An Inconvenient Truth: Ten Years On


Ten years ago, Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, sending Italians into a frenzy. Yet, perhaps just as significant was the release of An Inconvenient Truth.

This documentary featured former US Vice-President Al Gore discussing on a slide show, about the consequences climate change would have on our planet in the future. It was a visual tour de force for the eyes, as Gore hit the point home, slide, after slide, after slide, about what will occur if we do not make necessary changes in order to avoid future damage. An inconvenient Truth won the 2006 Best Documentary Feature Oscar. It also became one of top grossing documentaries of all time, taking in $49.1 million, globally.

So what has happened since An Inconvenient Truth has come out?

A lot of things have happened. I won’t go into every crook and cranny on what’s happened since, but I will discuss some key points.

Weather events are getting more extreme: Ok, as much as I love watching a good extreme wrestling bout, the same can’t be said about extreme weather. There is nothing funny, nor pretty about flash flooding, droughts, and intense heat waves.  In, fact it’s quite scary. Consider since 2006, six years have been the hottest globally on record, (2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015). There is a 99% chance 2016 will be even warmer (and it’s not even June yet). Climate analysts suggest these types of events will only increase in warming world, as we head into a “New Normal” of expecting the unexpected in weather. If that won’t get you, perhaps increased insurance rates in the pocket-book will from these situations.

Increased investments in renewables and cleantech investment: While doom and gloom abounds about climate change, one positive has occurred, which is more investments into renewable energy and clean technology. Renewable energy and clean technology has seen revival, thanks to reducing carbon emissions, but also thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which poured $31 billion US into new American clean energy projects. Since then, global renewable energy investment reached a record in 2015 with $329 billion US, with emerging market countries leading the way. Electric vehicles are also finding their way, as they are becoming more affordable, as Tesla Motors has taken already 373,000 pre orders for its affordable ($35,000 per car) model 3 vehicle, and is considered a “game changing” event within the automobile industry due to the amount of rapid sales for an electric vehicle.

Ten years on. An Inconvenient Truth, if anything got more people talking about climate change and began a serious conversation in mainstream society. It’s been used in universities, and schools about what needs to occur about taking climate action. Sure it has its detractors.  Yet at the end of the day, it’s a discussion that needed to be out in the open. Look, I love talking about money (I prepare income taxes, and took economics), but we can’t continue to beat up our planet Earth day in and day out in the sake of maximizing return. There is no economy with no planet. Today we have to technology to move forward, with wind, solar, biofuels, battery storage, and electric vehicles.  The Internet of Things will help to ramp up renewable energy through smart grids, as smart cities will help to ensure improved energy efficiencies in major urban centres.

We owe it to ourselves. If not to save our Earth, but in the very least to upgrade our outdated 20th century infrastructure into the 21st century, and save ourselves future costs from extreme weather events.

So watch An Inconvenient Truth again. Discuss what has changed since. Debate with your friends and neighbors. Be inspired by it. But in the very least come out of it with something new, and take action. Because there is No Planet B.

 

Moving Forward After the Fort McMurray Wildfires


It’s really been a trying week for Canadians, after a wildfire forced 80,000 residents of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray Alberta (which is located in the heart of the Alberta oil sands) to evacuate the city on May 3rd.

Fort McMurray pic

Fort McMurray Wildfire via Wikipedia Some Rights Reserved Under The Creative Commons

 

There was many factors which contributed to this “beast of a wildfire.” Limited snowpack from a dry winter, from El Nino, along with a lack of rainfall and a hint of a warming climate help spur the tragic events.

University of Alberta told Climate Central what occurred in Fort McMurray, Alberta is on par with how human climate change effects wild fires in Northern forests.

While the fire rages, there has been a firestorm of controversy about if climate change should be even mentioned. Some on both sides of the climate debate have taken it to extremes, ranging from glee seeing Fort McMurray facilities burn down, to a Calgary Sun op-ed telling environmentalist Tweeters to screw off.

Personally, I am not a fan of either of these tactics. Fort McMurray residents have been through plenty, and my heart goes out to them, and may God bless them. Those who tweeted early this week they were happy that Fort McMurray was burning down need to learn appropriate manners when dealing with such tragedies, and only make things worse.

Now having said that, what occurred this week in Fort McMurray may not be a one-off? Slate.com climate reporter Eric Hothouse said discussing what occurred this week in Fort McMurray this past week “Isn’t natural.” He goes onto say further:

Talking about climate change during an ongoing disaster like Fort McMurray is absolutely necessary. There is a sensitive way to do it, one that acknowledges what the victims are going through and does not blame them for these difficulties. But adding scientific context helps inform our response and helps us figure out how something so horrific could have happened.

Holthaus is right. There is a way of mixing the scientific context, while respecting those who have suffered through these horrendous events, and not figure point at Fort McMurray residents. After all, many of them worked in Fort McMurray in search of a more prosperous future away from bleaker economic conditions.

However, now we must look forward. We owe it to ourselves, as Canadians to prevent these sorts of future disasters as much as possible, whether it’s Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, or even Winnipeg.

So heading forward, let’s have a discussion on how we make future development more environmentally sustainable. Newer cleantech industries like wind, solar energy and biofuels can play a role in this development, and helping to retrain those from the oil patch becomes very critical.

As for adaptation, my favorite suggestion is boosting the Canadian military. Yes, I said INCREASE  Canadian military presence! With limited dollars being spent on one of Canada’s greatest institutions, and participation falling dramatically, it’s time to rethink our Armed Forces role and improve it. Given increased security risks from climate change. The Royal Canadian Armed Forces must protect Canadians from all security risks, including climate security risks in the 21st century. A larger military would ensure there is enough manpower on the ground to help those battling these disasters, while comforting those who have lost everything.

So let’s talking and work towards rebuilding.