Nope, the name of this post is not a misspelling. I mean warning! I wonder…when does a ignoring a dire warning become denial? When does someone hearing, “You are drinking too much” become an alcoholic? As someone who has had my fair share of after work drinking and after dinner toasts, I can tell you that you never know you are in denial when you are in denial. If enough people suggest there may be a problem, then the only way to know if there is a problem is to assume they are right. If they are, then there is still time to recover. If they aren’t, then a little abstinence never hurt anyone.
At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a stance along the lines of “We will if they will” that is tantamount to an immature parent saying “I won’t lose my temper if you’ll stop crying.” This kind of chicken-and-egg reasoning has justified just about every form of rationalized non-sense there is. David Suzuki’s guest column in the Toronto Star scolds the Luddites once again to wake up to the fact that we’re running out of time and have taken three steps backward from where Canada was back in the early 1990s.
I don’t have anything to add to the discourse. Anyone interested who hasn’t bothered to get the facts by now is probably hopeless (and will be among the first in the lifeboats when the ship starts sinking). For those of us who have looked at the facts, we can agree that time is running out. This strikes me as an apt metaphor for anyone’s life. At some moment, you realize that if you are going to do something that can make a difference then you’d best begin it soon. To have endless dinner conversations about “Ain’t it awful what is happening to the planet” (or the water supply or the rainforests, etc.) is to become a spectator at the burning of Rome.
This is not to say that those concerned with the economic impact of environmental policies aren’t sincere in their commitments to jobs and continuing economic health. But their assumptions are mostly based on ‘people won’t pay’ higher prices for products and services that cost more to make because they are made using environmentally responsible and sustainable practices. But isn’t that kind of decision exactly what leadership is about—doing the right thing even when it isn’t popular and people don’t easily go along with it?
Canada has always been a progressive nation and looked up to by other countries. I suggest that, now more than ever, we need to ‘walk the talk’—even if it is inconvenient or costly to certain special interests. In waiting, we lose the opportunity to choose and that is the real point. Just as anyone who is aware of their age and diminishing time remaining realizes how precious their lives and the time they have really are, so must all of us who are awake take action now.