In a recent speech, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, issued a grave warning, stating that humanity is to blame for the unfolding climate crisis. He emphasized that climate change is now terrifyingly evident and has marked the beginning of an era of global boiling, where the air is unbreathable, the heat is unbearable, and the level of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction is unacceptable.
Over the years, the world has witnessed fluctuations in the number of deaths caused by natural disasters, but historical data reveals significant progress in reducing disaster-related fatalities through improved prediction, resilient infrastructure, emergency preparedness, and response systems. This decline is especially remarkable considering the rapid growth of the global population and the construction of infrastructure near vulnerable areas, which amplifies the economic repercussions when disasters strike.
Moreover, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change highlighted that as the planet warmed during the 20th century, there was a decrease of approximately 13% in the annual number of global hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms.
However, the increased media coverage of environmental issues has given rise to eco-anxiety. According to the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, climate change news coverage across 59 countries has seen a significant rise, reaching about 87,000 articles in 2020-2021, compared to 47,000 in 2016-2017. A survey in Canada conducted by Statista in April 2021 revealed that nearly three-quarters of respondents expressed worry about climate change, with only six per cent showing no concern at all.
Amidst these global concerns, the opinions of Montreal citizens shed light on the sentiment of the people. When asked about the media's portrayal of the situation, one respondent stated, "It is certain that the situation as described in the media is negative."
Regarding the effectiveness of carbon taxes in combating climate change, opinions were divided. Some expressed skepticism, arguing that the taxes might disproportionately burden those who cannot afford it. One resident said, "It will allow the rich to ride as much as they want, and people who can't afford it have to pay more." There were concerns that larger companies, including airlines and oil corporations, should be the one to handle these taxes instead of citizens.
Criticism was also directed towards politicians' efforts in tackling climate change. Some citizens believed that politicians needed to make more sacrifices. One respondent stated, "If politicians travel by jet or plane, I have no problem with that. But if they come to ask more from us, that's the problem." Others expressed doubts about politicians' true willingness to make substantial changes.