Opinion: Public coverage have to be grounded in information, not fantasy

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By Roberta Lexier and Joe Vipond

We’re more and more inundated with horrifying info: of the local weather calamity, an ongoing pandemic, threats to democracy and different foundational establishments, and a lot extra. In response, it appears our flesh pressers and leaders are more and more turning to a somewhat doubtful answer: magic.

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It have to be comforting to reside in a fantasy world wherein dangerous emissions might be lowered whereas nonetheless accelerating oil and gasoline manufacturing, COVID-19 has disappeared, and 53 per cent of Canada Pension Plan funds one way or the other belong to Albertans.

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Science, math, historical past and ethics inform a much less enjoyable story: the local weather emergency requires an instantaneous phaseout of fossil fuels, the health-care system continues to be overwhelmed by a disabling and lethal airborne virus and, at greatest, Alberta staff contribute round 16 per cent to the nationwide pension program.

Alas, truth-telling is way much less simple to promote than magical considering.

Our provincial authorities refuses to acknowledge the inevitable financial transition, as a lot a results of automation and cheaper, cleaner vitality sources because the dangerously warming planet. As an alternative, the UCP pauses renewable vitality initiatives, expands tax cuts and company welfare for oil and gasoline corporations, thumbing its nostril on the polluter-pay precept by subsidizing oil nicely cleanup and financing an unaccountable “conflict room” to attempt to silence critics. There may be little query that one major motivation for an Alberta pension plan, and the supposed $300-plus billion in property transferred from the CPP, is to offer monetary help to the small- and medium-sized oil and gasoline operations being squeezed by reducing demand for his or her services and products around the globe.

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By no means thoughts the employees left behind, or the more and more uninhabitable Earth. So long as the bottom is saved pleased and earnings are made, who cares about actuality? Higher to inject hopium.

Public coverage surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is equally disconnected from the proof, to the purpose that we not solely fake the “endemic” virus just isn’t airborne, however that it doesn’t exist in any respect — or, no less than, is not any worse than the widespread chilly. All whereas sufferers and employees get contaminated in hospitals and children in faculties, with ongoing threat of lengthy COVID incapacity from a preventable infectious illness.

How will we clear up issues once we gained’t even acknowledge they exist?

This strategy just isn’t confined to Alberta; politicians and firms throughout the nation and around the globe recurrently ignore the information with the intention to advance their very own ideological views and/or distract from the actual, usually structural, points we face. It’s difficult, economically and politically, to do what is true, what’s grounded in proof, however these issues can’t be resolved with out concerted collective motion, the efficient software of know-how, utilized science and a nuanced understanding of the social, political, financial and cultural forces at play. Following this playbook is in no small half how our society has progressed to the place we’re right now.

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Avoiding the reality merely kicks the issues down the highway, making issues worse, and ultimately forcing extra drastic and probably unpopular options sooner or later.

Public coverage have to be grounded in actuality, in information, in high quality, duplicatable scientific proof and significant humanities analysis. It ought to reply to stakeholders, together with residents and out of doors specialists, and be topic to common re-examination and reassessment to align with evolving info and context. It should take critically the well being and welfare of the employees, our society and the planet, and promote their greatest and long-term pursuits. It ought to work for the betterment of the collective — the general public.

In any other case, what’s the purpose?

Magic is nice, for birthday reveals. Not a lot for coverage.

Roberta Lexier is an affiliate professor at Mount Royal College with a specialty in social actions, social change and left politics.

Joe Vipond is an emergency physician in Calgary, the co-founder of Masks4Canada and the Calgary Local weather Hub, and the past-president of the Canadian Affiliation of Physicians for the Setting.

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