Viewpoint: Work together for survival

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By JAN SLAKOV

Does this summer feel like a gift to you, with the gentle July rain, warm but not sweltering temperatures, our forests filled with birdsong, plump berries, happy gardens?

For me, this is a reminder of what we stand to lose if we fail to treat the climate crisis like the security threat it has become. For economist and Fraser Institute “senior fellow” Ross McKitrick, Vancouver’s weather trends indicate there’s “no sign of a heat wave emergency.” Journalism professor Sean Holman responded on Twitter: “As journalists, our primary responsibility is to tell the truth. That’s why I’m disappointed the Vancouver Sun chose to publish an op-ed stating there is only a ‘vague inkling’ we ‘might’ be in a #climateemergency a ‘decade from now.’”

Public relations expert Jim Hoggan, who is also chair of the Suzuki Foundation and a Dalai Lama Centre for Peace & Education trustee, works to clear the air. “I was naive in the early days. I thought propaganda was misinformation. I didn’t understand that a century of social science and public relations had provided the bad apples among us with more devious tools than misinformation . . . It became clear [oil industry PR campaigns] weren’t just about deceptive persuasion. They were really an attempt to shut down public spaces . . . If you can turn a scientific issue into a tribal issue . . . open-minded thinking just shuts down on its own, motivated reasoning and confirmation bias take over.”

With its diversity of viewpoints, but small, supportive community, Salt Spring may be a place where people can show that working together for survival is possible.

The facts are pretty stark: the UN recently released a report warning that a million species are threatened with extinction, the atmosphere now has over 410 ppm of C02. Climate scientist Peter Gleick wrote, “the last time humans experienced levels this high was … never.” Since global GHG emissions must go down by 45 per cent by 2030 (and yet they are still climbing) the next months are crucial. We need to make decisions now that will lead to drastic reductions in GHG emissions while making concerted efforts to support the Earth’s ability to sequester carbon in forests, wetlands, healthy oceans, etc.

It’s mind-blowing that humanity knows what must be done, has real solutions in hand and more on the way. Our major challenge seems to be creating the political will to pursue solutions, many of which would provide “collateral benefits” like clean water or improved democracy and social justice.

If you would like to be part of finding a healthy way forward, you’re invited to a meeting on Aug. 8 at 3 p.m. outside the library.

Then on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 11 a.m., All Saints church is hosting David Denning’s presentation on The Climate/Ecological Emergency & What We Can Do About It. David will be joined by MP Elizabeth May; they are eager to respond to concerns you may have and to find a way forward together.

On Sept. 20 the international students’ climate strike movement is asking everyone to join in. Would your community group or workplace be interested in learning more? If so, please get in touch at janslakov@shaw.ca or 250-537-5251.

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