“Neanderthal” Canadian Conservatives ridiculed on world stage as Carbon levels exceed 400PPM

Julian Wolfe
May 11th, 2013

Carbon levels exceeded 400PPM recently and no matter how much Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tries to deny climate change, the world is watching and the world is not impressed. Award-winning NASA climatologist James Hansen came under fire by Oliver, being dismissed as an alarmist. Hansen responded, exposing the “Neanderthal” Conservative government that climate scientists have offered to educate. The world responded and the European Union designated the Alberta tar sands as “dirty” and Al Gore started his crusade.

In a desperate bid to sell Alberta oil to a world that is more concerned about green technology and an ailing environment, Oliver has resorted to using the same Bush-style politics to get a point across – deny climate change. There is no denying climate change and its effect on the future of human civilization.

During a visit to Washington DC, Oliver lashed out at world-reknowned and award winning NASA climatologist James Hansen telling an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “He was the one who said four years ago that if we go ahead with development of the oil sands it’s game over for the planet. Well, this is exaggerated rhetoric. It’s frankly nonsense. I don’t know why he said it but he should be ashamed of having said it.”

The attack made international headlines, not to mention the British media’s scathing review of Canadian environmental policy, calling the Conservative offer at the Copenhagen summit in November 2009 “A pathetic 3% cut on their 1990 emissions levels by 2020 – an offer mired in thick black tar.”

Hansen responded, “Well, the current government is a Neanderthal on this issue.”

Hansen said the science of climate change is “crystal clear.”

“But … many of the governments are denying and trying to ignore what’s going to happen a few decades downstream. They’re only worried about the next two or three years.”

Meanwhile, NOAA has revealed daily carbon emissions to have reached 400 parts per meter per day, the highest rate of carbon emissions in the time humans have been on earth. The consequences are telling and already starting to show. Stronger storms, abnormal weather events, abnormal paths of storms. New Yorker’s don’t need to look farther than Hurricane Sandy to know no region is immune to the power of climatic events.

The Keystone XL pipeline has led to controversy and divided both the US and Canada on the issue. In the United States, pressure mounts on President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline after Obama made his priority for this term to clean up the environment. In Canada, the Official Opposition NDP have taken a wide range of stances against the pipeline, first saying it was causing ‘Dutch disease’ which supposedly harms other parts of the economy. They then moved to oppose it on the basis of its environmental impacts and now seem to be more on the same page as the Liberals who say the pipeline, if handled properly, can benefit Canada’s economy.

In terms of the European Union decision to designate Canada’s tar sands as “dirty,” Oliver fought back calling the move discriminatory.

“It’s discriminatory, it’s not based on science and it would potentially hurt Canada’s ability to access markets for its resources,” Oliver said in an interview with CBC’s The House.

“We will act if, as a last resort, there are no changes… we will look at all the alternatives and we may possibly take action before the [World Trade Organization].”

Oliver said the EU motion has loopholes to allow other countries with higher emissions to get a “free pass.”

“Venezuelan heavy crude or oil coming from Russia, Nigeria or Angola has a process where they release gas… into the air or they burn it, and that would bring their numbers up,” he said.

“But under this directive, they’re treated as if they have much lower emissions than Canada.”

EU ambassador to Canada Matthias Brinkmann said Thursday the adopted measures will be “non-discriminatory and science based and will stand the test at the WTO.”

The opposition pits the negative global response on the Conservative approach.

“Ultimately the Keystone pipeline will be good for Canada if it’s handled properly” Liberal Natural Resources critic Marc Garneau said Friday stating a constructive approach would be more productive than the aggressive approach the Conservatives are presently taking.

“The government unfortunately has taken a ‘bull in a china shop’ approach and now they’re getting a lot of backlash, they’re acting as though they don’t understand why.”

NDP Natural Resources critic Peter Julian calls the government’s approach reckless, citing “The Transportation Safety Board tells us since the Conservatives came to power the number of pipeline spills has actually gone up 2½ times. They’ve been incredibly irresponsible,” Julian said on CBC’s Power & Politics.

Environmental Activist Al Gore started his global criticisms of Canada, only to be met by Oliver’s response saying he’s making a “false impression.”

Gore responded, saying, “The sky looks like a vast and limitless resource, but the pictures brought back to us by the astronauts from space confirm what the scientists have long told us — it’s a very thin layer of atmosphere, and we are filling it up as if it’s an open sewer.”

Some of Canada’s climate scientists, along with Hansen, have offered to inform Olivier about the state of the world’s environment.

“I don’t think he fully appreciates what the science behind climate change is saying,” said John Stone, a professor of environmental studies and geography at Carleton University. “We are offering to help better inform a much needed debate on the biggest problem we are facing.”

Canada’s climate scientists have released an open letter dated May 7 and signed by over a dozen scientists across Canada to Oliver, offering to fill him in on the vital details.

“We are at a critical moment,” says the letter. “In the words of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, ‘each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risks.’ The longer we delay the transition to low-carbon economy, the more drastic, disruptive and costly that transition will be.”

The letter also says: “If we truly wish to have a ‘serious debate’ about climate change and energy in this country, as you have rightly called for, we must start by acknowledging that our choices about fossil fuel infrastructure carry significant consequences for today’s and future generations.”

The NDP recently tried to pass a motion in the House of Commons to address climate change, however, while trying to address a serious issue, they decided to use the opportunity to wage a political attack on the third place Liberal party meeting opposition from Green Party leader Elizabeth May. In her address to her party supporters, May said, “This is a transparent attempt to wedge the Liberals on the issue. That’s politics and I guess I should be used to it by now. But when an issue is as important as whether our children have a liveable world, I am sick and tired of this petty garbage. … But predictably and tragically it reveals the real goal of the NDP opposition day motion: to make the Liberals look bad by writing a motion in a way the NDP knew the Liberals would vote against.”

Climate change is a serious issue however it appears Canada has no plan for the short or long term to address it and likely won’t until after the 2015 election. Canada is not an island and is not solely responsible for the emissions in the atmosphere but it is currently and actively blocking all international attempts to address the issue. One can only imagine Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stance on climate change, referring to them in 2008 as “so called greenhouse gases.”

What do you think of the way the Conservatives’ views on climate change have negatively impacted Canada’s reputation on the world stage? Do you believe the Conservatives are taking the right approach with the KeyStone XL pipeline?

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