Thursday, November 14, 2019

Priorities - An Already Faltering Petro-Economy or Future Survival. One Must Yield.

There's an anecdote often attributed to Winston Churchill that goes like this:
“Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?" Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... " 
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?" 
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!" 
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”
What's our price? What is Canada's price to abandon the fossil energy economy, especially coal and bitumen?

I suppose that depends who must pay. At the moment that's not us so much as people in other lands who never are included in the conversation when unprincipled people of power - Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Preston Manning, Scott Moe, Stephen Harper and, yes, Justin Trudeau rise to the defence of Canada's highest carbon, most toxic fossil fuels.

There are people today who are dying from the impacts of our global, carbon-fueled climate crisis. They're dying. They're being forced from their ancestral homelands, their historic ways of life no longer viable. They're being thrust into resource wars, wars of survival. Even the lucky ones are having their lives truncated, abbreviated by lethal heat waves, crop failures and famine, new contagious diseases, severe weather events or the particulate aftermath of our petro-economies.
The climate crisis will determine the lifelong health of today’s children, doctors have warned, noting that global heating was already causing harm. 
Children are especially vulnerable and the global team of researchers say rising temperatures mean the bacteria causing deadly diarrhoea will thrive while poorer crop yields could lead to more malnutrition. 
The annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change tracks the impacts of global heating on health. As well as children, older people are particularly vulnerable to heatwaves since they are less able to regulate their temperature and fluid balance. 
The authors found that 220 million more people over 65 were exposed to heatwaves in 2018 compared with 2000. Europe, the report said, was especially at risk, due to its high number of older citizens living in large, hot, cities.
The 2019 report, coinciding with wildfires raging in Australia, also found that human exposure to fires had doubled since 2000. Wildfires not only cause deaths and health damage but had significant economic and social impacts. 
Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown, said: “Children’s bodies and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants. The damage done in early childhood lasts a lifetime. Without immediate action from all countries climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.
The study tracks 41 indicators including the spread of infectious diseases. It was found that, spurred on by global heating, the ability of dengue fever to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 2017 was at the second highest level recorded since 1950, while nine of the 10 most suitable years for transmission had happened since 2000. “Dengue is the most rapidly expanding infection around the world,” said Watts. “It is called breakbone fever because it is incredibly painful.”

The report also found 2018 was the second most suitable year on record for the spread of the cholera bacteria, which cause much of the diarrhoeal disease and wound infections around the globe. Watts said the first native cases of tick-borne encephalitis in the UK were recorded in October. “This is a disease we know is moving as a result of climate change.” 
The report said infants were worst hit by malnutrition, and that, as temperatures have risen, the capability of many cereal crops to deliver full yields has fallen in the last 30 years.
Do you imagine that when Justin Trudeau sits down with Andrew Scheer or Jason Kenney their conversation turns to dengue fever or cholera or diarrhoeal epidemics. Do they explore the countless millions of children whose immune systems are being permanently compromised, their life expectancy shortened for many, extinguished for some by our petro-economy? Of course not. Those people are never part of their deadly equation. They're collateral damage, what the petro-economy treats as "externalities" that are to be kept off the books. How obscene is it that we neither acknowledge them nor our contribution to their ordeal?

There was a time when Canada was widely seen as a force for good, an honest broker, a peace maker and a peace keeper. Our current prime minister's father tried to bridge the divide between rich and poor, north and south. Those days are over. We are not that Canada any longer. We still cling to that tattered conceit but we're lying to ourselves.

The Tories set us on a new course, one in which you no longer spoke truth to power but, instead, spoke on behalf of power. Four years of Liberal government show that's not changing.

We have established what we are.


Lorne said...

When put in those terms, Mound, it is clear that our government is indulging in crimes against humanity, something the ideologues at both ends of the spectrum will never acknowledge. Encroaching mortality will spare those of us of a certain vintage from the worst. The legacy we are leaving our descendants is unspeakably vile.

The Mound of Sound said...

As Thunberg and her followers quite properly remind us, Lorne, we will die of old age while they will die of climate change. We say nice things and then we quickly look the other way.

Anonymous said...

Good reminder of how perilous our political and social will is to move forward as opposed to push bitumen down the throats of all Canadians.
Now that a vote for Conservatives is a 'my way or highway' separatist vote, what are Canadians to do?
Sadly, shutting down carbon production will only exacerbate the 'they don't love us' mindset.
Perhaps Trudeau (and possibly a few from other parties) should start putting 'poison pills' in place in the event of a separation of Alberta. Such efforts would make it almost impossible to separate without losing everything and with the onus to pay back Canada in terms of environmental, economic and social costs.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think we need a positive response to threats from Alberta. A massive retraining initiative would be a good start. Alberta has a poorly educated workforce compared to other provinces. You don't need much book learning to rake in big money in the oil patch. That, however, creates a dependency on the status quo. Anyone in that precarious situation would fight fang and claw against perceived threats to their and their families' financial security.

A major works programme to employ these workers on environmental remediation while they also have the opportunity of retraining could dampen a good bit of their anger. There is more than 200 billion dollars of work in this cleanup.

They've already got a huge poison pill in the ecological disaster of orphan wells and the Tar Sands. Of course Edmonton could also use that to extort Canada. It's a risky ploy on either's part.

The hare brained Wexiteers are now talking about more than separation. As Dave Climenhaga points out they seriously contend Canada should cede to them part of British Columbia right through to the coast.

These people, whipped up, become crazy as cut cats. Kenney knows this and he exploits it which tells us all we need to know about his sincerity.

Offering constructive assistance isn't yielding to threats. They need to understand they are dealing with grownups not impressed with their tantrums.

the salamander said...

.. I provided Owen at Northern Reflections, links to review compare Jason Kenney's shrill travelling medicine show.. the elixer of economies is Bitumen to the infamous Harper/Flanagan Alberta Firewall Letter .. They are identical, almost word for elrd. The other evening Vassy Kapelos grilled Quebec's Premier re his resistance to Energy East.. which died for good reason. Even Irvin stated their only interest would be export.. 'to somewhere'. He smoked Ms Kapelos, who simply has no idea but tired & jaded Coles Notes talking points via Scheer & Kenney et al. In case I'm not being blint enough.. that is Mainstream Media - National TV - pimping for a long dead stupid stretch of an idea.. aged gas pipeline reversal that runs under The Great Lakes.. on into Quebec to fend off & replace Saudi Arabian oil.. which is a laughable myth and warm the cockles of Ontario, Quebec and The Maritimes. Never mind the lack of anywhere near a useful ability to coke and refine the Dilbit.. or that US sweet shale oil is meeting what else Quebec needs, as they are already 40 + %! already utilizing Alberta real 'oil'.

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