By Stephen Hawboldt
Fruit flies were once described by David Suzuki as the most studied creature on earth. It seems that the various branches of science that study evolution, population dynamics, and other fields love fruit flies, the little flies that gather on ripening fruit in our kitchens.
One of the things that they have learned is that fruit flies do not understand or respect the principles of sustainability. When they find a new food source, everything goes into high gear. Very soon their teaming hoards consume everything and the population collapses with the total consumption of their tiny ecosystem.
On November 29, the United Nations Climate Change Conference opened in Durban, South Africa. This is a gathering of the top scientists, politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders, lobbyists, and citizens involved in climate change issues. The goal is to find a replacement for the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol that was negotiated a decade or more ago.
The scientific community is feeling very pessimistic about anything substantive coming out of this conference. This is in spite of overwhelming evidence that climate change is exacting a very high economic, social and ecological price on all inhabitants on earth. One scientific commentator was so frustrated that he likened the intelligence of our leaders to that of a fruit fly that literally eats itself out of house and home.
Canada’s track record on climate change is worse than appalling. While the previous Liberal governments ratified the Kyoto Protocol, they did absolutely nothing about achieving its targets. Using Rick Mercer, they introduced the One Ton Challenge Program that was superficial, blaming consumers without tackling the big emitters like transportation, oil and gas, and other industrial sources.
Our current Conservative government is completely hostile to any environmental concerns, especially climate change. The bunch are solely motivated by blind ideological support of the oil industry. They seem to be very proud of their complete disdain for scientific and informed thought. They have continued, and maybe even increased, subsidies to the oil industry. Virtually all federally supported climate change research and programming has been eliminated.
Not only have they actively discouraged the participation of individual Canadians, they have also worked very hard to undermine any international efforts to address what has been described by the scientific community as the greatest threat ever faced by humans. Our current government is running the wrong way on a oneway street with its anti-intellectual support of the oil industry evidently oblivious to the huge Mack truck known as climate change coming the other way.
Withdrawal from Kyoto?
There is now speculation in the international media that the Canadian government will announce on December 23 our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. The announcement may be cynically timed to happen on Christmas Eve when most Canadians are focused on the holiday season. It is speculated that Canada is subject to punitive measures under Kyoto because we have done nothing to address our international obligations under this treaty.
Our provincial governments have done little more than the feds on addressing these issues. Nova Scotia has the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act that is not being as rigorously pursued as its architects had hoped. The provincial Conservatives are even seeking the elimination of most energy conservation programs.
The one small ray of hope is from our municipal governments. This is not surprising since they are the order of government closest to ordinary Canadians.
Unless a bolt of enlightenment strikes our leaders, Durban will be a complete failure. Unfortunately, the failure of our leaders will exact a very high price from every human. Like fruit flies, we will destroy our world as we know it. Hard to imagine that we are only as smart as fruit flies.
Stephen Hawboldt writes a weekly column for The Annapolis County Spectator. Comments are always welcome and can be addressed to Stephen.Hawboldt@eastlink.ca