If one accepts that four parts per million (to put it in perspective: 140 people out of the entire population of Canada) of CO2 has an impact on the world's climate, and if one accepts that the impact is significant (more significant, for example, than much more powerful and plentiful water vapour, which accounts for 80% of all GHGs), and if one further accepts that solar activity, which shows a much more direct historical correlation to global climate phenomena, has little to do with the climate, and if one buys into the alarmist notion that a rise of one degree over the next century is somehow catastrophic in spite of the fact that we've been much hotter many times before in the earth's history, the next question is what to do about it. After all, Canada emits less than 2% of the global output of GHG, so anything we do will have no impact on emissions at all.
Parts of Europe have had their fling with so-called "green" technologies, or at least the wave is working through Europe at the moment, with England the next to don the dunce cap. The first to leap on the bandwagon are the first to be crawling off: Germany, Spain, Greece and Denmark, after attempting to make wind and solar "affordable" with taxpayer subsidies coupled with higher taxes on more reliable fossil fuels, have succeeded in creating a whole new economic class: the energy impoverished. And as a final kick in the pants after enduring higher taxes, a new class of poverty, and a loss of competitive advantage relative to just about everywhere else, Germany is burning more fossil fuels than ever before. Why? Because the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, and in order to keep the grid fed it's necessary to keep fossil fuel generation active in the background to make up for the lapses.
Like Germany, just last week Denmark dropped plans to construct windmills in the north sea because as Climate Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt explains, “We can’t accept this, as the private sector and households are paying far too much. Denmark’s renewable policy has turned out to be too expensive.” In Spain, as a result of the financial crisis, the subsidies for green energy were withdrawn, and the government had no choice but to revert to cheap and efficient fossil fuel for energy generation or face revolt by its citizens. As for Greece, a pall of smoke now hovers over Athens for the first time in decades because people have returned to wood burning in response to prohibitively high tax-driven energy costs.
One would think that all of this activity would have lowered the so-called "carbon footprint" of the participating nations, and it has, more or less, by driving industry overseas where regulations are non-existent and they can burn just about anything they want, as much as they want.
So in the end, the participating nations have made themselves poorer and world more polluted...the very definition of perverse incentive.
But none of this has dampened the hopeful naiveté of Ontario's ideology-driven Liberal government, already the world's most indebted non-sovereign entity, which has just announced another crippling $7 billion load on taxpayers and a raft of regulation straight out of Orwell's 1984. Nor has it affected the climate ardour of the federal Liberal government, although it is at least attempting to flounder its way to a happy medium between reality and the happyrainbowland of non-carbon energy. Apparently we all have to stick our hands in the flame one by one, undeterred by the shrieks of agony from everyone else, before we are satisfied by the utter futility of trying to go carbonless at this point in history.
Now don't get me wrong...I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that one day we'll have cheap, efficient, pollution free energy. I have absolute faith in humanity's ability to rise above every problem and arch relentlessly forward toward a better world, and in capitalism's ability to bring that about most efficiently. But what some governments are trying to do right now is just plain stupid...attempting to deploy technologies that are not yet ready for deployment, regardless of the cost and consequences. It's a little like trying to replace the horse with the steam engine in 1850, before a viable combustion engine had been invented. It's pure folly.
— Scott Anderson is a Vernon City Councillor, freelance writer, commissioned officer in the Canadian Reserves, and a bunch of other stuff. His academic background is in International Relations, Strategic Studies, Philosophy, and poking progressives with rhetorical sticks until they explode.