Windsor Star

Government climate policies wreak damage

- 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.
JASON KRYK/ The Windsor Star Wind turbines generating power in Essex County.

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