Saturday, 27 April 2019

Dark days for science. My latest letter.


Dear Editor,

These are dark days for science.
A Gov't. of New Brunswick photo. 2019.
Even as violent weather continues to lap at our doorstep, the good people of Alberta have elected yet another climate-denier as their Premier. Soon, Jason Kenney, too will join that merry band of Tory luminaries already conducting a crusade to cripple the most effective way of countering our climate crisis. Knowing that the science is now too compelling to deny it outright, these rebels-without-a-clue, are trying a different tack. They’re taking Ottawa to court, challenging its right to impose a carbon tax. Despite the federal provision for rebates, they seem to think, by dint of saying it often enough, they can reduce this sensible attempt to save our planet, down to some kind of tawdry “tax grab.”

They’re blind to the fact that a carbon tax did, indeed reduce emissions in BC over a decade ago. In his book, “Storms of my Grandchildren,” James Hansen, the world’s foremost  climatologist, called the BC experience, “empirical evidence” that such taxes work and are much better than other methods, including “cap-&-trade.” If that weren’t enough, an independent study concluded at the time, that not only had emissions gone down, the tax was the main driver. 

And here is what Paul Romer, who shared the Nobel Prize for economics last year, told CBC Radio. “If we just commit to a tax on fuels that release greenhouse gases, people will see that there's a big profit to be made from energy that does not.”  

Yet, in a world where up is down and real is fake, none of this matters. The wrecking crew that is the right in this country, continues to consolidate its grip on the halls of power. Even in an age when “innovation,” (you know, the word politicians are dropping the most these days) is supposed to spur new ways of doing things, Alberta clings to an energy source that literally dates back to the dinosaurs. 

No one, least of all myself, wants to see unemployment levels the way they are there today. But why do so many of my fellow Canadians in Alberta seem unwilling to even try new ways and get openly hostile to those who do? Do they not realize that the harm those “old ways” are capable of, do not respect provincial boundaries.

Don’t they remember how wildfires ravaged their own northern communities of Slave Lake and Fort Mac, and epic flooding brought misery to millions in the south? We already know that manmade climate change is contributing to both the frequency and severity of such tragedies. So, it is surely a matter of when, not if such catastrophes will strike again.

While my words probably sound harsh to my kindred spirits to the west, I remain more bewildered than angry over the fateful results of the recent election.

Larry Powell


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