Will Someday Come Soon Enough?

In 2004, the Green Party of Canada ran on the election slogan “Someday is Now.” It was a way of speaking to the many people who want to support the Green Party someday, just not “this time.” They’re going to wait until we have a chance, or until things get really bad.

Of course, the first condition is circular. People won’t vote for us until we have a chance, and we won’t have a chance until people vote for us (unless they vote for this first). As for the second condition, it’s already been met, even if it’s not yet tangible.

It’s never been a question of if the Green Party will be elected. The question is if we’ll get elected in time.

In time for what is another question. More and more scientists are of the opinion that global warming has become a self-sustaining reaction and can’t be stopped, and Stephen Hawking is suggesting that we give up on this planet and find a new one. In that case, our job will shift from averting disaster to dealing with it.

In his new book, Thomas Homer Dixon argues that, while he believes a total global collapse is avoidable, a number of smaller collapses have become inevitable and will fundamentally change the way we live. The good news is that this presents an opportunity for what he calls catagenesis: a chance to rebuild these systems from the ground up, exploiting all the things we wish we knew then.

At a breakfast forum a month ago, I introduced myself to Tad (that’s what his friends call him, you see) as a former candidate and asked how he thought that idea could be presented in a way that would be politically popular and earn votes. He responded that he sees very little chance of voters showing any desire to deal with these problems until they’re already upon us. Once we’re in the middle of it, he says, will be the real opportunity for political ingenuity and problem solving.

This Canada Day weekend, the Dominion Institute and The Toronto Star published an essay by Andrew Cohen imagining what Canada will look like in 2020. The good news? Cohen predicts the Green Party will form a government as soon as 2012. The bad news? The main reason is that’s when “global warming began to wreak havoc.”

So, I’ll meet you in Ottawa in six years. Dress lightly, bring sunscreen.

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