Sunday, October 14, 2018

On Short Attention Spans And Political Expediency

The climate catastrophe bearing down on us serves to underscore the fallibility of our species and the shortcomings of our politics, as these Star letter-writers ably point out:
The news cycle is a funny thing. The UN has issued a “life-or-death” report about the clear and present danger of climate change. The Star has given it front-page coverage. But we all know it’ll be gone by next week.

I guess it doesn’t matter. Ordinary people don’t get it anyway, or get it for about five minutes, then move on. Political and corporate leaders don’t get it either. In fact, they don’t want to get it.

So we wait for Trump’s next rant, the next oil leak or terrorist attack, the next royal wedding or sports spectacular, and watch them all disappear just as quickly as they brighten our screens.

Climate change? People running from coastal cities? Droughts, floods, wicked storms and broken food chains? Who cares. It’s a fantasy, just a flicker on the news channel and it’ll all be gone tomorrow.

Stephen Purdey, Toronto

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a grim picture of what is in store if we don’t start to significantly reduce carbon emissions within the next dozen or so years. The consequences of climate change have beaten us over the head in recent years — from extended heat waves and drought to more intense wildfires and flooding. Yet many of our political leaders are merely paying lip service to the crisis.

Doug Ford says he “believes” in climate change, but is opposed to carbon taxes. Jason Kenney is sitting on the fence, but he knows that he doesn’t like carbon pricing. Andrew Scheer says he will have a “very detailed and comprehensive plan” to get us to our Paris commitments — without a carbon tax.

We know what they don’t want, but what are they in favour of? For Scheer, in particular, with an election a year away, the luxury of cheap talk is over. He needs to tell us exactly what he proposes and let us judge if it is better than what is currently on the table.

Richard Schertzer, Milton

Climate change is affecting Canadians as much as a buzzing fly in the room. It is annoying and in the back of everyone’s mind and yet ignored in the belief that it will eventually dissipate once some new technology comes along.

Many people do not have this luxury, however. Natural disasters are sweeping mostly impoverished, developing nations, including the recent Haitian and Indonesian earthquakes. These disasters are headed our way and that fly in the room will soon become a hungry lion. Yet politicians seem to be more concerned about wearing a headscarf to work or having beer cost a buck than the fate of our survival on this planet.

If we want to have any chance of keeping the increase in temperatures to a maximum of 1.5 or even 2 degrees C, we need to put pressure on those in power to shift their focus. We must stop pushing this under the rug and take greater measures than those we’re taking now.

Emma McLaughlin, Montreal


  1. .. Its excellent, the coherence and concern from these 'ordinary voters' as Stephen Harper likes to call them. Whether he would give a damn if they refused to shake his hand is questionable.

    But I would like to say I appreciate them making the effort to communicate via Mainstream Media. Along with quite a number of Indy bloggers, they all probably put more thought & effort into sharing fact based information & valid opinion, than 95% of so called 'journalists' who are paid and have potentially been trained to do so. What else can we assume if we read Lorrie Goldstein, Licia Corbeil, Steve Warmington or op eds by Lardass Black, Christy Clark, Joe Oliver, Candice Malcolm or Faith Goldy.

    That our elected 'public servants' forget any promise made, or fail to make he tough common sense decisions is despicable. Ford cancels a wind farm. Clark went for Site C getting past the point of no return and now so does her NDP replacement, Horgan. Trudeau buys 'us' a decrepid pipeline & his Ministress of Environment lectures Canada on why expanding bitumin production ie Resource Extraction is the solution to CO2 and Methane Escape. When did she take over the Resources Ministry ?

    All in all, collectively.. these political animals have saved not a single wild salmon. Or cleaned up Grassy Narrows. Or admitted that the killing of Boat Harbour in the Maritimes is a national tragedy and scandal. They dare to ruminate on F-35's though. Harper was easily as bad or worse. Daily lies, manipulation, vote suppression, pimping asbestos production & export, kissing Israeli ass while selling arms to the Saudis ? Business as usual.. oh, and here comes Andrew Scheer to save the day.. and pump his 'My Legacy to Canadians' for 8 years via Stornoway. Ooh la la - such Nation Building will transpire when he gets back from India ! What with Patrick Brown & Jason Kenney piling up frequent flyer points to/from India, they can voyage free to Washington to lunch n lobby with Trump

    The toxic blend of captured government, faux christianity, complete deceit staggers the imagination & paralyses the common voter & when for every brilliant Michael Harris there are a thousand 'news' writers, floundering cut & pasters who can barely spell, have no grasp of grammar and think 'context' means they have won a prize.. well truly we are ill served and we will pay the piper. Its all win win for them & lose lose for us. Welcome to 'job churn' folks, scandalous pollution with zero remediation - ever, endless bottomless corporate subsidy that we pay.. species extirpation & extinction, and double standards re what is a crime & what are normal business standards. Just look at Donald Trump if you need an example, as he and the GOP are the current trend setters in litigious pus sack fuckery with a healthy dosage of old white snot supremacy..

    1. As always, Sal,you have articulated well the morass we currently find ourselves in. Our politicians and many important media influencers have failed humanity badly.

  2. It was just five years ago (but it seems like an eternity) that Calgary sustained its second 'once in a hundred year' flood. While much of Calgary was submerged members of the World Council of Disaster Management convened in Toronto for their annual conference.

    CBC interviewed Dr. Saeed Mirza, McGill professor emeritus of structural engineering.

    "Mirza estimated that Canada’s infrastructure requirements have reached a cost of about $1 trillion, while a recent survey by the McKinsey Global Institute earlier this year stated that worldwide infrastructure needs are about $57 trillion."

    Adrian Gordon, former president of the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness put it bluntly:

    “In terms of funding, the amounts of money are truly frightening and there’s no government in the world that can find the kind of money necessary to bring existing infrastructure up to par."

    A "perfect storm" looms. Yesterday I posted about the warnings coming from various economists as well as Goldman Sachs, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others that we are on the very cusp not of a 2008 style recession but of a depression that could make 1929 look like an "adjustment." The Pharaohs knew to fill the graineries with wheat to protect the country from periodic crop failure. Our pharaohs have instead emptied the graineries, leaving us even more vulnerable to a depression.

    This compounds our vulnerabilities to climate change. A government in the throes of a depression will be incapable of responding to climate change emergencies much less funding the transition to alternative clean energy.

    Who knows but we may be heading back to heating our homes with coal and crapping in pit toilets before this is over.

    Sort of like being at 20,000 feet over the mid-Pacific flying behind the power curve and noticing you're down to 200 pounds of fuel. Say, what ever did happen to Amelia Earhart?

    1. I read your posts regularly, Mound, and thanks to them and the other reading I do, I know how dire the situation is. I find it hard to maintain even a modicum of hope for any kind of result short of absolute catastrophe for the world, and probably the saddest part is the world very well knows what is coming but can't see beyond its own backyard, the next election cycle, etc., etc. ad nauseam.

  3. We're whistling past the graveyard, Lorne.

    1. And that graveyard is growing ever closer for the world, Owen.