If Kyoto fails, we'll get more of it: True Believers will never be dissuaded. We need to break the cycle now.
Wednesday 23 October 2002
The Kyoto accord won't reduce smog. It was never intended to deal with the main emissions, such as carbon monoxide, that transform into smog when exposed to the sun.
Kyoto does attempt to curb nitrous oxide, a minor smog component, but only a little. Kyoto's primary focus is carbon dioxide, which doesn't create smog, but which, along with water vapour, traps reflected solar radiation in the atmosphere, causing the Earth to warm because the radiation can't escape.
Kyoto doesn't deal with suspended particles, either, another major component of the broader condition of "air pollution."
So when environmentalists, such as the David Suzuki Foundation, claim "ratifying the Kyoto Protocol ... will mean clean air," are they lying? No. Let's just say they're stretching the facts to make their case (and bump up their donations).
Environmentalists have convinced themselves Kyoto will reduce smog indirectly. As we reduce our CO2 emissions to Kyoto-dictated levels, our smog-producing emissions will fall coincidentally, they postulate.
John Robson, a columnist and editorial writer at the Ottawa Citizen, tells of being on a panel-discussion show on a community cable channel in September. The host -- a Kyoto supporter -- insisted the accord would reduce smog "by association."
Robson's biting response was hilarious. "Even if smog and greenhouse gases are both bad, it doesn't mean the same instrument will work against both. Smog and genocide are both bad, but you wouldn't ask the International Criminal Court to fight pollution."
Among its True Believers, Kyoto has taken on mystical powers. It is a panacea for all that ails the natural world as a result of human activity.
Without it, it will be too dry where it needs to be wet; too wet where it is supposed to be dry; too hot, too cold, too sunny, too cloudy. There will be more hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards without Kyoto, unless there are fewer. Winters will be longer, and shorter. Summers will be shorter, or longer. Whatever weather you believe to be bad, there will be more of it without Kyoto. And more fevers and diseases, too.
Most environmentalists aren't foolhardy enough to come right out and guarantee perfect weather and temperate climates forever if we pass Kyoto, but that is clearly the impression they are happy to leave as a by-product of their alarmism.
I'd be tempted to suggest that the best thing we could do to destroy the Kyoto mythology is to adopt the accord.
Then, when it is implemented and the problems it is meant to solve persist, we could point to its failure as proof that it was flawed all along. I'm tempted, but ultimately unpersuaded.
To implement Kyoto will cost jobs and economic growth -- tens of thousands of real existing jobs will be lost, and the economy will be slowed enough to prevent hundreds of thousands of new jobs from being created.
Canada is the only industrialized nation that will be harmed by its ratification, but which is committed to adopting Kyoto anyway. Kyoto benefits the Europeans. By replacing ancient, outdated factories in the 1990s -- factories that had to be replaced anyway -- with new factories, they have already met most of their Kyoto targets. They can afford to be smug. Complying with Kyoto costs them nothing.
The United States and Australia, the other two industrialized nations that would be hurt by Kyoto, have already declared they will not ratify. Which leaves only Canada running around trying to prove its moral superiority by slashing its own wrists in the name of ecological solidarity with the ... I don't know, radical NGOs? The UN?
Implementing Kyoto will cost lots of jobs and lower Canadians' standard of living. Why else would federal Environment Minister David Anderson have postponed his critical meeting with his provincial counterparts, originally scheduled for this week?
Ottawa has had plenty of time -- five years, in fact -- to devise a complex plan for meeting Kyoto's targets. Devising a complex plan that is dishonest about the human costs, that's what's holding things up.
I also resist the temptation to say go ahead, pass Kyoto, and in a few years we will all see what fools we were for doing so, because the True Believers are never dissuaded by failure.
When Kyoto fails, its supporters will not say, "Oops, sorry, let's look for another solution."
Rather, they will demand more Kyoto, more greenhouse gas reductions, more economic pain, just as the True Believers take the failure of gun control as a sure sign we need more gun control, the failure of liberal criminal justice as a sign our justice system isn't liberal enough and the growth of poverty as proof 40 years of cradle-to-grave welfare has been inadequate.
We need to halt such a Kyoto cycle before it begins.
Columnist, Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, National Post
Index to some of Lorne Gunter's articles
On global warming
On other issues
Global Warming A collection of information by reputable scientists from around the world who disagree with the David Suzuki crowd and the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], and who provide irrefutable evidence that debunks the global warming hype.
The White Rose
Thoughts are Free