Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/12/2017 (940 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It has been a busy month on the inter-governmental climate file.
The annual United Nations climate conference (COP 23) just wrapped up in Bonn, Germany, with Canada dodging its previous array of Fossil of the Day awards.
Preparations are under way for the third United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya in early December, on the theme of co-ordinating global responses to pollution of all kinds.
Whatever the positive spins toward progress, however, the anxiety remains that too little is being done, too late.
Applauding initiatives that are intended to bear fruit by 2030 is like enthusing over the menu for the Titanic’s 10th trip.
To be fair, countries such as France, which announced the end of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, at least give the impression of caring and trying to make a difference.
Just not us.
Companies such as Volvo, which announced new electric vehicles within the next five years, are trying even harder.
Just not us.
Efforts to improve and expand public transportation infrastructure that allows people to lose their cars but not their dignity are the best way to make a difference in the transportation sector.
Just not here.
You have my theme by now. Other people in other places seem at least to have a glimmer of what needs to be done, and why, to address global warming and the climate catastrophes that are brewing.
Just not the leadership of Manitoba — neither provincial nor municipal.
Instead, Brian Pallister’s government cut support for public transit, perhaps to fool us later by spending carbon-tax revenues to cover what they did before — as though anyone will be impressed.
Not to be outdone, in response, Mayor Brian Bowman announced cuts to transit services and increased fares, while promising to spend millions on the Portage and Main pedestrian Ponzi scheme: if we do this, the downtown will be revitalized and Winnipeg will become a global destination (cue the flash mob by city council, breaking into a dance routine while singing, "And the world... will be a better place... for you... and me... just wait... and see").
Sorry, I’m not buying it — nor is anyone who already struggles to pay the fare.
Nor are those who would take public transit instead of driving if it was timely, functional — and free.
Want to make Winnipeg a world-class city instead of a diesel dump?
Light-rail services across the city, repurposing the transcontinental rail lines so the tanker bombs go around the city and not through (wait for it) Portage and Main.
Spend the same money as overpasses and bridge replacements require — but show some common sense in the process, please!
Old ground, same arguments — falling on the same deaf ears.
If former premier Duff Roblin hadn’t ignored the greybeards whose so-called "wisdom" is generated by special interests and not by the public good, there would be no floodway and Portage and Main would have been under water several times by now.
I know environmentalists who have been working on improving things in Manitoba for decades, swimming against an overwhelmingly unsustainable current.
Their efforts brought us recycling, protected wetlands, boreal forest reserves, and others things — but that is not enough any more.
Incremental change is not going to work.
We no longer have the time to dither and dodge.
Truth be told, there is always money for what you want — even if it is borrowed.
We need to do better than just try, or (worse) to play games with smoke and mirrors and call it a climate action plan.
Our legacy will be a desolate planet for our children — for all the children of Earth, not just our own — and it is unconscionable to play political games instead of making a real difference toward the future we want.
I suppose right now, here in Manitoba, you could say we are on the bus to nowhere — except our leaders seem bent on there being no bus at all.
Peter Denton is a Winnipeg-based sustainability consultant.
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