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Rivers: Who is Going to Pay for Global Warming ?

 

“Exxon worked alongside Chevron, Shell, BP and smaller oil firms to shift attention away from the growing climate crisis. They funded the industrys trade body, API, as it drew up a multimillion-dollar plan to ensure that climate change becomes a non- issuethrough disinformation. The plan said victory will be achievedwhen recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom’”.

 (Chris McGreal – The Guardian 30 Jun 2021)

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Over 700 people in B.C. alone have died so far this summer from the heat dome that sits over much of that province.  How could any rational person now dispute the link to global warming?  The rising temperature resulted in over 200 forest fires in what was to have been Canada’s biggest renewable carbon reserve.  Instead, the nation’s forests have now become another source of carbon emissions.

Lytton BC fore- street level

Street level view of a burned out Lytton, BC

It is estimated that over a billion marine animals have perished in the fires and heat, and we have no idea about the land animals we’ve lost as well.  And it’s not just Canada.  New Zealand has just recorded it’s hottest winter ever.  Siberia is on track for a repeat of last year’s hottest year ever.  And even Antarctica has recorded 18 degrees last February, the temperature I keep my house thermostat in the winter.

If there are still climate deniers, or those who doubt that human activity is responsible for the rapid change in the planet’s weather patterns, they should truly be ashamed of themselves.  It’s been over a century since scientists first suggested that all the CO2 being emitted would eventually warm up the planet.

In the 1970’s computerization enabled climate modelling which predicted pretty much what we are seeing today.  In fact climate scientists now worry that, if anything, they have been too conservative, have underestimated the speed of global warming.

Then there are the other scientists, the ones employed by the fossil fuel industries who knew what was coming as far back as the 1950’s.   But neither their boys in the upstairs board rooms nor the political leaders we’d elected to protect us seemed to get the memo.   The message was blunt.  If we don’t change we’re all likely headed for a doomsday scenario like we’ve never known.

But profits were good and the oil fossil fuel lobby was powerful politically, so their solution was to muddy the waters, create enough uncertainty so that nobody could be sure.  The answer was to deny global warming and, when climate change became inevitable, deny that humans were responsible.

denial is not policy glob warming

Government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions.

It is one thing to unknowingly endanger humanity, but quite another to do so deliberately, falsifying data, outright lying and deceiving the public, as the oil executives did during the nineties and 2000’s.  They and the GW Bush government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions, and perverted the serious discussion of climate change.

Bush almost immediately after being elected in 2000 pulled the USA out of the binding Kyoto emissions agreement.  And he and the energy lobby then proceeded to do their best to sabotage the international climate change deliberations.

Canada did sign onto Kyoto, and we might have met our first committed emission reduction, thanks to Ontario closing its coal power plants.  But Stephen Harper, who had been unsupportive of Ontario’s Liberal government’s climate initiative, had done little else to reduce Canada’s growing carbon footprint.  And no sooner had he won his parliamentary majority than he pulled Canada out of the agreement.

When considering the unethical approach of the fossil fuel sector to their business, it is not difficult to look at another industry which profited from misery caused by its poison.   Big tobacco had long been lying about the debilitating health effects of the product it had been pushing, and had deliberately misled the consuming public on its health effects.  Several court actions in the USA eventually persuaded the industry to pay up just under $250 billion for the endless suffering it had caused to so many.

Reagan - cigarette ad

Ronald Reagan, a future president of the United States promoting the use of tobacco. Almost everyone smoked — until we learned how dangerous it was.

There was legal action also in Canada, and hundreds of billions of dollars were delivered in assigned settlements, $300 billion for Ontario alone.  However, big tobacco cried bankruptcy and premiers Legault and Ford, last year, conducted secret negotiations with the companies.  And it now appears that, in a bizarre turn of events, big tobacco might be let off the hook providing they make an effort to get their customers to stop using their products.

There have been a rising number of legal actions in the USA against the oil companies and Big Tobacco is the model they are using since it fits the pattern so well.   But nobody should expect any kind of accountability among the political leaders, who like Stephen Harper wasted ten years, or Pierre Trudeau who helped get the oil sands project started back in the seventies.

And there is his son Justin who promised back in his first election to end public subsidies for the fossil industry and has yet failed to do so, and in fact is building a couple of new pipelines to serve the oil and gas industry.  Subsidies are the other side of a carbon tax – they effectively lower the price of fuel production and thus serve to promote its greater use.   Canada has been named as the G7 nation which most subsidizes its oil and gas sector.

O'Toole smug 4

Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax

Mr. Trudeau has been outspoken on confronting global warming and that has helped him in the polls, particularly when the opposition party denies the reality of climate change.   That might just be the loud voice of Alberta and Saskatchewan struggling with the last gasps of their dying oil industry sector.   And it was a message we all got more from Mr. Harper and Mr. Scheer than the more moderate Mr. O’Toole.  At least Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax after the court legality ruling, finally acquiescing, albeit with an unworkable tax model.

There are still many otherwise intelligent people who will tell you that they now believe that climate change is happening, but doubt that humans are mostly responsible.  If nothing else a big fat court ruling may help the misguided find themselves.  And realizing the mess we are creating and leaving it to future generations to start acting responsibly to  reduce their carbon foot print.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Humans Caused –    Ford Knew –      Heat Dome –      New Zealand –

Trudeau –     Climate Scientists –   Antarctica –     Billion Marine Animals – 

US Tobacco –     Canadian Tobacco –     Oil Company Deceit –    “Air Pollution Deaths”

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5 comments to Rivers: Who is Going to Pay for Global Warming ?

  • Ray Rivers

    Who is going to pay? Ultimately, of course, every living thing. But too often the focus is on monetary compensation to the victims, as if money could buy back your life or your health. On the other hand, punitive damages calling for repair to the ecosystem and development of provable mitigation against future damage take so long to wind through the courts that the damage is beyond repair by the time to awards are put into action.

    It is infuriating that the fossil fuel companies call themselves the Energy Industry when in fact they are the selective energy industry, selecting only those fuels which assure them the greatest short term profit from their product, regardless of the long term damage. The answer is not to waste more time conceiving of monetary damages. The answer is to outlaw certain practices now, thereby forcing the companies to direct their massive holdings into clean energy, or perish.

  • Ray Rivers

    Marco – Who is going to pay? Ultimately, of course, every living thing. But too often the focus is on monetary compensation to the victims, as if money could buy back your life or your health. On the other hand, punitive damages calling for repair to the ecosystem and development of provable mitigation against future damage take so long to wind through the courts that the damage is beyond repair by the time to awards are put into action.

    It is infuriating that the fossil fuel companies call themselves the Energy Industry when in fact they are the selective energy industry, selecting only those fuels which assure them the greatest short term profit from their product, regardless of the long term damage. The answer is not to waste more time conceiving of monetary damages. The answer is to outlaw certain practices now, thereby forcing the companies to direct their massive holdings into clean energy, or perish.

    • Bob

      So you don’t own an automobile?
      Don’t use electricity in your home built entirely of mud and straw? Nor heat that home with anything but sunlight. Although this environmentally friendly house wouldn’t have any windows, since glass is such an energy intensive industry to manufacture.
      You must walk to your farm, since grocery shopping would be hypocritical, considering they get all those products by god forbid…energy wasting transportation.

      Tree hugging is fine when you’re not a hypocrite, but simple solutions to complex problems is not the answer

  • Phillip Wooster

    Ray is still beating the “environmental horse” to death on behalf of his Liberal colleagues. Who is going to pay for global warming? We are already paying $$$$ in carbon taxes but what we are not paying for is a solution. As Ray is undoubtedly aware, despite the Liberal pledge to fight climate change in 2015, all Canadians got from Trudeau was hot air–carbon emissions rose from 2015 to 2019 from 723mt to 730mt. And it won’t get any better–between now and 2030, China will increase its use of coal in additional coal-fired electricity generation by 1 billion tonnes, increasing its carbon-emissions by at least 3 times Canada’s total emissions. Perhaps Ray believes that those carbon emissions are just going to stay in China while we are paying through the nose in increased carbon taxes–$720 in carbon taxes on home heating and $24 for every tank of gasoline by 2030.