By Daniel Mark
Natural disasters used to be remarkable news. Hurricanes that take out entire power grids for months on end. Floods that close transit systems and trap people in elevators. Heat waves in eastern Canada that literally kill people. Now, because of climate change, they’re anything but.
On Oct. 8, 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that was, more or less, a prediction of the end of modern society. By the year 2040, we have to reduce our carbon emissions to around 50 per cent of what they were in 2010 – that is, if we want any chance of saving ourselves. We no longer have the luxury of time to discuss the reality of our situation and so I’m going to give you a reason to do something now.
First off, people will die. But those people are, for the most part, so far away that it can be hard to care. I’m sure there’s some psychological name for this concept of not giving a shit, but I’ll leave that for you to Google later.
Let’s explore closer to home. I was at a vineyard a couple weeks ago, and the owners were talking about how unprepared they are for the rapidly changing climate. It’s not just wine. Food itself is going to become more scarce and expensive, and I can pretty much guarantee at some point in the future you will be buying food grown in a lab or made from crushed up insects (this is not a hyperbole, these are actually the two most likely options). Still don’t care?
Parents often say they would take a bullet for their kids. But right now, we are all pointing a gun at our future kids’ heads. Picture your future sons and daughters, because they’re the ones we will have to apologize to one day. By ‘focusing on the economy’ and supporting fossil fuel companies, we are not leaving behind a stable financial future – we’re leaving our children a society fighting for basic needs: water, clean air, and space to live.
When mass migration begins to the safer regions of the world, this is what will happen. In that kind of a society, the economy will be the least of humanity’s worries. I wish I could tell you I was exaggerating.
That got pretty dark. At this point, I would bet you are expecting me to give you some reason for hope. Well, I’m not. Don’t run screaming, I’m not saying there is no hope, but I can’t tell you that you can stop worrying.
Actually, on second thought, do that. Get up, get dressed, and start screaming. Scream your heart out. Get on your laptop and urge local politicians to support carbon-free initiatives like the Light Rail Transit coming to Hamilton, urge provincial politicians to develop an actual climate plan, and urge our federal government to force major, rapid change.
This change isn’t bad, and it isn’t even that hard. Large-scale shifts in our society to renewable energy will actually stabilize the energy sector of our economy. It might cost a lot initially, but in the long run, we will have a clean planet and a thriving economy at the same time. That sounds like a good compromise for the business minds of DeGroote School of Business and the science minds of Burke Science Building.
Changes can be small-scale, too, and those are just as important. Buy less plastic, recycle, take the bus instead of driving if you’re a commuter! These things sound cliché, but they actually make a huge difference— not to mention, if you bring a travel mug to most coffee chains like Tim Hortons, you get a 10 cent discount.
It’s possible, guys. We are literally on the brink of the end of the fucking world as we know it. Someday, our children will look back and judge us on this year, this pivotal moment in time. It is up to you whether they see it as the time we saved the world, or the time we sat on our privileged asses with our venti double-mocha frappe and watched it burn.