By Xavier Kataquapit
Welcome to 2024. This is one of the warmest starts to winter I can recall in almost five decades. Most of my life I remember growing up with four distinct seasons and winter was always freezing with lots of snow.
Winter came in November up north on the James Bay coast and left at the end of April and even stayed at times into May. If anyone doubts that climate change is a real thing, then you should give your head a shake because we have so much proof at this point that it is becoming scary.
The world is experiencing flooding, droughts and temperature changes that are turning the world upside down and all of this is affecting everything on earth.
At the start of the warnings from scientists and people like the politician Al Gore there was a big push-back from the oil producers and corporations that did not want to deal with reality because it would affect their bottom line. Many people fell for some of this propaganda, but most people did believe that climate change was real. I have long been one of them and at times I was ridiculed for it.
My parents and many Elders up the coast and in my home community of Attawapiskat have been warning about changes in our climate for many years. They had spent most of their lives on the land and the waters where they were at home. They knew very well all the signs to look for from the animals, birds, plants and the stars. They could read Mother Earth like a good book and they knew how to listen to her.
My family has been connected to winter road construction and ice roads for many years, and in that time we have seen the change in terms of when the road work would start and how long these ice highways could last. A few decades ago, the work on the roads would start in late November and early December, but lately that has moved to January. It was at one point a reality that these ice roads would last and be in place until mid-April at least, but recently we now see melting taking place in a big way in March.
Let’s face the facts, temperatures are rising worldwide. The glaciers and ice sheets are melting and retreating. Oceans are warming up. There is less snow being recorded. The levels of the oceans and seas are rising and there are more extreme weather events. This all translates to situations that are killing thousands of people in storms and floods. It is also being held responsible for the cause of some life becoming extinct or rare.
Entire regions of the world are also experiencing droughts, which affect our food supply. At this point things are happening right in our own backyards that are forcing all of us to realize how serious climate change is.
This past summer we experienced some of the hottest days in northern Ontario in history and there were terrible forest fires all across Canada. For the first time in my life I had to deal with taking care in being outdoors because of toxic smoke from so many fires in Northern Ontario and Quebec. That is impossible to deny or argue with.
The problem is that huge corporations, the money people who run this world, and all of the oil and resource extractors keep fighting and doing what they can to push back on meaningful efforts to reduce pollution and causes of climate change.
This year’s big annual event to address climate change was the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP 28. This year it was held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This event was headed by the president, who was appointed by the host state of the UAE, Sultan Al Jaber. That was like putting the fox in charge of the hen house as he runs the UAE state-owned oil company.
As a matter of fact, this year more than 2,400 participants with ties to the big oil, gas and coal companies were on hand to lobby as push back to any big moves to fight climate change.
How on earth could this happen? That is a good question, and it should make us all very concerned about how things are developing and how the very wealthy and big-time polluters are controlling our world.
It is our responsibility to be aware of what is happening with climate change in our world and to realize what a drastic situation we are in. We need to make sure to elect democratic fair-minded governments that will represent all of us and not just the wealthy and corporate world. We need to become involved in supporting organizations that are trying to make our world a safer, cleaner place for our future generations.
If we don’t care about issues as important as climate change, we are in fact dooming our future generations. Mother Earth needs us now.