Canada’s Environment Minister Says Reducing Green House Gases Pointless

If you want to tell Mr. Prentice that it is pointless to ignore the risk of global climate destabilization from climate change any longer, click here for his contact info.

  • In an interesting twist, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now saying he wants to work on saving the most vulnerable people on earth, women and children.  In a recent opinion article in The Toronto Star, Harper wrote:

“As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.”

However, as Star environment columnist Peter Gorrie points out, the most recent UN “State of the World’s Population Report” states women are the segment of the population most vulnerable to suffer from climate change -related effects:

Women … are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities.

Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks (creating a) cycle of deprivation, poverty and inequality.

Gorrie goes on to conclude:

If Harper were serious about his new campaign, he’d put Canada in the lead on climate change rather than keep us a laggard. He’d make that policy part of a coherent effort to change the conditions that condemn so many women and children to desperate, short lives.

Click here to read Gorrie’s full article.

Premier Charest: “I Never Thought That Aligning Our Policies With The United States Was Good Enough For Canada”

In a curious twist, Quebec Premier Jean Charest is publicly defending Canada’s national interest.  Charest recently responded to the Harper government’s so-called “policy” on climate change, which is to do whatever the U.S. does (read this recent post for more). The premier of the province with the most ambivalent relationship with the rest of  Canada finds himself defending Canada’s right to its own climate change plan.  Charest recently questioned why Canada’s national policy is to follow the American’s lead, and denounced the Conservative government’s declaration that Canada’s climate plan is to mimic whatever policy the U.S. government eventually adopts. Mr. Charest said this week:

The only federal plan is to align with the United States. However, I never in my life thought that aligning our policies with the United States was good enough for Canada.”

Meanwhile, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice recently slammed Quebec’s new environmental regulations that set more stringent emissions standards for vehicles, saying they are :

an absolutely counter-productive and utterly pointless way to cut greenhouse-gas emissions that will ultimately put Canada at a competitive disadvantage in the North American marketplace.

Charest disagreed, pointing out that 14 states have adopted similar legislation.  Recently Quebec’s Environment Minister Line Beauchamp accused her federal counterpart of being a stooge of the auto industry. In an interview with the Canadian Press, Beauchamp said:

He’s endorsing arguments advanced by automobile manufacturers and that discourages me.”

Bloc Québécois environment critic Bernard Bigras supported Quebec’s new vehicle emissions standards, saying that it is similar to the one adopted by 15 U.S. states representing 40 per cent of the U.S market. Bigras said:

Quebec isn’t alone. Ontario also wants to move ahead on this issue but Ottawa is retreating. We appear to be on a collision course here.”

The reluctance on the part of the federal government to articulate a uniquely Canadian plan to one of the biggest issues of this century should be very concerning to Canadians of all political stripes.  It is an abdication of responsibility, and should have Canadians wondering about the leadership qualities of this government.  Kudos to Premier Charest, for giving voice to concerns that Canadians inside and outside Quebec share!

The Science of Climate Change- It’s Elementary

I recently spent an afternoon at Science World in Vancouver, escaping a cold rainy day.  In one corner was a display on how global warming works.  I thought it was worth repeating here, paraphrased and expanded upon.  The explanation went something like this:

Carbon dioxide (Co2) is what is put into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.         Humans, mostly in Europe and North America, have been burning more and more fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil are the 3 major culprits) at an increasing rate since the Industrial Revolution started several hundred years ago.  At the same time we have been cutting down more and more trees.  Trees clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen.  Carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere trap heat. Therefore:

More Carbon Dioxide + Less Trees to Absorb Carbon Dioxide =

More Carbon Dioxide than ever before in the atmosphere, trapping heat in a way the planet has never experienced before

Now I am not a scientist, and admittedly there are disagreements even among scientists about the rate of heat trapping and its effects on the global climate.  There are also other gases such as methane and nitrous oxide that are also affecting our environment.  But this was such a straightforward explanation, one that a child could easily understand.

Maybe Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Jim Prentice need to spend an afternoon at Science World.