Friday, June 28, 2013

Do They Get It?

Andrew Nikiforuk loves his city and his province. Both, he writes, have had a "Manhattan moment:"

We thought we were big and powerful and beyond humbling just like New York. But as every true cowboy knows, Mother Nature invariably has the last word.

And so Calgarians are now living a chronicle foretold by climate scientists. 

For years those scientists have warned about such disasters. But science doesn't cut much mustard with Alberta conservatives:

In 2005 the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative promised warming temperatures, melting glaciers, variable rainfall, changes in stream flows, accelerated evaporation and more extreme events.

In 2006 climate scientist Dave Sauchyn told a Banff audience that "droughts of longer duration and greater frequency, as well as unusual wet periods and flooding" would be the new forecast. Meanwhile researchers documented a 26-day shift in the onset of spring in Alberta over the past century.

Five years later the Bow River Council concluded that "Our rapidly growing population demands much of the land and water. Our climate is changing and the future of our water supplies is uncertain."

In 2010 the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, an agency that the Harper government killed last year because it didn't like its messages on climate change, reported that changing precipitation patterns were "the most common gradual, long-term risk from a changing climate identified by Canadian companies." 

So one has to ask the question: Do they -- particularly that Toronto-born cowboy who heads our government -- finally get it?


Ck said...

I think it's been a long time his highness knows all of that. However, he only cares about instant profits for his rich well healed friends and to hell with the rest.

Sure Steve shows up with Laureen in tow for photo-ops, as he always does in hopes of changing the channel, sound familiar?

It will be up to Albertans to vote accordingly next election. However, I'm not betting on that. Because, you see, most either don't believe climate change is happening when they see a cooler than average June or a heavy snowstorm at -30 outside. Then there are those who think that may be true, but it only happening in Arctic and doesn't affect them or it'll only happen long after we're all dead.

They're not thinking about the future. They're only thinking about the here and now.

I've observed first hand why Harper is teflon stevie...they're as miserable and unhappy as he is and wish to inflict their misery on others. I mean, when one whines over .05$ for a plastic bag, you know it's time for anger management.

Owen Gray said...

I keep hoping there are lots of Peter Lougheeds in Alberta, ck. Lougheed always said he was a Canadian first and an Albertan second.

With Mr. Harper, it's always been the other way around.

the salamander said...

.. we separated the wheat from the chaff ..

.. and filled the granary with chaff ..

.. Canada is so poorly served ....

.. I am ashamed by our fall from bravery & courage

.. and reason ..

Owen Gray said...

Reason can't survive where there is no bravery, courage or compassion, salamander.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

No he doesn't get it. He and his ilk always think short term and the bottom line. Our economic system is based on this. e.g. one quarter report of an corporation must be better than the last or "there is a problem" (may affect the shareholders returns). With this present disaster the question not asked is "Can we afford to rebuild or should we relocate. They will just rebuild. In 1979 we had a bad flood on the Sturgeon River Watershed. The government told homeowners along the river that they would help them this time if the relocated away from the river. If they stay and get flooded out again they we get no help. Our little hamlet had s subdivision built for the relocated people. The town of Field Ontario relcoated all those from their center of down a mile down the river on higher ground. Ironcially we have not had another flood since for the better manage the watershed.

Moving away from rivers is just one small thing. The land along rivers should be reestablished as wild lands.

Owen Gray said...

As Nikiforuk says, Philip, Mother Nature has the final word. As Canadians we should know that.

Anyone who has lived through a Canadian blizzard should know that.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper won't deal with this, Lorne, he can't. The science is coming down clearly on how the northern hemisphere is getting whipsawed by the newly energized polar jet stream and its Rossby waves that bring 96F temperatures to a small town in Alaska in mid-June and ice to the canals of Venice in November. Mega-floods and mega-droughts.

We know why this polar jet has become so powerful. It's from the loss of Arctic sea ice and the warming of the Arctic ocean causing a much warmer, high pressure zone over the far north. It's effectively narrowing the gradient between the polar jet and the subtropical jet that used to govern our climate.

All of this from less than 1C of warming. We didn't foresee this because we had no previous experience of it. Britain's Hadley Meteorological Centre admits they were taken by surprise when they discovered how the polar jet is bringing such devastating flooding across Britain.

The thing is, until we restore the Arctic ice cap and cool the Arctic ocean, we're going to be living with the vagaries of the polar jet and they'll probably worsen.

What we need to understand - and need political leaders who clearly understand - is that, while there's not a lot that we're going to be able to do to alleviate the impacts that are already upon us - at least not in our lifetimes - there is a great deal we can do to make these impacts far worse, very quickly, and certainly for our kids' and grandkids' lifetimes.

That's what we're playing for now, their future.

Anonymous said...

Before they became the government, I believe that some of the Harperites readily admitted that climate change was a serious threat to society (some of their statements may even be recorded in hansard).

So what happened between then and now? I suspect that the Reformer corporate sponsors had a sit down with Harper and the party brass, and were told that if they didn't tone down the climate change talk then the sponsorship money would disappear.

In the final analysis, I think Harper and the Reformers sold out Canadians in the name of party money and corporate profits.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mound. This is about the future and avoiding the kind of catastrophic collapse that Jared Diamond has written about.

Unfortunately, Harper and Co. have no idea what is at stake.

Owen Gray said...

I think you can make the case, Anon, that not just on climate change, but on tax policy, on workers' right to strike, on the temporary foreign workers program -- on virtually all of this government's files -- these folks have sold out to the corporate lobby.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Owen, I got you mixed up with Lorne. A first sign of an addled mind?

Owen Gray said...

Don't let it trouble you, Mound. My children will tell you that I go through the list of their names -- until I hit on the appropriate one.

Anonymous said...

You're correct of course, Owen. Canada is slowly evolving into some kind of extreme global corporatist fascist state - if we're not there already.

Fortunately, a lot of the regressive (generally, all the anti-citizen) legislation can be reversed with the stroke of a pen, assuming future governments would choose to do so.

Unfortunately, the gutting of environmental legislation and the lack of meaningful climate mitigation policy today means increased suffering for our children, their children, and all of humanity in the not so distant future. All for short term profit and political gain.

But I'm just singing to the choir here. It would be helpful if these tunes were heard by a larger audience.

Owen Gray said...

It will take a larger audience to change course on the environment, Anon.

And, unfortunately, those who are deaf do not necessarily lack a voice.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps it should be right under that old saw, Anon: "Empty barrels make the most noise."

Anonymous said...

Especially empty metal oil barrels.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Anon!