During the last week of June 2021, the Pacific Northwest experienced a heat dome, or days of unusually hot and dry weather. A new Canadian record of 49.6 C was set at Lytton. Heating dome has killed at least 808 people in British Columbia
What caused the heating dome?
The World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative is a scientific collaboration between climatologists from universities in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, the United States, Switzerland and India. WWA assesses the role climate change plays in specific weather events. WWA’s assessment of the thermal dome concluded that it “was virtually impossible without man-made climate change.”
In short, we caused the heat of the dome by our consumption of fossil fuels which leads to climate change. Now that we know our behavior is the cause, we can change our behavior and fix the problem. Easy, except the inconvenient truth is that we refuse to change our behavior and keep denying it.
The Conservative Party of Canada is struggling with a response to the climate crisis. At their convention last March, they rejected the phrase “climate change is real” from their agenda even though Conservative leader Erin O’Toole told members they “cannot ignore the reality of change. climate ”. O’Toole said, “Canadians expect us to have a real plan for the environment. He does not want Conservative candidates to be labeled “climate change deniers”.
Strangely enough, denying climate change has worked for the Conservatives. They won the highest percentage of the popular vote in the last federal election without a plan to deal with the climate crisis beyond cutting jobs-damaging carbon taxes. That’s pretty much where they are now, albeit with a leader pulling to the left and the party hooking to the right.
The Federal Liberals, Canada’s second most popular political party in the 2019 election, stand out from the Conservatives because they shoot in all directions. They recognize climate change, but refuse to act beyond carbon taxes that are too modest to be effective: denial incognito.
The Liberals are floundering in contradiction. In 2015, Justin Trudeau did an about-face when he pledged $ 2.65 billion to the United Nations Green Climate Fund. In 2017, he flopped when he said: “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave it there.” He did an about-face and kept a promise that was magically impossible to have it both ways by investing the revenues from the oil sands in a green economy.
What is guaranteed is the continued inaction of conservatives and liberals in the face of the climate crisis.
What is needed is for Canada to act decisively to limit the risks of a climate crisis or face more thermal domes and more deaths. Canada needs smart, courageous leadership and a bold plan to protect the land that protects us.
First, Canada must reduce its carbon emissions to zero, ideally by 2030 and no later than 2050. Second, Canada must remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Third, Canada must move to a green economy and manage the transition to limit social and economic disruption just as it has managed the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is reason to hope. Energy savings and renewables cost much less than energy from fossil fuels. Decarbonizing the atmosphere can be as simple as planting trees and adapting restorative agriculture. Funding for the transition to a green economy can be based on future savings resulting from lower operating costs of energy savings and renewables compared to fossil fuels. The initial capital investment will be recovered through lower operating expenses. If we spend wisely today, we save tomorrow.
Not only can we expect lower energy costs in a green economy, but we can also expect savings in healthcare, as the burning of fossil fuels is the main source of air pollution – a major source of air pollution. of the main causes of illness and death, including deaths from thermal domes of 808 BC.
It’s time to end denial and rally around the change we need to protect our health and our only planet.
Robert M. Macrae is an environmental technology instructor from Castlegar, British Columbia.