Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway: “Ernest, the very rich are different from you and me.”
Ernest in reply: “I’ll say! Have you seen what they pay out for refrigerators?”
*** Warning: The following column contains imaginary conversations. Read at your own risk:
There comes a roaring alarm over the grocery loudspeakers: “Apocalypse in Aisle Three. Apocalypse in Aisle Three.”
Expect that, or a like alarm at your local food store, now that Global Warming and Big Grocery have mixed their fortunes. From here on in, they are as one. In what will surely be hailed as a masterstroke in the fight against climate change — perhaps sufficient to halt the calving of icebergs and all melt in the Himalayas — the Canadian government this week announced a $12-million grant to retrofit refrigerators for grocery chains owned by plutocratic billionaires.* (Actually, one grocery chain, one plutocratic billionaire.)
At the tip of the climate-fighting spear, a formidable combo, the multibillion-dollar supermarket Leviathan, Loblaws, and the Liberal Minister of Environment and Climate Change (and frozen chicken parts), the Twitter/Instagram chanteuse (“The environment and the economy go hand in hand”), Catherine McKenna.
Trailed by only a small flotilla of aides and a few backbench MPs, looking every bit a newly fledged brand ambassador for Keep ‘Em Cold Canada, Ms. McKenna gleefully expanded on the benefits of shovelling $12 million to a family concern that already has something like $7 billion to $12 billion in its own piggy bank. (A vulgar reporter was uncouth enough to ask, “isn’t giving $12 million to the Weston family a little like peeing into Lake Ontario to raise the water level,” but she was very properly shushed.)
“Hey, this is the fight against climate change. This is for your children and grandchildren, the ducks on the lake and the birds in the sky. No idea too outlandish for the greatest challenge in our lifetime. This is World War II on your thermostat.
“Besides – benefits? Benefits? Well, for starters, chicken legs will have their refrigerator life extended by 48 hours. Chicken wings, due to their lower moisture content, even longer. And ground beef? Don’t get me started. This is the greatest thing for ground beef since the invention of the cow. With this new technology, for a petty $12 million, ground beef will last till the sun goes out.”
McKenna referenced one of the infinite “impact studies” churned out by the UN panel on climate change proving that “freezing chickens inefficiently wastes energy, and premature spoilage is like a tailgate party for CO2 emissions. You could feed a herd of cows for a month on nothing but cabbage and beans, and you’d have less emissions than a crate of stale chicken parts mouldering away in some forgotten corner next to the mayonnaise shelf.”
She concluded: “This is good news for the planet. This is good news for Canadians who like to shop with a good green conscience. And of course it’s really great news for the Westons and our neglected billionaire community in general. As we like to say in the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (and frozen chicken parts), ‘if we think it’s good for the planet, how can it be wrong?’ ”
With that the minister was off to a conference-call on Twitter, and aides continued the briefing. They pointed out this was not some off-the-shelf experiment. Loblaws and the department had looked at aspects of climate change that most researchers had never dreamed about before. Some of the best minds in the climate-change industry spent months forging links between grocery shopping and atmospheric instability, and established up-to-now unreported and alarming connections between rising sea levels, the submersion of the Maldives, and gridlock in the self-checkout lanes.
They’ll soon be releasing a full summary of their findings in two papers, a joint effort between the department’s science branch and Loblaws’ highly respected weekly specials flyer (peer-reviewed by Costco and Sobeys).
The first, Chicken Wings and Global Warming: A Conspectus, squawks for itself. The second — for more technically invested shoppers, Pork Chops and Particulates — is a holistic survey of the global impacts of standard meat-freezer technology and its links to the migration crisis, civil wars and the fuss over Brexit. A landmark paper. (It comes with four free 10-cent coupons on your next purchase at Loblaws).
A few cynics, slope-browed climate deniers the bunch of them, have wondered aloud whether this startling announcement (“welfare for billionaires” was the rude summary) was meant to take attention away from the beating the Liberals were taking on the seemingly endless Lavscam scandal. Absolutely not. The press might want to think this is all about the Westons and Big Grocery, or a deliberate distraction from other matters. It just isn’t.
Think. As a consequence of this initiative, if just one polar bear earns a couple of extra days on a melting ice-pan, or just one big-bellied walrus can waddle safely down some damn high sharp rock — who, really, can be against it?
Against such logic of the heart, criticism is powerless.
* Smaller outfits, mom and pop corner stores, need not apply. For them it’s the ceiling fan or (in winter) the snow bank. C.McK., Min.