Climate Change

Economic interests rank higher than human life

In this piece, I argue that political disdain for science endangers our lives. Evidence allows the inference that BC health policies known to be inadequate were followed to facilitate public gatherings, to continue spending on favoured megaprojects and to avoid spending on safer schools and public buildings.

Not content with elevating short term dangers in the current pandemic, the BC government is a de facto climate change denier, elevating risks that threaten long term survival of humanity.

PHO Bonnie Henry even said that children were highly unlikely to contract or pass on COVID-19 to adults. In fact, studies show pediatric patients did become infected with the virus and some children suffered life-threatening complications from the disease and/or experienced long-term effects many months after the initial infection.

Our aim in writing this review article was to see whether or not COVID-19 has an impact on the pediatric population. Based on our findings, we have concluded that children are affected by the coronavirus in the same way as any other age group. Despite the limited data due to day-to-day changes in the statistics of patients infected, we have found that children, even if not infected themselves, can serve as carriers of the virus and can play a pivotal role in spreading the infection. The severity of symptoms in infected children varied from case to case…

COVID-19 in Children: Vulnerable or Spared? A Systematic Review

Journalist Penny Daflos reported “on the reluctance by public health to acknowledge the airborne transmission of COVID-19 despite scientific consensus on the matter.” Even after it was widely discredited, BC officials clung to the idea of droplet spread. They believed people would be protected by plexiglas barriers or 2 metres of physical separation.

The basis of CTV’s Daflos report was a peer reviewed paper that included this:

238 aerosol scientists from around the world published an open letter addressed to international policymaking bodies—among which the WHO was implicitly highlighted—summarising studies undertaken by its signatories which had demonstrated “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is released in particles small enough to be carried long distances in the air when people talk, cough, and even just exhale.

Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, The Lancet, April 2021:

Reducing airborne transmission of virus requires measures to avoid inhalation of infectious aerosols, including ventilation, air filtration, reducing crowding and time spent indoors, use of masks whenever indoors, attention to mask quality and fit, and higher-grade protection for health-care staff and front-line workers.

While a large number of expert scientists knew COVID19 spread by aerosols through the air we breathe, public health officials clung to mistaken guidance from politically motivated groups. In early 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) had stated:

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus introduced to humans for the first time. It is spread from person to person mainly through the droplets produced when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. These droplets are too heavy to travel far in the air – they only travel approximately one metre and quickly settle on surfaces.

Under Trump, America’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued inadequate messages. Senator Tim Kaine questioned controversial Robert Redfield, whom Republicans had appointed CDC director after their earlier appointee Brenda Fitzgerald resigned over financial conflicts of interests.

Senator Kaine asked Redfield about the removal of the CDC’s statement about “growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes).” 

Senator Kaine concluded:

The management of this crisis has been one of the worst failures of domestic governance in the history of this country… We need to communicate clearly. When you put up a document at the CDC that you have just testified is accurate and then it’s changed to suggest that the risk is more minimal by someone for some reason, it contributes to the massive confusion that is so troubling to scientists and so troubling to people.

Admitting the deadly disease of COVID-19 is spread by aerosols would have dictated more stringent restrictions than government leaders were willing to impose. Schools and other public buildings would have needed air purifiers with HEPA filtration. According to the New York Times, these devices efficiently capture particles the size of (and far smaller than) the virus that causes COVID-19.

John Horgan’s cabinet ignored the science. They did not want to spend significant money on air purification in schools.

BC’s approach to climate action is similarly based on economics. Factors driving climate change are known but BC’s government resists following the science, as they’ve done for COVID-19. Groundbreaking research from a group of scientists showed in 2017 that estimates of methane pollution from oil and gas activity in the province’s Peace region are wildly underestimated.

When in Opposition, John Horgan stated:

Heavy polluters that are polluting through these fugitive emissions should pay a higher price.

Once in the Premier’s chair, Horgan quickly forgot that promise. Despite growing evidence of the dangers of atmospheric methane, BC has been offering billions of dollars in subsidies to encourage enlargement of natural gas fields in northeast BC.

Additionally, BC NDP refused to establish immediate measures to identify and eliminate fugitive emissions, despite calling before 2017 for BC Liberals to take those actions.

This year, science journal Nature reported that US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated dangerous methane concentrations in the atmosphere were triple preindustrial levels.

Scientist fear that global warming is creating a feedback mechanism causing ever more methane to be released from natural sources. Wetlands and fossil fuel production are the largest emitters of methane and as temperatures rise, tropical wetlands release more of this greenhouse gas. Arctic permafrost is melting and creating a ticking ‘methane bomb’ of greenhouse gases.

A UN agency says methane is a powerful greenhouses gas with a 20-year global warming potential 84-86 times that of CO2.  In addition to natural gas. UNECE reports:

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, with some emitted to the atmosphere during its production, processing, storage, transmission, distribution, and use…

Coal is another important source of methane emissions. Coal mining related activities (extraction, crushing, distribution, etc.) release some of the methane trapped around and within the rock. Methane is emitted from active underground and surface mines as well as from abandoned mines and undeveloped coal seams.

The geological formation of oil can also create large methane deposits that get released during drilling and extraction. The production, refinement, transportation and storage of oil are all sources of methane emissions, as is incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. No combustion process is perfectly efficient, so when fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, heat, or power vehicles these all contribute as sources of methane emissions.

As North America’s major exporter of coal and a growing producer of natural gas, British Columbia is a material contributor to climate change. 2021 showed us how that is likely to affect the province in years to come. While the past year was BC’s third worst wildfire season — after 2017 and 2018 — an extraordinary number of people and communities were affected or threatened. About 600 BC residents died from extreme heat and widespread flooding has cost the province many billion of dollars. This will become the new normal sooner rather than later.

Yet none of these events and warning of future disasters have altered the Horgan Government’s determination to remain an outsized contributor to climate change. Except for BC Green MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, the Legislature is silent on the need for radical change.

Teenage environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg spoke to world leaders:

This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying, entire economic systems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

Categories: Climate Change, Health

7 replies »

  1. Thanks for the question. I did mean pediatric patients, which includes infants, children, and adolescents.

    However, to clarify, I added a quote from a review published The National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is part of the United States National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

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  2. Premier John Horgan and his fossil fuel task masters are abysmally incompetent with regard to the factual basis of the climate emergency bearing down on us all. They apparently have more important business, regardless that the irrefutable, peer-reviewed climate science warnings of the past 30-40+ years.

    The “bought and paid for” misinformation spread by misguided, uninformed fossil fuel lobbyists has created doubt (the truly fake news) in the minds of many who simply don’t know any better, nor apparently who they SHOULD be listening to.

    Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil once asked (without any apparent grasp of the irony), “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

    Last November 14 George Monbiot wrote an article in The Guardian, the title of which sums up the dire global predicament with regard to the climate crisis:
    “After the failure of Cop26, there’s only one last hope for our survival.”

    Monbiot writes “It’s too late for incremental change.”
    “What we needed at the Cop26 climate conference was a decision to burn no more fossil fuels after 2030. Instead, powerful governments sought a compromise between our prospects of survival and the interests of the fossil fuel industry. But there was no room for compromise.”

    What is that last hope for our survival? Please read this all-important article for yourself, as it builds on the evidence which supports Monbiot’s ending statement:
    “It sounds like a wild hope. But we have no choice. Our survival depends on raising the scale of civil disobedience until we build the greatest mass movement in history, mobilizing the 25% who can flip the system. We do not consent to the destruction of life on Earth.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/14/cop26-last-hope-survival-climate-civil-disobedience

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  3. To be blunt, John Horgan and his NDP cabal have completely lost the plot.

    Worse, they lie, deceive and when all else fails, get provincial barristers to investigate those who complain!

    The Massey tunnel mega project replacement. The taxpayer is spending over $4.5 billion for an 8 lane tunnel (the Liberals want a 10 lane bridge) to replace the perfectly good Massey Tunnel.

    Not only is the bridge/highway project just bad, bad planning, it absolutely contradicts the need for restrict the usage of cars and choke points, such as the Massey tunnel are very good at this.

    It also demonstrates TransLink utter and complete incompetence in providing a user friendly transit service as an alternative.

    The $3 billion Broadway subway to nowhere is another NDP approved project to build a 5.8 km politically prestigious subway under Broadway, which will not take a car off the road. The subway piggybacks a previous at-grader LRT proposal from the 1990’s, which envisioned using the Arbutus corridor for LRT!

    The $4 billion plus 16 km, Expo Line extension to Langley. Not only is it far too expensive for what it will do, it will not take many cars off the road, simply because it the SkyTrain Lines really no longer serve areas where they are built. Mode share for transportation, just before Covid saw transit usage drop to 14%!

    Failure on all counts.

    Site C, the E&N, black top politics are all failures of the Horgan government. The NDP Green, do not make me laugh.

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  4. I just read your blog post on the Covid problem. I came across the 2022 Munich Security Report. This year’s conference tackles the theme of “collective helplessness.”

    “There can be no doubt about it: 2021 could not in any way be characterized as a year of geopolitical optimism. New crises hit the headlines on a more-or-less monthly basis, contributing to the sensation that a growing wave of crises was threatening to overwhelm us,” the report reads.

    “It concludes that this has led to a vulnerability to which liberal democracies are particularly prone. But what makes this mood so perilous is that it brings with it the danger that the world fails to face up to the challenges that it is confronted with, even though the resources, the strategies and instruments required do so are available.”

    The conclusion is that we have the means to respond to the various existential threats facing humanity. We simply cannot muster the will to act.

    Munich Security Report 2022
    Turning the Tide – Unlearning Helplessness

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