Magazine article Anglican Journal

Lack of Political Will at Heart of Climate Crisis

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Lack of Political Will at Heart of Climate Crisis

Article excerpt

Speakers addressing a recent Toronto forum made an impassioned plea for a paradigm change to save a planet in crisis. "The obstacle is the lack of political will," said Lynn McDonald, a professor emeritus from Ontario's University of Guelph and former NDP environment critic, at the town-hall style meeting. "Greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and Canada has no serious plans to address this."

Although Canada's absolute emissions are modest compared with those of China with its 1.3 billion people, they are still high on a per-capita basis. Part of the challenge, pointed out McDonald, is that our laws are based on assumptions of the renewability of resources, even though some resources, such as fossil fuels, are inherently non-renewable. "We need a profound paradigm shift to take that into account," she said.

Dr. Peter Russell, a constitutional expert and principal emeritus of Innis College, University of Toronto, warned against betting on the glacier-paced workings of constitutional change to enshrine needed protections. "You're betting on the wrong horse. It will never get to the starting post, let alone the finish line," he said. Instead of dreaming about a brave new world in which the environment is legally protected, "this is a time when we have to pull together and undertake practical things now," Russell warned. "The situation is extremely serious."

What gives our generation the right to use up so much of the world's natural resources? We need to keep asking ourselves this, said McDonald, who is also chair of JustEarth, a Coalition for Environmental Justice and a sponsor of the forum. She urged all environmentally conscious citizens to get involved in lobbying and letter-writing campaigns targeting political leaders at every level.

McDonald also pointed out that as the rights and entitlements of the individual evolved after the Enlightenment, they were construed as human rights in the here and now, with no consideration for the environment, future generations or other species. Furthermore, she added, modern courts have extended to corporations the same rights that, individuals enjoy. Thus, the right to free expression becomes the right to freely advertise, and corporations have no obligation to the future. "It might be against the law to pick someone's pocket and cheat him out of what is rightfully his but not against the law to cheat his descendants out of the resources they need to earn their livelihood," said McDonald. …

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