The evidence supporting global warming is overwhelming. NASA’s on board, as is the current U.S. president and a former president. Even television networks know they have to acknowledge it, if for only one week a year.
In Toronto, however, there’s still at least one more skeptic on the issue of climate change. And he’s an important one.
Norm Kelly, the chair of Toronto’s parks and environment committee has his doubts that global warming is actually something we need to worry about. Environmental officials and an expert consultant presented a report earlier this week that showed the impending changes in Toronto’s climate by 2040. The report said that Toronto will have less snow in the winter and more rain in the summer. The city will also have to deal with higher than normal temperatures. The concern is that these changes could present a problem for the city’s already-aging infrastructure. “Our infrastructure is built for a city in a different climate than the one our children are going to live in,” said Councillor Gord Perks. (Take, for example, Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, perpetually linked with the word, “crumbling.”)
Kelly, however, wasn’t so sure. “I was talking to one climatologist who said we could end up having the climate of Tennessee,” he said. “That ain’t bad.”
Who doesn’t like longer summers and shorter winters? The trouble is that while Tennessee is built for a Tennessee climate, too much rain can quite literally shut down Toronto’s public transportation. And of course, climate and temperature are not the same thing.
Kelly’s logic is outdated and self-involved. It suggests that since the effects of climate change are neither too extreme, nor that problematic where he lives, it’s nothing to worry about. He may appreciate this Wednesday’s 13 degree day, but were he a farmer in sub-Saharan Africa, he would probably have a far greater response to a rapidly changing climate than, “that ain’t bad.”
It is, actually, bad.
I don’t know what’s more depressing: that we’re still arguing over whether climate change is a thing or not, or that we’re having this argument with the chair of the parks and environment committee of the largest city in the country.
Kelly did indeed say that the report should be taken seriously, as a precaution, even though he isn’t 100 per cent sold on climate change. “Life is so complex that it’s very difficult to get a handle on what may be coming our way,” Kelly said.
Indeed—and that’s why you commission reports for hundreds of thousands of dollars done by people who know more than you to tell you what you need to do next.
Above: Toronto Councillor Norm Kelly, Image credit: Fred Lum/ The Globe and Mail