There's news this morning about Teck Resources play to open a new pit in the Athabasca Tar Sands. It promises to be a major investment, 20 billion, and the company hopes it will eventually produce 85,000 barrels per day by 2026 ramping up to 260,000 barrels of bitumen goodness per day by 2037.
Regulators have given the proposal a big thumbs up despite concluding, "there will be significant adverse project and cumulative effects on certain environmental components and indigenous communities.”It still has to clear EnviroMin, Dame Cathy's desk but, true to form, she has already ducked the issue saying if her office concludes it's an environmental fiasco, like Pontius Pilate, she'll wash her hands of it and pass the decision along to cabinet. If she can approve it, fine. If she can't then cabinet gets to approve it.
I thought about the Teck venture this morning as I read an op-ed written by Chris Hedges in 2017.
Civilizations over the past 6,000 years have unfailingly squandered their futures through acts of colossal stupidity and hubris. We are probably not an exception. The physical ruins of these empires, including the Mesopotamian, Roman, Mayan and Indus, litter the earth. They elevated, during acute distress, inept and corrupt leaders who channeled anger, fear and dwindling resources into self-defeating wars and vast building projects. The ruling oligarchs, driven by greed and hedonism, retreated into privileged compounds—the Forbidden City, Versailles—and hoarded wealth as their populations endured mounting misery and poverty. The worse it got, the more the people lied to themselves and the more they wanted to be lied to. Reality was too painful to confront. They retreated into what anthropologists call “crisis cults,” which promised the return of the lost world through magical beliefs.
“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present,” philosopher and psychologist William James wrote, “and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”
... A society in crisis flees to the reassuring embrace of con artists and charlatans. Critics who ring alarm bells are condemned as pessimists who offer no “hope,” the drug that keeps a doomed population passive. The current administration—which removed Barack Obama’s Climate Action Planfrom the White House website as soon as Donald Trump took office—and the Republican Party are filled with happy climate deniers. They have adopted a response to climate change similar to that of the Virginia Legislature: ban discussion of climate change and replace the term with the less ominous “recurrent flooding.” This denial of reality—one also employed by those who assure us we can adapt—is driven by fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that along with the rich and corporations fund the political campaigns of elected officials. They fear that a rational, effective response to climate change will impede profits. Our corporate media, dependent on advertising dollars, contributes to the conspiracy of silence. It ignores the patterns and effects of climate change, focusing instead on feel-good stories about heroic rescues or dramatic coverage of flooded city centers and storm refugee caravans fleeing up the coast of Florida.
Droughts, floods, famines and disease will eventually see the collapse of social cohesion in large parts of the globe, including U.S. coastal areas. The insecurity, hunger and desperation among the dispossessed of the earth will give rise to ad hoc militias, crime and increased acts of terrorism. The Pentagon report “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States Security” is blunt. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,” it grimly concludes.Even if some might have seen Hedges' views as hyperbolic back in 2017, the flood of climate change devastation since then serves to confirm his opinions. We are trapped in a dangerous state of cognitive dissonance. The Northern Hemisphere is getting hammered from Svalbard, 1300 miles above the Arctic Circle all the way south to the equator. Meanwhile our political caste, Liberal and Conservative, look the other way intent on flooding world markets with high-carbon, low-value bitumen.