Climate change is not being addressed. It is not being addressed by the Liberal party, by the Conservative party and also not (to the extent that it should be) by the Green party.
The present accelerated change in climate extremes is not only due to the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide being released into the atmosphere. Climate change is also a result of our wasteful modern human behaviour and our flawed human ego. Our criminal waste of food, resources and money, built in obsolescence and rampant consumerism, is also exacerbating the situation. But the main reason why our planet is failing is the egotistical notion of our politicians that we can control nature by debate, committee and taxes and by generating contradictory compromises.
I have lived for forty years in what used to be a rural area on Vancouver Island. My neighbours and I live on small acreages, on properties that are now surrounded and threatened by city developments. We now have a thousand acre golf course opposite us, across a constant traffic road that used to be empty from the middle of September until spring. The corporation which runs that resort cut down another two hundred acres of trees last year. They also bought out and closed a hundred acre dairy farm attached to the property. They cut down the trees and closed the farm to make room for a housing development and yet another car dealership. Those trees, which used to be where the golf course is now, held back the ground water and released it over time, moderating both the runoff and the ground water reservoir levels.
The land I live on does not work very well now. In the winter and early spring the water runs off from the golf course and flash-floods our driveway and our pasture. In summer the water has gone. The grass and the plants and bushes we have had for years are now drying up and dying. This year we lost two one hundred foot tall cedar trees. My neighbour lost two Douglas fir trees. They were Douglas fir trees that were over a hundred years old. We contacted an arbourist who told us it was likely due to stress. It was likely due to stress that originated from a lack of consistent water and the nontraditional high heat and bad air of summer.
The air is bad here quite often. We live in the country and yet it’s still bad here quite often. It’s bad because the developers have cut down and continue to cut down the trees that used to protect us. The leaves, on the trees we used to have surrounding us, and on the undergrowth below them, acted as a filter for air particulates. They also helped to stop both methane and carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. However, we are now being told that the source of the bad air problem is in fact caused by the “wood stove” users in our community. We are the environmental bad guys.
We use a wood stove for heat because the cost of hydro electricity or gas is way beyond our means. But we are now being pressured to discard our (working, economical and carbon monoxide safe) wood stoves and buy new “environmentally friendly” ones. They will cost around six months worth of our pensions but will come with a catalytic converter to remove air particulates. The reasoning behind this environmental and politically correct theory is that it will cut down on the number of air quality advisories we suffer though every year.
However, the contractors and corporations, the local councils and their developer friends, feel that “Slash burns” (Burning huge piles of the remnants of the trees and their filtering leaves that have been cut down for the developments) should not be curtailed; except “of course” when there is an air advisory in place. That statement alone should make you wonder who is actually in charge of the asylum.
Climate change is not being addressed. It is not being addressed by the Liberal party, by the Conservative party and also not (to the extent that it should be) by the Green party. Pragmatically, the causes, consequences, and the solutions to climate change have now all been turned into a self serving arena for federal, provincial and local politicians to advance their own individual political platforms and ambitions.
We all know the causes of “Global Warming”; rampant and wasteful misuse of resources, greed and a blatant denial of the fact that the earth is dying. We are now seeing the consequences, Arctic outflow, (the northern jet stream that held the ice-cold in place is now splintered into pieces) starving Orcas, bacteria and over fishing in the salmon stocks, ice storms, drought, forest fires and flooding. The solutions are obvious, they are evident and they are being deliberately ignored. They are being ignored because it is politically advantageous to do so. What is even more insidious is that it is politically advantageous to pretend not to be ignoring it! To promote lip service solutions that will appease a gullible population and yet pragmatically preserve the status quo.
As an example: Our Provincial Government has recently made a clearly feeble (read: easily to be reneged on later) attempt to stop the KM pipeline to the Fraser Valley. This is supposedly to maintain the integrity of the Pacific coastline and to stop the projected threefold increase in tanker traffic across the Resident Orca and Humpback whale habitat. That sounds like a good start until you realise that they are also mandating the construction of another pipeline to carry fracked “natural gas” across the same pristine landscape just a few hundred miles to the north! They are promoting a pipeline to the same coastline they have publicly announced they are determined to save from the same fate they are now encouraging!!!
It gets even worse! We are now told that this pipeline (touted as a “solution” to the ravages we are causing to our planet) necessitates the continuation of the construction of a massive hydro project called “Site C”, which in turn necessitates the destruction of yet more wilderness habitat. This new pipeline also necessitates the construction of an LNG (liquid Natural Gas) offloading plant at a little place called Kitimat. Kitimat is just south of the Spirit Bear Nature reserve and adjacent to the (once protected) Humpback and Gray Whale migration routes.
Natural Gas is being promoted as an alternative to “Oil” fossil fuel products. I know, I know, Natural Gas is still generated from fossilized dinosaur bones but hence my use of the term “contradictory compromises”. While it is true that Natural Gas emissions are considerably lower than those of oil, Natural Gas also generates a considerably higher quantity of Methane emissions than oil. Methane has a threefold worse effect on the stratosphere than do good old crude oil emissions. My math is a little rusty but…
The LNG is “fracked” from North Eastern BC. Around a town called Fort St John. It is extracted by pumping a high pressure mixture of water and chemicals into the ground sub strata. It was stopped a couple of months ago temporarily because of recurrent earthquakes in the region around Fort St John. An inquiry determined that it was quite likely to have been caused by the fracking process. There was also a community that had to be evacuated next to the Site C project. That was because of subsidence and a mountain that slipped across the access roads. The community was between Fort St John and the Site C site. Yes. They are fracking near a mammoth hydro electric dam project. Fracking has resumed, as has the Site C project. No, the people in the community have not been able to return as far as I know.
I’m very tempted here to break into “To see paradise put up a parking lot”. But seriously, this is getting to the point of insanity. We know the answers. They are right in front of our faces. But the status quo demands that politicians cannot “fess up” and tell us the truth. To do so would be political suicide. Our leaders must convince us that they are environmentally concerned. But they must also convince us that jobs and our economy are equally important and that the environment (e.g. the southern resident Orcas) must be sacrificed for us to continue with our present lifestyle. “Balancing the environment and the economy” has become the popular contradictory compromise.
They must somehow preserve the status quo by not doing anything meaningful that would risk of their careers and ambitions. They must preserve the status quo by talking, meeting, caucusing, committee-ing and burying their self serving inaction in a “mystery meat” pie of political deception and misdirection. A septic, festering pot of worms buried under decades of mouldy partisan politics in order to hide the real truth. The real truth is that we as a species are facing extinction and that our federal, local and global politicians are doing nothing about it.
The Paris climate talks were in 2015. Four years ago. Last year they publicized that they had agreed on establishing protocols for the agenda to combat climate change. Remember Tolkien’s Ents? The end of the day is approaching and all they have managed to do is say hello.
This year BC put in place a meaningless piece of legislation called “Clean BC” or something equally lack lustre. This legislation will (in some far off distant future 2020/2025) supposedly reduce the cost of electric vehicles by $6000 dollars. Another $2000 will allow homeowners to switch their heat sources from fossil fuels to electricity. $400 will also go to every family of four who qualifies for their “enhanced climate action tax credit”. Plus another $1000 will allow us to replace our old windows with new insulated ones and… the real clincher for me…$700 to go toward the purchase of a high efficiency LNG furnace!!!!!
How is that going to help the real problem? An electric car is still, even with $6000 in supposed rebates way beyond my (and most of my friends and relatives) financial reach. $2000 to switch out my good old dead tree wood burner for an electric one won’t even cover the installation, let alone the cost of the overpriced electricity to run the thing. And why would I replace my fossil fuel burning stove to install another fossil fuel burning appliance that will ultimately kill all the whales, cause earthquakes, destroy half of the Peace River region and then eventually ( in the not so far off distant future) run out!!!
So in fact they are just appeasing the masses; trying to convince us that they are taking things seriously…and yet…and yet…there will be no initial impact on climate change. Nothing will change within the foreseeable future except for a few of the rich and entitled who can afford to slap themselves on the back and say how they are doing their part to save the planet. And then they can grab their $400 enhanced climate action tax credit!
The jet liners will still ferry those same back slappers and politicians across the world, burning fuel and polluting the stratosphere. Fossil fuels will take them to their international conferences to talk about saving the planet and the waste and the rhetoric and the self serving toxic hot air they generate will continue. We as the population will marvel at how many agreements they have made and what fantastic solutions they are planning to put forward for proposal for debate at the next round of conferences. And nothing will happen.
If these planet saving politicians were serious about the effects and causes of climate change then why are they not using teleconferencing for their meetings? If they were serious then why do they carry on wasting so many resources to talk, talk, talk about saving those same resources?
Someone once told me that you should never put forward an argument unless you have a solution to that argument. Our present political party system would deny that. If you are the opposition, criticise, criticise, criticise seems to be the answer. If you are in power, think about the next election and make sure you cover all bases. “Balance the environment with the economy”, pretend that you are ensuring the next generation has jobs, maintain the status quo and make sure you never say anything that might jeopardise the future of your party. Forget about a realistic and pragmatic solution because that just isn’t politically important. It isn’t important because the political agenda of all of the political parties is now only about “their party”; about preserving the integrity of their (as opposed to our) “party based political system”.
The only politician who has stepped down from that “Ivory Tower” of incestuous ambition in Ottawa, and actually done something individual and meaningful, that the climate change concerned population of this country can identify with, is Elizabeth May. When she stood at the barrier of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and let herself go through the indignity of being arrested, she became perhaps the only political voice that the people of this country could trust. Where were the other “anti pipeline voices”? Where were Andrew Weaver, Jagmeet Singh and Hulk Horgan? (My wife’s name for him?) Elizabeth May is a politician who risked her career for the things she felt morally obliged to stand up for. I was going to say that she is perhaps the only one standing up against a political system that has no credibility left when it comes to action on climate change, honesty, integrity and what is the most advantageous course of inaction for them to follow. That she would appear to be the only credible politician representing the growing anger and frustration of the Canadian people against an inept and corrupt political system. But then the news broke this afternoon that Jody Wilson-Raybould has also stood up to be counted in the fight against that corruption and self serving party-political ambition.
This afternoon we have all been watching the public hearings over the concerns and suspicious dismissal of the former Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould. It would seem that the very issues I have been trying to communicate, i.e. that of party political concerns over the next election taking precedence over the interests of the country, are now in full view of our nation. However, whatever the outcome of these hearings and the political nuclear winter that will hopefully follow, the parties will be still fighting among themselves, with each other and quite often in direct opposition to the very reasons why they were elected. Unless we change that attitude, an attitude that puts party politics and the outcome of the next election above the interests of the people and the planet, nothing will ever change. The climatic situation will continue to deteriorate as the fiddles continue to play and the politicians continue to waste their time and our resources to further their own careers, fortunes and interests.
“We could have saved ourselves, but we didn’t. It’s amazing. What state of mind were we in, to face extinction and simply shrug it off?” The Age of Stupid 2009: The Archivist (Pete Postlethwaite)
Tamerlin ( A very cold day on February 27 2019)