Opinion: Julia’s beef.

Pushed over the climate-change edge.

Julia Hawthornthwaite

November 28: Op/Ed – Rant

I’ve got a head like a ping-pong ball, I’ve got a head like a ping pong ball. Anyone know that song? Does anyone else feel like a ping-pong ball in the middle of an intense match when reading the headlines surrounding the Copenhagen climate talks? I sure do.

One day it’s – “Climate Talks Doomed”, the next day, Barack Obama is pledging to make cuts, shaking hands with the world’s largest emitter of C02, President Hu Jintau of China, promising to work together to cut emissions. Ban Ki-Moon and the Maldives President going to great lengths to encourage leaders to attend the talks in almost a weeks time – “It will fail.” – “but there’s still hope! Obama is coming!” ..”no wait….it might fail regardless”. “It’s likely it will be a political agreement, but not a legally binding one”. So, does that mean that Canada will sign but never ratify?  Let me get this straight…it’s like Kyoto all over again?

Wow. I’m exhausted. I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit my personal tipping point in terms of climate related information. I almost want to shut off total communication with the rest of the world and wait until December 7th when the talks actually begin, and then come out of hiding to see what actually comes of this.

I have always been a great fan of journalism. Being involved in it myself, (even at a very small scale), I really appreciate what journalists can offer to society. What would we know without them, for example? How would we disseminate the vast amounts of information that exist in our world today without a 400 word news story where in the first paragraph the entire message is summarized? The answer is, at least in my mind: we wouldn’t.

That being said, the issue of climate change and the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks as portrayed in the mainstream media has really thrown me for a loop. In an act of being “non-biased”, the media has given rise to the climate denier movement. I am floored as to how much press they have received as of late. And this hacking of thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit in the UK? Please.

Here’s how I see it: I trust scientists and I trust their science. I have never been to the Arctic and witnessed the sea ice melting. I have never been to Nepal, or Bangladesh or Indonesia. I have never been witness to a natural disaster outside my window or overly intense weather where I live in Waterloo, Ontario, (minus a few floods in my basement). I have not seen rising sea levels take over the coastal village near where I live, or seen my once fertile patch of land dry up because of an extreme drought. Even though I have never seen any of these things, and have no real basis for which to support climate change at age 20, I trust in the science. Period. The amount of energy that goes into denying climate change could be used for so many more productive things. What will really come out of denying climate change? This group of people will only hold back progress of moving our world into a new way of thinking about how we live which is much, MUCH needed. I don’t criticize the way we have developed, with our dependency on fossil fuels; we had to do it this way. The Industrial revolution was an exciting time, and frankly we didn’t know any better. If it’s from the ground, why not use it?

Now that generations have passed and we have extracted, and extracted, and extracted, and then emitted, emitted and emitted some more – the earth is telling us something. Ecosystems are being overused, and it shows. Climate change or no climate change, we can’t keep going on like this.

And here’s the really sad part: the portrayal of these claims in the media that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, a conspiracy, is only causing more public confusion. And unnecessary confusion at that. Debating whether climate change is a natural cycle or human induced is a moot point in my mind. The only thing that really matters is being smart about how we move forward from here; knowing that the choices we make today will affect generations that come after us.

It’s clear: We need to make a change. A change in the way we think about building our economies from here on out. How about naturally? With clean technologies and from sources that may not run out some day? Wind, and solar?

I don’t know about you but the world I want to live in is one where we think about where our goods and services come from. One where our livelihoods are supported by a green economy, not one dependent on oil.

I have hope that this change is possible, and I hope that you will join me in this world. Quit denying climate change so the rest of us can move forward into this new age of thinking, because according to the latest headline on the Road to Copenhagen, the chances of this happening any time soon are looking more and more grim every day.

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