Wake Up to Global Warming


You’ve been reading about global warming and how some B.C. companies are responding to the threat of climate change. Are we experiencing the hype of the century around global warming, or are we entering something akin to the Industrial Revolution? Some scientists and writers are saying that in order to stem global warming, we may face the biggest change to our way of life since the advent of the internal combustion engine.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the surge in reporting on global warming, and I mentioned that I’d watched former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I was quickly bombarded with articles refuting Gore’s information, and someone sent me a counter-documentary entitled The Great Global Warming Swindle.

It’s hard for lay people to know what to think. Few argue the fact of global warming, but some say the science doesn’t support the notion that you and I are contributing to it in a significant way. I wrote that many politicians, including B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have accepted the science of global warming and are moving to change the way we live.

Twenty years ago there was a huge push for environmentalism and even some talk of global cooling, but the urgency seemed to dissipate. That was then; now is now. Polls indicate that a majority of the public is becoming convinced that the scientists who believe in man-made global warming are right and that the contrarians are wrong.

I recently took part in a three-way collaboration with
CKNW, CTV and the Globe and Mail entitled Climate for Change. We focused on the changes many people are making to reduce their personal impact on the environment. There are increasing numbers of ways to change.
People are starting to opt for hybrid cars that combine battery power with a small combustion engine and are best suited for city driving. General Motors Corp., which has taken a lot of criticism for getting out of the electric-car business a decade ago, plans to eventually produce 12 hybrid models. We have fuel-efficient Smart cars now.

The Farm Folk-City Folk Society is an organization that helps people and organizations go green with food and food production. It promotes growing your own vegetables and buying locally as much as possible. Another organization called the Green Table Network works with local organizations and restaurants that want to be green by labeling places with a Green Table endorsement. The Vancouver Aquarium has its Ocean Wise label for restaurants that only put seafood products on their menus that are harvested responsibly and are not at risk of extinction.

Most of us can do a lot without giving up much in the way of lifestyle. Many argue that the changes they make to their diets and homes actually improve their lives. Light bulbs that use less electricity cost less. We can buy dishwashers that use much less water, as well as clothes washers and dryers that use much less electricity. We can buy fridges that are much more efficient. Most of us didn’t consider solar power and wind power 20 years ago, but they are ¬either in use today or on the ¬ horizon. Entire communities are being built now using geothermal technology, which uses energy from the earth to heat and cool homes and ¬buildings.

Those things are all good, and they are effective, but will they be enough? Some scientists and researchers I’ve spoken to say yes. Let’s hope they’re right, because if they aren’t and the people who preach the worst of global warming are right, then we may be approaching a turning point in our history as significant as the Industrial Revolution.

We can make fuel-efficient cars, but no one has figured out how to make jets fly on ethanol. Can you imagine what an end to air travel would look like? Well, think back to World War II, which marked the start of the era of commercial air travel. I’m not saying we have to go back to pre-war living standards, but we had better start making the relatively easy changes that are available to us now – before it’s too late. If not for ourselves, then for the sake of the next generation.