Doug Ford's landslide victory should be a wake-up call to the climate-conscious in B.C.

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      One of my favourite climate journalists is Chris Hatch, who writes the Zero Carbon Newsletter for Canada's National Observer.

      This week, he highlighted how disastrous Ontario premier Doug Ford's landslide victory is for the climate movement.

      "In the most gratuitous move of all, Ontario ripped fully functioning EV charging stations out of the ground at Metrolinx stations," Hatch wrote. "And, in an incredible face-palm moment during the campaign, Ford tried to argue that more highways would help fight climate change."

      Yet the two main opposition parties, the Liberals and the NDP, failed to hold him accountable for this.

      Part of the explanation might be that Ontario voters just don't care about the climate as much as voters in Quebec and B.C. 

      But as Hatch noted, Australian voters tossed the coal-loving Scott Morrison out of power.

      Morrison is, in many respects, the Down Under version of Doug Ford—a "shapeshifting" practitioner of "aerodynamic populism", in the words of Guardian Australia's political editor, Katharine Murphy.

      Ford plays a similar form of politics, tilting slightly to the centre every once in a while even at the cost of alienating his base. That's apparent every time the Ontario premier hobnobs in public with Justin Trudeau or imposes restrictions in response to COVID-19.

      But at the end of the day, like Morrison, Ford can be counted on to minimize the importance of climate action. And that's a deadly recipe in a world where extreme weather events are increasingly common as the planet warms.

      Here's the biggest threat, which you'll rarely read about in the mainstream media. Nowadays, jet streams sometimes move in undulating and heat-trapping ways as the differential between the temperature of air in the Arctic and temperate zones narrows.

      This is a contributing factor behind killer heat waves like the one B.C. experienced in the final week of June last year.

      Video: In 2018, Penn State University climate researcher Michael Mann spoke about the links between undulating jet streams and extreme weather events.

      Another nightmare scenario is resulting from oceans warming more rapidly because they're retaining more carbon dioxide than scientists used to think. This was revealed in a study in Nature in 2018.

      That's to say nothing of how more moisture is accumulating in the atmosphere as the planet warms. Every one degree C increase can lead to seven percent more water vapour over the oceans, according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation.

      This then comes crashing down in the form of infrastructure-wrecking atmospheric rivers, as B.C. endured last November.

      We're especially susceptible to atmospheric rivers in B.C. So the election of any climate rogue anywhere, including Ford, is bad news for people living on Canada's West Coast.

      In his column, Hatch suggested that climate advocates might want to consider creating an entity like Ontario's Working Families Coalition, which used to highlight the impact of Conservative government policies on average people.

      With municipal elections scheduled across B.C. this October, it's worth considering this idea in our province. 

      Politicians and the media have a tendency to downplay the climate emergency during election campaigns, even though it's the biggest issue that we're going to face in our lifetimes.

      Someone needs to create a questionnaire ASAP for local candidates on local climate issues. Then this person needs set up a website.

      The next step would be post these candidates' responses online and give them a letter grade for every voter to see.

      Perhaps if Chris Hatch has the time, he might want to take on this task for the good of B.C. At the very least, we could have confidence that he is knowledgeable enough to ask the right types of questions, based on what he just wrote about Ontario's election.