Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2019
Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant, former public servant and diplomat. His full bio is here.
Perhaps it is because Canada is now in an election campaign during which many advocates are trying to move their favourite issue to the top of the public’s agenda. Perhaps, those who believe with almost religious fervor that humans are causing catastrophic global warming are just feeling the confidence that comes with having billion-dollar foundations as well as plenty of government money behind them. Whatever the reasons, every day we see another statement of a simple, short and incorrect logic. It is expressed as, “Climate change is real, so we must impose carbon dioxide taxes” or “I believe in global warming, so the government should impose legally binding targets so people who produce or use fossil fuels will be punished.”
Such leaps of logic, it seems to me, obscure the many implicit theses that underlie the alleged linkage between climate science and public policy. I count at least ten, and I am sure there are more. So, let us count the ten deadly theses that climate catastrophists believe:
- that despite millions of years of climate changes affected by solar, oceanic, and other natural cycles, the main influence on the global climate today is the four in every ten thousand parts in the atmosphere that represent human-caused carbon dioxide emissions;
- that by adjusting human-caused carbon dioxide emissions), people can “manage” the global climate as though human emissions were a thermostat;
- that the analysis of future climate trends carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and specifically its modelling of future temperature changes, can be relied upon as a basis for understanding climate a century hence (despite the failure of those models even to replicate actual global temperature changes over the past thirty years);
- that the various agreements of the United Nations to set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets will actually result in those targets being met, notwithstanding that none of the targets set since 1990 have ever been met;
- that the growth in GHG emissions globally can be reduced by actions that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (i.e. the wealthier) countries take to reduce emissions – even though the non-OECD countries now constitute 63% of the emissions; all the emissions growth is occurring in the non-OECD countries; and the emissions growth is driven by the poorer countries’ justifiable and irresistible desire for higher living standards for their citizens;
- that a transition of all countries from one set of energy sources (i.e. fossil fuels) to another (i.e. wind and solar energy) can be achieved in 10 to 20 years even when, historically, such transitions have all taken 50 to 70 years;
- that sharply reducing GHG emissions in Canada will not cost very much or impair Canadian living standards very much, when the few steps that have been take so far have cost Ontario and Alberta alone tens of billions of dollars;
- that, even though federal and provincial governments already have over 600 programs, subsidies and regulations in place, adding a carbon dioxide tax is the additional ingredient that will sharply reduce emissions;
- that, even if one eliminated 100% of Canada’s emissions, or 1.6% of the global total, it would affect the future level of global emissions now growing every year due to developments in other countries (nine of the ten largest country emitters are not on track to meet their political commitments to reduce emissions by 2030); and
- that making GHG emission reduction the pre-eminent goal of Canadian public policy and thereby sacrificing Canada’s economic, social and national unity goals will be feasible without dire effects for the country as a whole.
Each of these theses stretches credibility. The whole package is so flawed as to be far beyond belief. Yet, so powerful and entrenched is the ideology behind them that doubters are portrayed as the “denier” of facts.
Every one of these false claims seems to have a life of its own, but they are like Dracula – almost impossible to kill without a stake through the heart. Canadians, we’re going to need a lot of wood!