Thursday, 7 April 2011

It's Time for Change. Big Change! (Global Warming & the Manitoba Flood Connection)

Dear Editor,
Many Manitobans are upset that the federal election is happening at the same time as major flooding threatens their homes, businesses and farms. 

Red River Valley - 1997 - Natural Resources CA
After all, who wants to be distracted from the stressful job of protecting your livelihoods and families by yet another political campaign and trip to the polls?

In a saner world, there would actually be candidates on the ballot from the two major parties we could vote for, who would be attacking the root causes of the catastrophic flooding so they don't get worse in the future. These candidates would already know that these events are on the rise in both frequency and intensity, due to climate change. Climate change is anthropogenic.

If that is too big a word for you, Stephen, or you, Michael, it just means, it is caused by human beings. That's because we are producing way too many greenhouse gases from the fossil fuels we produce in various ways - notably through the vehicles we drive and planes we fly in.

In a saner world, that would place the problem in the realm of something which can actually be addressed by governments through enlightened emission control regulations. But, of course, such governments would first of all need to care and, secondly, understand big words. (Neither seems to be the case now if, indeed it ever was.)

There's little doubt that massive engineering projects like "Duff's Ditch," have spared people a good deal of grief by protecting them from the worst. But just how much longer can we rely on human technology to save us? Are huge machines, which burn lots of fossil fuel, breaking up ice jams and building higher and longer dikes really the long-term answer? Or are they just band-aid solutions which merely dabble with the symptoms while aggravating the disease?

The refusal of governments to attack the root causes of this phenomenon has now entered the realm of the criminal.

The fact that greenhouse gas emissions are skyrocketing in Alberta, home of the tar sands, is not surprising. That project, perhaps the dirtiest of its kind anywhere, is one of Stephen's darlings. Not only does he exempt it from meaningful emission controls, he gives the rich oil sands companies over a billion dollars of our money each year, just because he likes them so darn much. Peter, his new "Minister of Environmental Destruction," would have us believe that the government actually has a plan (to fight climate change), and that the plan is working! Michael thinks the sands are pretty nifty, too. His party is calling for a cockamamy scheme called "cap and trade" which will allow the capitalists of the world to somehow make money, betting on our planet's survival.

Meanwhile, nobody is minding "the climate file." Nobody.

   Flood waters creep up on millions of dollars worth of farm machinery at a dealership (above) at Elie, MB. Apr.'11
If the flooding is as bad again this spring as it appears now,  these same politicians must surely bear responsibility for the misery they will have once again helped to inflict on the citizens of Manitoba's and elsewhere. 

Our lawmakers should have stopped acting like climate criminals and taken the catastrophe of global warming seriously years ago. That's when the best brains on the planet were trying to alert them to it. But, instead of setting a leadership example for the world, Canada has become a laughing stock in the international community.

It goes without saying that we need wise public policies which provide security for our seniors, the disabled and students. We also need to make sure the economy and health care are safeguarded. But politicians who can walk and chew gum really ought to be able to handle these important issues and the climate, too.

And the myth needs to be exploded that working to fight climate change will somehow damage the economy. We are already seeing good jobs being created elsewhere in the new "green economy." Here in Canada, we are being left behind in the dust. Here, record amounts of taxpayer dollars are being spent to compensate producers and homeowners for mounting crop, livestock and property losses spawned by climate-induced, severe weather.

It's called the cost of doing nothing.

Here in Manitoba, greenhouse gas emissions are rising, pretty much unchecked, too. How are we countering this? By allowing increased production of that "clean, sustainable, alternative" fuel - (sarcasm intended) oil! Drilling for oil in this province is now at an all-time high.

Work is proceeding apace to expand the Winnipeg airport to accomodate countless more jetliners, the most effiient climate-change producers known and to build that white elephant known as Centreport. It will link Winnipeg to distant points such as Mexico and Nunavut by every mode of transport known to man. It's promoters call it "world-class." I call it "fossil fuel City!" Where do governments get their mandate to do these things? Not from their electorate, that's for sure. (I know someone who lives near Winnipeg, who had no idea what all the massive construction was about!) 

It's clear our powers-that-be now take their cues, not from your or me, but from the non-elected "Captains of Industry" who, in our so-called democracy, stand to profit, big-time from such misguided schemes.

The World Health Organization says climate change is already killing 150,000 people and making 5 million more sick, worldwide, each year. Populations of insects which carry diseases and destroy vast expanses of forests, are exploding thanks to a warming planet. Food production is being seriously disrupted due to droughts and floods. All this has helped drive food prices to new highs, not just "somewhere else," but in Canada, too.

The old saying, "It's time for a change," is a saying no longer. It's time to completely jettison the two old parties who have governed this country forever, like the "warts on the rump of history" they have become. If you care about your kids, it's time to elect a party which has never governed this country before. They can do no worse.
Larry Powell
Roblin, Manitoba, CA

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