B.C.'s carbon circus continues

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British Columbia's carbon circus continues. On July 5 Premier Gordon Campbell published an editorial in the Vancouver Sun titled "Climate change is our problem to solve." It would be nice if the premier was serious about actually doing something effective to address the climate change problem. It would be even nicer if he admitted the truth that our climate change issue is only a symptom of a much bigger problem. But don't hold your breath, his political backers would be rid of him in a minute if he got serious about climate change, and they would go wild if he even mentioned the core problem.

We have a climate change problem because we put too much carbon and nitrogen gas into the atmosphere, more than the ecosystem can handle and maintain itself in a manner to which humans have become accustomed. And we put too much of these gases into the atmosphere because of a combination of too big a human population and too much activity dependent on using carbon fuels for energy.

The reactionaries and the ill informed tell us that there is no climate problem and that what we are seeing is just natural cycles. Some will even claim that there is no global warming, citing temperature drops in some places over the past few years. They are wrong about the natural cycles, and those that claim there is global cooling are either ignorant of the long term trend, or simply being disingenuous by using data selected out of context.

Scientists have studied climate going back eons through the geologic record, and according to some the natural cycle of the earth and sun should have had us going into a new Ice Age. Instead what they find is a trend of increasing carbon gases in the atmosphere starting as far back as eight thousand years ago, at the time humans developed agriculture, and temperatures remaining warmer than they should be. They have also found that with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the vastly increased use of fossil fuels over the past two hundred years the rate of gases going into the atmosphere has gone up radically and the temperature has begun to climb.

During this eight thousand year period there have been ups and downs in the gas levels and temperature, so making comparisons over a short span of time tells us very little about the big picture. Over time the trend has been up.

To correct our climate problem we have to reduce our use of carbon fuels considerably. Scientists are saying greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 80 to 90 per cent. That means a radical change in the way that we do things, and with the present population it means a life style featuring far less consumption for all but the planet's poorest people.

Premier Campbell and the economists and environmentalists that support his position are going nowhere near the solutions that we need to solve the problem. Instead of applying a solution based on ecology to our ecological predicament, they are applying an economic one. And not only that, they are applying it in such a way that its effects will be negligible if not counterproductive.

If Campbell and his environmentalist friends were serious about dealing with the environmental problems facing us they would dump the economists and economic approaches into the trash bin and address the issue from an ecological stand point. Carbon use must be reduced, as must a lot of other consumption, and the surest way to achieve that is to limit supply, not raise taxes. Limiting the supply of energy and other goods will of course curtail growth, a good thing for the environment, and a good thing for future humans, but not a good thing in the eyes of those who bankroll Premier Campbell. The Premier said that "climate change calls on all of us to rise above business as usual." And, it does, but you can bet that he won't.

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