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.


Owen Gray said...

The rule is tell them what they want to hear -- not what they have to hear.

The Mound of Sound said...

When top climate scientists from around the world are declaring an "emergency" in the Arctic, I find it reprehensible for our leaders, including Trudeau, to refuse to acknowledge it and fail to engage their people openly on this dire and immediate issue.

Toby said...

As you know, the US military is quite concerned about climate change and the war it will bring. What influence will the military have on Trump? Will they convince him that climate change and global warming is real? Or will he decide to invest in war machines and a mansion sized bunker for his family and friends?

Anonymous said...

Probably an underground bunker. Anyong

The Mound of Sound said...

I would dearly like some explanation of why this is an "emergency" to climate scientists but our political caste simply ignore their warnings. Have our leaders simply thrown in the towel? Do they know it's already too late? There has to be some explanation for their total silence but we're left to speculate on what that may be. That is irresponsible, an abject betrayal of their public trust.

Toby said...

S.E.P. You know the acronym; it means somebody else's problem. S.E.P. is S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) for politicians who only plan for their terms of office. As you have pointed out, Mound, politicians can make rather silly promises to achieve a goal decades into the future all the while knowing that the targets will be S.E.P.

Northern PoV said...

"I would dearly like some explanation of why this is an "emergency" to climate scientists but our political caste simply ignore their warnings. "

Our fight or flight mechanism was not built to handle abstract threats.

We simply experience weather 'anomalies' and politicians are concerned about today's 'economy' and tomorrow's election.