Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/3/2018 (1126 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There have been a lot of recent headlines about climate and Manitoba, quite apart from winter storms, but little action from different levels of government.
Manitoba finally signed on late to the federal climate strategy, so $60 million of funding did not fly south, though how we will spend it remains a mystery. Premier Brian Pallister continues to mutter and do nothing about a "made-in-Manitoba" climate plan, while the Business Council of Manitoba murmurs against the financial impacts of a carbon tax — hardly a surprise, as its former executive director is now our "minister of pipelines," Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
The city of Winnipeg continues with its last minute, pop-up, flash-mob "consultations" on a climate plan for the region — leaving the skeptical to wonder whether anything they have contributed will make a difference to decisions likely already made.
All the while, temperatures in the Arctic soar, freak storms dump snow on the Vatican and drought ravages east Africa, warning anyone who cares to notice that our petty politics mean less than nothing to Mother Nature.
Get with the program, please! A sea change is needed in how we live together, because — literally — the sea is changing, along with everything else.
Climate change is a real and present danger, everywhere. Pretending that seven-plus billion people can live the way we do without having major negative impacts on planetary ecology is sheer idiocy. Continuing to do nothing is worse — especially if you are a politician responsible for managing the society in which we live.
People who say things are not so bad are shills for the fossil-fuel industry, employed to troll people such as me to make people such as you think there is some doubt about what is going on, or to dispute the urgency of doing something about it.
I would tell you to count the number of bird songs or frog calls in Manitoba this spring and compare them to what you remember, even 20 years ago — but that would mean you had to find some birds and frogs to count. In too many places, even outside the city, silence greets the dawn after a spring rain.
That’s not good — and this will be the point at which the federal government representatives will crow about the $1.3 billion they have earmarked to expand protected areas and help endangered and threatened species over the next five years.
That money for environmental conservation is nickels compared to the $15 billion or so that will be spent on fossil-fuel subsidies in the same time frame, helping an industry that already makes lots of money for its offshore owners.
Certainly, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna deserves credit for her enthusiasm at home and abroad, but her performance would be more credible if the Trudeau government actually did more than put her in charge of environmental public relations.
And then, of course, there is the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Before Alberta Premier Rachel Notley gets too excited about federal proclamations that the pipeline will be built whether the locals like it or not, she should remember what happened the last time a Liberal prime minister named Trudeau imposed his national energy program on the western provinces for the benefit of Ontario — sorry, I meant Canada.
To say it here again, we are managing current fossil-fuel demand with the transportation systems we now have.
These proposed pipelines are obsolete technology, built to export low-quality tar sands oil no one needs, at a high price no one wants to pay, to a global market where smart money is invested in the alternative energy that will at least slow down the disaster that is closer at hand than we want to believe.
The only long-term employment from pipelines is in cleaning up the inevitable spills that will irreparably damage the environment McKenna and Carr supposedly want to protect.
Much-needed jobs for Albertans? Nope, just federal crocodile tears. The majority of the people working in the oilpatch are not Albertans, but expats from Newfoundland and Labrador, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. The reason they are in Alberta and not back home is because the federal government shut down their fisheries, closed their mines and shuttered their steel mills, not caring enough about the Atlantic region to help people find another way to survive over the past 40 years. They had to do it themselves, even if it meant moving to northern Alberta.
So, if politicians really want to make a difference, they can. They have the ideas, the tools and the opportunities they need to make real steps toward creating a sustainable future — right now.
Otherwise, on the climate file, they are simply sending us "thoughts and prayers" instead.
Looking south, we know how much good that gesture does.
Peter Denton is a local sustainability activist and writer.