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Monday, November 26, 2007

Climate Change Aspirations Won't Cut It Mr. Harper

The headlines coming out of the weekend meet of the Commonwealth “Defiant Harper Pans Climate Change Critics” tell us only part of the story. The distinctly isolationist stance of the Harper government to the obvious direction of world opinion on climate change is the more important political issue. Quite frankly the political issues fade in comparison to the policy issue of the need to deal with global warming.

Harper has “disputed this characterization” of Canadian policy being isolationist. That said, there are few “leaders” left who continue to effectively deny climate change. The Cabal of climate-change deniers that promote the aspirational model of dealing with global warming are disappearing faster than the polar ice-caps.

Australian’s dramatically dumped John Howard as he recently suffered the worst electoral defeat in the 63 year history of his party. He lost his own seat to boot…the first time that a sitting Prime Minister had been voted out of the Australian parliament since 1929. OUCH! Dubya has moved from lame-duck status to just plain lame in terms of leadership on climate change. He has turned over Republican leadership on the issue to “The Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger. That irony still sticks in my mind.

Political aspirations to public policy are like water is to soup, necessary but not sufficient. Harper insisting on a 100% consensus on an issue as complex as climate change, is not leadership. It is just more of the Harper trademark of overwhelming tactical posturing inevitably leading to an underwhelming policy position.

It is time to move hard toward a binding commitment on emissions. Going green provides a wonderful opportunity for the developed world for a new form of genuine wealth creation and progress. Moving forward on hard emission standards will be the catalyst to generate new innovations and inventions that will benefit the ecology of the plant, the economy of all nations and the social cohesion of the human species.

In the 60’s JFK, in the face of the space race, challenged the American people to put a man on the moon and return him safely within that decade. They did it. It is time for an inspirational leader from the developed world to articulate and aspire to such a challenge climate change goal for the benefit of all mankind. No such leader is on the political stage at present. Al Gore has made it clear he is not going to run so he is not “in the wings.”

It is time again that we humans had a new and equally as bold aspiration as putting a man on the moon. But now we need a goal that is more profound and pertinent to the future of mankind and the planet than going to the moon will ever be. We have to change our habits and redefine success in terms of a more common wealth. We have to immediately slow down our ecologically destructive activities. We then have to focus on learning to adapt and alter our activities so that we reverse our impacts on climate change. While the urgent always trumps the important, this climate change reality is both important and urgent.

We need an inspirational call to action that is borne of a growing and increasingly urgent necessity due to climate change. The challenge today is more compelling than JFK’s aspiration to put a man on the moon. We need to get moving fast and hard, as individuals, enterprises, communities, governments and nations on reversing the impacts of our species on the planet through climate change.

We need to undertake this with a vigorous commitment and conviction beyond mere aspirations Mr. Harper. Only that way we can ensure that life on earth, including our species, can be safely sustained and even enhanced. This is not as romantic a challenge as sending a man to the moon. But it is much more meaningful to the role of mankind and much more critical to the future of the planet.