Contributed by Donald Lee © 2019
In this op-ed submission, a citizen expresses their outrage over the declaration of a “Climate Emergency” in Canada.
by Donald Lee
Recent political news has continued to follow Pareto’s 80-20 rule: 20% sense and 80% nonsense. Our emperor in Ottawa and his Comic Courtiers have declared a Climate Emergency. Really? Perhaps I’m just a country bumpkin and my personal experience is merely “anecdotal” in the grand Sea of Scientific Seriousness in which I can only dip my toe. But my grandchildren are growing up in an Alberta climate today not observably different from the Alberta climate in which I grew up half a century ago. What emergency?
Yet our emperor insists that something is rotten in the State of Climate and he’s going to fix it with – wait for it – taxes! Really? Setting all the scientific questions aside for the moment, as an economist, I can tell you there is absolutely no way you can change the climate of the entire planet with taxes. The earth’s climate does not respond to taxes. Taxes just don’t do that. That’s the truth. Taxes raise money for governments. They don’t do much of anything else except make life more difficult and expensive for all the rest of us. Politicians, and their economist lackeys, think they create whatever dystopic vision of society they want with tax incentives and disincentives. The truth is – it ain’t so. There is precious little real economic evidence to suggest that taxes do any of the other things they’re purported to do. Even high taxes only marginally affect human behaviour. High booze taxes have not reduced the inexorable rise in per capita alcohol consumption. High tobacco taxes did not reduce cigarette smoking. The gradual realization that smoking kills you did that. And millions of people blithely continue to slowly kill themselves anyway. Fuel taxes have not induced people to park their cars when they need to travel, to turn off their furnaces when they need to warm up, or to shut off their lights when they need to see in the dark. Perhaps our emperor has forgotten that Canada is cold and dark for half the year.
To solve the fantasy Climate Emergency, our emperor has settled upon the one thing governments do well – tax and spend. A carbon tax. Really? Every living thing is made of carbon – every human, animal, fish, bird, every tree and every blade of grass. Are we taxing all these? No. Ninety percent of the earth’s carbon is tied up in sedimentary rocks. Are we taxing the rocks? No. So even though carbon is the sixth most abundant evil element in the universe, we’re not going to make any money by taxing it. It’s not a tax on carbon. That’s just lying propaganda. It’s a tax on fuel, plain and simple. We’ve had fuel taxes for 100 years and they haven’t changed the climate yet. Neither will this one. That’s the truth. Any possible impact of higher fuel taxes in Canada on global CO2 production will be so infinitesimally small as to be indistinguishable from zero. Carbon taxes cannot possibly affect the climate.
So it seems that our emperor and his Comic Courtier Economists, drunk on the wine of their own grandiose economic omnipotence, have taken a new and bold step in their Religion of Social Engineering. Not only do they believe they can change human society to suit themselves (hiding behind the curtain and pulling the levers of tax incentives like the Wizard of Oz), they believe they can change the physical universe! (And some people think I have strange beliefs.) Surely the climate will respond to tax incentives – in exactly the way we believe it will. The fact that it’s never been done before, or that there is no real scientific evidence to suggest it will work (lots of speculation, but no evidence), are mere incidentals that only a non-believer would quibble over.
Nor does it matter that even the brightest among us don’t actually know how the climate works, since no one has yet come up with a general theory of climate. It’s of no import that no one can even explain the scientific climate evidence. What causes ice ages to start? Or end? No one knows. Or what about minor climate changes like the Little Ice Age. The earth spent about five centuries getting gradually colder (1200-1700) and has since spent about three centuries unraveling that change. Nobody knows why. But it doesn’t matter because, with confidence born of ignorance, our emperor is going to change the earth’s climate with taxes. And you’re going to pay them! If changing the earth’s climate is as easy as “putting a price on pollution”, then surely we could simply put a tax on water, thereby discouraging it and causing the sea level to fall.
A Climate Emergency? The true evidence shows there is no increase in the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events anywhere in the world. The true evidence shows no change in the rate of sea level rise over the past 150 when records have been kept. The geologic evidence suggests the rate hasn’t changed for the past 12,000 years. What emergency? Some of us are old enough to remember that the same apocalyptic disasters that are now supposed to happen by 2030 were supposed to have happened already. No apocalypse yet. What emergency?
Once again, our emperor and his Comic Courtiers have instituted a solution that cannot possibly solve the imaginary problem it is purported to solve. Are they ignorant or deceitful? Those are the only two possibilities I can think of. Either they have no idea what they’re doing, or they know exactly what they’re doing and it’s not what they say they’re doing. (Did ya follow that?) Can any of this supposed environmental nonsense be of any benefit to sea turtles, or burrowing owls, or polar bears? Nope. How about the homeless? Nope. How about people who built homes in swamps or on eroding shorelines? Nope.
The only possible beneficiary of carbon taxes is the government bureaucracy itself. Once again, hundreds of freshly minted Humanities majors and under-employed housewives will find gainful employment and a steady paycheque shuffling paper in Ministry of the War on the State of Climate. J.K. Rowling would approve the new fantasy ministry.
Our Climate Barbie says she’s doing the right thing by taxing pollution. Really? Why then do municipalities in Liberal ridings continue to dump raw sewage into Federal waterways without consequence? Isn’t that pollution? It contains carbon. And we do know how to solve that problem. In fact, it’s easy. That’s the truth.
It’s a famous tactic of failing politicians to pick fights with neighboring countries, to distract the public’s attention from their domestic policy failures. Since Canada has no readily-available neighbors we could beat up, our emperor has found some indefensible entities to attack – the vile State of Climate and the insidious Principality of Plastic Straws. Surely if we legalize hallucinogens, write the scripts for the town criers, and wage successful wars against imagined enemies, the people will love us. Now we can create a new Ministry for the War on Plastic Straws. Our Elites are incredibly out of touch, not only with ordinary people but with reality as well.
I don’t think our emperor could recognize an emergency if it sat up in his cannabis-infused Cheerios and said, “Good morning.” There are certainly crises in our society, as always, but our Elites cannot distinguish the crucial from the trivial. While they pathetically battle Plastic Straws and Climate Change like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, they’re oblivious to the fact that half of Albertans would vote for secession today because we’re so disgusted with trying to be a part of this dysfunctional nation, and sick and tired of being squished under the heel of its idiotic rulers.
The emperor has no clothes. That’s the naked truth.
Donald Lee is an author and retired teacher.