Why The Right is Against Environmentalism
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Why The Right is Against Environmentalism
Let me set the stage and then read further down comments by award winning journalist Naomi Klein.
It is crystal clear that we are experiencing climate change. The whole world is being affected by negligent business practices. Research, documentaries, photos, and first hand experience is now the proof in the pudding. Humans are tracking dwindling fresh water sources. We can see deforestation leading to loss of habitat that is affecting broad species extinction. We know the poisonous consequences of fracking for natural gas which is affecting rivers and aquifers. We have witnessed another major oil spill fouling the Gulf of Mexico, inland waterways and coastlines – the effects on the eco-systems will take 20 years to fully understand!
Tarsands Toxic Giant Ponds in Canada are Extremely toxic.
Most of the tar sands are deep within the earth and must be steamed or melted out of the ground. An immense amount of freshwater is required for this process; it kills millions of trees and exacerbates the loss of species including caribou, fish, bears and moose and many others critters.
Alberta’s tar sands are the second largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world; only Saudi Arabia has more. In order to extract oil from the tar sands a forest about the area of New York State will be irreparably destroyed.
Most of the contaminated wastewaters or tailings are stored in toxic ponds along the Athabasca River. These ponds are so large that they are visible from space; astronauts have confused them with lakes.
Each pond is about 240 feet deep and contains toxic sludge filled with phenols, benzene, cyanide, arsenic and dozens of other known cancer-causing agents including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Experts have estimated that the tailing ponds contain 7 billion cubic yards of sludge, of which one billion cubic yards are fine deadly tailings. Many of these ponds are located on the banks of the Athabasca River, and should an accident occur like the Hungarian alumina fiasco of October 2010 the Arctic Ocean would become toxic.
One of NASA’s top scientists has told a panel reviewing a proposed oil sands mine in northern Alberta that the resource should simply be left in the ground.
James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies says allowing new developments such as Total E&P Canada’s $9-billion plan to build the Joslyn North mine would make it too hard to manage the impact of climate change.
“The simple message is the oil sands may appear to be gold. We do need energy and there’s a lot of potential energy in the oil sands,” Mr. Hansen said Tuesday during a break from public hearings in Sherwood Park, Alta.
“But it is fool’s gold because it’s going to be clear and understood within a reasonably brief period of time that we cannot exploit unconventional fossil fuels like tar sands and tar shale. If we do, we’re going to have to suck the CO2 back out of the atmosphere and the estimated cost of doing that is $200 to $500 a tonne of carbon.”
Consider these comments by award winning journalist, Naomi Klein:
Some people believe in climate change, but the main thing is they don’t believe that humans have anything to do with climate change. And it isn’t about the science, because when you delve deeper into it and ask why people don’t believe in it, they say that it’s because they think it’s a socialist plot to redistribute wealth. And a lot of—it’s easy to make fun of, you know, and there’s all this language, like “watermelons,” that they say, you know, the green groups are watermelons: they’re green on the outside, but they’re red on the inside. Or George Will once said it’s a green tree with red roots. And the idea is that it’s some sort of a communist plot. And this is, as I was saying earlier, actually not at all true. And in fact, most of the big green groups are loath to talk about economics and often don’t want to see themselves as being part of a left at all, see climate change as an issue that transcends politics entirely.
But something very different is going on on the right, and I think we need to understand what that is. Why is climate change seen as such a threat? I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable fear. I think it is—it’s unreasonable to believe that scientists are making up the science. They’re not. It’s not a hoax. But actually, climate change really is a profound threat to a great many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. So, in fact, if you really wrestle with the implications of the science and what real climate action would mean, here’s just a few examples what it would mean.
Well, it would mean upending the whole free trade agenda, because it would mean that we would have to localize our economies, because we have the most energy-inefficient trade system that you could imagine. And this is the legacy of the free trade era. So, this has been a signature policy of the right, pushing globalization and free trade. That would have to be reversed.
You would have to deal with inequality. You would have to redistribute wealth, because this is a crisis that was created in the North, and the effects are being felt in the South. So, on the most basic, basic, “you broke it, you bought it,” polluter pays, you would have to redistribute wealth, which is also against their ideology.
You would have to regulate corporations. You simply would have to. I mean, any serious climate action has to intervene in the economy. You would have to subsidize renewable energy, which also breaks their worldview.
You would have to have a really strong United Nations, because individual countries can’t do this alone. You absolutely have to have a strong international architecture.
So when you go through this, you see, it challenges everything that they believe in. So they’re choosing to disbelieve it, because it’s easier to deny the science than to say, “OK, I accept that my whole worldview is going to fall apart,” that we have to have massive investments in public infrastructure, that we have to reverse free trade deals, that we have to have huge transfers of wealth from the North to the South. Imagine actually contending with that. It’s a lot easier to deny it.
But what I see is that the green groups, a lot of the big green groups, are also in a kind of denial, because they want to pretend that this isn’t about politics and economics, and say, “Well, you can just change your light bulb. And no, it won’t really disrupt. You can have green capitalism.” And they’re not really wrestling with the fact that this is about economic growth. This is about an economic model that needs constant and infinite growth on a finite planet. So we really are talking about some deep transformations of our economy if we’re going to deal with climate change. And we need to talk about it.
AMY GOODMAN: And the reason that we have to go through those deep transformations? What is the threat of climate change? What is happening today?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, it’s—we’re already seeing it on so many levels. I was just at the World Social Forum in Dakar.
AMY GOODMAN: In Senegal.
NAOMI KLEIN: In Senegal. And it’s—you know, climate change is still spoken of here as something, you know, that if you care about your grandchildren, you care about climate change. That is not the way climate change is being spoken of in Africa. This is a now issue. This is the desertification—rivers are drying up—water shortages, food shortages.
And then, layered on top of that is the fact that many of the “solutions” to climate change—and I put “solutions” in quote—that have been championed by an agenda that accepts the premise that we can’t really ask North Americans, Europeans, to really sacrifice, really change their way of life, our way of life. We can’t be talking about really drastically cutting our emissions here and now. So we have to play shell games, right? We have to have carbon offsets there. We have to—we can keep polluting, but we’ll plant—you know, we’ll protect a forest in the Congo, or we will have huge agrifuel crops in Africa. And so, all of these solutions are actually deepening the climate crisis in Africa, because people are being displaced from their land, not just because of climate, but because of the solutions to climate change, because they’re losing access to forests, which are used for subsistence agriculture, they’re losing access to land that had been farmed for food and is now being farmed for fuel. And so, the theme of—the sort of unofficial theme of the World Social Forum, it came up in many of the seminars—
AMY GOODMAN: And this is a gathering of thousands of people—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, 40,000 people.