Climate change like a cancer grows

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
May 9, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — Last week I wrote about the choices we have between denial or acceptance of climate change. In the comments that followed, those unable or unwilling to accept climate change focused on the economic case as opposed to specific anti-science arguments. A few more readers zeroed in on their distrust of big government, especially when it came to carbon taxes.

Perhaps in some respects, the denial or distrust approach is not unreasonable as the fear of lost jobs or higher taxes is a powerful motivator.  

I understand those concerns yet remain somewhat puzzled, as denial will not stop anything and may in fact speed things up, creating real financial havoc in the process. But before you reach for your keyboard, the flaming one, give me an opportunity to explain. Especially since I’m going to begin my explanation by talking about cancer.

None of us will deny the existence of cancer nor the personal tragedies it is capable of causing. The science is solid in the field of diagnostics, treatment and research and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees or denies that it can cause great personal devastation.

Funding for cancer research comes from governments, corporations and individual donations. Whether you donate directly or not, you are still funding both the research and the provision of medical care through your tax dollars.  

It is a scientific and economic model that seems to work and I doubt you will find much argument against using our tax dollars in the battle against cancer.  

Why then, when it appears that our planet is sick do we pretend otherwise? Would you ignore first signs, or the changes in rhythm your body is experiencing, or onset pain for the same reasons you ignore the symptoms of climate change?

And by the way, can anyone honestly suggest that cancer is a plot by government to bring in more revenue under the guise of cancer treatment and research? Of course not, yet some see no problem propagating similar conspiracy theories when it comes to climate change. (Note: I don’t feel carbon tax dollars should go to general revenue but that’s for another column.)

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was given two treatment options to consider and a third option, which was to do nothing. It was the latter that made me wonder about climate change denial.  

That third option was in essence, denial. A chance to disbelieve the science and opinions of others, call my doctors alarmists and simply pretend I didn’t have cancer. In the short term I would feel or see no changes and life and my ability to earn income would go on as it always had. Soon though, small changes would set in. Nothing serious to begin with but slowly and surely the cumulative effect of those changes would bring me to the point of no return. Eventually, but too late, I would be left wondering why I refused to accept reality and therefore treatment.

Pretending the science was wrong, ignoring the warning signs, blaming others and not taking responsibly ends with far more serious consequences. Suddenly those short-term hardships look very attractive.

There comes a time when you have to face the cold hard facts and then deal with it. It isn’t going to be fun, you’re not going to be happy and money might be in short supply. But you don’t sit on your hands and do nothing while justifying your inaction by claiming, you can’t afford it, the science is wrong and the future is too fearful to face.

Would you honestly refuse cancer treatment in order to work a few more months or years? Seriously, would you, knowing full well that you were giving up years and years of future work and health? Yet some do exactly that when dealing with climate change.

The economic argument is a false one, a short-term excuse allowing some to deny and delay the cure. Or worse yet and like a cancer grows, through inaction, take us beyond the point of no return.

When it comes to climate change, the science is not wrong and the future will be as fearful as you purposefully make it. So why not stop making up excuses and pretending fixing it is unaffordable? If it’s all about money, imagine the cost when delay has made it impossible to fix.