WWF Canada Blog:

News, views and analysis from our team as we work to create solutions to conservation challenges facing our planet.

Do we want to risk ignoring climate change?

By Michael Gardiner, student delegate on the 2011 Students On Ice Arctic expedition. 

As someone who often discusses climate change, I give answers such as the preservation of biodiversity, to ensure agriculture can continue (avoiding extreme droughts and floods), to stop a positive feed- back loop that could change the Earth’s eco-systems permanently, etc. However, there are a million retorts to those statements, (not my fault, can’t change it anyway, do you expect people to change their way of life?). To me the answer to the three of these questions is obvious (although much easier said than done).

Of course I continue, having convinced hopefully at least a few people (but admittedly by no stretch a majority) that climate change is worth acting on. My arguments to me seem to need no further support than the idea that the Earth and mammals that live on it are likely to go through a mass extinction because of us. Us, and our growing need for food leading to deforestation (the new fields have to go somewhere), our growing population demanding more and more resources, and the pollution (heavy metals like mercury, pesticides, and many more).

Monaco Glacier, Spitsbergen, Norway

Glacier calving, Monaco Glacier, Liefdefjorden, Spitsbergen, Norway. © Steve Morello / WWF-Canon

Then it hit me. The best reason to act, to learn, to be interested and concerned with any issue such as climate change is for people. Let’s face it: this “Pale Blue Dot” (to quote Carl Sagan) that we live on is the only place in the entire universe we can exist. It might even be the only place life, as we know it, can exist. Why risk all of the world’s culture, music, art, technology, and intelligence? Why risk all the world’s people?

The point is life will go on. The geological record shows many mass-extinctions, caused by different combinations of asteroids, volcanoes, solar variation, and earthquakes. Throughout the history of the world we’ve lost 99% of all the species that have ever lived on Earth. The question then becomes two questions. Do we want to join the 99% of species that didn’t make it? Do we want to risk ignoring climate change?

We are smarter than that. We are able to do better. People around the world are creating the conditions for a better world and they are proud of it. That’s the world I’d like to be a part of. Will you join me?

  • Bob Loveless

    The big problem is that in the Unitied States, #1 in CO2 emissions, the Climate Change Deniers, funded by the billionaire Donars Trust, are currently winning the public relations war. As a result of their $100 million misinformation campaign fewer and fewer Americans believe that humans are the cause of global warming and even if global warming is happening. These people are even harrassing the nation’s most respected scientists. Ethics are losing … and the planet in the end is going to be the big loser if things don’t turn around in the coming decade! These people may have little knowledge of climate science, but they are not at all stupid … they are expert communicators. Fighting back is going to be no easy task. The world needs a strong leader to stand up to these Climate Change Deniers .. will that person be President Obama? Or someone else? We shall see – the clock is ticking!

  • Samantha

    Well said, Michael! Agree with you 100%.