Saturday, December 17, 2011

Punishing the Young

At Durban two weeks ago, a young woman rose and addressed the delegates:

I speak for more than half the world’s population,” declared Anjali Appadurai of Maine’s College of the Atlantic. “We are the silent majority. You’ve given us a seat in this hall, but our interests are not at the table. What does it take to get a stake in this game? Lobbyists? Corporate influence? Money?”

Out of the mouth of babes. Conservatives howl that we are burdening our children with a mountain of debt. But they will not lift a finger to stop the crisis that will engulf us all. Thomas Homer Dixon writes in this morning's Globe and Mail:

The climate negotiators lie to each other and the world when they claim the world can still limit the planet’s warming to two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average, the point at which many experts believe the risks from climate change rise sharply.

It’s a lie because we’ve already experienced 0.8 degrees warming, and we’ve got at least another 0.6 degrees on the way due to carbon already in the atmosphere. Given that global carbon dioxide emissions of about 35 billion tons each year are now growing at an average of 3 per cent a year – which means they’re doubling every 23 years – it’s virtually certain we’re going to use up the remaining 0.6 degrees of leeway. In fact, the emerging consensus among climate experts is that we’ll be lucky to limit warming to 4 degrees.

Our best and our brightest have become very accomplished liars. Last week, the Speaker of the House ruled that spreading lies about Irwin Cotler was "reprehensible"  but acceptable. The next day the press revealed that the company which had spread the lies had helped Scheer get elected. International Development Minister Bev Oda claimed she had not altered a document -- and then admitted that she did.

No one has been relieved of his or her duties. One would expect that the government would issue an apology for its treatment of Cotler. No, said Peter Van Loan, the Conservatives were merely exercising their right to free speech. And, unlike the impotent elites in Europe and the United States, Canada's government is getting things done.

But the young are not fools. They know for whom things are done -- and it's not for them.

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