Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Headwind Against Doing the Right Thing.



It's a name associated with science, Oppenheimer. This time it's Michael Oppenheimer, the nephew of uncle Robert known for his work in nuclear armageddon.

Michael Oppenheimer is an astrophysicist and environmentalist who served 20 years with the US Environmental Defense Fund. He also pocketed a Nobel prize for his work. He now teaches at the department of geosciences at Princeton University. When it comes to environmental things, stuff like climate change, his voice is worth a listen.

Recently Dr. Oppenheimer delivered a lecture at the University of Rhode Island on sea level rise. He addressed the risk of underestimating or ignoring the predicted impacts of climate change, in this case sea level rise.

What I found particularly interesting was his explanation of why politicians, including our own, do bugger all to address these looming crises.

“Memories are short and the episodes are infrequent, so if you’re a politician, the returns on investing in adapting and building resilience are very low because the next Sandy, even with global warming, might not come for 20 years, in which case you’re going to raise people’s taxes to build something that’s going to be useful after you’re out of office,” he said. “There’s a headwind against doing the right thing. The investment doesn’t produce in the timeframe that the people making the investment want to see it. Instead it’s 30 or 40 years down the line.”

The planning times are long and require a deliberate strategy that must be sustained over a number of years, he said.

“Some of dealing with sea-level rise requires mega-projects, and if you’re going to do that, you have to start planning way, way in advance,” he said. “And you have to plan not for today’s risk, but for future decades, and that requires a level of sophistication and a level of forethought.”

“How we will respond, what decisions will be made, and how well those will be implemented by the people, by the government ... that’s really the most critical part of the problem,” he said. “Because we are not so great at dealing with the current level of risk, we can’t be optimistic about how we’re going to deal with the increasing level of risk unless we are really able to focus on this at this point and not put it off for another 10 years or until there’s another Sandy.”

Oppenheimer sums it up about as neatly as I've ever heard it. Today it's a matter of "what's in it for me?", not responsibility, not duty. These leaders, they're going to do whatever is in their interests - not your country's, not yours, not your kids. It makes no difference that we have entrusted to them, and to them exclusively, the resources and powers to deal with these looming crises. They have set themselves up against you, against your grandkids and, ultimately, against your country. That's hard to digest, isn't it.

Do you see Justin and his ministers planning "way, way in advance"? Do you see any sign of that? Do you see them doing "the right thing"? Are they bucking the headwind? Are they even talking about what Canadians will have to face 30 or 40 years down the road?  If you're honest the answers would be No, No, No, No, and No. If you applied those same questions to the Harper era, you would get the same answers, five No's, straight down the line.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yep, human nature. To quote Louis XV, "Après moi, le déluge."

Toby said...

30 or 40 years down the road is wishful thinking. While it may take that long for the waters to rise I think other effects of global warming are happening much faster than that.

Anonymous said...

There are other facts. In Diefenbaker's time a whole aircraft industry and all of the skills developed along with the aircraft developed by A. V. Roe, along with the planes, parts and plans were destroyed and all of the effort wasted. Look at the action taken by Steven Harper and his crowd in 2008. Paul Martin, with the backing of Jean Chretien, had brought fiscal budgets into surplus territory. Debt was being erased. All of which effort was tossed aside and even reversed by a new government. Today, Justin Trudeau is wiping out many of the changes (whether you liked them of not) that Harper's crowd brought in. So any effort by today's government could be wasted energy by a new government with p0other priorities.

As our government process presently works years of planning and action, along with any money spent on a long term project can be lost overnight.

the salamander said...

.. despite the secrecy incompetance obstruction and propoganda, history shows us that most government fail their most basic requirements spectacularly. Placing expectations of responsibility or enlightenment on these dull political beasts and partisans seems unrealistic to me.

In my view, we'll not get effective governamnce, leadership or vision from political parties. We probably need to move towards a model where politics per se are replaced by 2 year term ordinary citizens.. as well, bureaucratic hierarchies will need remodelling.. or even more likely complete rebuilds.

Letting a political party dictate how general elections are supervised is a classic example of the fox runninghe chicken coop.. Same with letting a political party captured by Big Energy demolish the environmental legislation and direction of a nation like Canada. Presuming secretive, criminally immune partisan creeps can direct Canada towards the future is a fail right out of the gate.

Look at the component creeps who float to the top of the political toilet bowl.. pretending they bear messages from 'the oracle' .. or the oracle's cabin boy.. or the plumber.. Mound, if politics today is becoming an overflowing cesspool, drainin from a buried septic think tank.. its time for the backhoes..

The Mound of Sound said...


You might be right, Sal. Political FUBAR.

the salamander said...

.. don't want to be a partisan prick.. but I'm just starting to identify Libtard cretins in power.. thus many of my observations are in regard to the Party that set the bar so high - Harper & his greasy cheating lying losers.

Governments that nominate elevate the Van Loans, Poilievre's, Kent's, Gallant's, Clement's, Del Mastro's, Anders, Rempels et al etc are astounding.. Whether 'young' Justin can top some of those remains to be seen.. current politics seem a fertile field for those who's religion is based on 'gawd shines on those who help themselves ..' - and so Harper's legions went out there and did so.. Trudeau's may be no better.. but give them time.. and a big lift from our 'allies' in Saudi Arabia (who no doubt see Christy clark as the proverbial worthless n helpless flea on a piece of dung, from a donkey, that once looked upon a desert).. but hey they'll likely fund her doomed but desperate pipeline agenda

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Understanding the consequence of an action or in this case not taking action, requires understanding cause and effect. Thinking long term is something our politicians do not engage in. Satisfying the immediate needs with short term solutions, without considering the long term consequences is what they are good at.The concrete bound range of the moment thinking is most politicians mode of thinking.

When Trudeau supported the conservative BDS motion, he was also supporting the continued occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people by Israel. Did he think of the consequences of his decision? Will he think of the consequences of climate change 20+ yrs. in the future and do something to prevent the harm it will do? Will Trudeau think of the consequences of not taking action on climate change? Philosophical and political ideas are no longer the root of our politicians decision making. One has only to look at whose interests are being served to know the source of Trudeau and other politicians decision making. It is people who are at the forefront of Trudeau's thinking and more precisely what people think of him and it's not the Canadian people's judgement that he is concerned with. It is the people who hold the power, the global Neoliberals and the US Imperialists, who dictate what Trudeau's decisions will be.It is their judgment that concerns him, it is them that he seeks to please.

Trudeau does not use ideas or conceptual thought to evaluate the reality of an issue. Will the Palestinians suffer more at the hands of Israel because of my decision to support the BDS motion? The question does not enter his mind. What Israel and the US think of him is more important then what the Palestinians and Canadians think of him. Standing on principle requires integrity.Standing alone because you know the idea you stand for is a moral one is the essence of courage. Saying no, because it is the moral thing to do, is not part of Trudeau's thought processes, nor his decision making. Appeasing Power groups, particularly in foreign policy is what matters most to him. Trudeau is a second hander. He accepts the ideas and decisions of another rather then having his own.

Creating the just society was Pierre Trudeau's philosophical and political goal.It was a goal he achieved. I felt secure under Pierre Trudeau's governing, because I trusted his thinking and thus his decision making.Being liked and accepted is what drives many of Justin Trudeau's goals and thus his decision making, needless to say, I do not feel secure under Justin Trudeau's governance.

The Mound of Sound said...


We've both come to a similar conclusion on Mr. Trudeau, Pamela. Part of me still hopes that he'll have some political epiphany, transform into the leader those who voted for him and many who didn't hoped he would be only I have no confidence in that prospect.