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David Suzuki: Ignoring climate crisis won’t make it disappear

David Suzuki by Jennifer Roesler Grassy article bees climate
David Suzuki writes a regular column on environmental issues. Photo by Jennifer Roesler.

The Toronto Spark primarily focuses on underrepresented artists. However, it also publishes a column by David Suzuki to advance education about critical issues, including this one about the climate crisis. Without a habitable Earth, there will be no arts and culture.

Florida is being slammed by rising sea levels, increased flooding, severe storms and extreme heat. Temperatures in the state were above normal every month last year.

Residents are worried. A Florida Atlantic University survey “found that 90 percent of respondents believe climate change is happening” and “Floridians overwhelmingly support more government action to address the impacts of climate change, with 69 percent support for state action and 70 percent support for federal action.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s response is bewilderingly backward. He recently signed legislation, effective July 1, that will remove the term “climate change” from state laws and deny consideration of greenhouse gas impacts from energy policies. The legislation “boosts expansion of natural gas, reduces regulations on gas pipelines in the state, and increases protections against bans on gas appliances such as stoves,” the Guardian reports.

Among other measures, it “will also prohibit the construction of offshore wind turbines in state waters and will repeal state grant programs that encourage energy conservation and renewable energy,” the New York Times reports.

“The legislation I signed today … will keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state,” DeSantis posted on X (formerly Twitter). “We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”

Politicians prioritize climate disruption

From Alberta to Australia, from state and provincial to national governments, denying or ignoring the life-threatening crisis has become an increasingly common tactic as the reality of climate disruption hits home. But scrubbing all mention of climate change and rolling back measures to address it won’t make it go away.

Many politicians are prioritizing destructive fossil fuel industry interests over those of their constituents. U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, a convicted felon facing even more criminal charges in several jurisdictions, recently asked industry executives from companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum for US$1 billion in campaign donations in exchange for reducing or discarding climate and pollution policies if he’s elected. Analysis shows the promises could potentially “save the industry $110 billion in tax breaks.”

Mother Jones reports that the U.S. “oil and gas industry benefited disproportionately from tax cuts passed by Trump when he was president in 2017”.

In Canada, Alberta’s government imposed a moratorium and restrictions on renewable energy development, putting “57 projects worth $14-billion at risk of being shelved,” the Pembina Institute says, noting that “32 would generate $80-million a year in potential tax revenue.”

The Globe and Mail reports that, “Dozens of municipalities in Alberta collectively received more than $28-million from wind and solar projects in 2022, according to an analysis by BRC-Canada. Municipalities stood to bring in tax revenues of as much as $277-million annually by 2028 if all projects scheduled before the renewable-energy pause proceeded.”

Meanwhile, the Alberta government continues to promote oilsands and fossil gas development and is celebrating completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, for which the federal government paid C$4.5 billion in tax dollars in 2018, with costs ballooning to $34 billion and rising this year.

Failing to align with climate agreements

Alberta premier Danielle Smith wants to double the province’s oil and gas production. The pipeline, which will substantially increase transport of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to the B.C. coast for export, will not only increase deadly climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions as the product is burned, but will also put marine life, including endangered southern resident orcas, at risk.

A recent analysis of eight major oil companies by Oil Change International and 200 other organizations worldwide found that all are failing to align with international climate agreements and six “have explicit goals to increase oil and gas production.”

As emissions rise and the planet continues to heat to dangerous levels, damaging ecosystems, human health and economies, oil companies, banks and governments continue to support industry growth, subsidizing and investing in the industries that are putting human survival in peril, while cracking down on, arresting and disparaging those trying to warn humanity of the devastation we’re facing.

Enough is enough. We must demand more of our political representatives and the news media, and expose the greedy fossil fuel industry’s lethal attacks on humanity. We must rethink our obsession with profit and economic growth above everything.

Ignoring the problem will only lock in greater hardships for all life.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with David Suzuki Foundation senior writer and editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at davidsuzuki.org. Learn more about diverse communities from the Toronto Spark website. Follow the Toronto Spark on X @TOSparkOfficial.

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David Suzuki

David Suzuki

David Suzuki is Canada’s best-known environmentalist.

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Arts for Canadians Tomorrow Society created Toronto Spark to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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Arts for Canadians Tomorrow Society is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered on this land, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose arts and stories inspire us to bring communities together.