Climate Change: The Worst of the Wicked

by breanne on Novembre 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.



Weber, B. (2016, November 17). Academics issue warning over Canada’s progress on climate change. Retrieved November 18, 2016 from