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Thursday, December 13, 2007

KYOTO RANT

SO in a recent list of the highest polluting countries out there, Canada is at the lousy end of the list...only behind China, the US and Australia. The only large 3 countries not currently in the Kyoto accord are - Canada, China and the US, now that Australia is on board, with their new government. As of late, our new provincial government has been loosely discussing using the uranium we mine here in the province to fuel a local small reactor...and get this...to make cheap fuel to power the digging up of the OIL SANDS in ALBERTA!
A hearty WTF to all of this.
How did we fall so far?

The true north strong and free is not the shining beacon of human dignity and nature that it is inside my head...and that saddens me. To live in a country that is so full of beauty, and that prides itself on it's love of nature and goodness to people of all cultures...and be so very very far from that image in reality is sad.

Canada needs to make changes.

Recently scientists assigned carbon units to the amount of emissions that will happen before the global warming problem is irreversible...and the number was roughly about 180 or so...and accruing about 2-3 units a year. We're currently at about 120 on that scale...AND NOTHING IS BEING DONE. Our new Prime Minister (whom I not so affectionately call Bonehead) has backed out of Kyoto. Our official opposition leader who claims to be pro-environment (his dog is named Kyoto) abstained on the vote and gave in choked when we needed him most to defend us on environmental issues...as the former environent minister he caved and thought more about staying on as head of the Liberals than of the country's environmental welfare. So we are not as a country doing anything to address pollution. Nothing significant at all.

We just sit and talk about how we'll have a plan in place maybe in 5 years. Screw the effect on the economy that these adjustments may have! Developing countries being sucked into the affluent consumerism of modern day will need fuel and will start producing just as much waste and crap as we do...if we can't curb ourselves, how can we expect them to? We put dollars and cents and our "fragile economy" first, while the world is slowly being poisoned in front of our eyes. I fail to see how the corporate agenda takes precedence over the entire effing planet!

I know I compost, I recycle, I try and keep our house as energy efficient as possible and not buy crap I don't need...but I'm just one person. And I could do more...and a lot of people don't. I don't make the huge decisions. I can't force people to help out on my own. I saw a video presentation recently from the 90s of a girl about 13 addressing the environmental world conference asking the adults why they are told one thing but shown another when it comes to looking after the earth, and why things were being polluted and ruined...and it is still true. Years later the same issues are still here. We are not doing enough to fix the problem...because it is easier to not do it. There are alternative energy sources, but we won't use them until we *have* to...and by then it may be too late.

I have been thinking about this for days now and talking with J about it and I don't know that else to say except to implore all you out there to try and do your part. Shame your leaders into doing the right things by setting examples on how to treat other people and the planet you live in. I'd like to see my grandkids living here peacefully instead of off on a Mars colony because we used up the place and had to move on. Don't get me wrong...I'm INTO Mars and Moon living (Heck, I spent a month on Mars and it's not so bad really)...I could go with retiring to the moon. Just for kicks tho...not out of necessity. Of course they're talking about possible fuel mining on the moon so...I feel pessimistic saying it, but maybe we'd just go there and muck it up too. Who knows?

I for one like to think we can get it right. Canada needs to change. We are not the beacon of human dignity and natural beauty that we believe ourselves to be...and it is a shame. What to do about it?
Well, I think Yoda said it best:

DO or do not. There is no try.

17 comments:

Chaucer's Bitch said...

well that does it. back to dog sleds for you lot!

Reb said...

Well said! Good to hear you are doing your part too. I have areas where I could improve, but as I don't have a car, it makes the recycling a bit awkward. The apartment building doesn't have a recycle bin, so you have to take it to a central location. I keep harping on the manager though to get one, so maybe one day.

the Bag Lady said...

Good post! The Bag Lady is not a good global citizen, partly due to the country living thing. It's just too damned far to walk anywhere significant. But she does try to limit her trips to town to once a week, sometimes once every two weeks. If we run out of something, we make do without it until the next trip. It's a small thing, but she thinks it's better than jumping in the truck and running to town every day! She doesn't even drive to the little hamlet to pick up her mail everyday, which, she thinks, probably really pisses off the postmistress!

Pacian said...

The UK is in the Kyoto Accord, isn't it? We were the only country set to meet the targets until Blair came into power...

Of course, Kyoto was never meant to be a stumbling block, it was supposed to be the first little step, easily acknowledged to not be enough.

grapecat said...

My other half has always maintained that humans are a virus affecting the earth and that it is only a matter of time until she shakes us off and gets better. I used to think that was cynical, but lately I am starting to think it might be optimistic.

I grew up learning to recycle and was therefore thrilled when our council finally introduced doorstop recycling (in 2007!!! I was doing this in Canada when I was 8!!!!) but further information has revealed that only a percentage (between a third and two-thirds) is recycled, and even that can often be sent on container ships to China thus enslaving others to sort it out.

maybe the most we can do is not breed?

Geosomin said...

CB: woof

Reb: We only have bins at malls. There's curbside recycling but it costs about $20 a month...I'm saving up for it so I don't have to load up the car every few months...

Bag Lady: Every little bit helps. I bus it whenever possible.

Pacian: You're right. My error. I typed UK instead of US and China...I fixed it. It's always good to actually ge the facts right when on a rant!

Grapecat: I like the virus description...I often wonder if the new and crazy diseases developing are just nature's way of trying to keep us under control. A bit morbid I suppose... Saskatoon is finally getting into recycling in a more serious way...but it's still got a long way to go. I just get annoyed when people hear about it all and jsut shrug and go back to consuming...the world keeps forcing me further and further into hippydom. I can't fight it for much longer :)

Peter T Chattaway said...

DO or do not. There is no try.

But what if there is more than one course of action to choose from? What if Kyoto is, in fact, not the best of those possible courses of action? What if Kyoto does more harm than good?

To quote Jonathan Kay:

Consider: The global all-in compliance costs of Kyoto amount to about $180-billion per year. Yet all these billions -- even paid in perpetuity -- would delay the globe's expected rate of heating over the next century by just 5%. Assuming Kyoto is allowed to expire in 2012, its total effect will have been to delay the pace of global warming by one week. In terms of Canada's contribution to Kyoto, the effect would be measured in hours. Think about that the next time Dion or David Suzuki lecture you about Canada's lost opportunity to save the world.

Lomborg's book . . .is built around the (surprisingly) rich body of peer-reviewed studies that measure the aggregate social cost of climate change on human societies -- including its impacts on agriculture, fisheries, freshwater supplies, hurricanes and land loss. The bottom line Lomborg presents is that the world has about $15-trillion worth of damage coming to it if global warming proceeds unabated. Kyoto -- even if it were fully implemented by all its signatories -- would knock off a little less than $2-trillion of that, but at a cost of more than $5-trillion. For every dollar we spend on Kyoto, we get back 34 cents. . . .

But here's where Lomborg's analysis is especially trenchant. While his methods are ruthlessly utilitarian, he shares the same humanitarian goals ostensibly championed by climate-change activists. Indeed, there's nothing he'd like more for the $180-billion a year demanded by Kyoto to be shovelled into other programs that address human misery more directly. If we did so, he shows, we'd save millions more lives. . . .

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I'm more than a little concerned about the Australian scientist who is pushing for new parents to pay 8,000 per year for every child they have to offset their 'carbon footprints.'

Its also interesting to note that England has passed a bill stipulating that An Inconvenient Truth has so many falsehoods and wild inconsistencies that a disclaimer must be shown before school children are allowed to view it and Al Gore uses many times more electricity than the average consumer and his staff reports that he has not converted to energy efficient bulbs at his own residence. Interesting stuff.

Geosomin said...

Ah...but Peter. How can you do more harm than good by saving the earth?
I know it's harsh...but we need to put funding into this AND humanitarian aid. Sometimes it seems like we have our heads so far up our collective asses that we cannot see the issues infront of us: poverty, inequality, injustice...and environmental destruction. THIS is what matters...not the lates fashion styles or cool toys. As a society we are getting more and more insular and divided. We used to have to work together to survive and excel...now it is every man for himself. We disregard our homes and those around us.
We have to do better. I don't think it is an either or option. We msut strive to be better at both. If we survive with nowhere to live we are lost. IF we survive with somewhere to live where only the elite enjoy the goodness of our efforts and the rest suffer with famine and wage slavery...this too is wrong.
One of the unique things of humanity is our ability to build communities. This is being lost...our "Global Community" is not a healthy one.

Geosomin said...

"For every dollar we spend on Kyoto, we get back 34 cents. . ."

Again - It can't be about money.
It isn't a business with a cost return investment...it's the bloody planet we live on!

This gets me very fired up...can't help it.

Peter T Chattaway said...

How can you do more harm than good by saving the earth?

You can't "save" the Earth, any more than you can "destroy" the Earth. You can make the Earth more or less habitable for humans, but that's about it. Meteors have struck this planet and caused mass extinctions and perhaps the creation of an entire Moon, but the planet itself remains. So no matter what we tiny humans do, the Earth itself will endure.

It follows, then, that "harm" and "good" must be measured by the effect that any policy has on human lives. And environmentalism, like all other religious movements, does more harm than good when it places pious platitudes and warm fuzzy sentiments ahead of cold hard facts and a sane approach to getting positive results.

I know it's harsh...but we need to put funding into this AND humanitarian aid.

By "this", do you mean Kyoto? Then Kyoto must stand or fall on its own merits, and not simply because it is currently the most popular, most hyped, most fervently prayed-for approach to the environmental question.

One of the unique things of humanity is our ability to build communities. This is being lost...our "Global Community" is not a healthy one.

Heh. Who was it who said that those who get excited about "the global village" obviously don't know much about the behaviour of people in villages? :)

Again - It can't be about money.
It isn't a business with a cost return investment...it's the bloody planet we live on!


As I said, the planet will survive no matter what we do. It is we who will either live or die based on what we do. And since our ability to help ourselves does rely to some degree on our economic strength, any discussion regarding what we should do will be about money on some level or other.

Geosomin said...

I'm not saying ignore the costs, or to not carry out humanitarian aid. It's simply that we spend so much time on our financial well being...and so very little on the welfare of others or our planet. I don't think we can afford to take tha attitude that the world will continue without us or even despite us. I feel that that sort of approach is a way shirking our stewardship of the earth.
I think we need to take our focus away from commercial and corporate focuses and change the way we help each other. If we are a people that live together, we must work to support all of it's members, and bring us all to an equal standard of quality of life.
I believe the ecosystem is a prt of that. When we
I don't think Kyoto is the best soution...I just think that it would be wise to start acting on it as well as looking at othe rapproaches. It deosn't have to be seen as the best and only way to adress the problem. But to plan and wait and plan and wait is, I feel, the wrong way of doing things. It's like the little things we "little" people can do like recycling and power conservation...we need to have corporations and those that give us our power and food looking at ways to do the same...we need to fund research into alternative energies as wella s proper and thorough waste management and reduction.
But, this shoudl not detract from looking after each other as well. I jsut don't understand why there is so much money for a lot of things, but for poverty and pollution there is always a lack.
And if you are poor, sudden'y ecology and recycling takes second place to simply surviving. They need to be addressed simultaneously. To me they really are connected. And not all people are good, and communities can be cruel, but I think it's very pessimistic to write off human nature and the state of things...I think we need to really change our attitudes and focus.

Peter T Chattaway said...

I don't think we can afford to take tha attitude that the world will continue without us or even despite us. I feel that that sort of approach is a way shirking our stewardship of the earth.

Well, that certainly wasn't the angle that I was coming from, or the person I was quoting, or the person he was quoting.

If we are a people that live together, we must work to support all of it's members, and bring us all to an equal standard of quality of life.

An equal standard of quality of life has never existed, and never will. (Interestingly, studies indicate that no matter how a society organizes itself, the wealth is always distributed along similar lines.) A more realistic goal would be to raise the minimum standard of quality of life.

grapecat said...

Interesting article. However, I disagree with your conclusion. The pareto ratio is not an accurate reflection of inequality, it's a tool for measuring economic distribution. It's very premise is based on wealth unequally distributed.

The Pareto model gives a wealth inequality ratio of between 2:1 and 3:1 - and as they say in the article, American inequality is many many times this. They also give the example of Mexico where they quote 40 people as owning 30% of the wealth. The only countries I can think of with inequality ratios anywhere near this are the Nordic countries.

Obviously,the way a society is structured has a huge impact on wealth distribution, compare Nigeria and Sweden. The article itself talks of countries that "fall outside the pareto phase" ( a nice euphanism, no?)

Classical economic models only measure active economic agents - the environment in this picture is only seen as a consumable resource. I don't think we will find our answers here.

Non-classical economics on the other hand, might be a better bet - in fact, a minimum standard reminds me of Amartya Sen and his capabilities approach - also the approach of the UN Millenium goals.

If someone can tell me how to put a link in comments I'll add them :)

Geosomin said...

grapecat is smart...I feel gibberish in comparison :)

grapecat said...

naw - grapecat just has a bee in her bonnet regarding classical economics. I probably need a 12-step programme or something

Pacian said...

"Its also interesting to note that England has passed a bill stipulating that An Inconvenient Truth has so many falsehoods and wild inconsistencies that a disclaimer must be shown before school children are allowed to view it "

Sorry, but that's bollocks. A parent tried to stop it being shown, but failed. Even if he had succeeded, courts create legislation, not reality.