Sunday, June 22nd 2008, 10:07 AM EDT
LORRIE GOLDSTEIN of the Edmonton Sun puts in his comments on the local politics of "Man Made Climate Change"
Over the past 18 months I've written scores of columns on global warming.
I've read nine books on the subject so far (six by authors supporting the theory of man-made global warming and the Kyoto accord, three by skeptics).
I've watched three documentaries, including Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and two by skeptics.
I've read hundreds of articles and now spend at least two to four hours each week researching this issue alone.
The best journalism, pro and con, is coming out of the United Kingdom and Europe, where carbon taxes and cap-and-trade are already adversely affecting millions of people because of skyrocketing energy prices.
When Stephane Dion or the David Suzuki Foundation or the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy put out a paper advocating carbon pricing, I don't read their press releases. I read their papers. I would recommend this technique to more journalists.
It's about votes, not Mother Earth
I'm not an expert. But I am an engaged lay person who now knows enough that I can tell when someone is bullsh****** us.
Here's what I've figured out so far.
First, Canadians care about this issue, passionately. I've never had as strong a response from readers as I've had to these columns in more than 20 years of column-writing.
Second, most politicians, regardless of party, don't know what they're talking about.
They don't understand the theory of anthropogenic global warming, or what is known with confidence and what isn't.
They don't know the difference between the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
They don't realize the economic dislocation involved in moving from a carbon-based to a carbon-free economy.
Most care about the issue only in so far as it can help them get elected, which, given the implications and what's at stake for ordinary citizens, is recklessly irresponsible.
Most politicians don't know what the Kyoto accord says.
They think it's an environmental treaty. It's not. It's an economic treaty.
Its purpose is not to reduce GHG emissions -- under it GHG emissions are guaranteed to rise.
Kyoto is a United Nations treaty designed to transfer wealth from the developed world to the developing world by charging the developed world for the right to emit carbon.
That's hardly surprising given that wealth redistribution from rich nations to poor ones is the goal of most countries belonging to the UN.
The main drivers of Kyoto were, ironically, the U.K. and Europe, along with the developing world, led by China, now the world's largest GHG emitter.
Last year, China alone, exempt from reducing its own GHG emissions, was responsible for two-thirds of the total global increase in these emissions, although its per capita emissions remain well below that of the United States, the second-largest emitter.
In any event, the developing world, the U.K. and Europe each saw in Kyoto (although it's now backfiring on the U.K. and Europe) not a way to save the planet, but to hobble the U.S. economy to their advantage.
For the developing world, Kyoto, if ratified by the U.S., would place severe restrictions on American industrial activity from which developing nations are exempt.
Europe and the U.K. crafted Kyoto to give them an undeserved economic advantage over the U.S.
The key was the retroactive selection of 1990 as the base year to reduce carbon emissions for 37 developed countries, including us, as opposed to 143 nations required to do nothing.
By using 1990, a year before the Soviet Union disintegrated and its carbon emissions dramatically dropped because its economy collapsed, Europe was able to claim much of this emissions drop for itself, as major parts of the former Soviet empire were absorbed by it. It was an accounting trick. Nothing more.
The selection of 1990 also gave an undeserved bonus to the U.K., which was moving, for reasons unrelated to Kyoto, from coal to natural gas as an energy source, which emits less GHG than coal.
The Americans, wisely, refused to ratify Kyoto, even when Gore was their VP and lobbying for it.
Unfortunately, we did, either because the previous Liberal government didn't understand that the economic penalties Kyoto aimed at the U.S. would also apply to us, or because Jean Chretien, in his rush to craft himself an environmental legacy, didn't care.