Editorial: Three ghosts of climate change

Shadows of things that may be

As the bell rang out the first hour, Scrooge became aware of a presence in his bedchamber. “Not again,” he mumbled, burying his head under his pillow.

This time, it was the Ghost of Climate Change past, her face bright and happy with memories of endless forests, clean rivers, landscapes and seas filled with a multitude of plants and animals. Taking Scrooge by the hand, they flew over the rainforest, breathing deeply of the oxygenated air, sun glinting off the snow capped distant mountains. But in the blink of an eye, it was all gone and Scrooge found himself trudging through a clear-cut, stepping over fallen trees that weren’t big enough for the loggers to want, the Ghost of Climate Change Present by his side. No cheery ghost this time, but a face lined with concern and worry.

“It just keeps spreading and nobody listens,” the ghost muttered to himself, stooping to peer into an empty badger burrow. “It’s just changing too fast.”

Now, a dark spirit rose before Scrooge as the world darkened. Peering under the cowl of the Ghost of Climate Change Future, Scrooge could only see a wasteland of dying forests, mighty rivers shrunken to rivulets, and cities flooded by rising seas.

“Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be?” begged Scrooge. “Is there no hope?”

We’re being overly dramatic here, but a report on the health impacts of climate change, published recently in The Lancet, said greenhouse-gas-emitting activities are contributing to the deaths of an estimated 7,142 Canadians a year, and 2.1 million people worldwide.

The report concludes that successfully tackling climate change would be the single biggest thing governments can do to improve human health this century.

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