These first 10 days of January have felt anything but like the winters that I remember.

I would like to think the cold days I remember from my youth and 20s were all a figment of my imagination, but every day there appears to be another news item talking about global warming.
The environment has caught everyone’s attention. Even the federal Conservatives have put on notice that their Clean Air Bill doesn’t measure up to electors’ expectations.
But I wonder what do we have to do to meet those changes?
How can one person make a significant change in the weather patterns? How can a single nation reverse the harm done by 202 other ones? In some ways, I feel almost helpless in reversing the course of man.
Al Gore in his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” grabbed theatre-goers’ attention. In front of an audience at New York University’s law school, the former U.S. vice-president stated, “We are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could, within as little as 10 years, make it impossible for us to avoid the irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization.”
They are pretty frightening words.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks the question about whether or not Canadians are prepared to make the sacrifices to reverse our polluting immediately, or if we are ready to do it over time.
In 2002, the federal government pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions to six percent below 1990 levels by 2012. But by 2005, Canada was exceeding 1990 levels by 34 percent when the government of the time introduced its budget to meet its earlier commitments.
What do we have to do? Are householders ready to turn down their furnaces in the winter to 17 C or turn up their thermostats to 28 C in the summer, or turn off air conditioners to reduce electrical consumption by coal-fired generation?
Auto manufacturers do have vehicles that can get 35-40 miles per gallon, yet Canadians have been slow to adopt those vehicles—choosing bigger, more powerful gas guzzlers instead.
Are we ready to abandon the use of snowmobiles, four-wheelers, personal watercraft, and power boats and opt for skiing, walking, rowing, and sailing.
We, as North Americans, are a strange lot. When pump prices rose dramatically following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we drove less and created less greenhouse gas.
When electricity prices rose through the roof in California and even in Ontario, consumers chose to reduce household temperatures.
Do governments have to place higher taxes on those commodities to get us to reduce our pollution?
As we travel on winter vacations, either by driving or flying, we probably are creating huge amounts of greenhouse gasses. By vacationing less, and staying closer to home, that, too, would decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
In Ontario, wind farms are springing up and now those in the region of wind farms are applying the NIMBY (not in my back yard) rules. The government has proposed the building of new nuclear electrical generation stations, but Ontarians are resistant to nuclear-powered energy.
A great deal of the products consumers purchase come from Third World developing nations. North American industries and retailers have sourced out those products and built factories to provide quality products to their North American customers at cheaper costs.
Many of those factories pay less and have to meet fewer government pollution regulations.
The products then are shipped to North America or Europe by ship or jet. The shipping distance adds to greenhouse gasses.
Would we pay substantially more to have North Americans manufacture the products and protect our world? I don’t know.
And that is the problem we face. Are we really serious about reducing greenhouse gasses? Are we ready to make those sacrifices and become a little less comfortable?

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