We don't really want to fight climate change - Macleans.ca

We don’t really want to fight climate change


Stephen Gordon invokes the law of revealed preference to explain Canada’s withdrawal from Kyoto.

Notwithstanding economically illiterate attempts to pretend otherwise, higher consumer prices for GHG-emitting goods and services are an essential component of any serious attempt to reduce emissions … It doesn’t matter what Canadians tell pollsters about how much they are concerned with climate change; what matters is the choices we make. And whenever we have been offered the choice of accepting personal inconvenience in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or of making sure that fossil fuels are cheap and plentiful, we have consistently and overwhelmingly chosen the latter.


We don’t really want to fight climate change

  1. Finally…..

    “Counting on people to reduce GGE emissions out of the goodness of their hearts was the strategy of the Chrétien-Martin Liberal governments, and adopting this policy made Canada’s Kyoto failure inevitable long before Stephen Harper’s Conservatives came to power.”

  2. Eddie Goldenberg explained it all – Canadians were ready for abstract measures but not concrete ones. Tremendous governing by Libs to sign agreement that Canadians didn’t want and Government wasn’t ready to implement. 

    Maybe Greenies would have more success changing other people’s minds if they acted like they believed their own rhetoric. How many Greenies have given up their homes to live in yurts, wear hemp clothing grown locally and wash their dishes in local creek? Is there a crisis or not?

    TorStar ~ Feb 2007:
    “The previous Liberal government ratified the Kyoto Protocol knowing Canada wasn’t ready to take the tough measures needed to address climate change and would likely miss the deadlines for reducing emissions, says a top adviser to former prime minister Jean Chrétien …

    He said today that public opinion at the time favoured ratification “in the abstract,” despite strident opposition by some provinces, the business community and the Conservative party’s predecessor, the Canadian Alliance.

    But he doubted Canadians were ready for the concrete measures the government would have had to take to meet the Kyoto targets.”Nor was the government itself even ready at the time with what had to be done,” he said in a speech to the Canadian Club of London, Ont., the text of which was provided to The Canadian Press.

    • Perhaps you could find an evironmentalist who ever advocated yurts, hemp and creek washing.

  3. Canadians would very happily help out the environment, but there are few ways to do it

    As long as we have things like the Tar Sands and Nanticoke belching away and highways full of gas powered cars,  it doesn’t matter if you take cloth bags to the grocery store….where you are promptly sold a basket full of items sealed in plastic.

    Plus plastic is recyclable….but we are often stuck with dead tree bags instead….there apparently not being many plastic recycling plants, but lots of lumberjacks.

    Wanna buy a non-polluting car?  Good luck with that. People are buying electric and hybrid cars, but they’re not that common and they are expensive.

    So are GHG taxes on everything, and the average Canadian wage has been stagnant for years.

    And as long as we have garbage dumps that keep getting higher and higher….sorting garbage just means a neater dump, not a lower one.

    No one is in charge, no one is coordinating things, so these stupid situations occur….and are then jumped on as ‘proof’ that Canadians don’t really want to fight climate change….when it’s really just lack of organization.

    • So you’re saying Canadians want to do their part, just as long as it’s not too onerous or expensive.

      Isn’t that the government’s point too?

      • Um no….I went to great lengths to explain how Canadians want to do their part, but are unable to …..due to lack of govt leadership and organization.

        • If only we had a Strong Leader who – I don’t know – just commanded the economy to reorganize, the better to support the five-year plan…

          • Or if only we had a genuine leader who went at it as a kind of green Manhattan Project.

            We can organize in wartime…we just apparently can’t do so for any other kind of threat.

          • There’s the problem, you know. You people keep scaremongering and scaremongering, and eventually the panic wears off when people realize there are more immediate and measurable problems with their lives.

          • There is no future without science.

            You should try it sometime.

          • I agree, but guys like Stalin and Hitler just aren’t around anymore.

    • My wife and I don’t seem to have a problem with living a greener life. We don’t hit people over the head with it, advocate it, or even bring it up.

      We don’t have a car, we live in a small-ish apartment, we walk nearly everywhere we go (cycle or bus when necessary), we recycle everything the city takes, and make full use of the city’s green-bin program. We also haven’t had any issue avoiding plastic bags anywhere we go.  

      It hasn’t been onerous and our lives are not much of a challenge. Things would be different if we chose to live in a rural area, but we’re in a city: something that makes this all possible.

      I couldn’t give a toss about the oilsands or Nanticoke because I’m doing my own part, others will later, and once that comes in, we can demand our institutional elements do it too. We still have to prove that we want to do it. Putting it all on the oilsands is little more than passing the buck. It’s the argument equivalent of “Well China pollutes more…” and if that’s an unacceptable argument for us to mak as a country then it has to be unacceptable for the individual or family.

      • Well now that you feel good, explain how this somehow solves the problem.

        • Yup, and everyone else has to get into the pool. We all know how to live more greenly, it’s just that the vast majority don’t want to do anything that will cause the slightest inconvenience or force them to change their routine in any way. Gordon’s right: we chose. We don’t need “strong leadership” to get us there, we have to want to.

          Unless by “strong leadership”, you’re referring to having agents snoop through your trash, cap your driving distance, and institute a complete ban on plastic goods, then it’s really up to the individual to do somethng about all this. It is the individual who is polluting the most and it’s up to the individual to reduce his or her own emissions. Doing so will give the large emitters less of a reason to do so.

          That’s how it solves the problem. My household may not have a dent on its own, but it’s a damn sight better than throwing my hands up and saying “I *would* pollute/use/emit less, but…”.

          • Actually a sustainable economy is the only choice we have, so we’ll all be in the ‘pool’ like it or not.

            And no, individuals won’t change a thing…..individuals working together, will

          • Strong leadership can get us there by simply taxing GHG emitting activities at the source.  Things with plastic packaging end up costing a lot more than things without.

            Making oil and natural gas cost what they’re really worth will push people, quickly, to take up energy saving technologies and create market-space for companies that concentrate on reducing the amount of energy they use and waste.

            And the more of those companies there are, the cheaper the technology gets which further benefits people like you and I when we seek to shrink our footprint even more.

          • And making wind, solar and nuclear cost what they are really worth will push people back to fossil fuels again so fast they’ll never return. I acould not agree more.

          • The technology is expensive right now, yes. That’s because there’s very little incentive to go about it, with fossil fuels being kept so artificially cheap and the true cost of using them being passed on to the taxpayer rather than the consumers.

      • That’s great CR, my sentiments exactly. I agree with you that conservation begins at home, and I have little confidence that governments, given the short-term horizons for most politicians, will be willing to part with their political capital to do something meaningful. Whining about the lack of government programs in the place of personal responsibility is rather futile.

        My preference is a carbon tax, which is the most efficient, merged with value-added tax. However, that will likely not happen, when neither the government nor opposition have any interest in such a proposal. Unfortunately, Dion’s green shift was only part ‘Shift”, with 1/3 of the new tax revenue going to support new programs. As a political program, it was a bit of dogs breakfast designed to raise new funds for his 3 pillars.

        The BC approach is better, though I have no idea whether it is reducing GG emissions.

        • And you won’t either.

      • I agree with this CR guy completly. If you want to drive a Prius and eat tofu, go ahead, fill your boots. Just don’t ram your self righteuos greenie tech and carbon pricing crap down my throat. If only more of you greenies were more like CR, then Kyoto and the IPCC would not even be an issue. We’d get a whole lot more environemtnal problems solved too, because the public is so fed up with greenie sceaming all day about future death and horror, they would not dislike environemtlism so much.

        AGW has damaged the enviornmetal movement imeasurably.


        • So you don’t mind if I dump my excess mercury in the water that you and I share? You are free not to dump pollutants there, but I should not have my freedom to do so curtailed. Brilliant!

          • That’s correct, but I do get to bring a lawsuit against you.

    • I don’t care how much a car pollutes. Can I afford it and do I like it?

      I don’t care how my groceries get bagged. Am I charged extra for not bringing filthy reusable bags? Fine.

      I don’t care how tall the piles at the dump get. Is it in my backyard? No? Then use some more of the rest of the 95% uninhabited portion of the country, and stop bothering me.

      Do I resent the hell out of large-scale social engineering that makes my life less convenient and more expensive for no discernible benefit, because it shows we care, dammit, to sign on to a ridiculous, impossible-to-fulfill treaty? Yeah, kinda.

      • Hey, you’re no hippopotamus.  You’re an ignoramous.

        • It’s spelled “ignoramus,” sweetie.

      • I agree, I love my big fast and safe SUV. I want cheap faossil fuels and lots of it. If you want to drive a smart car, go ahead, I could not care less. And leave the soverienty of my country alone, if we emit too much CO2, tough, live with it.

        • LOL I know you mean to be funny, but you’re getting too close to going over the top for it to be believable

          • Yea, that’s right, I was being funny, yea. 

            Um, which part was funny?

          • All of it.

          • Sweet

  4. The #1 article on Maclean’s at the moment, Canada’s Household Debt Keeps Climbing fits nicely with this.  Canadians  know it’s their habits are the number one domestic threat and  they don’t care.  They’d rather run towards the precipice.  Maybe they’re hoping Harper will give them another tax credit for borrowing money to redecorate. 

  5. I think those of us who openly just don’t care about climate change that much – notwithstanding that it exists – should be given credit for honesty, at least. 

    Conversely, it’s pretty clear now that the “support” for Kyoto and other economy-kneecapping green policies was only given lip service to be polite and feel virtuous. Who wants to tell a pollster that you’re a bad person by the standard they’re implying?

    • Okay, you get a brownie point for being honest.

      Now explain how this solves the problem

      • What problem?

        • Ahhh you believe in magic.


          • No, I just don’t care. I think it’s a problem on the same level as “The War on Christmas,” or the health risks of barefoot running, or the debate between HO vs. O-gauge model trains – very interesting, all-consuming and seemingly of momentous importance to the die-hard true believers, but in the long term we’re still all dead anyway.

          • Millions dying at once, and other millions trying to pile into Canada will get your attention, I’m sure.

          • Oh man, lefty self loathing pessimists, thank god I’m not an environmentalist anymore. They are so depressing.

    • AVR, one can conserve without getting hung-up on whether they support various climate-change agreements or not.

      I happen to think that the Kyoto accord was a monumental waste of time and effort, and withdrawing from it long overdue. However, you seem to be equating one useless international agreement with a complete abandonment of any effort to conserve and minimize to environmental impact.

      • See above: I just don’t care. Environmental hectoring, for me, is on par with preaching. I don’t believe in your god, be it a bearded man in the sky or a treaty signed in Japan, so I’m just not buying what you’re selling.

        • If everyone thought like you, we’d never have made it out of the cave.

          • And if everyone thought like you we’d be headed right back in.

          • Sorry, I’m a high-tech 21st century type.

            You seem to think it’s a choice of living in industrial filth, or living in a cave.

            It’s not….and no one intends to do either one.

        • As I often remark to my kids, the true conservationist is the one who pays the bills. I will accept the self-righteous hectoring of children when they cease the practice of showering for 20 minutes, twice a day.

          In a similar vein, I once had an enlightening conversation with Emily (in her former guise as”Nola”) about drying clothes on the line. I do it, Emily does not. Maybe she can explain why millions of people making small efforts is less effective than sending billions of dollars to other people to do nothing at all.  I’ve never been able to figure it out.

          • What kind of dad allows kids 2 showers a day?

            I see it’s true that you can’t figure things out.

          • Where I live, clothes on the line are a ticketable offence, it reduces property values. I kid you not. There are alot of places like that. I still use the clothesline anyway, I can’t wait for someone to try to give me grief about it. Bring it.

  6. “We don’t really want to fight climate change.”

    Why in the world would we want to “fight” the changing of climate? Isn’t that like saying we want to fight the rising and falling of the sun, or the tides of the oceans, or the positioning of the stars?

    How can we ever expect the climate not to change? Wow.

    • Shyeah, I mean you totally know better than all those fancy-schmancy climate scientists.

      • If your “climate scientists” believe the climate never changes on its own, then they need to find another job, no?

        • Can’t argue with that faultless logic.

          Oh wait – except climate scientists aren’t saying that at all. You totally crushed that strawman though, well done.

          Also – they’re climate scientists, not “climate scientists.”

          • You know, this is the second time today on the Malcean’s blog that someone has, either unwittingly or deliberately, failed to discern my original point.

            I wasn’t the one who made the claim about fighting something that happens regardless of what we do: climate change. Wherry was. If you’ve got a problem with it, take it to him. Next.

          • And this is at least the second time today I’ve seen you use the “you missed my point” dodge with someone who clearly did not.

            Feel free to put those goalposts down any time you’re ready for an adult conversation.

          • My point was that you can’t fight climate change. It happens regardless of what we do. Yes? You didn’t get it. Right? Duh. Next.

          • Oh I got your point. It was just too stupid to address directly. It was barely worthy of mockery, but I had an idle minute.

          • Keep telling yourself that dude, it’s almost cute how hard you’ll work to maintain your own reality.

            Oh, also: Duh. God. LOL. Next.

        • Climate scientists are fully aware that the climate changes all on its own. But there’s not much money in that now is there.

    • Why in the world would we want to fight death or illness?
      Why in the world would we want to fight oppression?Oh! Here’s a good one.Why in the world would we want to fight idiots who play semantic games to make bad arguments using false dichotimies?

      Possibly because while we may never conquer them, our world is better off if we can control the worst of it.

      • OK, you think we can fight the fact that our climate changes. I guess that makes you one friggin’ briliiant dude. lol. Next.

        • So you think all hospitals are a waste of time then I see. I guess that makes you one idiot.

          • And where the heck did I say that? lol. Look, you’re the brilliant dude who uses the term “climate change.” As though the climate never changes without our help. lol. Again, brilliant.

            Look, it’s not my fault you use these nonsensical terms, is it?

            Don’t take it out on me with this nonsense of yours. It just makes you like like a zealot. Just saying.

          • Okay. So perhaps you can answer this: why do we fight against death? Why doesn’t your pedantic logic apply to that?

            What is your fault is that you play stupid semantic games and don’t know the meaning of “false dichotomy” What is your fault is that you simply don’t have any substance to your argument so always go for these pathetic pedant arguments where you use any secondary meaning words might have while ignoring the obvious meaning intended by the original poster.

            What is your fault is you somehow get some sort of ego gratification out of this, when it’s pretty damned obvious to everyone, including yourself, that you’re just being a twat.

          • We can’t fight death, idiot. Who is waging a campaign to fight death? God.

          • As I said, moron, you don’t think hospitals should exist.

          • You have to lie about what I think because your agenda is so absurd. Thank you buttressing my original point and then some.

          • You have to lie about your logic because you don’t understand basic fallacies. Thank you for demolishing your original point and then some.

          • Dennis_F’s posts are best read in Napoleon Dynamite’s voice.


          • Well, you don’t have real arguments, so you resort to this nonsense. I guess I understand.

  7. You put your finger on it nicely, A-Ware: democracy is incompatible with the AGW agenda.  One or the other has to go and I’m not sure it will be the latter.

    I just read Monbiot’s Heat:  I’m surprised the AGW militants haven’t tried to overthrow governments left and right.  If you buy into the AGW spiel I don’t see how you can put short term civil liberties ahead of something that threatens life itself on Earth.  Worse, Monbiot and Suzuki both buy into “runaway” AGW, which even the IPCC concedes is a very remote possibility, and posits we literally have a matter of days to stop carbon emission or it will be too late.

    Monbiot prescribes a 93% reduction in carbon emissions for Canada and readily concedes this means no planes, trains, or automobiles.  Even building houses would be restricted, as cement for foundations alone would cost several years of carbon credits. 

    It takes an impressive level of smugness for a guy who advocates sending Canada back to the stone age to laugh at Canada’s AGW plan, but he manages.  You would need the most oppressive, most totalitarian world government ever conceived to get carbon emissions down to levels the IPCC deem sustainable – to leftists, that’s a feature, not a bug.  Alternatively, you would need a population cull, and given the level of misanthropy I’m seeing on the left these days I’m not sure mass murder of billions would be a tough sell.  Creepy.

    • If you’re going to quote one extremist, quote one from the opposite fringe as well

      “The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man’s dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet–it’s yours. That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that’s the Biblical view.” – from her column “Oil Good; Democrats bad” (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/coulter101300.asp) October 12, 2000

      • I note the date – before the housing market crash in the US.  I would say that big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players, along with big well decorated houses and big credit card and line of credit debt are the way to economic mayhem.  As I wrote earlier, Canadians are on a debt-binge and will not stop until they hit the wall. Countries that take energy efficiency seriously will eventually have an economic advantage over those who don’t. I’m not a greenie,I have no interest in climate change, but as a business person I know the cost of energy, the cost of cleaning up environmental messes and I have to keep an eye on savings that can be achieved through energy-efficiency. If this cannot be achieved in Canada but can be achieved elsewhere investment will go elsewhere. 

        • Yup, efficiency and conservation would give Canada a lot of benefits.

        • That’s right, and cost of labour has no impact at all, that’s why China India and now Africa will be the business centers of the future because they use energy efficiently, not due to their cheap labour. That’s right.

    • The problem is that AGW isn’t just an agenda or some shadowy global conspiracy of scientists, no matter how much Alcan stock you have.

      However I agree that democracy is incompatible with uncontrolled/unprepared for AGW. Resource shortages always lead to oppression, after all.  And when that resource is food or clean water.. serious oppression.

    • “Given the level of misanthropy I’m seeing on the left these days I’m not sure mass murder of billions would be a tough sell.”

      Or you could listen to what we’re actually saying. I mean, are you insane? You’re aware of how paranoid and detached from reality you sound, right?

    • Misanthropy is the foundation of most of the enviornmental lefts agenda. I used to be a misanthropic greenie myself until I awoke from the stupor a few years ago. When you read about the UN IPCC you often hear subjects like carbon emissions, pollution and population control linked in many conversations. Culling humans is hiding in the background.
      Reducing populations is the gift that keeps on giving. Remember back in the 1970s we were warned we could hit 20 billion people by 2000, instead we came in around 6.5 billion, but that was still too many. If we had come in at 2 billion it would still be too many, though they never say how many is just right. Its the gift that just keeps on giving. The left loves that topic, I think it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling. Bizarre.

  8. Climate changes, always has, always will. Does giving 14 billion dollars to third world countries that have no regard for the environment help? No.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • You are a flaming bully Emily.

    • And that is what has really got Lizzy’s in a tizzy,
      no Kyoto = no guilt trip on Canadians to ‘meet international Kyoto obligations to buy $14 B carbon credits’ to give to 3rd world dictaors.

      That was the next step in the US Billionaire bank rolled enviro bullying tactic.
      And Lizzy has in the past refered to the Alberta Heritage fund,
      what an easy target cash goldmine for a coalition governement to raid, eh.

      • There isn’t much in it to worry about.

  9. “And whenever we have been offered the choice of accepting personal inconvenience in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or of making sure that fossil fuels are cheap and plentiful, we have consistently and overwhelmingly chosen the latter.”

    Odd how SG disparages the economic illiteracy of greenies and yet commits an act of political illiteracy himself. In the relevant election fully more then 60-70% of Canadians who voted, voted for parties that were willing to implement forceful GHG reduction strategies. Unfortunately for the country our FPTP system rewarded the minority of voters who fit SG’s profile under  the management of the CPC.
    IOWs the split on the left has left this issue pretty well orphaned and the plaything of cynical forces who think only interms of delay and corporate bottom lines.

    • “60-70% of Canadians voted for parties that were willing to implement forceful GHG reduction strategies.”

      Um, 60-70% of Canadians who voted you mean. And that’s one of the reasons they did not win. Had they dumped the left’s environemtal lunacy and headed more right, they might have won it all, God forbid.

      • Fixed thx.

        As to your main point…you seem to have come to the opposite conclusion which polls have consistently shown to be no true..
        Canadians do want something done about CC and they’re willing to pay for it…so they say anyway.

        • Let me guess, the poll was conducted and spun by the comrades at the CBC, or even worse Reuters. Gad.

    • Then this poll must really surprise you that your 60% of Canadians gave killing Kyoto the thumbs up,

      CBC (that right wing media) question of the day:

      Do you support Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
      61.06% voted YES


      • I think the truth about Canadians was revealed when they elected a right leaning party to run the country last spring. They love their trucks, country music, hockey, beer, and they want to stay warm in the winter by burning fossil fuels, not by wind turbines and solar which work only part of the time. It’s friggin cold in Canada.