Greetings Bryan and Peter,
Regrettably I can’t make it to council tonight for the important vote on the climate emergency declaration:
I am fully in support of this motion. I have worked as a climate change activist for many years, and had the opportunity to teach a climate-themed course on “disasters and development” in the department of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2007.
It is more clear now than ever before that the world needs to take urgent action to attempt to mitigate climate change, in an attempt to stave off what are often referred to as ‘catastrophic’ levels of planetary heating. While scientists are known for the principle of tentativeness in publishing data and findings, and in issuing warnings around climate change, the evidence is accumulating that the global situation is worse than it appeared even a few years ago, as outlined by an emergency meeting of the UN this past October:
For the past 4 years, colleagues and I in the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation have worked to attempt to persuade our union at the provincial level to influence the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, as well as OMERS and other pension funds, to divest from fossil fuels (http://www.educatorsclimate.com), in alignment with a global campaign by the organization http://350.org. Such tactics and campaigns, along with this important emergency declaration, are essentially symbolic, yet crucially symbolic declarations of intent and aspiration that help influence the wider political community and society to take action.
This is especially important in a political context where we have government leaders essentially in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, as is so often the case in Canada; witness our current federal government’s relentless advocacy for increased oil sands/bitumen production, regardless of climate risks, for example (including the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline). One of the original scientific ‘whistleblowers’ on climate change, the eminent James Hansen, has described full exploitation of the Alberta bitumen energy resources as ‘game over’ for the climate:
I urge you both to support this vote to delcare Kingston’s endorsement of a climate emergency tonight. It is time that as citizens and leaders we all recognized that climate change is the single greatest emergency our generation has ever faced. If left unchecked, it will exacerbate all other dimensions of ecological degradation and human suffering, from inequality, to hunger and conflict, in the coming decades and for generations into the future. It affects us all, whether in terms of humanity or other species. Our shared future is literally at stake.
Thank you for considering this letter and this initiative.