Tuesday, August 7, 2012

He Blinded Me With...Science?

Source: CBC News: Harper Defends Independence of Pipeline Approval Process

Well, this certainly wasn't a headline I was expecting to find this afternoon. It's pure fantasy, of course, but it does make a good soundbyte for the Prime Minister and something he can point to when Cabinet ultimately approves the pipeline anyways.

Effectively, after announcing that parents who take time off work to care for sick children can apply for EI benefits (we'll talk about that in a moment), Harper was asked questions about the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Harper was a snappy when asked directly about his conversations with BC Premier Christy Clark (who may or may not remain as Premier come the next BC Election in 2013), but otherwise was surprising when he announced that 'science' will be the guiding decision maker in the pipeline argument, not 'politics'.

As much as we'd like to believe you, Mr. Prime Minister, you past performance in the face of scientific inquiry casts a large shadow of doubt on that statement. After all, this is a government who sticks their fingers in their ears and starts whistling Dixie whenever someone mentions climate change and global warming. This is a government who slashed federal funding to programs such as the PEARL research facility in Nunavut, and has generally cancelled any program that promotes hard science. This is a government who scrapped the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, with some caucus members barely hiding the fact that the decision came due to the Round Table often coming up with ideas and 'science' that the government had rejected. (Carbon tax, etc.)

The list goes on and on...I mean, we can point to way back when, in I believe 2007 or 2008, when the government put up a list of ponds across Canada that were now going to be used as waste dumps for mining operations, despite environmental concerns. And then we can point to the limited understand of science that our Cabinet seems to have, especially when you have people like Joe Oliver saying water from Tar Sand tailing ponds will be clean enough to drink in the future...

I think that brings us to a fundamental problem with right-wing politics, and it's something I've discussed on this blog before. Right wingers only live in the NOW; they are only concerned with what is happening in the present and don't care about what is coming down the line. Freud would say that they are people who are primarily controlled by the Id portion of their psyche.

The only time they look to the future is when they need to come up with actual targets or objectives. Look at a right-wing response to an issue like climate change; targets are always placed 10 or more years ahead in the future. Whereas left-leaning politicians seem to set deadlines under 10 years in order to spur on rapid change, and counter effects that can be brought on by putting it off.

Furthermore, they only look to the future for solutions. There is an idea, rather a sort of hubris, that is inherent in right wing decision making. Humanity is advancing, there is no doubt about that, but it seems that right wingers shrug off today's responsibilities and assume that future generations will have the answers to the problems that they create today.

We don't need to worry about climate change; some egghead in 2021 will figure that out! We don't need to worry about rising sea levels and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere; some egghead in 2035 will figure that out!

The problem with this, is that it is always shifting responsibility to the next generation. And eventually, there is going to be a generation so overwhelmed with the problems created by the previous ones, that it will determine whether or not humanity has a future on this planet. We're building towards a point of no return, and it's something that we could avoid if we actually claimed some responsibility for the things that we are doing today.

So, when a Prime Minister, who up until now has shrugged off and basically declared war on the nation's scientists,  steps forward and announces that a decision will be made based on science...You can't help but think he's blowing smoke.

After all, we all know that the Conservative Party seems to be in favour of this pipeline. Even with Enbridge's spotty record on controlling leaks from pipelines, cleaning leaks, and eventually stopping leaks; this is a government who is gung-ho to get it built and start milking money from the oil cash cow. And again, this stems purely from their need to live in the now.

Sure, we may get some nice royalty money and a bit of a economic boon for pumping our oil out for the highest bidder; but if we don't do it properly, there will be an internal cost and we will be stuck to deal with it ourselves.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to sell the resources that we have, we just have to do it in a smart way. And that often means taking TIME to explore the concept and our partners to ensure that we're doing it in the best way possible. If we rush, simply at the promise of more money in less time, we will suffer in the long the run.

While Harper might say that this will be a scientific decision; past history and the current mood in the Conservative caucus, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will instead be a cold, hard political decision. And that, Mr. Prime Minister, is scientific fact.


Stig said...

As with most verbiage spewing out of Harper's face hole, it is caked with the obfuscating gibberish of spinning double-talk and deceit. When he says science, what he really means is the "abysmal science" of economics, and being that he fancies himself an economist and therefore ahem, a scientist, then you can bet that, in his money mad mind, the final decision, his decision, will be scientific.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Harper was referring to 'creation science'....

Stig said...

Perhaps both and the same. After all there's little which separates the unreality of the "miracle of the loaves", and the wealth of perpetual economic growth.

leftdog said...

"So, when a Prime Minister, who up until now has shrugged off and basically declared war on the nation's scientists, steps forward and announces that a decision will be made based on science...You can't help but think he's blowing smoke."

BINGO! Well said Scott! Hear hear!