Letters to Leaders: Environment Minister Kent

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One of my new year’s resolutions was to write a Letter to Leaders series. I wanted to ramp up my political power to more than just a tick in the ballot box every 3-4 years. I wanted to write to political leaders and voice my concerns. I wanted to write to corporate leaders as well, given the high degree of influence and power they have on our society. I wanted to see if anything would happen. I needed to try.

I have many ideas on who I want to send these letters to and what I want to write about. I don’t want to simply complain. I want to offer up new ideas, open up hearts and minds. I don’t want to put down, I want to raise up. I want offer encouragement to do better, to go greener, to be more sustainable.

I also want to offer support and praise and gratitude, to those leaders that are doing good works, those that are working towards a new sustainable future, those that are ahead of the curve. I know how inspiring and motivating it can be to have acknowledgement and support, so I wanted to write letters to these types of people as well.

So I hummed and hawed on who would receive my very first letter. Should I start small and work up? Should I have an overall strategy on the content of my letters? Should I write the positive letters first?

After much deliberation, I decided to go right to the top and start with my biggest, broadest concern. So I wrote my first letter to the Environment Minister of Canada, Peter Kent.  I just sent this letter off moments ago, and am giddy with excitement! 

My approach was this – open the letter from a place of respect and congratulate him on his recent appointment, then establish that I was a average, rational person representing an average, rational voter (not some eco-nut), and then share some common ground, such as my previous voting patterns. After establishing all that, only then would I get into my concerns about the environment and climate change. I have worries, I have children…

Well… I will just let you read it:

 

February 13, 2011

The Honourable Peter Kent
Minister of the Environment
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3

Dear Honourable Minister Kent,

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your recent appointment to Environment Minister. Some think that this is the most important cabinet position of all, since our environment is the root of all life, from which everything else is possible.

I am a 35 year-old wife and mother, living in Alberta. I got a degree in Business from the University of Alberta am now an accountant. I am well versed in economics, and believe that in most cases, the free market is able to sort out the best and most efficient way of doing things. As a young adult I voted Conservative. I agree with fiscal conservatism, and spending tax dollars carefully and responsibly.

However, a few years ago I started getting concerned about the environment and climate change. We were all told that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are warming the planet. New information has now come out that indicates we are on the worst case trajectory for climate change, and that we could be facing the point of no return within 20 years. It turns out that our planet is very sensitive to even the smallest changes in average temperature, and warming more than 2°C will lead to catastrophic changes to sea level and weather patterns. This could create hundreds of millions of environmental refugees, cause the extinction of up to a quarter of the animal species on Earth, and leave some of our most precious food growing areas as deserts. Food shortages could become a reality, even here in Canada.

I have children. I have little boy who is 5 years old who likes comic books and cuddling his stuffed puppy at night. I have a little girl who is two years old who likes pretty bracelets and baby dolls. I worry about their future, even living here in Canada. I worry about their food supply. When my daughter is my age, will she worry about how feed her children, my grandchildren? Will she watch in horror as millions of people die or go hungry due to rising waters? Will she look at me and ask what I did to act when we still had the chance?

I know that you support the oil sands in Alberta, and believe that our oil is more ethical than that from the Middle East. I believe that this is like comparing apples to oranges, as surely there must be an ethical consideration for the extremely high environmental cost. The oil sands are very polluting, we all know that. The air, the water, the forests, the fish and the animals suffer. Sadly, the residents of Fort Chipewyan suffer as well, and are dying of rare cancers linked to petrochemicals. As an Albertan, I feel for these people and want to help them somehow.

However despite all the controversy, you must see for the sake of your family and for humanity that the world must eventually phase out oil. If we take all that oil out of the sand in Alberta, and put it into the air, we will have surely written off the future for my children. The world will most certainly warm past 2 degrees. We most certainly will find ourselves in a very scary and dangerous position.

I know that there are no easy answers. However, we must take the long term view to save our future generations from certain hardship. We must reduce emissions drastically, to avoid a warming of 2 degrees. We must put a price on carbon to allow the free market of renewable energies to flourish. We must do a better job of monitoring the water pollution of the oil sands and we must reduce the rate of their development. We must cut subsidies to the oil and gas sector and give more support to renewable energies. We must improve and support local food production.

We must do these things, and quickly. I know you are torn in many directions as a politician. However, we have a very unique opportunity to be a leader in these areas. I beg of you, as Minister of the Environment, to please take the higher ground – one that caters to life, to sustainability, and to the environment. Canada’s children are depending on you.

 Sincerely,


Sherry
Albertan, wife, and mother of two Canadian children

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15 thoughts on “Letters to Leaders: Environment Minister Kent

  1. You do realise that there is actually no scientific proof for Global Warming caused by Anthropogenic CO2 ?

    Environment Minister Kent probably has been advised by his economists something like the following.

    “In the absence of sufficient alternative solutions/technologies, the only way western countries can ever attain the IPCC demands of CO2 emissions reduced to 40% below 1990 levels, (thats about 60% below todays) is to machine restrictions on the use of fossil fuels. Emission Trading schemes are an example.

    As the use of fossil fuels is roughly linear with anthropogenic CO2 emissions, to attain a 60% reduction of emissions , means about the same proportion of reduction of fossil fuel usage, including petrol, diesel, heating oil, not to mention coal and other types including propane etc.

    No matter how a restriction on the use of these is implemented, even a 10% decrease will make the price of petrol go sky high. In otherwords, (and petrol is just one example) we can expect, if the IPCC has its way, a price rise on petrol of greater than 500%.
    First of all, for all normal people, this will make the family car impossible to use. Worse than that though, the transport industry will also have to deal with this as well and they will need to pass the cost on to the consumer. Simple things like food will get prohibitively expensive. Manufacturers who need fossil energy to produce will either pass the cost on to the consumer or go out of business. If you live further than walking distance from work, you will be in trouble.
    All this leads to an economic crash of terrible proportions as unemployment rises and poverty spreads.
    This a conservative prediction of of bowing to the IPCC and the AGW lobby. AGW has no scientific proof and a number of facts disprove the theory. Therefore the world will continue to do what it has always done while normal people starve and others at the top (including energy/oil companies and emission traders) will enjoy the high prices.

    Neither this scenario nor any analysis of the cost of CO2 emission reductions is included in IPCC literature, and the Stern report which claims economic expansion is simply not obeying economic logic as it is known in todays academic world.

    The fact that the emission reduction cost issue is not discussed, implies that there is a deliberate cover up of this issue. Fairly obviously the possibility of starvation will hardly appeal to the masses.

    The IPCC proposed wealth transfers from western economies to less developed nations have not been included in this comment.”

    Environment Minister Kent probably wants to keep his electorate majority and starving his electorate over an unproven “scientific” theory is hardly a good way to keep people voting for him and his party.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

    • Roger! You are my very first AGW denier to post on my blog! Part of me is flattered.

      I do not doubt that reducing emissions will have economic costs. It will, and that is why many politicians are still treading lightly on the issue.

      Many of these costs could be averted if we start now and start phasing in green techonologies and renewable energy. Profits to oil companies will go down, profits for renewable energy companies will go up.

      Rising the cost of food could be averted by ramping up local food production, and encouraging consumers to support their local farmers.

      I know there are no easy answers. But putting our head in the sand and disagreeing with 97% of scientists is not the answer. These changes are coming, we can either adapt now, or selfishly just leave it to our children and grandchildren to deal with the consequences.

      If we don’t change now, Peak Oil will certainly force us to change in the future. Regardless, change is coming.

      • Sherry,

        The economic truth is that if we follow the IPCC demands we will starve our children in the here and now.
        If it was reasonably certain that AGW is fact perhaps we should pay that price, but what you seem unable to accept is the fact that there is not actually any scientific proof that supports the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis and where you got the statistic that 97% of scientists believe it is proven is beyond me.

        Therefore because the cost of following the IPCC is so high, it goes without saying that we should be very very sure of the above hypothesis, dont you think?

        Now I can show you proof of all these assertions I am making, the reason I am refraining is that you may find it too much, and as typically happens, you will find it attacks your beliefs so much that you will simply spam my comment.

        So if you want to see these verifiable facts and logic please indicate.

        Now your comment about profits for oil companies will go down.
        If you read my previous comment carefully, you will see that following the IPCC demands will play beautifully into the oil companies hands allowing them to decrease production and ENJOY A HIGHER PRICE. Exactly what OPEC has been trying to do all these years.
        The logic used in my previous comment is text book applied economic theory such as is taught in all universities currently.

        Cheers

        Roger

        http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  2. Great letter! I work on quite a bit of advocacy for environmental education in my state and writing letters like the one you did always gives me the feeling that I am doing something worthwhile.
    Hope you get a good response.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Writing letters for increased environmental education in schools is something I am thinking about too! I wonder if I could email you to get some ideas on what has worked for you, and what types of education/programs you suggested?

  3. Sherry, that was so thoughtfully and articulately written.

    My friend Dani was the president of Amnesty International at U of A, and she used to organize letter-writing rallies (not sure if “rally” is really the right word, but you know what I mean). They would pinpoint individuals to write letters to, and then a whole group of them would write. Now, that was for human rights violations, but the idea is the same. Maybe you could organize something similar? I think lots of people are willing to help to make a difference, but lack the direction and the drive that you have.

  4. Love your letter and your form of activism. It’s so encouraging to see people pursuing so many different paths to effect change, paths that would never have even occurred to me. I hope he listens!

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  7. Hey there my name is obang Orait living in usa .born in east Africa wich is in Ethiopia. please im tying to writte leatter to any plotical leaders around the world .but I have no skill abut writting a eglish letters I need help from everyone who have skill . please would you help me???

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