I could not be in stronger agreement with Wayne Van Velzen and his Letter published in the last edition of The Goat concerning intentional proliferation of greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere for short term gain and profit.
I read comments and posts on Facebook and Youtube this week indicative of a spectrum of ignorance and denial surrounding global climate change. Comments surpassing ‘Incredible!’ conveyed descriptions of the flooding in southern Alberta with great emphasis. Some even more ‘Unimaginable!’ words expressing the devastating weather event in Southern Alberta- even as more frequent, similar events and bigger are becoming common. Even occurring simultaneously around the globe- for roughly the past 2 decades! World news television coverage is degraded and dismal in North America today, but the descriptions of the Alberta experience, by inferences, seems to excuse the divine, and the human role and culpability for our own impact on accelerating climate changes today. Anthropomorphic attributes are given to the Earth (suggesting it is taking ‘revenge’ for the ways in which we abuse her, even as the religious counterparts attribute some divine mystery and cause to the devastation, suggested as ‘God’s way of pulling us closer together’, or ‘God’s way of reminding us to be responsive and caring of our neighbour’s needs, to draw us together to assist each other in times of these disasters’). Unhelpful diversions, even redundant complacency about the situation in a way. But the human capacity for compassion and understanding does contain the seeds of hope. I am just dismayed, to think we could be so simple-minded as to even entertain any more thoughts of assigning supernatural blame or causes at this point! I am referring to the ‘tipping point’, the threshold of balance that nature, and that we are at- as fragile lives on this planet have approached it, on our Island Earth. We had better not be in denial of our own contribution and responsibility for much longer!
Some might still cling to and find comfort in primitive, tribal notions of a hovering, external, theological God… with many of our human attributes and foibles, capacity for good or bad, but even then, brains were allotted to us, and a head on our shoulders- the human survival gift bestowed by loving Creator, and highly regarded, but also crazy enough as having granted us the power of freedom of choice in matters of planetary stewardship. Over the course of 240,000 years(give or take a few years) our human species has had abundant time and ample opportunities to learn, to grow, and develop in harmony with nature. And even plenty of time to adopt environmentally responsible innovation following initial discoveries of oil, too! I reject the notion that God, or the cosmos is implicated or culpable, whatsoever, in these matters of acute climate change! I suspect that somewhere between Malthus, his 1798 publication of An Essay on the Principle of Population at the time of the Industrial revolution, sometime after Dick, and Jane, and, ‘See spot run!’… or during 15 minutes of ‘Current Events’ in grades 1-to-3 home room’ time, our Prime Minister mustn’t have been paying attention. This is the emerging face of human-induced climate change, just as expected, as anticipated. Most post war baby boomers, Gen X and all successors are aware(had we bothered to heed the science that has been done)of lessons of limits to human carrying capacity of the Earth, especially for a ‘North American lifestyle’, as taught to most of us by grade 5 at latest!
It should also be clear that Southern Alberta, just like Prague, Germany; the US; flooding in China; the UK, the melting of the polar ice caps; the changing ocean temperature and currents; the frequency of tornados and flooding; atmospheric redistribution of incremental heat energy due to human activity during the past 150 years (inducing greater potential wind energy, humidity, and cloud saturation around the globe) has nothing to do with any punitive, or heuristic divine lessons, or cause. It is acute cause and effect of human choices and decisions! For decades now, every indication, every credible scientific model (as naysayers denied global climate change), every comparative study of ancient glacier cores and atmospheric carbon dioxide entrapment in polar/glacier ice, has revealed convincing human responsibility, and impact.
And now an unholy, provincial/federal government alliance is poised to allow a three-fold output of fossil fuels from Fort Mac, intensive fracking and burning of natural gas to accomplish this extraction, for direct shipment of a 20 year supply of LNG to China from northern BC and Alberta. Truly ‘incredible’, but honest insanity, and a counter-productive endeavour at best. It means imminent, exponential production and surging plumes of atmospheric carbon effluent, with a potential for poisoning subsurface aquifers, every time the ground shifts- which may be as early as tomorrow! The yet to be determined decision on the Enbridge proposal could put a productive, BC coastal fishery (productive fisheries habitat) out of production for the next 300+ years the next time an earthquake shakes coastal pipelines, oil and bitumen storage tanks, or thrusts together and splits the bouncing/bobbing tanks, and football field-sized tanker ships, upon land or water.
And yes, one day… depending on the geological life, or best before date expectancy of the human species here, before our extinction, northern people and countries (as dams on the Peace, Niagara, and other great rivers are again solidly frozen over… we may actually need to tap into shale gas and oil reserves when we really need it most!
So, my question to our elected, federal, and provincial governments of the day- the same agencies who spearheaded the big public hydro electric projects and investments of a previous generation (which actually had merit before we realized the value of river ecosystems, and scarcity of Class 1 farmlands in a world of 7 Billion and growing!) would read something like this: Why are we not, and why have you not prioritized development of the tremendous geothermal energy potential in British Columbia? What is wrong with you; what is wrong with us??
Peter Fox (Valemount, BC)