Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Climate Change: The Real Threat to Our "National Security"

The science is in: climate change is real, it’s caused by man-made pollution, and the impacts could be catastrophic on a global level, up to and including the destruction of human civilization. Yet despite this threat the Conservatives plan to do even less than the Liberals!

Instead of vigorously implementing the Kyoto Protocol, a modest international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to six percent below 1990 levels, the Harper regime has proposed a vague program of voluntary, non-binding (and therefore toothless) “targets” in cooperation with “industry” and the provinces. This strategy, despite its promotion as a “Made In Canada” solution, is actually straight out of the policy book of George W. Bush. While the Conservatives love to point out that the US has had lower increases in emissions than Canada in recent years, they neglect to mention that much of our rise in emissions comes from increased extraction of oil and natural gas for export back to the US.

To understand the government’s lack of concern, look at who suffers the most immediately due to climate change. It’s not the people who finance the politicians’ election campaigns. It won’t be the CEOs of the oil and gas companies, nor the ad agencies that encourage endless consumption as a means to personal fulfillment.
They are not the ones living in substandard housing that gets decimated by extreme weather, or get E-coli poisoning from contaminated water, or die prematurely due to poor air quality. The people who set the government’s priorities exist in a highly sheltered and custom-made environment, able to afford the best air conditioners and water filters, organic food at triple the normal price, and flights to vacation beach resorts unspoiled by toxic waste dumping. They have made sure that the costs of their polluting has been dumped on working people. It is these narrow interests that Harper wants to “cooperate” with in setting our country’s response to climate change.

The good news is that climate crisis can be solved. Our society has the tools available to fix the problem. Wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power are hardly new technologies. Neither is the streetcar, bus, or subway. Combining already existing technologies with a commitment to sustainable urban planning, higher efficiency standards in industry, buildings, and consumer products can drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions well beyond the targets set by Kyoto. What is needed is an anti-imperialist environmental mass movement capable of forcing such changes.

The environment is a national security issue not Afghanistan! Implement
Kyoto as a first step!