Trevor Greene: As with climate crisis, Trudeau shrugs off fall of Kabul

Trevor Greene: As with climate crisis, Trudeau shrugs off fall of Kabul

Opinion: Like many of my brothers and sisters, my blood soaked the soil of Afghanistan . . . with the enemy once more in control, many Afghan vets are asking if the struggle was worth it

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The steady drumming of the rain falling in northern Greenland, the wild roar of wildfires in Arctic Siberia, and the mad rush of floodwaters drowning German villages are the sounds of climate change escalating from impatiently tapping our shoulders to a full-throated howl. We read to the point of numbness that the climate change emergency is an existential threat and time is running out before irreparable harm is done to our blue marble floating through space.

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So why is it treated as just another plank in party platforms? And, if it’s so perilous, when will the world fight as if our lives depended on it?

That global fighting spirit was everywhere after the Paris climate summit in 2015. Justin Trudeau mugged for the cameras and sternly vowed to cut emissions. Three years later, he bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline to expand oilsands production, arguing absurdly that the tax revenue could be used to reduce emissions, which is akin to admitting smoking causes cancer so we will sell even more cigarettes for the taxes to find a cure for lung cancer. Soon after, Canada’s emissions surged 3.3 per cent, the highest increase in the G7. Hardly an inspiring opening salvo in the war against a threat to humanity.

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The last existential threat to Canada and the rest of the world was the Second World War. Seth Klein’s new book, A Good War, analyzes the lessons learned from the extraordinary mobilization of the whole country for the war effort, when Canada produced more than 16,000 military aircraft and more military transport vehicles than the three Axis powers — Germany, Italy, and Japan — combined. Klein touches on political mobilization as well — we “need our political leaders, like they are in the pandemic, to look and sound and make this feel like it’s an emergency. We need regular briefings and announcements. Part of how you signal an emergency is that you set clear dates.” I don’t recall Trudeau giving a briefing on the climate emergency. He displayed this same style of leadership on Aug. 15 when Kabul fell to the enemy. Did he stop campaigning, assemble his advisers and experts in an ops centre, demand hourly situation reports, and work the phones with our allies?

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No. He called an election.

Like many of my brothers and sisters, my blood soaked the soil of Afghanistan. A small puddle of my brains also ended up in the dust, and I know of at least three pairs of legs that were left behind. With the enemy once more in control, many Afghan vets are asking if the struggle was worth it. I would guess the brave interpreters who risked their lives and the lives of their families serving by our side have similar doubts because of how badly they have been treated by the Canadian government, who knotted them with red tape to get visas and have botched emergency evacuation flights. The prime minister took precious time from a campaign stop in Quebec to trot out palatable sound bites such as, “We are going to continue to do absolutely everything we can …” and, “We’re going to continue with the international community to put pressure on the Taliban …”

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In much the same way, Trudeau has talked a good game on climate change, but it has been all show and no go. The pricetag for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project has swollen to $13.1 billion from $7.4 billion after delays and opposition from Indigenous peoples and environmental groups. In July, Trudeau came to town with a multi-billion-dollar bailout package. And, absurdly, the majority of Eastern Canada’s oil and gas supply gurgles down a leaky pipeline called Line 5 that runs through an environmentally sensitive area of the Great Lakes. The governor of Michigan filed a lawsuit to turn off the taps that was vigorously opposed by the federal government. These aren’t the bold actions of a leader fighting a desperate battle against climate change.

The First World War was supposedly the war to end all wars. That notion would be quaint if not for the horrors inflicted on millions in countless conflicts since. Mankind is fighting the actual war to an end all wars because, if we lose, there will be nobody around to fight each other.

Trevor Greene is a B.C.-based journalist, best-selling author, and Afghanistan war veteran. His latest book, There is no Planet B: Promise and Peril on Our Warming World, delves into the fight against climate change. 

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