Today the world is stepping up to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather - because climate change is too real and happening too fast to let our leaders continue to ignore it.
The environment group 350.org headed by Bill McKibben has organized a global Climate Impact Day. There will be thousands of actions across the planet from underwater on dying coral reefs in the Pacific to the melting Mont Blanc.
One of the thousands of actions today today is aimed at getting the attention of one man.
Warren Buffett owns the Burlington Northern Railways which will pass through Vancouver, BC today as it carries its load of coal to ports on the Pacific where it will be loaded onto freighters and shipped to Asia where it will be burned in power plants.
Today as part of the "Connect The Dots" campaign activists had planned to try to stop the train by standing on the tracks.
The climate change activists — including 100 Mile Diet author James MacKinnon, former COPE city councillor Fred Bass, and Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Dr. Mark Jaccard with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – say they plan to stop all railway coal shipments in a symbolic attempt to oppose shipments set for export overseas. What they found waiting for them was 40 pre-emptive injunctions by the BC Supreme Count, backed up by a dozen RCMP officers who appeared to be helping them serve court orders by identifying leaders of the group.
The question this raises is that of climate responsibility. The citizens of British Columbia – like everywhere – have a responsibility for doing our part when it comes to preventing dangerous climate change. What we do here (directly and indirectly) has an effect on emissions elsewhere. Respecting emissions generated within the province, we have taken important steps in the past few years, earning a laudable reputation for climate action. But the atmosphere doesn’t differentiate where a tonne of carbon equivalent comes from so our shared responsibility extends beyond our own borders. And the maintenance of our international reputation is put in jeopardy by continuing to support the export of massive amounts of GHG-laden coal to jurisdictions with less stringent environmental practices.China is now the largest global C02 emittor. Much of that is due to the US outsourcing it's manufacturing to China. So we can pretend that they are the bad guys when we are actually enabling their action.
Still, as a recent and fascinating report (pdf) from the Carnegie Endowment explains, Chinese coal imports are likely to grow enormously in the coming years. For one, Chinese coal use has been growing at a rate of nearly 6 percent each year. And China’s domestic production can’t keep pace, thanks to railroad and shipping bottlenecks from mining centers in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia provinces.So as both the US and Chinese governments become increasingly concerned about ecological damage from coal mining and as the internal protests grow in each country it presents a condundrum. Who gets to be blamed for the environmental damage? Looks like they are pointing the finger at each other. When will someone take responsibility?
What’s more, the Carnegie report notes, the Chinese government is becoming increasingly sensitive to the ecological damage wrought by domestic coal mining — as well as to the growing number of protests over unsafe mining conditions. According to official statistics, 6,027 Chinese miners died in 2004, though the real number is probably higher. There are real costs to ramping up production in China.
Today all eyes were on one man. Warren Buffett is the third richest man in the world and he seems to be a genuinely open minded caring individual. Will this action help him to "Connect The Dots? He has an enormous opportunity to influence the course of our planet's future.
Update: Looks like some of the activists are not backing down. I will update when I get more news