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Signs of the times 

Editorial by Bruce Wark

The best thing about 2005 was there was no nuclear war. But there were lots of worse things, including the earthquake in Pakistan that killed 80,000. That quake was a natural disaster. But the record number of hurricanes that brought death and destruction to Central America, the Caribbean and the US in 2005 were, at least partly, the result of our “unnatural” addiction to fossil fuels. The UN Weather Agency predicts that 2005 will likely go down as the warmest year in the northern hemisphere since record keeping began in 1861.

Help is on the way for our rapidly warming world, if you can call it help. World supplies of oil and gas are dwindling fast as energy consumption rises. Experts say that when world oil production reaches its peak and begins to decline, demand will exceed supply. Then, energy prices will shoot sky high, forcing everyone to cut down. (Goodbye dear SUV!) American petroleum geologist Kenneth Deffeyes predicted in a book published this year that we’d reach that production peak this fall or in early ’06. The cheap petroleum picnic is over, Deffeyes writes, so better get used to winter veggies that don’t have to be trucked in from sunny California. (Roasted rutabaga anyone?) Deffeyes’ book, Beyond Oil, carries an inscription from Kenneth Boulding: “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

Speaking of madmen, 2005 was a turbulent year for George W. Bush and Toady W. Blair, thanks to their unpopular, illegal oil war in Iraq and Bush’s clueless reaction to the flooding of New Orleans. An attack on London’s transit system left 56 dead and hundreds more injured in July. Blair claimed it had nothing to do with Britain’s contribution to the slaughter in Iraq, but no one believed him. Lately, as US casualties continue to climb, Bush has been calling on Americans “to stay the course.” He’s also been explaining why he ordered a spy agency to illegally tap US citizens’ phones and read their emails. Will 2006 be the year that the Rip Van Winkles in the US Congress finally wake up and impeach George W?

In other news, the futile “war on pot” continued in 2005. Once again, thousands of citizens were charged with marijuana offences. The federal Liberals abandoned their legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot after four Mounties were shot to death in Alberta. The officers were investigating reports of stolen vehicles at a farm, but police also found a marijuana grow-op there. A huge hue-and-cry erupted over the deadly dangers of grow-ops. Five months later, police arrested Marc Emery, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party, after the Americans accused him of mailing weed seeds across the border. Emery faces extradition to the US to be tried for a “crime” that is hardly, if ever, prosecuted here. And now, Stephen Harper promises that if his Tories get elected, they’ll be tough on drugs. Gimme a break! As Hunter S Thompson wrote: “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

Hunter S, of course, was among the illustrious dead of 2005, along with feminist Andrea Dworkin, playwright Arthur Miller, civil rights champion Rosa Parks, TV anchor Peter Jennings and talkshow quipster Johnny Carson, who once explained that you can’t do culture on TV when you’re trying to sell dog food and soap. All the more reason then to thank god for Mother CBC, whose employees were forced to trudge picket lines for seven weeks this year. Paul Martin’s lyin’ Liberals promised to strengthen CBC when they took power in ’93. Instead, they cut a third of its budget. Yes, there were lyin’ Liberals north of the border and lyin’ Republicans south of it. No wonder the Merriam-Webster online dictionary reports that the word looked up most frequently this year was “integrity.” No one knows what it means anymore. Happy New Year!

Sick of All those lyin’, cheatin’ politicians? email: or take a stand at my homepage:

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Vol 26, No 34
January 17, 2019

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