DAVID SUZUKI: We can all vote for a better, cleaner Canada

No matter who is voted into power this October, they can make meaningful changes

No matter what anyone says during this long federal election campaign, climate change is the biggest threat to Canadians’ health, security and economy.

The scientific evidence is incontrovertible, the research wide-ranging and overwhelming.

Wastefully burning fossil fuels at such a rapid rate is jeopardizing the planet’s life-support systems – harming human health, destroying landscapes and habitat, causing widespread extreme weather events and contributing less to the economy and job-creation than clean energy development. Not only that, our rate of using and exporting these fuels means reserves will be depleted before long. In the meantime, as easily accessible sources run out, fossil fuels have become more difficult, dangerous, expensive and environmentally damaging to exploit.

Canada has a long history of extracting and exporting raw resources to fuel its economy. But that’s no longer a sensible long-term plan, especially with non-renewable resources. It’s incomprehensible that a country with such a diverse, educated, innovative and caring population can’t get beyond this outdated way of doing things. The recent oil price plunge illustrates the folly of putting all our eggs in one fossil fuel basket.

As world leaders prepare for the December UN climate summit in Paris, we need our government to play a responsible, constructive role. Canada has been chastised at previous summits for obstructing progress and working to water down agreements.

The summit’s goal is for all the world’s countries to reach a legally binding pact on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2 C, the threshold beyond which experts and world leaders agree could bring catastrophic consequences.

The consequences are already severe and will get worse if we don’t act. Increasing extreme weather, including heat waves, floods, droughts and storms put lives, agriculture and economies at risk. Subsequent conflicts over resources reduce global security and exacerbate refugee problems. Pollution from burning fossil fuels increases heart disease and respiratory illnesses, including asthma. Deep-sea drilling, oil sands mining and mountaintop removal destroy the ecosystems, habitat, wildlife and natural capital on which our health and survival depend.

Everyone seeking election must get serious about the climate, so no matter which party or parties form government after Oct. 19, Canada will be part of the solution.

Continuing with business as usual will only ensure more extreme weather leading to floods and droughts; negative health impacts, including increases in premature deaths; harm to food production and security; more pipeline, rail and marine accidents; and missed opportunities to diversify the economy.

Although climate change, resource development and infrastructure have been raised in this election, the talking points don’t always match the severity of the problem. It’s up to all of us as voters to question candidates and inform ourselves about the various party platforms before casting ballots – and to make sure all the parties and their candidates listen and make climate change a priority.

Canada is a great country, an example to the world of how people with diverse views, backgrounds and cultures can live well together and take care of each other. We are blessed with spectacular nature, abundant clean water, fertile agricultural land, rich resources, an educated populace, vibrant democratic traditions and strong social programs. But we can’t take any of it for granted. We must protect what we have and strive to be better, to move beyond our outdated ways of thinking and acting.

There are numerous election issues that can’t be ignored, including health, child care, jobs and the economy, infrastructure, education, international trade and relations and our global responsibility to confront terrorism. Addressing climate change by shifting from the short-term prospects of the polluting fossil fuel economy to a more stable, healthy, green economy would go a long way to reducing health-care costs, creating jobs, diversifying the economy and improving our international reputation.

We have an important choice, as voters and as a country. We can heed the scientists, health-care specialists, religious leaders, politicians, international organizations, business people and citizens around the world who say we no longer have time to lose when it comes to protecting the climate and ourselves. Or we can carry on as if nothing is wrong, and live with the mounting consequences.

Exercising your democratic right as a voter is a critical step.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Two people sent to hospital in View Royal crash

Crash on Island Highway near Six Mile Road snarled the evening commute

Physician assistants say they can help B.C. health care woes

Reducing wait times, improving doctor efficiency is the goal

VIDEO: Victoria writer and filmmaker turns her mental illness into mental strength

Mental illness robs Victoria woman of happiness from age 10

Sewage leak closes sterilizing room at Victoria General Hospital

Royal Jubilee equipment sharing means no VGH surgeries cancelled

Thieves target Sooke school’s emergency supplies

Journey middle school victims for a second time

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Most Read