On Fort Mac and Dr. No

A short post related to my last one on Neil Young, Fort Mac, and Integrity.

For people who like to read long-format journalism as opposed to Maclean’s style photo-caption writing on the latest “hot trend story”, Canada has the Walrus. It is usually interesting, often brilliant, always worth reading. The NWimby household has been a subscriber since the first edition.

I raise it now because an article about Fort McMurray in the November edition should be read by everyone in Canada. The author clearly brings his anti-tar sand biases into the discussion, but the best parts of the article are not his writing, but the quotes of the Mayor of Fort Mac, Melissa Blake.

It all starts out friendly enough, the Mayor tries to dispel some negative impressions about the City and its livability, and talks about the big plans to build an integrated, sustainable, and full-service community. It only gets weird when the author questions the Mayor about the potential disconnect between building a low-carbon sustainable City fueled completely by the carbon-intensive and unsustainable extraction of oil from bitumen.

“Blake doesn’t miss a beat. ‘I’m a big believer that, yes, the climate is changing. If the climate goes up by two, three, four degrees in the future, we’re lucky to be here in Fort McMurray. We’re lucky not to be in California or BC. They’re going to fall in the ocean. In a place like this, we’re going to survive a lot better.’

You mean digging up bitumen is a good thing, because it will make Fort McMurray’s winters milder?

With a nervous laugh, she assents: ‘And that means my real estate becomes a very important asset in the future, so I’m not selling my house anytime soon.’ “

OK, let’s get something straight. This young person with a young family clearly believes in anthropogenic climate change, and she is talking liltingly about a time in the near future when California and Vancouver will “fall in the ocean”. That is no doubt a bit of fanciful hyperbole, but it has to be put into perspective. With no check on our greenhouse gas emissions, we could see, in her lifetime, global sea levels rise enough to displace hundreds of millions of people from low-lying cities like Miami and Shanghai, Osaka and New Orleans, Bangkok and Mumbai. California and Vancouver don’t need to “fall”, the ocean is coming up to meet them. Climate disruption at this scale will also cause widespread crop failures, mass migrations, unprecedented famines and unimaginable human suffering.

It takes a certain kind of sociopathy to think about the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of humans and say “Wow, that’s going to be good for my real estate value”, nervous laughter notwithstanding, if you are not the one causing these events to take place.

However, when you say that with a giggle at the same time as you are leading a community of people hell-bent on accelerating the very activity that will cause all of those bad things to happen for a little short-term profit?

That is a level of truly evil sociopathy usually reserved for Bond Villains.

One comment on “On Fort Mac and Dr. No

  1. Notwithstanding the apparent intensity of Blake’s sociopathy, your column makes me suspect that there are many Canadians (and hopefully not an election winning plurality) who not only believe in anthropogenic climate change but secretly believe that increasing temperatures will overall benefit cold Canada.

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