Our very own Dudley Thompson wrote this Opinion piece that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on Earth Day – April 22, 2022. The time to act is now!

(Recommended reading by Ron Wasylycia-Leis)

Wanted: climate champions before it’s too late

By: Dudley Thompson
Posted: 2:01 AM CDT Thursday, Apr. 21, 2022

IT’S like being in a fatal crash in slow motion. You know what is coming but feel immobilized to prevent it.

Like the proverbial three monkeys, we react to climate-change warnings by pretending not to understand.

In its recently released sixth report, International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) upgraded its warnings to a primal scream: by 2025 the globe needs to have reached peak emissions. That is less than three short years from now. And then we need to begin a rapid descent, to a 45 per cent reduction in carbon by 2030, and to net-zero emissions by 2050.

For decades, international scientists have been imploring us to make dramatic changes in our carbon footprints. And our response: nothing. No change. Little action. Many more studies. Lies and obfuscation. Tinkering at the edges.

Like others in the past, this IPCC announcement comes and goes in the daily news cycle, buried the next day under headlines about war and blizzards — just more noise that we can’t deal with. So we put it off for another day.

But we don’t have other days. We refuse to comprehend that once we get above the 2 or 3 degrees C of warming, there will be no way back. The warming planet is on a self-reinforcing spiral downward to a tipping point at which increased temperatures cause oceans to warm, which causes more ice to melt, which causes the oceans to absorb more heat, which causes more ice to melt… There will be no technical fix. Devastating cyclones, floods, famines, fires and storms will continue to escalate.

We are all tired after years of pandemic isolation, harsh winters, more brutal wars and raging inflation. But more than tired, many are angry. Angry at our tired governments at all levels; angry that they have forgotten their central role is to provide leadership — now. They need to speak the truth about our long-term survival on this planet and how we can work together to get there.

What is it that we don’t get? Three years to stop, recalibrate and transform. And yet we are headed for a 12 per cent increase in emissions over the next three years — as stated yet another report prepared by 15,000 scientists from 135 countries. This is necessarily a conservative scenario, as it is required to be unanimous. The reality will likely be worse.

Does a new world await? Tear away the carbon curtain, and there can be so much beauty and equity on the other side: sequestering more carbon, sending more solar electricity back into the grid than you use, living in healthier homes and offices, working at globally productive jobs. Imagine what it would be like to know as you go about your day that you will be replenishing the health and well-being of the globe and building a more resilient planet for your kids and grandkids.

This might sound like a delusional fairy tale, except many progressive cities throughout the world are already rushing into this new reality – not because of any idealistic save-the-globe mantra, but because in the long-term, it is extremely profitable, healthy and equitable. These pioneers are globally competitive leaders. The followers will be condemned to a long and costly recovery.

So, what do we need to do? We know the answers, and they are becoming more inevitable: shift investments to low-carbon fuels; stop burning coal; leave oil in the ground; stop clear-cutting; plant billions of trees; eliminate methane emissions; retrofit our built infrastructure; switch to electric vehicles. We have accomplished sudden transformations before – horse-drawn carriages to cars in 10 years; gas to electric cars in less. Decisive action on climate is not a “cost”; it is an investment — not just in our future, but in our survival.

What about proposed climate action in Manitoba? Climate Action Manitoba, a not-for-profit environmental group has published “Manitoba’s Road to Resilience” a proactive document that does the work of governments and identifies a creative and cost-effective way forward. Let this be a model.

Both the city and the province are once again studying climate change, with little action on the ground. The Community Energy Investment Roadmap (CEIR) is in the final stages of completion for the city, while the province embarks on another study for to renew the moribund Made in Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. We must ask for accountability in these reports.

At the end of the day, we need climate champions to step forward and offer a vision and leadership. Listen to them. Vote for them if you care about our future and the future of our planet. We have been given a beautiful Earth to look after. On this Earth Day, let us rise up and cry out for a new and more resilient life.

Dudley Thompson is an architect who volunteers with many others on climate-change initiatives and is one of the founders of the Bannerman Green Not-for-Profit Housing Co-op.