Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 04:29:01 AM EST
I've been too busy with real-world tasks (and pleasures) for the last few months to do much blogging, but winter is i-cumin in and sometimes the outrage-o-meter pegs so hard that only blogging will relieve one's feelings...
I'll just let Richard Littlemore and Stephen Leahy tell the story:
The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has launched a huge Suncor-sponsored campaign to reframe climate change as a good thing for Canada's economy. [RL]
The first comprehensive look at the expected impacts of climate change on Canada offers an embarrassing and misleading "don't worry, be happy" vision, citing more golf days and better access to northern deposits of oil and gas courtesy of global warming, critics say. [SL]
frontpaged by afew
RL goes on to report -- one senses that perhaps intervals of head-banging interrupted his typing -- that
In a joint project between the government's National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and the (in this case compromised) Royal Canadian Geographic Society, the Conservatives have introduced "Climate Prosperity," on the face of it, a benign educational program that "lays out the physical effects of climate hange on Canada."
But (points for transparency), the government also admits the thrust of the campaign on its tar-sands-funded website:
"While the phrase ‘climate change’ is familiar to many — and a scientifically accepted phenomenon — the phrase ‘climate prosperity’ is newer. It is a phrase the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy wants Canadians to embrace."
Canada, which has been actively blocking international efforts to negotiate an extension or useful replacement for the Kyoto Protocol that would actually begin to deal with the threats of global warming, has a different plan. As NRTEE President and CEO David McLaughlin explains it: “Adapt and prosper will be increasingly central to Canadian governments, communities, and businesses as these effects become more and more evident.”
It is, perhaps, to the Conservatives' good fortune that they have allies in Canada's newly remade national newspaper, the Toronto Globe and Mail. For more than a week, the Globe has been rolling out a series of stories celebrating all the great benefits that will accrue to Canada in a climate changing world.
[follow his links for further doses of flabbergastification]
The Monty Pythonesque report is full of error, per reputable climate scientists [SL:]
Among the serious scientific errors in the "Degrees of Change" chart is a statement that the Arctic summer sea ice will decline by 50 percent around 2070. This September, the ice declined nearly 30 percent. With the rate of decline about 12 percent per decade and accelerating virtually every year, sea ice experts estimate there will be 100 percent loss of summer ice within the next decade or two.
"That 50 percent by 2070 is completely wrong. I don't know where they are getting that figure from," said Andrew Weaver, a leading climatologist at Canada's University of British Columbia.
Informed by IPS that Weaver's 2007 work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is cited as the source, Weaver responded: "I was lead author of the sea ice section. We never said anything like that in our report."
Weaver said summer sea ice wasn't expected to survive the end of century even using the now outdated data that greatly underestimated the rate of sea ice loss.
Not surprising perhaps, when the official policy is that government-funded scientists should sit down and shut up when the grownups are talking:
A blanket "gag order" imposed by the Stephen Harper government in 2005 has become ever more restrictive. Now cabinet ministers must give their approval before a scientist can comment on anything, including their own research published in a public journal.
"It's terrible, unbelievable really, that this government silences its scientists," said John Stone of Ottawa's Carleton University and a prominent member of the IPCC. Stone is also listed as a final reviewer of the chart.
"This project has the fingerprints of the fossil fuel industry all over it," said Harvey.
In fact, the report and chart was sponsored by Suncor Energy, Canada's largest oil company, a major operator in extracting oil from Alberta's tar sands and that markets gasoline as Petro-Canada. Suncor has been fined several times for pollution violations at its tar sands operations, even under Canada's oil-friendly governments.
If you pick your way through its [the NTREE's] membership, through the collection of politicians and business people, you will, perhaps, not be surprised by the direction of the spin. The Round Table lacks any representation from science and, as environmentalists, must settle for the CEO of a biodiesel company, and the executive director of Environment Probe, "a public interest organization that promotes property rights and market mechanisms to protect the environment," (appearing like a well-funded, green-cloaked business lobby to fight government regulation).
In defence of some of the actual material, if you look past what spin doctors like Ibbitson promote as the exciting bits - eg., an expansion in the Canadian cruise-ship industry and easier access to northern oil and gas - much of the rest of the material appears to be accurate, scientifically sound - and horrifying.
But let's not concentrate on the negative, shall we. Let's turn away from the rest of the disenfranchised world and embrace Climate Prosperity.
Finally it seems the fossil industries and their captive politicians have been pushed past denial and into full-on, raving delusional psychosis. The amorality of their position is barely veiled, it's out in the open and in print: climate destabilisation is a Good Thing(TM) folks, because our country will come out ahead (hey, better golfing weather!) -- no matter how many other billions of lesser people may suffer or die. The venality of their position isn't veiled at all: the government's role as a talking head for fossil industry giant Suncor is announced with pride, not even the most cursory attempt at concealment.
I cannot help but be reminded of the final scene in Life of Brian... but with updated lyrics: "Always look on the bright si-ide of mass extinction..."
Meanwhile, Canada looks like a nation of imbeciles to the rest of the thinking world. Holy cow, it's embarrassing. It should be embarrassing. I hope the voters are embarrassed. I hope the residents of Hagensborg BC, recently hammered by a record-breaking flood, remember that their destroyed homes and businesses are really "prosperity" as defined by Harper and his oil-company cronies.
Pitchforks and torches are too good for 'em.