To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson: “When citizens and politicians get to the point where they are arguing whether science is real. We have the beginnings of an uninformed democracy.”
As I write this, my social media feeds are blowing up with over four million climate change protestors from 163 countries.
But you may be asking, why should we care?
We are quite lucky here in the Bow Valley. We have had only one epic climatic event in recent memory.
But with increasing extreme temperature events and sea level rise citizens of major population centers in the world may/will become climate change refugees.
Here are a few examples of how we could (will) be affected.
Our overall insurance costs will increase as catastrophes mount.
This assumes you can get insurance. Already this year, one major world reinsurer has pulled out of supporting any carbon generating business (like a power plant) and one Canadian Bank has also pulled its insurance arm out of covering anything where it can’t measure the climate change risk.
Canada accepts about 350,000 immigrants per year. But there are about one billion people that could become climate change refugees. Given the unprecedented melting of Greenland this summer, as an example of seas level rise, and add in the increased intensity of storms, and you will have an exponential increase of climate change refugees. Barbados this year is a perfect example.
Imagine the pressure for Canada to increase its intake of refugees 10 or 100 fold. What will this do to our societal norms?
Is it real?
If you are part of the six per cent of Canadians who still think this is some grand conspiracy, or tax grab, understand your opinions are now in the minority. Your social media feed will supply you with stories that support your preconceptions, but this is not the same thing as facts.
It is now 99 per cent of scientists who now are in support of the basic premise that carbon increasing in the atmosphere leads to century/millennia long temperature increases.
Does this mean the end of the Alberta advantage?
We have built a society on the Albertan oil and gas economic model.
The global energy transformation has started and our choices are to stay engaged with the buggy whip business, or to lead the worldwide energy transition.
None of this means we are going to turn off the taps. In fact leveraging our valuable resources to fund the leadership necessary to continue is possible.
The transition is already happening. Last month, the City of Los Angeles was offered a deal for seven per cent of its total energy needs with solar at 1.99 cents/KW.
The least expensive energy on the Alberta grid is wind at 3.7 cents/Kw.
Battery storage is now below two cents/kw in some jurisdictions.
The business icons Bill Gates and Murray Edwards have funded this successful engineering solution.
Are we doing enough? In short – no.
The plans presented by most of the political parties will not get Canada to the necessary carbon emission reductions to prevent the dreaded feedback loop and run away climate change. With one of the world’s most carbon intensive societies, we should be leaders. This could be Alberta’s and Canada’s role.
We should talk about the risk society is taking and encourage our leaders to make climate change measurement, mitigation and adaptation priorities.
If we succeed, we will have helped Alberta continue to be leaders, we would have created new technologies, we would have broadened Alberta’s economic base and secured our economic, societal and corporate futures.
If we fail, and the 99 per cent of the world’s scientists are right, then get ready to apologize to your children and grandchildren.