Perception is reality. Nowhere is this more apparent than the dominant, mainstream discourse regarding environmental reality. As I commented on The Green Majority today, yesterday’s episode of “Power and Politics” on CBC featured a segment regarding the situation that Canadian, western farmers have been unable to get their grains to ports, and therefore to foreign markets.
The air brakes on trains are negatively affected by cold temperature. Due to the extremely cold winter, rail companies have been running shorter trains so as to operate within the reduced safety limits of these brakes. The upshot of reduced rail capacity is that last year’s bumper is being transported too slowly, resulting in a loss to farmers of about five billion dollars.
The three MPs interviewed in this segment (the Green party is seemingly never invited to participate) all agreed this is a crisis. Of course, no one questioned, or even mentioned, our carbon-mad policies that are guaranteeing more and worse such weather events over time. It seems we are going to continue to bail water in a sinking ship without ever addressing the gaping hole in the hull. As I commented on the show, it seems to be always in our short term interests to worsen our long term outcomes.
Ironically, grain transport might also be getting crowded out by increased bitumen transport. Meanwhile, the Pentagon just released their Quadriennial Defense Review (QDR).
“The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities. The QDR will set a long-term course for DOD as it assesses the threats and challenges that the nation faces and re-balances DOD’s strategies, capabilities, and forces to address today’s conflicts and tomorrow’s threats.”
“Climate change poses [a] significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating.”
“The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.”
“These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
The Pentagon has been citing climate change as a strategic threat for several years. In the 2010 QDR, climate change had its own section. Given the range and gravity of the scenarios the Pentagon must contemplate in its analyses, it speaks volumes that climate change figures prominently in the QDR. Moreover, the language of the QDR treats climate change as reality and not a potential, future risk.
The Pentagon sees climate change as a factor impacting global, geo-political stability. “Power and Politics” and sitting Canadian MPs do not see climate change as a factor in an economic crisis impacted by extreme weather. Then again, the Pentagon does not appear to have a plan to reduce its massive carbon footprint. Talk about a negative feedback loop.
Our perceptual prison regarding environmental reality is profound. Today, Daryn interviewed the founder of the Buycott app (http://www.buycott.com/); an app the purpose of which is to help people make informed “consumer” choices. I think this is a great idea. But it is not lost on me that this app runs on “smart” phones: manufactured from conflict minerals by slave labour and destined to become toxic e-waste in the biosphere after poisoning desperate, exploited workers who “recycle” some of their materials.
It is time to demand that our publicly funded, national broadcaster start posing relevant questions to policy-makers. The perceptions of the dominant discourse are creating our environmental reality.
– Kevin Farmer (AKA Dr. Doom)
Green Majority Radio Co-host