Like buffalo with their heads smashed in (eventually): #C38 #omnibus #cdnpoli

A scary thought, it is: your way of life threatened by environmental and economic upheavals at a global scale. And not just your way of life – a way of life for the 30+ million people you are responsible to as an elected leader.

Imagine, for a moment, foreign government officials sitting down to explain the geopolitical security measures they are taking in the face of climate change and associated resource scarcity in developing and developed regions alike. Where existing turmoil and grossly erroneous sense of entitlement, respectively, create a perfect storm for state failure when $hit really hits the fan.

In regions around the world, confidence in energy security, food security and economic stability has been shaken seriously, and while your population isn’t completely unaware of these situations, they are psychologically sheltered. Interest rates are low. Jobs slightly on the rise. Canada is a GREAT place to live.

But world leaders are gathering in private, and not so private, corners discussing the fate of nations and the global economic system within the next 20 years. How can countries, already grappling with unprecedented, and in some cases, illegal debt face more frequent and severe extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and hungry, welfare seeking citizens?

Cash in now. While you still can.

While your workforce is functioning and investment is still reasonably flowing. Cash in.

Fill the coffers and quietly examine Canada’s preparedness for advanced global deterioration without scaring the heard. Proclaim aspirations of economic prosperity instead of defense against chaos. Deny chaos.

Wait a minute… there’s no denying chaos.

Like buffalo with their heads about to be smashed in, the Harper government will run, keen to protect the heard. With good intentions, and the best way they know how, this government will “responsibly develop natural resources” to prepare the country financially for a threat which no finances can prepare us for.

Rather, we must act now to recognize the smoke is fabricated. Government has the ability to turn its mighty mass in a direction that does not put the entire heard in real danger of running off a cliff. Government must identify the perceived threat and snuff out it’s unfairly subsidized torches.

And we must identify the real threat and turn our course. Climate change and resource scarcity of all kinds is not a fabrication, and while denial may seem like the root cause of inaction, I’m not convinced. The current government is fully aware that:

(admission of the threat of climate change) = (minimize resource extraction)

and

(minimizing resource extraction) = (less tax revenue for public services)

and

(less tax revenue for public services) = (less ability to prepare for impacts)

Canada has been participating in and paying very close attention to the train wreck at the international climate talks. While the excuse that “Canada is only 2% of emissions” seems ridiculous (because with 190 odd countries in the world, it makes sense that we would only be 2% or less) and that the message should be that we all need to work together, the truth is that fundamental flaws in our economic paradigm prevent us from changing our course.

As long as growth = progress, we will not avert catastrophic climate change and the cumulative and damaging effects upon human society.

That equation equals one course of action for our government: brace ourselves.

So, the question should be: how.

Without this rationalization, the anti C38 movement WILL NOT be asking the right questions. It will continue to be in opposition of a government that will not change its course because it truly believes it is acting in a way that is consistent with reality, thus putting the movement in opposition to reality (and making it seem crazy).

We need to ask the right question and have the right intentions.

How do we prepare for this future? And if we nuance this question to address our ethical missions to protect fish stocks, watersheds, old growth and a stable climate – our ecological capital – we must demonstrate how natural capital and alternative energy will effectively prepare us for this scary future.

Oh, and we need to freaking vote to avoid the cliff in 2015.

HB

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3 Responses

  1. “..in the face of climate change and associated resource scarcity in developing and developed regions alike.”

    You know I hear alot about resource scarcity, but what resources are scarce? The world is awash in fossil fuels of all kinds, mineral deposits are so plentiful they can’t mine them economically, forests are so plentiful that wood has almost no value and there are thousands of other resource deposits which are just sitting there waiting to be exploited. I hear that China controls the Rare Earth metals, but now there are hundreds of new deposits all over the world so China will not control it for much longer.

    I hear water is suddenly scarce but later I discover that it really applies to arid places where water has always been scarce, there is nothing sudden about it. There are villages which need clean water but don’t have the funding to pay for a well drilling program, so we help them by spending millions building wind turbines in our own country. It makes no sense.

    So where is this resource scarcity you refer to?

    • Great question! And it illustrates the point I made in my post about how in North America generally, we are “psychologically sheltered”. It would seem that there is no scarcity because we have full grocery stores and the gasoline doesn’t run out. But the concept of scarcity is a bit more complex than just “is there any of X left”.

      On one hand, its a question of: are we living off the principle or the interest?

      For example, the Ogalalla aquifer that waters the bread basket of the US is getting lower and lower. The groundwater is not being recharged at the rate that it is being drawn. This is means that there is a risk of it actually running out, or getting to levels that are increasingly more expensive to tap (similar to the situation with deep ocean drilling for oil).

      The other trick with scarcity, as you elude to, is that it is not distributed evenly. Much of the social and political instability in Egypt was born of high food costs. Here is live footage that will give you a sense of what scarcity looks like: http://youtu.be/Piz0GhB8bEY

      While people that do not live in those places (like you and I) may not think it is consequential, in a world with 7 billion people (and growing) and an extremely interconnected global economy, scarcity in “those places over there” will have an impact on us.

      Another example: in 2010, Russia suffered a record shattering heat wave and watched significant portions of their wheat crop wither and burn. They shut down trade with other counties to conserve wheat for themselves. Luckily, that year, we didn’t experience extreme weather related losses in other major wheat regions. Prices of bread went up, but not enough to really make people that upset in North America. Or they just didn’t connect the dots.

      I suppose I could write a whole other post on this (I probably will). But what it comes down to, is that “scarcity” is complex. Partially because it is a function of social psychology: when the watering hole gets low, the animals get nasty… when you observe how the public reacts to another 5 cents on their liter of gasoline, its pretty clear the pinch of any kind of scarcity is going to hit hard.

      Population, our current (and worsening) global financial mess and climate change all threaten to pinch. It is cumulative and difficult to pinpoint.

      Lastly, your comment on on minerals and fossil fuel energy is valid, though there are very good reasons to leave climate destabilizing fuels in the ground (and to not harvest every tree because they help to moderate the effect of CO2 on climate change). And mineral exploration and exploitation requires mass amounts of energy, which various aspects of society are competing for. Not to mention investment, which I’m not so sure will continue to be as plentiful as it has been… but I don’t know enough to really say for sure.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  2. Another example of upcoming scarcity: Report shows climate change, growth will strain state’s water supply – http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2012/06/15/report-shows-climate-change-growth-will-strain-state-s-water-supply

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