event archives

Date: Wednesday February 24, 2021

The Climate Emergency and what it means for our wellbeing
Jeremy Theal (speaker)

Joyce Lee (speaker)

This is a speaker series event:
In our monthly speaker series we invite experts in their fields to present and discuss ideas that address our climate & community, both locally and nationally. These events are an open invitation to the community -not just to action – but to inquiry and discourse.

Last Wednesday, the Bay of Quinte Greens – Federal and Provincial Greens working together – held the third in their speaker series on the subject of The Climate Crisis and what it means for our wellbeing.

Jim Colby was host and our speakers were Jeremy Theal and his wife Joyce Lee, who are both physicians and concerned about the effects of the climate crisis and the kind of world their, now, seven-year-old daughter (who made a brief appearance) will inherit. In 2018, they trained under Nobel Laureate Al Gore, and now give educational presentations – you can see their website at truthonclimate.com.

They opened their presentation with three objectives:

  1. To show the severity and immediacy of the climate crisis
  2. To describe how it and the Covid-19 pandemic intersect
  3. To suggest ways in which we, as individuals, can make a difference

Trust science – scientists have long predicted both pandemics and climate change. 70% of emerging diseases come from our relentless encroachment into our natural world and the warming effect of greenhouse gases has been predicted for well over 100 years. Covid-19 starkly illustrates what happens when you don’t trust science. Two of the countries that didn’t are the U.S. and Brazil. Two that did are New Zealand and Taiwan. There have been 250 times as many Covid-19 cases (per million population) in the U.S. and Brazil and almost 500 times as many deaths. We have a vaccine for Covid-19. There is no vaccine for the climate crisis.

Don’t trust business – as with cigarette smoking, business has long known the dangers of global warming and actively hidden the truth. Joyce and Jeremy showed AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) questioning Dr. Martin Hoffert – an Exxon scientist – at a House Oversight subcommittee meeting. He admitted the company knew about global warming in 1982 and accurately predicted today’s CO2 levels – watch here. In fact, the same people who hid the truth on smoking were employed by Big Oil – you can see the documentary, “Merchants of Doubt”.

Jeremy and Joyce talked about Syria – how the country’s collapse into civil war leading to 5.6 million refugees and 6.2 million displaced people began with a five year drought that led to cascading crises – lack of water led to loss of agriculture due to desertification, which led to migration to cities, which led to civil unrest, which led to civil war, which led to intervention by foreign armies, which led to a refugee crisis, which led to massive migration to Europe and a continuing immigration crisis with permanent refugee camps and squalid conditions. They asked what things will be like in 2050 when there are billions of displaced people rather than millions. You can look at an evocative description of the Syrian crisis in a well-known graphic novel.

Joyce and Jeremy described extreme weather effects: how hotter air contains more water vapour, which means longer and more intense storms and hurricanes; how the earth’s uninhabitable zones will massively expand; how, in 2015, the medical journal, The Lancet, declared that climate change is a medical emergency because of the many impacts on the human mind and body and strengthening vectors for infectious disease; and how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 2018 that changes will be irreversible if warming exceeds 1.5°C. They also reminded us that Canada is far from immune. In fact heating in our Arctic is more than anywhere in the world and threatens us with two irreversible “tipping points” – the loss of the Arctic ice cap (so that instead of energy being reflected by ice it is absorbed by water) and melting permafrost, which may release massive amounts of fossil methane into the air – methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Already our Jetstream, which anchors our weather patterns is being weakened resulting in “weird” weather effects like what happened in Texas last week.

In the face of all of this, what can we do? Jeremy and Joyce have a “Guide to Reducing our Carbon Footprint” which is available for download.

  1. Reduce your carbon footprint: drive electric, use carbon offsets, fly less, transition to a plant-based diet, buy less “stuff” and DON’T GIVE UP.
  2. Grow your political footprint (I don’t need to remind you why we all became Greens)
  3. One of the questions asked by a member of the audience was, “what should I say to people who don’t believe in climate change?” Joyce and Jeremy were emphatic – ignore them. They described Erica Chenoweth’s “3.5% rule” – only a small minority are needed to change the world. Focus on them not the deniers, you’re just wasting your time.