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OPINION: Un-conscientiousness objectors

Remembering those who failed to act on climate change

With the imposition of a carbon tax this week, we've seen a mixed reaction from the public. Some feel if it helps curb fossil fuel usage in turn reducing carbon emissions, it's acceptable. Others feel the public is being penalized. Both reactions are legitimate.

This morning we're hearing about a new document entitled, Canada's Changing Climate, that states “Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming.” And it's reporting that the change is irreversible.

And yet, we still have those who either deny or dismiss climate change.

But there has been a history of denial among governments, especially conservative governments in Canada and the US.

We have been warned for many decades about climate change. In fact in 1965, Frank Ikard, president of - of all things - the American Petroleum Institute, warned of continued use of fossil fuels and said in a speech, "There is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.” 

But we need only go back as far as 1997 to the Kyoto accord, a serious worldwide effort by 150 countries to cut carbon emissions to see how political forces have battled science at every turn.

Canada signed the accord, with a pledge to reduce emissions 6 per cent by 2012. But the Harper government was then elected and cut Canada's commitment in half. But that was only the tip of the melting iceberg. His government then actively stymied any progress in the fight against climate change. 

In 2009 McLeans reported, "Canada has become as welcome at climate conferences as a skunk at a garden party."

Similarly, George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Kyoto agreement in 2001.

As David Suzuki noted in November, "The industry-funded denial machine, which continues today, has been effective."

Clearly, Doug Ford is a card-carrying member of that machine.

The Ford government scrapped the cap and trade program, which resulted in the imposition of the carbon tax by the federal government. It's unbelievable that politicians, like Ford, still have their head in the sand, (or somewhere more dank). In the US, the Trump administration is equally uninterested in creating positive change for the environment. 

Cap and trade may not be the best answer, but at least something was being done - finally.

We should not forget what Harper and Bush did during all the years they were in office, serving corporations and stalling any progress to combat climate change.

In 1984 the CBC aired a documentary on global warming hosted by Peter Kent. It was the first of its kind to tackle the issue. It reported, "Carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere have been steadily rising, and by the year 2050, the average global temperature may rise by five degrees Celsius due to the greenhouse effect."

Unbelievably, Kent later became Environment Minister under Harper and was complicit in efforts to stall or block any effort to reduce emissions.

Kent joined every other Harper Environment Minister - Rona Ambrose, John Baird, Jim Prentice and Leona Aglukkaq - who bowed to his will and completely disregarded the scientific community. 

We should not forget their names as we, our children and grandchildren suffer their results of their lack of integrity and fortitude.