Gov­ern­ment cli­mate poli­cies wreak dam­age

Windsor Star - - OPINION - By TOM HARRIS Tom Harris is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Cli­mate Sci ence Coali­tion in Ot­tawa.

In the ‘Cli­mate Ac­tion State­ment,’ is­sued July 9 at the Cli­mate Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cas in Toronto, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of state, pro­vin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments pro­nounced cli­mate change as “one of the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing the world to­day.”

Re­it­er­at­ing their sup­port for the UN’s un­re­al­is­tic goal of con­trol­ling world cli­mate so as to not ex­ceed 2 C of warm­ing, politi­cians pledged to in­voke poli­cies to dra­mat­i­cally re­duce car­bon diox­ide (CO2) emis­sions to “solve the cli­mate cri­sis,” as con­fer­ence key­note speaker Al Gore put it.

How­ever, for an in­creas­ing frac­tion of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, the real cri­sis is not the pos­si­bil­ity that dan­ger­ous hu­man-caused cli­mate change may some­day oc­cur. It is the se­ri­ous prob­lems be­ing caused to­day by gov­ern­ment poli­cies to mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

For ex­am­ple, to re­duce CO2 emis­sions to sup­pos­edly stop global warm­ing, 6.5 per cent of the world’s grain is be­ing di­verted to pro­duce bio­fu­els in­stead of food. This is caus­ing food price spikes that are a dis­as­ter for the world’s poor.

The de­mand for bio­fu­els also cre­ates se­ri­ous prob­lems for in­dige­nous land own­ers in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. In a Fe­bru­ary 2015 open let­ter to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment en­dorsed by 197 civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions from Asia, Africa and Latin Amer­ica, it was as­serted:

“The de­struc­tion of forests and fer­tile agri­cul­tural land to make way for oil palm plan­ta­tions is jeop­ar­diz­ing the food sovereignty and cul­tural in­tegrity of en­tire com­mu­ni­ties who de­pend on the land as their source of food and liveli­hoods.”

Re­plac­ing vir­gin forests with mono­cul­ture plan­ta­tions to pro­vide palm oil for biodiesel also greatly re­duces bio­di­ver­sity over vast re­gions.

In another at­tempt to re­duce CO2 emis­sions, hun­dreds of thou­sands of in­dus­trial wind tur­bines (IWT) are be­ing con­structed world­wide, 6,736 of them in On­tario alone. Only four per cent of the province’s power came from wind energy in 2013 and one per cent from so­lar.

Yet, to­gether they ac­counted for 20 per cent of the com­mod­ity cost paid by On­tar­i­ans.

So, elec­tric­ity rates have soared, mostly af­fect­ing the poor.

IWTs kill mil­lions of birds and bats across the world. On­tario’s sit­u­a­tion has drawn the at­ten­tion of Save the Ea­gles In­ter­na­tional which head­lined their May 23 news re­lease, ‘Mi­grat­ing golden ea­gles to be slaugh­tered in On­tario.’

They showed that On­tario tur­bines are be­ing placed di­rectly in the path of mi­grat­ing golden ea­gles, al­ready an en­dan­gered species.

Be­sides a sig­nif­i­cant loss in prop­erty value for homes near IWTs, health con­cerns abound. A par­tic­u­larly tragic ex­am­ple is oc­cur­ring in West Lin­coln, Ont.

De­spite public ob­jec­tions, wind de­vel­op­ers have re­ceived ap­proval to in­stall at least 77 three-megawatt IWTs in the re­gion, each as tall as a 61-storey build­ing.

Lo­cal res­i­dent Shel­lie Cor­reia is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned. Her 12-year-old son Joey has Sen­sory Pro­cess­ing Dis­or­der and must not be ex­posed to ex­ces­sive noise.

Cor­reia ex­plained to the gov­ern­ment’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­view Tri­bunal, “On top of the in­ces­sant, cycli­cal noise, there is light flicker, and in­fra­sound. This is not some­thing that my son will be able to tol­er­ate.”

The On­tario gov­ern­ment does not care and a 186-me­tre­high IWT is be­ing built only 550 me­tres from their home.

The drive to re­duce CO2 emis­sions makes it dif­fi­cult for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to fi­nance the con­struc­tion of vi­tally-needed power plants.

For ex­am­ple, in 2010, South Africa se­cured a $3.9 bil­lion loan to build the Medupi coal­fired power sta­tion only be­cause de­vel­op­ing coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the World Bank board voted for ap­proval.

The U.S. and four Euro­pean na­tion mem­bers ab­stained from ap­proval be­cause of their con­cerns about cli­mate change.

They ap­par­ently wanted South Africans to use wind and so­lar power in­stead, sources too ex­pen­sive for wide­spread use even in wealthy na­tions.

Rather than deal with these se­ri­ous so­cial jus­tice is­sues, the Cli­mate Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cas merely pro­moted un­re­al­is­tic poli­cies to con­trol cli­mate as if we had a global ther­mo­stat.

That our lead­ers per­sist with this mis­guided ap­proach is a moral and po­lit­i­cal trav­esty of the first or­der.

JASON KRYK/ The Wind­sor Star

Wind tur­bines gen­er­at­ing power in Es­sex County.


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