October 9, 2014 - Imagine being taken out to the wood shed for a paddling by a commissioner your government appointed as an environment watchdog. That's what happened this week in my country, Canada.
Over breakfast this morning I got into a debate with a friend about threats to humanity in the near future. I argued that anthropomorphic influence on the environment and climate represented the greatest threat in the 21st century.
It is my country's 147th birthday today. Yes, Canada as a confederation is now almost a century-and-a-half in age and as part of that celebration, the Toronto Star, one of Canada's premier newspapers, asked Ken Dryden, goaltender, Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, lawyer, professor, and overall pretty bright guy to ask famous Canadians to talk about their hopes for Canada's future.
It's only a poll, which is hardly an election, but a Bloomberg measure of American attitudes towards tackling climate change show a significant public opinion shift. It appears that 62% of Americans polled are prepared to pay more for energy if it means reducing carbon emissions. Only a third of Americans are not.
America is now more politically polarized than at any point in the last 20 years. This isn’t just Congress – this is the American people. That polarization shows up in beliefs about politics, about everyday life, and even in where conservatives and liberals live. And it’s most intense in those who are the most politically engaged.
The world is undergoing a paradigm shift, not just because of environmental stress but because of a revolution that is altering discourse and decision making across the planet. I state this because of what came across the breakfast table this morning as I sat down with my newspaper.
It seems that when an American President takes up a topic, the media begins to move it from the middle to the front pages of newspapers everywhere. And yet what President Obama addressed along with the Environmental Protection Agency in these new executive directives is really "old hat." But it is a hat we all need to wear.
Executive action seems the only way these days to get the United States on a carbon footprint reduction plan. With today's announcement by President Obama focused on reducing carbon pollution and fighting climate change we may yet begin to see progress on this critical human and world issue.
According to Forbes, they are American Electric Power Company (AEP) and Duke Energy. AEP is the fifth largest U.S. electricity producer in the United States. Duke is number one. But AEP produced 141,226,882 tons of carbon in 2012 while Duke emitted 134,277,330 tons. Why is this the case? Because both of these companies heavily rely on coal-fired power plants for electricity generation and although they are phasing some of these plants out they still remain wedded to coal with 73% of their generating capacity coming from this fossil fuel.