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Efforts by libertarian conspiracy theorists and climate change deniers to block climate initiatives in the Kootenay region of B.C. are threatening to engulf the province as the loose coalition plots ways to expand its ideology.

Threats from people associated with the group BC Rising led the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) to postpone a suite of public meetings about its climate plan this spring. Since the meetings finally started in late August, they have been swarmed by people aligned with the group's beliefs trying to stop the regional district's climate efforts.

Believers say that the United Nations is led by a shadowy group of elites who are trying to create an authoritarian global government, using the World Economic Forum as a cover for their plans. They claim this group is coercing national, regional and local governments to implement climate initiatives and digital technologies as a ploy to eliminate people's human rights and freedoms. They claim climate change is not occurring or, if it is, is not caused by humans burning fossil fuels.

The B.C. group is part of a broader, Canada-wide organization that proselytizes similar conspiracies.

Scientists agree climate change is caused by human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. The United Nations is a democratic coalition of nations; it has no global governing authority and cannot force countries to adopt specific policies. The World Economic Forum is an international organization that aims to promote collaboration between businesses and governments, best known for hosting the annual Davos summit in Switzerland.

"These people were insulting (city staff) and being abusive," said Kootenay resident, lawyer and progressive activist Allan Early, who attended some of the meetings. The group was "invective" in its efforts to force its "false misinformation and abusive anti-government nonsense" into the gatherings, he said.

It appears the coalition — which claims about 2,000 members on its website — is now trying to expand its reach throughout B.C. At a Zoom meeting earlier this month, roughly 45 people from across the province gathered to share strategies on how best to lobby local politicians and disrupt public meetings.

"We basically provide a space where groups can receive support, resources and educational material, which can help groups to lobby their local city councils and regional districts," said one organizer from the Kootenays.

While climate denial has existed for decades, the idea that climate policies are part of a secret government ploy to restrict people's freedom has only really emerged since the pandemic, explained Carleton University professor Chris Russill in a May interview with Canada's National Observer. This "climate authoritarianism" feeds off the fears that many people developed in response to pandemic lockdowns and other public health measures, channelling them into far-right, anti-government beliefs.

Efforts by libertarian conspiracy theorists and climate change deniers to block climate initiatives in the Kootenay region of B.C. are threatening to engulf the province as the loose coalition plots ways to expand its ideology. 

Nonetheless, said Russill, it is the “wider set of conspiratorial musings that are animating this and drawing people in," he said. Those fears were on display during one of the group's fortnightly online Zoom meetings earlier this month.

Starting at around 7 p.m. on a Tuesday, the Zoom call had the feel of a local community group meeting. About half the attendees joined with cameras off, represented instead by black squares with their names. The remainder streamed in from kitchen tables, living rooms and offices. One woman's head floated in against a star-flecked, New Agey background. People made small talk, some referencing books and articles by known climate deniers like former American official Steven Koonin.

The meeting was loosely chaired by Geoff Snicer, a Kamloops man who drove across North America in a brightly emblazoned truck to convince Americans that Canada needed to be "saved" from the "tyranny" of "global governance."

Delivering the keynote address was Farrell Segall, a former councillor in the Kootenay town of Salmo. Speaking from a darkened room, he made a roughly 40-minute, fear-filled presentation about the 15-minute city conspiracy theory rife with fake and misleading information. This conspiracy posits the UN and the federal government are trying to force people into urban centres and prevent them from leaving, using climate change policies as a foil to cover their tracks.

In fact, the term "15-minute cities" is an urban planning concept to describe efforts by planners to build neighbourhoods where residents can get basic necessities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Over 60 per cent of Canadians support the concept, according to a March survey, and property values typically are higher when they are in a more walkable neighbourhood.

Conspiracy theories about the concept only emerged last year after a handful of fringe right-wing bloggers promoted them on social media, according to research by the group Climate Action Against Disinformation.

The meeting started in earnest after Segall’s presentation.

With Snicer moderating, Segall and other activists from the Kootenay region outlined how they were trying to gain followers and block the local government's climate efforts. They stated the most effective technique was to talk at Freedom Convoy rallies or conduct town hall-style meetings to "raise awareness" and gain more public support. Once they had a large enough group, they could plan actions that targeted regional climate policies, like swarming public meetings or lobbying local officials.

People from other parts of the province chimed in with advice or updates about local initiatives. A man in Kamloops claimed he had lobbied the city's mayor to push back on efforts to reduce emissions and promote electric vehicles.

Some attendees from the Okanagan asked others for help organizing their local efforts. A woman in Victoria called on fellow conspiracists to travel to the city in mid-September to lobby B.C. mayors, who are expected to be in the capital for an annual gathering.

A woman in Burnaby who claimed she works in the oil and gas sector emphasized that "this whole climate hoax is underpinning everything that we're fighting" and that "we need to keep fighting" using the same tactics as the group in the Kootenays. That includes pushing back against the "narrative" of climate change, which she claimed has even forced the oil and gas sector to develop carbon capture and storage technology to "appease" the federal government and "people on the left."

Scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans warming the atmosphere by burning greenhouse gases. Carbon capture and storage is a suite of technologies oil companies say will reduce their emissions while allowing them to continue producing, but the approach is criticized by environmentalists for being an ineffective solution to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In an email, Kootenay-based group organizer Corrine Mori told Canada's National Observer the group doesn't receive any funding and "every single person involved in this province is working on this for no money."

But Russill pointed out that many of the conspiracy theories and climate denialism the group is promoting have been pushed for years by cash-flush conservative media organizations, fossil fuel lobbyists and influencers in Canada and the U.S. While it is nearly impossible to draw a "direct line" between the B.C. group's efforts and fossil fuel companies or right-wing lobbyists, these companies' political and economic influence and ability to push their agenda through social media platforms is fuelling these groups.

"It's what keeps them together," he said.

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These right wing nut jobs want to spread fear about global heating being not only a hoax but a ruse to steal people's freedom. (for some unknown reason) They are scaring me but not in the way they intend. They scare me because they will slow down the vital action needed yesterday to cut greenhouse gas emissions! I wish they could see how silly their conspiracy theories are. Like the article mentioned. The United Nations has and never will have any governing authority.

These people never have the slightest idea how to follow the money. The UN has no money. The scientists who research climate change have no money. The big oil companies manipulating these idiots, on the other hand--they got tons of money and its use for propaganda has been tracked.

As to the World Economic Forum--sure, the billionaires meeting there are conspiring. But they're conspiring to MAKE MONEY (often at our expense). They're NOT conspiring to lock us up in mini-communities or whatever the hell--where's the money in that?!

Exactly. These conspiracy theories lack logic but the people believing them think they are the smart ones.

What is also funny about these right-wing nutjobs and conspiracy theory Wack jobs, they complain loudly about their freedom. One nutjob said he would rather die from climate change than hunger because of the cost of groceries. What these nutbars don't understand, climate change is a big driver of driving up grocery costs as the result of drought, floods, wildfires and other climate related changes around the globe.

Add premiers like Dog Ford who wants to bulldoze prime greenbelt land used to farm our food, for homes for the more affluent in our society under the guise of affordable homes, developed by his corrupt donors.

These nutbars talk about follow the money, what money? It seems they are blind to the oil and gas industry that fuels this conspiracy nonsense, who have deep pockets. The conspiracy is further promoted by the one and only Pierre Poilievre and the Corruption Party of Canada, who refuse to acknowledge climate change is real.

What is needed is to hold social media outfits accountable for allowing users to spread misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories freely. These nutbars must learn that freedom does not include the right to spread false misinformation, disinformation, be a racist and force their garbage onto others.

In a future coming to a planet near us soon, these nutbars will be the first to complain, when they can no longer afford or even find items available due to climate change. Just wait until coffee becomes a gold commodity due to climate change (I am hearing coffee growing areas are at risk these days due to climate change, sad but true).

Right! follow the money right back to the oil wells. Doug Ford selling off the Greenbelt to his developer buddies makes me want to spit nails and I don't live anywhere near Ontario!

If we needed proof that Canada is moving closer and closer to being the 51st state of the US, here it is. It looks like Canadians haven't developed critical thinking skills any better than the Yanks have.

Well, folks, are we going to organize on the side of life and survival and a future for our children (and the children of all species) as well as these @$$hats (sorry, but I'm past being polite to these people) are organizing for the sake of comfort, money, profit, greed and power? Or are we going to sit back and ignore them like we started out ignoring the climate change deniers and let them take over our civic sphere and throw even more barriers in the way of our global fight against the climate emergency?

At what point are we going to RISE UP!?

I don't know what we can do to counter this movement. The misinformation spreads like wildfire and there is no reaching the cult members. I Pester my MP constantly about the climate crisis, sign petitions, and make the odd donation to groups like 350.org.
Besides that I try to keep my own carbon footprint low.

I worry less about the explicit denialism on the right and more about the implicit denialism and policy incoherence on the centre-left.

Centre-left governments and their supporters are just as capable of leading us over the climate cliff. In fact, the federal Liberals and provincial NDP parties (AB and B.C.) have proven far more effective than the Conservatives in delivering on Big Oil's agenda.
I can think of at least two National Observer columnists who still support fossil fuel expansion enabled by new export pipelines like TMX and carbon capture. A plan to fail.

Concerns shared by Seth and Naomi Klein:
The new denialism. Just as delusional as the old kind but more insidious. And far more dangerous.
"The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention" (The Narwhal, 2016)

"For all of [Naomi] Klein's blistering critiques of right-wing conservatives, it's the liberal moderates who elicit in her a particular frustration. Last year, she wrote that the Biden administration had to be 'dragged kicking and screaming into passing the Inflation Reduction Act — flawed as it is.' The I.R.A. is the biggest climate legislation in American history, garnering comparisons to the Green New Deal, but in an email to me, Klein maintained it isn't enough: 'We can't afford to celebrate half measures in an emergency.' This has been a consistent talking point in her work: that incrementalism is not just insufficient but often damaging. In 'Doppelganger,' she declares that the political chaos of the last several years is partly the fault of centrists who sound the alarm about problems like climate change but then fail to act accordingly. 'ONE FORM OF DENIALISM FEEDS THE OTHER,' she writes. 'The outright denialism in the Mirror World is made thinkable by the baseline war on words and meaning in more liberal parts of our culture.'"
"When Your 'Doppelganger' Becomes a Conspiracy Theorist" (NYT, Aug. 30, 2023)

The fossil-fuel industry cannot hold back progress forever. Industry "wins" merely by slowing the energy shift down. As 350.org's Bill McKibben puts it, winning slowly is the same as losing.

The centre-left has abandoned science-based climate policy to protect and boost the fossil industry. A failure that enables right-wing governments and politicians to shift further right.
The centre-left is not blameless in the backlash against climate policies. Backsliding petro-progressive governments are instrumental in the rise of right-wing extremism and denialism.

The petro-progressive provincial NDP and federal Liberals are not in a tug-of-war with Conservatives over climate. They are dance partners. The NDP and Liberals promote fossil-fuel expansion and take science-based options off the table. This allows the "conservatives" to shift even further right, doubling down on denial and fossil fuel intransigence. But it's Notley and Trudeau who shift the Overton window. It's Notley and Trudeau who shut down the space for effective science-based climate policy.
The climate plans of the NDP and Liberals are premised on fossil-fuel expansion. It's the NDP and Liberals who ignore the science and undermine the climate movement.
When Danielle Smith jams a wrench into the spokes of renewables, or Poilievre promises to axe the tax, progressives fight back. When the NDP and Liberals build pipelines, progressives applaud or stay silent. "At least, it's not the Conservatives."

Trudeau and Notley moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to "push country-wide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%." Something Harper, Scheer, and Kenney could never dream of doing.
Trudeau, Notley, and Horgan did something else Harper and Kenney could never do: lead progressives over the climate cliff. Many of their acolytes now embrace fossil-fuel expansion.
When Harper and Kenney says no to a shift away from fossil fuels, the progressive option is still ON the table.
When Trudeau and Notley say no, they took the progressive option OFF the table.
When Harper and Kenney deny the science, progressives reject their arguments and head in the opposite direction.
When Trudeau and Notley deny the science, progressives accept their arguments and enable their climate sabotage.

The Liberals and Conservatives both plan to fail on climate. Which is worse? Climate sabotage on the right — or betrayal by "progressive" parties?
Who's worse on climate? The deniers who deny their house is on fire, or the deniers who accept their house is on fire, but throw fuel on the flames — then stand back and watch it burn?

Big Oil couldn't ask for a better setup. Terrified by the Conservative bogeyman, progressive voters run into the arms of Trudeau's Liberals. CAPP sets their Conservative hounds on the Liberals, while the Liberals give the O&G industry just about everything on its wishlist. The Liberals play the fear card every election to limit the NDP and Green vote.
That's the real story on climate politics in Canada. That's the dynamic that real journalism needs to report. That's the impasse we need to solve.

The only option for climate concerned voters is the Green party both federally and provincially.

I agree the only party to support if you are concerned with Climate change is the Green Party . Going to support the other parties will contribute to increase in our environmental and economic problems.

While mostly true, this is a diversion from the problem of why conspiracy theories are so successful. It's not because "true progressives' are upset with Trudeau and Notley, or even with climate science. Perhaps it is because they feel that the local world is moving beyond their control and need to find a target. This paranoia is quite justified - see Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff - although the WEF conspiracy is misdirected against climate change in general and local government because it's close to home. The WEF conspiracy is successful because it has a very large kernel of truth, as articulated in an earlier post - the participants are conspiring - the fact that they are doing it in the open, and that they are doing it "for money" doesn't make it less true and in particular it doesn't make it less dangerous to the climate. As an example, several big oil companies have diverted from transition strategies to re-focus on oil and gas, "in order to maximize shareholder profits [BP]". That's the cause [the economic system] that needs to be reformed/transformed. Personalised attacks on politicians trying to balance public opinions in order to govern is largely whistling down the wind.

Alan Ball: "Personalised attacks on politicians trying to balance public opinions in order to govern is largely whistling down the wind."

The woolly notion, nowhere substantiated, that the Liberals are required to build new oilsands export pipelines, greenlight offshore oil projects, pay for inactive well cleanup, and funnel billions of public dollars to largely foreign-owned O&G companies "in order to govern" holds no water.

In recent elections, a majority of Canadian voters have voted for parties other than Conservative. In 2015, Trudeau handily won a majority government with a strong mandate from voters on climate action.
Trudeau does not need to win votes from Alberta or seats in Saskatchewan to win federal elections. Conservative premiers do not sit opposite Trudeau in the House of Commons. Liberal victories depend on Atlantic Canada, Central Canada, and the Lower Mainland. Votes from the Prairie provinces not required.

The Liberals have nothing to gain electorally by pandering to intransigent Albertans and the oilpatch.
"As in 2019, climate change was a major issue in the campaign. In March 2021, Conservative leader O'Toole announced a carbon pricing plan to replace the current Liberal carbon tax, despite previous Conservative opposition to any form of a carbon tax." (Wikipedia)
It was the Conservatives who stood to lose seats to the Liberals because they failed to take climate change seriously. Just the opposite of what Liberal apologists suggest.

Liberal support for the oilpatch has nothing to do with winning seats in Alberta or staying in power. The neo-Liberals serve Corporate Canada and the Big Banks, heavily invested in the oilsands. It is these entities and not conservative premiers that dictate the Liberals' energy/climate policies.
Corporate Canada is banking on fossil fuel expansion and climate action failure. The Liberal Party is Corporate Canada's front office.
Industry's plan to fail was set in motion long ago.

I can personally assure you that Liberal Cabinet Ministers, MPs and the said JT have all had it pointed out to them ... nicely, with facts, for the first few years ... and now with an I told you so attitude (I never said I was nice to everyone all the time) ... and a plea to see reason. Not once, but many, many times. My Liberal MP talks a good line for those who don't get the magnitude of the problem, and that "I didn't vote for TMX" (she wouldn't respond to my follow-up: "But did you vote *against* it?") ... and it is to me surprising that she has the gall to knock on my door during the run up to elections.

We need a return to old-style all-party meetings, with an open microphone. Because nothing challenges the lies and BS.

It's way beyond time to "get tough on disinformation." A family member refuses to speak to me because of it. I've lost friends because of it. It took 2 months of daily "disambiguation" to get through to one friend; I'm glad I took the time. But it's Just Too Much Work ... or I'd get to work on Danielle Smith!!!

I blame the education system, that people can't understand simple ratios. I blame the education system that adults who can read words can't understand what they mean, or that they need to be fact-checked.
It has to be a particular kind of education, to convince people that they always know better than anyone else.

It was JT who bought the pig-in-a-poke pipeline, arranged for full financing from Canadian banks, backed by a government guarantee. He's never stopped: there was a new tranche of guarantees late this spring or early summer ...

It's all mutual back-scratching. I suspect that the major political parties don't want to forego Fossil Company contributions to their warchests.

The Ontario Liberals are just as bad: they sold off a majority share in Ontario Hydro, at bargain-basement prices, and allowed municipalities to privatize the publicly held Hydro companies. About 10% of our hydro bills are dividends for a small handful of "investors." I found that tidbit by accident, looking for something else entirely. Not shareholdings on the TSX, either: a handful of holders of "preferred shares." I tried to find out who they were, but didn't succeed.

I'd like to know what kind of insider/sweetheart deal put that in place, and how much they paid for our company, that was sold without any input from us.

Industry's plan is to fail, and the governments', banks' and insurance companies are betting on that failure.

"Conservative premiers do not sit opposite Trudeau in the House of Commons. Liberal victories depend on Atlantic Canada, Central Canada, and the Lower Mainland. Votes from the Prairie provinces not required."

Yes, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to nonetheless attempt to figure out how to turn the tide, even a little, to have some representation from all regions in gov't. À la Ralph Goodale.

I don't recall Saskatchewan politics always being right-wing, but maybe I wasn't paying attention at the time. OTOH, didn't Tommy Douglas come from Saskatchewan?

"In recent elections, a majority of Canadian voters have voted for parties other than Conservative. In 2015, Trudeau handily won a majority government with a strong mandate from voters on climate action."

That summary is not one of your better offerings.

Trudeau won his majority with 39.5% if the vote. The conservatives won half as many seats with 32%.
https://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/results-2015/. "Handily" owes thanks to FPTP.

Whether or not people rushed to the Liberals for climate action is debatable; Harper was destroying the country, and Trudeau's star was rising. I forget my 2 or 3 concerns about the Liberal platform that I voiced when Catherine McKenna was door knocking. Don't forget the sizeable carrot of "election reform".

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(My account appears to have flagged for nefarious content, so we’ll see if this is accepted).

If I can add something, carefully phrased to avoid giving away my way cool, tin foil chapeau. :)

Geoffrey Pounder has already mentioned that the (centre) left is hardly Little Bo Beep with regards to extraction policies (he specifically mentioned O & G, but I'm casting the net wider), but in our rush to belittle those caught up in the conspiracy vortex, let us not blind ourselves to some other observations.

Some fodder:

1. From this article:
"The World Economic Forum is an international organization that aims to promote collaboration between businesses and governments, best known for hosting the annual Davos summit in Switzerland."

2. From the late great George Carlin:
“You don’t need a formal conspiracy when interests converge”.

https://youtu.be/VAFd4FdbJxs
(Incidentally, that quote was also used – I just discovered – by Rand Paul in his rhetoric about COVID. Carlin is likely rolling in his grave – assuming he wasn’t cremated (blowing about in his urn?))
https://youtu.be/fKoAMbLEAlo?si=YcI0e7HtgK4TWSDv)

3. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”

cont…

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Continuing…

Returning to the above snippet from the article: specifically:

"…aims to promote collaboration between businesses and governments…".

Well, yes, but I make the similar observation that Koch Enterprises and the Federalist Society also want to “promote collaboration between businesses and governments”.

The WEF is not, I believe, nefarious (meaning it’s not some secret society), it simply holds the view, in my estimation, that neoliberal values, which I’ll summarize as the primordial belief in corporate-public partnership in civic governance (the word “democracy” was an intentional omission), will lead us to the promised land.

And, therein lies another problem with conspiracy theories. In the rush for we “thinking people” to discredit and dismiss the “knuckle draggers” (or whatever pejorative term we choose), we sometimes (often?) forget to consider if there is a grain of truth hidden inside and, further, rush to support entities of which we would otherwise be critical; i.e. along the lines of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

For CNO to, effectively, in the quoted few words, dismiss and conflate all criticism of the WEF is very poor journalism, and for a publication of, ostensibly (?), a left-leaning philosophy, somewhat puzzling.

Actually, thinking about what leads people to a certain line of thinking, let me make a sideways reference to a movie I watched last night (no... not THAT one), because it included social commentary in its telling of the story (in that regard, it's somewhat akin to the film "Wind River"). The movie is "Hell or High Water" (Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Tom Foster). Recommended.

Editing question: Paragraph 6 - ... was "invective" in....
Did you mean - ... using "invective"...
Or possibly - ...using "invective"...