What a ridiculous week. It would seem that my busy life+snotty clients has finally caught up with me and I was left to sneak in "sick" time at the end of the day when no clients were booked. I had this entire post planned about the complexities and myths of bioplastics and "compostable" products. (picture from zerocarboncanada)
Then, last night Andrew and I had the opportunity to attend a free lecture at Dalhousie University by Andrew Weaver, Climatologist at School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at U-Vic BC. Despite my raging migraine, dizziness, nausea and the fact that I had barely eaten, I WAS going to this talk. Andrew Weaver is a BIG WIG global warming scientist with a ginormous dossier of scientific journal publications on climate change and global warming. He's a lead author in the International Panel of Climate Change and a Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis. He's the author of 'Keeping our Cool' which I am most definitely going to buy (or take out at the library).
As we sat in the very back of an extremely packed auditorium, I saw a few people take out notepads and pens. Crap. Why didn't I think of that? Pair this with Dr. Weaver's extremely dysfluent manner of speaking with several repetitions (whole word AND phrases), tangents and disjointed sentence structure and I can only sadly give you a portion of how very awesome his lecture was. If you'd like a small taste- check out this Tar Sands info video by Greenpeace.
He began with discussing why the public still believes there is a debate on whether climate change-global warming is human caused or natural. With a fantastically self-deprecating attitude he spoke about the disconnect between scientists and the media, from both sides. He pointed out that journalists are strongly encouraged to provide a "balanced" view in all articles in order to assure both sides of the story are represented, whereas scientists report (hopefully) factual information. For this matter, when several researchers in a quest to discover why the public is so confused about climate change, searched media databases, only 6% of all articles stated global warming was human caused. 50% of these (I think something like 900 media reports were randomly selected) had both views; climate change exists and some say it doesn't.
When peer reviewed scientific journal articles were randomly selected (again, number in the high hundreds, darn not having a pen a paper!) every single one concluded that climate change was human caused. Every. single. journal article. It was great to hear him directly address the "grassroots" (or as he called them "astroturf groups") anti-climate change movement by giving examples of faulty science, wording and supposed 'expert' studies published in online mediums (and not peer reviewed journals).
It was validating and at the same time shocking to have this firm: YES climate change is happening and YES science resoundingly states that we need to change something now. For some reason, although I do believe global warming is a threat, I had allowed myself to have doubts from the many media articles implying some sort of scientific debate. All of a sudden I couldn't view global warming as something that "might" happen someday. It will and is happening.
That's when Dr. Weaver got into some truly interesting points on how much carbon could we burn without breaking the 2 degree temperature increase (which he pointed out was a number chosen to be the maximum allowable temperature increase without irreparable ecological and environmental impact). Graphs of probable outcomes should we continue to burn the same amount of carbon. What our planet would look like from a heat chart with three possible 'carbon emission' paths. How anything above two degrees (celcius) increase in temperature would actually have HUGE impacts on our planets ability to sustain life as we know it.
Suddenly, my thoughts on eco-mascara and eco-skin care products, my 'the rock' deoderant, our CFL light bulbs, our glass food containers... all looked pretty frivolous. Dr. Weaver's solution was that over our lifetimes we should become completely carbon neutral worldwide. Completely.
Oh my- he's right. This is the solution- not a decrease in dependency, not an adaptability (who can 'adapt' to live in an uninhabitable planet??), but a complete non-dependence on carbon. We have to change the way we live, change what we believe is our 'right' as North Americans- the convenience of carbon. Of course, it is completely feasible, economically and practically. New sources of energy could be highly profitable. Changing the way we live doesn't mean existing in caves, but using sustainable resources, public transit (or walking and biking), using alternative energy and eating sustainable and healthy food. I think the biggest changes are those of convenience- having plastic in our lives for one.
The most thought provoking aspect of his presentation, however, was his quote of the U.N.'s human rights declaration. He calmly pointed out that we as North Americans do not truly believe this paragraph. We don't really believe that all humans are equal. If we did, we'd stop assuming that developed nations have some strange 'right' to continue polluting and destroying the planet at the expense of non-carbon emitting nations. That we as Canadians have more of a 'right' to do as we please with this planet than humans living in Sénégal.
The atmosphere does not care if the carbon comes from Halifax or Bombay. Neither should we.
Article authored and copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com