The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has launched a huge Suncor-sponsored campaign to reframe climate change as a good thing for Canada’s economy.
In a joint project between the government’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and the (in this case compromised) Royal Canadian Geographic Society, the Conservatives have introduced “Climate Prosperity,” on the face of it, a benign educational program that “lays out the physical effects of climate hange on Canada.”
But (points for transparency), the government also admits the thrust of the campaign on its tar-sands-funded website:
“While the phrase ‘climate change’ is familiar to many — and a scientifically accepted phenomenon — the phrase ‘climate prosperity’ is newer. It is a phrase the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy wants Canadians to embrace.”
Canada, which has been actively blocking international efforts to negotiate an extension or useful replacement for the Kyoto Protocol that would actually begin to deal with the threats of global warming, has a different plan. As NRTEE President and CEO David McLaughlin explains it: “Adapt and prosper will be increasingly central to Canadian governments, communities, and businesses as these effects become more and more evident.”
It is, perhaps, to the Conservatives’ good fortune that they have allies in Canada’s newly remade national newspaper, the Toronto Globe and Mail. For more than a week, the Globe has been rolling out a series of stories celebrating all the great benefits that will accrue to Canada in a climate changing world. On Saturday, Sept. 24, the paper began with a long John Allemang feature on the bright future that awaits Canada in 2050. This past Saturday, Oct. 2, columnist Doug Saunders cheered on the news that the “Inuit of Greenland have weather on their side.” And today, John Ibbitson, who often seems to play the role of Prime Minister Harper’s unofficial press spokestser, cherry-picked his way through the NRTEE report to crow about “The Silver Lining in Climate Changes’s Clouds.” Kudos, then, to the Editorial page staff who, at lest urged, “Don’t Accentuate the Positive.”
It seems to be a message lost on the NRTEE. If you pick your way through its membership, through the collection of politicians and business people, you will, perhaps, not be surprised by the direction of the spin. The Round Table lacks any representation from science and, as environmentalists, must settle with the CEO of a biodeisel company, and the executive director of Environment Probe, “a public interest organization that promotes property rights and market mechanisms to protect the environment,” (appearing like a well-funded, green-cloaked business lobby to fight government regulation).
In defence of some of the actual material, if you look past what spin doctors like Ibbitson promote as the exciting bits - eg., an expansion in the Canadian cruise-ship industry and easier access to northern oil and gas - much of the rest of the material appears to be accurate, scientifically sound - and horrifying.
But let’s not concentrate on the negative, shall we. Let’s turn away from the rest of the disenfranchised world and embrace Climate Prosperity.