Polar bears floating on melted Arctic sea ice. Image: US Gelogocial Survey/Flickr
There's no denying the global environmental reputation of Canada has taken a beating lately. Between the Keystone XL Pipeline debate, the Northern Gateway being approved to cut across British Columbia, and the Harper government’s general rejection of Barack Obama’s environmental initiatives, the reputation is well deserved. But its people don't stand with the government in thinking climate change isn't a big deal.
According to a recent poll conducted by Forum Research that consulting over 1600 people, Canadians overwhelmingly believe that the climate is changing, and that humans are probably the source.
In fact, 81 percent of Canadians polled believe the climate is changing, while just 13 percent deny it’s a real thing. The majority of deniers come from older males, while young people between the ages of 18 to 35 most commonly think the climate is changing.
The small percentage of people who deny climate change is happening come from who you'd expect: Conservative party voters, the least educated Canadians, and Evangelical Christians. Several Albertans, who enjoy the fruits of an energy industry economy based on province's plentiful reserves of oil and gas, were part of that denying cohort.
Most Canadians agreed (58 percent to be exact), that climate change is occurring because of "human activity;" just a fifth think it's an entirely natural phenomenon.
But when it comes to counteracting the effects of climate change, or global warming, Canadians were split. 42 percent said it was reversible, while 38 said it wasn't.
Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, a market research outfit, said in a statement the data from the poll shows the politicization of the climate change debate within Canada.
“It is especially unfortunate that climate change, a very real and urgent problem which will yield only to rational discussion and cooperative action, has become hijacked by ideology, the point where one's political passions outweigh the need to work together to save the planet on which we live," he said.
Of course, Stephen Harper's conservative government, born out of a strong Alberta-blue stronghold, has spent much of his tenure politicizing the debate. He's a known fossil fuel advocate and has let environmental issues take a back seat to oil sands development. By leading the national charge to power from Calgary, Harper has made the oil sands development a crutch of the Canadian economy, and has lobbied Washington to accept the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to bring more Canadian crude to Americans.
Harper has also gone head to head with the Canadian scientific community, who argues the rampant cuts in science are a designed plan from the Conservative government to silence scientists, and with them, climate change advocates.
The Liberal and NDP parties are known to be more friendly to environmental concerns, with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promising to kill the Northern Gateway project if he comes to power after the 2015 election.
That being said, Canadians have a tough road ahead if they want to begin limiting emissions and counteracting the effects of climate change. If they don't, it might just mean an end to the NHL and outdoor hockey. And that will definitely be a national tragedy.