By Devin Ayotte
Internationally renowned journalist Gwynne Dyer visited Mount Royal University to share his views on climate change and the results of U.S. President Barack Obama’s first year in office.
Dyer, who spoke at MRU on Feb. 5, holds a PhD in military and Middle Eastern history from King’s College in London and is a frequent speaker at Mount Royal and other universities and colleges across Canada. His international affairs column is published in 175 newspapers in 45 countries but remains controversially banned from many large Canadian newspapers.
In his speech entitled “Crawling from the Wreckage,” Dyer explored the resistance President Obama has encountered to the implementation of his proposed reforms.
“If the world had had a vote in the American election, Barack Obama would have won by a landslide of 85 or 90 per cent,” Dyer said, “but Americans only gave him 53 per cent of the vote. He did not get a landslide where it counts, so he hasn’t got the kind of power that a huge mandate would give him.”
Dyer contends that Obama’s progressive agenda has been hampered by a “dysfunctional” American system of partisan politics and America’s legacy of reliance on foreign energy. He also spoke of similarities between Obama’s presidency and that of former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson, suggesting both administrations were overzealous in inheriting unpopular wars, which undermined their credibility as political moderates.
Dyer also spoke at length on the subject of global warming, discussing the political obstacles to an effective solution and the ironic importance of what he terms “denier science” which serves to maintain the scientific integrity of climate change studies.
“There is something romantic about standing against the crowd and there is something lucrative about standing against the crowd… A lot of people simply don’t want to accept that climate change is real because it implies changes to the way they do business.”
In an interview after the speech, Dyer offered his advice to students wishing to do their part to combat global warming.
“At the bare minimum, vote intelligently,” he said.
“We’re not asking anybody – wait, I’m not asking anyone to wear a hairshirt,” joked Dyer. “On a personal level, you do have a responsibility to hold your own [carbon dioxide] emissions down as much as you can.”
Dyer acknowledged that the impact of small changes such as changing light bulbs will be miniscule. Instead, he suggests that personal responsibility is simply the first step and should be compounded by political involvement.
“Most of the politicians I know would be quite happy to do what is necessary if they believe we backed them…the point in activism is to make visible an electorally significant number of people who will support the politician if he does the things he already knows he should do.”