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Seek a balanced view on climate change

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19Feb

By: Graham Lane
Posted 09/10/2015

American columnist Paul Driessen wisely recommends not throwing out the baby with the bath water (the economy) in a pell-mell rush to address supposed climate change. His advice follows weeks of market volatility that has tested the confidence of investors that their savings will last through their retirement years. Much of that volatility involves angst over the value of oil.

Increasingly employer-sponsored pension plans are slowly going the way of the dodo bird. Excepting for public sector employees, employer defined contribution plans and individual RRSPs have become the predominant retirement savings vehicles for an increasingly mobile and vulnerable workforce. Over-heated environmentalists would deprive private sector earners from enjoying returns generated by Canada’s resources by restricting drilling and mining and not building needed pipelines.

Julian Baggini, author of The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, argues that while we should pay attention to the environment we shouldn’t make things worse for our population in doing so. Ruining an economy that has prospered from natural resources by adopting the gospel of the hard-core environmental lobby is doing worse.

American federal regulations already cost their economy $1.9 trillion annually — a sum equivalent to Canada’s total economy. While the environmental lobby works lock-step with climate-obsessed interest groups in the U.S. to throttle the energy sector, our Conservative government is, justifiably, more cautious. All elements of our society, including provincial governments and First Nations, should focus on developing the resource trove Canada has been blessed with and bringing it to global markets. Our ability to support the ill and the poor depend on government revenues supported by what we have in abundance.

Does anyone seriously believe that fossil fuels will disappear as a needed energy source? What are the candidates to make such an illusory future a reality? Nuclear has its own risks, waste having half-lives of millions of years. Wind, massive turbines blighting our environment killing birds in the millions. Solar, promising, but the sun doesn’t shine every day. And, oil’s use isn’t limited to energy but also as feedstock for plastics and the pharmaceuticals that extend our lives.

Obama’s regulatory minions are moving to eliminate coal mining and power plants while restricting the use of natural gas. If their views prevail, now opposed by 15 state governments and miner unions, natural gas-fueled electricity-generation will replace coal plants without even being counted towards his carbon dioxide reduction mandates. As for economic shock, coal companies have declared bankruptcy and thousands of jobs are being lost.

The Keystone pipeline remains blocked, and so are needed pipelines west to east and west to the coast for oversea markets. Does anyone believe pipelines are more risky than railway cars?

Anti-energy, anti-growth policies hurt the economy, the poor, and the middle class politicians tend to focus on. Driessen condemns soaring electricity costs increasing unemployment, pushing families onto government assistance, and diminishing opportunities for both health and welfare.

The world’s climate continues to change within historical natural patterns. The environment is benefitting from improved forestry practices, reduced birth-rates, and successful efforts to reduce emissions of real pollutants.

Canadians should recognize that our natural resources are the treasure trove that has brought wealth to our sparsely populated northern realm.


Graham Lane chairs Manitoba Forward (www.manitobaforward.ca), focused on sound public policy. 
Republished from the Winnipeg Sun online edition September 10, 2015.

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