Thursday, March 22, 2007

Killing it Softly

Reason no. 1 to like Stephen Harper. Despite strong public support for it, Harper is doing the best he can to kill the Kyoto Protocol. Not only that, but he's actually getting away with it. Of course, the US and Australia have already dealt it a critical hit. I think Canada junking it might kill the dumb idea for good.

It's not that I don't think global warming is real. The way I understand it - the scientific consensus is that (a) it's definitely happening and (b) man-made pollutants certainly play a role. They study it and I don't, so I'm willing to take them at their word. All that notwithstanding, Kyoto is about the dumbest idea I've ever heard. What moron, honestly, would support a policy that (a) everyone knows will be ineffective - because it only addresses a small fraction of the total cause of the problem (overpopulation in the third world and methane emissions from rice paddies apparently also contribute, but no one is advocating switching India to a grain-based diet or regulating the number of children everyone can have), (b) everyone knows will be hugely expensive and (c) lets the major polluters of the future off the hook anyway? I mean, if you were to walk into a business boardroom meeting and say "listen, guys - I have this great idea! Why don't we throw huge sums of money at this project, which I guarantee won't bring a single penny of profit ever and will, in all likelihood, allow our competition to overtake us?" They'd have security rough the guy up on his way out the window! It's completely ludicrous.

So here's Stephen Harper cutting through the fog:

"Yet, no population of any country will support an environmental plan that robs them of their jobs and destroys their living standards, even in the short term," Harper said.

Right. And it's dumb of the Kyoto supporters to even ask. If you wanna save the environment (and who doesn't?) - here's what needs to be done. We need to improve rather than deplete our capital base. With greater wealth comes greater technology - and honestly, the only way we're going to get out of the global warming bubble without having to starve people by the millions is to develop the kind of technology that will allow us to maintain our lifestyles without polluting so much. Choking off the economy in the form of huge fines and industrial scaleback ain't gonna get us there, sorry. All Kyoto will do is freeze us at our current level of development longer than we have to be. It's exactly the opposite of what we should be doing to fight global warming.

Harper may well be up for election in another week or so. The new Tory budget is very, very clever. It completely and shamelessly isolates the Liberals, but throws in just enough extras that the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois may well support it. This is especially so as regards the Bloc since Quebec will get an even bigger bribe this year than ever before. If the Bloc votes with the government, Harper can keep his job. An election at this point would be uncertain - maybe not a risk Harper really wants to take. But the polls are clear. As time goes by, the Tories pick up more and more voters. They're currently polling anywhere from 2-4 points ahead of the once-mighty Liberals - enough to retake the government with a minority, but not yet quite the majority Harper wants and needs.

Still - it's worth noting that this seems poised to become one of Canada's longest-lived minority governments. Canada may well be on its way to becoming a real two-party system, and I attribute most of that shift to Harper's skill as a politician. Kudos. If he kills Kyoto in the process, I'd say he deserves the Nobel Prize in "general effectiveness." Too bad there's no one as competent running our country at the moment...


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