Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Copenhagen aftermath

Those who lambast PM Harper & Premier Campbell for "shaming Canada at Copenhagen" are as unaware of what discussions took place behind closed doors as I am, but I am prepared to give these experienced politicians the benefit of the doubt.

Why, you ask?

Because strategy revealed in public seldom works.
They may have strategies to deal with Canada's awkward position as an major fossil fuel exporter doing business as the largest trrading partner of the USA and also sending millions of tons of coal to China and Japan as well as building two huge liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals at Ridley island near Prince Rupert and Texada island near Powell River on the south coast. Billions are at stake and it is unwise to make your deals in public.

Among the two hundred nations of the world there is a range of concerns regarding climate change. Some island nations are threatened with complete loss of territory due to sea level rise. So they will become refugees and will find new homes before final submersion. Coastal nations like Bangladesh, will suffer huge losses and there will be refugees. This has happened before, after monsoons and typhoons, and will happen again, even if there was no climate change.

The well-being of some nations will be enhanced by climate change. Canada may be one of them. PM Harper & his advisers can see that but it is politically unwise to say so in public.

IN any case, the Maldives may be doomed already. Even if we stopped all fossil fuel use tomorrow, parked the cars, shut down coal-fired electricity generation and let millions in the American northeast freeze this winter, it probably won't stop climate change in time to save the Maldives. We didn't initiate climate change in 20 years, it isn't going to stop in 20 years. And ocean levels could rise enough to submerge a good many island states by 2030.

In the meantime, World demand for energy is rising as nations develop from third world status and join the developed nations. The G7 has already become the G20. China is surging, as is India. Together they represent a third of the world's population. The scale of production of renewable energy production needed to meet the needs of just those 2,500 million people cannot be achieved in 20 years.

Over the next 20 years the world will need all of Canada's fossil fuel energy production, just as it needs all of Canada's grain production. Many millions of people will die in the next 20 years from obesity and health conditions like diabetes related to overeating, but nobody would think of cutting back on food production to save them from themselves, nor in a democracy would they tolerate being told, "You're too fat, so we are reducing the amount of food on the grocery store shelves until you lose weight."

Sound ridiculous? Canada, USA, India and China are democracies. It seems unlikely to me that those citizens will stop heating their homes, or using fossil fuel powered vehicles for work and personal transportation voluntarily. Further, no government will long survive in a democracy today, if it tried to force that regime on it's voters.

Joe Clark tried merely to raise the cost of a litre of gasoline by as little as ten cents and his government fell as the citizens told him what he could do with his cost hike.

As if further prooof of this is needed, the elected leaders of the USA, Canada, Brazil, China, etc. agreed MOnday this week merely "to try to keep global warming to 2 degrees" but would not accept penalties for failing, because they knew they would be out of office before their planes touched down on home soil if they tried to sentence their voters to life without fossil fuels, or even a 20% reduction.

Always remember the first ten percent is the easiest, the next ten per cent is harder, and so on.

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