Editorial: Climate change needs action, not words

people around the world are wondering what, if anything, will actually be able to accomplish.

With the Paris climate conference underway, people around the world are wondering what, if anything, world leaders from the 150 or so nations in attendance will actually be able to accomplish. The 12-day negotiations are expected to deliver a global plan to reduce emissions, and some of the planet’s most advanced and populous countries have committed to developing clean energies, including India, and the United States, as well as Canada, South Korea and France.

We currently have a civilization here on Earth that is almost completely dependant on burning fossil fuels to produce energy, a process that is one of the major contributing factors to climate change. And since Big Oil turned to unconventional oil and natural gas, there are a whole new slew of problems that people are waking up to. A massive amount of water is needed for fracking (hydraulic fracturing that releases oil and gas from rock formations deep below the earth’s surface), and this water is being diverted from public use to enable the fracking boom. This is depleting water supplies in some of the United States’ driest areas. Here in B.C., with our abundance of water, drought is the last thing on anyone’s minds, but the dangerous chemicals mixed with the water ought not to be. Fracking renders the water essentially useless, filling it with toxic contaminants that can’t be removed in standard water treatment plants. One method is to simply “dispose” of the fracked water, by injecting it back into the ground below the aquifers that supply drinking water. This notion, that below the earth’s surface exists a static environment ideal for storing toxic waste, discounts all science and, in terms of ignorance, is on par with the belief that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Until governments, including here in B.C., crack down on the oil and gas industry through stricter regulations that protect air and water, and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, their pledges to set targets and do more aren’t going to amount to much.