Monday, July 10, 2017

Justin, Climate Change is Here and It's Hurting. Now, Can You Stop Making It Worse?

Is This Really In the "National Interest"?

On Friday, British Columbia logged no fewer than 140 new forest fires. That might be a record. Then again, climate change is bringing the world plenty of records. Worst ever this, worst ever that.

We had plenty of forest fires last year but the big focus was, of course, on the devastation of Fort McMurray.

We've known this was coming. Some reports warned of it 20 years ago. We caught up with our reading last year.

Over the past 30 years, human-caused climate change has nearly doubled the amount of forest area lost to wildfires in the western United States, a new study has found.

The result puts hard numbers to a growing hazard that experts say both Canada and the U.S. must prepare for as western forests across North America grow warmer and drier and increasingly spawn wildfires that cannot be contained.

“Climate change is playing a substantial role in the variability of fire activity… and we expect that to continue into the future. The question is how are people going to respond to that,” said John Abatzoglou, a climatologist at the University of Idaho and lead author of the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

At this point, Mr. Trudeau, the game has changed. You can't undo the warmer, drier conditions that have set in across the western US and Canada.  Nobody's asking you to do that. What you can do though and what you are doing is to make the future worse than it otherwise need be. That, after all, is the inevitable result of your considerable efforts to ramp up the extraction and export of the world's highest carbon, filthiest and most toxic ersatz oil, bitumen.

It doesn't make any difference where that bitumen and the really nasty petcoke bonus it carries are burned. It's all one atmosphere. Burning that garbage in Asia gets back here in due course.

And, I know how annoying this is but you might also consider what these heightened greenhouse gas emissions are doing in other corners of the world, the poorest and most vulnerable countries, where climate change is already killing people through droughts and floods and famine and the wars these catastrophes sometimes trigger. You can't undo much of that but you can definitely make it worse.

And then there's our grandkids and perhaps their kids in turn. You can't undo much of the environmental hardship they'll have to cope with but you can definitely make it worse, perhaps nightmarish. 

I know, the world is going to need hydrocarbon energy while we transition to clean energy alternatives. Sure. And, right now, the world is awash in oil and gas. So why don't we use the cleanest of these fuels, the products that create the lowest emissions? Better yet, why not take advantage of the surface carbon cycle and produce bio-oil and bio-gas?

Why bitumen? Surely bitumen is to climate change what asbestos is to mesothelioma. Some things should be left safely in the ground.


Lorne said...

Sometimes I wonder, Mound, how aware our political 'leaders' are of the imminent peril we are facing. Do they know the research that is readily available to anyone that can read? Do they have functionaries that present them with briefing reports? It is hard to believe otherwise, which leads one to draw some damning conclusions about the people we have elected, doesn't it?

The Mound of Sound said...

Assuming they're not inherently malevolent people, Lorne, we're left to guess whether they're indifferent or their dysfunction is rooted in denial, cognitive dissonance or some other coping mechanism.

The science is in. We know what burning bitumen means for the planet. We know there are much "cleaner" fossil fuels readily available.

My guess is that Notley is acting out of self-preservation. She knows what fate awaits her NDP government if she did the "right thing." I expect Trudeau has also done the electoral calculus. Yes, that would have them both putting personal partisan advantage ahead of and to the detriment of the nation and the public interest but that is becoming more and more the standard M.O. of government in this era.

Look at the promises young Trudeau made to the proles in B.C. to win their votes in the last election and how effortlessly he reneged on those commitments once those promises had paid off in seats.