THUNDER BAY – Yesterday was the International Day of Action on Climate Change. In Ottawa, cold weather kept the crowd from hitting the 5,000 people that organizers hoped. About 500 people showed up. In Calgary, a snowstorm dumped wet heavy snow on the city. On Google, unlike past climate change events, there was not a special logo created. On the front pages of major newspapers across Canada the major stories were not about the looming climate crisis.
In Winnipeg, about 200 people made it to a rally at the Manitoba Legislature. In Vancouver, a city steeped in protest, the crowd was estimated at 5000. Across Canada interest in the day of action appeared less than ever.
Could it be that the fire is smoldering out on the issue of climate change? Maybe in an era where ever shorter attention spans want to shift to other topics the climate issue has had its “ten minutes of fame”?
On the popular news site www.bourque.com the climate issue is not mentioned. This morning, on Google News, there isn’t a mention of the day of protest on the top stories either. The front page of the Toronto Star is void of climate change stories too.
Over on www.wattsupwiththat.com a website that over the past several years has dug into the issue, the comment is that global warming and climate change are “urban legends”. Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. writes, “I contend that the belief in human-caused global warming as a dangerous event, either now or in the future, has most of the characteristics of an urban legend. Like other urban legends, it is based upon an element of truth. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas whose concentration in the atmosphere is increasing, and since greenhouse gases warm the lower atmosphere, more CO2 can be expected, at least theoretically, to result in some level of warming”.
It is, perhaps causing some in the movement to ramp up their rhetoric to try to gain more attention. Elizabeth May and the Green Party recently took the approach that the only way to get the message out is to state, “Your Parents F*cked Up The Planet”. May’s justification is that “Our culture is steeped in the F-word”.
In some cases, media saturation might be one issue. In others it might be people are looking outside and seeing the weather and deciding that the alarm over global warming is not worth all of the attention it has garnered. Over the past ten years, each time it has warmed up, news readers have explained to people that it is “global warming” or “climate change”.
Part of it could be explained by a young teen yesterday who stated, “recycling is boring”.
That is a telling, and in many ways a scary comment. In a world where teens expect excitement, and where a music video longer than three minutes is seen as “too long” it could well be that many teens are tuning out, just like teens did in the 1960s when they tuned out of the values pressed upon them by society. If you are one who is convinced that teens are convinced that saving the planet is a top priority, all you have to do is take a walk around a local high school and witness the litter. Then ask yourself, “does that look like a generation dedicated to the environment?”
The Pew Media Research Centre’s latest poll reports, “There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem – 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.
“The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that 57% think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures”.
There is a Harris Decima poll in Canada that suggests that 56% of Canadians want our government to take a more ambitious stance on climate change.
So what is the issue?
There is a massive difference between systemic climate change, and today’s weather.
However, in many cases, around the world scientists and others who have not bought into the theory of global warming are presenting a far calmer, and in some cases, perhaps a more convincing case for looking past the media hype, and activist hysteria? For people looking at weather for the past six months, in Thunder Bay, an argument that we need some warming could be made.
In one of the more telling moves, U.S. President Obama isn’t expected to make it to Copenhagen to speak at the next climate conference. Obama is expected to use his Nobel Prize speech as a platform to discuss climate issues.
Often the issue appears to be that in some circles, the option for debate on the subject is seen only as wasting time. That is taking science and applying a “Jerry Springer” mentality to the process. The task of science is testing theories and continual questioning of those theories. It is seeking answers.
For the public, perhaps the real issues that matter to them are what are now more important. Jobs, safer communities, right now trump climate change in many cases.
The real issue for the environmental groups is to pressure the politicians into taking a stand in Copenhagen in December. Likely, just like in past conferences on the climate issue, politicians and bureaucrats will all agree to standards that will look good in the media, but once home, will do little to actually enforce the agreement.
As fast as Canada signed on and ratified Kyoto, the reality is that the then Liberal majority government of Prime Minister Chretien didn’t do anything substantive on the issue. It is likely that the minority government of Stephen Harper isn’t likely to do any differently.
The issue of climate change deserves better than the hype it is getting. The issue of conserving our resources is a key to our future. However in the rush to action, the most important component, the people could be ending up left behind.