Climate Change: The Worst of the Wicked

by breanne on November 29, 2016 - 4:44pm

            Climate change seems to have our undivided attention as its effects span every cultural, social, and economic reach of our earth’s populace. In a nutshell, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere resulting from anthropogenic activity has initiated the rapidly accelerated warming of temperatures globally. We hear through the media on a regular basis, just how imperative it is that we halt the rise before it exceeds unrecoverable levels and drastic changes begin to occur in every facet of the environment. Despite the vital importance of mitigating our impacts immediately, Canada, alongside many other countries world-wide, have yet to completely embrace the necessary actions required to move towards a solution.

            Journalist Bob Weber of the Canadian Press accentuates this tendency in his article titled, Academics issue warning over Canada’s progress on climate change. The article highlights how Canada, despite recently committing to reduced emission targets and other goals in the 2016 Paris Agreement, is still moving towards the construction of immense oil and gas infrastructure. This alone is a prime example of what makes climate change the ultimate wicked problem. It is a complex, uncertain, interconnected social and environmental issue that is constantly evolving. Unfortunately, as stakeholders have different views and perceptions of the problem, disorder arises in the decision-making process and decision-makers lean towards to hyperbolic discounting. Canada is presently demonstrating this kind of ‘seize the day’ attitude as governing bodies are focusing on immediate gains and ignoring long term implications that fossil-fuel based energy will have.

            Just last month, in October 2016, the federal government approved plans for the $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project, which will be a 900-kilometer natural gas pipeline extending from British Columbia’s gas fields to the northwest coast (Weber, 2016). Academics engaged in the issue warn that increasing natural gas operations would push Canada’s climate change goals out of reach and leave the country with fossil fuel infrastructure that will become increasingly uneconomic as the world moves towards renewable energy. An action which is absolutely necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change.

            As addressed in this piece, it is clear that Canada is aware of the forthcoming consequences of climate change yet is only taking baby steps towards the solution through commitment to the Paris Agreement. However, leaps are required to reduce emissions to the minimal amounts required in order to halt global temperature rise before a threshold is exceeded. Environmental impacts aside, as investment in oil and gas infrastructure continues, Canada’s staples economy becomes more pronounced. This reliance on fossil fuel will prove problematic as other world leaders step towards renewable energy, stressing the vulnerabilities in Canada’s staples economy. It is quite possible that the lack of urgency exhibited by the Trudeau Government will direct Canada right into a staples trap and catapult climate goals out of reach for the foreseeable future.

 

References

Weber, B. (2016, November 17). Academics issue warning over Canada’s progress on climate change. Retrieved November 18, 2016 from http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/academics-issue-warning-over-canada-s-pro....

Comments

Hi breanne,

Your title really stuck out to me to begin with. Then through reading your post, I agreed with all things you are saying. One thing that stuck out to me was your statement that Canada is currently only taking baby steps towards climate change, however, leaps are required in order to stop global warming before we hit a point of no return. This statement could not be more true.
Something that largely sticks out to me in relation as to why Canada will only go so far at a time is the importance of the economy. No matter the situation, the economy takes president over everything, including the environment. The environment has always served economic needs, and there is no way of avoiding that. With society valuing the economy over the environment, even the prime minister can't take action.
Attached below is an interesting perspective on the environment and politics you may find interesting!

http://www.ecojustice.ca/pitting-the-environment-against-the-economy-is-...

Thanks!
- Riley

Breanne,
This post perfectly explains the environmental and economic issues that Canada is facing at the moment. It is extremely unfair that the government continues to favour the interests of the extraction industry over the people of Canada and indeed the rest of the world. Your point about the recent pipeline approvals leaving Canada with an uneconomic fossil fuel infrastructure is particularly poignant, due to the investment in fossil fuels being overtaken by renewables this past year, and the recent attempts by many countries to run entirely on clean energy. I understand that these large investments into fossil fuels help provide jobs for many, but why can't that investment be directed at an outcome that benefits everyone? At this rate, Canada will indeed be left behind with an economy that has not taken the necessary steps to evolve and has failed to put pressure on the major polluters to make a change.

Hi Breanne!

This was a great read, I love how you connected the article to cognitive conflict and the idea of “wicked problems”, as climate change is certainly plagued by these issues – sometimes the ideal of having so much information can be detrimental to decision making.

One thing I would like to hear more about is how you think the Canadian government might go about combating the issues that are often brought up when someone suggests reducing our reliance on nonrenewable energy: these are usually regarding lost jobs and technological knowledge from those employed in areas like the oil sands or natural gas extraction. Do you think it’s possible to move these jobs into the renewable energy sector, or do the threats of climate change outweigh the economic effect of losing these jobs?

Hello Breanne,

First of all I have to say that you picked a really good title to capture my attention. Reading through your piece, I was shocked and yet not surprised of what I was reading. The environment has always been an interest to politics if only it gave them a benefit. Economy relies on some environmental aspects and the government abuses the resources. It is true that the government takes baby steps towards fixing the problem which is what shocked me the most. I did not know about this project of this 900-kilometer natural gas pipeline and I have to say that it is outraging. This is clear politics. Saying something and meaning something else. As you mentioned, global warming is a major issue that needs to be not only addressed, but to take action for. The government says it all starts with our daily actions which is true, but it is also in their duty to help this problem that will eventually be unfixable.

Thank you for writing about this problem as this is a major one. The more we talk about the problem, the closer we are to fixing it.

Bianca Beauregard

Hi Breanne,

Great post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your writing. I agree with what you have said in your article, and am disappointed that it seems as if Justin Trudeau won’t be following through on the environmental commitments he made during his campaign and at the Paris summit. It seems that our government doesn’t usually consider the long-term implications of their decisions over what short-term benefits they may gain. The ignorance that surrounds climate change, as well as the Canadian economy’s continuous reliance on resources worries me.

One suggestion I have for your article is maybe exploring how the government should commit to the agreements made at the summit, or how the public can get involved in protesting decisions such as the pipeline agreement.

Overall, great post! I really enjoyed reading it and it was well-written.

Great post Breanne,

I strongly agree with your post. I don’t think Canada has made at all the commitments to climate change as they should, but instead place a higher significant towards economic growth. This is especially problematic as the impacts on climate change continue to grow and the Canadian government still hasn't committed to making a leap of change. I agree that Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels is problematic in terms of introducing new more reliable energy sources. It seems that the Canadian government has other priories over the environment, as they don’t seem concerned about the potential impacts. I’m wondering what it will take for the government to finally make climate change a priority, I fear it won’t be until the impacts of climate change worsen. From an environmental standpoint, it makes more sense to help resolve issues before they worsen, however it doesn’t seem to take priority in the government over economic growth.