If we do nothing about climate change, ‘we will just have to sit back and ride this one out to the catastrophic end’: Gord Miller

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PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA FEDERAL ELECTION 2019

An estimated 65 people gathered at the Active Living Centre in Huntsville on Sunday evening to listen to members of the Green Party talk about the importance of the upcoming federal election.

Green Party of Ontario leader, and the first Green Member of Provincial Parliament, Mike Schreiner, and former Parry Sound-Muskoka Green provincial candidate, Matt Richter, urged those present to elect a Green Member of Parliament to represent this riding in Ottawa.

Climate change is real: Miller

Gord Miller, the Green federal candidate running for the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding, was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario for 15 years and told those present that this election, unlike any other, is urgent because climate change is real.

He said while the Green platform is comprehensive and fully costed, climate change remains the pressing issue that frames everything else, and time is running out.

“There are some things you have to know about the climate emergency. There are some things that have to be clear. It comes down to three words: real, serious and urgent,” said Miller. “The climate urgency is the dominating factor, it frames all the other stuff… it is the dominant issue of our time.”

Global impacts

He spoke of flooding in Huntsville and Bracebridge, forest fires in Parry Sound and Northern Ontario, and reminded those present to also look at the big picture. “It’s not just fires and floods in Huntsville and Bracebridge and Parry Sound, there’s massive fires in the Amazon, in Madagascar, in the Congo, through Africa. There’s massive fires going on throughout the world… these fires are occurring in rainforests, think about that,” he told those present. “That’s a really wet forest that doesn’t normally burn.”

He said climate change is profoundly impacting the planet. He spoke of thousands of people dying from heat exposure due to heatwaves in Europe, in the Middle East, and Asia “where the temperature is getting intolerable for long periods of time. This is reality. This is happening now.”

Miller referred to findings by the science-based North American Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that tracked temperatures in July 2019 as being the hottest on record.

He spoke of hurricane Dorian and said while many may argue that you can’t blame a hurricane on climate change, “that hurricane, which devastated the Bahamas, was fed by the hottest water in the Caribbean that’s ever been recorded.” Water levels are rising and causing unprecedented flooding.

The Atlantic Ocean has had five category five hurricanes in the past four years, compared to 35 in the last one hundred years, said Miller. “So the reality is the world has changed. It is real, it is something we are experiencing now, and it’s serious.”

Miller said 80 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead as a result of climate change. Sockeye Salmon fisheries in Alaska are collapsing because rivers and streams are too warm. He said the centre of the United States, the breadbasket of North America, has had long periods of heavy rains which have impacted the production of food. “As a result, in that breadbasket, that centre of the earth where they grow all that grain, 19 million acres were not planted this year… those are profound changes that economically, and socially affect and threaten our very existence.”

Insurance companies are increasingly backing out of providing coverage to areas impacted by flooding. “There are portions of the City of Toronto that are so prone to storm sewer back-ups and flooding that you can’t get home insurance. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t do business. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t get a mortgage. If you can’t get a mortgage, you can’t sell your home… it threatens the very economic structure of where we live,” he said.

Canada’s commitment

“The countries of the world got together in 1992 and they signed an agreement,” Miller said, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “And for 26 years they’ve been meeting,” he said. “Elizabeth May has been to every single one. I think that she’s the only person on earth that’s been to every one.”

In 2015, when the nations met in Paris, an agreement was signed after 20 years of negotiations, said Miller, in which an agreement was made to keep the increase in global average temperatures well below two degrees Celcius (above pre-industrial levels), and to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to substantialy reduce the risks and effects of climate change. “And 197 nations signed that agreement, including the United States, including China… to this day, 185 nations have ratified [it].”

Time is running out

He said Canada has 11 years to honour its commitment to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent, below 2005 levels. “By 2050 the world is supposed to be neutral on carbon emissions. That means no internal combustion engines or if there are, they have to be mechanisms that trap carbon, capture carbon… this is a serious business, it’s serious and it’s urgent because the timelines are so incredibly short… and what have we done? Just about nothing,” he told those present.

“We have to get off fossil fuel, I know it’s not easy, but we have to do it.” Miller said it would require a major societal transformation – but it wouldn’t be the first time. “We turned the entire North American economy into a war machine. They didn’t make any cars and they didn’t make any refrigerators. We didn’t make any stoves or appliances… we transformed the entire economy of North America in two years, in 1943.”

While war is not what Miller had in mind, he did note that social and economic transformations are possible when faced with adversity, like climate change. 

“You think we can’t solve this problem? We can’t transform our economy? Of course, we can. It’s entirely possible, you just have to have the will and we have to have a will in Parliament,” said Miller, who admittedly is not from the riding. He’s building a house in Bracebridge and said he’s applying for the job to become this area’s Member of Parliament because he has the will and experience.

Greens need a voice at the table

“The Parliament that sits between 2019 and 2023 has to change the way this country is operating or there is no hope for us in 2050, and we will just have to sit back and ride this one out to the catastrophic end.” He said working together to solve the crisis is achievable. “But it’s only achievable if we change the composition of Parliament and we put Green members who know how Parliament works in Parliament to make sure this change begins to happen.”

You can find out more about Miller at this link. Below: Miller talking to those gathered at the Active Living Centre on Sunday.

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9 Comments

  1. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    We have so many problems and our political dignitaries raise only one issue. My ears swell up and I feel bad when I hear about it.

    • I had opportunity to meet Gord Miller recently. As Environmental Commissioner for Ontario Gord worked with all parties. He knows how Parliament works, he speaks effectively. He can hit the ground running when he gets there. He is passionately concerned about the environment because he has spent his career studying and analyzing it; as an environmental scientist, he knows his stuff.
      At the gathering I attended, he was asked about the Green position on other issues, and they of course have positions on those in their platform. Go to an All Candidates Meeting and ask a question.
      My opinion is that by voting Green, there is no “danger” of ending up with a Green parliament. What we will have is a few folks helping the ruling party, whichever that is, keep the environment in mind on decisions made in the next 4 years, and providing them with ideas and expertise. I think the danger is in NOT electing a few Greens, and Gord is a great candidate with a lot of expertise to offer. Parry Sound/Muskoka will be well served, and heard!

  2. I couldn’t be bothered to read all of this but it’s the same old crap we have to do something but nobody has any idea of what to do. We can all stop working and eating and going to school and just sit and starve because without fossil fuel right now we have none of those things . Global warming has been going on for around 10.000 years maybe more and nothing we are going to do will stop it now. Canada was tropical at one time in history so why do we think it will not be tropical again we better just learn to adapt to it.

      • Calling someone a “brain dead zombie denial bot” isn’t an argument, Volt Dan. One of the advantages of living in a small town is that we usually speak, in a civil way, to our friends and neighbors here.

        I know of at least one apparent assumption made by Gord Miller that is in error. The fires “in the Amazon” are not in the rain forest–they are in the farming areas contiguous to the forested areas. And they are not caused by “climate change” –they are caused by deforestation. The deforestation has been deliberate and most of the fires were set. The fires were worse in the 1990s and early 2000s. Recognizing the importance of preserving the Amazon rain forest, the international community appealed to the Brazilians and they responded by cutting back on the settlement of the Amazon basin. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/brazil-amazon-rainforest-fires-climate-emissions-oxygen

        But the Brazilians could rightly point to the developed nations of the West and say, “What are YOU doing to preserve your own land?” We dump millions and millions of pounds of glyphosate on our farmland every year in N. America, despite warnings that it is a likely carcinogen. And it is leading to the development of “super weeds” which cannot be eradicated by any available means. Meanwhile, China is polluting the oceans with horrific amounts of plastic and India is building huge numbers of coal-fired power plants (as is China). These problems are not easy problems to solve technologically or politically. And we must first determine whether we even have a man-caused problem (which is yet to be determined) and how severe it will become if we do nothing. We would do well to take the advice of the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, “First, do no harm.” In healing the body which we call earth, we need to apply technology appropriately but not be panicked into taking actions that do more harm than good. The poor of the world will be disproportionately affected by draconian bans on the use of fossil fuels.
        The glib answer from climate alarmists is, “Well we should just use wind and solar and drive electric cars” is quite impractical, for many reasons. Wisdom is badly needed along with deliberate, well-considered action.

    • Ray. Gord Miller is right. The rate of natural warming is about 1 degree C in 10 million years. But we have experienced 1 degree C in the last 100 years because of human activity. That is 100,000 times faster than the earth’s natural warming cycle, and the rate is now growing rapidly. Where I have trouble with the Green Party is their irrational faith in intermittent wind and solar energy. Elizabeth May said in her Maclean’s interview that Alberta (By far our biggest contributor of carbon emissions) could solve their emissions problem with wind and solar power. That is just not possible. Certainly, we must decrease our oil consumption, but doing so too fast will create a global energy shortage on top of a climate crisis. Of course, the poorest parts of the poorest countries will be the most affected. The only hope for solving Alberta’s emissions problem is for Alberta to use advanced nuclear power to replace coal for electricity and to replace natural gas for making steam for oil extraction. Until I hear the Green Party leader say that, I cannot vote Green.

      • So you want to invest billions in new nukes to heat water to extract more oil from the tar sands as a solution to climate change?

        Really?

        • Yes Dan. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but that is the only answer that will work. Wish I could meet with you to explain.

  3. I noticed the Obamas just bought a $15 million place on the Atlantic at Martha’s Vineyard. Obama signed the Paris Climate Accord, yet he along with thousands of rich elites live on the ocean, that was supposed to have risen on his property, according to the climate change projections. Wouldn’t that be a bad investment, if the property is going to be flooded? I read the IPCC report,when it was released, and it said there was a possibility of seas rising. They haven’t. The world has had warming (approximately c950 to c1250 CE) and cooling ( approximately (c1300 to c1800 CE) in the past long before this current fluctuation. We were taught in school that the world was warming as it came out of an ice age. The sun causes climate change. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have increased significantly as well. Other planets in the Solar System have seen temperature increases. This is another way for governments to tax the working class while the rich don’t pay their fair share.

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