Thursday, March 20, 2008
"The Greatest Threat to Our Generation." This is how Toronto Mayor David Miller routinely characterizes "climate change," the euphemistic moniker hung upon "global warming" during brutal winters.
Miller's most recent employment of this deathly description came in his response to the Canadian federal budget, as he assessed its environmental provisions.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg prioritizes his fears in much the same way as Miller, recently telling reporters after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, "Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people, but global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody."
Not even two years since terrorists plotted to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange, and with Ground Zero still a hallowed pit at the foot of Manhattan, it is awkward to have to point out this simple truth to the titular leaders of both cities, but here goes: The greatest threat to our generation is, in fact, Islamic terrorism.
This threat is embodied by millions of fanatics throughout the world and has already claimed the lives of many thousands of innocents.
As terrorists and their supporters clamour and scheme for the murder of millions more, major cities remain primary targets. Comforting as it may be to imagine our enemies are impersonal entities like carbon molecules and SUVs, our actual foes are evil men who really hate us and want us dead. City leaders ought to have this much in mind.
One of the many misfortunes of war is we rarely get to choose our enemies, and a manageable foe like energy usage would be far preferable to the reality of what we face. I, for one, would volunteer to be leader of the Luddites, dousing every light and riding a unicycle to work in winter if I believed the threat of man-made climate change to be as near and deadly as that of Islamic terrorism.
Moreover, I am ready to be convinced. Rather than reasoned arguments, however, we get histrionic proclamations like those of Miller and Bloomberg, frequently followed by invective against anyone who hesitates to agree, up to and including threats of arrest (David Suzuki, please pick up the nearest solar-powered courtesy phone).
The evidence of terrorism's threat, meanwhile, is undeniable and tragic. From Toronto to New York, to London to Madrid, recent history makes it clear that urban centres are most at risk. Yet for every mention of Miller's "Green Mandate" from the voters -- including $106 million set aside for his climate change initiatives over the next five years -- there is nothing to evince the mayor takes terrorism anywhere near as seriously.
The argument here is not whether climate change is real, or whether we are its cause. It is, rather, a question of priorities. Even if the direst prognostications of the most humourless environmentalist are accurate (another call for you, Dr. Suzuki), the effects cannot compare with the immediate devastation of a successful terrorist attack on an urban centre.
If citizens and elected officials truly believe that climate change is a threat, then by all means it should be addressed. But Toronto is Canada's largest terrorism target -- does that not merit the attention of our leaders?