Gwyn Morgan poses questions about Canadian climate policies, politics, and protests.
With energy and the environment playing an important role in the fall election, Canadians face starkly different policy positions from political parties, together with a bewildering array of information and disinformation.
Here is my rather eclectic list of little-known facts, head-scratching paradoxes, and utter hypocrisy.
Climate Emergency: On June 17, the House of Commons passed a motion declaring a National Climate Emergency.
Firstly, there is no such thing as a “national” climate emergency. Climate change is global, not national, and Canada’s contribution to global CO2 emissions is a miniscule 1.6%. Here are the answers to some questions that will help you assess whether there’s really a “climate emergency.”
How much CO2 is in the atmosphere and how fast is it growing? A 2018 report from the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives the answer. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now one molecule per 2,500 molecules, compared with one molecule per 3,000 molecules fifty years ago. That’s an average growth rate of just 10 molecules per year.
Apocalyptic projections of rapid sea level rises are driving municipal and provincial governments on both our east and west coasts to implement “sea level rise plans” that include sterilizing waterfront from development, building sea barriers and even buying out and destroying homes that are deemed vulnerable.
So just how fast are sea levels rising? Here again the NOAA provides the answer. Despite all the calamitous rhetoric, the NOAA states that sea levels “continue to rise at the rate of about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm) per year.” At that rate, a house built 10 feet above sea level today would still be 9 feet 7 inches above sea level 40 years from now.
Climate Change Hypocrisy: South Africa, India, the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and China, all signatories to the Paris climate accord, are building a combined 1,800 new coal-fired power plants. Coal plants emit twice as much CO2 as natural gas plants. Meanwhile, international environmental groups campaign against sending Canadian LNG to those countries.
Here at home, the Trudeau Liberals have just introduced a tax specifically designed discourage the building of new cleaner-burning gas-fired power plants as they continue to pursue the fantasy that wind and solar will keep the lights on. Good luck with that. After hundreds of billions of dollars invested, wind and solar contribute just 2% of global energy supply. And that’s only when the wind is blowing, and the sun is shining.
Climate Change Monovision: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would have us believe that fossil fuel emissions are the sole reason for climate change. But what about urbanization and deforestation? A study by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs states that the urban population rose from 750 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018.
We don’t need the IPCC’s hugely complex computer models to know that cities are hotter. All we have to do is walk from a paved sun-heated street lined with concrete buildings to a grassy park. Rather than reflecting the sun’s rays back to outer space, all that concrete and pavement absorbs the sun rays, creating a giant heat sink. Likewise, deforestation is turning vast tracts of cool African and South American jungles into heat-absorbing barrens. The US EPA summarizes the combined effect, “Processes such as deforestation and urbanization … contribute to changes in climate.”
Trying to deal with any problem without considering all possible causes is both a foolish and dangerous strategy.
First, do no harm: The Liberal government’s proposed “national clean fuel standard” requires increased biofuel content in motor fuels. Government mandated biofuel content requirements in North America and the EU have driven the burning of critically important jungle habitat to make way for palm oil plantations. On the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, over 50,000 Orangutans have died because of palm oil deforestation.
Who burns the stuff anyway: Several municipal councils, including Toronto and Victoria, are looking to sue fossil-fuel producers for causing climate change, but 70% of emissions come from their own constituents. Imagine their outcry if fuel producers failed to deliver!
BC Green Schizophrenia: BC Premier John Horgan called an inquiry to investigate high gasoline prices, but prohibited the panel from considering the price impact of provincial taxes. He also wants Alberta to build a new refinery to supply his province – but he’s against the pipeline that’s needed to carry it.
Sorry, only foreign tankers allowed: The Trudeau government implemented a tanker ban prohibiting movement of Canadian oil on the northern BC coast. Meanwhile, hundreds of tankers churn through the delicate and much more enclosed St. Lawrence estuaries carrying oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Nigeria, Angola and Algeria. And while ship/whale collisions are virtually unheard-of on BC’s northern coast, those foreign oil tankers move through waters where a critically endangered Northern Right Whale was killed in a ship collision just last month.
The great anti-oil industry warrior is back: Gerald Butts, former Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister, is back to help the Liberals win re-election. Before joining the Prime Minster’s Office (PMO), Mr Butts was CEO of World Wildlife Canada (WWF), an organization dedicated to “landlocking” the oilsands by stopping new pipelines.
In his role in the PMO, he was the mastermind behind policies that crippled our country’s oil industry. Gerald Butts has admitted via his Twitter account to receiving $361,642 from WWF during his first two years at the PMO. He claims it was severance, but how many Canadians have ever received severance for quitting their job? Mr. Butts resigned from the PMO after being accused of ethical transgressions s surrounding the SNC Lavalin scandal – but why hasn’t this more direct and personal ethical transgression been reported by news media?
So there you have it, my list of points to ponder through those long and balmy mid-summer evenings that “we the north” enjoy.
Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of Encana Corp.