Monday, October 28, 2019

The Many Facets of Climate Change

How do you inform yourself about climate change? Do you ignore it to the extent possible, try not to think about it? Do you look at it as a scientific issue? Do you see it from an economic perspective? Or do you think of it as a political problem?

The climate crisis is multi-faceted. Despite the steadily growing mountain of research and analysis, the deniers and delayers continue to wage a rearguard action to sow doubt and outright lies. They're still using every trick in the book, stuff tried and tested in the tobacco wars.

The science types keep delivering dire projections or at least they seem dire at the time. Yet, before long, we learn that what we thought was dire, even alarmist, was actually understated. Several studies have found that the scientific community is often reluctant to give it to us straight lest that somehow blow back on them.

The economists are now fully engaged in the climate crisis. They're doing stress analyses and costing out impacts. They too have been understating the measure of climate change costs but, we're told, they're working to catch up. Their central theme is that it'll be costly to take the bold action the climate crisis demands now but several times costlier down the road if we don't act quickly.

Then there is the worst of them all, the political caste.  What makes them the worst of the lot? It's their blatant conflict of interest that pits their own, short term partisan interest above the long term public interest and jeopardizes the future.

Environment minister, Cathy McKenna, has repeatedly said that action to thwart climate change must not harm the economy. Missing from that pithy line is the price future generations will have to pay for our government's self-interested betrayal.

Andrew Nikiforuk recently summed up our major parties' villainy:
Andrew Scheer, a conservative Catholic, offered a rehashed version of Stephen Harper’s oil evangelism, based on deregulating the fossil fuel industry, demonizing environmentalists and promoting a Matthew Effect social agenda: let those who have more already earn even more. 
Canada’s petroleum evangelicals now wrap themselves in the flag and demand that we drill more with fewer regulations, even though the market is oversupplied and the climate has reached a tipping point.
Conservation and reduced energy use are ignored.
...The Liberals think they can twin an uneconomic bitumen pipeline largely for Chinese markets and somehow battle climate change. Conservatives may be anointed by oil but Liberals are anointed by rank dishonesty
The Liberals (and the BC NDP) also think they can subsidize liquified natural gas plants and still claim they’re fighting climate change by supplying $680-million subsidies to electrify fracking operations in B.C.’s northeast.
...Our pathetic politics reflects the inertia in the fossil fuel system, the moral poverty of the status quo and a popular denial about the scale of change required to prevent an unending emergency. 
We are living the storm before the storm.
The deniers and the delayers are the imperial storm troopers of the carbon cabal. They work for corporations that have no fiduciary duty to the planet or its people. Modern capitalism is a "by hook and by crook" business and we try to tame it by regulation.

Contrast that with the political caste. Our politicians do have a fiduciary duty, a duty to protect us and future generations, and these solemn obligations they routinely honour in the breach, not compliance. We invest them with the power and resources to perform their fiduciary duties and they alone exercise sovereign powers supposedly on our behalf except, too often, they don't.

Justin Trudeau and his government will not be remembered for the apologies he so freely issues or for his selfies nor even for the parades in which he marches. Future generations will have a clearer and more critical view of the Dauphin and they'll be living his legacy.


Anonymous said...

What future generations will there be to vilify Trudeau and all the other political nitwits worldwide? The way things are going now from what I read, it looks more and more like there'll be a bang not a drawn-out whimper when things go really bad. Then everyone will run around like Chicken Little and the law of the jungle will prevail. No food, no electricity, no nuttin'. As someone said, the planet's not in danger, just the biological denizens thereof. Hell, we can't even save the elephants and hippos from depradation. Trying to save billions of humans from a sticky end isn't going to happen.


Anonymous said...

I have been saying for some time now that the day won’t be long in coming when when our children will curse us and the generations preceding them. Those who held the power will be most vilified, but few will be held innocent.

Owen Gray said...

Our grandchildren will call us moral cowards.

the salamander said...

.. I am dying to 'stand corrected, even wear the dunce cap Mound.. Do you have access to source docs or credible journalism, valid reportage, oil industry projections re dilbit sales via supertanker to China.. or India or any Asian entity.

I aint seeing them. All I see is unicorn boasting from The Harper followers, or the Trudeau followers of untold wealth and the end of 'the discount' on diluted bitumen from the tar sands and how raising emissions will lower emissions (what a bizarro economic equation or is it simply horseshit salad - hold the lettuce and tomato??. You're the last person needing a lecture re bitumen, diluted bitumen, tailings ponds seepage & leakage.. or the laughable myth of 'discounted' ethical oil' due to lack of pipelines.. landlocked 'all that wealth in the ground' and that 96% of 'Canada's vast oil reserves' are in fact brown sugar consistancy bitumen in the tar sands.. not quite oil, requiring upgrading and coking to actually utilize. As an islander you know the reality of the waters off Haida Gwaii as well..

But has anyone seen a contract? A delivery request, hell, even an interest ? In Alberta diluted bitumen versus higher grade Venezuelan bitumen ? Anyone want to commit to product from Burnaby BC via Second Narrows, The Salish Sea ? The superports of the US Gulf Coast can simultaneously loan and unload to existing refineries.. or those fully loaded supertankers can exit direct to Asia or wherever.. just as LNG can depart on similar routes.

Is Canada collaborating with the USA re Venezualan unrest, politics or corruption and bitumen extraction.. while pretending to support or uphold subsidized Alberta foreign controlled or owned bitumen extraction.. for TMX.. ???? Further, if Asia aint buying, its going southbound.. so why bother with supertankers.. pipelines outta Canada get the job done.. straight shot south from Hardisty to US of A.. and apologies to any bitter NIMBY Albertans at pipelines past their swimming pools, hobby farms and schools south of Calgary eh !!

Andrew Leach at U of Alberta must know the answer to my question.. and of course no Canadian political animal wants to face up to the reality of shale and fracking in the US or in Alberta or BC .. and supertankers up our ying yang, and dying wild salmon stocks and inter related fisheries, tourism, First Nations and our western marine coast and our freshwater fisheries and waters

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, Sal, Sal - what can I say? Contracts, you're looking for contracts? I'm sure the federal government has them all signed, sealed and delivered. They're just resting right now and can't be disturbed. Sort of like how the government tells us that they've "done the science" only the Royal Society and even Environment Canada says "nope, nobody's done the science." Who are you going to believe, a politician or a scientist? Sort of like how every dime of the revenues from that pipeline will be invested in some green or greenish thingees, whatever that means. Is that after we recoup the $12- to 15-billion costs (all-in) to get that new pipeline built and up and running and, if so, when do we earn that initial investment back? What I've read is that pipeline economics dictate that it takes decades to recover the capital and operating costs to break even. If you start siphoning off the revenues before you recoup your expenses it's like buying your own job which is kind of stupid.

You see, Sal, the devil is in the details and, as they say, figures don't lie but liars figure. Of course by the time we discover this is a scam, the government of today will have gone the way of the great political bowel movement, the Parliamentary Peristalsis by which power alternates between Libs and Tories.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Owen, I expect they will hold their seniors in contempt. It's an easy case to make.

the salamander said...

.. I just keep searching for the 'business case' for this pipeline.. or expanding the tar sands production. If this aged pipeline and its twinned expansion are such cash generators, then why did its greedy former owners get so eager to dump it on any buyer ? Maybe Trudeau / Morneau / Butts / McKenna et al Inc think they have an inside track on 'social license' and the secret potion mumbo jumbo to skirt or scam First Nations and British Columbians and drive the sucker to their vaunted Burnaby 'tidewater' .. hell I dunno.. They just remind me of ol Joe Oliver shrieking about the Once in a Lifetime Window of Opportunity slip sliding away. Certainly the wet dream of Raising Emissions to Lower Emissions' is some kind of 'ya gotta get into it before ya can get out of it' - sounds sort of like a Florida swampland purchase, sight unseen.

I think Lavalin has a stake in this. We need to be made fully aware of that guy, a 'Senior Minister' who got out just ahead of Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson- Raybould.. to 'spend more time with his family' .. but after suddenly deciding this.. to retire as Treasury Minister & having cut the cheque for the pipeline to cash generating heaven just as suddenly signed on with Bank of Montreal to oversee their collaboration with Lavalin.. which also includes Site C.. Yes, Scott Brison, family man of the year.. for what ? A couple of hours ? That's how fast a bank can 'find their man' and hire him ? Thus guy was 'fishing off the dock' well in advsnce of his sudden urgent family values.. as some would say.. 'made in the shade' after we paid him and will pension him. Rest assured he now owns stock options in BOM & likely Lavalin too. He 'took the money, cut and ran'.. sellout baby, sellout

I agree with you re how this stuff just becomes election promise footballs to be soun then punted down the road.. I just have an itch for fact.. Sure I read fiction, lots of it.. love it.. but I don't vote for it.. or expect fiction to provide 'public service' or be in OUR decrepid Parliament.

We both know how pipelines operate. Long term contracts to be paid regardless of whether product is going down the pipe. Once Trump reversed the Obama decision re the delayed douthern pipe south.. the Energy East fantasy was dead. There was only enough dilbit for one pipeline and destination New Brunswick was not it. Scheer still aches for it.. but that's fantasy political football too.. and Trump killed it with his typical posturing and Executive Order PR stunting

So I keep asking.. where is the increased dilbit extraction actually going to go.. to whom. And why does it require getting it to Burnaby, or supertankers thrashing through The Salish Sea..??? ... And.. Show Me the Remediation Plan and Budget Mr Trudeau - Mr Kenney .. !!!

Northern PoV said...

BM, re:
" it looks more and more like there'll be a bang not a drawn-out whimper when things go really bad"

My 4 cents:

* "It's hard to predict the future cause no one knows what's going to happen"

* Every condemned prisoner hopes the executioner is highly skilled.

Hugh said...

The economy currently runs on fossil fuel. Look at tourism, mining, forestry, transportation, agriculture - they all run on gasoline and diesel. Reducing fossil fuel use will reduce the economy, I don't see a way around that.

The Mound of Sound said...

Your position, Hugh, is nihilistic. The economy, where possible, has to be electrified. Granted not all fossil fuels can be eliminated, not for now. However there is no justifiable need for the high-carbon, low-value garbage, coal and bitumen. The world is awash in lower carbon, higher value petroleum and natural gas. That's why the Tar Sands are taking a beating on world oil prices.

e.a.f. said...

must not hurt the economy? O.K. how does any one think that is going to work out. When you reduce work in one area, there is going to be "pain" for some one. Better to acknowledge it and provide "medical treatment". If we are ever going to stop these subsidies to the oil/gas industry, people will be laid off. How the country deals with that, is going to be important. Given the amount of money handed out in subsidies to companies, it could be re allocated to the workers who would become unemployed. Not some silly program which doesn't deliver much, but real change for the workers, like a decent education and yes that might mean putting some in university for 4 or 5 years. Certainly I'd feel better as a tax payer knowing some one in this country was being actually helped to a new career. Its not like we have an over abundance of medical or teaching staff. We could encourage people by providing an income, not E.I./U.I., to start their own businesses. When you add up the amount of money handed out in subsidies to corporations, over the decades, we could have gone in a whole different direction.

I'm not in favour of destroying our Canadian environment to benefit china or any other country. Its like with forestry, once the trees are gone, so is the money and you are finished. had things been done better in the forest industry, it could have continued. its the instant greed which is the problem. Fracking destroys land, water and air. Why do it? Mining bitamen? its expensive and dirty? why do it. If perhaps we used it exclusively for Canadian's benefit, that is one thing, but to export it to China, that is simply not on, as far as I'm concerned. We ought to have built refineries in Alberta a long time ago. We in Canada, at least in Western Canada might not be paying over a $1.50 a litre. if our money wasn't going into the gas tank and then in a corporation's bank account, we'd have more money for people to feed their kids, buy homes, spend money locally.

That pipeline, we might as well make it a walking trail. It would most likely in the long run make us more money with tourism.

I did carry on a bit here. Blame it on the Halloween candy.

Northern PoV said...

"How do you inform yourself about climate change? Do you ignore it to the extent possible, try not to think about it? Do you look at it as a scientific issue? Do you see it from an economic perspective? Or do you think of it as a political problem?"

"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief" (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

The Mound of Sound said...

BM, I expect as the next decade unfolds we'll have a pretty reliable idea of how and when the wheels come off the global wagon.

I doubt we'll be nearly as benevolent as we now like to imagine we are. The world as we've known it, the world our ancestors understood, is changing and we're doing little to steer that change.

Check out the report of the Brit MoD, "The Future Starts Today."It contends that the climate crisis will be the dominant driver of change and insecurity in the near future. That conclusion is echoed in the US Defense Department's last two Quadrennial Defense Reviews. This breathes life into Nikiforuk's observation that we're living the 'storm before the storm.'

The Mound of Sound said...

I can be brutal in my assessment of our political leadership but, gawdammit, they do their best to obfuscate, to keep the Canadian people ill-informed, sometimes deliberately misinformed.

For those who insist we must do nothing to impair the headlong advance of the economy I would refer you to a post I did two years ago, "The Great Acceleration." Check it out. There are 50 graphs of various trends. They're all remarkably the same and that should be a lot more than worrisome. You might find it unnerving.

Lorne said...

The declaration that climate change mitigation measures must not hurt the economy is risible, Mound. Just ask the people and vintners in Northern California during the past, current, and future wildfires.

The Mound of Sound said...

The climate crisis, our proclaimed national emergency, varies in dimensions according to science, economics or political bias. The Trudeau Liberals, for example, are still working on climate change as it was then recognized by Team Harper. They're pursuing, and failing, Harper's emissions targets. Who doesn't know that the climate change consensus today is vastly different to what existed in Harper's day? Yet the increasing urgency and enormity of the threat is in no way reflected in government policy. Once you exclude the science, you can persist with the political outlook that remains stagnant.