Canada's Global Warming Grinch

Stephen Harper seemed positively grumpy the other day as he described the implications of his government actually doing something about global warming.
In a year-end interview with CBC, Harper said “”As soon as you're dedicated to actually reducing emissions, that imposes costs on the economy…Once we start [and] these things start biting, the criticism we're going to be getting is that we're doing too much.”
Harper seems like a man bragging to his neglected wife that if he ever made love to her, she might die from exhaustion.
In fact, the Harper Conservatives have done so little about global warming that the short-term economic implications are the least of our worries.
Under his watch, Canada is the only signatory to Kyoto that openly abandoned commitments to reduce carbon emissions. The same week he was elected, he committed to the US a five-fold increase in production at the Alberta tar sands.
Not surprisingly, Canada’s carbon emissions have skyrocketed under the Harper regime - even more so than under his liberal predecessors. He also worked hard behind the scenes at the Commonwealth conference in Nairobi and the UN climate conference in Bali to ensure the final agreements had no binding emissions targets.
Rather than bemoaning the economic downsides of reducing carbon emissions, Harper should be embracing the opportunities they create. A recent study from the University of California at Berkley projected that Schwarzenegger’s efforts to wean California off fossil fuels would create 17,000 jobs and add $60 billion to the state gross domestic product by 2020.
Of the course the other side of the debate ignored by Harper is the enormous cost to the economy of doing nothing about global warming. The findings of such studies range from gruesome to apocalyptic.
Last year, former chief economist of the World Bank Sir Nicholas Stern released his seminal study on the economic implications of climate change. He found that ignoring climate change could shirk the world economy by 20%. By instead choosing to act now, we could avert this calamity for a cost of only 1% of world GDP. I’m no economist but that that seems like a bargain to me.
More recently, Harvard University economics professor Martin Weitzman developed an economic theory to calculate the cost to the economy of far greater (but plausible) temperature increases than those considered by Stern.
The paper is not yet published by the scuttlebutt is that the news is not good.
According the New Scientist Magazine, “When you take into account extreme temperature rises… [Weitzman] says, they dominate all other options and effectively demand that investment aimed at stopping them be made now”.
I realize that Mr. Harper is not a big reader but I am sure those studies are available should he choose to peruse them. As an economist himself, he might find them enlightening.
So before Stephen Harper starts bragging about his eventual performance around climate change, he should take some advice from Elvis Presley: a little less conversation, a little more action…


The problem is costs to whom and when…and Harper seems to think that the only costs to be concerned about are the immediate costs of the fossil fuel companies. Not unlike the studies on the science of global climate destabilisation, you won’t find many, if any credible studies out there that say policies to lower GHGs will truly cripple the economy as a whole. Just like the science, most of the ‘death knell for the economy’ studies are done by industry hacks. That’s because they would most likely spell the eventual decline of the fossil fuel industry. This is no small industry of course. The spending power of the top five oil companies is multiple times the spending power of the Cdn federal government. Exxon alone takes in more money than the federal government – almost twice the last time I checked (a year or so ago). So being the corporatist he is, Harper does the decidedly un-conservative thing and fights off policies and objectives which are ultimately pro-growth for the economy as a whole. By that I mean, and I’ve borrowed this from the Stern study, the ultimate economic pro-growth strategy is to reduce emissions because without that, there won’t be a stable climate on which to grow an economy. If only he followed true conservative principles by acknowledging science and then letting markets respond to price signals. Instead, by effectively acting on behalf of huge industries, he sets the rest of us up for long-term economic decline.

Blaming everything on Exxon, oil companies and corporists is a strawman. Harper is acting on behalf of Canadians interests. And it is Canadians who are concerned about upending the economy in a drastic manner.

Lowering GHGs modestly won’t destroy the economy; lowering GHGs drastically would. If we are truly face to face with peril, we will reduce C02 drastically, but at present Canadians will not give a mandate to any party to radically alter the economy. That may change in the future but this is the reality at present.

If the environment falls apart, the economy falls apart. It’s ridiculous to think that a constructed system like the economy is more important than the environment that produces the air, water and food that we need to live. We have to adapt or die.

And only if Canadians strongly endorse action on AGW will strong action be taken. So far, Canadians have not given this strong support to their government. The IPCC does not set government policy in Canada, we do.

I’m with Paul on this one. He never claimed to speak for anyone but himself, and yet the truth of what he says is self-evident. I think he reflects the majority opinion.

The fact of the matter is, inspite of all the fluffed-up polls and propaganda, I have never personally met anyone who gives a rat’s ass about Global Warming hysteria. Oh, sure, occassionally you come across the odd person who parots a few of the vapid catch-phrases, but these are also generally the same people who tisk-tisk about starving children in Africa or drunk driving. We all know society could easily take decisive action on both of those issues, for example, and yet they still persist. And those are real issues, whatever their merits. Global Warming? Not so much.

Besides, if the majority of Canadians are so utterly convinced that we need to “do something” (whatever that is?) about Global Warming, why would a slick Vancouver PR company feel the need to convince people of something that they already allegedly completely believe already?

The answer is – and the hucksters at Hoggan and Associates know this damn well – nobody gives a crap, and rightly so. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. Most people know which side their bread is buttered on, and the issue will never go beyond some ritualized tongue clucking. In spite of the cynical manipulations of the Global Warming cultists, people will never sell the family cow for a sack of magic Global Warming beans.

You guys hang around with a different crowd. Everyone I know is concerned about climate change, are doing what they can to reduce personal CO2 emissions, and are ticked off that all government levels are making only nominal efforts, if that.

As I see it, this site is not promoting climate change awareness as much as playing whack-a-mole with the few remaining deniers – revealing their unsubstantiated claims and unprofessed biases.

Hmm. Not a bad analogy. But then, that’s what deSmog set out to do: expose the unsubstantiated claims and unprofessed biases of people who are trying to confuse the public. There are loads of sites raising awareness. And of course twice as many trying to paint the whole issue of AGW as a communist/left-wing conspiracy to redistribute wealth and destroy the western economy etc etc etc.

I’m with you, Hugh. Most of my friends are taking the bus, standing up against the NIMBY’s for windmill farms, voting Green, buying at the farmers’ market in season, hanging the laundry, and so on. I have decorated my 2m potted hibiscus tree instead of cutting down a balsam this year. It’s quite pretty, with blooms coming out beside the ornaments!

Time to go brush up on “How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic”. I’m seated next to one for Christmas dinner, so you’ll have to excuse me now. Merry Christmas!

Must be in the wrong crowd as well. Most of my family, friends and colleagues want our government to take action on climate change NOW, and are working to be personally responsible about their lifestyles as well. From what I understand, taking action on climate change is the #1 issue to voters in Canada today, even more so than healthcare, so I have to disagree with those who say the majority of Canadians don’t care. The facts seem to indicate the complete opposite.

It is interesting that the people of Canada are much further ahead in responsible thinking than the country’s government. Hopefully the government can catch up, otherwise they will be left as roadkill along the path to progress that the majority of Canadians are calling for.

Strange - I know hardly anyone who thinks that GW is a serious concern. However, that may be because most of my friends are scientists.

Most of my friends are working scientists, and all my scientist friends are very concerned.

You may have a point, Steve. Higher education isn’t necessarily consistent with common sense. I guess that my friends just have finely tuned and accurate bullshit detectors.

Best wishes for the New Year, Zog

Hmmm, to me it seems common sense to understand that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will enhance the greenhouse effect.

You’ve never met anyone who cares about global warming? What rock have you been living under?

Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many adults in Canada disagree with one of their federal administration’s ideas to fight global warming, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 60 per cent of respondents reject the government’s proposal of intensity-based targets.
Many adults in Canada want their federal lawmakers to support Bill C-30, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 55 per cent of respondents want their representative in the House of Commons to vote in favour of the amended legislation that seeks to force the federal government to comply with the Kyoto Protocol.

Sorry buddy, but you’re generalizations about what the public thinks can only be explained by either lack of exposure to the real world or just plain lies.

“…lack of exposure to the real world or just plain lies.”

Spoken with the typical erudition of a warmist true believer.

I’m not blaming Canadians, I’m observing them. They drive a lot, fly a lot, and, when given the chance, move into larger houses. That’s the reality about most Canadians today.

Most Canadians aren’t indifferent about AGW, yet at the same time, they aren’t terribly worried by it either.

So instead of propping up the old strawman and blaming Exxon, Big Oil, big business and other assorted evil entities, I believe the real reason for our inaction on AGW is the ambivalence of the Canadian public. That’s reality.

Yes and No.


We are concerned that the environment is changing. We are worried about the increase in pollution that may be contributing to a rise in global temperature. We’ve all noticed the change in the weather over the years and we have all commented on how out of “whack” it is now compared to when we were young. We are upset that our government hasn’t taken action to reduce harmful emissions from the large corporate polluters. In fact our government has decided to allow the largest polluters to increase their emissions output while at the same time telling us that we must reduce our harmful emissions.


We are also concerned that making choices that may or may not make a difference in reducing harmful emissions will burden our already hectic and difficult lives. As it is now, most Canadians work well beyond 40hrs a week just to keep their heads above water. The majority of family’s include two working parents as a necessity. Most people wouldn’t be able to make a substantial change in their daily habits without compromising their way of life, and that’s something we aren’t willing to do.

The debate about whether global warming is man made or not is unimportant. What ever the cause, be it natural or man made, something has to be done. The contributions of 1 000 households cutting a tonne of CO2 emissions is miniscule when compared to a large scale CO2 emitter reducing it’s emissions by just 1 percent during the same time period.
The bottom line is that we know there is a problem, however; we are not willing or able to fix it on our own.

Things are changing, as they always have and will continue to do so. The only difference now is the rate of change.

Who will survive and who will not?

Deciding not to take action is deciding to be inactive.

The Closet Environmentalist

I just thought that I would add my support. I despise Global Warming sceptics. In fact, I am currently putting up a GW display in my school and have been thinking about the issue a lot, so I’ve done my research and have a fair idea about what I’m talking about.
Here is a summary of an article from my display-a very solid, reliable article by a scientist who doesn’t work for the oil companies:

Carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere.
This raises the temperature.
This causes ice to melt.
Ice reflects much more heat away from the earth than water does.
Less ice means less heat reflected away from the earth.
Thus, the temperature goes up and causes more ice to melt.
It is a vicious cycle and by its very nature the rate of melting will increase as the temperature goes up.
It will reach a point- and sooner than you may think- when anything we can do in terms of carbon emissions will be too late- a drop in the ocean.
That is why we must act now BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

People who deny global warming are strongly delusional/ignorant. They fear the sacrifices they may have to make and the changes that will come so they ignore the problem hoping it will go away. If we don’t act soon then we won’t need to argue about the issue anymore- the evidence will be right in front of our eyes.

Whoops! There go the costal cities!
And the polar bears!
Ah! Beautiful sun. Whoops! Devastating drought!
And Malaria!

An example:
The earth’s temp. was only 5 degrees celcius lower in the last ice age than it was in 2006. Thus, a few degrees make a big difference. Also, in all the time since, the temperature has never fluctuated by more than a degree or two.

I don’t really understand the doubters. It all seems so self-evident. Just look at the wacky weather!

For those who think that you can’t make a difference- well, you can. Yes, you individually can’t do much, but together, ah, that is a different story.
Earth pop. 6.5 billion
Just pretend that each person reduced their carbon emissions by 1 pound a year. You do the math. Now imagine if they reduced it more than that. Suddenly I can see the earth- and us- and maybe even the polar bears- surviving. Of course, we still have to crack down on business and other producers of carbon emissions.

2007 shattered records for Arctic melt in the following ways:

- 552 billion tons of ice melted this summer from the Greenland ice sheet, according to preliminary satellite data to be released by NASA Wednesday. That’s 15 percent more than the annual average summer melt, beating 2005’s record.

- A record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland this year, 12 percent more than the previous worst year, 2005, according to data the University of Colorado released Monday. That’s nearly quadruple the amount that melted just 15 years ago. It’s an amount of water that could cover Washington, D.C., a half-mile deep, researchers calculated.

- The surface area of summer sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean this summer was nearly 23 percent below the previous record. The dwindling sea ice already has affected wildlife, with 6,000 walruses coming ashore in northwest Alaska in October for the first time in recorded history. Another first: the Northwest Passage was open to navigation.

- Still to be released is NASA data showing the remaining Arctic sea ice to be unusually thin, another record. That makes it more likely to melt in future summers. Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004’s total.

Just last year, two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”