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Climate crisis requires courage, not optimism

Climate crisis requires courage, not optimism

Heavy machinery moves dirt and debris near a snow covered forest.

The climate crisis demands courage, not optimism
Canada’s emissions can be reduced with policies that target ‘big polluters,’ but also through individual actions, such as choosing to bike instead of drive to work, and encouraging politicians to make cities more bike-friendly. Credit: Shutterstock

The No. The No. 1 Netflix movie in recent weeks was “Don’t Look Up,” which is a fictionalized story of scientists trying to raise the alarm about a comet that threatens to destroy Earth. The film uses the comet as a metaphor to remind viewers of the urgency for climate change.


Canadians don’t have to look up. The destruction caused by climate change is all around.

2021 saw the emergence of a “heat dome”. At least 600 people were killed in Western Canada. There were hundreds of wildfires that followed, including one that killed a woman. The town of Lytton in British Columbia was razed to the ground.Right after the area’s heat records were broken, was. Extreme rainfall in British Columbia in November caused then Flooding is widespreadThese storms destroyed homes and businesses, as well as infrastructure damage that severed all ties between coastal B.C. Canada.

This is frightening stuff. This is scary stuff. , we get it!

Not the first wake up call

We know the impact Canadians are seeing is what we are talking about. Scientists have known this since the beginning. We are mindful that although the scale of destruction is not new for Canadians but deadly heat, flooding, and wildfires caused by climate changes have been This is happening all around the globe for some time.

We are climate researchers and are acutely aware of the fact that it is only going to get worse. There is no “new norm”, a phrase we would love to retire. Instead, the planet will continue warming as long we continue to add greenhouse gases to it. What is unusual today will become normal tomorrow, and so on—until we reduce emissions to net zero globally. How hot the planet will get will depend on how long it takes.

This backdrop is why we are frequently asked by media interviews “Is it possible to have hope?” or “Are you optimistic?” We often offer Positive responses. After all, the flip side of the conclusion put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—that It is “unambiguous” that humans are causing climate change—is that we have the power to fix it. We have so many more things we can do.

We are concerned that listeners who fear such statements may interpret them as a reassurance that everything is fine and that they can return to their normal lives, because someone else has solved climate change.

Manufacturers saving money through energy efficiency won’t bring about the necessary changes in our economy and lives. It will not be possible to make changes in our lives and economy by individuals changing their diets, driving less, or choosing “green” products. To drive safely, we need to have public policies fundamental transformationOur energy systems include how we move, how we heat and cool homes, and how consumer products are made.

The political challenge

It has been politically difficult to adopt effective climate policy. Our failure to date is clear. Decades of industry’s obfuscationoppose policies that increase its operating expenses and climate science.

But industry is not at fault. Many Canadians have been slow in putting their faith in climate policies like Vehicle mandates, clean energy regulations, and vehicle mandates will work. Encouraged by the carbon-intensive industries and their Political alliesSome have opposed even small increases in gas and other fossil fuel energy costs.

Others are encouraged by Activists partisans to focus blame on “big polluters” (and no doubt that blame is well deserved), have resisted policies that also require change from small polluters—including households—that About half of Canada’s emissions are from Canada..

Here’s our modest suggestion: Let’s stop asking optimism questions and instead focus on what citizens are going to do about it. .

Courage is a virtue.

Christiana Figueres (ex-executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) coined the term “stubborn optimist“To emphasize that we don’t need luck, but conscious and active commitment,

We agree with you, but we see the issue differently. The issue isn’t optimism or pessimism as climate scientists suggest. Kate MarvelIt is not about what the outcome will be, but whether or not we have the courage and the will to act.

This is not the first time Canadians have been faced with such a call. Seth Klein observes this with great insight in his book. A Good WarCanada joined the Second World War with no assurances that it would win. The climate fight is a much more difficult battle.

It is also evident that action has many benefits. Research consistently shows that Slowing climate change is a net winThis is not only for human health and the environment but also for jobs and the economy. We need to make big upfront decisions and invest big today to reap these benefits and ensure a fair transition.

See Also

This requires engaged citizenship. The good news is that Engaged citizenship feels good too. People waiting patiently at polling stations to vote are exuding a quiet, purposeful sense of purpose on election day. It’s amazing to see how many people smile at climate marches. It can be a relief to shift from worrying to taking action.

We understand the grief and anxiety that many feel, especially young people like our students. Climate change is here and it’s only getting worse. It is up to us to decide how much worse. It’s time for citizens to stop seeking out reassurance from other people and start asking themselves what they are going to do about this.

We all have the right to enjoy an enjoyable movie in uncertain times. We hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your time. Take five minutes to write to your memberto tell them about your progress in the matter. crisis, what you are willing to do—and what you need from them.


Study shows that climate events such as heat domes and heat waves are having an increasing impact on mental health


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