Saturday, November 26, 2016
Weasel Words For the 21st Century
Changes are overtaking us rapidly and the people we trust to safeguard us from the worst are not keeping up. The political growth industry of the moment is inventing words of self-absolution to cover almost any disaster contingency.
The hands-down favourite so far is "no one saw it coming." The variation is "no one could have seen it coming." Bush Jr. used it when America got rumbled by the 2008 Great Recession. Harper and Redford used it when downtown Calgary was turned into a marine park by torrential flooding in 2013.
These are weasel words, phrases intended to disguise the great lie. No one could see the 2008 meltdown coming? Nouriel Roubini clearly foresaw it. Paul Krugman did too. Just read his 2005 book "The Great Unraveling." Nobel laureate economist, Joe Stiglitz, saw it coming. They saw it and they were warning anybody willing to listen that it was coming, soon, and it was going to hit hard.
Here, "no one saw it coming" translates into "no one I was willing to listen to saw it coming" or "no one who embraces the same wobbly ideology I cling to saw it coming" or "no one wanted to see it coming and so we didn't look."
When Calgary was hit by the second "once in a century" flood in less than a decade, that too was foreseeable. Climate scientists had warned that we were going to experience severe storm events of increasing intensity, duration and frequency. They knew that climate change was increasing the content of water vapour in our clouds. They knew how the warming Arctic atmosphere was creating these Rossby Waves that plunged high into the north and then far into the south and would periodically simply stop moving which meant that a torrential rain storm could be parked over the same area for days on end.
But Harper is gone and so too is Bush. Today we have a new cast of characters but are they one bit better than the last bunch? Leave Trump out of it. We've got a new guy who now has a year in power under his belt, the namesake of one of the greatest political minds in our nation's history. What might we expect from him? Will he be just another "no one saw it coming" leader, another purveyor of the great weasel words?
In a word, "yes." Ignoring the warnings from the IMF and World Bank, Trudeau remains a globalism free trader, fang and claw. He clings to the neoliberal experiment that Milt Friedman, before his death, admitted was a failed ideology. He believes that Canada has a road to play in the world and it's a road paved with bitumen.
Trudeau had barely been sworn into office before scientists began to sound the alarm about a "climate emergency" underway in the Arctic. They revealed that, in the middle of the pitch-black Arctic winter, the region was experiencing a heat wave powerful enough to trigger cyclonic winds that thinned the Arctic sea ice by an astonishing 4 inches.
This prime minister watched as eastern Canada endured a summer of sustained drought that damaged agricultural production. Now, for the second consecutive year, the Arctic is experiencing a dark winter heat wave. Correct me if I'm wrong but I've not heard a word from Trudeau or his EnviroMin, Dame Cathy, about the climate emergency underway in the Arctic. Just yesterday we learned from the Arctic Resilience Report that conditions in the far north have brought us to the brink of triggering no fewer than 19 climate change "tipping points" which could send us on the path to catastrophic, runaway global warming.
So what's our government's response at this critical moment? In a picture, this:
Of course they'll tell us they couldn't see it coming. You can't see much of anything when your head is up your ass. Look at it this way. With a government like this, you're on your own. We all are.