Chomsky
LEARN MORE ABOUT
Google: Bill McKibben website
Google: David Suzuki climate change basics
Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, available at Regina Public Library
Google: David Suzuki tar sands
OTHER MODELS FOR DEVELOPMENT
Google: Idle No More Manifesto
Google: What if Mother Nature had rights?
Google: David Suzuki Andean adventure