One planet. Ten years. No one left behind.

Unless you are living under a rock, you must know that the UN has warned us that we have ten years to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions or face the collapse of human civilization, not to mention the extinction of a MILLION other species. Canada has missed every one of our climate targets and we are well on the way to missing the next.

Climate Change is one of the key focuses of the SCRD’s current Strategic Plan. I have joined the Climate Caucus, a group of elected officials from across Canada. Our mission:

One planet. Ten years. No one left behind.

Climate Caucus has put together a toolkit with recommendations for actions that can be taken at a local level. One suggestion is to form a 1:10:Zero advisory committee. If you are interested, please contact me.

In the face of this crisis, the only wrong thing we can do is to do nothing.

 

The Future We Choose

Following are some excerpts from this book (which is available through the Gibsons Public Library).

THE FUTURE WE CHOOSE: Surviving the Climate Crisis
by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

We are already too far down the road of destruction to be able to “solve” climate change. The atmosphere is by now too loaded with greenhouses gases and the biosphere too altered for us to be able to turn the clock back on global warming and its effects. We, and all our descendants, will live in a world with environmental conditions that are permanently altered. We cannot bring back the extinct species, the melted glaciers, the dead coral reefs, or the destroyed primary forests. The best we can do is keep the changes within a manageable range, staving off total calamity, preventing the disaster that will result from the unchecked rise of emissions.

The effects of climate change do not proceed along a straight line. A bit more doesn’t equate to a bit worse. Several parts of our planet are critically sensitive, such as the Arctic summer sea ice, the ice cover of Greenland, the boreal forests of Canada and Russia, and the tropical forest cover of the Amazon. They have been maintaining a stable temperature on Earth for millennia. If those ecosystems were to go up in flames or be otherwise compromised, global temperature would rise precipitously, leading to irreparable worldwide damage. Think of this as an uncontrollable domino effect of devastation.

Think of the world’s atmosphere as a bathtub in which, for fifty years, not water but greenhouse gases have been rising. They are now approaching the rim, the limit that the bathtub can hold, or the scientifically established maximum amount of greenhouse gases that the atmosphere can contain—it’s carbon budget. If we exceed the carbon budget, the bathtub will start to overflow uncontrollably. We are on the verge of atmospheric tipping points that are frighteningly unpredictable and irreversible. Every bit of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted—no matter where in the world—contributes to the possibility of disaster.

By 2050 at the latest, and ideally by 2040, we must have stopped emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than Earth can naturally absorb through its ecosystems (a balance known as net zero emissions or carbon neutrality). In order to get to this scientifically established goal, our global greenhouse gas emissions must be clearly on the decline by the early 2020s and reduced by at least 50 percent by 2030.

When it comes to climate change, the vast majority of us have a learned reaction of helplessness. We see the direction the world is headed, and we throw up our hands. Yes, we think, it’s terrible, but it’s so complex and so big and so overwhelming. We can’t do anything to stop it.

This learned reaction is not only untrue, it’s become fundamentally irresponsible. If you want to help address climate change, you have to teach yourself a different response.

Remember that every fraction of a degree of extra warming makes a big difference and therefore any reduction in emissions lessens the burden on the future.