Should climate activists change tactics?

Unless you’re a climate denier, we know from ample amounts of data and scientific research collected over the years that human activity is having an adverse affect on the climate. Our relentless consumption of fossil fuels is driving an unprecedented warming trend.

The evidence is all around us. Global sea levels are not only rising but the rate at which they are rising has nearly doubled just in the last decade. Oceanographers and other scientists have shown that much of this increase in global temperatures is being trapped not just in the atmosphere but is being absorbed by our oceans as well.

This is the reason why the giant ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic have been shrinking and retreating at unprecedented rates. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment have shown that Greenland and Antarctica have lost as much as 400 cubic kilometers of ice between 2002 and 2006 alone. Ocean acidification, extreme and unpredictable weather events and rising global temperatures are just some of the consequences of our fossil fuel addiction.

According to NASA, the “levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years. During ice ages, CO2 levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm. In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.” Although the term has yet to be officially recognized, some scientists are starting to refer to this period as the “Anthropocene,” meaning the era or epoch in which human activity started to influence global climate patterns.

NASA warns that “if fossil-fuel burning continues at a business-as-usual rate, such that humanity exhausts the reserves over the next few centuries, CO2 will continue to rise to levels of order of 1500 ppm. The atmosphere would then not return to pre-industrial levels even tens of thousands of years into the future.”

Other institutions and individual scientists have made similar remarks but for climate-change activists this raises an important question and one that is seldom if ever asked: why do we think that ‘politics’ is the solution to this problem? Why do we believe that it is politicians who are going to save us from a runaway greenhouse effect?

We’ve had the 1997 and 2001 Kyoto Protocols, the 2009 Copenhagen talks, and now the 2015 Paris summit. It’s becoming a pattern of repeated failure and virtue signaling in which politicians get together for a love-in followed by a great deal of doing nothing whatsoever. Perhaps it’s time to consider other options. Instead of looking to politics we could look to the market. It sounds crazy but is it really that hard to imagine? Canada could become a leader in green tech solutions if our companies had the intellectual and financial capital to invest in this area.

While I know a ‘pro-market’ approach doesn’t sit well with climate activists, lobbying businesses and parliament to invest more in green innovation wouldn’t take very much.

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