Aus­ter­ity only real way to re­duce global warm­ing

The Chatham Daily News - - OPINION - LORRIE GOLD­STEIN lgo­ld­stein@post­media.com

All forms of car­bon pric­ing are cash grabs by gov­ern­ment un­less they suc­ceed in chang­ing hu­man be­hav­iour.

Car­bon taxes and cap and trade (a car­bon tax by an­other name) do noth­ing to ad­dress man-made global warm­ing on their own.

They are fail­ures un­less they suc­ceed in mov­ing hu­man be­hav­iour to­ward vol­un­tary aus­ter­ity.

That is, to­ward the ac­cep­tance of a higher cost of liv­ing, lead­ing to the lower con­sump­tion of fos­sil fuel en­ergy, lead­ing to a re­duc­tion in in­dus­trial car­bon diox­ide emis­sions linked to man-made cli­mate change.

Green Party Leader El­iz­a­beth May is cor­rect in say­ing that re­duc­ing man-made green­house gas emis­sions in a de­vel­oped na­tion like Canada, would re­quire a com­mit­ment sim­i­lar to the one Cana­di­ans were will­ing to make in the Sec­ond World War.

Not in terms of lives lost, but in terms of a will­ing­ness to en­dure a sus­tained pe­riod of eco­nomic hard­ship to achieve a de­sired goal.

Of course, for this to hap­pen, our lead­ers must lead by ex­am­ple.

In the Sec­ond World War, Win­ston Churchill fa­mously promised his na­tion noth­ing but, “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” but also the as­sur­ance he would die with them, if nec­es­sary, to de­fend free­dom.

Queen El­iz­a­beth, the Queen Mother, re­fused to leave Eng­land for her per­sonal safety and reg­u­larly toured bombed-out sec­tions of London to com­mis­er­ate with those who had been hit, fa­mously declar­ing she was glad when Buck­ing­ham Palace was bombed be­cause, “it makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.”

These lead­ers un­der­stood that to suc­cess­fully ask for sacrifices from the pub­lic, they had to lead by ex­am­ple.

Now fast forward to to­day and ask your­self this.

Given that they say man-made cli­mate change poses an im­mi­nent, ex­is­ten­tial threat to hu­man­ity, do our lead­ers act like it?

Does Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, when he wings off on a car­bon-spew­ing win­ter break va­ca­tion on the pri­vate Ba­hamas is­land of the bil­lion­aire Aga Khan, with fam­ily and friends?

Or when he hauled a car­bone­mit­ting del­e­ga­tion twice as large as Amer­ica’s and three times as large as the U.K.’s to the 2015 UN cli­mate treaty talks in Paris?

Does for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Barack Obama, when he va­ca­tions in Tahiti on a 454-foot, $300-mil­lion yacht owned by bil­lion­aire David Gef­fen, along with other noted en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists Oprah Win­frey, Bruce Spring­steen and Tom Hanks?

Or course, Obama is no longer pres­i­dent and can do what he likes. But con­sid­er­ing that at the start of his pres­i­dency he pre­dicted it would mark the mo­ment when, “the rise of the oceans be­gan to slow and our planet be­gan to heal” in re­la­tion to global warm­ing, may we now safely con­clude he had feet of clay?

As Ge­orge Mon­biot, the world’s most prom­i­nent jour­nal­ist on cli­mate change, writ­ing in Heat, How To Stop The Planet From Burn­ing, notes: “Well mean­ing peo­ple are as ca­pa­ble of de­stroy­ing the bio­sphere as the ex­ec­u­tives of Exxon . ... Think­ing like eth­i­cal peo­ple, dress­ing like eth­i­cal peo­ple, dec­o­rat­ing our homes like eth­i­cal peo­ple, makes not a damn of dif­fer­ence un­less we also be­have like eth­i­cal peo­ple.”

Mon­biot was specif­i­cally talk­ing about the is­sue of fly­ing, but his point ap­plies to all car­bon in­ten­sive hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

When our own lead­ers fail to set an ex­am­ple of the sacrifices they are de­mand­ing of us, they ex­pose their car­bon pric­ing schemes for what they are.

Gov­ern­ment cash grabs. Noth­ing more.

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