Thursday, Jun. 1, 2017
With the collapse of the Paris accord there is no longer a grand bargain and politicians are no longer able to exhort their citizens to pay carbon-related levies in solidarity with the citizens of the world. For Canadians, there is now hope for an end to the ruinous policies, such as those that led to unaffordable power prices, that have led our manufacturing industries to move to America’s low-cost regions — Procter and Gamble is the latest company to leave, fleeing coal-free Ontario for the low-cost coal country of West Virginia. Trudeau will soon be feeling the heat from the Conservatives’ new leader, Andrew Scheer, who promises to abolish Trudeau’s “cash grab” carbon tax, saying it “raises the cost of everything and puts jobs at risk while doing little for the environment.”
The last time the Liberals ran for office on an in-your-face carbon-tax policy, in 2008 with Stéphane Dion as their leader, they were reduced to just 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament, which at the time was their worst drubbing since Confederation. Knowing the public’s aversion to carbon taxes, Trudeau crafted a stealth campaign that steered clear of climate change to win the 2015 election. Knowing he won’t be able to run another stealth climate change campaign for the next general election, expected in just two years, Trudeau and the Liberals will need to temper their carbon enthusiasm to avoid another debacle.
European leaders who tout climate policies will also feel the heat — many have in any case been curbing their promotion of renewable energy to minimize damage to their economies, which like Canada’s has seen manufacturing industries flee to the United States. Thanks to fracking, the U.S. is no longer the world’s number one importer of oil and gas; instead it’s the world’s number one producer.
But economies and energy consumers won’t be the only beneficiaries of abandoning Paris and boosting fossil fuels. Contrary to the bad press that carbon dioxide receives, this colourless, odourless and tasteless gas is no pollutant. Carbon dioxide, nature’s fertilizer, is instead an environmental boon, responsible for greening the planet.
Until 1979, when satellites started to collect comprehensive data on Planet Earth, we had no way of accurately measuring the greenery of the planet. Over the last decade, the evidence has been streaming in, and as biologists expected, it shows that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have corresponded to rising levels of greenery. As confirmed in the most recent study, described last week in Science magazine, Canada’s boreal forests have been especial winners over the last 20 years: “much of the increase in greening is due to an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”
Ironically, an effect of carbon dioxide has been to cool the planet since the extra greenery acts to absorb sunlight, rather than allowing it to be reflected back to space. “In mapping the entire planet, the group found that for approximately 60 percent of all plant areas, an increase in greening has mitigated global warming by approximately 14 percent,” Science added.
In contrast to these undeniable, quantifiable, verifiable and seeable environmental benefits, confirmed and reconfirmed in study after study, none of the piles of studies showing harm from carbon dioxide have offered anything but unverifiable theories based on countless models that have invariably flopped. Likewise, the harm to economies from pursuing climate change policies is self evident in abandoned manufacturing plants and rising levels of fuel poverty, while the claimed benefits are based on dodgy theoretical models of what might come to pass a century or two from now.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe, a Toronto-based environmental group. LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com