Beyond the Index: Life in Fragile Times
by C. L. Cook - Victoria Street NewzIt's the first day of March, 2014. I mention it because the speed and breadth of change swirling around us may make this column entirely antiquated by the time your eyes fall upon it. In the last week of February, I heard the title phrase, carried on the ether by either the CBC or Democracy Now, referring to the current air "quality" over Beijing as being, "Beyond the Index."
That is to say; the air is of such low, or no, quality there exists no rating benchmark for it, but to say it exceeds our worst-case expectations.
I expect any day now, if it hasn't happened already, BTi will be all over the textosphere, used by key-tapping youngsters to describe all manner of superlative events and situations. Doubtless soon to be followed by breathless reports on staid Old Media platforms like the CBC, with a desperate-to-keep-pace Anna Maria Tremonti perhaps relating to her listeners: "BTi has become the new OMG!"
LOL; that's totally awesome!
Sadly, it's not just Beijing's shockingly poisonous air that's gone BTi, (I imagine what birds remain there simply falling like feathered stones from the unseen depths of the orange miasma above, surrendering flight to China's inevitable economic miracle) neighbouring Japan has too left the index in its own way, (as is its wont).
Reports in the last month confirmed what many have been saying over the last three years about the dire and seemingly unaddressable nuclear disaster continuing in Fukushima: "OMG!!!"
Millions more gallons of water poured over the melting reactors has "leaked" into the environment (where else?) as radioactive waste, with little chance of stopping the toxified millions more needed to keep the Daiichi meltdown cool(er) from doing the same.
But, the fates of the Fukushima Daiichi plant reactors is not currently top of mind for Japan's ruling claque. No, president Abe and his fellow party members are less worried about the China Syndrome in their back yard than they are busy katana-rattling with the People's Republic over first grabs at rumoured sea-bed energy riches to be had in the South China Sea. To that end, Abe has steered Japan's "Self-Defense Force" towards what looks a lot like the morning after for the next Empire of the Rising Sun.
Nearer to home, Canadian apathy has too eclipsed the indices of rationality. In Alberta, (better known as Mordor without the weather) happily supine people are perfectly sanguine with the prospect of placing the entirety of the nation's economic future in the single basket of a tar sands expansion that will, should it fulfill its five-fold promise, as well as guarantee the ruination of the boreal forest ecosystem across the north, broaden burgeoning First Nation's cancer alleys; all while liberating enough CO2 to spell the end of all creatures dependent on a climate within the parameters enjoyed for the last 150,000 years or so.
A humorous aside on this: Friend Dave Lindorff, a long-time investigative reporter from the US, writing in his recent series at WhoWhatWhy.com about what life in Florida is likely to resemble in the not-too-distant future says; it will not be good for fresh-water alligators, but the brackish water-loving, tree-climbing crocodiles will thrive.
Tree-climbing crocodiles; if that's not BTi to the max, then I just don't know.
But it gets even crazier in B.C., (perhaps a better tourist come on than "Super Natural British Columbia"), where fracking has taken the place by storm, and few, if the corporate/state media there is to be believed, seem to give a damn. "Bring it on, and over, the index!" cries premier Clark in eighteen point print.
Believe it or not, the big plan by leader, Christy Clark is to build a massive dam on the Peace River, (flooding thousands of hectares of Class 1 and 2 farmland in the process) to provide power to the "LNG" (fracked gas) industry, to help build pipelines to crisscross the province en route to Super Ports built at the apex of deep water fjords, (where hurricane-force winds can whip up at any time of year in a moment). China-bound Super Tankers are there to be laden and, should they emerge the Douglas Channel, then expected to navigate some of the most treacherous coastal waters the World has to offer without incident. Tar Sands Super Tankers will too be traversing the same narrow, storm-prone waterways. What could possibly go wrong? OMG!>BTi!
I don't know what feasibility window Christy Clark, or the People's Republic of China, or Japan's Abe mob are operating under, but it seems to me we're running out of time here; and, going beyond those index marks are departures we can't expect to get away with much longer.
Chris Cook hosts the weekly public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, (celebrating 15 years broadcasting from CFUV 101.9FM) and also serves as managing editor at PacificFreePress.com.