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Idealistic Pragmatist: Tories 1, environment 0

Idealistic Pragmatist: Tories 1, environment 0
If you haven't read this post on how the presumed failure of Kyoto by our erstwhile Minister of Natural Resources is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, do so. Short version -
Step 1: Ambrose says Canada can't possibly meet it's Kyoto commitments.
Step 2: Conservative government cuts programs to fight global warming by 80% and those to study climate change 40%
Step 3: Canada doesn't meet is Kyoto commitments and there is celebrating in the Conservative Party headquarters because they were right in Step 1.
Step 4: Celebration unfortunately can't continue onto the golf course because they are either dried out and brown or half-flooded owing to erratic and extreme weather.

Lets assume for a minute that the Conservatives follow the (heaven help us) American route of cleaning up the environment. Worst care scenerio is that instead of increasing pollution by 25% like we have in the last 10 years, we decrease it by 13% like the Americans. Does it really matter how we do it? Kyoto is a joke as far as I'm concerned. We signed on knowing full well that we couldn't meet those commitments. Then we go ahead and buy creidts. What does that have anything to do with cleaning up the environment?

Just because the 13% figure continually gets repeated doesn't make it true. Here are the true figures:

Marland et al.:

[i]North America, as defined here, consists of the United States and Canada. North America is the highest fossil-fuel, CO2 emitting region of the world with 1.73 billion tons of carbon in 2002. This 2002 total is an all-time high for North America and represents a 1.4% increase from 2001. Because ~92% of current fossil-fuel CO2 emissions from the region are from the United States, the time series for North America closely resembles that for the United States. In addition, the patterns of change for the two countries have been similar in gross features, although they differ in detail because of political and resource differences. In contrast with CO2 emissions from other regions, the striking features are a relatively uniform growth rate from 1950 to 1973 (2.7% per year), an essentially constant rate of emissions from 1973 to 1987, growth during the 1990s leading to record hghs in 2002. Because of more rapid growth elsewhere, emissions from North America have shrunk from 46.4% of the global total in 1950 to 26.1% in 2002. Per capita emissions have been consistently high and well above those for any other region. [/i]

For 2002-2004, this DOE report clearly shows a constant increase from 2210.2 million metric tons to 2236.2 million metric tons (+1.2%). The increase from 2000 (Bush II's humble beginnings) to 2004 is +2.7%.

This EPA report has a table which shows that the total net emissions of all GHGs is still increasing in the US, even after subtracting all the GHG sinks they could identify.

I suspect the -13% is the change in the rate of increase for CO2. That is, if US emissions were increasing by a constant 2.5% per year in the past, they're now only increasing by 2.175% per year.

Thank you for posting those reports, Briguy, I was looking for stuff like this to put an end to this 13% number I kept hearing about the Americans. I knew it was bs, as I'd read some of the reports, but I'd misplaced them. It might be a decent idea for us to put together some links on the sidebar on the topic. It will be something for this atheist to do over this religious holiday. Aside to, oddly enough, hide eggs for my kids.

And Harry, yes, we have indeed increased our emmissions, but you know what? It's not so easy to blame the Liberals for it. A very large portion of the increase is the result of our steaming hydrocarbons out of the oilsands. According to Environment Canada, the chunk of our CO2 emissions that come directly from electrical and petroleum industries has increased from 32% in 1990 to 37% in 2003. Because of world oil prices, it is now economical to produce from these dirty and costly sources, and we are locked into producing by our committments in the FTA signed by Brian Mulroney.

And you want Alberta to stop producing oil?!? Dream on.

If the Liberals had a real plan to address climate change, which included a cap-and-trade system, this discussion wouldn't be happening. The Liberals knew for years it was needed, and they ratified Kyoto without it. Four more years elapsed, still no working system (and only 18 months saw them without a majority). One weak draft does not a system make.

If Harper wanted a plan to kill Kyoto in Canada, he need only stay the course. Only Liberals have the hypocritical gall to claim some sort of credit for disastrous mismanagement and high-minded rhetoric.

Kyoto is bad science . . . North America is a carbon sink . . . we have a net negative because of our vast forested areas . . . unlike Europe and Asia which have very little.

Here's an interesting read from an Atmospheric Scienties at MIT . . . worth the read . . .


Here's another recent news item you might have missed . . . NOTE: 60 LEADING CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERTS . . .

By Philip Sherwell
(Filed: 09/04/2006)

Canada’s new Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been urged by more than 60 leading international climate change experts to review the global warming policies he inherited from his centre-Left predecessor.

In an open letter that includes five British scientists among the signatories, the experts praise his recent commitment to review the controversial Kyoto protocol on reducing emissions harmful to the environment.

“Much of the billions of dollars earmarked for implementation of the protocol in Canada will be squandered without a proper assessment of recent developments in climate science,” they wrote in the Canadian Financial Post last week.

They emphasised that the study of global climate change is, in Mr Harper’s own words, an “emerging science” and added: “If, back in the mid 1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.” Despite claims to the contrary, there is no consensus among climate scientists on the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, they wrote.

“‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified.

“Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise’.”

The letter is the latest effort by climate change sceptics to counter claims that there is a consensus that human activity is causing global warming.

Anyone care to refute the hard data I posted? Thought not.

Re: Phillip Sherwell's letter:

In paragraph 1 he calls Paul Martin "centre-left". This is incorrect. Paul Martin is "centre-right". I stopped reading after such a gross error. People who wish to bury their heads in the sand over global climate change are free to do so. I suggest they put their money where their mouths are, and bury their heads in the lovely coral sands on Tuvalu. Bring SCUBA gear.

Kevvy: Are you tired of being falsely accused of being a Liberal? It gets less funny every time I see it.

ottawacon: Of course I don't think Alberta should stop producing oil - at least not while we still need it. I simply use it to identify the forces outside the control of the Liberal government that lead in part to the failure of Canada to come anywhere near our Kyoto commitments. (No, I'm not a Liberal and haven't voted for them since I was a relative kid.)

notafollower: You should go back to school if you believe this bunk. Atmospheric CO2 levels are at levels never measured before and North America per capita and in toto produce more CO2 than anywhere else in the world. Do the math. As for the "60 climate change scientists", do they know more than the thousands of others that have come to the exact opposite conclusion, that are published in journals every month with their names attached? I found the Telegraph article that your clip comes from and not even there does it mention the name of the organization or who the signatories were - Weekly World News journalism at its finest! If the best you can bring to the table is the word of a bunch of unnamed white coats, you might want to actually read some stuff for a change.

Trees are carbon dioxide sinks, true, but what every measurement we make is telling us is that there is more CO2 going into the atmosphere than they are capable of eating. Because there has been no increase in other terrestrial inputs of CO2 (volcanism, respiration, etc.) it is only logical that this comes from anthropogenic sources.

No amount of humming and hawing from scientists that might be on the petro-industry payroll (because we don't know their names now, do we?) is going to change that. And, as ottawacon rightly points out, this foolishness about trading CO2 credits is BS as well.

Make no mistake - I don't for a minute defend the Liberal government's environmental "policy", but I will take to task anyone that lays all of the blame on them. And for what it's worth, the Harper government has come out with nothing, not a thing, that leads me to believe they have any intention of doing any better. In fact, if the "made in Canada" solution is as good as the "made in America" solution that George Bush promised five years ago, we're all in deep shit.

Briguy - I've been considering some other ideas for titles for the blog, and this "not a liberal" thing is starting to hove ever higher in my thoughts ;)

Hey Briguy . . . if you really believed in Global Warming you'd by some land areound Lake Winnipeg . . . in a few years you could plant palm trees and make a fortune . . . Global Warming could be a net gain for Canada, we could grow crops in northern Saskatchewan, Labrador etc., save huge on home heating and snow removal.

According to Climatologists the net rise in global temperature in the last 100 years is about 1 degree . . . that is not too alarming to me . . .

Do you remember 1975, Scientists were telling us we had about 10 years left before we could no longer grow food because of the impending Ice Age . . . see Newsweek April 1975. Of course the masses back then didn't panic. There were no Club Sierra, Suziki, or other groups to raise Billions of dollars for the cause.

News Flash! Glaciers receeding on Mars . . . . must be the SUV's . . . .

My ancestors lived in Greenland from the 8th to the 11th centuries . . . they raised sheep, and farmed . . . was that a period of global warming?


Check out the following:



these are real Climate Scientists with real data . . . not Zoologists or retreaded hippies.

notafollower: In my comments above I should have said that there are indeed some scientists that disagree with the global warming consensus. They fall into a couple of camps. The first, like Lindzen, the guy you cited in your link, study negative feedback issues, and others attack global warming at the baseline issue.

Feedback mechanisms may well kick in at extremes, but they don't appear to have yet, and as I said, our CO2 levels are higher than we've ever seen before.

As for Lindzen's contention that moderating the difference between polar and equatorial temperatures making for more moderate weather conditions; that's an argument I haven't seen before. The models that I've seen argue pretty convincingly that there is going to be a period of extreme weather in the offing that might last for many years. If it stabilizes at some more moderate level, cool. However, why put ourselves through it in the first place?

It seems to me either conservative industry apologetics or masochism.

The baseline problem is a logical one - if the atmospheric CO2 levels and climatic conditions vary widely over time, how do you determine what is within normal variability and what is outside it? Ultimately only time will tell, but current measurements of CO2 levels are at highs not seen even in ice cores. The oldest data I've seen is 440,000 years. That period of time has seen many ice age and inter-ice periods, and current measurements are outside of any measurements over that interval.

Unfortunately for Liberals, the nearly 30% increase in GHG emissions in Canada under Chretien/Martin leaves them seriously lacking credibility on this issue. Something about glass houses and gross hypocrisy.

Furthermore, any plan based on contiunuing to emit GHG while buying credits from other countries, which is about all the Liberal plan(?) was, is no plan at all.

We all favour reducing GHG emissions - but let's not forget - it can't be done painlessly. It means we have to lower our personal use of fossil fuels, either directly in our vehicles, or downstream as we gaze at the bright lights flashing on fill-in-a-name street. The only thing known to cause people to behave in such a way - is when prices go up.

So far - even a buck a litre doesn't seem to have impacted people's driving habits. I read somewhere - it would take a $1.40 per litre price to accomplish that. Now look at all the other changes you need to make - using less coal fired electricity for example, and then we'll start getting somewhere.

The question isn't what are the Conservatives doing. It's, what are YOU doing?


you wrote:
According to Climatologists the net rise in global temperature in the last 100 years is about 1 degree

Average global temperature will rise by between 0.6 and 2.5C by 2100. That is an average, and climatologists generally agree that it will be double that or maybe more in the poles (summary here).

The potential effects of this are near catastrophic. It already appears to be weakening the saline/freshwater turnover in the arctic ocean and weakening the Labrador drift. Some models I've read in Science and other places have suggested that the behaviour of these currents is chaotic and they could, as they weaken, shut down altogether. Killing the Labrador Drift would allow the Gulf Stream to head straight up the Labrador Sea, heating Greenland and the easter Canadian Arctic even more and freezing Europe. It's possible that such current suppressions would be short-term, but there is no guarantee, particularly if the temperature continues to increase.

That you can say a 1C change is "not too alarming" indicates that you really do not know what you are talking about.

You are absolutely right - personal responsibility plays a huge role, and Canadians produce the second-most GHGs per capita in the world. Next to ... the US of course. I will speak for us on the site here - BriGuy walks to work, Flash takes the bus, I take the bus or run, and Dan doesn't own a car so uses the "black cadillacs" as they say in the military.

That said, the government sets policy and has to lead the way on this. The Liberals did not, and to me it looks less like the Tories are going to.

Oh, and you're 30% number is too high. It's actually 24% if this report is what you're talking about.

We'll see that 1.40 before long I expect. I'm thinking about five minutes after the US attack Iran...

Don't me wrong, I think emissions trading is the ONLY way to do this. Look at well it worked for acid rain in the US.

My criticism is that the Liberals idea of 'emissions trading' was at some vague point in the future to buy a whack of cheap credits they hoped would exist somewhere else. I am fully supportive of companies being allowed to buy off-shore credits if that is the cheapest way to reduce their overall emissions - it is a global problem, what is wrong with a global solution?

Alberta is blessed with some of the most economically valuable emissions on the planet, and most of those corporations are ready to do something about the problem - but they need clear and stable policy.

ottawacon - You're absolutely right, it is a global problem, but the argument against buying credits is that it bolsters first world economies at the expense of the developing world. That the Libs didn't get much beyond this is a testament to their hope that they wouldn't have to do anything tough about the problem that would affect the economy.

We saw them throughout the nineties with their Team Canada approach to business do the same thing with human rights.

Alberta has every right to produce their resources. I surely would like to see more requirement for Alberta wind (not the Klein kind) than oil, though. ;)

Given that at present no developing world country has a cap, and credits come from a theoretically infinite supply though first world investment in clean production technologies - which also improve economic output while reducing co-incident pollution - I am at a loss to see how first world economies are bolstered at the expense of the developing world.

In fact, the usual conservative complaint is exactly the inverse - that the developing world is getting something for nothing.

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