Prediction: Trudeau approves pipeline and wins praise from editorial writers who overlook implications for the climate

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      Sadly, the human species appears embarked on a relentless march toward extinction.

      That's evident in the rising concentration of carbon dioxide equivalents in the atmosphere.

      They now exceed 415 parts per million.

      It's a truly distressing figure for anyone with a shred of numeracy when it comes to the climate.

      This is an especially painful number for those who've been following this issue for 20 years or more—like Green Leader Elizabeth May or NDP candidate Svend Robinson.

      The current concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is at its highest level in 800,000 years.

      Yet there's a stunning degree of public and media apathy about the climate breakdown.

      A new poll by Ipsos drives home this point in B.C.

      Financed by the pro-pipeline group Resource Works, it claims that 60 percent of British Columbians say they support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

      Of those, 29 percent strongly favour it being built.

      Only 15 percent strongly oppose the expansion going ahead, according to the pollster.

      Men were more strongly in favour than women, and high-income households were more strongly in favour than low-income households.

      Rich older males seem to be the most ignorant about the climate implications of the pipeline.

      Perhaps that's because they're most likely to read the drivel about the project that's peddled in daily newspapers and by the national broadcasters.

      Media outlets dutifully reported this poll without subjecting the methodology to any serious scrutiny.

      The polling company asked its 803 respondents a very bland, safe-sounding question:

      "Do you personally support or oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which involves building a second pipeline on the existing route between Alberta and Metro Vancouver."

      The results would have likely been different had a less benign question been asked.

      Here are five alternatives:

      1. Do you personally support or oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which will generate more downstream carbon-dioxide emissions each year than the entire total emitted in British Columbia every year?

      2. Do you personally support or oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which will cost Canadian taxpayers at least $9.3 billion to complete?

      3. Former Liberal environment minister David Anderson says there is no market in Asia for diluted bitumen flowing through the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. In light of this, do you support the Liberal government spending $9.3 billion of taxpayers' money to build this project?

      4. The Federal Court of Appeal struck down the Liberal cabinet's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline because the National Energy Board failed to give adequate consideration to its effect on southern resident killer whales and other endangered marine animals. Should the federal government still build this pipeline?

      5. The federal government bailed out Kinder Morgan by buying its Canadian pipeline system for $4.5 billion. Now, Ottawa appears prepared to spend another $9.3 billion completing a pipeline that could make it extremely difficult for Canada to meet its international obligations under the Paris Agreement. Do you support this idea?

      Nobody polled the orcas to ask what they think about a sharp increase in oil tankers travelling through the Salish Sea.
      Charlie Smith

      Media outlets manufacture consensus

      I realize the importance of remaining optimistic.

      It's not just because it's churlish to talk about the extinction of the human species.

      Even those most alarmed about greenhouse-gas emissions—and who worry about a looming century of misery because of them—emphasize the benefits of discussing solutions to the climate crisis.

      This is so that the public doesn't give up.

      We can't give up if we want a world for our grandchildren's grandchildren.

      But it's hard not to contain the pessimism when surveying Canadian media coverage of this topic.

      Take the publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as but one example.

      Sure, a radio show like the Current or Cross Country Checkup or Quirks & Quarks might occasionally deliver a riveting report about the impact of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

      Periodically, the National will focus on the topic, though almost never during its panel discussions.

      But none of the four anchors of the National have any history of covering the climate with the seriousness that this issue deserves.

      The CBC's flagship investigative program, the fifth estate, hasn't filmed an episode on the climate in years. Marketplace isn't that worked up about it either. 

      There's also not a single CBC radio program dedicated to this issue, which poses an existential threat. 

      Keep in mind that the Mother Corp. finds time on its schedule for shows on books, Randy Bachman's favourite music, spirituality, technology, Michael Enright's intellectual interests, comedy, and myriad other topics.

      In sum, CBC's record can't compare with that of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle or the U.K.-based Guardian, which have each made the climate a centrepiece of their coverage.

      It's not just a problem with CBC's broadcasters—it speaks to a level of apathy at the board and executive levels of the Crown corporation that this hasn't been flagged as an issue worth addressing.

      But for all of CBC's shortcomings, the situation is far worse at privately owned newspapers, private radio, and on the private TV networks. Don't get me started on the National Post or the Globe and Mail

      All of this has led us to the point where the federal cabinet will announce its decision on Tuesday (June 18) on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

      The public has been suitably softened up by the media not to worry, even though the climate is clearly out of whack in Canada.

      We all know that the Trudeau government will say "yes".

      And the poll released today is designed to shape public perceptions in advance of the howls of outrage from the environmental movement.

      So when you watch or read or listen to the coverage of the Trans Mountain decision, remember this one point—the pipeline expansion will generate more downstream greenhouse gas emissions each year than the entire total emitted annually in the province of British Columbia.

      The upstream emissions are not nearly as troublesome, but they're still enough to jeopardize Canada's chance of meeting its climate targets under the Paris Agreement.

      Pollsters funded by pro-pipeline groups won't ask questions mentioning these facts.

      Nor will it likely be included in any of the pro-pipeline editorials that you read in the daily newspapers.

      To the pipeline proponents, the Paris Agreement simply isn't in the national interest.

      Never forget that.