Saturday, August 01, 2020

On denialism

To date, most of the response to Scott Moe's multi-billion-dollar irrigation scheme has focused on the immense cost for uncertain return, as well as the lack of consultation with people who stand to be severely affected. But there's another major problem worth noting with the Sask Party's plans to dust off a plan developed before the development of the science we now understand around climate change.

It's generally well recognized that the effects of the present course of climate change include hotter temperatures and a drier climate for Saskatchewan. Which leads to these warnings from Elaine Barrow about any increase in irrigation (emphasis added):
  • Carefully consider the advisability and sustainability of any future irrigation projects.
  • Saskatchewan should evaluate its plans for increased irrigation very carefully in light of reduced water availability from Alberta due to increased consumption and climate change. But more efficient water use for irrigation or a reduction in irrigated acreage in Alberta could compensate for the reduced water availability.
There's certainly no indication that Alberta has any interest in reducing its own agriculture for Moe's benefit. And given that the project is being pitched as "based on the vision of John Diefenbaker", and that immediate work was announced with no environmental review, there's zero reason for confidence that even the changes in our climate to date have been properly accounted for - let alone the continued thrends which should be guiding the province's water management in the decades to come.

Which is to say that there's a third major flaw with Moe's scheme: at its core, it depends on ignoring decades of scientific evidence, and indeed effective climate denialism, as the basis for its assumptions. And Saskatchewan's voters should be extremely wary of letting its future be dictated by the ghost of megaprojects past.

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