"This is not a problem for another generation. Not anymore." ~Barack Obama
President Obama's speech noted that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, that droughts, storms, and wildfires are increasing all over the planet in both frequency and intensity, and how climate change is already adversely affecting the air our children breathe, forcing kids to grapple with mounting health impacts. The President also talked about the need to act, to transition away from fossil fuels and start implementing renewables.
The speech was hopeful, and while the U.S. has a long way to go to live up to the ideals found within it, one could not help but be inspired by a world leader taking the time to address the world's most pressing issue.
On the same day in Canada Prime Minister Harper was silent.
There was no Earth Day speech. No urgent call to action. No outlining of the threats we face or the way in which we were going to work together to meet them. There wasn't even an Earth Day tweet -- just silence.
The day before, Prime Minister Harper's government released Canada's 2015 budget. While the word "oil" appears in the budget 118 times, there was only a single reference to climate change.
Nothing really surprised me about the Prime Minister's actions over the last two days but it was a very stark reminder of his priorities.
As leaders all over the world -- and even within Canada -- stand-up and address the climate crisis, our Prime Minister meets it with a horrifying silence. Instead, he pushes to deepen the problems.
Popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said that politicians denying science is the "beginning of the end of an informed democracy." Given the Harper government's continued attacks on those who speak up for the environment, and his continued inaction to try to protect it (not to mention a slew of other policies, such as Bill C-51), the end of an informed democracy is well underway in Canada.
Luckily, some of Canada's Premiers are starting to move. Quebec and Ontario announced they are moving forward on cap and trade and most of Canada's premiers recently committed to transitioning Canada to a low-carbon economy. The question for them is, in the absence of federal leadership, will they will let their efforts be undermined by Alberta, the nation's largest carbon emitter and the Alberta tar sands, the fastest growing source of climate pollution?
At the end of the day it's up to us.
It's up to us hold the line and keep the pipelines out of the ground and the tar sands in it.
It's up to us to ensure our leaders feel the heat and make the right decisions and to bounce them if they don't.
The Prime Minister may not care about the earth enough to even give it a mention on Earth Day, but I know we do. We know what's at stake and we know that we can't afford to lose or wait.
So on the day after we celebrate the Earth I wanted to take this day to celebrate you.
Here's to all the land and water defenders. Those who stand in front of the bulldozers, dance the round dances, or implement solutions. To the people that signed petitions, knocked on doors, or showed up to help stop the destruction and begin the healing. To the mischief makers, the warriors, and the parents and grandparents pushing to leave a better place for their children. For all the thankless hours going up against such incredible odds, this day is for you and for the only home on which we all reside.
Thank you for not giving up, for pushing back, and for doing the unthinkable with such unimaginable love.
I hope today you reflect on all the victories, ready yourself for the fights ahead, and find some time to enjoy this beautiful world because we have a long road yet to go.
I'm sorry we don't have a Prime Minister who's willing to help, maybe one day our work will lead us to one that does.
My heart goes out to you all.
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