Monday, June 9, 2014

Canaries In The Coal Mine, Dinosaurs On The Hill

We are still out West, but I can't resist putting up a few letters from The Star that raise awareness not only of environmental perils but also, concomitantly, of the dangers of saurian political representation, as epitomized by the current regime in Ottawa:

U.S. coal cut tests Harper, Editorial June 3

Agreed, it’s time for Canada to take action too, and not continue our vague intention to regulate.

Our government’s commitment to the premise of regulating emissions sector by sector seems directly in opposition to traditional conservative values. It requires more legislation to enact, and more bureaucracy to monitor, than any other system for reducing emissions. Economists, environmentalists, even oil firms, as noted in this editorial, all agree that pricing carbon is the correct move.

The carbon fee and dividend system is revenue neutral, would require very little bureaucracy to enforce, and would allow the market to power a change. Doesn’t this seem like ideal environmental legislation for a conservative government?

It’s enactment would certainly show the U.S. that we’re taking serious action alongside them. Now is the time to get on board with reducing emissions, or soon we’ll be playing catch up in the energy sector, with no one to sell our high-emission oil to.

Jack Morton, Toronto

Thanks for your article on U.S. President Barack Obama’s carbon regulations aiming to reduce CO2 from power plants in the U.S. by 30 per cent by 2030. This is a good start, however it’s nowhere near where we need to go.

We need to cut fossil fuel dependency by 80 per cent by 2050 — for all sources, not just power plants. We have used up our carbon budget, and the rising temperature of the earth does threaten the survival of humanity, and many other species.

It would really help the transition to a sustainable future if a fee and dividend carbon pricing system were implemented. This would put a price on the pollution of carbon and would encourage the development of clean tech, renewables, and conservation.

I urge Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair to say this is what they will do, and then work together to do this when a new government is formed. As informed citizens we must let our politicians know this is what we want them to do.

Lyn Adamson, Toronto


  1. I was saddened to read the letter from Lyn Adamson. She is urging two self-proclaimed bitumen boosters, genuine petro-pols, to essentially crack down on Athabasca. Perhaps she believes that 'political capture' is only a problem that besets democracy in the United States.

    I'm not at all sure that we have until 2050 to slash carbon emissions by 80% but, even if we do have the luxury of another 3.5-decades to achieve that Herculean task, the heavy lifting would already have to be well underway. We would have to have commitments to a schedule of reduction targets that would be something of a bell curve. We would also need in place, now or very soon, a schedule of clear steps to be taken, targets to be met along the way. Those staged targets are essential for planning, implementation and finance. If we were genuinely determined to meet those targets we would have the details mapped out by now.

    Of course we don't have any of this in place or even pending. We're still in 'not just yet', kick it down the road mode. This means compressing that bell curve ever more steeply with each year squandered to inaction. We're making the path steeper and more arduous than it need be which means we're at risk of foreclosing some of our best options and will face unwarranted dislocations when (if) the time to act finally does arrive.

    Unfortunately this is a conversation our political leadership needs to have with the Canadian public yet not one of them (May excepted) has remotely enough courage to meet the task.

    1. I agree, Mound, that the future looks indeed bleak, and expecting any kind of concrete commitment to action from either Mulcair or Trudeau is not the basis of any real hope. It is also just so easy, unfortunately, in the minutia of day-to-day life, for the average citizen to ignore the peril that is engulfing us.

  2. .. 'Carbon is our Friend' .. 'asbestos is good for 3rld world..'
    'caribou are better off dead' 'wild salmon are obsolete'
    'Canada's glaciers are doing fine'
    'Stephen Harper is the kindest warmest most loving
    Manchrian Candiidate I have ever met'
    'China is our friend'
    Libtarts and Drippers.. or Greenies are out to lunch

    It becomes hysterical ..

    1. There are many mantras by which the Harper Conservatives live and die, Salamander. It is just too bad they are dragging all of us done with them.

  3. One day later, Lorne, and we have Harper and Tony Abbott getting together to admire each other's lizard brain. Harper emboldened to declare that, in his opinion, emissions cutting is the path to job losses and the end of growth and he won't stand for it. The straw man puts up a straw man and knocks it straight back down again. On cue, Oliver chimes in to warn the toadies that, without bitumen, Canada is a giant heap of nothing full of n'er do wells.

    Enemies of the state.

    1. When I read the story this morning, Mound, I thought of all of the things you have written about the dangerous delusion that continued economic expansion is possible. It just underscores the depth of deception people like Harper and Abbott are propagating, and the willful ignorance the majority of people choose to keep themselves in.