Climate Change

On climate, it’s not too early to say

Another guest post by Bill Henderson:

Denial is fast becoming an addict’s tantrum, and nobody can be quite as clueless and ignorant about existential climate dangers like those in the oil patch and the journalists, think tanks, academics, and politicians who profit by assisting climate change denial.

In an opinion piece, Calgary reporter Kelly Cryderman asked Alberta’s Environment Minister Sonya Savage if any Alberta-specific goal for emission reductions would actually be legislated or put into regulations, The Minister’s response:

It’s too early to say.

Cryderman did mention a recent report of Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body. The executive summary includes:

…it is not enough to accelerate the decline of emissions — success must be about the construction of a prosperous net-zero future for all Canadians. Achieving this requires urgent actions, from the way we collectively govern ourselves to the tools we use to steer the country to sustainable prosperity. This is a difficult and long-term undertaking.

But following journalism’s dangerous bothsidesing1 habit, Cryderman turned to two old favourites of the far right Fraser Institute and the equally far-right Canada West Foundation, to let them argue the oil and gas industry is our harmless friend.

Cryderman’s headline “The battle over a ‘just transition’ between Alberta and Ottawa is nothing compared to what could be coming” caused me to think for a moment the op-ed author would unequivocally state the need for a regulated wind-down of fossil fuel production in Canada.

No, we got more of this hidden message:

It’s that bad federal government trying to force its woke politics and regulatory overreach on Albertans. The proposed cap on oil sands emissions is really an underhanded attempt to curtail production.

I am a long time climate activist who perceives the Trudeau government as pretend climate leaders offering pretend climate mitigation while real Canadian emissions continue to rise.

Canada’s government has wasted seven years of precious time, while spending tens of billions to expand fossil fuel production. Trudeau’s government is heavily subsidizing production and building a massively overbudget pipeline. The feds are burning billions of tax dollars that could have been so much better spent. I shake my head.

In a commentary critical of the Trudeau government’s climate plan, UNB Assistant Law Professor Dr. Jason MacLean reads the writing on the wall:

According to a recent analysis, to have even 50-50 odds of meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 C target, Canada’s oil and gas output must fall by 74 per cent by 2030, with a complete phaseout by 2034.

Canada’s new climate plan is reckless, but a better way forward is still possible

Ms. Cryderman, like Alberta’s new premier (and like stupido populist malcontents globally) is trying very hard to have a tantrum. Like Premier Smith, Cryderman has her hands over her ears.

Both are shouting along with Amy Winehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said, No, no, no.” (Amy ended up dead.) And with a choir of similar voices from greenwashing Oilpatch Media, they are trying to pre-emptively end discussions of government action to lower fossil fuel production.

Climate change is now unequivocal. Nobody is a flat earth denier anymore, but of course, the oilpatch wants fossil fuels to be used for decades and every company and government has net-zero plans that are as vaporous as balanced budgets or justice for oppressed people.

Wake up to reality.

Climate change is the potential loss of all we know and love. Three decades of procrastination, denial and delay brought us to (if not already over) tipping points to accelerating warming, societal collapse and maybe oblivion.

You don’t think so? Consider the scientific papers and reports cited in this recent Guardian op-ed by Dr. Bill McGuire. See also this homage to recently deceased climate scientist Will Steffen).

It might take you a couple of hours, but then you should understand why we need deep, immediate emission reductions. Globally, these must be reduced at least by half by 2030 — meaning substantially more actions in developed nations, especially those with a history of high emissions.

Changing attitudes of the masses? Impossible, not going to happen, you say.

Well, it must happen, or we all lose big time. The only way humans survive is to do everything possible to reduce emissions now, not in 10, 20 or 30 years. We must do what we should have done decades ago — concentrate on the supply-side, limit new exploration and infrastructure, end all subsidies, and begin a managed decline of all fossil fuel production.

The climate change deniers will be left shouting:

No, no, no, I’m not listening. No no no, we’re not going there. You can’t make me. No no no. Bad feds, you never really loved me, I hate you, I hate you.

Many, Trudeau Liberals included, pretend not to be climate change deniers but they always prefer symbolic acts over meaningful works. But if we stay in denial, climate outcomes and science prophesies will worsen. Disaster approaches.

In a few short years, after we waste more precious time, victims of climate change will panic and demand real actions, like stopping production completely.

Powerful forces will resist change. The inevitable result will be unrest, even civil war.

By then, it will be too late. The Earth will survive; humans may not.

1 Bothsidesing refers to the media or public figures giving credence to the other side of a cause, action, or idea to seem fair or only for the sake of argument when the credibility of that side may be unmerited

Addendum by Norm Farrell:

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute published the study used by Globe and Mail reporter Kelly Cryderman to “balance” the statements of real climate experts. The institute is one of a number of lobbying groups that are often interconnected and reliant on financing from far-right sources. According to DeSmog:

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy (MLI) is an Atlas Network partner based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

MLI was founded in 2010 by Brian Lee Crowley, who is currently the institute’s managing director. Crowley is a Canadian economist and the founder of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a right-wing think tank that later merged with the Fraser Institute.

…MLI fellows and staff, including Coates, are critical of the environmental movement for opposing oil and gas development.

…In the mid-2010s, MLI’s Natural Resource Economy Project began an opposition campaign to Canadian adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This effort was funded at least in part by the Atlas Network.

“Targeting greenhouse gas emissions without weighing their economic impact invites destructive environmental policies that harm the economy,” a MLI report by Philip Cross on “Doubling GDP by 2050” suggested.

Aidan Jonah detailed MLI at The Canada Files in 2020:

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute was founded in 2010, claiming to be a “non-partisan Ottawa think tank”. However, its first report revealed that the board of directors were filled to the brim with past and present CEOs, CFOs and wealthy millionaires… The Managing Director of MLI, Brian Crowley had close ties to the PM in 2010, Stephen Harper.

Brian Crowley was the founding President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a conservative, free-market think tank incorporated in 1995. AIMS received the majority of its funding from “several anonymous donors” (millionaires and billionaires who don’t want their donations publicly known) and pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck Frosst. They were at the forefront of the battle against public health care in Canada for years, until it merged with the Fraser Institute in November 2019.

…Crowley began to develop the MLI while giving policy advice to the Harper government. In 2009, Minister Flaherty hosted a private fundraising dinner at Toronto’s Albany Club for the MLI. In a letter, he urged Bay Street elites to come and support the fledging right-wing think tank stating that he was “giving it my personal backing”. Soon afterwards, the Aurea Foundation, funded by Peter Munk, gave $100,000 to assist in starting up the think-tank..

Rob Wildeboer, the chairman of the MLI Board of Directors until 2018 and current member of its Advisory Council, is a wealthy evangelical and the chief backer of the ECP Centre. The ECP centre “attacks human rights commissions as instruments of Christian persecution,” explained Donald Gutstein. The ECP believes that “the very notion of legally protected individual rights is an unthinkable heresy, a repudiation of God’s sovereign law,” according to The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.

Within the first year of existence, the Institute’s notable corporate funders included: CTV, Labatt Breweries, TD Bank Financial Group, Merck, BMO Financial Group – Corporate, RBC Financial Group and Pfizer International, which continued their tradition of supporting think-tanks run by Crowley.

Foundations supporting the Institute at the start were funded by a who’s who of Canadian oligarchs and elites: The John Dobson Foundation, Aurea Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Lotte & John Hecht Foundation, Donner Canadian Foundation and Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Authors of the the MLI study referenced by Cryderman were 68-year-ol Imperial Oil Director Jack Mintz and 76-year-old Janice MacKinnon who has been a Fraser Institute proponent of healthcare privatization.

In 2020, David Climenhaga wrote about Alberta’s economist-for-hire:

Dr. Mintz is the University of Calgary economist who is one of the UCP’s favourite professors — because he espouses their utopian market fundamentalist ideology almost perfectly…

Dr. Mintz is the fellow who in 2015 declared Alberta was on its way to turning into Greece, then in the midst of an economic crisis, because the just-elected NDP had promised a small tax increase for corporations, a review of the province’s petroleum royalty structure and an increase in the minimum wage.

He’s grumbled about “unrealistic ‘climate emergency’ environmentalists,” commented that “Alberta has better reasons for Albexit than Britain did for Brexit” (yes, he did say Albexit), mused about separation, and argued that diversity makes countries weaker. Naturally, he’s a favourite of the National Post, which frequently reprints his bloviations.)

Former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Janice MacKinnon is a director of Canada West Foundation. SFU Adjunct Professor Donald Gutstein described the origins of CWF:

The Canada West Foundation think tank helped organize the Reform Party…

Financial backing for the foundation came from some of western Canada’s wealthiest tycoons: Fred Mannix (Calgary billionaire construction, coal and energy magnate); James Richardson (Winnipeg stockbrokerage business, seed and fertilizer, grain elevators, oil and gas); Max Bell (newspapers, oil and gas); and Arthur Child (chair of Burns Food, left a million dollars to the Reform Party on his death). 

Categories: Climate Change

7 replies »

  1. This is probably the most raw posting I have read of yours Norm. Guns blazing. Yahoo.

    Unfortunately, everything you wrote is true. As a civilization we seem to be sleepwalking towards the cliff. It doesn’t have to be this way.


    • Thanks but credit goes to long-time climate activist Bill Henderson. I quite agree that what he wrote is true, but don’t miss reading through all the linked materials in this post and the following one. Much can be learned.


  2. Alberta’s Environment Minister revealed an updated tactic used by people who don’t want to recognize or admit Earth faces a climate emergency. About the need for regulations dealing with emissions, she said, “It’s too early to say.”

    Previously, outright denial of climate change was the typical answer given by people like those in the UCP government.

    It is microscopic, but I guess that’s progress.


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