|Honourary Colonel, Royal Foreskin Fusiliers
Steve Harper's priorities for 2013, announced in a "rousing" speech to his caucus, are families, safety, pride and financial security.
“Hear me on this, my friends,” the prime minister told fellow MPs. “For you, for me, for all of us – the economy remains job one.”
“This spring, we must continue to be focused – and we will continue to be ever more tightly, on four priorities, that Canadians care about most: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, the best country in the world,” and Canadians’ financial security.
Of course, in Harper's warped perspective, families, safety, pride and financial security are all preserved best covered in bitumen dispensed out of pipelines. Steve's fundamentalist blinders keep him from seeing that you cannot have a healthy economy, you cannot ensure the welfare of our families and safeguard the nation without maintaining a healthy environment and meeting environmental challenges such as climate change. In other words, Ol' Lardarse is full of it.
Fortunately there is reason to hope the Prince of Darkness is running out of time essential to implement his bitumen boondoggle. The rest of Canada, including provincial and local governments, are having to recognize climate change as a top priority that poses real challenges to their administrations and constituents.
The City of Toronto is debating how to meet the future depicted in its Future Weather and Climate Driver study.
According to city data, a one-hour storm in 2005 cost $47-million in repairs — including the washout and reconstruction of Finch Avenue at Black Creek — and cost the insurance industry $600-million in payments.
The study also predicts that by 2040 to 2049, Toronto’s average annual temperature will rise by 4.4C, with winter temperatures going up on average by 5.7C and the summer thermometer jumping 3.8C.
James Young, a senior air quality and weather specialist with SENES Consultants who conducted the study, told politicians the essence of climate change is not global warming — it’s change.
If you live in southern Ontario, you might want to read that study. Another item in today's climate change news is the address Bary Smit, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change at the University of Guelph, delivered last night in Hamilton.
Smit said there's plenty of research that shows ignoring climate change not only affects the environment but also affects the economy.
"The costs of not taking action are far greater than the costs of taking action. There are all kinds of studies that show that."
One local example would be apple orchards, Smit said. Last season, apple trees blossomed early due to the mild winter. When the frost returned, the blossoms died and approximately 80 per cent of the apple crop was lost, resulting in as much as $100 million in lost revenue, he said.
"Another one would be health," he said. "With warmer conditions, vector-born diseases are already spreading. Disease-carrying insects, like mosquitos with West Nile, are surviving longer over the winter and further north."
This past summer, Hamilton and the rest of the province saw a record number of West Nile infections and there was one reported local death as a result of the disease.
In The Guardian, Arctic ice expert, Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, warns that the final collapse of summer Arctic sea ice is now just four years away.
In what he calls a "global disaster" now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for "urgent" consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures.
In an email to the Guardian he says: "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward."
In Washington, Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse had a warning for Republican holdouts that could just as easily apply to the Harper Cons.
"I'm hoping we can convince Republicans that this is a big generational issue and, like being on the wrong side of immigration and gay rights, there will be a huge political price to pay in the future for being on the wrong side of climate change," said Whitehouse, the Democratic junior Senator from Rhode Island, in an interview with BuzzFeed.
"There is absolutely no doubt that climate change is going to be a dominant political issue before long," Whitehouse added. "People who have been recalcitrant servants of the pollutants industry will end up being disgraced and swept out of office."
Harper remains as willing as ever to gamble families, safety and the economy on the sub-prime Athabasca tar. He remains intent on using every trick of economic and environmental sleight-of-hand to keep what Alberta premier Redford has admitted is a "bitumen bubble" from bursting.
Time, however, is not on Steve's side. Steve is being overtaken by the onset of climate change in ways that are visible, tangible, palpable. The public is waking up to his reckless, dangerous instincts. Steve is in a footrace with physics and nature and he's already falling behind.