31 October 2009

Will Canadians take up the challenge of global warming?

The response from our federal government to the Pembina Institute/Suzuki Foundation study "Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity," is predictable. Outrage. "The conclusions it draws are irresponsible," says Environment Minister Jim Prentice, "The kind of economic consequences you see in this report are not necessary if this is done in an orderly way." Unfortunately, what that orderly way is our government has not yet revealed.

Once again one must wonder if we, humanity that is, Canadians specifically, are up to dealing with global warming. Seventy years ago our leaders called us to the challenge of dealing with Nazism and we responded. We were prepared to do whatever was necessary. This time the threat is vastly greater. The Nazis threatened Western civilization; global warming threatens all civilization and more.

Yet what is demanded of us is so much less. Then we were asked to make great economic sacrifice and even to give up our lives if necessary. The Pembina/Suzuki report only asks us to knock a few points of our GDP. Even with the sacrifice, we will still be richer in ten years than we are today, and Alberta, which is asked to make the biggest sacrifice, will still be much richer than the rest of Canada.

Nonetheless, our leaders may not ask it of us because they believe it will be too much. The last politician to ask, Stephane Dion, was not only rejected by the Canadian people, he was humiliated.

Nonetheless, I think we are as good now as we ever were. Dion simply wasn't the guy. If the right political leader stands up and challenges us to do the right thing, to make the effort necessary to realize the recommendations of the Pembina/Suzuki report, I think we would accept the challenge and elect that leader. Then again, maybe I'm playing Pollyanna.

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