Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Political Stress Test, An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

Imagine a government fully committed to meeting the multiple threats of climate change. What would that government look like? What would it be doing? How would that be reflected in economic policy?  How would that government be implementing adaptation strategies to build resilience in the mid- to long-term? What other criteria would come into play?

This sort of exercise could form the basis for a political stress test to gauge just how well or poorly a particular government is dealing with looming climate change. This is, after all, an existential threat of a magnitude never experienced in the course of human civilization.

Most governments, our own included, would be failing miserably. They're not preparing for the future and their dereliction will exact a horrible price on the populace in the decades ahead.

The fact is, climate change is not their priority. It isn't. Dealing with climate change is disruptive, costly and easily kicked down the road. Here's an example. We've been warned that essential Canadian infrastructure is not up to the challenges of this new climate, the anthropocene. In 2014, while Calgary was neck deep in flood water, the World Council on Disaster Management held its annual conference in Toronto.
Dr. Saeed Mirza, emeritus professor at Montreal’s McGill University specializing in structural engineering, added that the monumental infrastructure costs accumulated over decades of negligence have left Canada particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events. 
“The frequency and intensity of these events has been increasing at an escalating rate and what was a one-in-100-year event at one time may become the norm,” he said. 
“When we look at Calgary, we had a flood there in 2005 and they called it a one-in-100-year flood, while this one according to some descriptions in the news has been three times as bad.” 
Mirza estimated that Canada’s infrastructure requirements have reached a cost of about $1 trillion, while a recent survey by the McKinsey Global Institute earlier this year stated that worldwide infrastructure needs are about $57 trillion.
A trillion dollars, for Canada, is an almost unimaginable amount of money. Yet these disaster management types warn that the damage of ignoring the problem will be much greater.

Here's the point. If our governments - federal, provincial, even municipal - are setting us up for some future collapse, don't you think we should be aware of that, especially before we go to the polls? Should you not be able to consider that factor as part of the "informed consent" represented by how you mark your ballot?

Don't you think you should have some say on whether we're preparing a viable future for our young people?  I do. If we don't, they're just going to take us over that cliff.


brawnfire said...

Hi MoS,

I guess you missed this news:
and this:

Toby said...

Canada (particularly in its cities) is not food self-sufficient. Climate change will hit hard in places we import food from. Our politicians should be addressing this but not a peep. Just one example.

Even a mild climate change will disrupt all of us. We will never forgive ourselves for electing such as those we have empowered for the last 30 years. We knew and we still chose . . .

The Mound of Sound said...

Brawnfire, did you even read this post? It's about political stress testing, not carbon taxes. How resilient is Canada to the climate impacts we won't be able to avoid? A piddling carbon tax is not going to do much for us when it comes to climate change adaptation. At best it's a modest attempt at mitigation, worthwhile to be sure but insignificant to the looming challenges.

You want to praise Justin Trudeau, be my guest. I remain unmoved. He wants to put our coast at grave risk. He's prepared to put our already endangered orca at grave risk. His enviro-minister has even approved the Hellsbroth known as Corexit for use in our waters. Your platitudes leave me unmoved.

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree, Toby. This is not going to end well so long as we continue to accept the weak leadership we have endured in recent decades.

brawnfire said...

What I posted is not about carbon taxes! You obviously didn't read what I posted.
They are the responses to the stress test thus far.

The Mound of Sound said...

BF, I'm aware of the building code upgrades. I'm pretty sure you'll find a post on that story on this blog. That, however, is not the resilience at the heart of this stress test.

What I'm referring to is our core infrastructure - electrical grid, power utilities, highways, bridges and such, the stuff that, should it fail, brings the economy to a grinding halt.

Building code improvements are great. We've had that sort of thing out here for quite a while due to the seismic issues of our terrain. That's tangentially related to resilience but doesn't really address our problem.

Where do we come up with Dr. Mizra's trillion dollars to replace, restore and upgrade our core infrastructure?

The stress test I foresee is to take the measure of the government's actions to protect a viable future. It's a way of informing the public about the progress or lack of it by our elected officials and what we're truly facing in the coming decades.