Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Klein's Breath in the Grand Scheme of Things

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein admits a connection between humans and global warming:
I don't argue with the science that all of us - as we exhale, as the population grows, as there are more vehicles on the streets and more carbons produced - that we contribute to global warming.
I wonder how terrifying it was for him to admit that to himself, given that he thinks his own breath is part of the problem. Really, Mr. Premier. The natural functioning of a human body only contributes to global warming after breathing stops. Up until then, you're a carbon sink. Carbon in, when you eat - remember carbohydrates? Carbon out, when you breathe. More carbon in than out, as you grow. Wait - it just occurred to me - dieting contributes to global warming! Somebody call Hollywood!

Relax, though. While some people shrink, others grow.

By the way, Mr. Premier, on your second point - population growth does not absolutely have to be a contributing factor. If the existing population were living with carbon uptake and emissions in balance, and the additional people didn't upset that balance, no problem.

On the other hand, we don't have to have "more vehicles" to have a problem. The existing vehicles have contributed to the existing problem, and will continue to add to it.

Let's get this very clear. A human being can exist within the carbon cycle, in balance. In fact, if we're out of balance, we can't carry on indefinitely, because we're using up a carbon sink - whether it's a forest being burned up in cooking fires (and not replaced by new growth), or the oilsands being mined out, or soil fertility being exhausted growing biofuel feedstocks. At some point we will be forced to resolve the imbalance.

We might want to consider resolving it early. Wouldn't it be nice to have some oil left in the oilsands after it becomes fabulously valuable as an industrial feedstock? Wouldn't it be nice to have some options about how we make the transition to a different lifestyle?

Yes, a different lifestyle. That's what I said.

Most of humanity currently has - or aspires to - a lifestyle that is beyond any possibility of balance within the carbon cycle. Since it comes down to lifestyle, each one of us has the choice: do we want the imbalance resolved or not?

It would be nice, though, if our politicians could help to make this clear.


Madcap said...

No relation, I swear! He just happens to live in the same province.

Dinosaur farts - my sainted aunt!!! You see what we're up against, and I live right in the thick of Ralph Klein Konservative Kountry.

Jim said...



If this post was on my blog I'd have to call it a rant, but I know you're too Zen for that so I'll just call it truth!

Thanks, I enjoyed the passion in this one! I'm quite sick of right wing Konservative Kapitalists whether they be from Kanada or Amerika.

arcolaura said...

Dinosaur farts - hehehe - yes, I was rather easy on him.

And Jim - me? Too Zen for a rant? My kids and spouse would disagree with that, I'm sure.

One thing. I have to say I don't kondone the klumping that's kreeping in here. I don't think Ralph Klein deserves to be lumped with murderous white supremacists, any more than I deserve to be lumped with command-and-control communists (not that that has ever happened here, but it happens often enough elsewhere). I'm a bit touchy about such things, because I think a lot of the trouble with intelligent discussion (or lack thereof) regarding climate change comes from lumping of anyone who takes it seriously as a "leftist," and conversely, lumping of anyone who has an honest doubt about it as a "right wingnut."

Madcap said...

Sorry. But you see, I live in an area that bills itself to tourists as "Kalyna Kountry", honest. Klein Kalyna Kountry. I'm not making this stuff up.

Jim said...

Yes, clumping isn't democratic, because one could clump together all the religious or political idealogues, and any other fear & hate mongerers around the world, and throw them all in concentration camps, but then we'd have to become, like them, undemocratic, to do so.

No thanks...

And while I admit that I don't know too much about your Mr. Klein up there (yet), I do understand enough about our Bush oiligarchy to lump him and his cronies together with the great terrorists of imperialist American history, beginning with Columbus.

Capitalism, communism, socialism, are all the same if tyranny is the blueprint.

I still believe in democracy, but what America spreads around the world today isn't democracy, it's an all-consuming economic system, based on perpetual growth, designed to control the world and everything in it.

And oh how we've grown!

We've now overpopulated the planet to the point where we're fighting over the remaining "resources" like rats on a sinking ship.

Democracy, a government of the people, by the people, for the people", is a self-perpetuating idea that has surged and stumbled for some 10,000 years now, every since humans became agricultural and began trying to co-operate on a larger scale.

And through centuries of war, genocide, riots, and protest, many have tried, with some success, to include Women, Africans, Indigenous Folks, and even Laborers into that once narrow definition of "people".

But I think we, and democracy, are dead in the water unless we can understand, that all of earths species require the same rights as people, whether we like it or not. If we can adapt, through evolution rather than force and manipulation, and learn to live democratically within our biosphere, humans might be around a bit longer, if not, there's a big heap of extinct species we can join.

In a recent interview, one of my favorite nature-writers, Barry Lopez, says...

"We not only believe that we're separate from nature; we actually think we can direct it. We refer to components of the earth as "resources" rather than as entities, life systems unto themselves. For many people the earth has no meaning until they find utility in it."

And Laura, I might re-phrase your very true statement, "while some people shrink, others grow", just a little, to read...

...while most species shrink, one grows exponentially...

Barry Lopez again...

"What we're going to find out in the next hundred or so years is whether consciousness is maladaptive. I would guess it could prove so, meaning the human organism won't survive".

arcolaura said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
arcolaura said...

Ouch. MCM, you're irrepressible. I like that.

Jim, there's so much I agree with in there. And I would have to say I don't know much about your President, either. But there are an awful lot of people here in Canada who know even less than I do, yet are willing to label him a terrorist just because - well, I don't know why, but my best guess is it's just because their friends do. Having spent some unhappy time in politics myself (student politics), I am still willing to believe that Bush may be doing the best he can with the situation he has in front of him. How much latitude does he really have? My understanding is that he has a lot less real power over the legislative process than our Prime Minister has in Canada. I don't know much about the way foreign policy is determined, but my guess is that the will of the people is still a big factor, and then there's the unconscious will of the people to keep on having what they have and more of it. If it wasn't Bush, it would be another President trying to give the people what they want. If they were more subtle about it, would that be a good thing?

Jim said...


You're not as Zen as I might imagine, huh? ;~)

But I agree with you totally here, and I apologize if I gave the impression of singling Bush out, the same would apply to Clinton who bombed Iraq relentlessly when we weren't even at war, and, in fact every American president in my lifetime, Democrat and Republican, has supported state-sponsored terrorism on a devastating scale, through the clandestine operations of the CIA, to further the economic interests of the Unitied States.

And I'm also in complete agreement with your statement that "the will of the people is still a big factor, and then there's the unconscious will of the people to keep on having what they have and more of it".

And when the Democrats are in office again they will continue with the same super-power world- domination agenda, but, as you say, they'll be a tad more subtle about it.

But this all can't continue for too much longer, a crash, economic or ecological, is on the horizon, and what the remaining humans learn from that will, I believe, determine our "adaptability" to sustainable lifestyles.

I do find it hopeful that there seems to be an increasing awareness and dialogue on the subject of what sustainability might mean, although most of us are still far from understanding our biological place within nature, and grasping the reality of our precarious situation.