On Monday, 23rd of October, a news item reported the USA's ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, believes "both sides of the science" on climate change.
Really? Is this evidence of the growing disability amongst the more influential and affluent to discriminate fact from fiction, or is it merely another effusion of Trump-lite?
On this same day, Canada's Department of the Environment and Climate Change announced it has stopped some meteorological and climate data gathering at its most northerly weather station, Alert, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, due to a "staffing shortage". Scientists from some of the world's leading climate laboratories say the data being lost from Alert will negatively impact their ability to model climate change, a case of "gross mismanagement", according to Professor Thomas Duck of Dalhousie University.
But this occlusion could of course be of some small comfort to our friends at Kinder Morgan Canada, and the TD Bank, who seem unable to get their heads around the non-alternative fact that the atmospheric and oceanic warming induced by burning too much fossil carbon, is a far greater threat to our economic, cultural and political stability, than protecting the environment could ever be.
Kinder Morgan, whose pipeline is running diluted bitumen - a kind of low-grade, high-carbon fossil fuel - from the tar sands in Alberta, to the sea at Vancouver, British Columbia, is based in Houston, Texas, USA, a very large city very recently and dramatically flooded by exactly the sort of extreme weather now widely associated with global warming.
They plan to build their new pipeline to carry much more bitumen to a multiplying tanker fleet heading out through the Salish Sea (something PM Justin Trudeau promised would never happen) to markets in Asian cities, where its combustion will continue to add to climate disorder, and, as well contribute to the premature deaths of milliions of people in Asia, according to The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, just published this week, 19 October, 2017.
The new and larger pipeline will follow along much the same route as the original one, through unceded Secwepemc territory in BC's interior, in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which "includes free, prior and informed consent, which they [Kinder Morgan] have not gotten from us," said Kanahus Manuel, Secwepemc activist, last week. In 1951, when the first one was pushed through, the Secwepemc were not allowed by Canadian law to express dissent.
TD, the largest Canadian financial backer of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, does say: "As a responsible bank, we need to align with commitments made by our governments to support the growth of the North American economy while also promoting the transition to a lower-carbon world."
The problem with this statement is that our current government's design is to expand tar sands exports, while at the same time it is expressing assurances about its commitment to the Paris Accord of 2015, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to mitigate the worst effects of global climate catastrophe.
It is not possible to do both, and since the banks are supporting the government's intension of exporting more, not less bitumen, we joined with Mazaska Talks, and many Greenpeace Canada Local Groups, in demonstrating our concern at a TD branch bank in downtown Ottawa, during the lunch hour, on a sunny, beautiful October 23rd.
Despite roadwork ongoing within metres of where we stood, many people stopped to chat, sometimes curious, sometimes concerned, because whatever the rear-guard of deniers say, most people are now worried about climate change, even if few are as yet willing to confront directly the entities responsible for most GHG emissions, or the consumer choices making those rising GHG figures inevitable.
Which is why we are still asking TD to reconsider how best to utilize its resources to help, not hurt, the planet.
Photo: Julia Levin