I spent the last week touring around Alberta. Gull Lake Campground, Dinosaur Provincial Park then Drumheller. Stettler, Camrose, Wetaskawin’s Reynolds Museum, and WEM.
Eeeevil Lefties: ‘This is a disaster. We should aim to prevent future disasters. What went so wrong?’
Rawlco: “it will be positive and it will go a long way to mitigating Alberta’s downturn.”
He’s a story about how people survived north of the Fort Mac wildfire.
I noticed that tweet first, and it was out of context. I thought it might be referring to the 25,000 Syrian refugees that took months to bring to Canada, late.
Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press thinks:
FLAME WARS: political parties are expected to set their rivalries aside in the face of tragedy. As wildfire pushed the population of Fort McMurray into a state of homelessness, the non-partisan reaction went a step further as politicians asked the public to set their own critiques aside as well.
“There have always been fires. There have always been floods,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Pointing at any one incident and saying, ‘Well, this is because of that,’ is neither helpful nor entirely accurate. We need to separate a pattern over time from any one event.”
Meanwhile, G. Elijah Dann Huffington Post thinks:
“Stating that climate change is political, instead about science, is exactly the problem. It indicates our society’s grim lack of awareness over the most pressing issue now facing humanity. And May was repeating the science.”
When an out of control fire roars toward you, it’s totally fine to stick your head (and the rest of you) into the sand, in a fireproof shelter preferably. After the fire passes, you’ve got to come out and ask what the heck happened, and why.
Facebook has been bustling with people talking about the tragic fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The partially razed city is the epicenter or Mecca of Canadian Conservative politics (not Calgary which is simply the more urbanized version of Fort Mac and area). It’s been booming for years and years, but with the glut of OPEC oil, and the resulting price slump, it’s been going bust. The ravages of fire are kicking a city that already is down and maybe on its way out.
The Politically Correct thing in Conservative western Canada is to not mention the fire’s connection to the global disaster For Mac is infamous for contributing to: climate change. For the love of dog, don’t you dare mention holding an opinion that we should use much much less oil. You might as well suggest someone breathe less deeply, when you see the insult on their face for having suggested it. After all, you breathe too, so why would you say such a thing?
Conservatives preach about “personal responsibility”, no? There are victims of crimes and perpetrators of them, and everyone else. In a crime against an oppressed demographic, observe how many people suggest her clothing was a contributing factor; personal responsibility, eh? Claiming the Fort Mac refugees are completely blameless for their economic situation is an affront to Conservative values and saying they don’t deserve compassion and help from government is an affront to socialist values. There’s a middle ground available somewhere between shutting up, and praying your heart out on Facebook.
Saying the fire is unrelated to politics and our economy is what politicized the tragedy.
Suggesting there is no cause also implies we can’t mitigate it to stop future evacuations.
The following is from Facebook, in response to some of these thought listed above.
Elizabeth Todd:The NDP government in Alberta just cut millions in forest fire budget. As SK did before our wildfires last year. When climate scientists have been predicting droughts and increased wildfires.
And to make up for the costs of these events our government made cuts to education and health care. This is just shitty planning that they can get away with because it is politically incorrect to talk root causes and how we plan to address issues. It is political that we are paying for climate change disasters with frontline workers, cuts to research chairs, and cuts to maintenance workers.
Its political to ignore the causes of these events. It’s also not very political, but very human to want to find out why something awful happened in order to prevent it from happening to more people.
The boreal and other forests around the world are burning like this, McMurray isn’t the exception, this is going to become the new rule if we don’t get serious about a transition to green energy.
And yes, it’s not really the workers in the patch, but they do tend to vote for oil politicians in droves and so do their families and communities because the oilfield companies frame environmental concerns as attacks on workers. Which is very effective.
And even if they don’t vote for oil politicians, the NDP is still promoting pipelines- infrastructure that guarantees decades of tar sands expansion.
Guilt is useless and a conversation around whether we- I myself, you over there- are dependent on fossil fuels doesn’t mean we have to consent to this kind of future or should feel guilty if we use the stuff. We are politically and economically hooked on it and our current state of politics has us debating whether our dependence on oil means we have to be ok with it, rather than planning the transition in our communities and demanding the government support these plans.
Its also just difficult to read about evacuees being hosted in Fort McKay and being surprised to learn that the First Nation there can’t drink their water due to fossil fuel development.
This moment of crisis goes back much further than the city of Fort McMurray burning and the moment we can move from a debate about whether we should have this debate, to a debate about what we are going to do about the issues will be the moment I actually believe that the chorus of people de-politicizing this moment actually give a damn about what happened to the people in McMurray.
Empathy without analysis and strategy is just charity. It wont stop the next blaze.
We could hold our comments about the destruction of another Canadian community in reverence of the families hurt, and for political correctness, or we could simply start talking about another tragedy contributed to by poor planning, budget cuts, and our non-renewable, fossil fuel economy driven global crisis. Lac Megantic, Slave Lake, La Ronge, which disaster shall it be if not the relevant one going on now in Fort Mac?
The Prime Minister spoke about forest fires’ connection to climate change at a community affected by a massive evacuation due in part to climate change.
“The reality of climate change is that we’re going to see more and more extreme weather events and we need to make sure that as a country we’re properly equipped to deal with these challenges.”
Trudeau said he expects a better collaboration between all levels of government on resources, training and funding when it comes to fires.
Fast forward a few months to this week.
Responding to comments made earlier, Trudeau said May’s suggestion that the disaster was “very related to the global climate crisis” was neither helpful, nor accurate. […]
“It’s well known that one of the consequences of climate change will be a greater prevalence of extreme weather events around the planet,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference.
“However, any time we try to make a political argument on one particular disaster, I think it’s a bit of shortcut that can sometimes not have the desired outcome. There have always been fires.
The Trudeau government was also advised when it was sworn in last November that wildfires were getting worse. The bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada told their new minister, Jim Carr, that governments across the country hadn’t provided enough funding to help communities prepare for the worst.
The provincial, territorial and federal governments developed a Canadian Wildlands Fire Strategy in 2005, calling for “more resilient communities, improving fire management approaches to balance ecological integrity with protection of life and property, and implementing modern business practices.”
But Carr was told that governments didn’t invest enough money to support that strategy in the last decade.
“Governments remain supportive of the Strategy, but progress towards implementation over the past decade has been limited, primarily due to fiscal constraints,” said briefing notes, prepared for Carr.
“The frequency and severity of wild land fires have been trending upwards in the past few decades and summer 2015 was particularly severe. As a result, there have been calls from the public, communities and provinces for increased federal involvement in wildfire management.”
David Schindler, a University of Alberta scientist who studies the ecology of inland bodies of water, said there have been increasingly favourable conditions for forest fires in recent years. He noted that climate scientists have been predicting the increase in forest fires for at least a decade.
Despite the obvious drought conditions (we got almost no snow last Winter), the federal government wasn’t warning people of the extreme danger.
Wildfires briefing by mikedesouza
Hat tip to Daniel.
Everything in this article isn’t perfect, but these parts are:
Alberta’s problem is twofold: Its oilsands have been buried by fracked American oil that is both higher-value and cheaper to produce, while longer-term they face marginalization in a world committed to weaning itself off carbon.
So another pipeline isn’t needed; oilsands production won’t be expanding much in the foreseeable future, if it all. Alberta needs to figure out how to make the most of the infrastructure it has in place. Money spent on a pipeline right now would be money wasted. But Notley can’t say that aloud — not while also delivering the bad news on her province’s finances and fighting back against the implications of the so-called Leap Manifesto.
“As long as I’m president of the United States,” Obama said as he officially pulled the plug on Keystone XL, “America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world.” Now, if Obama really wanted to have an impact on carbon emissions, he would have shut down the 500,000 barrels per day of California heavy crude — which is ‘dirtier’ than oilsands bitumen. He didn’t; he didn’t even mention it.
The government is in talks to quickly allocate $1 billion for infrastructure projects in the two provinces — money earmarked by the previous government’s infrastructure fund but not yet delivered, two of the officials said.
I sincerely hope that this money goes into supporting the growing renewable energy industry, and not into propping up the fossil fuel industry instead.
It wasn’t very long ago that Brad Wall was a part of shaping western Canada. He wanted BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and maybe even Manitoba to agree on LCD wage and labour codes, so we could more easily trade workers around. Now that he’s surrounded by NDP provinces, he’s not involved?
We’ve got SaskPower supposedly committed to reducing fossil fuel electricity to 50% in less than 15 years, but looking to rebuild coal plants that will strand billions in assets well into the next generation!
SaskPower has recommitted to coal, signing two contracts with Westmoreland Coal to supply 60 million tonnes from its Estevan mine to 2024 and 58 million tonnes from its Poplar River mine to 2029. Doesn’t this suggest SaskPower effectively has decided to build two more carbon capture and storage facilities at its Boundary Dam Power Station?
“it seem that a decision has been made all but officially to convert the pre-1975 units to CCS by 2020.”
Meanwhile, Brett Dolter has done an economic analysis of Saskatchewan’s electricity generation options, and one of those is to partner with Manitoba to build hydro capacity we can use.