Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Apocalypse Is On the Way

It is a beautiful day in Victoria. The sun is out and it is 10C. The flowers are up. Many trees are in bloom. People are out working in their yards. But while eating breakfast I pick up the Times-Colonist. A front page story covers the demonstrations in Vancouver yesterday over the proposed expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline. Indigenous leaders insist that the new pipeline will be stopped. But look how quickly opposition was shut down at Standing Rock. Today the repressive state has enormous power and popular opposition is weak. This is not the 1960s.
Vancouver rally againstTrans Moutain Pipeline

Friday Kinder Morgan obtained a court injunction banning protests at their Burnaby terminal. There had been around 15 protesters there for over a week trying to slow down new work, part of the expansion which has the approval of the Trudeau government and the appointed National Energy Board.

Is there a chance that the project can be stopped? The municipalities of Burnaby and Vancouver have gone to court to challenge the legality of the NEB and their declaration that the project can not be held up by laws existing in the municipalities. The NEB has the support of the Trudeau government.

There are high hopes that the John Horgan NDP government will stand by its pledge that the pipeline will not go ahead until an expert panel decides that there would be no threat posed to B.C. from an oil spill. But the B. C. government has already backed down on this political issue by agreeing to allow the courts to rule on the legality of the proposed commission. Does anyone really expect a court to rule against a corporate development project? Will anyone really be surprised if the Horgan government folds on this issue? The NDP government reversed its pledge to halt the Site C dam construction.

But what disturbs me most is the fact that in this political fight between the Alberta and BC NDP governments the issue of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels is nowhere to be found. Yet even the U.S. Energy Agency says that if the goal of keeping the increase of the planet’s temperature below 2 degrees C, all of the bitumen included in the projected plans of the existing oil corporations operating in the Alberta tar sands must stay in the ground!

There is a mountain of scientific studies reporting on the extreme dangers to the planet posed by climate change brought on by the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are endless news reports which show real changes happening right now. One can understand why most governments make only empty pledges to take action. But it is hard to understand why intelligent people do not take the issue seriously. It does seem to me, as a political economist with an historical orientation, that it is a reflection of the reality of the triumph of liberal individualism and the defeat of the democratic tradition of community solidarity.

The apocalypse:

(1) On the Beach (1957 film)

This film is based on Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel of the same name depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war. Unlike the novel, no blame is placed on whoever started the war; it is hinted in the film that the threat of annihilation may have arisen from an accident or misjudgment.

(2) Planet of the Apes (original film, 1968)

American astronauts land on strange planet where they find that evolved apes rule and dominate a smaller mute human population. Film ends when Charleton Heston, the captain, discovers the remains of the Statue of Liberty and realizes that they are on Earth which has been nearly destroyed after humans engaged in nuclear war.

(3) The Road (2009 film)

A man and his young son struggle to survive after a global cataclysm has caused perhaps by climate change. There is no living environment. They scavenge for supplies and avoid roaming gangs as they travel on a road to the southern coast in the hope that it will be warmer. Based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, one of my very favourite authors. This novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006.

(4) The Last Policeman (trilogy by Ben H. Winters, 2013. )

The trilogy is a combination of a crime novel and science fiction. The world faces extinction as a large object from outer space approaches. How people react is the theme. As refugees approach the USA men turn to guns. Winters, it seems to me, is describing how Europeans are dealing with desperate refugees from the Middle East. The Pentagon study of the effects of climate change predicts American refugees (in the millions) fleeing to Canada.

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