The following letter to the editor written by Deborah Carr was emailed to the Times & Transcript on Nov 18, 2013. It has not yet been printed, so we are posting it here as December 10 is international Human Rights Day.
Like others, I viewed the images of the devastation and death brought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines with a deep sense of grief and loss and helplessness.
How can we not be moved by the impassioned plea of Yeb Saño, Philippines climate negotiator, as he committed to a hunger strike and begged the world to address the climate crisis?
“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness,” Saño said.
Dr. David Suzuki recently spoke a similar message to a packed house at the Capitol Theatre, restating that we have blindly ignored 25 years of warnings from the science community, and are now at a critical crossroads. Scientists are 95% certain climate change is caused by human impact on the environment.
Here in New Brunswick, our government recognizes flooding in Perth-Andover and storm surges along our Acadian coast to be a result of global warming and following Dr. Suzuki’s talk, we watched a documentary on vulnerable coastal communities in all Atlantic Provinces that have been subjected to the flooding and surges. But what we have experienced so far cannot come close to the massive devastation experienced elsewhere….yet.
The Climate Commission reports there will be catastrophic consequences for all if we do not move toward renewable energy and leave 80 per cent of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. The time to change direction now. In only a few years, Massachusetts has created 80,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Others are doing it, why not us?
In a recent CBC interview, Ireland’s former president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson reminds us that this is – above all – a human rights issue. Beyond countries already suffering crop loss due to periods of drought and flooding, UN agencies now say a further 9.6 million people are at risk of food insecurity caused by erratic and extreme weather conditions.
People in vulnerable countries are dying as a result of industrial greed, political corruption and citizen complacency in the wealthy north. “This is a matter that requires the greatest of human solidarity – a movement to make the world safe for the future,” Robinson said, noting our grandchildren will bear the brunt of our choices today.
Meanwhile, feeling helpless and powerless, we burrow deeper under our cozy blankets of complacency.
If we have any hope of ‘stopping the madness’, you and I must take an active role and demand that governments seek a broader vision and reduce our nation’s dependence upon fossil fuels. This is now a necessity, not a choice.
If you and I do not educate ourselves; if you and I do not begin making better choices in our day to day living; if you and I do not vote consciously and then hold our politicians accountable – our grandchildren have no hope of a future.
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?’ asked Saño.
Indeed. If not you and me, then who?