Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/12/2015 (1944 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The dust hadn't settled after the historic agreement reached at COP21 in Paris before there was talk of who won and who lost.
Some think it went too far, others not far enough. Still others wonder about how to reach the goals that were agreed upon.
The agreement, however, was both a triumph of diplomacy and evidence of the pressure that civil society organizations and others brought to bear on the negotiations.
Yet talk of heroes and villains, winners and losers, is unhelpful. It misrepresents the facts and distorts the conversation we need to have -- and right away -- about what to do and how to do it.
In a climate war, there are no winners. If there is a fight, we all lose -- because so does the planet.
What is worse, somehow groups of people think they can isolate or protect themselves from the consequences of climate change. Look out for No. 1 -- sauvé qui peut ("every man for himself").
This attitude has to go the way of the dinosaurs or we will join them sooner than we think.
It's a round Earth -- always has been. What goes around literally comes around. There is no place to hide, no place to avoid the climate consequences of how we live today. No amount of money or privilege will insulate anyone, anywhere, for long. You might have the means to live in a gated community, in the lap of technological luxury, but someone without all your money will be guarding your gates, cooking your food and making your technology.
Oil executive or waitress, stockbroker or bus driver, bank executive or bartender, homemaker or homeless -- we breathe the same air, drink the same water, eat the same food, walk the same path. And so will our children. Privilege is an illusion that persists only because the 99 per cent have not objected strongly enough -- yet -- to the actions of the one per cent.
But that time is coming. Take away the hope of a sustainable future, deny the possibility of a world in which all the children can grow up safe and healthy, and you will sow a whirlwind of trouble for everyone concerned.
The Paris agreement acknowledges a physical sea change -- rising waters that will swamp small island developing states and submerge cities around the world as global temperatures rise.
But I think it also marks another sea change -- in attitude. We need our best and brightest now to devote their energies to finding better ways for people to live together with each other and with the Earth. We need our entrepreneurs to work on some aspect of the sustainability problem, not just finding yet another clever way of competing for the same tired dollar. We need investors, the people who literally bank on the future, to make the financial choices required to make a sustainable future possible.
We all make those investments in tomorrow, for ourselves and for others. For example, parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children. Imagine what kind of energy will be unleashed when they realize little Johnny, on whom they have spent so much developing his hockey skills, will grow up frightened, choking and hungry in a world without ice.
Or when they realize that little Abigail, who has always wanted to be a doctor, will spend her medical career comforting children who are dying from environmental causes she cannot treat.
Public opinion can reverse course in an instant. Both government and industry would be wise to realize what is surely coming down the road -- and what will happen to ineffectual leaders when the worm turns.
It's not just good science -- it's common sense. Anyone who can count knows seven billion people have more of an impact on the planet than the two billion alive in 1927 when Henry Ford stopped making his Model T.
We can't be picking sides in a climate war nobody will win.
Paris and COP21 could have meant game over. Instead, it's game on.
I can live with that.
Peter Denton chairs the policy committee of the Green Action Centre and teaches the history of technology at the University of Winnipeg.