Councillor Harley Greenfield told council on Monday that while he acknowledges that our planet's climate is changing, he objects to the suggestion that there is any sort of crisis or emergency. And further, he suggested that we Canadians share none of the blame, and therefore we aren't responsible for cleaning up the mess.
“I'm going to put on my old white male hat, and likely take some criticism for doing so,” Greenfield told council. “First of all I want to say there's no doubt about it, our climate is changing. Fifty-year storms we used to have every 50 years now come every one year or more often. Last July we had, according to my records, seven days where the temperature was over 35 degrees Celsius. Now whether you read it in Celsius or Fahrenheit, those were hot days. So the extremes are there, and they are more often. May and June were cooler and wetter than usual. I can't support this because I see the terms 'climate crisis' and 'climate emergency'. I fully accept climate change, but I cannot accept that we are in a situation that is a climate crisis or a climate emergency. Canada, although the second largest land mass in the world, is responsible for less than two percent of carbon emissions. China, India, Russia, even the United States, our neighbour to the south, they are the ones that are causing the problems,” Greenfield said.
Funny, I thought that dinosaurs would have a greater sensitivity to the realities of climate change.
Not only are Councillor Greenfield's comments archaic, they are also misinformed. Had Councillor Greenfield done any research he would have known that in fact countries like India and China have been leading the way on the climate change issue; they have been working exhaustively on green initiatives, and the results have been quite positive.
According to NASA's Green Observatory website, China and India have been leading the way on greening the planet.
“The world is literally a greener place than it was twenty years ago, and data from NASA satellites has revealed a counterintuitive source for much of this new foliage. A new study shows that China and India—the world’s most populous countries—are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries,” they reported earlier this year. “Ranga Myneni of Boston University and colleagues first detected the greening phenomenon in satellite data from the mid-1990s, but they did not know whether human activity was a chief cause. They then set out to track the total amount of Earth’s land area covered by vegetation and how it changed over time. The research team found that global green leaf area has increased by 5 percent since the early 2000s, an area equivalent to all of the Amazon rainforests. At least 25 percent of that gain came in China. Overall, one-third of Earth’s vegetated lands are greening, while 5 percent are growing browner. The study was published on February 11, 2019, in the journal Nature Sustainability.”
Again, had Councillor Greenfield done some research instead of clinging to misguided conservative tropes, he would be aware of the monumental gains that are being made by some of the very countries that he identified as being the cause of the global climate issues.
“China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9 percent of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation,” said lead author Chi Chen of Boston University. “That is a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from overexploitation.”
So to Councillor Greenfield's point, China and India have indeed recognized the crisis, and they have been working on a number of initiatives to tackle the issue, but according to Councillor Greenfield, Canada is clean, and we aren't responsible for the environmental crisis, so we need do nothing that we haven't already been doing.
The last I checked, air and water don't recognize international boundaries, nor does our climate, and no matter where we are on this planet, we need to recognize that there is a crisis on our doorstep, and we all, no matter what nation we call home, need to acknowledge the crisis, and we need to do whatever is within our power and abilities to combat it.
We no longer have room or time for denial, and we certainly no longer have room for dinosaurs as decision makers.