Climate Change

It was what it was; it is what it is

Material circulates on the internet, often without attribution. The following piece landed in my inbox and I thought it worth repeating. Of course, being an old guy, I’m aware we did things the old lady talks about. But that is because more convenient alternatives were unavailable.


A young store cashier suggested to an older lady that she should bring her own grocery  bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment. The woman apologized to the young girl and said, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my earlier days.

She explained further:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to be washed, sterilized and refilled. Used over and over, they really were recycled.

Stores put our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Besides using them for household garbage, we used paper bags as covers for school books. We personalized our books using the brown paper bags.

We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

Back then we washed baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in  an energy-gobbling machine. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

Back then we had one TV in the house — not one in every room. The TV had a small screen, not a screen the size of Montana. We didn’t have multiple remotes to control devices, we simply got our butts off the couch and changed the channel.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human  power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills with electric motors.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s SUV or van, which cost more than a whole house did before the”green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?


Indeed, the old lady was accurate. But we didn’t have many choices. In those days, we assumed nature offered endless resources and had capacity to absorb all human acts. Given the chance, we’d have adopted the throw-away culture, burned more and larger engines, watched big-screen TVs with multichannel audio, and happily kept two or three remote controls by our sides.

Given a choice, would my parents have driven four unrestrained kids in their 4-seater 37 horsepower Hillman Minx, with the youngest one (me) parked on the rear parcel shelf, or a three-row minivan with comfortable seating for all?

Would we have behaved differently if we understood that “solution to pollution is dilution” was a dangerous falsehood, or that arsenic in wallpaper and lead in paint endangered our loved ones?

The BC pulp and paper mill where I was a student-worker polluted air and ocean. Few people knew enough to express concern when Kraft pulp mills filled the air with hydrogen sulfide, a flammable, colorless gas with the odor of rotten eggs. When asked about it, BC cabinet minister “Flying Phil” Gaglardi laughed and said, “That’s not pollution, that’s the smell of money.”

At work one night, I listened to a cheerless conversation between two older papermakers. They talked about attending funerals of recently retired colleagues and noted that few millworkers survived more than a couple of years after retirement. My in-laws worked for years in the mill. He died at age 64 and she suffered COPD throughout her final years.

There were no epidemiologic studies connecting chronic disease and early death to industrial pollution in company towns like Powell River. There was plenty of anecdotal evidence but people accepted that life was harsh. They understood the now overused phrase “It is what it is.”

BC politicians today are worse than Flying Phil when he made his comment about money being more important than risks to human life. Today, they are not ignorant.

Liberal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson knows the threat posed by climate change and knows that burning fossil fuels anywhere in the world accelerates danger. But Wilkinson says that Canada should sell more oil and gas to “raise the revenues” needed to fight climate change.

The minister’s statement is illogical by itself but also ignores the fact that, having largely abandoned royalties, governments in Canada provide more in subsidies to oil and gas companies than received in direct revenues from the industry.

But at least Wilkinson said what he did in public and felt heat generated by his foolishness. In this summer of highly destructive wildfires, good luck finding a single BC NDP MLA willing to talk about climate change and their government’s increasing fossil fuel subsidies.

Sixty years ago, Flying Phil Gaglardi had no chauffeur and no crew of minders ensuring he spoke only approved talking points. Ignorance of cause and effect was common in matters of the environment. Today, that is not the case.

When John Horgan’s government refuses to deal appropriately with climate change in 2021, it is because they made cold-blooded decisions based on the business of politics. If people of BC are harmed, if the Earth is harmed, they don’t care. They have joyfully experienced the smell of money, and the smell of power.

10 replies »

  1. Every time Horgan says climate change he should get slapped across the face like a Monty Python sketch. But hey pack your bags were going on a guilt trip when they bring in road pricing for the plebs. All the people that moved out to the valley and Squamish are going to be bucking up huge just for the privilege of going to work and giving half of everything you make to the Government…. then they give it to Oil Companies.

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  2. “But Wilkinson says that Canada should sell more oil and gas to “raise the revenues” needed to fight climate change.”

    This version of utter unrealistic nonsense was the guiding light of Notley’s NDP government in Alberta during her four years in power. She moaned and whined about pipelines for Alberta tarsand sludge diluted bitumen, until Trudeau bought the ancient Trans Mountain pipeline and started building the expansion double pipe Trans Mountain Extension for her and the Alberta NDP, a petro-pimp party. Now the Liberals have copied it. But Trudeau NEVER talks about it at international meetings among nations where CO2 reductions are discussed. Quite the opposite, he parades around as if he were the world’s leading light on the environment, and the other nations don’t bother to check his lies.

    Environment? What’s that? Why, it’s the lip service over 90% of this nation’s federal MPs pay to the word, not the actuality.

    In 2018, all Canadians were then subjected to that ridiculous “argument” in my quote above, by glossy Alberta NDP TV ads aired right across the country, repeated over and over until I wanted to scream, it was so ridiculous:

    Sell more poison to make enough money to afford to stop selling the poison.

    What version of universal logic is this?

    Notley was and is NDP. Horgan and his natural gas fracking in BC is NDP, the Newly Dumb Party.

    Give me one sane reason why the heck I or anyone else should vote NDP in this election. They’re more two-faced than the Liberals and Conservatives, both of whom are content to lead Canada down the garden path to environmental disaster anyway, while paying lip service to environmentalism yet doing absolutely nothing about it. The Greens have gone off the deep end into wacked-out politics that have nothing to do with the environment.

    There is no honest upstanding federal political party whatsoever to vote for in 2021. We might as well have said as a nation: “We give up”. Because all sane reasoning has been totally abandoned and the idiots are in charge of the asylum.

    Enjoy your smoke. Wildfire flavour.

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  3. Hi Norm; Interesting you should mention the smell of pulp mills and the health penalties paid by the work force.
    P. Band, a client of mine, was in charge of cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency. We traded some stories about pulp mills and public health.
    He had started a study of cancers in conjunction with living in proximity to pulp mills but after preliminary and worrisome, statically sound findings he was instructed to stop.
    After a couple of years of this kind of interference he moved to Ottawa.
    Same thing happened to a former BC Auditor General when he reported to the legislature that Crown Corporations like BC Hydro were not using correct accounting practices.
    I suspect the current AG has an insecure future now that he has announced new accounting practices to come into effect next year.

    Not sure if this practice of deliberately being ignorant is the same in other provinces, but I suspect yes.

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  4. The sad fact is no politician, no government is taking global warming and climate change seriously if the were they would:

    All freight that is being delivered with a 25 km radius from a rail line, traveling more than 100km on highways, must be transported by rail.

    Electrification of both continental railways.

    Rebuild branch lines and provide regional passenger services.

    A moratorium on building new highways and infrastructure unless such infrastructure needs replacing due to age or safety concerns.

    All new build houses have both wind.solar generators installed to supplement domestic energy supply.

    All new transit installations must be flexible in operation, able to operate on-street, as well on mainline railways.

    A major reforestation initiative must be started including both urban, suburban and countryside, including forest maintenance to help prevent wildfires.

    ……………………and on and and it goes.

    I don’t mention electric cars because long-term pollution from electric cars will be greater than our domestic belch fires, but i would limit cars to 4 and 6 cylinder only.

    Has any politician uttered these promises? No?

    I wonder why? Not very photo-optible at election time.

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  5. Horgan continued to build Site C on a true lie, but didn’t do anything for the poor, families and children in need, the truly homeless and ones who are falling through the cracks and on. Oh boy but they have lots of enabling money to dole out to the ones who are engaged in criminality and aggressions against innocent bystanders and the hard working taxpaying public. Spineless leaders. There is zero difference between him and the previous bad leaders or in Canada. He’s and his lieutenants are garbage rotten liars.

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  6. People across Canada anyhow, seem to be divided on Climate change fix and how far we should go if it impacts the economy to much, which in turn affects their lives greatly. Understandable for sure. Politicians will of course follow like a pack of rats sniffing around for the best vote. So divided we fall. And the ones who create what I would call a perpetual division is the government leaders. They do it on purpose. They’re the guilty ones. Look at Trudeaus at Trudeaus platform of repetitive old lies repeating like a skipping record. Horgan, Kenney, Ford, Singh O’toole, and most of the whole BSing works of sleazy snake oil sales people and hypocrites across the nation looking out for their own asses and party interests. Listen to all of their same old rehash of affordability issues and what they are going to do.
    It’s screw the planet and the people for their own selfish short term pleasure. This climate fix could have been working a long time ago in a properly structured and implemented way that would actually benefited us economicaly which little pain, and big gain. Blame is all on our payed and hired leadership. Hired by us. Amazing. No surprise though. They’re just dirty and don’t know how to wash themselves.

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    • Going into the blame game is very chancy but it is validated by the concept of accountability. There are lots of candidates and they know who they are when they look into a mirror.

      As boring as it is, it comes down to the issuance of money and credit in excess of what is produced that has real value to humans. It is generally held to be growth captured as GDP.

      For those who keep track of GDP numbers know that last year global GDP shrunk by between – 4% to 8%, depending where on the planet one looks. The current year may come in with the same numbers.

      If currency and credit is to retain purchasing power both should have been reduced accordingly.
      This of course did not happen and instead Canada posted a $500 billion deficit and so on.

      We now have the preparations made for some serious inflation and serious poverty because the population needs places to live and shelter and food to keep us going.

      Kennylad is correct when he is disgusted with those who we expect to know better

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