Thursday, July 10, 2014

New column day

Here, on the importance of coming together and putting people first in a time of crisis - contrasted against Stephen Harper and Brad Wall's apparent view that the real tragedy is that the oil sector might find it tougher to extract profits when it's causing humanitarian disasters.

For further reading...
- Harper's statement on the Lac-Mégantic oil-by-rail explosion is here. In addition to the callous focus on economic messaging, you'll also note a conspicuous lack of words like "oil", "rail" and "explosion".
- Similarly, here's Wall lamenting the fact that massive flooding might affect the accessibility of oil leases.
- Murray Mandryk points out that we should be planning for more extreme weather events based on both their increased frequency in the past few years, and the science of climate change. In contrast, Wall figures that if there isn't a perfect precedent for a type of disaster, then it's not his job to plan for it.
- Kim Mackrael and Justin Giovannetti report on MMA's latest statement that they'd have handed the oil shipped through Lac-Mégantic differently if they'd known how dangerous it was. Chalk this up as one more triumph for self-regulation.
- And finally, Katie Valentine maps out the at-risk areas for future rail disasters.

1 comment:

  1. That was a terrific op-ed, Greg. I have been pondering how the usual understanding of "disaster" changes when what previously had been a "once in a century" event comes to pass once every three or four years. Mandryk may be right. These calamities may have become the new normal.

    The Americans are wrestling with something similar. The federal government has instituted a flood insurance programme after the private sector bowed out. The problem is that claims are wildly exceeding premiums. Congress initially planned to raise premiums in line with costs but that raised howls of outrage from property owners. To raise premiums enough to make the insurance programme self-financing would be such a burden to the policy holders that it would, for some, depress property values.

    A big part of the problem, as I see it Greg, is that in every country governments need to be having essential conversations with their people about what's happening and how to deal with these recurrent 'disasters' before these extreme weather events become even more frequent, more intensive and more protracted. It's going to take a good deal of social cohesion to reach some workable consensus without which the alternative is eventual chaos.