During the recent delegation to Council, Councillor Smokey Golden asked a great question: Why did the Montreal Protocol solve the problem of the ozone layer while solving the carbon dioxide build up fails to get traction?
There are three main reasons.
1. Timescale. Ozone depletion was noted in a relatively short period and could be corrected in a single lifetime. Carbon dioxide buildup has increased very slowly though the rate has increased considerably in recent years. And the correction will not be experienced in a single lifetime.
2. Visibility. While both ozone and carbon dioxide are invisible, the ozone problem was presented visually by adding colour to the satellite images whereby a metaphorical “hole” was created. Carbon dioxide spreads more easily in the atmosphere and forms a homogeneous layer. Therefore no hole.
3. Immediacy. We could get melanoma from ultraviolet light that came through the “visible hole”. We all knew someone, a family member, neighbour or friend who had melanoma. These were real people. Carbon dioxide is not that specific. Statistically it will kill a lot of people but it will do so indirectly. And we don’t yet know who.
Our children and grandchildren, born and to be born, will be left to deal with the mess left by the current adult generation who will likely get off scot-free, as was eloquently (and elegantly) pointed out by one of the student delegates at Council.
I applaud Council for unanimously voting to acknowledge the science behind climate change and to set up a Climate Action Committee.