Many Manitobans are upset that the federal election is happening at the same time as major flooding threatens their homes, businesses and farms. 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? Besides, in a saner world, an election would be an exercise in hope for our flood-ravaged citizens, rather than the one of futility which it is sadly shaping up to be.
For example, there would actually be candidates on the ballot from the two major parties (the ones with some shot at winning) 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.
Afer all, climate change is anthropogenic. If that is too big a word for you, (Prime Minister) Stephen (Harper), or you, (Liberal Opposition Leader) Michael (Ignatieff), 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” (built years ago to diverts floodwater around the City of Winnipeg – nicknamed for Duff Roblin, a former Premier, who came up with the idea), 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 themselves, 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?
Surely, 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 (Kent), his new “Minister of Environmental Destruction” (Minister of the Environment) 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.
His “water management strategy,” unveiled today, proposes ways to deal with emergencies such as the Manitoba floods by seeking scientfic solutions! But they won’t involve climate scientists. They’ll involve engineers. You know, the folks who know how to build deep ditches, dams and dikes! (Their rallying cry seems to be, “We can build it. Therefore, we must need it!”
Enter huge, diesel-burning, earth-moving machines to emit ever-more climate-changing emissions, creating ever-more severe weather events down the road!
But Alberta isn’t the only Canadian province Hell-bent on emissions-production. Somewhat lesser known is that, even in Manitoba, such 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.
Not to mention, Winnipeg airport is (without a referendum) being massively expanded to accomodate God-knows how many more jet liners, the world’s most efficient climate-changers. Work is proceeding apace (and also without a referendum) with “Centreport,” a little known “exercice in excess” to build a massive, “mid-continental” corridor, linking Winnipeg with Mexico and Nunavut, in the Arctic, by just about every mode of transportation known to man. (It’s so well-advertised, I know at least one resident of the Winnipeg area who wondered aloud what all the construction activity was about!)
Meanwhile, nobody is minding “the climate file.” Nobody.
Flooding in Manitoba now affects an area larger than Iceland in the southern part of the province. Flood-fighers are dealing with volumes oof water unheard of in this province’s history.
In the Red River Valley itself, it is expected to be the second-worst flooding in a-century-and-a-half! Two people and an unknown number of livestock are dead, Twice as many states of emergency have been declared than in the last serious flood just two years ago, hundreds of people are displaced, including residents in at least three nursing homes. The major highway into the ‘States is closed, costing untold millions in transporation and other business losses. Hundreds more sideroads are closed.
It’s high time for these same politicians to bear responsibility for the misery they will have once again helped to inflict on the citizens of Manitoba’s and elsewhere by their negligence. 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. All of these issues are being talked about (and rightly so) in the campaign. But politicians who can walk and chew gum really ought to manage these things and our climate crisis, too.
The myth also 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.
Huge amounts of taxpayer dollars are going toward compensation for mounting crop, livestock, property and other losses spawned by climate-induced, severe weather.
It’s called the cost of doing nothing.
Climate experts and environmentalist have been trying to caution us about this for years. It just keeps falling on the profoundly deaf ears of our lawmakers.
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. (Scientists have only recently found that the beetle which has destroyed millions of hectares of Lodgepole pine forests in BC, has now “skipped species” and is beginning to attack Jack Pines in our sprawling, norther boreal forests of Alberta. This is a huge and tragic development, both for the environment and forest industry.
As if that isn’t enough, food production is being seriously disrupted due to droughts and floods. (Four million hectares of serial and oilseed crops were wiped out on the Canadian Prairies last year alone, due to excess moisture.) All this has helped drive food prices to new highs.
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, (Conservatives and Liberals) 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.
Contributed by: Larry A. Powell