rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Climate change: It's real. We caused it. What do we do now?

Climate change is for real, Polaris Institute image

Earlier in April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its fourth -- and most urgent -- report on the dangers posed by climate change. The IPCC was created in 1988 by the United Nations, and its reports present the best thinking of hundreds of practicing climate change scientists. They are now unequivocal in saying that carbon emissions are trapped in the atmosphere and warming the planet. And if we do not reduce our fossil fuel consumption by way of our cars and coal-fired power plants, the results may be catastrophic, scientists say.

According to the IPCC, we are in big trouble if the global average temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level. An article in the New York Times says, "Scientists fear that exceeding that level could produce drastic effects, such as the collapse of ice sheets, a rapid rise in sea levels, difficulty growing enough food, huge die-offs of forests, and mass extinctions of plant and animal species."

Holding a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent over the next 35 years. But the April IPCC report found that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are rising more rapidly than they were prior to the turn of the century.

Of course, the Canadian government says it is committed to cutting emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020, even though an Environment Canada report indicates that we won't even come close. And Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq recently claimed that Canada is a "world leader when it comes to addressing climate change." That's a strange claim from someone whose government was the only one to withdraw from the Kyoto accord, which we signed in 1998.

Meanwhile, there are organizations, such as the Fraser Institute, that host conferences and edit books discrediting climate change science. Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist, was a member of the IPCC prior to becoming a Green party MLA in British Columbia. He says that he watched as instant experts and hastily created groups came into existence, attempting to derail public action on climate change. It has been documented, for example, that ExxonMobil has funded numerous think-tanks, including the Fraser Institute, which later issued reports criticizing the IPCC's scientific consensus. Weaver says that the first question that should be asked of such people is whether or not they are actually climate scientists. The follow-up question: whether they are taking money from industry.

Still, there is some progress. The IPCC scientists say that after 25 years and four reports, an increasing number of people are beginning to understand climate change as a life and death issue. What's more, some governments -- including that of China -- have started to make progress on renewable energy, along with the technology that supports it.

This article appeared as a blog with the United Church Observer on April 24, 2014.

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.