Climate Change
October 3, 2019

Is Andrew Scheer an Extinctionist?

How to make an editorial comment in a front-page layout …

Not sure how deliberately The Globe juxtaposed an Andrew Scheer profile with a climate-strike march to make a statement about Scheer on the Environment – but it really doesn’t matter.  Scheer did that on his own.

In Vancouver, he took that day when a hundred thousand marched on climate to announce money for highway expansion.  (Because more lanes means less pollution because that always works.)

And that’s got to be deliberate.

Though the message may be oblique, it’s clear evidence that Scheer discounts climate change whether as a political issue or as reality.  He’s basically doing a Harper 2.0 – similar to Stephen Harper’s Arctic tours when the words ‘climate change’ never passed his lips.  Harper’s message to other decision-makers: don’t take climate change too seriously. I have no intention of doing anything drastic.  You don’t have to either.”

Scheer looks to continue that strategy.  Reality might make a difference in Scheer’s indifference, but not mass marches.

Is he, then, an extinctionist?* – the ultimate pragmatist.

I doubt he’s reached the point where extinction of some kind seems so inevitable that it shapes his policy.  But I think he believes he can afford to be indifferent now.

So Andrew Scheer is an extinctionist-in-making.  Perhaps already made.


*What’s an extinctionist?  Here’s my definition:

Leaders and decision-makers who accept extinction – minor or major, local and global – as an acceptable outcome of climate change; and justify it in order to maximize power and benefit.

It’s not that they are so sociopathic they don’t care or will even revel in the apocalyptic.  But they are resigned to the inevitability of the threat and believe we are powerless to do anything consequential about it .  They therefore have to accept when making decisions that will hasten extinction, particularly for immediate benefit, that that’s okay.  Not desired, not expected, but possible.  An acceptable outcome to consider.

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The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and City of North Vancouver present “Let’s Do It Now“, part of the speaker series on Climate Change Adaptation + Momentum in MetroVan.

Wednesday, October 9
The Pipe Shop Venue – 115 Victory Way
City of North Vancouver

Featuring local urban designer Gloria Venczel, SABmag editor Jim Taggart, District of North Vancouver community planner Shazeen Tejani, and Lilian Chau of Vancity’s Impact Real Estate team, the panel will discuss what we can do about the issue many planners are grappling with every day, and perhaps for the rest of their career — what can we do right now to support climate change adaptation and mitigation?

Registration and venue map.

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September 9, 2019

A new phase has started in how we think and write about climate change.  Extinction Lit: considering its inevitability, and what that means.   

Here’s a current example from the venerable New Yorker, by novelist Jonathan Franzen:


If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope. …

Call me a pessimist or call me a humanist, but I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon. I can run ten thousand scenarios through my model, and in not one of them do I see the two-degree target being met. …

… a false hope of salvation can be actively harmful. If you persist in believing that catastrophe can be averted, you commit yourself to tackling a problem so immense that it needs to be everyone’s overriding priority forever. One result, weirdly, is a kind of complacency: by voting for green candidates, riding a bicycle to work, avoiding air travel, you might feel that you’ve done everything you can for the only thing worth doing. Whereas, if you accept the reality that the planet will soon overheat to the point of threatening civilization, there’s a whole lot more you should be doing.

And then there’s the matter of hope. If your hope for the future depends on a wildly optimistic scenario, what will you do ten years from now, when the scenario becomes unworkable even in theory? Give up on the planet entirely? To borrow from the advice of financial planners, I might suggest a more balanced portfolio of hopes, some of them longer-term, most of them shorter. …

Any good thing you do now is arguably a hedge against the hotter future, but the really meaningful thing is that it’s good today. As long as you have something to love, you have something to hope for. …


Much more here.

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Extinctionists: Leaders and decision-makers who accept extinction – minor or major, local and global – as an acceptable outcome of climate change; and justify it in order to maximize power and benefit.

For example:

BRAZIL:  Record Amazon Wildfires

Brazil’s space research center has reported 72,843 wildfires in the Amazon rainforest this year, with 9,507 of them taking place since last Thursday. The agency said that fires have increased in the states of Rondonia and Amazonas, which declared a national emergency earlier this month over the wildfires.

While fires in the Amazon can naturally occur between the months of August and November, they are frequently started to create space for cattle ranching. Residents as far as São Paulo in southeastern Brazil experienced blackouts on Monday due to smoke from wildfires in the Amazon and nearby Paraguay.

Sao Paulo: August 19, 3 pm


The Extinctionist:

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