Wednesday, January 31, 2007

THE THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEES

Is this not my worst nightmare realized? Is this not what I have been warning you about? Screaming about? Check out the Headline of the January 30th, 2007 edition of the Vancouver Sun: "BC FACES FUTURE FLOOD OF 'CLIMATE REFUGEES': RCMP, Police report warns of a potentially overwhelming influx of people if global warming forces millions to flee Bangladesh and other countries." Ecologist William Rees calls the report a credible scenario and says that a one metre rise in sea level would translate into tens, maybe hundreds of millions of refugees globally. Current illegal Mexican immigration into the US would seem like a picnic in comparison.

But here's where Rees is wrong, dead wrong. He goes on to say, like all soft-headed greens, that we would have a serious moral obligation to assist them. No, we have a serious moral obligation not to swamp our own lifeboat. At present we can't sustain the 32 million who are here and if we take on the tens of millions who want to clamor aboard we will not sustain them either. We'll simply succeed in drowning all of us. There are no moral dilemnas here. To be compassionate toward ourselves we must be callous to those who, I must say this, will likely be just the first 100 million of 5 1/2 billion to die of other causes ---oil and gas depletion, biodiversity collapse, epidemics-- in the next two decades. The fortress mentality is a morally defensible one when your very survival is at stake. If we don't start thinking that way as a nation, then people will start thinking that way as individuals. In fact survivalism is rampant on the internet. Having given up on the politicians, people in Canada are talking about establishing bunkers or remote homesteads and provisioning them with food and munitions to ward off starving marauders. Can I imagine myself shooting refugees from the third world or a Canadian city? No, but I could imagine myself shooting the Green quisling who opened the floodgates to let them in. I can imagine shooting a Kathryn Molloy of the Sierra Club, who was so concerned over Christmas that "Rudolf" the Rocky Mountain Cariboo would lose his habitat that she wanted my ten dollar donation to save it, but no doubt would be one of those Greens who would help 20 million Bangledeshis onto our lifeboat and squeeze Rudolph's habitat out of existence.

With the kind of numbers Rees is talking about, you can forget about your "Steady State Economy". Growth will be exponential. You can also forget about reducing greenhouse emissions. Whatever your emission standards, there will just be more of everything generating emissions. Sixty, seventy, eighty million Canadians will crush remaining habitat and exhaust remaining fisheries. And you'd better hope that there's enough oil left to allow transport and import of foodstuffs, because remaining farmland will be covered in the housing needed to shelter the tens of millions of refugees. Even now the apple orchards outside London Ontario are being chopped down for housing and apples are being brought in from Mexico. What are Londoners going to do for apples when the oil runs out?

It seems that you will have to make a decision. You will have to soon decide whether you are an authentic environmentalist or a refugee advocate. Whether your commitment is to environmental rights first, or whether your priority after all the green bafflegab is really just human rights. Is man's relationship to nature not more fundamental and primary than man's relationship to man? You will also have to re-examine the meaning of compassion. Is it compassionate to place greater importance on the welfare of outsiders at the cost of the welfare of those close to home?

This is an example of the Great Divide I have been talking about. It's an unresolved argument amongst the passengers in our lifeboat that had better be settled before the refugees swim toward us.

There is one more thing about that RCMP police report that disturbs me. It talks about the "expected" flood of climate change refugees into Canada. Why is it expected? Why is it assumed that we'll be taking them in? Will Canadians have any say in this matter? Just because an ecologist at UBC says its our moral responsibility, and 10,000 churchmen and academics agree with him does that mean its government policy? Its funny how decision-makers have learned to take us for granted! Or will they simply overwhelm us? How will they arrive--as boat people? And they can't be repelled? Its odd that in the Second World War we put a million men in uniform, 10% of our population, and spent 10s of thousands of their lives purportedly to ward off a foreign invasion, but when faced with an invasion of this danger we would lie down and roll over? We send troops to fight in Afghanistan but we wouldn't defend our own borders? Help me out with this scenario. Tell me why it must be inevitable that we would accept an influx of tens of millions of climate change refugees.

Friday, January 26, 2007

DEFENDING YOUR HOMESTEAD

Following our unbelievable encounter with that cretin, NDP MLA Shane Simpson, "Environment" Critic, biologist Terri Martin, and myself began to discuss the impending horrors of social and ecological breakdown that inevitably face us because politicians won't take the mildest remedial action. I told her that people around London Ontario were even talking about bunkers and provisioning them with food and munitions to ward off marauding millions from Toronto starving from lack of food and freezing from lack of gas. Terri said that she too was not worried so much about refugees from the third world as about refugees from Vancouver and Victoria and Nanaimo coming up here and stripping us of everything. We are really only weeks from disaster. If the ferry doesn't sail for want of oil we're out of food within two weeks and cars don't run. My new generator won't help me because I need diesel fuel deliveries for that. Right now furnace oil is being stolen on the island and last summer someone drove a truck down my driveway and carried away my firewood. That was in good times. Imagine if things got desperate. We all have wells but we need power from hydro or generators to pump it and almost no one has a water tank of any good size. A lot of us have postage-stamp gardens--not me--but they won't get you far. Fewer have acreages with livestock. We are not self-sufficient on this island. Community spirit and cooperation is great, but everyone would need to put their own children first. Social breakdown is a more likely scenario. During the war, my parents had a farm in the Fraser Valley 40 miles from Vancouver, reachable by a tortuous road. City people were hungry and desperate enough to come out and beg for eggs and some resorted to theft. One day my parents came home and found ladders up against every tree in the orchard with baskets of fruit left at the bottom. Vancouverites had attempted to raid the orchard but were suprised at the last minute. Other farms in the Valley were invaded all the time during rationing. But the diet and conditions endured by Canadians during the Second World War may be nothing in comparison to the tribulations to come soon. Mentioning bunkers and munitions to people now, especially to politicians, seems so fantastic as to be beyond the realm of rational discourse. But for a biologist on the ground, close to what's actually happening to the planet, or to anyone who's probed the issues of peak oil or NG depletion or the myriad other problems facing us, it doesn't seem so fantastic.
It is obvious to me now, after talking to these politicians, that government will not do want it needs to do to deal with this crisis. They will not close the borders. They will not stabilize population levels and try to roll them back. Reducing energy consumption in this cold climate--I will believe it when I see it. Other sacred cows will have to go to. Mobility rights. Just as some Provincial Parks are no off limits to people without reservations, more and more ecologically sensitive parks will need to be sealed off. More and more towns will need to set population caps. There will even come a day when the provision in the Charter guaranteeing freedom of mobility will be extirpated or over-riddened. Mobility between nations, regions and cities will be a luxury that the biosphere can't afford. And of course, guns laws will have to be repealed or ignored. After all, I should be able to defend my homestead and my family.

SHAME ON SHANE (SIMPSON) - BC NDP MLA

I would suggest that Carol James make Shane Simpson trade portfolios with Jenny Kwan. Because “Economic Development” is really what Shane Simpson is all about, just dressed up with trendy buzzwords to anesthetize and confound critics of his “managed growth” agenda. The man is a relic of the 1960’s with no apparent understanding of the threat that his so-called managed growth poses to biodiversity, because he doesn’t really understand biodiversity—how it functions, what it requires and what it provides us. His environmental literacy is that of a car salesman. He spent his life in East Vancouver and his self-proclaimed environmentalist resume was built on urban issues. He has most probably never been out on a marsh or a nature trail nor hiked in a Provincial Park and wouldn’t know a red-winged blackbird from a barnowl. There is no wilderness experience or emotional connection to nature to inform the stale old paradigm he employs to stake out his position.

What is most decisive about his incompetence though, is his pompous, arrogant and brusque attitude. I suspect that Jenny Kwan knows as little about environmental issues as he does—but at least she knows it. As the saying goes, ignorance is preferable to the illusion of knowledge. Jenny Kwan is polite, receptive, open-minded, and bright, very bright. Carol James could hand her the environment portfolio and her learning curve would be steep. She would listen to biologists and environmentalists, rather than just developers, mayors and town planners. That’s what we want in an MLA, not necessarily someone who is going to agree with us, but someone who is going to listen to us.

I followed Jenny Kwan’s career on Vancouver City Council and thought that she was a remarkable person, one of my heroes, and her stock rose even higher when she stood alone with Joy McPhail in the legislature. So I wasn’t too surprised that she gave me a polite hearing, nothwithstanding my anti-development views. Still, shouldn’t it strike you as odd that an MLA representing Economic Development would be more open to an environmental perspective than the MLA representing the “Environment”?

What saddens me about all of this is how far the party has traveled to the centre in my life-time. In the early 70’s there was much more environmental awareness in the NDP than there is today, believe or not. The Agricultural Land Freeze was among the first acts of the Barrett government. In 1983 I was part of Bob Skelly’s leadership campaign. He was the dark horse, but won on an environmental platform. Dr. Patricia Marchak of UBC was among his impressive Brains Trust and clear-cutting was a big issue. Vancouver Island was adding 9,000 people every year to its population so protecting estuaries and defending the ALR were important as well. But after the mid 80’s the NDP went astray and a decade later it was possible for an NDP premier to call environmentalists the “enemies of British Columbia”.

We jettisoned the Environment in favor of Growth. But what about our raison d’etre, social and economic equality? In 1969 a third of us defied Big Union intimidation and signed the Waffle Manifesto because we weren’t satisfied with social democracy. We wanted a return to “democratic socialism”. We wanted, not a mere equal distribution of income, but a more equal distribution of wealth—which generates income. Since our defeat, the gap between rich and poor widened and kept widening even under NDP administrations. Economic growth has never solved poverty. And “social democrats” have really become “liberal democrats”. A planned economy is now considered a quaint anachronism, the market mechanism a given and market solutions the only practical alternative.

Yes I obviously have an issue with Shane Simpson personally. I didn’t like him 25 years ago and I didn’t like him on the 24th of January 2007. But I suppose he’s just the obnoxious incarnation of a pernicious ideology that’s taken hold of this and every other party. It’s the ideology that doesn’t understand that “managed” growth is still growth, that growth has limits, that we have the ability to set those limits and the moral right to do so and that it is not what our economy may “need” that is relevant but what the environment can sustain.

THE NINE TENETS OF SHANE SIMPSON’S BELIEF SYSTEM
=======================================
1) You can’t stop people coming here---wherever “here” is (B.C., Qualicum Beach, Lasqueti Island, Okotoks, Alberta)
2) You can’t cap the population level—anywhere.
3) If you could, you don’t have the moral right to do so.
4) You can’t stop growth, you can only “manage” it.
5) Yes, “managed” growth is still growth, but growth can continue ad infinitum because it must—the economy requires it.
6) There is no such thing as a limiting factor that we can’t ignore. What a healthy ecosystem requires is not a consideration.
7) “Sustainability” can have any meaning we choose to give it. We can bend it to fit any development plan or growth projection.
8) “Planning” is also now an elastic concept. It no longer involves, as the innocent might assume, the selection of an ideal or optimal arrangement of resources and the formulation of guidelines to steer haphazard development toward it. Now it has come to mean merely the accommodation to projected trends that are said to be the signal of “inevitable” occurrences. Planners now simply forecast future demands and pander to them.
9) Oxymorons like “managed growth”, “smart growth” or “sustainable development” suffice to answer all objections and doubts. We can have our cake and eat it too because it’s “managed” or it’s “smart” and of course it’s “sustainable” (isn’t everything now?)

... and oh so many others...

Naturally, it helps to have people believe that they can’t stop something, that any given trend is “inevitable”, because when they believe that, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re beaten before we start, and that’s the game pro-growth advocates have been playing—and winning—for 50 years or more.

DEFENDING YOUR HOMESTEAD

Following our unbelievable encounter with that cretin, NDP MLA Shane Simpson, "Environment" Critic, biologist Terri Martin, and myself began to discuss the impending horrors of social and ecological breakdown that inevitably face us because politicians won't take the mildest remedial action. I told her that people around London Ontario were even talking about bunkers and provisioning them with food and munitions to ward off marauding millions from Toronto starving from lack of food and freezing from lack of gas. Terri said that she too was not worried so much about refugees from the third world as about refugees from Vancouver and Victoria and Nanaimo coming up here and stripping us of everything. We are really only weeks from disaster. If the ferry doesn't sail for want of oil we're out of food within two weeks and cars don't run. My new generator won't help me because I need diesel fuel deliveries for that. Right now furnace oil is being stolen on the island and last summer someone drove a truck down my driveway and carried away my firewood. That was in good times. Imagine if things got desperate. We all have wells but we need power from hydro or generators to pump it and almost no one has a water tank of any good size. A lot of us have postage-stamp gardens--not me--but they won't get you far. Fewer have acreages with livestock. We are not self-sufficient on this island. Community spirit and cooperation is great, but everyone would need to put their own children first. Social breakdown is a more likely scenario. During the war, my parents had a farm in the Fraser Valley 40 miles from Vancouver, reachable by a tortuous road. City people were hungry and desperate enough to come out and beg for eggs and some resorted to theft. One day my parents came home and found ladders up against every tree in the orchard with baskets of fruit left at the bottom. Vancouverites had attempted to raid the orchard but were suprised at the last minute. Other farms in the Valley were invaded all the time during rationing. But the diet and conditions endured by Canadians during the Second World War may be nothing in comparison to the tribulations to come soon. Mentioning bunkers and munitions to people now, especially to politicians, seems so fantastic as to be beyond the realm of rational discourse. But for a biologist on the ground, close to what's actually happening to the planet, or to anyone who's probed the issues of peak oil or NG depletion or the myriad other problems facing us, it doesn't seem so fantastic.
It is obvious to me now, after talking to these politicians, that government will not do want it needs to do to deal with this crisis. They will not close the borders. They will not stabilize population levels and try to roll them back. Reducing energy consumption in this cold climate--I will believe it when I see it. Other sacred cows will have to go to. Mobility rights. Just as some Provincial Parks are no off limits to people without reservations, more and more ecologically sensitive parks will need to be sealed off. More and more towns will need to set population caps. There will even come a day when the provision in the Charter guaranteeing freedom of mobility will be extirpated or over-riddened. Mobility between nations, regions and cities will be a luxury that the biosphere can't afford. And of course, guns laws will have to be repealed or ignored. I should be able to defend my homestead and my family.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

IN A NUTSHELL

IN A NUTSHELL: What’s wrong with Gore’s approach

Al Gore, Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, politicians with a “Green Agenda” and mainstream environmentalists all want to create more “green” consumers.



The point however, is that we are going to have to reduce the number of consumers, green or otherwise.



However individually small their footprint, Canada’s ecosystem will not carry the 70 million people projected to live here by century’s end. Nor will America carry the 700 million people expected to live there by 2100 if their immigration rates are not curbed. And certainly the planet will not sustain another 3 billion people indefinitely.



Making the right energy choices as consumers and governments is fine, but partial in impact. It is not going to be the toughest, most necessary choice however.



That will be the choice to jump off The Perpetual Economic Growth Machine and construct a steady-state economy that will operate within the regenerative and absorptive capabilities of the ecosystem. The shift will involve painful adjustments—it cannot be denied.



But I suspect that if we don’t make that choice, and soon, nature is going to make it for us. We will see famine, pestilence, war and disease on a scale not dreamt of and it will make all the pre-emptive measures now proposed seem mild indeed.


===========================================

Postscript: Al Gore, in a trailer to his documentary, called the projected leveling off of the world’s population at 9.1 billion “a success story”. The problem is, even our current 6.5 billion is well beyond the planet’s carrying capacity. Moreover, many analysts believe that only 1 billion people can subsist without oil, as oil and chemical fertilizers are critical in large-scale agriculture. Some predict oil reserves to vanish quickly and result in the death of 800 million people every year for 18 years.


Greenhouse emissions and Economic Growth: Eighty British MPs signed a document that proposed an end to economic growth as an industrial strategy. Why? It was found that even after restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions were enforced in the U.K., the sum total of emissions grew because although factories and cars spewed less noxious gases due to the new regulations, the gains were wiped out by the increase in the number of factories and cars. Again, numbers are important.

THE MORAL RIGHT TO SET LIMITS

It is an article of faith among the politically correct that we have no moral right to say “No” to anybody who follows us. To do so would evidence the infamous “draw-bridge” mentality. “Now that you’re here, you want to pull up the ladder!, they taunt. Damn rights I do. And I have a right to do so. Because you see, there is only so much room here and well, I’m sorry, but I was here first. I may occupy a seat you covet at the table of an exclusive restaurant, but the restaurant is full to capacity as determined by safety rules and I am under no obligation to surrender it to you nor is the manager obligated to make room for you. I have no moral obligation and you have no “right”. Similarly, you may want to squeeze on board an elevator already jammed beyond its carrying capacity, but I am not morally obliged to move over for you just because well, you’re from Edmonton, a Canadian citizen, a fellow human being and I wasn’t the first on board either. Its got nothing to do with the fact that I was born here and you weren’t, or I’m white and you’re not—its got everything to do with the fact that I got here early and you got here too late. I would suggest you find another restaurant or another elevator and come a little earlier.

Every Canadian should know that getting there early is a normal and acceptable rule of life for acquiring anything you want very badly. Want that item on sale? Better get there before stock runs out. Want a ticket to the Stones concert? Better camp out on the street two days ahead of time. Want that pretty lady to be yours? Better be first in line before other guys dance with her first. I knew by the early nineties that prime real estate on Quadra would be priced out of my reach by an American-Albertan influx. So I burdened myself with three crippling mortgages, worked a lot of over-time and secured my Quadra home 8 years before I could move here. If I had dithered until 2004 I would have been too late. But I would have accepted it. I would not expect Quadra to clear-cut precious forest to provide low-cost housing for me, because you see, no one has a divine “right” to live on Quadra. Like the teenaged hitch-hiker I picked up who just blew in from Fort St. John and complained that she had trouble finding cheap rental accommodation on Quadra with her minimum wage salary. She could have stayed home and pursued an education. To say that the poor have a “right” to affordable housing on Quadra is equivalent to saying that a poor hungry man has a “right” to a seat at a table of that exclusive restaurant. He surely has a right to a decent meal, but not at any place of his choosing.

Quadra Island residents, even relative newcomers, have a right to a “drawbridge” mentality. They have a right to say: “This is a population level which provides an acceptable range of services and amenities without compromising the quality of life we cherish, as defined by our ability to leave doors unlocked, know and trust our neighbours, our community spirit, our unblemished trails etc…and we want to keep the island at that level.” Quadra Islanders have a right to set limits, if they choose to. As have the residents of Qualicum Beach and Lasqueti Island. Now if local communities have the right to cap their population levels, then so do countries.

The primary moral responsibility of every community, of every nation, of every household, is to its own members. On Christmas Day my parents made it a practice to invite some down-and-out stranger to the dinner-table. But it was only one stranger—my mom did not bring in all of Skid Road because our house was as small as our budget and her first moral responsibility was to feed her own family. Author Garrett Hardin estimated that if the United States decided to rescue two billion of the world’s poor by placing them in American households, each American family would have to board 32 permanent guests the first year and add another each following year due to births. Now two billion sounds over-the-top, until you start hearing the kinds of numbers being tossed around for people who will be displaced by the rising seas from global warming. Add these numbers to the 50 million refugees who exist right now. The point is that to accept even the tiniest fraction of this humanity within our borders would inflict major damage to our environment, as well as other strains, but do NOTHING of any significance to alter the catastrophe.

Yes, Canada signed a UN agreement on refugees. But the agreement was signed by the government of Canada and not by the people of Canada. Opinion polls over the past thirty years have emphatically revealed that the majority of Canadians have never supported government immigration policies. It’s as if my father had come home from work one day and found his home full of boarders that my mother had unilaterally recruited while he was away. Decisions like that should be joint decisions. Immigration and refugee policy in Canada, Australia and the United States—and Scandanavia too—has never enjoyed a public mandate and we are under no moral obligation to respect it. We have been eating into Natural Capital, carrying capacity has long been exceeded, so we have a moral right and more than that, a moral responsibility to set limits.

To ignore this is to risk sinking our lifeboat by a misplaced compassion toward the infinite millions struggling in the rising waters, a compassion more efficiently directed toward our own passengers. It is not a matter of callousness vs. empathy, or cold indifference vs. moral responsibility, but a matter of where the empathy and the moral responsibility shall be placed. The politically-correct do not have the Moral High Ground in any discussion about population, immigration or refugee limits.

They simply choose to give the unlimited reservoir of outsiders greater consideration than the welfare of those of us who currently live here and the integrity of the natural environment that sustains us. They only know how to say “Yes”, when more than ever, we need to say “No! And to set limits to Economic Growth—driven by growing population and growing consumption.

NO MORE GROWTH

NO MORE GROWTH, FEWER PEOPLE.....Oh my God, who will serve me at Tim Horton’s?

Environmentalists have long been depicted as doomsayers. Critics like Julian Simon and Herman Kahn made their careers casting doubt on their warnings about the future. One, John Maddox, claimed in 1972 that the scale of human activities was too small to threaten sea plankton or enhance the natural greenhouse effect. It was Maddox who introduced the party-line of growth-a-holics and small-town boosterism: doomsday warnings undermine the human spirit. Politicians like Brian Tobin still tell us than we must conceal or sugar-coat the truth because public morale requires “positive” messages. We must lie, and join their chorus of “a robust economy and a clean environment.” Maddox also sounded a now familiar warning that doomsday prescriptions for freezing economic growth would result in social stagnation and deny the poor a chance to share in prosperity. For growth-a-holics, its always about growing the economic pie to help the poor rather than dividing it more equitably. Raise the tide to float all boats.



The fact is, fear-mongering is a specialty of the growth lobby. For them the choice is not between capitalism and a steady-state economy, between growth and stability, but between growth and collapse. Edward Heath, a former British Conservative Prime Minister, characterized the choice this way, “ the alternative to expansion is not an England of quiet market towns linked only by trains puffing slowly and peacefully through green meadows. The alternative is slums, dangerous roads, old factories, cramped schools and stunted lives.”



Growth advocates would conjure up a similar scenario for Canada if proposals to freeze economic and population growth and reduce consumption rates were implemented. To preview what such a Canada would look like, they would point to Saskatchewan or Newfoundland or to many rural areas across the country that have been depopulated by economic stagnation. The first sign of trouble would be that the local Tim Horton’s just wouldn’t be able to fill the position of the kid who quit last week and you’d wait forever for your coffee and donut. Then you’d notice a shortage of staff at the local hospital, and you just couldn’t find an electrician or a plumber to come to your house, or a nanny for your kids. If you were lucky enough to maintain your health into old age, you’d avoid the chronically under-staffed nursing homes and die alone in your own house without the benefit of a homemaker.



In Garrett Hardin’s “Living Within Limits:Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos”, there is a chapter entitled “The Necessity of Immigration Control”. Therein Hardin presents two sections: “Is there such thing as a Labour Shortage?” and “Must an Older Population Be Dependent on Immigrants?” He deals with the clich├ęs of the pro-growth advocates by saying that there are large reservoirs of labour in the economy right now. There still are a lot of housewives who would jump at part-time paid employment outside the home. Most of America’s 11 million college students have little passion for learning. College is, as one prof said to me in 1969, a parking lot to keep kids off the labour market—if jobs were begging they would leave for them. Most work currently done is inefficient, the work week is more like 20 hours rather than 40 in many establishments, efficiencies can improve a service deficit. I recall the situation in East Germany in the summer of 1989 when there was a perceived shortage of medical staff at hospitals. After the wall came down, and systems were integrated, and the East Germans were introduced to West German efficiencies, it was discovered that there was actually a surplus of staff in East German hospitals. “Feather-bedding” had been the rule. I have had also heard the old song and dance that if we don’t admit 400,000 immigrants every year and grow 1% annually there won’t be enough people to pay for my pension. Its like the pyramid selling scam. More and more people come in at the bottom of the pyramid to support the people at the top. But this kind of thinking takes no account of efficiences occasioned by new technologies, of increased productivity of the workforce. Suppose I’m a ditch-digger, and I retire, and economists say that it will take three other ditch-diggers to pay for my pension. OK. But what if we introduce a back-hoe? We really don’t need those three ditch-diggers anymore do we? Hardin also offers other options. The work week can be extended. Or retirement can be postponed—many older folk don’t want to retire, and many would work a shorter day or a shorter week. Hardin concludes that complaining of a labour shortage is easier than thinking.



But it must not be denied that the transition to a steady-state economy could involve severe adjustments. It may very well be a relatively Spartan existence offering material sacrifices of the kind my parents put up with during the war. During that time, according to their stories, you could not indeed get a plumber or electrician to help you, or even buy a bathtub, and the people who served you in stores and restaurants were indifferent to you, if you could find them, because the labour shortage made their jobs secure. Nevertheless life in Canada was richer then than it is now in many respects according to their testimony. And lets not forget what 10 million Canadians were able to accomplish then. They put a million men in uniform—10% of their population!—and replaced their services by tapping into reserves of labour formerly untouched:women. Older men like my grandfather served as air wardens and older women like my grandmother did hundreds of hours of volunteer work for the war effort. They created a planned economy of full employment that set priorities and met them. People made sacrifices and were satisfied with less because they were persuaded they were doing it for a just cause. We too have a “just” cause to rally around—saving our environment. If Canadians could totally and abruptly re-design their economy in 1939-45 we could the same with enough resolve.



The alternative of jumping off the Perpetual Growth Machine involves infinitely less hardship and pain than staying on it. If left unchecked Economic Growth, propelled by Population Growth coupled with high consumption rates, will defeat reduced greenhouse emission standards and continue to damage biodiversity. When ecosystems lose their ability to function, they can’t perform the 33 trillion dollars of free annual services that allow life on this planet, including ours. Our human “economy” is underpinned by biodiversity. We may adapt somewhat to climate change and oil depletion, albeit at immense cost , but we won’t be able to adapt to the loss of biodiversity. When it’s gone, waiting for your Tim Horton’s donut and coffee will be the least of your worries.



The question then, is not as growth-addicts would pose it –Growth or Collapse?

Or even Growth or Stagnation?



The choice facing us is simply, Steady-State or Extinction? Make your choice now while there is time to make it.

LOYALTY TO THE TRUTH OR TO THE PARTY

“Party spirit enlists a man’s virtues in the cause of his vices.” Richard Whately



“Ignorance maketh most Men go into a Party, and Shame keepth them from getting out of it.” George Saville, Marquess of Halifax



“One of the troubles with political commitment is that no political party can tell the whole truth about man’s needs in society. If it could, it wouldn’t be a political party. And yet the honest man who wants to work for the improvement of his country has to belong to a party, which means—somewhat hopelessly---accepting what amounts to a merely partial truth. Only the vicious or the stupid can accord total loyalty to a party.”

Anthony Burgess



“I always voted at my party’s call,

And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.”

Sir W. S. Gilbert

H. M. S. Pinafore

THE "GREEN" PARTY?

The Green Party is a masterpiece of contradictions. It argues that “continuing growth in GLOBAL consumption, population and material inequity must be halted and reversed.”

But nationally it argues for the import of 300,000 of new consumers to Canada annually.

Yet individual members like Ontario Green Party leader Frank De Jong admits that globally the planet can only viably support a billion people and Canada itself is over-populated by anywhere from a factor of four to ten. But he won’t post his position on any public website.

So the Greens are for both sustainability and growth—all things to all people. Sound familiar? Why bother.

LONG-FORGOTTEN POLICIES, A LONG FORGOTTEN VISION

Once-upon-a-time New Democrats knew that there were Limits to Growth. They knew about the Club of Rome, about Silent Spring and about the Population Bomb. They knew that resources were finite and that their unrestricted extraction would cause irreparable damage. They knew that “growth” was the ideology of the cancer cell. Yes, in the 1970’s the environment was very much on the agenda. Party academic and scholar Charles Taylor spoke of “the politics of the steady-state” and John Harney ran his federal leadership campaign on those kinds of issues.

Here’s what the B. C. NDP stated in 1972:

“An NDP government will undertake a study of the effects of continued exponential growth in the Province of B. C.
“Such a study of the exponential growth in B. C. would investigate the possibility of taking all steps deemed necessary to deal adequately with the situation.
“The Environmental Control Committee of the provincial NDP will study the adoption of a steady-state economic policy, the concept of progress and limited growth, and the party’s stand on this matter.”
“It is recommended that a federally-sponsored permanent research group be established to investigate all aspects of growth and to submit recommendations for action. Such a research group would be required to submit reports within two years of its establishment, and at subsequent two year intervals.”
“An NDP government will give top priority to environmental problems with particular emphasis on population control.”
“An NDP government will encourage all means which will bring about voluntary limitation of population.”
“Immediate steps will be taken to educate the public in the urgent necessity of halting population growth.”

(From Policies for People, Policies of the B.C. NDP 1961-78, p.30)

So what happened to all of this? Somehow the NDP lost its vision. Its prescient grasp of the impending ecological crisis slipped away into the hands of those who would have us believe that we can “have our cake and eat it too”. That we can have Economic Growth—“development”—and environmental integrity at the same time. They reconcile these contradictory goals with self-delusional, trendy oxymorons like “sustainable development” and---my personal favourite—“smart growth”. The NDP has become a party not just about dividing up the economic pie more equitably—but about “growing” the pie too. “Raise the economic tide so that all boats, rich and poor, may float.”

In this they are not to be distinguished from any other party. Even the Greens, beneath their rhetoric, are committed to Economic Growth, because their leader Elizabeth May shares Layton, Harper and Dion’s goal of boosting Canada’s population to 40 million via immigration (http://www.greenparty.ca/index.php?module=article&view=85). Immigration accounts for two-thirds of the country’s population growth, and it is that, coupled with per capita consumption rates, which drives economic growth. And economic growth is eclipsing wildlife habitat and spurring greenhouse emissions.

No Jack, it’s not about driving Green cars, or building windmills, or retro-fitting houses. It’s about stabilizing our population level, limiting economic growth, and finally establishing what we talked about 35 years ago—a steady-state economy.

Jack, GET REAL, GET SERIOUS AND STOP BEING SUCH A POLITICIAN. START TELLING THE WHOLE TRUTH. Let’s get back to the future, and pick up where we left off in 1972. Kyoto and Economic Growth don’t mix.

THE REAL "INCONVENIENT TRUTH"

Al Gore makes an impressive, but flawed presentation.

For one thing, he does not make the point that reaching Kyoto targets would be impossible without a reduction in the population. You cannot feed such an unsustainably high population without chemical fertilizers and large-scale energy-hungry agriculture.

Secondly, he completely neglects the fact that in all likelihood peak oil has already occurred globally and natural gas supplies will be exhausted sooner than gasoline becomes practically available. I think he should give more thought to the implications of this on climate change considering what types of energy are most likely to be exploited next (nuclear, burning wood for electricity, corn/sugar cane for ethanol, coal) and what is the capacity of these energies to meet present usage levels. Imagine the deforestation and acid rain caused by using wood and coal for electricity after oil and natural gas are extremely scarce. Or all the nuclear waste from trying to power electric cars. Obviously there are no technological fixes that can allow economic growth to occur much longer. I think Gore needed to make the point that the population is growing faster than conservation technology could ever grow and since all people must consume in order to survive—I haven’t met an economist who would dispute that—no technology will allow for perpetual human population growth on earth.

Thirdly, what about habitat loss? Is climate change all we care about? Most biodiversity is near the equator, not the poles. How many species’ extinctions have so far been due to climate change compared to how many have been due to wild habitat loss caused by the growing human population? Biodiversity performs about 33 trillion dollars in free and vital services to the human race annually, from cleaning our air and water, replenishing our aquifers, creating our topsoil, cycling nutrients, pollinating flora, isolating atmospheric carbon, preventing erosion, and providing genetic diversity. Without these services our “economy” would die. The blatantly evident manifestations of global warming are surely startling, dramatic and frightening, but habitat loss caused by human impact will be, as biologist Neil Dawe of the Qualicum Institute puts it, “the final nail in our coffin.”

Lastly, Gore loses credibility in his contention that we can reduce our impact to zero if we individually opt for greener alternatives. His exact words: “We have the ability to do this. Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, with the electricity we use, the cars we drive. We can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands. We just have to have the determination to make them happen.” This is absurd, since it implies that a human doesn’t need to consume in order to survive. No matter how “green” a human is, he will still convert potable water to waste water, consume biomass (harvest plants and/or animals), produce waste, etc. You can be a vegetarian with “a diet for a small planet” but if you checked out the January 07 issue of National Geographic you would realize that vegetarian consumers are causing vast areas of precious Amazonian rainforests to be mowed down for soybean farming. Enjoy your tofu. Or you can buy into Jack Layton’s plan and drive a “green” car, retro-fit your house, recycle your garbage or erect solar panels(made of plastic) and windmills (lots of material involved there too). But you are still going to be a consumer. And while you are doing your part as a “green” citizen and cutting back your consumption in accord with their prescriptions, Jack and his Green Party rival Elizabeth May want to add 300-400,000 new consumers—immigrants-annually to build up Canada’s population to 40 million. Reduce our ecological footprint as individuals, but increase our numbers so that aggregate consumption remains high. Make sense?

The real “inconvenient truth” is that our religion of Economic Growth, which is predicated on population growth, will negate any efforts to stop climate change or solve any other environmental problem. Economic growth and Kyoto don’t mix. Economic growth and biodiversity don’t mix. And to graft a “Green” agenda onto a political party that is committed to Economic Growth is an exercise in self-delusion, contradiction and futility. Neither Gore, nor Layton, nor May, nor anyone leading any major environmental organization will speak about this truth.

THE ELEVATOR CALLED CANADA

Imagine a tall office building with five elevators, some larger than others. The lobby is jammed with a multitude of people pushing toward the elevators, desperately trying to board them. They all want to get out of the place they’re in and reach a better destination. Who can blame them?

But each elevator has a limited capacity, including the one we’re in. The limit is stated in terms of numbers of people, but to be precise it is the weight of those people that matters. Our elevator—Canada—looks very capacious at first blush but actually it has a carrying capacity of only ten people, according to the panel on the wall. That figure is premised on the assumption that the average passenger has a body weight of 170 lbs.

Presently we already have 12 people on board, but in the face of outside pressure, some occupants wish to admit more people from the lobby. One of us is an economist who simply denies that our elevator has a limited carrying capacity. For him the sky is the limit. Another of us is a politician whowelcomes new entrants as potential supporters. Yet another is a churchman who thinks that because most of the people in the lobby are of the less advantaged or “people of colour”, they should be accepted in seemingly unlimited numbers.

But then there is the trendy “environmentalist” who does in fact acknowledge that our elevator has a limited carrying capacity. So what does he propose? That we close the door and think “safety first”? NO! He tells us—the 12 occupants—to go on a crash diet so we can reduce our weight demands on the cables above, and then continue to admit more people from the lobby.

Now, I could lose some weight, most of us could—I consume more than I need to. But what is the point of the exercise? Less consumption, but more people?

Right now, according to UN estimates, there are anywhere between 15-50 million people “in the lobby”. With rising sea levels that will double, triple or quadruple. And Canada, America, Australia, Argentina and Northern Europe will be, realistically, the only “elevators” available. To accommodate even a fraction of these numbers each one of these “elevators” would strain, the cables would fray and snap and bring down every one in it—both the human occupants and the biodiversity they depend on.

Limits have to be set. We set them every day. They are set by fire marshals, by the WCB, by Transport Canada, by any number of agencies for any number of reasons. They are set on elevators. On the number of people who can sit in restaurants, theatres or ice rinks. Or even on the number of people who can use a given Provincial Park at a given time. Limits are being set by town councils like the one in Qualicum Beach, B. C. or the governing body of Lasqueti Island, B.C. as to what a healthy population level will be for those communities. If economic and population growth limits can be set by local communities, they can be set nationally. All it takes is resolve.

IF WE DON’T SET THOSE LIMITS, NATURE WILL SET THEM FOR US.

REFUGEES VS. IMMIGRANTS

Liberals, leftists, churchmen, "human rights advocates", light Greens ,social ecologists, CBC morons, college teachers and trendies in Canada have always liked to draw to firm artificial line between what they call "immigrants" and "refugees".

After the government has already imposed an environmentally unviable and preposterously high annual immigration level, the bleeding hearts then join in a quick chorus to add "Wait! We have a moral responsibility to accept so many of these refugees and you can't add them to this total because they belong to a separate category."

There are some problems with this attitude. First of all, ecology doesn't care where a person came from or why. Only that he's here and consuming so many gallons of water, burning so much fossil fuel, making the same demands on the environment as everyone else.

A refugee is in fact an immigrant because he is here. He is an extra body. And secondly, the fact that he's here rather than back there is more harmful to the planet.

A Vietnamese refugee imposes a cost on the Global environment fifty times greater by living in the Comox Valley than he would have had he stayed in Vietnam. And why did he come here? To save his life? I doubt it. More than likely it was to escape fair land re-distribution and economic justice. And then there is the question of numbers.

Do trendies think they can make a dent in the refugee problem? There are anywhere between 15 to 50 million refugees out there now, according to various estimates.

Wait until global warming takes hold and we have 300 to 500 million refugees from rising sea levels. Toronto and Vancouver are unlivable now and multiculturalism a failure evident to everyone but the media and those in the anti-racism industry. Canada already exceeds the population level that makes our enviroment sustainable. We have more responsibility to it than to a bottomless pit of third world misery. Misplaced pity will sink our ship.

LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS

It was Charles Dickens I believe who said that without courage all other virtues are in vain. Erudition is wasted on those who don’t have the courage to share uncomfortable facts. Given the climate of the day, it would have been easy for Charles Darwin to sit on his Theory of Natural Selection indefinitely. Thank God he didn’t! (Pun intended).

A leader is someone who has the courage to speak inconvenient truths.
A follower is someone who would compromise or conceal truth to remain popular.

By that criterion, the Canadian environmental movement, consisting of “green” politicians and those who allegedly “lead” “green” organizations, has no leaders.

What it has instead are “followers” who dance around the core problem, the root of our ecological crisis, ECONOMIC GROWTH—driven by human population growth which is largely propelled by immigration. Why? Because it would challenge political correctness and open up taboo subjects.

Instead, they choose “safe” targets, everybody’s whipping boys, to recruit members and fill the coffers of their organizations.

They are GUTLESS WONDERS who stand even more condemned than the captains of industry and the climate-change deniers because they should know better. And because they decoy sincere people toward peripheral issues.

Our Enemies we can deal with. BUT GOD SAVE US FROM OUR “FRIENDS”.

THE SINKING LIFEBOAT

I liken Canada to one of the lifeboats that managed to launch itself from the sinking Titanic. It has a safe carrying-capacity of 30 people but there are in fact 40 on board. Among them are Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, David Suzuki and enumerable so-called “green” do-gooders who bleed for the plight of those floundering in the frigid waters. Jack and Elizabeth want to take on another 8 of these unfortunates immediately because they believe we have a “moral obligation” to do so. Then there is a United Church Minister who wants to rescue every single swimmer in sight. A guy called Steve Harper, sitting up front, is agreeable to Jack and Elizabeth’s plan but not for humanitarian reasons. He just thinks that more passengers make for a more “dynamic” and “vibrant” boat.
All of these fools forget their primary “moral obligation”: not to swamp the friggin’ boat and kill all the passengers. They also forget that the “passengers” in this particular boat—Canada—are not simply the human occupants but the wildlife population, the pristine lakes and streams and forests. They seem to think that this boat is an aircraft carrier and not a lifeboat, with lots of room for lots of people.
We can’t think of ecological impact in conventional terms of people per square mile. To say that Canada is a big country with lots of room for lots of people is as absurd as saying that Antarctica is a big continent with lots of room for lots of people. One need only glance at the vastness of the unlivable Canadian Shield and Arctic Tundra and the marginal portion of arable land available to realize the validity of the Science Council of Canada’s 1975 Report: Canada’s population must not exceed 30 million. And that report dealt only with the economic consequences of excessive population growth in Canada, with the diseconomies of scale that come with higher population levels. It did not in 1975 address or anticipate the environmental impacts, the unmistakable blow that 30 million or more Canadians, whatever their levels of consumption, whatever their “ecological footprint”,deal to biodiversity, to air quality, to farmland preservation and so on.
Above all, the lifeboat must stay afloat. If need be, jettison Mr. Layton, Ms. May, Dr. Suzuki and any United Church Minister you can find.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

North American environmentalists, it seems, are divided into two camps. One, the mainstream, thinks that slowing environmental degradation is exclusively a matter of lowering our level of consumption. The other, however, believes that both per capita consumption rates and the population levels are equally critical variables in calculating environmental impact.

The Green establishment doesn’t want to consider this however. To acknowledge that population growth is a crucial factor in environmental degradation would be to acknowledge that immigration is a crucial factor in environmental degradation—since immigration accounts for 70% of America’s population growth and almost two-thirds of Canada’s.

Mainstream Greens just don’t want to go there. They will readily talk about birth control or abortion—“reproductive choice”—or tax incentives for not bearing children. But the subject of immigration limits is taboo.

Instead, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, while head of the Sierra Club of Canada, condemned Paul Watson’s faction for their “fortress mentality” in trying to return Sierra Club USA to its former long-standing policy of supporting immigration cut-backs to stabilize US population levels. May in fact celebrates the entry of 300,000 or more new consumers into Canada annually while at the same time leading a party that speaks of Canada’s limited carrying capacity!

Mainstream Greens—soft greens—those in the Green Party, the NDP and extra-parliamentary organizations like the Sierra Club and the Suzuki Foundation, when pressed about the absurdity of wanting to cut per capita energy consumption in half but then turning around and supporting the doubling of our population via immigration---Canada’s population will be 70 million by century’s end if immigration levels persist---will invariably fall back on that old Canadian chestnut: “We have a moral responsibility to refugees.”

There you have it. When it comes down to the crunch, if you scratch a Green, you get a humanitarian. Someone more concerned about the secondary issue—man’s relationship to man—than the vital, primary and pressing issue—man’s relationship to nature. Beneath the thin green veneer there is a bleeding heart refugee advocate more concerned about “cultural diversity”—which Elizabeth May calls Canada’s great ongoing multicultural project—than biological diversity, which we are rapidly losing under the pressure of suburban sprawl and resource extraction from population pressures.

I have likened Canada to one of those fortunate lifeboats that managed to strike out from the suction of the sinking Titanic. Our boat is not, as some passengers believe, an aircraft carrier with seemingly limitless room for everyone. In fact, it has a viably safe limited carrying capacity and we have already exceeded it. The pity is that so many in the boat, especially the ones steering it, believe that we can pick up every poor wretch floundering in the frigid waters and that we have a moral responsibility to do so. The moral responsibility we have is NOT TO SWAMP THE DAMN BOAT. For our cargo is not only human, but the biodiversity which underpins our economy and enriches our lives.

Yes, we do not live in isolation from the world. But sinking our boat ---ruining our land from over-population and over-consumption—will help no one. Keeping it afloat, on the other hand, just might set an example for the few who will survive the catastrophes which will afflict us very soon.