Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 2 oilpipelines are perfectly safe...

So don't you even bother looking up the recent one in Alberta which broke, spilling a half million liters into a nearby river.  But it was a human error. So it doesn't count. Anyway, the owner of the pipeline got a heavy fine. Oilmen also say the follow "the highest standards in the world". So everything is okay.

That's the problem, though, with those who discount the hazards of oil (and shale gas). They point to two or three articles they've read, and call themselves experts. They quote some oil executive who says, "We have the highest safety standards in the world."  And, anyway, climate change isn't happening.

Gee. Obama says it's happening. And he's taking that seriously enough to embark on some pretty expensive initiatives to slow it down. (Note - to slow it down, not to stop it. He can't stop it. It's gone too far to be stopped.)

Then the nay-sayers tell us it's still a long way off. The long way off, however, which usually means about 2100, means the time by which the full blow comes down. That doesn't mean we can wait until then to start changes. Even with changes now, we can only slow it, not stop it.

In fact, it is quite possible, even likely, that we are seeing those changes across California and Texas, where drought conditions are appalling. That means a disastrous harvest season - and that means higher food prices - and it also means serious food shortages.

Some forecasters suggest Canadian farming will benefit from the change. Maybe so, but....

Picture a situation in which Canadian agriculture is doing great, but the US farmland is running short; and the US cannot feed itself. What would happen?

Think War of 1812 that we celebrated just over a year ago - because farmland is much of what it was about. (Of course, Harper would defend us. Good luck on that one.)

Yesterday, the Irving press reported on a speech by Archbishop Tutu in which he referred to the Alberta oil sands as filth, and warned of spills from pipelines. Oil executives responded with the usual citing of "toughest regulations in the world" (But we dealt with that at the start of this column.)

Some newspapers attacked the archbishop as someone who knows little about the technical aspects of oil and shale gas drilling. Very true. He's a theologian. That means he does know something about morality. Oil executives, like executives of most sorts, don't.  In fact, the fundamental beliefs of modern capitalism denies any moral code whatever.

All that counts is profit.

That's why people of the Congo have been murdered and abused in the their millions for over a century. That's why millions were killed in Vietnam, Guatemala, and Iraq. That's why Obama provoked a civil war in Syria. That's why Africa is crawling with American and French troops, operating to destabilize countries for yet more killing. The same thing, minus the French, is happening all over South America. (Funny how the Irving press never reports some things.)

Forget the debate over climate change. It's over. Climate change is happening. Anyway, the debate from the start was fueled largely by the amoral propagandists of the oil and shale gas business. It's over. Obama says the change is happening, and Obama, despite absurd stories I have heard is no socialist. In fact, he has remarkable similarities to the George Bushes.He also has access to the opinions of the best scientists in the world.

More important, Obama absolutely depends on the financial support of big business. When a man in that position decides that climate change is a serious threat, when a man of archbishop Tutu's background   says that further development is immoral, that it will do immense damage to he planet and all those who live on it, this has to be taken seriously.

In New Brunswick, incidentally, our provincial government seems to lack any concept of moral behaviour. Instead, it operates on the most vicious principals of business management. Nor have the churches in the province taken up the slack.

As to world news, what can I say about a paper that has only 2 1/2 pages of it?

Harper is going to a summit meeting to give tough speeches about Putin. That should do a lot to ease tensions. He set the stage before leaving with a speech that compared Putin to communism. (Hint, Steve baby), Putin isn't a communist. In fact, he's just like you. He runs a government dominated by multibillionaires
of no moral principles whatever. Anyway, we know these speeches are the get the Ukrainian vote in the next election.

I wonder whether he'll say a few words of criticism of the most aggressive nation on earth - the US. And perhaps he might say a few words about Obama's recent statement of belief in 'American exceptionalism'. That means that the US is the only country in the world to have the right to ignore international law, and to 'police' the whole world.  It's the only country allowed to murder on a scale of millions, to torture, to spy on the whole world, and to decide who's allowed to pretend to be the ruler of each country.

Great. So why do we need a UN?

NB announces it has a (vague) climate change plan.  Shale gas and deforestation will be kept as things that are good for us.
Alec Bruce has an excellent column on the need for early childhood education. The second to last paragraph is a gem.
".....Canada...chooses to spend the money it hasn't promised to return to taxpayers on prisons, military aircraft that don't fly and staged commemorations of wars it may or may not have won two centuries ago."

On op ed, Alan Cochrane has a pretty meager list of MHS traditions that should live on in the new school. Alan, schools are not good preservers of traditions. Not their fault. They just aren't. I went to a school where I sat in the very same room as Christopher Plummer had in his school days. Down the hall, was the former classroom of Oscar Peterson.

It certainly had no effect on my life - or on anybody else's that I ever heard of.

Then there's "Why universities shouldn't function like the private sector" - by Geoff Martin who teaches politics, international relations and Canadian Studies at Mount Allison U. Everyone in this province should read this one. And someone should explain it to our government and business leaders.

Capitalism - or whatever this system we live under is called - is not a religion. It is not ordained by God. It does not bring universal benefits. And, except for making money out of them, it doesn't give a damn for people.

A university is largely about people - about human behaviour, about stimulating independent thought and understanding. It's an entirely different game.

There was a time when university administrators recognized and encouraged that. But it has changed. Businessmen on university boards have inserted business methods into institutions that are not businesses. So, where once we had educators, we now have have administrations (especially at the top) packed with careerists and opportunists.

That's why we have university presidents who jump up like trained poodles when Mr. Irving 'invites' them to serve on one of his conferences on how the province should be run.

Some years ago, I was offered the job of university president. The previous president had been fired. He had been fired because he was the sort of careerist so interested in his own welfare that he really didn't give much of a damn for the university. He had been the first of our super-paid presidents. (We'd had some excellent ones before we switched to the corporation model of highly paid incompetents.)

In the course of discussions, I did not meet with faculty at all. The interviewing was done entirely by businessmen from the board and by lawyers. Nobody asked me a single question about education.

The terms were stunning - not only very high pay, but lavish benefits for the rest of my life.

I refused it. It was obvious that the real bosses would be the wealthier members of the board. It was equally obvious they were not interested in the only aspect of the job that interested me - the improvement of our education methods.

Big business is destroying our universities. In the case of presidents, you get careerists largely ignorant of anything to do with education, but are willing to be lap dogs for big business if the price is right. Meanwhile, the quality of university teaching, never up to kindergarten teacher standards (which are, in truth, quite high), deteriorates.

The interference of big business in education at any level, in hospitals, in social services does not work. These are not businesses. Not only are they quite different from business, they are also - as business is not - dedicated to the service of people - and service to the people requires a morality. Business doesn't have that.

This is an excellent column, the sort of column we should see on on op ed page.


  1. if u think college teachers are bad, you should see the training we get in the oil sands!

  2. There was an in-passing reference in an article to a projected sea level rise of 1 meter by 2100, which is about half what we are seeing from current projections. The minimization of this impact of global warming is no doubt an accident.