Commentary on Global Warming

Written by Carl Duivenvoorden – delivered on CBC Radio May 2001

My wife and I welcomed a new son into the world recently. Eric Andrew Duivenvoorden was born at 1:37 AM on April 9.

Looking upon this little being for the first time, I felt joy, pride, hope - but also uneasiness. As I welcome my new son, I’m apprehensive about what kind of environment he will inherit from my generation.

I’ve never been a pot banging protester, but I’ve long been concerned about what’s happening to our global environment. To me, it’s obvious that we just can’t keep on polluting the way we are in the name of economic prosperity, and not expect some serious consequences.

It’s global warming I’m especially worried about. Every day the science is getting stronger, showing that our planet is warming up. It’s mainly because of an increasing amount of Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, created when we burn oil, coal and natural gas. Historically, the world’s forests have absorbed back what we’ve produced. Lately, though, it seems the forests can’t keep up, and the level of CO2 out there is rising.

So the solution is clear, right? We need to use less fossil fuel, and preserve more forests.

Well, unfortunately, neither of those things are happening. Globally, we’re consuming more fossil fuel than ever, and forests are disappearing at phenomenal rates - equal to an 18 kilometer wide swath from Fredericton to Vancouver every year.

To me, such grim statistics underline an urgent need for action. Yet, there was scarcely a whisper about the environment during the last federal election. We’re still looking to fossil fuels for our future energy needs, and our government is backsliding on commitments made in Kyoto. Most of the official talk seems to be about adapting, rather than trying to stop the problem. Well, if my house were burning, I wouldn’t be talking about how I’m going to adapt to living without a house; I’d be trying to put out the fire.

Sadly, it seems that governments aren’t ready to take serious steps to stop global warming, so maybe it comes back to individuals – like you and me.

Years ago my Mom told me, “You can’t change the whole world, but at least you can change your own little corner of it”. So, Eric Andrew, for you and your generation, here’s what I commit to doing in my little corner of the world:

  • I promise I’ll never buy a sport utility vehicle, “toy” truck or any other superfluous vehicle that has capacity or features I don’t need.
  • I promise to work to establish a car pooling network in my neighborhood.
  • I hope to own a woodlot by the time you are big enough to walk, and I promise it will never be clearcut. Harvested and managed, yes, but not clearcut.
  • I promise that, next election, I will work to make the environment a priority issue on the agenda.
  • And I promise to support organizations that share my belief that protection of our fragile, finite environment is something we owe to our children.

And if that means making a bit of noise some day, well, hand me the pot.

For Commentary, this is Carl Duivenvoorden in Upper Kingsclear, New Brunswick.