Ataraxia

It is, or it was, anyway, according to the ancient Greeks, possible to be in a state of complete imperturbability, called ataraxia, about some issue or another … to be absolutely calm and cool in the face of great trouble. This is how we might think of Andrew Scheer and his new “no carbon tax” promise which Lorrie Goldstein, writing in the Conservative friendly Toronto Sun, describes as “nonsense” and a “fantasy.” I think Andrew Scheer has, in fact, just awakened to reality because, as Mr Goldstein says, “Back in the real world, for Canada to achieve Trudeau’s 2020 commitment under the Paris agreement would require cutting our industrial greenhouse gas emissions, even using the Liberals’ suspect numbers, by 96.4 megatonnes annually (a megatonne or Mt represents one million tonnes) in less than three years, the equivalent of shutting down almost all of Canada’s mining and upstream oil and gas production sector (100 Mt annually) …[and] … To meet Trudeau’s 2030 target would require cutting emissions by 191.6 Mt annually in less than 13 years, the equivalent of shutting down almost all of Canada’s transportation sector (199 Mt annually) … [but] … These targets were impossible to achieve when Harper set them and they’re more impossible now given the passage of time since Trudeau adopted them … [because] … They would require Ottawa to impose a national carbon price of hundreds of dollars per tonne of emissions immediately, compared to Trudeau’s price of  $10 per tonne today, rising to $50 in 2022.

I suspect that it has finally dawned on Mr Scheer that, going all the way back to Jean Chrétien and Kyoto in 1995, political leaders, Conservative and Liberal alike, have been lying to Canadians and the world. Prime Minister Chrétien cared nothing about climate change … he told his delegation in Kyoto to agree to something, anything better than the US commitment so that he and his Liberal Party would look better to Canadian voters at home … one can always campaign against the Americans. Stephen Harper knew that nothing useful . could be done but he grew tired of being pilloried by ignorant celebrities at global climate change conferences so he proposed targets that he had no interest in meeting. Justin Trudeau’s advisors, also knowing that they could do nothing useful, adopted the Harper targets because they were, politically, good enough.

Now the Liberals, especially Environment Minister Catherine McKenna are in a state of great and noisy agitation, the exact opposite of ataraxia, because they want to tell Canadians that Mr Scheer is a fool and a liar and, perhaps, both … he’s neither. No matter what Environment Canada might say, carbon pricing, as envisioned by the federal and provincial Liberals and the provincial NDP, will not do much if anything to meet the impossible Harper/Trudeau climate change targets. Ms McKenna and her colleagues are still trying to fool Canadians into thinking that there is an answer; there isn’t. The targets agreed at Kyoto in 1995 and Paris in 2016 are nonsense … Canada will not meet its targets and neither will America, Britain, China, Denmark, Egypt, France Germany, Honduras or India. The politicians and scientists and bureaucrats all understand that but they know that they must find a way to pacify the screaming children’s crusaders. Mr Scheer needs to go from being just another political liar and, finally, tell Canadians the truth which is that neither he nor David Suzuiki nor the real scientists know how to stop climate change without destroying the modern industrial economy. The targets are a fantasy, he should say, and he is not going to spend even one second of useful bureaucratic and political time or even the tiniest iota of effort in trying to meet an impossible goal ~ thus: no federal carbon taxes and Canada will send only a tiny handful of officials to observe at climate change meetings.

That would be the truth … of courseAndrew Scheer is not going to say that because it would also be political suicide, but he’s taken a step in the right direction by saying that a carbon tax is not part of ANY useful solution.

I believe that the climate is changing; I believe that we, humans and our use of fossil fuels is one part (I don’t know how big a part) of the climate change problem … and I don’t know what the impact of climate change will be: not, I suspect, as disastrous as Al Gore and David Suzuki would have us believe, nor as benign as other, climate change deniers, suggest, either.

I also believe that we, Canada, need to have policies to remediate the damage we have done and are doing to our natural environment ~ we need clean up the air we breath, the water we drink and the soil in which we grow our food. We need to clean up the plastic we throw into our rivers and oceans. We need to make the best, most efficient and effective use of various energy sources ~ we need to burn gas and oil when it makes sense to do so and we need to find a way to make “clean coal” something other than an oxymoron. While were burning cleaner coal and natural gas we need to figure out how to safely transport and store spent nuclear fuel for generations, even for millennia so that clean, safe nuclear energy becomes a mainstay of our daily lives.

What we do not need is another tax … Canada does not have a tax revenue shortfall, our governments ~ national, provincial and local ~ all have spending problems. It is, actually, a good start to say that Canada will stop trying to pretend that a carbon tax is anything but a way to feed big government’s insatiable appetite. It is to be hoped that Andrew Scheer will scrap carbon pricing, will ignore our climate change targets and will, above all, reign in government spending.

 

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