LETTER: Climate change is no picnic

Re: Don’t tax what is normal. Bob Broughton wants 100 per cent certainty before we choose to act on climate change. In his letter, he suggests that carbon emission fees (he calls them taxes) are pointless unless they come with the same precision in methods and results as an engineer designing a bridge.

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Broughton’s concern for more certainty is understandable and important. However, if we demand complete certainty before we act, then no one would ever invest in the stock market, buy a house or plan a picnic. There comes a time when we stand to lose more by not acting than by going ahead, even if we can’t be entirely sure how it will work out.

The reality of global warming is becoming more and more clear. Take for example the especially rapid rate of climate warming in the north of Canada – that is exactly what the climate scientists have been predicting.

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The costs of global warming are mounting rapidly: insurance rates are going up, city storm sewer systems need expensive upgrades and forests are stressed by drought and disease.

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The costs of global warming will only get bigger and it is already inevitable for decades to come. The oceans control the Earth’s climate and the oceans take many years to warm up, like a very big pot of water on a stove after the heat is turned up.

By dumping greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels into the atmosphere we have increased the amount of the sun’s heat that is absorbed by the oceans. And we are still turning up the heat by continuing to burn ever more fossil fuel.

Climate change will leave our lives impoverished in the long run. Uncertainty about the future is no longer a good reason to do nothing, that goes for acting on climate change as well as for planning a picnic.

It may rain on the picnic – but what would summer be without picnics?

Garth van der Kamp

Saanichton

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