Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Is Anybody Listening?
Judging by the petro-posture of our prime minister and America's "clean coal" president, it doesn't sound like there's anybody on our side of the Atlantic listening to the alarms being sounded by science types in the Arctic. The scientific community calls it a climate emergency.
When atmospheric temperatures are 20 degrees Celsius, roughly 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal that's massively abnormal. When ocean temperatures are 4 degrees Celsius above normal that too is massively abnormal. That's precisely the situation in the Arctic today. When it happens two years in a row maybe, just maybe, there's something going on in the Arctic and maybe that something heralds a looming threat we should be preparing to deal with.
As professor of thermal sciences John Abraham wrote in The Guardian last week, "At the risk of losing objectiveness but keeping candor, we are fucked."
That's a pretty strong descriptor. Reminds me of when the Danish government's chief glaciologist for the Greenland Ice Sheet, American Jason Box, carelessly tweeted to a friend, "We're so fucked."
Well, if we are indeed fucked, as these two climate scientists (and many others using more gentile language) suggest, you might expect some hint of acknowledgement of the fact from our political caste, the Brahmans we elect and empower to look after our wellbeing, our security, our land.
Trump is obviously too focused on bending people to his will than safeguarding his people against looming threats and ensuring the survival of future generations. What's Trudeau's excuse?
Trudeau pledged that his government, unlike his predecessor's, would follow scientific knowledge. Not belief, knowledge. Apparently he left out the bit about "when that suits our purposes." He also pledged to take Harper's gags off federal government scientists, again leaving out the bit about "when that suits our purposes." Of course there's that weasel word/wiggle room thing again. Trudeau didn't actually promise to use science to shape policy. He merely promised that scientific analyses would "be considered" when the Liberal government makes policy. Sort of like how Steffie Dion "considered" Saudi human rights when approving the Death Wagon deal. Yeah, right.
Now the Trudeau government has promised to shutter provincial coal-fueled electricity generation by 2030 except that we know that Trudeau won't still be around by then. He's making promises another prime minister will have to carry. What he is doing now is preparing to approve major bitumen pipeline projects that will put paid to his green energy laurels. Once again it comes down to weasel words and wiggle room, this government's default operating system.
Back to the Arctic, is anybody listening? Not a chance. That's science that they don't want to hear, not in legislatures beholden to fossil energy giants. And that, kids, is why we are well and truly screwed.