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“They died together and now they sleep side by side.
To them we have a solemn obligation.”
The sacrifices of those who last fought to save civilization dwarf the price now asked of us to defend civilized life on an inhabitable Earth.
None of us is being asked to die, although many are already dying. None of us is being asked to leave home, though refugees are already moving. None of us is being asked to go hungry, although many are already desperate. The price to defend our children and our homes today is not blood, but money.
Those among us now working in fossil industries will soon have to find new ways to earn a living. The far greater number of us are being asked merely to support them with transition programs while tolerating some annoyances to upgrade our economy.
The financial sacrifice our families offered last century was many times the level asked of us to avoid climatic catastrophe.
At the height of the Second World War an astonishing 37 per cent of Canada's GDP was federal war spending.
The United Nations, birthed “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” has summoned thousands of top experts from all relevant fields. To give humanity a 50-50 chance at safety, they determined the world will need to halve carbon emissions by 2030, requiring annual investments of 2.5 per cent of global GDP. Most of that need not even come from the public treasury.
Currently, the world is investing 0.5 per cent of GDP to the mission. So, defending our children and our homes will require a five-fold increase in investments alongside the purposeful demobilization of carbon-emitting industry.
It is a daunting task, but a minor and bloodless one compared to the sacrifices of those we remember today.
There is one front on which our challenge mirrors that of our forebears: we are being called to be brave at home. To be unflinching — not to avert our eyes from the gathering storm.
Like those before us, we must find the strength to resist false hopes and demagogues. To reject leaders bent on appeasing the fossil barons, and to resist the blustering Vichyists quisling their way to power.
We are reminded today that civilization is never more than one generation from extinction.
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties."