It starts small. Possibly a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand. You admit minor doubts about some aspect of climate orthodoxy and before you know it you’re marooned on Denier Island with the other comic outcasts. Thus the Globe & Mail just ran a Gary Mason column headlined “The uncomfortable truth about Canada’s climate commitments: they won’t be met”. Not “might not be”. Not “require more political will”. Of course Mason doesn’t write his own headlines and he is, at least so far, no denier. Instead, he says “If you’re a Canadian who cares about the state of the planet and the efforts being made by this country to do something about it, you have to be incredibly depressed right now” before taking a shot at lack of political will, then abusing his audience with “The uncomfortable truth is this: Canada doesn’t care enough to make the sacrifices we need to, in the name of saving our planet.” But as we have noted it is not in Canada’s, nor any other country’s, power to stop climate change. And “Canada” does care, if “Canada” is a term here meaning our Prime Minister and his dedicated cabinet with their hugely expensive and ambitious array of climate policies, plus a largely uncritically alarmist media. What’s really going on is that those polices are failing for entirely predictable reasons despite enough political will to sink the Titanic. And at some point you stop blaming the purple meanies and start asking if there’s something deeply defective about your understanding of climate, the economy and their interaction.
If so, you start to notice problems like this one: Over at Canada’s Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Lee Harding explains that just building the “transformers” needed for the Brave New Grid is proving an insurmountable task. (And no, these Transformers are not the brave Autobots battling the wretched Decepticons, they’re those weird metal cage spikey things making humming and crackling noises behind fences with scary signs on them that crank the voltage way up and the amps way down before transmitting power over long distances, to reduce loss due to resistance, then do the reverse when it arrives so it doesn’t blow glowing chunks of your fridge across your kitchen.) And, Harding notes:
“Prior to 2021, transformers were generally delivered two months after being ordered. By 2022, a survey of US public power utilities revealed that wait times had grown to a full year. The hold up for this irreplaceable component has left one-fifth of US utility companies cancelling or delaying electrical grid projects. Home builders have waited for months for their houses to be hooked up to the grid as domestic power production runs at capacity. Meanwhile, the stockpiles of transformers dwindled, leaving communities increasingly vulnerable should major weather events compromise the grid. About 70 percent of US electrical transmission infrastructure is already more than 25 years old, and transformers increase the risk of failure between 25 and 50 years. It’s unlikely the Canadian situation is much different.”
On and on it goes, and reality is cornering even politicians and some journalists. Despite valiant rearguard actions such as a Bloomberg story fretting that by backpedaling on phasing out coal G7 governments are sending the wrong signal. That story, a typical case of sending words to do the work of deeds, claimed that:
“The deliberations… risk showing G7 nations are less resolved to consign coal to history months ahead of a critical U.N. climate summit in Dubai where nearly 200 nations will be pressed to phase out the fossil fuel.”
Rubbish. What they risk showing is that the G7 nations are discovering they can’t get rid of their existing energy infrastructure and keep the lights on because non-nuclear “alternative” energy just can’t get the job done.
Something called The Daily Digest asks “Climate action: why are we increasing emissions instead of reducing them?” But instead of saying “Because we don’t know how, and fooled ourselves as badly as you with all those models we mistook for reality” it goes on to say the usual stuff. So our favourite in this particular genre this week is Reuters’ take that:
“G7 countries’ climate ministers on Sunday agreed – for the first time – to speed up their phaseout of the fossil fuel consumption causing climate change, although they did not set a firm date for doing this.”
Except if they didn’t agree to do it, it’s not an agreement. People who worry about signals and communiques and weasel words instead of acts and results and decisions are not going to get anything done.