Following is a guest post by long-time BC environmentalist Bill Henderson
The pollsters report that climate change is Canadians’ top election concern. The extreme weather — the heat dome, the wildfires, flooding, and even unseasonably cold summer weather — and the dire new IPCC report have galvanized attention. But concern is skin deep: all of the parties climate platform policies are grossly insufficient, the climate villains are still in firm control, and any informed outsider would see a nation in deep climate denial.
The house is burning but nobody is getting up and leaving their devices to try and put it out; they are reluctant to call upon any government agency like the fire department, and the few who do profess leadership in dealing with the fire are having a polite chat with the evil bastards that are throwing gasoline on the fire. Instead, they wonder if there is not a safer way to throw the gasoline.
The Trudeau Liberal government has been abysmal: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to rise; they have done everything in their power to expand fossil fuel production including tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies including the purchase of a pipeline; and by claiming to be climate leaders while doing less than nothing, but waste precious time. They have led a global immunity via collective failure after Paris, which threatens our futures.
There should not have been an election during Covid. Governments in Canada should be working together to protect Canadians and to activate policies to build back better in the recovery. But if we are going to have an election with climate the top priority, why is the only remaining path to possible climate safety conspicuously ignored by all of the parties, by almost all of the candidates and most of the media? (But not by the ENGO Environmental Defense which has an excellent ‘climate and the election’ page.)
After three decades of failure orchestrated by delayer lobbying and paid denial, getting to effective mitigation is now life or death for our kids, our descendants and all we love and care for. We have this decade to reduce emissions enough to keep safe from dangerous climate change which promises to collapse our global civilization.
To stay under the not totally safe 2C rise in global temperature limit, the accepted metric is a 50 % reduction of GHG emissions by 2030. The only way that 50% by 2030 is practically possible now is a governmental regulated wind-down of fossil fuel production and use of at least 5% per year starting as soon as possible.
For only one example of how pretend our current decarbonization policies are — are we going to convert half of our fleet of cars and trucks to EVs by 2030? Get serious. And even if we used draconian government action to do so, the additional use of fossil fuel energy needed would raise, not lower emissions at this crucial time. The 100% renewables, energy transition within political and economic business as usual is now a pipedream.
But we still need to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 bottom line or we risk going over the cliff. There is no incremental, nudge and tweak to our very fortunate lifestyles and economy that can reduce emissions enough to do our duty to future generations. We need transformative, deep systemic change beginning with policies to actually keep fossil fuels in the ground – policies to regulate a managed decline of all fossil fuel production.
The only way this radical approach to reducing emissions can even be considered let alone implemented is an emergency, wartime-style, coalition government. Such a coalition government will be necessary to get Canadians and their political representatives all on the same page regarding the suite of climate dangers and what action is now needed.
But nowhere in the party platforms, the candidate speeches, or in media coverage will you find even mention of a managed decline or the need for an emergency coalition government.
This should be shocking. It’s unconscionable considering what we owe our descendants. Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer of fossil fuels. To have any chance of global mitigation success, stable, wealthy, technologically apt Canada must lead.
Instead we refuse to even mention the only remaining policy path to necessary emission reduction. And even worse, the two political parties that could form the next government each have a climate policy platform giving tens of billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industries – further pretend mitigation policies to use unproven even delusional schemes such as carbon capture and storage and blue hydrogen to lower oil and gas emissions from production. While still planning to export fossil fuels to be burned somewhere else but still adding huge amounts of GHGs to our common atmosphere. How stupidly myopic is this? WTF!!??!?
If this election isn’t a continuing example of society-wide climate denial what is? We need government leadership and action on climate and climate is supposedly Canadians foremost concern, but the next government of Canada is going to continue to try and do everything in their power to expand fossil fuel production.
No matter whether the Libs or Cons form the next government, GHG emissions from fossil fuels produced in Canada will increase over the next crucial decade. Is this what Canadians want? Are Canadians and their would be legislators this myopic? Profoundly unethical? Incredibly stupid?
If we are going to do the right thing and stop being so neoliberally ignorant there has to be learning. Quickly, urgently. The upcoming COP at Glasgow is going to raise the bar and the IPCC report on mitigation due next Spring will wake us up to the real mitigation policies needed. But right now we have to look ourselves in the mirror – with revulsion: how could we allow our governance to be so tawdry? So useless? So cynically criminal? So corrupted by lobbyists and paid denial?
Climate change is a life and death emergency. Three decades of mitigation failure has us on the brink. And the majority of Canadians are still in deep, deep climate denial.
Categories: Climate Change
I’m old so it doesn’t matter
I don’t like children anyway
I got mine, so all is well
I’m too dumb to care
Hey ! I’m only human
I don’t smell any smoke
I’ll worry later
So what ate our ‘leaders’ really thinking?
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The only thing politicians are ready for are the status quo and the next election?
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George Monbiot cut through the greenwash last week. “At its worst, net zero by 2050 is a device for shunting responsibility across both time and space. Those in power today seek to pass their liabilities to those in power tomorrow. Every industry seeks to pass the buck to another industry. Who is this magical someone else who will suck up their greenhouse gases?”
It’s telling that Trudeau, O’Toole and Singh boast of slashing emissions but avoid giving any metrics of what their targets, if met, will achieve or what is in store for our descendants if we fail. Will the world be saved if we achieve net zero by 2050? Of course not.
Monbiot also speaks of “tipping points” or natural feeback loops. We forget the narrative spun at the Kyoto summit in 1992. We were told if we didn’t arrest man-made GHG emissions and soon we risked “runaway global warming.” We would awaken nature and enter irreversible catastrophic climate change.
Those tipping points have been reached. That horse has left the barn and it’s not coming back for another bag of oats.
Paul Beckwith, a nerdy paleontologist who lectures at both Carlton and Ottawa U., followed up on Monbiot’s op-ed with a review of tipping points that are already shifting. It’s worth a look: https://youtu.be/mQMcQpEgNfk
On August 20, author, newspaper editor and professor, Andrew Potter, wrote an op-ed about how governments are no longer constituted to rise to meet great and perilous change. From the collapse of Afghanistan to the devastating Delta variant to climate collapse, we’re failing.
“What these and other looming crises have in common is that they are marked by a failure of some combination of political conviction, state capacity and collective action. We have lost the ability to solve big problems and meet big challenges, and there is every reason to think this is only going to get worse, thanks to the effects of a number of long-standing trends. These include the economic and technological stagnation that has been in place since at least the 1970s, the rise of highly polarized and tribalistic politics, and the high decadence of the internet-fuelled culture wars.”
We face a number of existential challenges from climate change in all its permutations to overpopulation to wildly excessive overconsumption of our planet’s finite resources. In his book, “Collapse,” anthropologist Jared Diamond reminds us that, when faced with multiple existential threats, it doesn’t matter if you solve one of them or even two. You either solve them all or you’ll wind up solving none.
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NO (damn it all), WE CANNOT HAVE BOTH. . .
This and the previous “What we can’t see will hurt us” In-Sights articles do an exceptional job of underscoring the “Shining Lies Canadians Are Told about Lowering Emissions” – Andrew Nikiforuk (The Tyee article title quotation)
The revelations about the invisible major contributions from methane to the accelerating global greenhouse gas emissions, covered in your “What we can’t see will hurt us” article, are not specifically addressed in the following recommended reports.
With regard to Canada, the world’s greatest climate laggard on a per capita basis (especially since the exploding emissions from climate crisis-driven forest fires, our declining forest health, and other land-use-related emissions aren’t factored in), the following two articles in the National Observer and The Tyee, are essential reading IMHO:
1) “Canada’s climate solution? Keep increasing fossil fuel extraction”
by Barry Saxifrage September 15th 2021
Within the pool of the wealthy, influential G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union): “No nation that increased fossil carbon extraction (has) cut emissions. Like Canada, they all promised repeatedly to cut emissions. But none have.”
2) “The Shining Lies Canadians Are Told about Lowering Emissions”
“No, oil and gas can’t pay for our green energy transition. And more fairy tales debunked.”
by Andrew Nikiforuk 7 Jun 2021
1) “New oil and gas infrastructure will fund Canada’s energy transition.
2) Emissions will be conquered by technologies that bury carbon in the ground at great cost or don’t yet exist.
3) Canada will meet all of its climate change goals and ramp up oil and gas production at the same time.
4) The energy transition will be effortless and orderly because there is lots of low hanging fruit to pick.”
Please see both reports for the explanatory details.
As though we needed more proof, after 30 years of procrastination and climate science-smearing lies funded by the fossil fuel industry! These reports prove there’s no way our Federal Government is being sincere about achieving lower emissions targets, when they’re hell bent on ramping up oil and gas production at the same time.
NO (damn it all), WE CANNOT HAVE BOTH.
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Does anyone really believe we can get a handle on climate change?
We can’t get together to deal with Covid or a laundry lists of other issues
our species face. We live under a capitalistic profit driven model that
can only survive if we continue to consume at an increasing rate.We don’t
have the leadership as they have been bought by industry. Look at the leadership
fiasco on full display in Alberta. Where are the employed people in the O & G suppose
to go? Solar, Wind? Seriously? How many dollars from O & G companies are still
being accepted at educational institutions for careers in their particular industry.
George Monbiot covers it quite nicely.
One cannot help but believe it is already to late and we must keep putting
the 1-5C/2050 illusion out there otherwise the financial calamity would be world
wide. Baby boomers can breath a sigh of relief with the 2050 timeline because
they won’t be around. After all our life style is all about making a buck at any
cost isn’t it?
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Such a plainly powerful piece as this instils not just fresh hope & [gourmet/
non-GMO/ smart] food for thought, but the re-charged resolve to get its contents INTO the mainstream of ‘must-reads’ on this top-rated topic — not least for the preponderance of drivel being spouted & re-hashed [STILL!] by politicians, popular pundits & people-in-passing alike (w/ aggressive/ combative conformists gladly enforcing govt.’s every announcement/ mild suggestion as if science-proofed & set in stone — when it’s the polar opposite!!?)
NOT ONE of those popular oft-quoted ‘known facts’ –i.e. roundly debunked CLIMATE MYTHS– is taken seriously [only disparaged/ lamented] by the undisputed champions of in-depth climate know-how: the scientists themselves, of course.. Those tireless workaholics who deal SOLELY in actual quantified data from which they carefully extrapolate the gist for their dreaded global progress reports.. We need these scientists working closely with our govts — ASAP..
If ever there were an obvs. time to welcome WITH OPEN ARMS/ HEARTS/ MINDS these BONAFIDE, expert powers-that-be into govts’ climate planning/ strategizing — to replace their clearly corrupt economics/industry lobbyists vying for govt $$ that’s, in reality, OUR TAXPAYERS’ BILLION$ WASTED ON CORPORATE DEBT/ WELFARE that’ll never be recouped, & pays huge exec. bonuses/ pensions/ salaries++ (& NONE of it to REAL solutions of merit that help tackle this giant climate crisis b4 us!?) — time for change is NOW..
The days of Govts getting away with corrupt misuse of their positions of leadership as ouR public servants must end: we cannot afford more of the same!?
Isn’t it plain as day the Old Guard needs replacing — despite their [banks, corps, polluters, trillionaire BigPharma monoliths’] desperate ploys to keep digging/ grinding/ logging/ mining/ polluting/ wasting Mother Nature to extinction… Against ALL true, unembellished scientific expertise showing THOSE obscenely rapacious & unsustainable extractive industries ESP., NEED TO BE CURTAILED — YESTERDAY — if we’re to have a hope in hell of saving life on Earth & leaving living legacies for our kids..?
And yet the purveyors of pollution are — somehow!!?? — WINNING over those with the clean working solutions for sustainability & Net-Zero emissions in all sectors — having already proven the overwhelming superiority of ECO-SAFE + GREEN means/techs over ever-rising deadly GHGs accumulating in & warming our atmosphere, vowing only more death & destruction-!!???
(Not even the rampant wildfires across Canada can convince the mmajority the old rapacious, unforgiving pace of clearcut logging = genocide, having wiped out 95% of our protective primary forests — ie. Our most prodigious C02 sinks/ threatened biodiversity’s habitats/ Salmon refuges/ OXYGEN PROVIDERS — to ship to China 4 them to build more useless crap??) HOW is this OK for any Cdn??
Once these precious & globally unique rainforest habitats are clearcut (emitting most of their stored C02), the barren ravaged wasteland left behind DRIES OUT & desertifies, turning into TINDER that fuels fires+++!!?? Anyone who thinks planting replacement seedlings of 1 tree type –along with spraying all deciduous ‘pest’ trees [which act as key barriers to fires] w/ poison like glyphosate– will EVER restore those critically beneficial 1,000-yr-old fire-resistant ‘Lungs of the North’, is sorely out of touch with reality!
Who’s keeping these polluting obsolete unwanted war-machines alive & gauging out Nature’s last best life sustainers, on the tired old clichéd pretense of ‘JOBS TO SUPPORT FAMILIES’?? Our current lazy ‘leaders’ of course — on the back of waning weakened Nature, watching her dying b4 our eyes.. in subsidized, toxic industries they’ve positioned to keep the world’s MOST polluting countries dependant on our tar-sands’ dirty bitumen for years to come!!??
Sorry, but we Cdns who’ve already transitioned onto organic regenerative non-GMO farming & fighting for our last living old-growth forest legacies CANNOT accept such colossal ineptitude from our govts: WE’RE ALREADY LIVING THE GREEN FUTURE — & it’s the only way to give our kids some hope of better things to come, which we’re proving possible EVERY DAY.. The only thing destroying our outlook is the constant evidence around us of cont’d govt. FAILURES, past & present..
Unfortch, all ‘Big 3′ main parties are –UNBELIEVABLY!? — proposing inadequate, same-old continuation of past extraction, fossil fuel growth, logging our last most beneficial fire-resistant old-growth living breathing IRREPLACEABLE forest ecosystems, polluting industries, ETC. ETC.. I.e. They’ve decided our kids don’t deserve a future.. & that their recklessly toxic corps should be propped up by u$ so they can drive our ecosystems & communities & cherished wildlife TO IMMINENT EXTINCTION — & WE SHOULD TAKE IT & LIKE IT!!??
You OK with such insults from our public servants? Not me!! I refuse to let our country become owned by fascist dictatorships greedy for our resources to drive their lawless theft of indigenous lands & wipe out their forest livelihoods.. to raise beef cattle for intl fast-food exports instead –UGH NO (As a vegan, I’m appalled..)
Our main 3 political parties who’ve formed govts in Canada have ALL done us grave climate/ enviro disservices — & they’ve only GOTTEN WORSE NOT BETTER!! All 3 have signed int’l deals behind our backs.. AND plan to bring more free-trade with morally bankrupt/ Fascist/ Communist leaders of developing nations that violate animal/ human rights left & right & are heating the atmosphere with ever-rising emissions: NO TKS!!
What’s the only real antidote to all this disastrous & unnecessary destruction? VOTE FOR THE ONLY ONES CAPABLE OF BRINGING A BRIGHT SWEET FUTURE — THE GREEN PARTY (duh?) Anything else is a re-hash of past errors/injustices, which we’re MUCH better off without..
(Sorry to get all partisan on you, but I’m SICK OF Cdns’ endless wishy-washy timidity, tip-toeing around issues that really need SPELLING OUT in no uncertain terms!!) ALL climate/eco-related promises made by candidates in parties OTHER THAN the Greens have FAILED to deliver. I.e. have LIED to us.. We deserve better than these insults, don’t we fellow Cdns??
Let’s bring a better future — by kicking useless throwbacks to polluter-culture TO THE KERB SEPT 20th!! CUZ WE CAN!!!!
(Tks for all your provoking input- soo refreshing!)
Corporate-orientated governments can tell when a very large portion of the populace is too tired and worried about feeding/housing themselves or their family, and the virus-variant devastation still being left in COVID-19’s wake — all while on insufficient income — to criticize them for whatever environmental damage their policies cause/allow, particularly when not immediately observable. Indeed, I have not heard Greta’s name in the mainstream corporate news-media since COVID hit the world.
Also, as individual consumers, far too many people still recklessly behave as though throwing non-biodegradable garbage down a dark chute, or pollutants emitted out of exhaust and drainage pipes, or spewed from sky-high jet engines and very tall smoke stacks — or even the largest contamination events — can somehow be safely absorbed into the air, sea, and land (i.e. out of sight, out of mind); like we’re inconsequentially dispensing of that waste into a black-hole singularity, in which it’s compressed into nothing.
I don’t expect government or societal action until it is too late. The challenge is now personal.
Think of your own soul and do what you can to avoid complicity. Speak truth to power, and to any who seems to lack it.
Good luck sir.