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Friday, September 23, 2016

Climate change fact or myth and does it even matter anymore?

Ontario PC leader  Patrick Brown surprised many members of his party when he announced last March he was in favour of putting a price on carbon. At that time he said, “Climate change is a fact. It is a threat. It is man-made.”

This apparent turnabout for the PC leader has not been met with much enthusiasm among conservatives who continue to have doubts about all sorts of things related to anthropogenic climate change, or “global warming” as we used to call it. Ontario PC membership—much like other conservatives across the country—span the full gamut of this issue.

In 2013, environmentalist Dana Nuccitelli, in an article he wrote for The Guardian newspaper in the U.K., used the term “climate contrarians” to describe sceptics who questioned the various aspects of climate change. He said the opinions of climate contrarians “spanned … 5 stages of global warming denial.” And from what I’ve read and heard over the past decade or so, I’d say most conservatives I know, or whose works I read or to whom I listen regularly are pretty much at one of those five stages.

In my opinion, only a minority of Ontario conservatives have made it through all five stages and is now fully accepting of the science, agrees it is caused by human activity and presents an impending threat, and is committed to mitigate the effects at virtually any cost, including carbon taxes or other greenhouse gas reduction mechanisms.

If Mr. Brown was being frank with us, his statements, “Climate change is a fact. It is a threat. It is man-made,” coupled with his support for “putting a price on carbon” places him firmly among this minority and at odds with the rest of us. But, while he may be among the minority of conservatives on this issue, he is among the majority of people in Canada, America and the European Union who have gone all-in on climate change.

The five stages, by the way, are as follows:

  1. Deny its existence
  2. Deny we’re the cause
  3. Deny it’s a problem
  4. Deny we can solve it
  5. It’s too Late

Sound familiar? I’d say it fits pretty well with the knowledge I’ve gained from following this subject closely over the past couple of decades.

I’d say I’m probably stuck somewhere in or between stages four and five. Yes, the issue seems real and does seem to be a problem, especially with the effect rising sea levels are having on many inhabited parts of the world. I’m still not convinced, however, that it’s all to do with human activity and would not have occurred anyway as a natural cycle of the planet’s cooling and warming. But I suppose human activity could be accelerating the process.

My main areas of contention though are: (a) can we really stop it or even slow it down or should we spend our limited recourses on mitigating its effects; and (b) this should not be used as a cash grab by governments to raise money for more social programs with which to bribe the electorate. In other words, any tax raised should be offset by tax reductions elsewhere.

At the end of the day, though, does any of our skepticism really matter? Regardless of what any conservative might think about the veracity of the science surrounding anthropogenic climate change, the science on this issue is, for all practical purposes, settled.

And while it may be considered heroic by some to continue to challenge the overwhelmingly large worldwide majority opinion, I believe it is a waste of our time.

Better we concentrate our efforts on making sure governments choose the least damaging and costly mitigation strategies, and also that every cent of carbon tax is returned to taxpayers in the form of lower taxes elsewhere and not as some social service or other offset that does not go back proportionately to those who paid the tax in the first place.

8 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Russ

    I too have followed the fraud that is AGW. I can tell you that anyone in the media that I have spoken to is only armed with UN/Lib talking points.

    This is an unmitigated fraud. The ultimate goal is control and ration of the worlds life blood, and as such control of humanity.

    CO2 is a trace gas critical to life on earth that is currently at geological historic lows. it has been as high as 7000 ppm and the earth did not burn up.

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  2. Russ - it's not a matter of faith, it's a matter of reality: climate change has happened, is happening, and will happen. It's what the climate does. And has done. There have been many mass extinctions in the geological record; Mother Nature is not always nice.

    The most recent hysteria (and I do apologize to women) over global climate change is invoked by claiming any change the "scientist" claims to have discovered is due to human activity. It's all propaganda designed to herd us all into rather nasty regimes "FOR THE GOOD OF THE PLANET". Naturally, those imposing said regimes won't be subject to same.

    Look at the activities - and global footprints of Dr Suzuki, Dr Gore, Mr DiCaprio, Bono, et al. If they truly believed human activities were responsible for serious climate change, one would think they would try to lead by example. Not only do they not so lead, they flaunt their lifestyles even as they urge governments to limit ours. "What you do not live, you have no right to require." - that's my answer to them.

    However, I do acknowledge climate change is happening - as it always has. Rather than the futile cap-and-trade and other tax control regulations, we would be much smarter to start preparing for same, and taking measures to ameliorate the effects.

    By the way, there is a theory that the story of Noah and the Ark came from the actual rather rapid rise of the Mediterranean Sea back in the day; said rise caused by the ice melting in Manitoba which allowed a very swollen Lake Winnipegosis to drain into the Atlantic and so cause a serious rise in the ocean level and that of adjoining bodies of water.

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    1. Frances, your words: "I do acknowledge climate change is happening - as it always has. Rather than the futile cap-and-trade and other tax control regulations, we would be much smarter to start preparing for same, and taking measures to ameliorate the effects."

      This pretty much sums up my position too. And, yes, I am familiar with the source of the "Noah and the Ark" story you describe... interesting, eh?

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  3. Generally concur with a lot here. I believe the science is settled too. I think the only real arguments for doing nothing which unfortunately the left won't accept is as follows.

    1. Canada emits about 2% of the world's GHGs so we aren't going to make much difference and the idea China, US, EU, Brazil, or Russia will do things differently because we do is nonsense. We are irrelevant despite what some liberals claim.
    2. Just as mitigation is a legitimate debate, what about adaptation, otherwise focus on adapting to a warmer climate rather than stopping it. Humans live on almost every corner of the globe so its not as though we cannot survive in many different climates. And the Netherlands is 25% below sea level so at least in the developed countries they can build dykes to deal with rising sea levels. That might be more problematic in the developing world but based on the growth rates in many they will have our standard of living in 50 years from now thus be able to afford it.

    Whether one agrees with those two or not, I think they are at least legitimate points without denying the science.

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  4. I agree that the science is settled too, Russ. But what I really like about Patrick Brown's recent moves is that he's removing the deadwood from the party. There's a small minority in society that have been drawn to conservatism that have been dragging us down. They tend to fall into at least one of the following groups, typically more than one: anti-science, anti-French, private property rights zealots (not all who support private property rights of course, more like some Landowners and others on the extreme), extreme pro-lifers (not all pro-lifers for sure), and angry losers. That last one might be a catch all but I'm tired of the angry losers! People who've accomplished little and life and blame others for it. Hate to break it to you, but you're the antithesis of what it means to be a conservative. These people, the whole group of them, don't appeal to most Ontarians and Canadians. We're stuck with them but we can't let them define us. Harper was great at isolating these groups when they tried to step too far but he also was able to get them to keep voting for us. Brown's going a bit further and cutting all allegiances to them. Good! They are a drain!

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    1. The groups you identify above were the backbone of the Brown leadership support--these are the groups he went after, while the less extreme elements of the membership generally voted for Elliott. So is Brown now turning against the very ones who put him in?

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  5. I didn't originally support Brown but was convinced by a friend that the party desperately needed changed, which I agreed, and he was the only one who would deliver real change. Yes he courted these groups and regrets it but so what, Harper supported these groups and didn't deliver much to them either once he became leader. Add all these groups together and they account for maybe 7% of the population, and their views alienate 60% of the population. But in the party their numbers are magnified to like 20-25% because they all come here. Without getting their support you need 2/3 of the rest just to be at 50%. So anyone who wants the leadership is stuck: you need to appeal to them to become leader then abandon them to form government. From a political point of view Harper played this game better. But again, are these groups really going to let the Liberals win again? Not. A. Chance.

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    1. You paint a very cynical picture of Brown's politics. If he really is that in insincere, we'll be no better off even if he does beat the Liberals for how can we trust anything he said he'll do?

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