Canada after Copenhagen

At this point, the Copenhagen climate talks are long over, and world leaders’ “agreement” to limit climate change to an increase of 2 degrees is little more than a non-legally binding piece of public relations doublespeak. Canada showed itself, once again, to be at odds with world opinion, with Prime Minister Harper and Environment Minister Jim Prentice as embarrassing poster boys for our country’s steadfast reliance on unsustainable resource development in the face of impending environmental doom.

According to our prime minister, the Copenhagen Accord is a “realistic” agreement that Canada can be “very comfortable” with. Prentice — formerly Minister of Industry — went further, calling the Copenhagen Accord “excellent,” “good for Canada” and “a turning point in history.” U.S. President Barack Obama called the agreement an “unprecedented breakthrough.”

Blah blah blah. If the Copenhagen Accord is so great, how come there are no legally binding objectives in place? What is there to force Canada, China, Brazil or the United States to do anything to curb emissions?

Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili of Lesotho, who represented the Least Developing Countries group of nations in Copenhagen, spoke for many more than just the 49 countries he represented when he said, “We look towards the future with great apprehension.” With no firm targets in place, and a general consensus that even an average rise of 2 degrees C will wreak havoc on much of the world’s food supply, I’d say I agree with French reporter Jade Lindgaard: “It’s fucked. It makes me more than sad, it makes me angry.”

And well it should. Any citizen, especially those of us who are under the age of 30, should not only be angry or dismayed by the lack of commitment our elected officials are demonstrating, we should be right fucking pissed off.

Columnist Gwynne Dyer wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press immediately following the Copenhagen meetings, outlining two likely scenarios for Canada in the years to come. According to Dyer, the two-degree scenario to which world leaders have resolved themselves “is ugly and almost inevitable.” I would go even further than that, as one who will undoubtedly have to deal with this “scenario,” and say that it is disgusting and shameful. This scenario has been made “inevitable” by world leaders whose self-interest clearly knows no bounds.

For years, activists, scientists, concerned citizens and the leaders of poor countries likely to be most affected by climate change have been working tirelessly to attempt to mitigate, or avoid, the carbon powered catastrophe that is already upon us. Instead, after years of research and discussion, Copenhagen turned out to be little more than a two week “gabfest,” as the CBC’s Tom Parry described it, which “at times was downright farcical.”

So what? So, we’re fucked, that’s what. For my entire life, and for many of you reading this, things have been pretty easy. No droughts, no unmanageable flash flooding, no major crop failure resulting in famine and no waves of uncontrollable diseases. Hard as life has been for most people on Earth, it is about to get a lot harder.

And we are far from immune to these hardships. Environment Minister Jim Prentice won’t be there to deal with them, though. Neither will President Barack Obama. The people who are responsible for stalling negotiations in Copenhagen; for abandoning legally binding commitments made in Kyoto; for cutting funding to green research and environmental monitoring while increasing our collective carbon emissions and green-lighting land raping industries in Canada’s hinterland; these people will not be around to deal with the fallout of their actions. They will all be dead and rotting underground, or burnt to greasy ashes and spread about some otherwise pristine location by the time the shit really hits the fan.

Prime Minister Harper will be gnawed half-clean by maggots by the time we have to deal with his inaction on the global stage. If I were a religious man, I could at least get some satisfaction from the fact that he would burn in hell for his deliberate blocking of any positive action in Earth’s defense. But there is no hell, in that sense, for him, nor for you or for me. Our hell will be the world we are left to carve an existence from in the years to come, and there will be no respite from it whatsoever but death itself.

As I will have no opportunity, at that point, to thank these people for the world in which we will be forced to live in 50 years from now, I will do so now. Thanks for nothing, you spineless, self-satisfied scum. If I ever get the chance, I will piss on your graves, and I will puke on your headstones. If there is a world to pass on to anyone when I am gone, I will ensure that you are remembered as the pieces of vile excrement that you are, and that your final resting places will be as foul as the world you’ve left behind, for us, you fucks.

Sheldon Birnie is in his third year of environmental studies at the U of M.