The lobby of the Toronto Plaza Hotel, located on Wilson Avenue near Downsview Arena, hums with laughter, conversation and the scampering of Syrian children running and exploring their temporary home. Women chat in groups, many of them holding their pregnant bellies, and the men converse separately; some smoke outside in clusters while five boys play soccer.
The terrorist attacks in Paris a couple months back were tragic and a stark in contrast to the Climate Change Conference that occurred in the same City, not long after. Paris is a long way of, but the Conference will have big effects on us all. I am writing this before the start of the Conference and the internet and the media are abuzz with expectations. Where other efforts have failed to get agreements, here success seems possible.
Climate change is real and its consequences are felt worldwide, even in Downsview. We are luckier than other places, but not all of us. If you ever wondered why we get more basement flooding cases now than 20 years ago, then part of the reason is because we get more rain and more “big rain days” now than ever before. The aging infrastructure does not help, but the reason why the issue reoccurs is the higher big rainfall numbers. In other places higher rainfalls and raising sea levels are drowning out people from their homes. In other places instead of higher rainfall there is draught.
What conference means to us in Downsview is hard to know just yet. The goal of the conference is to have a binding agreement on climate for all the countries in the world that will prevent temperatures from raising above 2 C of pre-industrial levels. Basically, they mean to set up rules on green gas pollution that will prevent global warming from getting to the point of no return.
Canada is doing some of that already. Alberta (oil producing Alberta!) has just announced major environmental changes to reduce carbon emissions and is leading the pack. Even Conservative led Saskatchewan announced that they are moving towards 50% renewable energy production by 2030.
To the average person it may mean that over the next year some things will not be the same. Electric cars may be more affordable. Fixing your house to make it energy efficient will be cheaper. More neighbours will have solar panels. More of our food will be produced closer to home. Similar to the introduction of recycling, people may not like it at first, but we will wonder how we did things before once it happens.
I will leave the readers with a little local inspiration. We can all make a difference or at least try. Some Blacksmith Public School students noted two years ago that Tim Horton’s cups are not recyclable (none of them are, they have a waxy covering that makes them garbage, the thing that prevents you from being burned). They then put on a video that our local Councillor played at City Hall in order to push a motion to move towards recycling the cups. The motion won, but the City is still trying to figure this out. Check out the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlO5sd4_BG0
Your November 11th, 2015 letter to me was so warm and personal that I feel that I know you as a friend but I’m puzzled why you would start our friendship by asking for money.
You have told me that my donation would be used to purchase “beds, sleeper chairs and other items necessary to provide the very best patient care experience.”
You wrote: “Can you imagine being a little child, walking, into
a big bright shining hospital for the first time when she sees
a wall filled with hearts and the girls mom reads out the
special message written on your heart…the butterflies
settle down a bit. She feels brave enough to go on.”