On Wednesday morning, as many Canadians turned their faces to the welcome warmth of spring sunshine, others were hard-pressed to see any sun at all. In Calgary, one of my colleagues cancelled her morning dog walk; smoke from Alberta fires was so thick, people were being warned to stay indoors.
As I write, places in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan hold 17 of the top 50 spots on the list of world cities with the worst air pollution. Yorkton, Sask., was the unenviable number 1, with Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton not so far behind. Here in Vancouver, we’re being told the winds will shift, bringing smoke from fires in the north and Interior with it. We’re steeled to kiss our fresh spring air goodbye.
It bears repeating: this is the new normal. Summer, the season we northerners pine for during the dark winter months, is being ruined in huge swaths of the country by fires that explode the minute the temperatures rise.
Now that’s an admittedly selfish take from someone who lives in the middle of a big city where there is no actual danger save for bad air. In Alberta, where homes have already burned down and people are displaced, the consequences are more dire. And it’s only May. Fire season, which used to be a midsummer problem, now routinely stretches from May to October.
It’s worth noting the irony that the Alberta fires have forced some oil and gas companies to temporarily cease production — emphasis on temporary. Catastrophic fires seem to be the only thing able to staunch the flow of fossil fuels from Canadian soil.
The end of fossil fuels is certainly not being promoted by oil companies whose lobbyists flood the halls of Parliament Hill with hands out, pushing for oil-friendly policies and tax credits to help them to keep pumping while maintaining their current record profits.
Their efforts are successful. The federal government has made it clear there are no plans to dial back the pace of Canadian oil and gas production. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on record saying there is room for the sector to grow while meeting our climate targets.
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The feds justify this position — which sounds like a logic-defying oxymoron — by insisting it will all work out so long as oil companies employ carbon capture technology to reduce emissions during the production phase. This ignores, of course, the greenhouse gases responsible for global heating that arise when the oil and gas we export is burned.
There is a tendency in the West to downplay the impact of climate change, to see it as something that affects others. And it’s true the impact will be greatest on small island nations at risk of disappearing beneath rising seas or countries with hot climates already bordering on extreme. It’s also true the worst effects of climate change here at home are felt in sparsely populated parts of the country where a disproportionate number of residents caught in the climate-crosshairs are Indigenous.
But when Canadians start dropping dead of heat exhaustion in their homes in the city, far from the fires, it sinks in how connected and dependent we are on our natural surroundings. And when smoke from acres of burning forests blows into town, making a run or outdoor swim an unhealthy pastime, it reminds us that all the wondrous technology that protects us from so much is not enough to keep us healthy and safe.
So where do we go from here, given the conditions for huge fires are already in place? There may be forest management techniques that can mitigate spread: strategic cuts, controlled burns and an end to monoculture reforestation that makes trees more likely to burn.
But the only real, lasting solution is to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which means winding down the production of fossil fuels. Climate change is not just playing havoc in faraway places like Lerma, Mexico; Watford City, U.S.A.; or Abohar, India — cities also suffering under terrible air quality at the moment.
It’s happening here. It’s happening now. We may not be able to dial it back, but we know how to stop it from worsening. We just need to get the job done.
Carbon capture is a
Carbon capture is a boondoogle. It is not effective and can't be upscaled. It represents another smoke and mirrors ploy by the oil and gas industry to appear that they are doing something to combat climate change when nothing could be further from the truth.
From the article: "As I write
From the article: "As I write, places in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan hold 17 of the top 50 spots on the list of world cities with the worst air pollution. Yorkton, Sask., was the unenviable number 1, with Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton not so far behind." In the reference link given, Yorkton,Red deer, and Edmonton were not mentioned. The number 1 polluter is listed as a city in China, and the top Canadian is Grande Prairie. What's that about?
Tanner: "The federal
Tanner: "The federal government has made it clear there are no plans to dial back the pace of Canadian oil and gas production. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on record saying there is room for the sector to grow while meeting our climate targets.
"The feds justify this position — which sounds like a logic-defying oxymoron — by insisting it will all work out so long as oil companies employ carbon capture technology to reduce emissions during the production phase. This ignores, of course, the greenhouse gases responsible for global heating that arise when the oil and gas we export is burned."
It also ignores the fact that carbon capture (CCS) has limited application in the oilsands. CCS will capture a fraction of upstream emissions at exorbitantly high cost to taxpayers. CCS is not even a solution for upstream emissions.
Given the Liberals' glaring climate policy failure, and the disastrous results of global governance intransigence for Canadians, why does The National Observer support the Liberal Party, not least at election time? A fair question. The silence is deafening.
Aside from weekly apologies for the Liberal Party from The Observer's lead columnist, including for the Trans Mtn pipeline and fraudulent carbon capture plans, readers are treated to a barrage of pre-election op-eds from academics, corporate environmentalists, etc. in support of Trudeau's Liberals.
Who can forget Dr. Mark Jaccard's endorsement of failed Liberal strategy? Before the 2021 federal election, the high-profile SFU energy economist famously declared the Liberals to be the most "climate sincere".
"Climate crisis and elections: An urgent time for honesty"
Ranking the parties on "climate sincerity", Jaccard ludicrously awarded Trudeau's plan-to-fail, pipeline-buying, Big Oil subsidizing Liberals first place. Followed by the deni-osaur Conservatives. With the NDP and Greens trailing.
Former B.C. Green party
Former B.C. Green party leader Prof. Andrew Weaver endorsed the Liberals' plan to fail on climate. The Observer's star columnists urged climate voters to go with the Liberals.
Sandy Garossino: "Are the Liberals our best chance? (National Observer, Sep 16th 2021)
"On the climate score, it's arguable that the Trudeau government's performance has long been under-rated. This is a somewhat self-inflicted wound, as the party's own focus on Justin Trudeau obscures outstanding leadership of Catherine McKenna and Jonathan Wilkinson in Canada's environment and infrastructure portfolios.
"Notably, former BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver endorsed the Liberal climate platform as 'a plan that reflects the urgency and scale of the crisis.' Weaver was a lead author of the IPCC 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th scientific assessments, and former chief editor of the Journal of Climate.
"And respected independent experts Mark Jaccard and Katharine Hayhoe have also awarded high marks to the Liberals, while expressing dissatisfaction with the NDP and Green Party plans to achieve laudably ambitious goals."
When Canada's climate leaders and opinion leaders endorse Liberal climate plans based on fossil-fuel expansion, they enable climate disaster, imperil future generations, and sell their grandchildren down the river. With climate leaders like these, we don't need obstructionists.
Are climate "leaders" who parrot CAPP's talking points in favor of pipelines and carbon capture environmentalists? Climate "leaders" and industry collaborators who promote O&G interests should be regarded as lobbyists.
Any energy economist, ex-Green politician, or "pragmatic environmentalist" who endorses Corporate Canada's climate plan and enables Big Oil's agenda is corrupt. Media outlets committed to climate journalism should stop giving them airtime and column space.
How long will The Observer condone climate failure in Ottawa? At what cost to Canadians? Does The Observer actually care? What has to happen before The Observer changes its stance?
One wonders if The Observer is "climate-sincere".
P.S. This week in Alberta it's like living in an ashtray. How long must we put up with this? How long will we?
How about some accountability?