On Monday February 19, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a 1,000-page report on Global Warming. The report is born from studies conducted by approximately 3,000 international experts who have been studying global warming since 1990.
This is the second in a set of four reports intended to thoroughly profile the phenomenon of global warming.
In January, the IPCC’s first report noted that the atmosphere of Earth was warming far more quickly than anticipated. The cause? Our use of carbon-based fossil fuels plus the elimination of wetlands and forests, combined with pollution from industry.
In March, the IPCC meets in Accra, Ghana where the third phase of this report will be presented. It will present options to mitigate the effects of global warming… what the IPCC perceives as an irreversible trend.
Finally, in September, the fourth report will summarize the findings. Hopefully, it will be used to encourage political action and stimulate research and development of practical solutions to fossil burning fuels as our primary energy source.
Although consumers and ordinary folks like you and me are more than willing to believe that global warming exists, there are still many scientists and political leaders who don’t believe the phenomenon exists.
And arguably the “most powerful man on Earth,” American President George W. Bush is one such person.
Particularly as American plunges into recession - an economic downturn that directly impacts Canada - the President is making domestic energy production a priority. And you can bet that it’s going to be the “same old, same old” dependency upon fossil fuel production that will be undertaken. Will President Bush invest in environmentally friendly technologies? We’ll see about that… and somehow I doubt it.
After all, the president has opposed the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement requiring developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below their 1990 levels by 2012.
Why? Politicians are afraid of supporting the Kyoto Protocol both here and abroad because domestic manufacturers who drive the engine of our “safe” economic engine would suffer. Because entrenched domestic energy suppliers have a great deal of self-interest in promoting the status quo.
And because money and power drive politics, through lobby groups and other methods, you can bet that there will be a huge amount of money spent to discredit reports like the one published on Monday in Geneva.
But let’s be honest: there are also many careers, new industries and environmentalists whose professions, financing and raisons d’être are hooked to the promotion of dire warnings about global warming.
Who would you rather believe? This is the nub of the question. I know where my loyalties lie, and that’s firmly in the camp of the environmentalists.
Despite potential “self-interest” from this group, I know that burgeoning populations of homo sapiens throughout the world have created unprecedented levels of pollution on planet Earth, our home. I see habitat loss and species at risk wherever I travel, whether it be the wetlands of Hong Kong, or the woodlands of the Pontiac.
So how are we to balance the dire warnings of such bodies as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with the political nonchalance of our Canadian, U.S. and developed-world leaders?
This is for you to decide.
Meanwhile, while we all decide what to do… the IPCC report warns us that:
“Projected climate changes during the 21st century have the potential to lead to future large-scale and possibly irreversible changes in Earth systems, resulting in impacts on continental and global scales.”
And who will suffer the most? The poor.
All indications hint that increased global conflicts will ensue in the next 100 years because the undeveloped countries such as Africa will be most adversely affected by global warming. This situation, if left unchecked, will emphasize the already-existing North-South divide.
But how will we be affected here in Canada? In the Pontiac?
The lead to Kate Jaimet’s article in The Ottawa Citizen on Monday Feb 19 read, “If California is crying for power now, it will be screaming for water when global warming sets in. And if Canada doesn’t enact strong export restrictions, our fresh water could be sold to the highest bidder.”
In a second article, Jaimet writes, “But the hotter Earth [due to global warming] will also mean a longer growing season for Canadian farmers - a potential silver lining to the gathering clouds of climate change.”
Perhaps this is misleading, however. Climate change doesn’t sound anything like predictable, in my opinion. Let’s not get excited about reducing the length of our winters or about longer growing seasons because these seem likely to be accompanied (in our case here in Pontiac) with increased likelihood of ice storms, fluctuating power supplies as industry attempts to keep pace with altering needs of society throughout the world.
Pontiac news flashes… Municipality of Pontiac Mayor Bruce Campbell just faxed me/phoned me with news from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs re solar aquatics for Quyon… more on this next week. AND, horse enthusiasts unite! There’s a meeting of the Gatineau Trail Rider’s Association on March 2 in Luskville - come and learn about trail development in 2000, and hopes for furthering existing trails this year.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer based in Quyon. Contact her at 458-2090 or email@example.com