Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oct. 23:Disgusting

Today's headline on p. 1 of The Moncton Times and Transcript is a pretty strong example of what our North  American newspapers have fallen to. It is pure propaganda for the shale gas industry. Dr. Lapierre's talk last night was set up for propaganda - and both Lapierre and his Rotarian audience must have known that - as did the Tand T. (well, okay, the Rotarians might not have figured it out.)

Why would Dr. Lapierre be on a speaking tour? Is it to explain his report to the people of New Brunswick? Of course not. To do that he would have had to be looking for large audiences - and large audiences would attract critics. What he wanted was a small audience, and an audience that has no record of ever looking for controversy or criticism. The Rotarians were perfect.

He could spew out his propaganda, assured of a warm reception, and no awkward questions. And that would give the TandT another excuse to  print his very amateurish ideas.

UdeMoncton must be busting its buttons with pride. It now has at leasat two, eminent professors who can be relied on to speak for  the bosses who own this province - though one of the comments in today's paper was poorly timed.

Dr; Lapierre said that fracking does carry risks; but we take risks all the time. For example, we take medicine despite the warning it may have side effects. (The Rotarians probably applauded that witty insight, and all decided to drive home with their headlights off just to show they weren't scared of risks.)What Lapierre apparently didn't know was that a scientific journal (Nature Geoscience) in its current issue carried a study of one of those risks.(Strange he didn't see it. Nature Geoscience is, after all, in a field in which Dr. Lapierre claims expertise. The article was by a scientist at University of Western Ontario.)

The study is of an earthquake in Spain that killed nine, and injured hundreds. Decades of pumping out water from the soil in that area had lowered the water table. The earthquake was a collapse of the earth in that region. Fracking, as the study points out, pumps out very large quantities of water. Yes. There is a risk. But it's not one to be compared with getting a headache from taking a pill.

I've also had time now to examine Dr. Lapierre's report in detail. I'm appalled at the amateurish, even infantile nature of it.The sample of people is so small and random that no professional would ever accept this as a valid report on anything. It's full of conclusions in areas in which he has no competence - and some that make no sense at all.

He is fond of saying things like some people were poorly informed or some people didn't trust the government.  No doubt. And no doubt some people were tall and some people were short. So?

How many were poorly informed? How many were well informed? Exactly what does poorly informed mean? And what would it matter anyway when you have a sample of only 200 for the whole province?
An undergraduate who handed in a report like this would get a failing mark.

The news report does not say whether he even mentioned the report of Dr. Cleary, the chief medical officer. Well, why should he? His job and the job of the TandT is to smother her report.

As for his suggestion of an independent committee of academics to supervise shale gas development, no thanks. I could live without a committee of ten Dr. Lapierres.

I hope UdeMoncton will be getting a large, philanthropic and tax deductible contribution for all this.

There is a big story that never made the TandT. It comes from a British paper, the Daily Mail, just yesterday.
A Pakistan court is hearing to demand for the extradition of a former bureau chief of the CIA, and of the top lawyer for the CIA on charges of murder. (The US will, of course, refuse to recognize the request - despite its frequent demands that other countries honour all such requests coming from it.)

The story is about the use of drones which have killed something between 3500 and 6500 Pakistanis. Of those, some 42 were Taliban leaders. At least hundreds were women and children who had no Taliban connection - as well as uncounted numbers of police, medical workers - and anybody else in the area.

Incidentally, those attacks are not just murder, they are also illegal under the US constitution. A president cannot go to war without the consent of Congress. But Obama has been using drones in  Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia for years with no such consent.

There is nothing in NewsToday.

The editorial is puerile. It's all about the importance of the retail trade and the importance of small business. I suppose the editor wrote it to cover up yesterday's story which did NOT appear in the TandT. A national report says that New Brunswick has the worst business climate in all of Canada for small business.

Advice to small enterpreneurs - don't get taken in by pretences that you are treated in the same category as big business. In reality, you're one of us. And they won't treat you any better than they treat us.


There are superb columns by Alec Bruce and David Suzuki. And we are in very serious trouble under both topics they discuss.  You really must read these.

Suzuki, incidentally, has some disturbing figures on exactly how much fresh water is left in this world. Couple that with another story the TandT didn't publish. Harper's omnibus bill on the budget proposes to destroy the limited water protection we have. (Well, it makes sense. All this nonsense about protecting water is just in the way of the development of important schemes like oilsands - and fracking.)

Harper is right, too. After all, we take risks all the time when we take pills. Anyway, by then we'll have a replacement for water.

So there you have it. Take a pill or take Dr. Lapierre. They're pretty much the same.
Oh, I have written to the Ministry of the Environment, under the  terms of  the access to information act, for information about Highfield Square. Receipt of it was acknowledged this morning.
The spread of rot under the influence of big business is strong everywhere. But New Brunswick seems a special case. As a retired prof, I particularly alarmed to see it so strong in the universities. I am worse than disappointed that such a shallow and unprofessional piece of work as Dr. Lapierre's should appear in public. I hope that at least some professors at UdeMoncton are squirming.

1 comment:

  1. " I hope that at least some professors at UdeMoncton are squirming."

    I *think* you would be hard pressed to find any intelligent enough to be shamed, never mind "squirm".