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'We're on a terrible track for the planet': Anxiety rising among climate change experts

Last Updated Jul 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm PDT

Summary

John Geddes, Maclean's Ottawa bureau Chief, says scientists, economists and policy makers are getting anxious

"Somebody has failed to get across to the public the fact that we're on a terrible, terrible track for the planet"

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The country’s top experts are growing alarmed about climate change.

John Geddes, Maclean’s Ottawa bureau Chief, has spoken with scientists, economists and policy makers for years about climate change and says anxiety is rising among the group.

“Because what they’re seeing is the shift from projecting climate change, biting, and having an affect on people’s lives, to it actually happening,” he tells City News.

But the problem is public opinion hasn’t caught up to those concerns.

“So this is one of those moments where, in a way it’s a test of our imagination. Can we imagine, as we look around and see more fires, more heat waves, more droughts now, what it’s going to be like 20 years, 40 years, 100 years from now? It’s a challenge to the human imagination that we’re facing.”

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He adds threats we’ve been hearing about and climate change experts have been talking about that have always seemed to be off in the future are now upon us yet the solutions are still elusive.

“Somebody has failed to get across to the public the fact that we’re on a terrible, terrible track for the planet right now and there’s not going back. There’s no quick fix, there’s no solution that we don’t have to think hard about.”

He says experts believe drastic change is needed in the very near future, which is a tough proposition politically and a huge test for the public.

A science writer at Maclean’s agrees we’re stuck in this catastrophic narrative, but there are ways to achieve solutions to climate change.

“You know, it’s so powerful. If in our imaginations we can envision a future where we got it right and part of me really wants to be able to taste that,” Alanna Mitchell says on the Big Story Podcast.

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Part of what she researched was the electrification of the grid, which is a key component to any de-carbonizing. In Canada, thanks to hydro, nuclear, wind and solar generation we’re striping a large amount of carbon out of the way we make electricity.

“We are at 81 per cent and I think that’s pretty fascinating. There are countries that are 100 per cent and there are some that are right up in the high 90s. There’s a whole raft of them that are up in the high 90s. Now, big countries like China and the U.S. are not. Europe is on track to be at 90 per cent in about two decades.”

She adds to the average consumer turning on their lights it won’t feel different but using an alternate production mechanism for electricity will make a difference as we strive to be carbon-free and find a solution for climate change.

For more on Maclean’s climate change series in advance of the federal election, click here.

To read John Geddes’ full piece, click here.

To read Alanna Mitchell’s full piece, click here.

– With files from City News and Maclean’s