Opinion Letters

Letter: Plenty of reasons for hiking gas prices

Re Residents feeling pinch of gas prices, Jan. 6

This article described reactions of people to the 4.3-cents-per-litre increase in the price of gasoline brought about by Ontario’s new cap-and-trade program. Three aspects of their comments caught my eye.

First, many saw “no reason” for the price increase. No reason? How about the Fort McMurray fire last summer – the loss of 2,400 residences? Or the devastation that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on New York and New Jersey? Or drought in California – and the higher food prices we’re seeing as a result? Torrential rains in Toronto? Loss of sea ice in the Arctic? Acidification of the world’s oceans? We in Canada are not seeing the worst of climate change, but we’re certainly not immune. And that’s the reason for the 4.3-cent price increase.

Second, a comment was made that the government “couldn’t have picked a worse time.” Coincidentally, today I received a blog from David Suzuki, which pointed out that it was 1992 when “the majority of living Nobel prize winners and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide” released a report titled World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. The report noted, “If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society ... and may so alter the living world that we will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know it.”

That’s 25 years ago! Canada did little then, and has done little in the years since, even though it’s been clear that “human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment.” How long do we wait? When is the right time if not now – and not any time during the past 25 years?

Third, the article notes that many “adjectives” are being used “to describe Premier Kathleen Wynne.” Here are my suggestions: “concerned about future generations,” “realistic,” “aware of the dangers” – and yes, “courageous.” Courageous because she obviously knows how many people – and certainly her political opponents – will react to the cap-and-trade program. But she also knows it’s time to act. In fact, it may be past the time we should have acted. Do we want leaders who will take action when we are threatened? Or do we prefer them to close their eyes and do nothing?

If human beings are going to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must all share the costs of doing so. The costs will be higher in future if we do nothing now. And as the saying goes, “If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem.” Denial has been a problem for far too long.

Isn’t it time we all became part of the solution? For the sake of our children? Our grandchildren? The generations to come?

Fred Larsen

President, Simcoe North Provincial Liberal Association

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