Please, let me explain!

Thursday, January 07, 2010


*This post is from a guest contributor. Jonathan Holmes is a core member of Green Campus and an all around passionate student activist for the environment.

Dear Friends,

I like to think of myself as a reasonable person. I usually don’t take strong stances on political issues. I understand that no political question is cut and dry, and I attempt to learn about all of the points of view on different issues.

And yet you might have recently seen me in facebook pictures and videos wearing a dress, dancing to a fiddle, or even dropping my pants. You might think I’ve gone crazy, and am throwing away my good reputation and public respectability. You’d probably be right.

But believe me – I am only doing this because I am convinced that climate change is such an incredibly serious and immediate problem that we need action NOW. To quote the most recent research, “global emissions must PEAK THEN DECLINE RAPIDLY WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE TO TEN YEARS for the world to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the very worst impacts of climate change.” (1)

The good news is that it is becoming clearer and clearer that transitioning to a green economy, if done smart, won’t cause our economy collapse, and may even make us better off. (2)

The bad news is that Canada, the country for which I am so proud, seems determined to derail global climate talks and ensure that we never meet this target. In the Copenhagen conference on climate change, we have already won the most “fossil of the day awards,” which are given to countries trying to block the creation of a fair, ambitious and binding treaty. (3)

When scientists agree that there is a problem, and when an obvious solution is available, I think we should go for it. And yet that is the opposite of what we’re doing. That is why I am willing to make a fool of myself – because I am much more embarrassed of Canada’s climate action plan than I am of wearing only boxers on Parliament Hill.

So, have I lost your respect? Will you ever be able to ever take me seriously again? Please post any thoughts or questions here.

NOTES:

1 – The quote is from the summary of the Copenhagen disgnosis, written by 26 climate scientists and available at http://copenhagendiagnosis.com/press.html. I understand that the science of climate change is confusing, but let me assure you that the “debate” on the existence of human-caused global warming has been resolved among those who have spent their lives studying these issues. For those who are still unconvinced of this fact, an extensive review of the evidence (as well as a thorough debunking of the arguments most used by skeptics) can be found at www.realclimate.org (click on “start here”). For research into why we’re still debating this issue despite agreement among the actual scientists, check out www.desmogblog.com.

2 –For those who are interested, Stuart Elgie, a prof at the Univeristy of Ottawa, does a good job of arguing this position here. I’ll admit that this is a complicated issue, for which there is still academic debate. However, what is clear is that there exist many policy instruments, such as carbon taxes, which make economic sense given the great risks and uncertainties associated with climate change. If you want to chat more about this, please send me a message – this is likely going to be one of the central parts of my future studies, so I love to talk about it!

3 – The most recent Canadian fossil of the day award, which follows a long history of similar awards. (http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/recent/fossil_day_barcelona and http://www.nupge.ca/node/2609 for example).
Richard Littlemore also talks about another recent action here .

And for those of you who are still reading, please check out Bill McKibbon’s call to action here:
- jon holmes



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