Emergency Preparedness

The boy cried wolf. Everyone got excited. Then there was no wolf.

Many people know that fable and the message it brings. And you can immediately see how it applies to the present-day climate change debate. But there’s more to it than that.

I saw a news headline a couple of weeks back that 11,000 scientists have signed a letter declaring a climate emergency. My first thought was “good for them. I wonder how many actually work in the environmental field?” I didn’t bother to read the story to find out. Turns out some people read the names – Micky Mouse (sic) was among the signatories, and there were others whose credentials were called into question.

It seems to me that younger people are passionate about the climate ” emergency.” That is natural – they expect to live a long time, and we only have the one planet. It makes sense to treat it with care.

Those of my generation though seem a little more skeptical. Some don’t believe climate change is happening, others believe the issue is magnified for profit, while others think it is the ultimate hubris to think humans are responsible for a natural occurrence.

I was wondering this week if the doubts are rooted in history; this is not our first emergency, not our first existential scare.

The Cold War is a thing of the past, but very present in the minds of those who lived through it. I seem to remember the air raid sirens being tested in Montreal when I was a school child. I think it was an annual thing.

I am just a bit too young to have had the classroom drills such as depicted in the video at the top of this post. Or maybe we in Canada weren’t as afraid as our neighbours to the south.

A climate emergency seems a little more remote than the thought of Soviet nuclear missiles coming over the North Pole. That was an imminent and readily defined threat. The ice caps are melting? Not on the same level.

Climate change is a slow thing, not to be compared with the imminent prospect of being vaporized by a ICBM. In comparison it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing to get excited about.

Not to mention, we know the boy has cried wolf before. Forty years ago scientists told us we were heading for a new ice age. Then they warned of global warming instead. Is it any wonder there are skeptics among us?

Which makes it all the more difficult if there really is a climate change emergency. We probably won’t know for sure until it is too late.


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