What, you say, global warming is a farce? No, on the contrary, global warming is real and has been for eight thousand years since the advent of agriculture. Whether humans are responsible for this or not is an item of debate, but the evidence sure points in that direction. This is particularly true for the last two hundred years that coincide with the Industrial Revolution and the development of modern society when the warming and carbon gas trend went from a gradual increase to a steep climb.

What is the farce here is the response to the problem. Global warming, corporate profits and our extravagant modern lifestyle all go hand in hand. The people who are making fortunes off of economic growth and increasing energy usage certainly do not want to endanger their wealth by dealing effectively with the problem. They hold the purse strings that control politics, the media, entertainment, education and most other facets of society. The people who enjoy our comfortable and extravagant lifestyle, read most of us, when push comes to shove do not want to do much either if it means giving up RVs, ATVs, gasoline that costs a lot more than it does now, air conditioning, air travel and all sorts of energy consuming toys and gadgets.

Global warming presents a predicament for politicians and industry since it has become generally accepted that it is a problem and people want something done about it. The trick is to make people feel secure that the problem is being addressed without actually doing any harm to the economic system or depriving people of all of the toys and creature comforts that they have become accustom to. Since the existence of toys and creature comforts and the economic system are all incompatible with fixing the global warming mess what we get from industry and government is a farce, a smoke and mirrors show to fool us into believing something substantial is being done without actually having to do it.

A couple of weeks ago the governors and premiers from the western states and provinces met in Olympia, Washington as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) to tackle the greenhouse gas issue. They announced that they have established a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent below the 2005 level by 2020. That is like announcing that they are going to put out a major forest fire by peeing on it.

What is interesting is that in their press release on the meeting they admitted that emissions had to be reduced by between 50 and 85 per cent by 2050. Even this statement has a built in fudge factor since scientists have claimed that reductions in the 80 to 85 per cent category are necessary. Using 50 per cent as a possible target is a scam.

The question arises, of course, that if they recognize that a huge reduction in gas emissions is required to save the environment as we know it, one that is hospitable to human society, why aren’t they setting meaningful goals instead of piddling around with a token 15 per cent?

Another part of the farce is the systems that are being devised to deal with carbon gas reductions. The WCI announced that it would use a carbon cap and trading system. This is where overall emission limits are set and users are allowed to buy and sell portions of their allotments in the market. Anyone who believes that markets can’t be manipulated and that the system will not soon be rife with corruption is a prime prospect for selling ocean front property in Alberta to. A serious approach would be to set emission standards that achieved the 80 per cent or more reduction and treat every reduction beyond that level as a much appreciated bonus.

This carbon silliness extends to environmental organizations that promote the practice of carbon offsets where people who have environmentally friendly projects can finance them by taking money from polluters who buy a right to pollute because they are financing new technology that won’t pollute. It is kind of like people who want to end prostitution taking money from a brothel which then gets the ability to expand their business. There is a whole financial industry growing around the buying and selling of carbon credits where instead there should just be statutory limits enforced on how much carbon gas can be produced, and public financing for projects that will provide carbon gas free or reduced energy.

The approaches made to global warming are a farce, meant to entertain us without inconveniencing us very much. And they open the door for a whole new venue of financial scams and manipulations intended more to provide a source of income to enterprising market manipulators than to fix the damaged environment. The truth is that there is no easy fix to the problem and putting the planet back in a good enough shape to support many more future generations will require considerable sacrifice. Unless those with wealth and power can find a good way to profit from the sacrifice it may not happen before it is too late.


Jerry West

Gold River, Vancouver Island Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast. This...