Skip to Content
EarthMatters_600.jpg

Facing the consequences of inaction on climate change

Read More:

Buse Lake, Barnhartvale, BC. photo: Norm Dougan

Most of the time I’m really fond of humanity. I love the art and literature that we’ve created, the music that inspires me and allows me to play something created in the mind of a composer hundreds of years ago on my violin that was crafted by hand almost 100 years ago.

The reason I’m such a committed urbanite is because I really like the idea of living in a big city where there’s a mass of humanity on my doorstep and everyone has a story.

But when it comes to taking care of our environment, a lot of the time, people suck. When I’ve had a bad day or week and run out of faith in people doing the right thing, I start to think that maybe, the next mass extinction happening over the next several hundred years might just be the best thing that could happen for this planet.


New York City – one of my favourite masses of humanity (photo: Amy Huva)

What would that look like? What world will we create if we fail monumentally to do anything about climate change?

If we fail to even begin meaningfully weaning ourselves off our destructive addiction to fossil fuels and stick with the status quo (or "business-as-suicide" as influential climate writer Joe Romm calls it) what kind of world are we creating for everyone’s children? What kind of world are we creating for my generation to try and retire in?

Will we choose a future that looks like Gwynne Dyer’s Climate Wars? Perhaps something closer to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road?

Because that’s the key here – it’s our choice. We get to choose the future we are creating. Through the infrastructure decisions we collectively make, through the energy choices we collectively make and the political choices we collectively make.

The decisions we make today will affect how people source their energy and their ability to live comfortably within our atmosphere for the next 1,000 years. So if we screw this up, it won’t just be your children who turn around and demand to know why you were so preoccupied with Miley Cyrus, Gangnam Style and the Real Housewives while humanity was collectively pissing away its futures.

Our short-sightedness, selfishness and greed will be questioned and criticized for generations to come as they try and eke out an existence farming in dustbowls, moving their cities and infrastructure ever inland away from the rapidly rising sea levels of oceans so acidic that no coral reefs survive and only the jellyfish are left.

Because that’s what we’re doing. We’ve been told, over and over by not only respected scientists, but by the World Bank, the IEA, the military, the re-insurance industry and more.

The problem with climate change is that it’s not something that goes away if you ignore it. In fact, the more you ignore it or deny it or try and rationalize why it won’t affect you, the harder it gets to fix.

Much of the original modelling done by climate scientists on the effects of increased CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere only modelled out to 400 or 500 parts per million (ppm), because the scientists didn’t honestly think that once they discovered how destructive those concentrations of carbon dioxide could be to our atmosphere’s energy balance that humanity would be wilfully destructive enough to go further.

But for those who haven’t been keeping track, CO2 concentrations reached their annual peak this year with a new record of 400ppm. That's right, we’re already there. Scientists are now modelling what 1000ppm might look like for humanity, because that’s exactly where business as usual will take us.


CO2 trends from NOAA, hitting 400ppm in May of 2013.

So what’s the point of me telling you all this doom and gloom? Mainly, to make sure no one has an excuse. To make sure that you can’t get to the point of where climate change gets catastrophically serious and shrug, ‘Oh, but I didn’t know it was going to be that bad’. It's to make sure you know that it’s a choice, and by doing nothing, you choose the status quo. You choose that future.

Because we have a choice. Our future does not need to be fuelled by fossil fuels and ravaged by drought, disease, storms and famine. So make your choice. 

(10) Comments

Bruce Voigt August 31st 2013 | 9:09 AM

At this very moment mankind has suppressed science and technology to immediately stop the progression of any known disease! To have your vehicle fully operational from the energy (AURA) of the body! Dog or cat to keep the home fires burning and there is enough aura produced from gramps old bones as to run a factory!

Bruce Voigt August 24th 2013 | 7:07 AMAt this time we can all agree that Dramatic Earth Changes are taking place.
"Question is WHY?" http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/i-am-pro-snow-and-anti-climate-change

al bore August 31st 2013 | 11:11 AM

 

The majority of scientists agree climate change is real and is happening and could lead to unstoppable warming. Not once have they ever agreed on anything past “could be” and have never said or agreed their own 28 year old catastrophic climate crisis will happen eventually. So how do you believers get away with saying a crisis will happen when science has never said it? Be true to the word of science when you condemn your own kids to their CO2 deaths and say it only “could” happen when you kiss them goodnight.  Now who’s the fear mongering neocon?

Science can end this costly debate now by agreeing it will happen not just might happen. 

Guest August 31st 2013 | 12:12 PM

"This costly debate"? There is no debate.

It's never been true that scientific evidence requires 100% certainty for a hypothesis to be valid. Read here about scientific consensus: http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm. The website is a good place to start for those interested in countering Deniers weak and misleading arguments.

The upcoming UN IPCC report - often criticized for being too conservative and out of date by the time it's published - will state that the Earth is still warming up and humans are fully responsible.

I think anyone who can still bray denial about climate change at this point is someone who usually avoids responsibility for their actions in other aspects of their lives...political sociopaths, criminals... I believe all Deniers, and those who aid and abet them, should be treated by society like we treat other people harmful to human survival.

al bore August 31st 2013 | 5:17 PM

You climate blame believers can't say a crisis WILL happen because science has not said it yet. What has to happen now for science to agree a real crisis is really inevitable and WILL happen? Without a "will be" consensus there is no chance of CO2 mitigation and this debate will go on until we reach the point of no return from unstoppable warming. Don't scientists have doomed kids as well?

Jeffrey Simpson September 1st 2013 | 9:09 AM

look at what others are doing.

'We’ve been told, over and over by not only respected scientists, but by the World Bank, the IEA, the military, the re-insurance industry and more."

Global warming and climate change are not being debated by groups such as those above - they are acting upon the knowledge they have acquired from scientists from around the world and preparing for global warming and climate change. That being stated I will try to post this.

Being blue-green colour blind is a major problem for me because Captcha is in colour instead of B&W. Takes me many tries to  get past it.

 

 

al bore September 2nd 2013 | 6:06 AM

Wake up people! CO2 mitigation is doomed: *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
Big Oil doesn’t feed the denier machine; it’s science’s own “could be” consensus that fosters doubt and skepticism as in: 28 years of never saying a crisis WILL happen is as good as saying a crisis NEVER will happen. So how does any climate change believer get away with saying the scientist's crisis WILL happen when science has never agreed on anything past "could be" a crisis and have NEVER agreed or said that their own crisis "WILL BE" a crisis, only might be and could be and maybe and........? Who is committing a hoax here? Who is perceived now as the fear monger when we condemn our own children at the grunt of a “could be” headline of consensus? Science can shut down the denier machine now and end this costly debate to save the planet just by agreeing their own crisis is now inevitable not just "possible" otherwise continued debate will continue stalling CO2 mitigation as we drift to the edge of unstoppable warming. Just what has to happen now for science to switch their consensus of “could be” to a consensus of “inevitable”, like they say comet hits are? Don’t scientists have doomed children as well?

al bore September 2nd 2013 | 6:06 AM

Bruce Voigt wrote:
NOT one single scientist anywhere at any time has ever said a crisis is inevitable or eventual. What has to happen?

At this very moment mankind has suppressed science and technology to immediately stop the progression of any known disease! To have your vehicle fully operational from the energy (AURA) of the body! Dog or cat to keep the home fires burning and there is enough aura produced from gramps old bones as to run a factory!

Bruce Voigt August 24th 2013 | 7:07 AMAt this time we can all agree that Dramatic Earth Changes are taking place.
"Question is WHY?" http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/i-am-pro-snow-and-anti-climate-change

Joseph September 2nd 2013 | 5:17 PM

Sometimes, listening to climate change believers, I found myself asking whether these people are manically depressed? These people seem to be drawn to evidence that humans are evil little creatures and that nothing good ever comes from our activities on this planet? I wish I could help them sleep better at night, though I think it is a long shot.

First thought to consider is that Antarctic ice core samples dating back more than 800,000 years shows that CO2 concentrations were over 4,000 ppm.

Second thought is that recent satellite data shows that as CO2 levels increased by over 50 ppm over the past 20 years, plant life has invaded the arid regions of the planet and reclaimed deserts by 10% of their land mass. Increased CO2 levels improve water efficiency of plants causing them to flourish in lower rain fall regions.

IPCC models have no means of calculating the effects of CO2 fertilization on plant life performance, nor that of the massively increase nitrogen and base cation deposition rates that are also increasing due to anthropogenic activities as our world wide population increases.

While many university based scientists are inclined to believe that fossil fuels 'may' lead to global warming, there are 10x more scientists in the private sector who are much less inclined to think in the same regard. The truth is most university professors have little to no real world experience and haven't the slightest clue regarding the topic of energy economics.

The energy solution of the future will come from the scientists in the fossil fuel industry - no from solar panels and wind mills. These forms of energy are the most expensive and environmentally intrusive forms of energy known other than biofuels. One of these days, people will wake up and realize that environmental performance is much more than just a metric of the amount of CO2 emissions of unit of energy produced.

I have 16 years of energy research experience and will dedicate my life to perfecting our energy production - transmission performance. People like the reporters of the VO are the last people who are qualified to 'cast a stone'. 

Jeffrey Simpson September 4th 2013 | 9:09 AM

June 22, 2008, National Geographic edition headline:

*Changing Climate. (The entire edition is on climate change.)

*What you should know, and what you can do.

It is so simply stated, a child could read it. The climate change deniers should definitely read it.

Personally, I have always found that if you treat children with respect and tell them the truth - it will free them from beliefs and activate them.

carl shalansky September 8th 2013 | 6:18 PM
 Peter Scott’s quote (head of climate  and attribution  for the British Meteorological office).”We’ve got some new evidence that human influence has changed the risk”...http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Climate+change+blamed+severe+storms/8876604/story.htmlA study of a dozen of 2012’s wildest weather events found that manmade global warming increased the likelihood of about half.....including Superstorm Sandy .One author  disagrees..”as for Sandy :I’m not buying it at all ”. She might have had a peek at Wikipedia , before attending this meeting ,where she would have noted  that 2012  Sandy was preceded by a much  more devastating (New England)hurricane in 1938 and others !This report is about the the discussions by a large group of scientists who apparently have not heard that ‘the science is settled’ ?It is interesting to note that this column is sprinkled with words such as—“likelihood”—”random freakishness of weather” –”evolution in the field”  --“more likely”—”human influence has changed the risk”—”would have happened anyway”—”magnitude and likelihood were boosted”—”human caused change was a factor”—and on and on.To be concerned about climate events does make sense—but to date we’ve not been able to quantify the CAUSES  —we see SYMPTOMS galore ! –It seems that every day a new climate record is recorded--Climate is influenced by many very complex natural factors—which we’re trying to better understand . MAN’s involvement, has been studied but with no valid conclusions as to the significance of his messing around with nature.Many very ‘heavy duty’ scientific studies are be carried out,worldwide—seemingly randomly—because science is always in debate .Fortunately,the ‘doctrine’ of the IPCC is  being put to the test continually---Until we know more we must tread carefully,but wisely—’jumping to conclusions’ about climate is good fun—but this should not be our only exercise .