Imagine a cluster of tropical island settlements strung along the Indian Ocean with palm trees scattered throughout the white sands, and salt water beaches only a short walk away in every direction — a place for catching the perfect sunset.
Now imagine those beaches being slowly submerged by the salt water that surrounds them. Unfortunately, you don’t have to, because politicians’ obsession with fossil fuels is making it happen.
The Maldives are subject to just one of the immediate threats of climate change. The 400,000 islanders who call this place home are looking at a future ravaged by rising sea levels. It’s not just a matter of flooding either – these islands are sinking.
The country’s former president, Mohamed Nasheed, was in the midst of a carbon-neutral initiative before being ousted in 2012. Now the country is run by President Abdulla Yameen, who has dropped the country’s focus on renewable energy, and instead works on oil relations with Saudis and tourism development.
Western countries now have the same problems: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump and Trudeau need to stop making decisions that bolster the fossil fuel economy and start making moves that encourage energy businesses to be cleaner and more renewable than their competitors. Otherwise the Maldives will be more than just a cautionary tale.
This recommendation doesn’t only go to our politicians, we have the power too. Renewable and clean energy is at a tipping point with the potential to be just as lucrative, if not more, than fossil fuels. Climate change has not only become a globally uniting crisis, it has also become a business opportunity.
Trump is one of the biggest critics of climate change and now he’s the leader of the world’s biggest superpower. Not even a week into his presidency, Trump started pushing forward the construction of two oil pipelines, quickly let Trudeau start laying down his own pipes and most recently cut a nice chunk of funding out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. But at least he kind of finds merit in climate change now, which is an improvement considering he previously argued it was a Chinese conspiracy created to make business less competitive.
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But climate change might be a key driving force in creating an entirely new competitive market. Solar paneling companies and U.S. auto manufacturer Tesla are already in the running but they hold a nice monopoly because no one else is willing to jump in.
Prime Minister Trudeau cited job creation as a rationale for approving the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines. Yet, solar paneling is creating jobs at a rapid pace in the U.S. and holds double the amount of jobs coal mining has created. So when Trudeau – who previously called his country the climate leader of the world – keeps saying Canada needs pipelines to bolster the economy, we know there’s a much better alternative. One we should be shoving in his beautiful face.
So with that alternative in mind Canadians have already started taking advantage of the new energy alternatives.
Pond Technologies uses carbon storage tech to feed microalgae which can be used as fuel. Their technology has the potential to use 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to grow microalgae without impacting industry output whatsoever. Originally just a German energy giant, Siemans wind turbine manufacturing is leading Canada to a wind energy nation with a wind turbine blade factory on the outskirts of Toronto. Siemans is part of the reason North America draws 4% of its energy from wind power – and it’s also created more than 300 local manufacturing jobs.
It’s clear that this kind of tech and the idea of clean energy is economically viable yet, only a fraction of funding for renewable and clean energy comes from the Canadian government. Most of that funding and public attention goes to fossil fuel economies. According to a 2016 survey, 61% of Canadians believe our government no longer needs to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment – they now go hand in hand.
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This should be a call to young entrepreneurs across Canada to use the renewable energy at their disposal as well as exploring more avenues in the energy sector. Even if you aren’t the one inventing the next big renewable technology and joining the ranks of Elon Musk at Tesla, you can at least have a business that uses the current options.
As climate change stands today, sea levels are rising at a rate of one-eighth of an inch every year.
That number sounds minuscule at first but climate change comes with its own built-in accelerator. Tipping points, put simply, describe moments in time when climate change creates issues that contribute to itself. Like permafrost thawing in the Arctic Circle revealing dark lands and more vegetation leading to more greenhouse gasses being trapped in our atmosphere. Greenhouse gas effect gets accelerated and more permafrost thaws leading to rising sea levels – rinse and repeat.
A rising sea level puts the Maldives in a quite literal modern day lost city of Atlantis situation – except it wouldn’t be lost, and there will be climate refugees. We would know exactly where the civilization was destroyed and we would know exactly why it was destroyed. We would also find it perfectly reasonable to expect the same thing in western society could happen. In fact a thawing arctic puts Canada at the top of the list for countries at risk of an ice age like impact. But chances are we won’t really care until the destruction is so imminent to us we have to.
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