Nature’s great orchestra loses its score. As the climate deteriorates and we invade the territory, the wrong notes are heard: a polar bear washes ashore in Gaspé, a herd of deer settles in the middle of the city and the music of the dawn changes with the once familiar birdsong disappearing as others strangers come to us from the south.
These disturbances, often evoked by iconic images of melting ice sheets or coral reefs bleached by the overheating of the oceans, are beginning to find expression here.
We understand that the climate is warming and the glaciers are melting. But what do the decline of bees, the disappearance of monarch butterflies, the whales running aground in the St. Lawrence, the last caribou of a dwindling herd in enclosures mean to us? With the carnage of biodiversity, it’s much more than honey or our photos of belugas disappearing.
Pollinating insects are essential to the survival of many crops on which our food and economy depend; losing the bees means losing part of our pantry, it means rising food prices. And the Longueuil tree frog, which has been so much in the limelight lately? With the destruction of its habitat, the swamps and lowlands south of Montreal, it is much more than its song that is disappearing.
Protect the services provided
Why is it so important to protect our natural environment, our farmlands, our waterways, our wetlands from urban sprawl and the endless surfacing of roads and parking lots? Because these green spaces teem with underground life, animals and trees that provide us with countless services: they filter pollutants from the water and air, reduce the risk of flooding by absorbing excess water, reduce the effects of heat waves by providing freshness reduce our stress and fill our lives with meaning through simple contact with nature. These benefits are extremely important in the context of a climate emergency.
Climate and biodiversity scientists are sounding the alarm: the climate crisis and the collapse of biodiversity are closely linked and together we must resolve these two crises that threaten the future of humanity.
Quebec is no exception: fierce winds that uproot trees and deprive thousands of people of electricity, sewer overflows and landslides, coastal erosion, etc.
With a view to the October 3 elections, candidates should take note of the urgency of the situation and make an ambitious commitment to prepare Quebec for these situations: by reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, protect our services and infrastructures.
For now, the observation is without appeal. The number of conflicting measures to tackle these crises separately is increasing: electrification of the vehicle fleet and the stimulation of urban sprawl, extension and widening of highways; protecting some natural environments and important carbon sinks, but destroying others at the heart of our cities; incentive to buy locally, but complacency in light of the Port of Montreal expansion project that will encourage imports of goods and over-consumption while destroying the essential habitat of the copper red horse.
Choose the solutions
The 48 environmental proposals that Vire au Vert’s partners have shared with political parties ahead of the Quebec general election go beyond the issue of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Like the international expert groups on climate and biodiversity, our recommendations advocate a global approach to the environmental crisis: they seek to reduce emissions from transport, but also take into account emissions from land conversion, agriculture or waste materials; they address the degradation of natural environments and recall their unavoidable role in combating and adapting to climate change. Our proposals make justice, equity, health and human well-being a transversal axis of all environmental action.
We must prevent inconsistent approaches from taking hold in Quebec. We must protect the living by doing everything we can to combat the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity, by connecting with nature. Our candidates must understand the magnitude of the problems and propose ambitious solutions. To this end, the proposals of Vire au Vert already provide a good starting point and reflection on the commitments of political parties with regard to the climate crisis and biodiversity. We hope to hear the proposed solutions in a possible leadership debate that focuses solely on the issue of the climate crisis and biodiversity.
Quebec media, party leaders, you must be the key and the tempo at the beginning of the score – at the risk of the music stopping.
* The full list of signatories is available on our digital platforms.