WHAT’S WRONG WITH ASKING WHY?
Notes for people who are not familiar with events happened in Canada in early summer of 2013:
At the end of June, two events shook Canadians. The train with 70 tankers loaded with crude oil started to go down a hill, derailed and exploded in downtown Lac-Megontic in Quebec destroying downtown core and about 50 people were instantly incinerated. The whole train was operated by one engineer who left it unattended for the night. Another event was the flood in Calgary and nearby smaller bed-room community of High River, and their vicinity. After a torrential rain whole region was flooded causing billions dollars of damage. A similar calamity happened in 2005 in the same region, a cabinet minister from Calgary, commented that it had nothing to do with climate change. Such an extraordinary weather happens once in a century.
A question “why” is annoying, but ignoring it will be very costly.
Brand new cabinet Minister Pierre Poilievre was quoted as saying, “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists” responding to Justin Trudeau after the Boston bombing. That cheeky comment echoes Mr. Harper’s angry reaction to Liberal Leader’s comment about the importance of asking why terrorists do what they do. Catching terrorists is most urgent not asking why, he said. Why is “why” question annoys people? Why they considered it cheeky and inappropriate?
Every parent including me knows a child who says “why?” to everything. You must know how you respond to the annoying kid distinguishes stupid parents from good ones. “Go ask your Mom, I’m busy!”; says I. Woe is she who gets brushed aside like that! She may not want to speak to you again, ever.
If you want to avoid the repetition of a horrendous tragedy like the one caused by a runaway train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, you have to ask, “How can such a tragedy happen?” Isn’t it most logical to pick a systemic problem as the cause: allowing the train of 70 tankers loaded with explosive or toxic materials to be left unattended? Isn’t it obvious that the law should not allow it? Conductor was disposable for the sake of profit and 50 people were incinerated..
Minister Jason Kenny was annoyed when asked why an unusual weather event like flood happened, in 2005. He said that it was the exceptional event that happens only once in a hundred years; nothing to do with climate change. But the flood came again, a more serious one, after eight years. Why is it so wrong to ask about the root causes?
When I heard about climate change thirty years ago, we had already been warned that the consequences of the continuous release of carbon-dioxide into atmosphere would be extreme weather. I think it’s here. And it’s costing us a lot of money: a half a billion dollars for the Alberta provincial government alone as an initial cost of recovery. Even wealthy Alberta can not afford it if it comes a few more times. And what about the cost to the individuals such as devalued real estate and damages and loss not covered by insurance?
So what’s so wrong about asking, “why?” Not doing so is more expensive, I should think.