Saturday, January 27, 2007

Warm winter days... not as great as it seems

When I felt the weather yesterday, I couldn't believe what I was witnessing: A sunny, warm winter day. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm, and there were people who weren't even wearing jackets. Who'd need jackets when the outside temperature is 9°C?
To be honest, I saw more than a dozen individuals who were really cheering the phenomenon. 'This is great', they said. 'This is winter in Victoria. It's way better than any other place in Canada'.
Still, something was really strange there. How come a day in January, typically the coldest month of the year, was so sunny and pleasant, just like a day in spring?
My astonishment was even greater when I saw the forecast for the next few days on the newspaper: Victoria, High 9°C - Low 1°C. Sunny.
It took me a while to discover what's really going on while reading a local newspaper: Global warming. My very first personal contact with it.
What I initially thought that was a phenomenon that affected only the poles, is actually a very serious global concern that is showing its effects everywhere in the world, from Canada to Siberia, from Pole to Pole.
This oncoming week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be meeting in (an unusually warm as well) Paris to present their report "Climate Change 2007". This report is intended to give an assessment on the current status of knowledge and research about the climate change on Earth; more than 2500 scientist from over 130 countries take part of this project.
But no report is really relevant if no solutions are taken for this issue. The situation is more than just strange, I'd rather describe it as alarming. It has been reported, for example, that in the neighbouring State of Washington, in the U.S., took place a very early cherry blossoming. And it's no secret that the ice cap in the North Pole has been seriously harmed in the last years, leading to even more warming due to the ineffectiveness of the Pole to reflect solar radiation towards the space. The polar bears are seriously threatened. Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, gives a very apocalyptic (but realistic) approach to this issue.
We all know that greenhouse gases are mainly responsible of these consequences. And greenhouse emissions are created only by humans, mostly in highly industrialized regions of the world. So how willing are people to change their way of life, just to reduce the effects of global warming?
The Globe and Mail, a very influential Canadian newspaper, boasts about the results obtained in a poll published lately: 'More than nine out of every 10 people say they're willing to make sacrifices, with 55 per cent saying they'd accept major ones and 38 per cent minor ones in the fight against global warming. Only 5 per cent say they won't do anything. Clear majorities also say they would be willing to pay more for fuel-efficient cars, reduce the amount they fly, cut the amount they drive in half, and have the economy grow at “a significantly slower rate” to help clean up the environment'. (Click here to read the entire note).
Yes, sounds like relieving. At least on the Canadian side. But what about people in other countries? Would they also be willing to accept these radical changes? I would like to think that they would, but sadly my perception is that in some regions they wouldn't make a great effort to change. Not for the global warming, not for the preservation of species, and not for anyone. Who cares if the Baiji is functionally extinct? Who needs to ratify the Kyoto Protocol? To the eyes of many, sustainability and business are two topics that have nothing to do between them. But I'm sure that we'll come to a day sometime when governments will finally be conscious about the tragic environmental situation in our planet and they'll issue regulations that force industries to be greener.
In the meanwhile, you can start spreading the word about this concern. We all have to be conscious about this, and why not starting today?. Using less your car, using public transport if possible, and walking for short distances are good ways to begin a new mentality, which will allow us as a civilization to have a 'cooler' way of life in the upcoming years.


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