Monday, April 05, 2010

Burying Our Heads in the Sands of Climate Change

Stephen Harper claims to stand for Canada. Maybe yesterday's Canada but he sure doesn't stand for tomorrow's.

Climate change has already begun to arrive in Canada. If you don't see it, that's because you're not looking, not thinking. It might also be that your awareness of global warming and how it will shape Canada is stunted by the absolute dearth of information on the subject coming from the Harper regime.

I've taken a bit of time to learn what other countries such as the UK and Germany are doing for their people and the contrast between those countries and ours is severe. It's the result of the Harper Cons choking off funding for climate research in Canada. From CTV:

Last week, a climate research centre at the University of Montreal, known by the acronym ESCER, warned that such groups are being forced to close across the country.

A lack of federal funds for climate and atmospheric science has "sounded the death knell for research groups working in this field in Canada," Rene Laprise, ESCER's director, wrote in a statement.

...Climate scientists across the country say they're in a similar situation -- with dwindling funds and poor prospects to secure more money, they're preparing to shut down major projects while their staff seeks jobs abroad.

...Laprise and other scientists in his field are frustrated that the 2010 federal budget, made public last month, set aside no new money for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the main source of federal funding for climate-related research.

The Harper gang are plainly loathe to do anything that might impact adversely on home province Alberta's Athabasca Tar Sands. Anything that draws public attention to global warming and what that will mean for future generations of Canadians could easily give rise to unwelcome questions and answers.

Harper's policy of waiting for the United States to act achieves his goal of buying time by burying the issue for years to come. So what's wrong with waiting on the US? Plenty. America's climate change impacts will be a lot different than ours. In case you haven't noticed, a large part of southern US is already running out of freshwater. Canada, however, is but one of just a handful of countries where the negative impacts will be at least somewhat offset by some positive changes that can benefit us if we act in time.

Harper sees global warming in the narrow context of greenhouse gas emission reductions. He focuses on that single aspect that is so worrisome to Alberta. In his tortured little mind he's unable or unwilling to see global warming in its much larger environmental, economic, social and political dimensions. In other words, Harper is willing to throw Canada and the Canadian public to the dogs rather than position the country to meet these inescapable challenges.

The worst thing, perhaps, is realizing that Harper is aided and abetted by a complacent Liberal opposition that does nothing to hold his feet to the fire on climate change. To a lifelong Liberal supporter, that's pretty disgusting.


Anyong said...

There is a great article in National Geographic for April 2010. It is titled "Water. Our Thirsty World." Frightening.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks I'll check it out. I'm just finishing up Maude Barlow's "Blue Covenant." It addresses the challenges from the commercialization of water resources, particularly desalination.

Barlow warns that, for every litre of potable water produced through desalination, the plant discharges a litre of toxins consisting of the extracted brine plus chemicals and heavy metals used in the refining process. This, of course, is discharged back into the sea.

I suppose it doesn't sound like much of a problem considering the vastness of our oceans and seas but, as we've seen from one mine in Howe Sound, a limited amount of toxic discharge can contaminate an enormous region and the marine life it supports.

It's more than a bit disconcerting to learn of the interaction between the WTO, the IMF and the World Water Forum, the would-be OPEC of global freshwater.

Once again, this is an issue on which our governments should be raising public awareness but won't. We, or our children, may pay dearly for that before long.