Ignoring the Warnings, Part 2

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Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant virus known as B,1.1.529 has arrived just as predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO). Another clear case of politicians and populations ignoring the warnings of science.

On November 26, 2021 as reported in Al Jazerra English, Oksana Pyzik, a teaching fellow at University College London’s School of Pharmacy, said the new variant “shouldn’t come as a surprise” amid warnings from the WHO that global vaccine inequity could lead to the emergence of new strains of the virus.

 “The World Health Organization has been warning us repeatedly … since the beginning of the pandemic that if vaccine inequity continue[s] … that inevitably will lead towards a more fit virus, a potentially vaccine-resistant virus,” Pyzik told Al Jazeera from Geneva.

“So, if we look across the entire African continent, there’s less than 3.5 percent uptake of vaccines at the moment and that has been due to a supply issue,” she added.

And that is due to the wealthiest countries in the world failing to deliver the goods. From Canada’s COVAX hold-back to Israel’s rush to give third booster shots to their entire population (except for Palestinians) vaccine inequity remains one of the biggest problems in getting this global pandemic under control. Politics and science.

Normally the new variant would have been given the next letter in the Greek alphabet as the Xi variant. Political correctness intervened since Xi JInping is the President of China and it is not a good idea to irritate a country that operates with absolute power, hostage diplomacy, and such little regard for human rights. So the WHO picked Omicron.

Omicron, unfortunately, also happens to be the name of a Canadian development, design, and construction company in British Colombia. That could make it the first casualty in Canada of the new variant. The two Michaels, Spavor and Kovrig, know just how you feel.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

Ignoring the Warning Signs

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The iceberg is melting….

A wife tells her husband to watch his diet, his drinking, his fitness, his stress levels. He puts it down to nagging, A year later, he has a heart attack. The stray dog your child finds in the park has her ears laid back, neck hairs bristling, lips curled up in a snarl, low growl rumbling in her throat. The child reaches out to pat her and the child gets bitten.

The local politician who is supported by powerful developers shows a pattern of missing any votes in Council critical of those developers’ plans. Later on the same politician sabotages the community by reducing their ability to defend against aggressive development bids on their greenspaces by neighbouring cities.

The World Meteorological Organization releases a statement in 1988 that warns: ““Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences could be second only to global nuclear war.” In 1993, only five years later, 1670 scientists belonging to  the Union of Concerned Scientists publish their “Warning to Humanity” where they propose five areas of immediate need to be addressed “if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.” 

We ignored the warnings. Individual and corporate greed, complicit politicians, and an apathetic consumer society ensured that we would. One would think that with warnings like that we could avoid the heart attack, the dog bite, the slimy politician, the climate catastrophe.  One would hope that the history of Easter Island and the demise of their civilization would resonate with 21st century humanity. Or will we discover too late that Earth, our home planet, is humanity’s Easter Island?

Yes, the iceberg is melting. We ignore these warnings at our peril, the way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

Prolonging the Pandemic

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We are nearing the end of the second year of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by this coronavirus. First identified in December of 2019, it has swept around the globe, leaving death and disruption in its wake.

In order to protect our communities from overwhelming COVID-19 infections we initiated protocols for individual isolation and quarantine; we asked our populations to wear masks, stay 2m apart, and wash up with hand sanitizer before and after we went out for groceries;  as communities we had slowdowns, partial shut-downs and total lockdowns. We waited for the CDC and Health Canada to issue emergency approval for newly developed vaccines.

Our national and local Medical Officers of Health, and politicians, kept us apprised of the necessary health measures and coronavirus case counts. The choice was simple: follow the guidelines and get the pandemic under control, or don’t and suffer the consequences. Politicians played Russian roulette with our public schools as stressed parents coped with online learning at home. Businesses began to shut down and frustrated owners and staff put pressure on their local elected officials to get things re-opened. So we rushed into “shopping mall therapy” as soon as infections hit a low point.

Every time we get a drop in infections we “open up the economy” again. In Doug Ford’s Ontario that means strip clubs, bars, restaurants, and packed sports stadiums. We do it “for the people” and inevitably see a spike in infections shortly thereafter. We call them “waves” but they are really just indicators of our collective consumptive stupidity.

Medical science told us that if we stayed masked, distanced, hand-washed and fully vaccinated that we would have a chance to hold this pandemic at bay. But we just couldn’t wait to get “back to normal” and now there is no normal. Once again we re-opened and our case count is rising. Thanks to the number of people now vaccinated this bump is not as severe as April of this year when we peaked at 4500 cases.

The rise to 711 cases on Thursday, November 18, 2021 pushed Ontario’s seven day average to 600 cases and talk of modifying the re-opening guidelines bubbled up from the Science Advisory Table cauldron once again. Dear Doug and friends, please try to get it right for once. 10,000 Ontarians have already died from this coronavirus, including 4,000 from Long Term Care facilities. You are acting like immediate gratification “one marshmallow” children. In 1972, Stanford University psychology professor Walter Mischel conducted a study on delayed gratification. In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward (either a marshmallow or a pretzel stick), or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned.

Some of the children had immediately gone for the one small reward, but a smaller group had waited to double their pleasure. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes in everything from educational attainment to healthy body mass index. Our politicians and their advisers are playing to the immediate gratification crew.  I would prefer to wait until we have this pandemic under control before asking for my second small reward. I suspect most Ontarians who prefer a healthy life over death from COVID-19 would want the same.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

UPDATE Friday, November 19,2021 – Ontario’s COVID-19 case count 793 : “Today’s case count comes after officials logged 711 new cases on Thursday, 512 new cases on Wednesday and 481 new cases on Tuesday. Ontario’s rolling seven-day average now stands at 625, up from 537 at this point last week.”  You do the graph.

Reported by Abby Neufeld, multi platform writer for CTV News Toronto



Going for the Green … Licence Plate

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I beheld it reverently, almost with the awe of an innocent child on a mythical Christmas morning. Yes, Virginia, there is a green licence plate in Ontario. And it was attached, front and rear bumpers, to our new “zero emissions” Plug-in Hybrid vehicle. It was just in time to help Canada honour its lofty promises made at the recent COP26 Environment Conference.

Not only does the green Ontario licence plate indicate that your vehicle is clean and quiet, it also entitles you to drive solo in the designated HOV lanes. It also allows you to take advantage of the many green designated parking spaces and charging stations installed and expanding around Ontario. In my community, Katelyn Tozer with the Town of Caledon has been working on creating the infrastructure and resources needed to encourage and expand the use of electric and electric-hybrid vehicles. The planet loves a family with low emissions!

Canada’s lofty goals aside, it was really my neighbours who inspired me to get a “zero emissions” vehicle, Imagine in your neighbourhood, just upwind, is a family of four with six vehicles – four individual use cars and extra “pet” sports cars. One of the sports cars might be a work in progress, kept in their attached garage/mechanics shop where it would be frequently tuned, loudly belching clouds of petrochemical effluent into our  collective airspace.

Even more inspiring would be their habit of clearing their four cars of frost, ice and snow in the winter by leaving them idling for 20 minutes or so until everything melted off. Of course in the summer, the idling would be used to run the air conditioner to cool the cars down, You would try to set a good example by using a new emissions free invention called the combo snow brush and ice scraper on your family’s one vehicle. Or you would demonstrate the benefits of parking in the shade and leaving the windows open a crack in the summer, You would even put up a sign saying “No Idling Zone” to remind them of Caledon’s two minute limit on idling, but it would all be to no avail.

I slowly came to the realization that Canada could never meet our targets with that level of pollution right next door, so my family decided that the only thing we could do to compensate was to reduce our emissions to zero. Thus our decision to purchase the new Plug-in Hybrid vehicle. We had already signed up with Bullfrog Power when we first bought our home, so we knew we had green electricity going into the grid for every kilowatt hour of juice we used when we “filled the tank” so to speak.

We also considered, with gratitude, the roll of the dice that had placed us in a country with the resources and personal circumstances that allow us to make such a choice. Even in Canada, a majority of our population trying to survive under pandemic pressures have to meet other basic needs first before considering the luxury of a green vehicle choice. Perhaps our politicians should make it a priority to create a clean, green public transportation network to benefit all Canadians. How shortsighted it was for the Ontario government and Metrolinx to cancel the planned GO system expansion to Bolton, let alone all of the green programs and vehicle rebates. Bad Dougie!

Here is the challenge for Canada, for the globe. We tend to blame the large corporate fossil fuel industry for our accelerating climate change woes. We also need to address individual citizens and politicians who continue to engage in fossil fool behaviour. Idling your car for twenty minutes to melt off the snow is like a person infected with the coronavirus walking maskless  through a crowded supermarket screaming “FREEDOM” with spittle filled passion. William Wallace would not be impressed.

Educating the corporation, the politician and the individual as to the seriousness of the accelerating climate change emergency is a survival curriculum for the twenty-first century and beyond. Moving through awareness and knowledge to action is the challenge. In order to get people to change their behaviours, my mom used to advise me, “Sometimes you get more with the honey dipper than the fly swatter.”

More recently one of my mentors, Dr. William Fyfe, bemoaning the lack of progress on dealing with the planet’s most serious environmental issues, passionately told me: “Skid, it’s time to stop being polite to stupid people.” Yes indeed, it’s time for both the honey dipper and a really big fly swatter.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon





The Last Great Hope … or Hoax?

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COP 26 is wrapping up this weekend, billed at the outset as “the last great hope” to save humans from the devastating effects of accelerating climate change. When asked to summarize the rhetoric and significance of emissions reduction promises made by global political leaders at COP26 international environmental spokesperson Greta Thunberg summed it up in three words:

Blah, blah, blah.”

On November 12 officials released the draft agreement revealing that signatories to the final document have agreed to meeting tougher emissions pledges and carbon cutting targets by the end of 2022. That prompted a “we’ll wait and see” response from environmental delegates. They observed that only two countries out of over two hundred who signed the Paris Agreement managed to meet their emissions reduction goals.

That 1% success rate is not encouraging given that another 1% – actually the 0.1% of the super rich* whose fossil fuel corporate lobbyists outnumbered the environmental delegates at COP26 – control the economic agenda. When 99% of the signatories to an agreement fail to meet their obligations, it clearly reveals that the Paris Climate Accords were an abject failure.

Indeed, by Saturday, November 13 as the wording for the final COP26 agreement was being negotiated between the 197 countries in attendance, organizers feared that their first lofty goals had been watered down.  In the latest draft appear “weasel words” that give “wiggle room” to fossil fuel producers and the wealthiest countries. The phasing out of coal is now accompanied by the phasing out of the “unabated” use of coal, and the removal of subsidies for the oil and gas industry is now for “inefficient” subsidies … whatever that means.

Saudi Arabia, the nation that brought us the horrifying state sanctioned murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the majority of the 911 terrorists, is once again holding the world hostage. One has to ask, “What on Earth does Saudi Arabia have over the other countries of the world that allows it to wield such power?” Violations of human rights, getting away with murder, and pushing our home planet towards a climate catastrophe seems a lot like an abusive relationship deserving of an Extreme Risk Protection Order at the least.

China with its hostage justice and human rights abuses is perhaps guiltier given its population and politics. It was touted as good news that the world’s two largest economies, the USA and China were cooperating at COP26. Yes, they were cooperating to ensure that the final agreement did not negatively impact their economic growth agendas. The reality is that once again the economy of the wealthiest humans trumps the ecology of the planet. Perhaps the feelings of the environmentally literate were summed up best by David Suzuki  in a passionate interview with Piya Chattopadhyay on CBC’s The Sunday Magazine last week.

Suzuki drew several analogies that exposed the hypocrisy of government excuses and failures. He first commented on Canada’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. He noted that the Canadian government found tens of billions of dollars to fight the coronavirus pandemic and Canadians changed their behaviours to keep themselves and their communities safe. What is stopping us from changing our behaviours and finding the billions of dollars necessary to fight the climate change emergency?

Suzuki was quite clear in saying we were and continue to be sabotaged by the the fossil fuel industry’s government lobbying and public misinformation campaigns denying that the climate emergency is real. Despite Canada’s onstage promises at Paris in 2015, we came home and purchased an oil pipeline. Our justification? We needed the taxes from tar sands development and extraction to fund the move to a renewable energy economy. Suzuki drew the parallel that this was like the tobacco industry saying,  “We need to sell more tobacco products so that we can collect the taxes to help us fund lung cancer research.” He concluded passionately,“This is just nuts!”

And that’s the way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

UPDATE: In the end, it was India, second most populous country in the world at just under 1.4 billion people coming in just behind China’s 1.4 billion, that was responsible for the watering down of the language surrounding the phasing out of coal. So much for keeping global temperatures from surpassing the 1.5 degree threshold. Oops.

* The 99% who aren’t ultra rich need to read Chrystia Freeland’s “Plutocrats: the rise of the new global super-rich and the fall of everyone else” and Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money”

And keep a close eye on Peter Thiel and the Koch cabal …