Monday, August 27, 2018

When It Comes Down to It, Survival Is Not Out Priority.


A couple of weeks ago, 2018 was said to be the fifth-worst season for forest fires in British Columbia history. A week ago that had bumped up to third-worst. Now 2018 is second only to 2017 and we've got a good stretch of forest fire season still ahead.

Writing in The Tyee, Guy Dauncey excoriates the Horgan NDP government for its timid response to the growing wildfire catastrophe.
Our forests are burning, not just in B.C. and California but also in Russia, Europe, and even in the Arctic Circle. A persistent heat wave has been breaking all weather records in Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Torrential downpours and mudslides have been killing people. Flooding has inundated cities. Some cities in India, Pakistan and the Middle East have been having temperatures as high as 50 C, the level at which “human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen.” A report published in Nature this month found that the warming Arctic is slowing the circulation of the jet stream, causing prolonged weather patterns and making the weather less able to moderate itself. These things will all become common, unless we get an urgent grip on what’s happening. 
This is crazy. Another study published this month found that we are pushing our planet toward an irreversible “Hothouse Earth,” with catastrophic warming of 5 C or more causing an eventual long-term sea level rise (after many hundred years) of up to 70 metres. Its authors warn us that we may be much closer to the point-of-no-return than most people realize. It suggests that because of numerous feedback factors, the path to catastrophic climate collapse is more like a cliff, and once you cross it, it triggers a rockslide that will quickly bring ruin. Large areas of B.C.’s Lower Mainland are less than three metres above sea level.
Victoria's dereliction of duty. Does this sound familiar?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a senior advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union, warned in the foreword to the new Australian report What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.” 
So what unprecedented action is the B.C. government proposing to address the advancing catastrophe? It feels a bit like “punt it into the future and let the next generation sort it out,” with goals of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050, but without annual goals or carbon budgets or the needed policies. Our NDP MLAs should be embarrassed. Our Green Party MLAs should be screaming from the legislature rooftops. It’s just not good enough. (I don’t expect the Liberal MLAs to contribute much; they have never seemed to understand the issue.)
Dauncey concludes his article with 12 steps the British Columbia government (all Canadian governments for that matter) can and should implement if we're to have some chance of averting the worst of climate change.  Follow the link to read them if you like. I won't dwell on them here because, while I think his ideas are sound, I believe the public is not prepared to change their ways, including sacrifice, that reversing course would entail and, without a clamoring public forcing their hand, no politician will try to lead from the front on climate change.


3 comments:

Lorne said...

We are victims of our own inertia and selfishness and of cowardly politicians who long ago abdicated any semblance of leadership, Mound. One needs look no further than the cosmetic approach to climate change mitigation favoured by Trudeau, who pretends to be doing something while at the same time insisting there is no contradiction or hypocrisy in his purchase and promotion of a pipeline to release more greenhouse gases. Of the weekend Conservative convention, I will not even speak.

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence says it all. Not enough members of the public body are yet interested in sacrificing in any meaningful way to avoid dire consequences that still seem rather far off or are for the moment ‘manageable’. The focus is still on the now, making ends meet, etc. Politicians like Trump, Ford, Kenney, Moe et al understand this very well and appeal to that very skepticism to get themselves elected, using their political opponents even half-hearted attempts at mitigation of climate change as just another cash grab, elitist nonsense, etc. These pols also know that they will never be held accountable for these disastrous directions, as the consequences of their dishonesty will mostly be felt after they have had their run. Will there ever be a time when a significant segment of the population sees it otherwise? Dunno! I do know though that there are powerful interests that are working very hard to avoid that possibility for as long as they can and by any means at their disposal. It’s much easier to get support to reduce the cost of beer that it is to save the planet. Mac

Danneau said...

Long time follower of French politics (long story). Nicolas Hulot quit yesterday as minister of the environment. He came out of EELV and has a rep as a serious enviro. His appointment was obviously part of the window-dressing by Manny Mac as an enticement to elect his fledgling Les R├ępublicains En Marche as an alternative to the failed Socialists (he worked for a spell as minister of the economy under Hollande) and their failed Sarko counterparts. Surprise! As with Horgan, Trudeau and so many others, Macron has turned out to be more of the same crowd that kisses the toes of the rich and demands sacrifices for the serfs. Watching the rationale of pretty much all government agencies reminds me of watching post-game conferences with athletes: you can almost cite the page from the Book of Excuses, Lauds and Other Clich├ęs.

You're correct that no one wanting power will tell the increasingly awful truth, sacrifiicng the future on the altar of power now, and making the requisite sacrifices unbidden is like resigning from society, besides which I have to furnish my own tin hats.