Climate change? That’s bad. Climate strike? Also bad

What will you be doing on Sept. 27? Going to work? Going to school? Spending time with your family?

Or are you going to be one of those who will participate in the global climate strike that day?

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Young people have been involved in their own climate strikes in recent days to protest what they believe is inactivity in the face of climate change. They’ll go out and stage their protests and send a message that more needs to be done. If not, they’ll inherit a world that will have even more weather-related calamities than what we’re seeing now.

The big climate strike is happening on Sept. 27, but to me, it feels like the kids are looking for an excuse to get out of school on a Friday. (If they were to try it on the final Friday of January, I would give their efforts more credibility).

There was a time in which kids who skipped class received detention. Maybe that’s not the case any longer. And if parents found out their kids were skipping class, then the kids were grounded. Again, perhaps that’s not the case anymore.

I can tell you that if I would have skipped class when I was in elementary or high school, for any reason my parents found inexcusable, I would have been grounded. No more 10-game ticket packages for the Vancouver Canucks. No video games. No television. No golf. No time with friends. 

Now we have adults participating in these strikes as well. Saskatchewan New Democratic Party leader Ryan Meili has called on Premier Scott Moe to join the climate protesters for a rally on Sept. 27. Premier Moe has said no.

I’m sure Meili will be there, along with other members of the NDP caucus. Hopefully some members of the Sask. Party legislature will be there, too. Maybe the protesters would like to see the premier there, but as a taxpayer, I can think of things that I’d rather have our premier do, like fighting for our province and our economy during a federal election.

It would probably be good for Environment Minister Dustin Duncan to show up.

If people are taking the day off work to attend this event, then maybe they shouldn’t complain if they get a pink slip or a suspension without pay for no-showing work that day.

Of course, these protests are the follow-up to the efforts of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who has earned acclaim for her call for action against climate change. I don’t agree with everything she says – I’m not going to adopt a vegan lifestyle or give up flying in airplanes – but I understand that her message has resonated with a lot of people.

And she seems willing to lead by example. How else do you explain her decision to sail across the Atlantic in a yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines, rather than the much quicker and more efficient trans-Atlantic flight?

What she did struck a chord with people. But if people expect that these mass protests are going to have the same impact as her, then they’re sadly mistaken.

(Incidentally, I invite Thunberg to come to Estevan and tour the world-leading carbon capture and storage facility at the Boundary Dam Power Station, so she can see how coal-fired generation can still have a role as a baseload power source when it’s done the right way. I also hope she would take a look at the Petroleum Technology Research Centre’s Aquistore project and the geothermal project being undertaken by Deep Earth Energy Production Corp). 

I’m not a climate change denier. We need to seriously look at the changing weather patterns around the world. Maybe this is a natural phenomenon and we’ll eventually return to more stable weather patterns, and one day we’ll look back on when we had mass hysteria about climate change.

But if that’s the path we choose to take, and we’re wrong, then we’ve made the biggest mistake in human history.

There’s too much on the line to do nothing.

But while we have to think of the Earth and our environment and the future generations to inhabit the world, we also have to be conscious of the economy, jobs and the resources that we are blessed with. A resource left in the ground is a wasted resource. 

I actually agree with our prime minister when he talks about the need to balance the needs of the economy and the needs of the environment. Where I disagree with him is when it comes to his ability to be the one to find that balance.

And if we take reasonable steps to address climate change, and it proves to be the greatest con job in history, then we’re left with cleaner air and less waste and the other benefits associated with good environmental stewardship.

We need to be serious about climate change. But we need to do so while working at our jobs or going to school in our classrooms, rather than participating in yet another protest that will ultimately change nothing.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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