Willful Ignorance

As the HarperCon delegation of Ministers and big biz boyz prepared to take off for China, the wise Yinka Dene Nation through whose lands the Northern Gateway pipeline is proposed to go, were busy writing letters.  They sent one to the Government of China loaded with examples describing how

Aboriginal communities in Canada live at the margins of society – in abject poverty with appalling conditions. Recently the community of Attawapiskat was highlighted in the news for the extreme conditions with lack of housing, running water and sewage. Attawapiskat is one of more than 100 First Nations communities in Canada that face this reality. These conditions violate the adequate standard of living guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the rights to adequate housing, education, and other rights guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

They sent an open letter to the People of China:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting China this week to talk about his plans toforce the Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline and Tankers through our lands, territories, and watersheds. Harper plans to violate our indigenous human rights to build this 1200 kilometre oil pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Ocean. We will not allow Harperto force this oil pipeline through our lands. Under United Nations international law, we have the right to say no to this pipeline. We will enforce our legal rights to protect our waters from the risk of an oil spill.

While the Prime Minister is in China, the Indigenous Environmental Network has teamed up with the Council of Canadians and the Climate Action Network to lobby various Ottawa-based European Embassies about the realities of the tarsands.  From their news release:

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

The organizations discussed the importance of the policy and directly debunked common industry and government lobby points regarding discrimination, carbon intensity of tar sands, and trade concerns. They made clear the critical importance of pressuring the government to take action on cleaning up the tar sands, both from a climate change and energy perspective as well as the human rights implications on directly impacted First Nation Communities.

“Profound human rights violations are being perpetuated by the Canadian governments ongoing tar sands bonanza. First Nations in the region are living with 30% elevated rates of cancer compared to the rest of Alberta,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “First Nations peoples have been leading an international campaign to stop the Canadian tar sands, this policy will help cut off Prime Minister Harpers ability to peddle this dirty oil to the European market.”

The blog, Trapped in a Whirlpool, raises the question of water quality in First Nations communities, noting that Alberta has the biggest increase of boil-water orders in the country rising to 38 in 2011 from 8 in 2006.  [begin sarcasm] Of course, we don’t know why, do we? [end sarcasm]  But the HarperCons are doing nothing to fix this.  Apparently, they’d rather the First Nations people drink bitumen, I guess.  Of course, we are not surprised, are we?

The tarsands are also taking habitat away from wild animals. In a twisted scheme to save caribou herds, the HarperCon government will reduce the wolf population by poisoning bait with strychnine.  In a report on the impact of tarsands development the US National Wildlife Federation says,

Canada’s Minister of Environment Peter Kent said in September that thousands of Alberta wolves will need to be killed to rescue caribou impacted by tar sands development. “Culling is an accepted if regrettable scientific practice and means of controlling populations and attempting to balance what civilization has developed. I’ve got to admit, it troubles me that that’s what is necessary to protect this species,” Kent commented. Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute estimates that many thousands of wolves could be destroyed over five years under Canada’s proposed plan.

The minister has it backwards. Rather than killing wolves, he should be stopping the habitat destruction and restoring habitat associated with tar sands production. Without healthy habitat, the decline of caribou is inevitable, no matter how wolves are managed. If Canada wants to protect caribou herds, the first priority should be protection and restoration of caribou habitat.

The Minister and his cohorts get a lot of things wrong, particularly when it comes to science, according to Metaman.  He basically suggests we turn on our bullshit detectors.

Check your science carefully folks: Give it the sniff test! Is the next phase of “CPC Agnotology” fake peer reviewed “bullshit”? The GOP republicans and CPC conservatives know that they are failing to succeed with ideology, so, is the next step is to put on the “SunTV lab coats (brought to you by FoxNews)” and do some “dog and pony science” for the masses? Perhaps Ezra will finally exchange his “heavy carbon footprint chainsaw for a more efficient and intelligent pen”? Watch for more the new “science parrot” to replace CPC “bullshit“?

It is 2012; Science, in the past 20 years has cleared out a lot of “Kenty” science, but there is much to be done. By eliminating government based science, seems our government expects us to trust corporate science: Tobacco science? Ethical science? FDA Science?

 

350 or bust shared a 26-second video created by NASA scientists.  It shows, very clearly, that global climate change is real.  Have a look yourself:

 

A child could easily understand that.  But our government refuses to.  Willful ignorance is so unbecoming a government.  But that’s willful too, isn’t it?

 

Advertisements

What will the neighbours think?

One part of the brain can work something out while another part is doing something else, or so it seems.  the regina mom stayed up all night.  When that happens, it’s usually because she’s been engaged in a good read or a good write.  This time it was neither.  And it wasn’t a party, either.  No, this time trm‘s eyes were glued to the screen catching up on episodes of The Young and The Restless and The Colbert Report, shows she watches only occasionally these days.  It’s as though her brain needed a time out from the case of overload she’d contracted by consuming a wealth of information about the tarsands.

What’s weird, though, is that she ended her viewing with the Mercer Report and got right back into it.

From Mercer, then to Twitter and to another story about the long-overdue tarsands monitoring plan the governments of Canada and Alberta have cooked up.  While reading this piece, though, trm thought of her dad.  Born in Canada to parents of Germanic descent just before WWII, he grew up with the “what will the neighbours think” mantra. What trm realized is that her dad is not alone.  Many Canadians care about what the neighbours think, particularly on the international stage. Combine that with Canadians’ concern for the environment and an insult or two about it and the response is huge, so huge that it appears to have forced the government’s hand.

Ottawa and Alberta are hoping a new monitoring plan will curb criticism that the province’s massive oilsands fields are a dirty source of energy, but environmentalists say it will take a lot more to clean up Canada’s reputation.

“It can help send a signal that the government is starting to pay attention to the issues, but it doesn’t actually fix the problems that are causing the black eye to our reputation,” said Gillian McEachern, a Climate and Energy expert at Environmental Defence.

By the time trm got to the end of the article, she was recalling NDP MP Megan Leslie’s comments that this latest exercise was nothing but a PR stunt, a way to pacify audiences and is subject to spin.  trm agrees and suggests this tactic it’s not only for short term gain.  Note the timeline.

The new plan … to be rolled out over three years, will mean the governments will be monitoring more frequently and for more contaminants.

In three years’ time, Canada will be on the verge of an election and the HarperCons will undoubtedly point to this project as a demonstration of their shared concern for the environment. Never mind that it’s not what the scientists they consulted recommended, that it doesn’t go far enough, that a filthy addiction pollutes Earth’s air, waters and communities or that it’s harming real people downstream and upwind and around the globe or that the continued expansion of the tarsands over the next three years could do irreparable harm, the HarperCon government  has created its next “action plan.”

And we must continue to challenge that plan.