Leader’s Message - August 2023
I'm seeing people on social media claim that this year's "Summer of Fire" is "arson, not climate change". Climate Change is the result of a long series of actions. For example, our watersheds are being drained, so there are no natural barriers left to protect animals and birds. The Sask Party plans to greatly increase irrigation from the Saskatchewan River, which will progressively deplete that unique and critical source of moisture. The conditions leading to our devastating fires are directly caused by decades of inaction by politicians.
We need at least one strong green voice in the Legislature. We need to remember that when the NDP were in power from 1991 to 2007 our emissions actually skyrocketed. And it's not as if today's NDP leadership is presenting solid policies to address the emergency. Carla Beck's recent defeatist statement on the net zero electricity goal encapsulates that gross inadequacy. I remember Lorne Calvert bringing Al Gore here to speak on climate change; then, days later, he went to visit oil executives in the United States to tell them Saskatchewan was open for oil business! This recent news, that both the government and official opposition are rejecting federal net zero targets, is particularly eye-opening for those still (unbelievably) saying the NDP are any kind of an answer to the climate emergency in this province -- https://regina.ctvnews.ca/sask-premier-opposition-leader-jointly-slam-federal-net-zero-target-1.6514112
Our forests have reached a tipping point. "At an August 22 media conference hosted by WWA, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) research scientist Yan Boulanger said record high temperatures and extreme drought had led to more than 5,800 fires across Canada and burned 15.3 million hectares up to that day, "making this the most devastating fire season in recent memory, and by far." This figure equates to 91% of Saskatchewan's farmland by area! For comparison, during all of 2022 1.6 million hectares burned. So far this year, 13.4 million hectares have gone up in smoke.
This year's coast-to-coast wildfires in Canada have already emitted an estimated one-and-a-half billion tonnes of CO2. That's triple the annual climate pollution from burning fossil fuels in Canada. It's more than the combined emissions from 100 nations. And there are still months of fire season looming ahead. As extreme as this year's wildfire emissions have been, they are just the latest escalation in a multi-decade flood of CO2 pouring out of Canada's "managed" forests and forestry. (Note: Canada only reports emissions from the parts of the forest it "manages". This is around two-thirds of the total. Some managed forest areas are reserved for logging, while others are managed for non-timber uses like recreation, water, wildlife and fire protection.)
So, my friends, we need to work together and ensure the Saskatchewan Green Party shows remarkable enough results in the October 2024 election that the headline on the day after will be "Droves of Saskatchewan voters voted for climate action!"
Voters have to weigh the impact of their vote vis-a-vis their financial health and that of their family. We need candidates and volunteers out there doorknocking and reminding people that "If you think mitigating climate change is expensive, wait till you learn about the costs of climate change!" While the SaskParty and NDP (plus the other "3rd parties" in this province) push nuclear energy, we are the only strong voice pointing out the dangers of expensive new nuclear. People need to understand that the Sask Party government plans to build four small nuclear reactors at $billions each. $20 billion is only a starting estimate. We see nuclear's devastating financial impact on Canada's east coast, where a similarly expensive project in New Brunswick continues to cost a low-population province crippling energy bills.
Greens are needed to keep reminding us all that Saskatchewan is the sunniest province in Canada. Nevada has the largest solar farm in the world. SK gets as many days of sun as that state! Our big solar farms are yet to appear. We need to be pointing out that this government and the NDP government before it haven't done anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Saskatchewan! We are a tiny province of barely one million people with one of the largest carbon footprints anywhere. Saskatchewan can do so much better!
Looking forward to seeing all of you helping on campaigns throughout the province. However much or little you are able to do, now is the time to start. We don't have four more years. This is the most urgent election of our time. And we must act now before the "Season of Fire" becomes the "Decade of Fire."
Yours for and with Mother Earth,