Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EnviroCan's Blunt Warning

The Tundra is Burning
 Over the past 65-years, Canada's average winter temperature has increased 3.2 degrees Celsius.

This reaffirms what many suspected. Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common.

“We’ve had an awful lot of those ‘exceptionals,’” said Robert Tremblay, research director at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. 

“What used to be happening every 50 years is now happening every five, seven years. … There’s obviously a sense of urgency.”
Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.

Local public health officials are also paying close attention to vulnerable populations as extreme heat and cold become more frequent. They use climate projections to plan West Nile virus prevention – milder winters and springs can mean more mosquitos carrying the disease.

It’s a big deal for businesses, too, although many don’t know it yet. “Or they don’t want to know: They see it as a kind of capitulation,” said Blair Feltmate, who runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project.

“Traditionally, in the whole area of climate change, almost 99 per cent of the discussion has focused on mitigating,” Mr. Feltmate said. But “climate change is a done deal. There’s nothing we can do to turn it off. … How do we adapt to that new reality?”

And here's a special shout out to the governments of Alberta and Ottawa, Big Oil, all the Athabasca operators about those massive tailing ponds, you know the toxic lakes visible to the naked eye from space.   Those tailing ponds that, if breached, could inflict permanent ruin on the MacKenzie River watershed, the third largest watershed in the world.

Take tailings impoundment areas – the ponds used to store mine waste. Mr. Feltmate said many of the ponds in northern areas were designed “with the idea that permafrost will be in the ground permanently.” In many regions, that isn’t the case.

There's nothing remotely radical in the EnviroCan warning.  If anything it's merely consistent with the U.S. government's draft National Climate Assessment, the World Economic Forum's warning, or the latest climate advisory report published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Jesus Christ on a crutch, the tundra is burning and our political classes of all stripes are sitting around with their thumbs up their asses lauding Canada's bitumen bounty and debating course changes for supertankers plying the Pacific.

Now our petro-pols - Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat alike - have it in writing.   Those toxic Athabasca tailing ponds may no longer be safe (they never were) and may be a loaded gun pointing at the head of the MacKenzie River basin.   And what are they going to do about it?   Nothin, not a goddamned thing.


the salamander said...

Hi Mound .. thanks re the blunt warning.. its hard to not get depressed.. especially with the current government .. Harper, Oliver, Kent and Ashfield in the driver's seat and asshats like Clement, Flaherty, Baird, Fantino. Poilievre shrieking from the back seat..'faster, faster.. the Rapture.. the Rapture !!'

I've commented to you and to others my concerns re extensive fracking and all the related infrastructure. Also re the risks from seismic events.. or 'blevies'

We all know David Schindler was correct re toxins in the Fort Chippewa area and Athabasca watershed.. from the tar sands

We know Alexandra Morton is correct re farm salmon trashing the wild salmon fisheries .. witness the Cohen report

What I'm now looking into is the risk to extensive marine and coastal food chains from Chinese tankers blasting sonar at unregulated levels, whether they are carrying bitumen or diluent or liquefied natural gas. I know the State of Washington is looking at the spill risk.. but who is looking at how sonar will wipe out marine life in the archipelagos along the coastline? If I was a Chinese captain or a local pilot entering Hecate Strait at night in rough weather, or navigating the Douglas Channel in complete fog, I'd sure want my sonar telling me where every shoal and every submerged rock was.

Without marine biologists or scientists to appraise this danger from sonar, we may be looking at huge segments of those food chains being driven ashore to die, killed outright or driven away.

I guess my statement or question is... Who among the current government will lie to our face.. or tell us the truth re the consequence of losing all the great whales, orca, dolphin, sea otter, seals, walrus, salmon, coastal eagles, bear, wolves, First Nations..

Or for that matter, any large chunk of any environmental food chain, ocean, coastal, boreal, arctic.. Its all connected. Kill the wolf and you doom the caribou. Kill the beaver and lose the waterfowl that thrive in wetlands. Kill the salmon and goodbye bears, eagles ....

Well you catch my drift ...

The acceptance of planned environmental destruction on these levels is a question the current government must answer to now.. not later when the creatures are dead and gone, the natural system collapsing. Its not something to litigate via Arthur Hamilton .. or shuffle off to zombie MP's or Ministers in committee rooms.. or deny via Van Loan or De Lorey

Ask any Canadian child if they are OK with killing off these creatures and blowing up the entire ecosystem with them. Ask any Canadian voter if they're OK with this.. any teacher, any hunter, fisherman, logger, parent, elder, tourist, artist, welder, chef ...

Maybe we would find its only a small group of wealthy petro pimps and political animals that think its OK.. but are they brave enough to say so?

The Mound of Sound said...

It is depressing, Sal. The "Petro-Pimps" you refer to, a.k.a. the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, no longer consider the safety and welfare of Canadians, today and in the future, particularly relevant. There is simply no other conclusion to be drawn from their apathy to climate change.

I think prudent Canadians will consider the highly credible research now pouring in from the most prestigious sources, recognize they're having no effect on our political classes and begin figuring out personal adaptation strategies.

This is something that has been on my mind for some time. Over the past several years I have effected renovations to my smallish-home so that it is essentially self-cooling in the peak of summer and easily heated by wood from the local forests in winter. These were all very tasteful renovations that improve the look and curb appeal of the house and greatly increase enjoyment of the place.

I am lucky enough to live in a place where, if necessary, I can find ready access to plenty of marine and animal protein. I can hunt and I can fish. I have year round access to clean, mountain runoff within easy walking distance. I have ample space for growing root vegetables, leafy vegetables, fruit and herbs. It would not be all that easy but I could reduce most of my reliance on bought food.

There remains a good bit to do. I still need a viable system for solar power and hot water but I'm exploring those options.

Oh yes, and we should always consider eating the rich. Apparently they're well marbled and quite tasty if properly tenderized.

the salamander said...

Mmmn ... Jonathan Swift has some recipes ... easily adapted.. to larger.. uh porkers

opit said...

Leaving the climate change scare aside still leaves change ; and concerns with pollution from real toxins. Not that I don't think Monsanto isn't wrecking the seed supply, or bees aren't dying... Have you decided yet that all this going wrong could not happen unless it was designed ? My imagination won't. And I'm not talking Hal Lindsay and Revelations either.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, Opit. Science explains what is happening quite adequately, even conclusively. You choose to reject the scientific consensus. That happens just as there were those who insisted that the earth was indeed flat.

Fortunately your variety of denialism places you in a dwindling minority that is now inconsequential. By all means believe whatever you like. It's of no moment to me.