Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Linda McQuaig: Alberta And Climate Change

For me, one of the most disappointing aspects of the media coverage of the Alberta floods has been the relative dearth of commentary linking this monumental environmental disaster to climate change. To be sure, some prominent people have made that linkage, but by and large it has been omitted from mainstream coverage of what is probably Canada's worst flooding in our history. Television networks and major newspapers have seemed quite reticent about putting the two topics in the same story, for reasons I'll leave you to consider.

Always outside and beyond the mainstream, my newspaper of record, The Toronto Star, has Linda McQuaig's latest column in this morning's edition. In it, she draws a sharp contrast between the concerted action that was taken by the world in the 1970's to address the problem of ozone layer depletion with the inaction today on climate change. The reason for the difference?

The climate battle, launched in 1988 right after the signing of the Montreal Protocol, has been played out in a very different age — one dominated by the mantra “government bad, private sector good” when corporate power has been at its zenith, enjoying a virtual stranglehold on key public policy decisions.

McQuaig says that the footprint of corporate power and obstructionism is most profoundly evident in the United Nations which, she asserts, has been infiltrated and subverted:

With the new anti-government, pro-business paradigm, the UN was transformed from a body aimed at regulating and monitoring international corporate behaviour to one that “partners” with the corporate sector, note Sabrina Fernandes and Richard Girard in Corporations, Climate and the United Nations, a report published by the Ottawa-based Polaris Institute.

Taking full advantage of this change, the fossil fuel industry became deeply embedded in every aspect of the UN climate change process, using its inside role to effectively scuttle progress, like a fox setting up headquarters right inside the henhouse.

As always, Linda McQuaig has something very important to say. I hope you will take a few moments to check out her entire piece, which includes a couple of very interesting links that bolster her contentions.


  1. Actually, no.
    Not the worst flooding in Canadian history, not even close.
    Look up Hurricane Hazel.
    However, climate change is not defined by the extremes but by the trends.
    Weather and climate are two very different things which are, unfortunately, commonly confused

  2. Thanks for the correction, Dan. I, of course, knew about Hurricane Hazel, but was unaware that it was as extensive as your link describes.

    While I realize that weather and climate are not the same, the trend, of which the Calgary disaster is but one, is toward greater, more severe, and more volatile weather. As the larger picture emerges, I have little doubt that Alberta will be seen as part of that trend.