COMMENT: Erring on the side of caution when it comes to climate change
Reading letters to the editor and speaking with individuals here and there in our communities has led me to understand that convincing some people that humans have a part in climate change is about as likely as convincing others that our current MP is doing a good job, or that our MLA belongs to the right party.
I’ve had the opportunity to hear from people who are actually studying the world’s oceans, and I worked in industry long enough to remember the supporters of asbestos and the deniers of acid rain quite clearly. I don’t think I lived in denial myself, just took my paycheque and trusted that someday we’d get things right. And things are getting better. You can hang the clothes out to dry on an overcast day and trust that the rain – if it comes – won’t eat holes in your undies. Not anymore.
Well, except maybe if you’re a shell fish, or a coral reef, or a plankton. Then, according to the folk I’m hearing from, their undies aren’t doing so well. As the carbon uptake of the oceans increases they become more acidic and life, as we know it, begins to die. If enough life dies in the ocean, we die along with it. Or our kids do.
Now maybe the scientists and biologists and the folk who study the oceans are wrong about the cause of the problem. Maybe the folk who deny their conclusions are right this time. But what do we lose by cleaning up our emissions, taking the bus or the bike or the train a bit more, or finding other sources of energy?
Call me a gullible dupe if you like, but my memory caries the truth of rotted clothing, fresh from the line. I have sat by too many friends who’s exposure to harmless asbestos or silica or cedar has taken away too much. I’d rather err on the side of caution, do what I can and look foolish to my grandchildren for believing I was protecting their lives, than light up another cigarette, ’cause we’re all gonna die anyway.’
But maybe that’s just me. And mine.
Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.