Friday, August 17, 2018

Hey Justin, We're Burning Out Here. Look What Fossil Fuels Have Done to Us.


There's so much smoke from so many wildfires, they can't see to count the fires any more. It's somewhere upwards of 500, that's all they know. Could be 600. Who knows? At this point does it really matter?

There are so many fires and so much smoke that it's making it hard for people to stay in their homes and hard for a lot of people to breathe including people nowhere near the fires. So many fires that they create their own weather patterns, inversions. So many fires that, in a lot of places, the sky has changed from blue to orange.

Justin Trudeau doesn't seem to want to come out and see for himself what mankind's fossil fuel addiction has wreaked on British Columbia. That might bugger his puerile narrative that we can flood world markets with bitumen and go green at the same time. Justin, that's like an alcoholic drinking himself to sobriety.

My place sounds like something out of Apocalypse Now with the distinctive slapping of Huey rotor blades overhead. We have a forest service training base for firefighting crews and helo pilots. The aircrews come here to qualify on the water bucket drops before heading out into the field. They must be processing a lot of pilots these days.

The west coast is on fire from Mexico all the way up into Alaska. The coastal fire season just keeps growing longer and longer, beginning sooner, ending later.

Now we're told this year's extreme summer conditions will probably continue for another four years, possibly ten, steadily warming year after year. My guess is that means more wildfires in those hotter years.

It also means more greenhouse gas emissions, CO2, and plenty more carbon soot carried aloft.  British Columbia used to be considered a massive "carbon sink." Our forests were thought to absorb a great volume of atmospheric carbon for photosynthesis.

Those forests are now a "carbon bomb." Global warming has meant warmer winters that are no longer cold enough to ensure a kill off of pine beetles that emerge in the spring to infest the inland forests and cause extensive forest die-offs. Those same bugs have now crossed the Rockies and have reached the northern boreal forests, Labrador bound.  Nothing burns quite so well as dead, dried-out forests.

It is not unfair to hold Justin Trudeau and our Liberal government complicit in this catastrophe. They, and their provincial counterparts, continue to lavish subsidies, direct subsidies, in excess of $3.3 billion a year, almost a hundred dollars for every Canadian man, woman and child. When it comes to oil and gas subsidies, Canada is the worst in the G7.  The International Monetary Fund takes a more expansive approach to subsidies, one that includes the value of natural capital and the emissions associated with fossil fuel production, and its number for Canadian government subsidies is $46 billion. That's the measure of our federal and provincial governments' complicity in this.

Meanwhile government revenues that once peaked at nearly $13 billion, are now dropping sharply.

A comprehensive report on Canada’s energy sector says the nation’s remaining fossil fuels “are being sold off in an environment of low prices with minimal and declining returns to governments.”

More than 30 years ago many Canadian governments earned substantial income from oil and gas production primarily through royalties or taxes, but that is no longer the case, says the report. 
Royalty revenue from hydrocarbon production has plummeted 63 per cent since 2000, and corporate taxes earned by government on drilling and refining activity have declined more than 50 per cent.
Unfortunately none of this matters to the sitting government. It didn't matter to the Harper government either. This is a political issue. It is part of an economic ideology that infests all petro-states. It's the face of neoliberal petro-politics.

It's sad that Justin refuses to draw the obvious link between what's happening to British Columbia's forests, what will soon spread through Canada's boreal forest, and this government's energy policy.  We know he won't. The lengths the Trudeau government went to in order to rig (yes, rig) the TransMountain pipeline initiative, show that there'll be no honest reckoning from Trudeau's government.

14 comments:

Owen Gray said...

This fire season is worse than last year's -- and last year was worse than the previous year. And the temperatures? It's clear that time is running out.

Lorne said...

My son, who lives in Edmonton, has sent pictures of the surreal, smoke-filled landscape there. I can only imagine what you are enduring in B.C., Mound.

Jay Farquharson said...

In BC, this years fire season is not as bad as last years. It started later, and yes, there are more fires, but they are smaller and further away from population centers. There's been more prep, there are more volenteers, we are more organized.

Something every blogger should mention, when talking about the fores and the smoke, is that damp disposable HEPA facemasks, will protect your lungs when outside. An inexpensive ionizing air cleaner ($70-$80) will clean about 750 sq ft in half an hour. Eyedrops will clear the alkaline soot and ease the eyes.

Jay Farquharson said...

The History tree at the end of my driveway is a dark, surreal ghost, in a sea of smoke.

The Mound of Sound said...


Good tips, Jay. Thanks.

The Mound of Sound said...


What worries me, Owen, is what we can expect from future forest fire seasons and how resilient we are to absorb those impacts.

Resilience is becoming a critical factor whether it's flooding in Toronto, severe coastal storms in the Maritimes, prairie drought or west coast wildfires. Each severe weather event exacts a toll and, in some cases, they can be cumulative.

If our governments have addressed this they haven't shared their "science" with the plebs. Perhaps they haven't explored the issue at all. Either way I can't think of one federal or provincial initiative to bolster resilience to these threats. That, to me, smacks of deriliction.

The Mound of Sound said...


Lorne, once again I manage to dodge the worst of this. I expect your son is experiencing much worse in Edmonton. We've had a couple of truly smokey days and several lightly smokey days but at the moment fresh breezes off the Pacific have flushed out local skies.

Apparently US officials have tracked smoke from Oregon and California wildfires to New York.

Jay Farquharson said...

Smoke from the BC fires is choking Alberta and Saskatchewan,

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/bc-fires-satellite-1.4789298

Won't make a whit of difference to those Provinces policies.

Ken Barry said...

Here in Kamloops the air index is 151 one scale and 10 + on another indicating a very high health risk. It’s been like this for days and was the same last summer.

Beijing, China
Air quality

Main pollutant:Ozone
59

0
50
100
150
200
300
500
Health message
Acceptable air quality for outdoor activities. Children, elders and those with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.

Kamloops, BC
Air quality
Unhealthy

Main pollutant:PM 2.5
151

0
50
100
150
200
300
500
Health message
Reduce long or intense outdoor activities. Take more breaks. Sensitive people: Avoid long or intense outdoor activities, or consider moving them indoors.

Maybe J Crudeau should come over a suck up some of this and see if he still thinks the pipeline is what we need.

bill said...

the sad thing is that governments are losing money on the fossil fuel industry and the oil companies only make profits by ignoring any environmental responsibility. The only ones making dollars on the penny for their assets are Kinder Morgan when they can find suckers to steal from.

John's Aghast said...

Silly me! I just completed a 3.1 kw solar generating system today.
On my roof. Guess what I'm producing. Zero! Damn smoke.
Maybe we DO need Site C, at least until all the forests are burned down. Then I'll be home free! Really?

Jay Farquharson said...

I got 2.6kwh today, wash the panels off.

Been running the genny since 6pm, tomorrow, we'll cut back on use.

John's Aghast said...

JF: They're Brand New, spanking clean! (Wiped with Windex)
Didn't hook up until 6:00 PM and I was generating about 1000 watts.
But it was SMOKEY!
Will see watt tomorrow brings.

The Mound of Sound said...


I hope this ends soon for you guys but I've read nothing encouraging.