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The fire next time

10 Apr 2019 | OP ED Watch

The Globe & Mail’s Gary Mason shows some first-class fake courage admitting that a column slamming Conservative politicians over carbon taxes “has not made me a popular columnist today among a swath of the populace” unlikely to read his newspaper. But, he writes, he doesn’t know how conservative politicians can live with their anti-carbon tax stunts and “lies” about climate when we’re “warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world” which has already “meant extreme heat, melting glaciers, thawing permafrost and rising sea levels” and “If you think the summer fires in British Columbia and Alberta have been bad the past few years, just wait.” We don’t know how he can live with himself peddling such fact-free clichés. And we’ll say it no matter how unpopular it makes us with the Globe.

Mason is of course right that it’s hypocritical of politicians from Jason Kenney to Andrew Scheer to profess to believe in the science of climate change while refusing to put forward plausible plans for cutting GHG emissions. And it’s suspicious to claim 4.4 cents per litre is the end of the world when prices regularly fluctuate by four times that much without noticeable consequences. One might even call it cowardly, especially if they count on their base to know they don’t believe it while lulling centrists with a pretense to the contrary. On the other hand, if they don’t believe there’s a crisis they shouldn’t be losing sleep over not proposing drastic measures to respond to it, just over lying.

A more pertinent question is surely how the true believers can live with their carbon tax stunts and lies about climate, pretending that imposing a 4.4 cent/litre levy means we’re on track to meet our Paris targets when we very obviously aren’t; targets which, even if we met, would have no effect on the climate anyway. Or how they can claim to be on the side of truth and science while claiming forest fires are increasing, or using a picture of a fire known to have been started by, of all things, a wind turbine project to promote this false notion.

As we have noted, there is a puzzling gap between the words and deeds even of those politicians most committed to the alarmist vision, let alone those trying to duck a debate on science while avoiding doing anything that might annoy voters. Thus Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister McKenna may preen endlessly about the decisive actions they are taking. But federal Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand begs to differ, saying in her final audits “For decades, successive federal governments have failed to reach their targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and the government is not ready to adapt to a changing climate”. As the National Post observed, “Gelfand’s rebuke came a day after Environment Canada scientists sounded an alarm that Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world, causing irreversible changes to our climate.” Now we doubt very much that faster-than-average warming is causing irreversible anything. But if one did believe it, as Trudeau et al claim to, it would be very odd to bring in such a small carbon tax with such fanfare and fiddle at the margins when the targets are plainly nowhere near being met, or to keep what Gelfand calls “inefficient” fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage consumption.

So before making acerbic accusations of dishonesty by people whose views you don’t share, maybe take a quick look at your own side. It’s unclear whether Mason thinks the oceans are rising faster around Canada than elsewhere, or where he thinks we’ve already experienced extreme heat. As for forest fires, one more time, the Canadian Forest Service says they’ve been declining in recent decades not increasing.

As Mason ends his column, “Incredible.”

2 comments on “The fire next time”

  1. To me, the fact that Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet means that the rest of the planet isn't warming "alarmingly," while Canada is warming up pleasantly.
    Much of the forest in B.C. and Alberta is chock full of dry fuel these days - the result of a mountain pine beetle infestation a decade or two ago, killing billions of pine trees. The infestation might be related to warmer winters in the 1990s and 2000s, but if our forests are only safe when the winters are as cold as they were in the 1970s or 1960s, then the Paris Agreement won't be of any use, either.

  2. All Jason Kenney and Andew Scheer have to do is change the attack to pollution instead of climate change. I don't mean Minister McKenna's pollution tax. I am referring to concrete proposals to reduce pollution such as the exclusion of raw sewage dumping into lakes and rivers, establishing incineration facilities in large cities to reduce land fill, preservation of Canada's water ways through environmental monitoring and public education, and a reduction in the use of disposable plastics. In that way the conservatives do not need trot out the need to address the climate change hysterics but rather do something positive for the environment.

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