Forest fire burning in Israel
Recently, I wrote an article about davidsuzuki.org, the official website of The David Suzuki Foundation, and a terrific source of information for those who wish to learn more about the planet, the responsibility that we all have towards it, and what we can do to protect and preserve it for future generations. Since then, I have had the opportunity to pose some questions to Ian Hanington, a Communications & Editorial Specialist at the foundation, regarding climate change. Here's what he had to say about the foundation, the barriers to coming up with real solutions to climate change, the biggest misconception about climate change, the climate summit in Cancun, and more. (Also, look for images throughout the interview that depict some of the effects climate change can have, affecting both people and planet alike.)
Sheep on drought-stricken land.
Andrew DeCanniere: For those who don't know much about the organization, when and how did it start and what is its mission?
Ian Hanington: The David Suzuki Foundation was incorporated on Sept. 14, 1990, after a gathering of a dozen thinkers and activists on Pender Island, B.C. in late 1989. They met to discuss solutions after 17,000 listeners sent letters responding to an episode of David Suzuki's award-winning radio series
It's a Matter of Survival that sounded an alarm of where the planet was heading.
Our mission is to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future.
Our vision is that within a generation, Canadians act on the understanding that we are all interconnected and interdependent with nature.
See also: Declaration of Interdependence: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/
A flood in a town in the UK.
AD: We all hear about climate change in the news on a regular basis, and yet it seems that there is still a lot of work yet to be done when it comes to solving the problem. Why is that and what seems to be the biggest barrier to coming up with a real solution?
IH:There are many barriers, among them a lack of political leadership, especially on national and international levels, and the inability of world leaders to agree on the necessary solutions. A concerted campaign by fossil fuel industry to spread doubt and confusion about the science of climate change is also leading to a lack of will on the part of many people who are led to believe the problem is not serious.
AD:What do you feel is the biggest misconception when it comes to climate change?
IH: The biggest misconception is that there is no scientific consensus regarding human-caused climate change. Although science is rarely 100 per cent certain, close to 98 per cent of the world’s climate scientist agree about the fundamentals of human-caused climate change, as do most of the world’s major scientific societies and institutions. As far as science goes, that’s extremely strong consensus.
Some species may become extinct due to climate change.
AD: On November 29th there will be a conference on climate change taking place in Cancun, Mexico. What is the most important thing that the government officials taking part in the conference can do (or that they might need to know) in terms of coming up with some real, meaningful solutions to climate change?
IH: Given the poor outcome of last year’s Copenhagen climate talks, expectations are not high for the climate summit in Cancun. One expectation is that this summit will provide some positive building blocks for the 2011 conference in South Africa.
The Climate Action Network Canada also sees these two requirements as necessary:
- Agreeing on an approach to transparency about emission reduction commitments. In the jargon of the negotiations, this is known as "MRV," for the "measurement, reporting and verification" of countries' commitments.
- Launching a new global climate fund. This fund would support developing countries as they reduce their own emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
AD: What are some things that individuals can do at the household level to help prevent climate change? What can cities do (at the municipal level)?
IH: Finding ways to conserve energy is the best way for households to help prevent climate change. Driving less – and using alternative forms of transportation such as cycling, walking, and public transit – is essential. Household improvements such as better insulation also help, as do switching to energy efficient lighting and appliances. Becoming informed and getting active, and letting leaders and politicians know that you want them to work toward solutions is one of the most important things people can do.
At the municipal level, cities can do a lot through urban planning. Increasing infrastructure for transit, cycling, and walking, and planning neighbourhoods to reduce car dependency are important. Encouraging energy efficiency in buildings through tax policy and incentives and other measures also help.
AD: If someone were interested in learning more about the subject, what are some books that you would suggest they read, or, for that matter, websites you suggest that they visit?
IH: See above web links.
Merchants of Doubt
How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. By Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway
Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming
. By James Hoggan with
Richard Littlemore (http://www.desmogblog.com/
The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place In Nature.
By David Suzuki and Amanda McConnell
The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for Our Sustainable Future.
By David Suzuki
Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities
. By Patrick M. Condon.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded.
By Thomas L. Friedman
. By George Monbiot.
The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change.
By Tim Flannery
The Climate Challenge--101 Solutions to Global Warming
. By Guy Dauncey
Photo credit (from top):Forest fire - (Googlel images), Paul Anderson (geograph.co.uk), "Just Being Myself" (via Flickr), "Bidgee" (via Wikimedia).
Please note that the use of photography does not constitute any sort of an endorsement by the photographer(s).