Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bill 38, a clear window open on the environment?


              Insurance companies are feelin' the pinch of extreme weather damage caused by global warming / climate change. The effects are strong enough now to be statistically measurable and verifiable.. Such is the gist of a hot-off-the-press report released by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. (The above link includes a link to the full report for download.)

               If insurance companies feel that climate change / extreme weather event loss are cause for concern (their bottom line: $$$), one would think that the public should to be informed. In a democracy the public, the people, are the (nominal) rulers but a ruler, to be effective, needs to be well informed. It follows then, that our government should be doing all in its power to keep the public abreast of developments relating to climate change, its social and economic costs, risks, possible remediation, adaptation measures, not to mention, an active participation in the development of a vibrant, future oriented alternative energy sector. That would be rational in a democracy, wouldn't it? 

                Alas, in the government that Steven Harper built, things are not so clear, so limpid, so transparent..

                 For example, the current federal "omnibus" budget bill, Bill C-38. It has environmental groups and earth scientists climbing the walls. Why?

                  "The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which brought Canadians from all walks of life together to provide advice on federal policies, has been dismantled." 


                   The pattern is consistent. It is often repeated in the actions and opinions of the Harper government. Naysayers to corporate greed are muzzled: funding is cut so they can't speak out. It is hard not to feel that the operative principle is: No news is good news! Regulatory mechanisms to monitor and control environmental impacts of energy / mineral megaprojects are being systematically dismantled by the Harper government, activists claim. But such behavior is nearsighted at best and folly at worst: denying the existence of problems does not make them go away! They will simply fester and come back worse later. 

                   Once again, we must insist, in a democracy, the people - being ruler - must be kept informed of issues in the domain of public interest, that is, of the Public Good. The Public Good - or the Civil Society - is that "model" or ideal of the Good Society in which all citizens - NOT "clients" - are called to have a hand. It is a common construction which serves all and which all serve. It is ultimately what defines us as a social being, a "citizen" or member of such and such a clan, tribe, society, nation, country,..

                 A "democratic" government which stiffles free information flows - and their proper contextualization / interpretation - is in dereliction of its duties to its citizens. The State, theoretically and juridically, is the nominal representative of the people, the organ of expression of the popular will or Vox Populi. A government which degenerates to the role of Servant of the Corporate Elite - and their supporting classes in the professions and administration - is in dreliction of its duties to its citizens. One definition of fascism is "control or seizure of the State by the corporate elite"..

                  This is no way to run a planet. It is fool's logic. The price to be paid by future generations will be immense. Our collective behavior on environmental questions is both mad and criminel..

                  Unfortunately, there is no simple way to reach a man in the grip of ideology. All information not conforming to the True Faith will be denied, deleted, ignored or re-interpreted to conform to the dominating paradigm. A bizarre example comes to mind: one of the predictions of standard global warming models (General Circulation Models or GCMs) is that BECAUSE the lower atmosphere traps heat more efficiently (thus warming), less heat reaches the stratosphere which - naturally - COOLS down a bit. For a while, GW "sceptics" actually had the cheek to re-interpret the verified prediction of the GCMS as "proof" that GW isn't happening: "if the world is warming, why is the stratosphere cooling down?" Duh..

                 In the final analysis, it will be History who determines who the fools were..

"The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in."


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