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Oh, Canada. :(
December 12, 2011 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Canada is planning to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty. CBC, BBC, AFP. The Herald Sun claims that this is to allow shale sands oil extraction.
posted by jaduncan (121 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Shale sands"? Is that the re-re-branded name for the tar sands or something different?
posted by Hoopo at 6:13 PM on December 12, 2011


"Shale sands"? Is that the re-re-branded name for the tar sands or something different?

They probably meant oil shale.
posted by selenized at 6:17 PM on December 12, 2011


Forgive Peter Kent, for he knows not what he does. Years of being primped as a teevee anchor have left him completely incapable of realizing how dangerously unqualified he is for this job.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


After actually RTFA, it doesn't mention shale at all, it just argues the pull out is to prevent slow downs in the oil sands:
Harper's Conservative government is reluctant to hurt Canada's booming oil sands sector, which is the country's fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a reason it has reneged on its Kyoto commitments.
posted by selenized at 6:21 PM on December 12, 2011


It used to be that, as a Canadian, we knew that if we had a Canadian flag on our backpack while travelling, people would treat you wonderfully, as we had a reputation for treating everything around is that way.

The last five years of the Harper government have been a process of undermining the credibility of Canadians around the world in so, so many places. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up putting someone else's flag on us when we travelled like a lot of my friends in the U.S used to do with ours. We were a proud people once, and now we're failing miserably and publicly and it's heartbreaking to be a part of.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


Oh, hey there. This the friendly Canadian foreign office, eh. The new official term is Maple Oil. Please use it instead of "tar sands" or "oil shale". Thanks buddy.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


What is the cost benefit analysis of global warming for Canada?

Pro:
Warmer weather in the north leads to easier habitation and greater land value.
Greater economic activity through shipping in the Northwest Passage.

Con:
Coastal cities flooded
Potential for global ice age.

Others?
posted by Winnemac at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Forgive Peter Kent, for he knows not what he does.

If that's true, he should resign immediately. Until he does, he's not deserving of forgiveness.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2011


The whole Harper Era makes a lot more sense if you imagine him preparing Canada for an inevitable US annexation. Or at least trying to soften the blow.

I mean, you just can't have the 2nd largest supply of oil in the world next door to the U.S. and expect to remain politically independent. Washington is going to have that oil, and you are going to like it.
posted by Avenger at 6:24 PM on December 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


Greater economic activity through shipping in the Northwest Passage.

Maybe, maybe not. Many countries, notably our southern neighbour, do not recognize Canadian sovereignty over the NW passage.
posted by selenized at 6:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, that should read "shale and oil sands". Feel free to fix that, mods.
posted by jaduncan at 6:26 PM on December 12, 2011


Pro:
Warmer weather in the north leads to easier habitation and greater land value.
Greater economic activity through shipping in the Northwest Passage.

Con:
Coastal cities flooded
Potential for global ice age.


All permafrost melts into sludge, making northern development practically impossible.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think we should replace the maple leaf on the flag with a banana (as in, republic).

Besides, we'll be able to grown them here soon.
posted by klanawa at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Others?

The warming of the tundra will cause buildings designed to be stable on permafrost to fall over?

The release of carbon into the atmosphere will accelerate once the now-frozen plant matter in the arctic starts to met and rot?
posted by hippybear at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just think of it as Canada trying to get through its high emissions era as quickly as possible.
posted by michaelh at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2011


As a Canadian

.
posted by mrgroweler at 6:28 PM on December 12, 2011


Peter Kent is really showing the Environment who's boss. Heckuva job, Brownie.

You have to admire his rhetoric, though:
"To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada," Kent said.
Also, taking every kitten and puppy and electroshocking them to run on treadmills ISN'T EVEN ENOUGH TO MEET KYOTO TARGETS. Peter Kent is saving us from disaster!

What it would require is keeping the tar sands at their present rate of extraction, replacing coal-burning power plants with deep geothermal (giving oil well drilling companies something to do), and achieving modest energy efficiency gains across all sectors.

Which would create a lot of employment.
posted by anthill at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Does this mean all the Canadian MeFites will now start going to Ask MeFi to ask where they should move to in the US ?
posted by sien at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Canadians think there's a difference.
posted by straight_razor at 6:35 PM on December 12, 2011 [36 favorites]


The only difference between the Harper Conservatives and the Chretien Liberals on the issue of global warming is that Harper is being honest. Chretien committed Canada to six percent under 1990 levels to one-up the Americans (something he loved doing), then never lifted a finger to take real measures to reduce Canada's CO2 emissions. Chretien's record on CO2 was worse than George W. Bush's - and in both cases, it was purely a function of the economy, and had nothing to do with government policy, because there was no government policy to limit CO2 growth.

Harper is less willing than Chretien might have been, had he stayed in office, to ship hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadians' money to poor countries in the form of carbon offsets, but that's about it. Neither was willing to put in place policies that would cost Canadians jobs for a treaty that never had any hope of making the slightest dent in rising CO2.

China increases its CO2 emissions every 18 months by an amount equal to Canada's entire output. Global warming is going to happen whether Canada participates in Kyoto or not; solutions to actually lower global CO2 emissions by an environmentally significant amount are decades off, and require adopting nuclear energy on a scale that no country is committed to at the moment. Harper is just honest enough to recognize this and to refuse to burn Canadians' money in a massive, useless transfer of wealth undertaken to demonstrate the superior virtue of the government he heads.
posted by Dasein at 6:35 PM on December 12, 2011 [22 favorites]


Well, let's not kid ourselves: Kyoto was never within reach for Canada. Even the government that signed it made no actual policy effort to reduce GHG targets. It made a good photo op at the time, and that's about it. The Liberals were every bit as bad as the Tories on this issue.
posted by mek at 6:35 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Canadians think there's a difference.


Try being gay, or sick, in both countries, and you'll rapidly discover there is a very large difference indeed.
posted by Dasein at 6:39 PM on December 12, 2011 [45 favorites]


The tundra is releasing huge volumes of methane. Methane is much worse than CO2.

It is much too late to stop radical climate change. It has gotten away from us.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Surely this...
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2011


  1. There's a case to be made that the oil boom is what has prevented Canada's economy from thoroughly shitting the bed in the fashion of its largest trading partner and its Western European allies
     
  2. The single most important issue in how citizens of democracies vote is the state of their national economy
     
  3. The goal of every politician is to remain in power for as long as possible
     
  4. What did you expect? Canadians have a deserved reputation for sober, considered integrity but that's MUCH too big a carrot to ignore for anyone who depends on votes to remain in power. Future concerns versus immediate rivers of cash, the cash wins. Harper's a disgrace to Canada's well-earned reputation, but Pierre Trudeau would have dollar signs for pupils as he muttered "fuck Kyoto" at this point.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surely this...

...will cause people to realize that there is sometimes honesty and virtue in politics?

I wish people would say what they mean and not assume everyone reading agrees with them.
posted by Dasein at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pro:
Warmer weather in the north leads to easier habitation and greater land value.
Greater economic activity through shipping in the Northwest Passage.

Con:
Coastal cities flooded
Potential for global ice age.

Others?


There are no benefit to climate change - it's not as easy as saying that the north will get warmer, etc. There will be no meaningful economic activity if we reach a projected 4 degrees of global warming.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Canadians think there's a difference.


Christ, have you looked at American politics recently? It's like a Hanna-Barbara cartoon.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


How embarrassing.
posted by empatterson at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh (no), Canada
posted by New England Cultist at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2011


[Insert Stereotypical Remake in Support of the Oil Sands as an Economic Driver for Alberta]
posted by asnider at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2011


Try being gay, or sick, in both countries, and you'll rapidly discover there is a very large difference indeed.

Not to mention, the closest thing we've had to a banking crisis is a bunch of seniors complaining that the new money is made of plastic.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


"To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada," Kent said.

Or pay $14 billion a year in carbon credits. Actually, I can grasp the logic of withdrawing from Kyoto. Why should Canada pay China, Brazil and India to continue with the status quo? In the short term, it's a massive, illogical penalty for Canada.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Christ, have you looked at American politics recently? It's like a Hanna-Barbara cartoon.

Specifically, Super Friends.
posted by swift at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2011


Or tell the U.S. screw you by only allowing a trickle of oil from shale.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2011


Christ, have you looked at American politics recently? It's like a Hanna-Barbara cartoon.

And that's different than George W. Harper how?

Oh, wait, I know. Ten years behind the US.
posted by eriko at 6:59 PM on December 12, 2011


Or pay $14 billion a year in carbon credits. Actually, I can grasp the logic of withdrawing from Kyoto. Why should Canada pay China, Brazil and India to continue with the status quo? In the short term, it's a massive, illogical penalty for Canada.

There's a reason that Harper said, way back in 2002, "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations." The moment was about to arrive, and he didn't let it happen. Good for him.
posted by Dasein at 7:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is much too late to stop radical climate change. It has gotten away from us.

The deadline is getting close, that's for sure.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 PM on December 12, 2011


A day doesn't seem to go by where the Harper Government doesn't shame and degrade Canada a little bit more.
Today it's a lot more.
posted by Flashman at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2011


On the other hand, just because Kyoto was massively flawed (no American participation, for example) doesn't mean Canada should turn its back on dramatically reducing emissions. Yet we've allowed our economy to become driven by the oil sands project. It's just stupid.

I've worked in government in the areas of innovation, alternative power generation, and economic development, and it's just crazy how these areas are basically ignored in Canada in favour of wood and dirt industries. British Columbia spent about $10 billion on the Olympics - imagine what could have been done with that money to transform our economy.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is much too late to stop radical climate change. It has gotten away from us.

Which is why now is the perfect time to get in on the ground floor of these amazing time shares I have planned for Cambridge Bay!
posted by selenized at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2011


Disgraceful!
posted by costanza at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2011


Or tell the U.S. screw you by only allowing a trickle of oil from shale.

The US doesn't need Canadian oil (at least in the short term) because the same advances that make oil sand extraction viable mean that US domestic and international production minus Canada can service US requirements. However, the US and Canada are each others' largest trading partners and need each other. The Canadian economy is a fraction of the size of the US, so Canada can less afford to piss off the US than the converse even though the US can't afford to alienate Canada. We're stuck with each other. Which isn't so bad from my end-- everybody loves good neighbours.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Canada could take all the money being invested in the tar sands and seriously go after converting hydrocarbon based power stations into alternative energy. The honesty of saying that we're not going to meet Kyoto so let's not lie about it is good, but saying that without proposing a workable solution sucks.
posted by arcticseal at 7:11 PM on December 12, 2011


Don't worry, evolution and time will take their course and a million years from now, you'll never even know we were here, at least in this form.
posted by not_on_display at 7:12 PM on December 12, 2011


When are we 99% going to dump all these insane leaders before they kill us all?
posted by Twang at 7:13 PM on December 12, 2011


The whole Harper Era makes a lot more sense if you imagine him preparing Canada for an inevitable US annexation. Or at least trying to soften the blow.

Oh I don't know. If he helps reach that tipping point, it looks more like alien terraforming to me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:15 PM on December 12, 2011


The Kyoto Treaty strikes me as the environmental version of the League of Nations.
posted by absalom at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Great, we're turning into that America Junior that Homer Simpson joked about.

I'm willing to play along with terrible igloo jokes if it means we can go back to the way things were. Honest.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2011


Mayor Curley, you'd be singing that tune until the second Canada signed an agreement to sell oil to China. Then you'd be screaming bloody murder.
posted by Yowser at 7:18 PM on December 12, 2011


Has there ever in human history been a collective action problem of the size and severity of global warming?

That is the really terrifying thought to me.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kyoto, though deeply flawed, was the first chance for governments to act as adults over climate change. Instead, it showed that governments are mostly poo-flinging baboons. Tar sands subsidy and support is so baked into our current government that the lack of any meaningful federal support for renewables is quite obvious. After all, if new renewables take off, in a decade or so we'd require carbon pricing as a mature price support, and anything above $0/t will kill the tar sands.

Sad what this country has become.
posted by scruss at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Has there ever in human history been a collective action problem of the size and severity of global warming?

While I can't think of anything on a truly global scale before off the top of my head (with such dire consequences), there are quite a few examples of civilization wide environmental calamities that were a result of human actions. The problem with drawing some parallels with many of these, especially agricultural ones, and what makes climate change somewhat unique, is that we are perfectly aware of what we are doing and why it is wrong.

I guess a better analogy would be peak wood, since people in the past had to recognize that they as a society were cutting down the trees too fast. These did not tend to end well.
posted by selenized at 7:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


bah, I meant to include a link to this page about the problems with ancient irrigation, leading to agricultural crisis when soil salinity got out of control.
posted by selenized at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The US doesn't need Canadian oil (at least in the short term) because the same advances that make oil sand extraction viable mean that US domestic and international production minus Canada can service US requirements.

Heh, no. Tar sands oil is a tiny fraction of Canadian oil.

Yes, you need Canadian oil. We export roughly as much oil to the U.S. as the next two biggest sources of American oil (Saudi Arabia and Mexico) combined.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with drawing some parallels with many of these, especially agricultural ones, and what makes climate change somewhat unique, is that we are perfectly aware of what we are doing and why it is wrong.

"The person who cut down the last tree must have known. They still cut it down"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why should Canada pay China, Brazil and India to continue with the status quo? In the short term, it's a massive, illogical penalty for Canada.

Because metric tons of CO2 per capita (2008):

Canada: 16.4
China: 5.3
Brazil: 1.9
India: 1.4
posted by vidur at 7:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


vidur, that doesn't answer the question.
posted by Dasein at 7:58 PM on December 12, 2011


.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:04 PM on December 12, 2011


vidur, that doesn't answer the question.

I didn't mean to single out Canada. That was just to point out the emission levels. IMO, all countries with high per capita emissions (highly correlated with "development") should pay (including in the form of technological assistance) countries with low per capita emissions to work towards a future where being "developed" is not the same as having very high levels of per capita emissions.
posted by vidur at 8:05 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Canadians aren't funding a hegemonic war machine every time they buy something?

Yes, Harper is a horrible person, and yes, these are embarrassing days to be Canadian - but if you seriously think we're no different than the U.S., I would respectfully submit you haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about. Bush backed the States out of Kyoto before 9/11 even happened, for pete's sake.

If a bully has you over a barrel and is twisting your arm behind your back and demanding you agree with him, and you finally say, "yes, ok, I agree" -- how delusional and plain dumb would the bully be to start dancing around yelling, "they agreed, they're just the same as me, we're the same, we're the same, you heard it from their own lips"?
posted by stinkycheese at 8:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely this...
...will cause people to realize that there is sometimes honesty and virtue in politics?


I do not consider Harper's studious ignoring of climate change either honest or virtuous. The man now claims to accept that global warming is really happening. Yet he has done zero to limit Canada's carbon emissions in his period in power. His only response has been to blame (1) the Liberals, and (2) the Chinese. He has simply ignored the fact that Canadians owe much of their present wealth to our past burning of fossil fuels, contributing a disproportionately large amount to the problem as it now exists. It is this historical debt that justifies Canada's participation in Kyoto.

It was understood at the outset that Kyoto was just a first step, and that nonsignatories would contribute to cuts in a later round. Not surprisingly, Harper wants other countries, who contributed less to the problem than we did, to pay our way. Not virtuous, not honest about Canada's responsibility.
posted by dmayhood at 8:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem with Kyoto isn't about the politicians. It's about *us*. Joe Canadian who's going to drive to Tim Horton's and buy his double-double wile idling in the drivethrough lane.

You know if we really *cared* about global warming more than we do about our cars, we'd have done something by now.

Lookit, living up to the Kyoto standard means that we cut our driving by a third. We don't even need to sign a treaty. Just take every third car off the road. Also cut our power generation by a third. How many of us are lining up behind that? Yeah, right i can hear the crowds (sarcasm).

As well, I imagine that secretly, secretly in their inner hearts, many of us are thinking: warmer winters, yes oh yes, warmer winters....
posted by storybored at 8:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


The problem with Kyoto isn't about the politicians. It's about *us*. Joe Canadian who's going to drive to Tim Horton's and buy his double-double wile idling in the drivethrough lane.

You know if we really *cared* about global warming more than we do about our cars, we'd have done something by now.


As a Canadian, I would hate to blame someone "other" than me for what is a national problem. Besides, while consumption and personal transportation choices are obviously part of the problem, there is only so much that I, Joe Canadian can do without the help of municipal, provincial and federal governments.

Take busing, for example. Three and a half years ago, before the financial crisis really hit home in Canada, the BC provincial government committed to provide more funding for bus transportation, in order to get cars off the road.

However, that money has all be clawed back. If I want to commute from, say, the middle of Surrey to a job in Vancouver, for all intents and purposes I will need to use a car, unless government can help out. Our entire infrastructure is based on the automobile, and that won't change without some serious government help.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


dasein: The only difference between the Harper Conservatives and the Chretien Liberals on the issue of global warming is that Harper is being honest.

You're making a virtue out of warmed-over denialist talking points. Well played!
posted by sneebler at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2011


And you're not offering any evidence to disagree with me. Nice try!
posted by Dasein at 8:44 PM on December 12, 2011


The problem with Kyoto isn't about the politicians. It's about *us*. Joe Canadian who's going to drive to Tim Horton's and buy his double-double wile idling in the drivethrough lane.

There is of course a lot of truth to that view. The problem of curtailing global warming, though, is just massive. It requires not just major organization within this California-sized country, it needs massive international cooperation involving billions of people. That means that we need some serious effort from the Canadian government to do the organizing for this country, so as to meet our inevitable treaty obligations. This is just not going to happen with a government like the Harper gang, that argues for absolutely minimal intervention. (Of course that last part is disingenuous of them, but you know what I mean, I think.)
posted by dmayhood at 8:45 PM on December 12, 2011


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?
|W| |A| |F| |F| |L| |E|     |H| |O| |U| |S| |E|

posted by chococat at 8:48 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


[In 2009] The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation ... commissioned an in-depth study of federal and provincial government policies that would allow Canada to meet a "2°C target" to reduce GHG emissions to 25 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020, based on the science outlined above, as well as the federal government's current target.

The analysis shows that with strong federal and provincial government policies, Canada can meet the 2°C emissions target in 2020 and still have a strong growing economy, a quality of life higher than Canadians enjoy today and continued steady job creation across the country.
That report doesn't talk about personal consumption choices and taking cars off the road. It's all regulatory stuff like carbon pricing, emissions standards, and carbon capture requirements.
posted by twirlip at 8:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


BTW: It's the Associated Press making the claims attributed by the FPP to the Hun.
posted by pompomtom at 8:58 PM on December 12, 2011


Heh, no. Tar sands oil is a tiny fraction of Canadian oil.

49.5% of 2009 production according to Wikipedia, who get their numbers from the National Energy Board. Yep, that's pretty tiny...
posted by arto at 9:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the people who claim that Canada is no different than the US, it should be remembered that in the last election the NDP, a socialist party in everything by name, got 31% of the vote, while the centrist Liberals received an additional 19%; that's 50% versus 40% for the Conservatives (I don't know where the other 10% went).

I think Canadians do want to see some action on carbon reductions, and I do not think the current government speaks for, or even cares about, the majority of Canadians.

It's so painful watching the Conservatives on the international stage. They're such rubes, although they have managed to master the one international relationship that counts: Canada and the US (or, more truthfully, Calgary and Houston).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


twirlip wrote: [In 2009] The Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation ... commissioned an in-depth study of federal and provincial government policies that would allow Canada to meet a "2°C target" to reduce GHG emissions to 25 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020,

So then we read:

"Key findings of the [Pembina] study include:
Canada's gross domestic product would continue to grow at 2.1 per cent per year on average between 2010 and 2020 while meeting the 2° C target, compared to 2.2 per cent for the government's target and 2.4 per cent under business as usual."

The problem is that this is purely a blind shot in the dark. It's disingenous to cite numbers like "2.1%" or "2.4%". Conventional economic forecasts are total b.s. and most people realize it. These studies actually make the case for change tougher because they look so obviously tidy.
posted by storybored at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


dasein: And you're not offering any evidence to disagree with me. Nice try!

You're right - post in a rush, face the consequences.

What I should have added is that using the inaction of previous governments to excuse the failure of Harper's government is a tactic designed to satisfy well-funded denialists in both the US and Canada. While it may be largely true, it's still a smokescreen to hide the current government's ideological objectives.

And I'm sure it's a significant victory for them, because it means more delays before anything gets done, and it proves the concept that much political clout can be generated by threatening people that huge sums of money are bound to flow to poorer countries if we even try to change.
posted by sneebler at 9:20 PM on December 12, 2011



furiousxgeorge: "The problem with drawing some parallels with many of these, especially agricultural ones, and what makes climate change somewhat unique, is that we are perfectly aware of what we are doing and why it is wrong.

"The person who cut down the last tree must have known. They still cut it down""

(DERAIL)

As an archaeologist who focuses on ancient Polynesia, I wish people would PLEASE move forward from citing Bahn and Flenley (1992) when it comes to Easter Island. We've got two more decades of research on the subject and it's much more complicated than that. It's not a parable about earth anymore but a lesson in the problems of introduced species.

The climate change crisis is dire enough that you don't need to bring in outdated research to prop it up.

posted by barnacles at 9:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


While it may be largely true

It is true. The fact that it's an inconvenient truth for your political position is immaterial, and calling it "denialist" is juvenile. And I wasn't trying to hide anything, as is completely clear from my comments.

it means more delays before anything gets done

If you think that Canada's the only country pushing off real action, you should look again.

by threatening people that huge sums of money are bound to flow to poorer countries if we even try to change

Take a look at the Protocol. Canada wasn't going to meet its obligations - not physically possible without shutting down half the economy. The only alternative is to buy credits - $14 billion of them, to judge by the reporting - or be in breach of the treaty. That's not a threat, it's the reality.
posted by Dasein at 9:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a parable about earth anymore but a lesson in the problems of introduced species.

very interesting. cite?
posted by telstar at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2011


It's disingenous to cite numbers like "2.1%" or "2.4%". Conventional economic forecasts are total b.s. and most people realize it.

And yet the government does the exact same thing. To me, including numbers like that is simply a first step at forestalling the knee-jerk objection that their plan would "destroy the economy." I assume they decided that if they want to shape the mainstream media narrative, they need to play the game by the established rules.

The meat of the report is the policy recommendations, which would be pretty feasible if the government had any actual desire to do something about climate change.
posted by twirlip at 9:52 PM on December 12, 2011


Isn't the difference that American is bigger?
posted by jeffburdges at 9:53 PM on December 12, 2011


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Most stuff is common among the left-leaning, except that the Canadians tend towards a form of haughty insult-based nationalism. Even this thread about Steven Harper's global warming policy has almost as much pissing over the border as actual discussion of what's to be done.

Each "difference" based on government or politics needs to be understood in the context that national governments basically reflect which elites were in power at key moments, rather than inherrent cultural differences. Divvying up your world based on which emporer ruled where and for how long actively hurts causes like this that require collaboration.

Anyway, there's far more variety within the USA and Canada than between them.
posted by Winnemac at 9:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?

Canadians think there's a difference.


Too simplistic! We also tend to respect our European roots. Why, just today I saw our immigration minister following France's lead and discussing forcing Muslim women to remove their head coverings while taking their citizenship oath.
posted by Hoopo at 10:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe France has an outright ban on burkhas - Canada does not, and it's no big deal to see folks walking around in a burkha in any Canadian city. The citizenship oath rule regarding head coverings is pretty reasonable if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 PM on December 12, 2011


It is much too late. We are well past the point of no return.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Note that in the 2008 election, Dion and the Liberals made a carbon tax--generally regarded by economists as the most effective and efficient way to reduce emissions--a central part of their platform. They lost, of course. But don't claim that the Harper government (with its cuts to climate research and Arctic research, and its muzzling of scientists) is the same as the Liberals. They're not.
posted by russilwvong at 11:08 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is much too late. We are well past the point of no return.

Sounds like the beginning of Barnes' Mother of Storms. Next up; hypercanes rampaging through Mexico.
posted by Justinian at 11:21 PM on December 12, 2011


It is much too late. We are well past the point of no return.

I don't understand comments like this. Too late for what, exactly? Yeah, we're already starting to see the effects of climate change, and they're only going to get worse. But we still need to sharply reduce the emissions we're currently putting out to prevent the problem from becoming even more severe than it already is. Or are you suggesting that we don't need to worry about it because civilization is going to collapse anyway?
posted by twirlip at 11:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


In which case, I don't need to repay my student loans?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:23 PM on December 12, 2011


Well, unless it degenerates into an anarchocapitalist dystopia and the bank sends its heavily-armed Collections goons after you...
posted by twirlip at 11:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey. I'm trying to see a bright side here.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:04 AM on December 13, 2011


furiousgeorge: "The person who cut down the last tree must have known. They still cut it down"

An excerpt from Part 3 of the 2004 Massey Lectures that I transcribed a few years ago:
Rapa Nui, as Polynesians call the place, was settled during the 5th century AD by migrants from the Marquesas or the Gambiers arriving in big catamarans stocked with their usual range of crops and animals: Dogs, chickens, edible rats, sugar cane, bananas, sweet potatoes, and mulberry for making bark cloth. Easter Island proved too cold for breadfruit and coconut palm, but was rich in seafood: fish, seals porpoises, turtles and nesting sea birds. Within five or six centuries the settlers multiplied to about 10,000 people - a lot for 64 square miles. They built villages with good houses on stone footings, and cleared all the best land for fields. Socially, they split into clans and ranks: nobles, priests, commoners. And their may have been a paramount chief or king.

Like Polynesians on some other islands each clan began to honour its ancestry with impressive stone images. These were hewn from the yielding volcanic tuff of a crater and set up on platforms by the shore. As time went on the statue cult became increasingly rivalrous and extravagant, reaching its apogee during Europe's high middle ages while the Plantagenet kings ruled England.

Each generation of images grew bigger than the last. Demanding more timber rope and manpower for hauling to the 'ahu' or alters. trees were cut faster than they could grow, a problem worsened by the settlers rats, who ate the seeds and saplings. By AD 1400 no more tree pollen is found in the annual layers of the crater lakes. The woods had been utterly destroyed by both the largest and the smallest mammals on the island.

We might think that in such a limited place, were from the height of Terevaca islanders could survey their whole world at a glance, steps would have been taken to halt the cutting, to protect the saplings, to replant. We might think that as trees became scarce the erection of statues might have been curtailed and timber reserved for essential purposes such as boat building and roofing. But that is not what happened. The people who felled the last tree could see it was the last, could know with complete certainty that there would never be another, and they felled it anyway.

All shade vanished from the land, except the hard edged shadows cast by the petrified ancestors, whom the people loved all the more because they made them feel less alone. For a generation or so there was enough old lumber to haul the great stones and still keep a few canoes sea worthy for deep water. But the day came when the last good boat was gone. The people then knew there would be little seafood, and worse, no way of escape. The word for wood 'rakau' became the dearest in their language. Wars broke out over ancient planks and worm eaten bits of jetsam. They ate all their dogs and nearly all the nesting birds and the unbearable stillness of the place deepened with animal silences.

There was nothing left now but the moai, the stone giants who had devoured the land, and still these promised the return of plenty if only the people would keep faith and honour them with increase. "But how will we take you to the alters" asked the carvers. And the Moai answered that when the time came they would walk there on their own.

So the sound of hammering still rang from the quarries and the crater walls came alive with hundreds of new giants, growing even bigger now that they had no need of human transport. The tallest ever set on an alter is over 30' high and weighs 80 tons. The tallest ever carved is 65' long and more than 200 tons. Comparable to the greatest stones worked by the Incas or the Egyptians, except of course that it never budged an inch. By the end there were more than one thousand Moai. One for every ten islanders in their heyday. But the good days were gone. Gone with the good earth which had been carried away on the endless wind and washed by flash floods into the sea. The people had been seduced by a kind of progress that becomes a mania, an ideological pathology as some anthropologists call it.

When Europeans arrived in the 18th century the worst was over. They found only one or two living soles per statue. "A sorry remnant" in Cooke's words "small lean, timid and miserable." The Europeans heard tales of how the warrior class had taken power. How the island had convulsed with burning villages, gory battles, and cannibal feasts. Daggers and spearheads became the commonest tools on the island, horded in pits like the grenades and assault rifles kept by modern day survivalists. Even this was not quite the nadir.

Between the Dutch visit of 1722 and Cooke's 50 years later the people again made war on each other, and for the first time on the ancestors as well. Cooke found moai toppled from their platforms, cracked and beheaded, the ruins littered with human bone. We do not know exactly what promises had been made from the demanding moai to the people. But it seems likely that the arrival of an outside world in floating castles of unimaginable wealth and menace might have exposed certain illusions of the statue cult. Replacing compulsive beliefs with equally compulsive disenchantment.

Whatever its animus the destruction on Rapa Nui raged for at least 70 years, each foreign ship saw fewer upright statues, until not one giant was left standing on it's alter. The work of demolition must have been extremely arduous for the few descendants of the builders. Its thoroughness and deliberation speak of something deeper than clan warfare, of a people angry at their reckless fathers, of a revolt against the dead.
I've heard about the introduced species claim before. Rumple takes it up with me here, for example. The thing is, even if you can blame rats for a lack of seeds, somebody did still chop down that last tree.
posted by Chuckles at 1:34 AM on December 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


China increases its CO2 emissions every 18 months by an amount equal to Canada's entire output.

You know what the differences between China and Canada are?

Per Capita Carbon Output (2008): Canada 16.4 Chine 5.3.

So basically China could increase their carbon output by 300% before they are in the gas spewing assholes league with us. Comparing the absolute output of a country with 38 times our population is just pure political posturing BS and it is even worse if you consider that Canada, like most western nations, has outsourced the bulk of its manufacturing to the Far East as well so in a sense we are probably responsible for a large portion of China's carbon emissions.

The North American style of living is the most absurd misallocation of resources the world has ever and will ever see. I'm not a Green or particularly politically radical but I am pretty sure the judgment of this generation by the future generations will not be one we will enjoy. Unfortunately, I think medical advances mean that many of us will still be around to experience it. I wonder how that will go?
posted by srboisvert at 3:23 AM on December 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Canada, like most western nations, has outsourced the bulk of its manufacturing to the Far East as well so in a sense we are probably responsible for a large portion of China's carbon emissions.

The North American style of living is the most absurd misallocation of resources the world has ever and will ever see.


Pretty much this.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:16 AM on December 13, 2011


> You know if we really *cared* about global warming more than we do about our cars, we'd have done something by now.

As a country, Canada's energy literacy is abysmal. With every resource, we've always been able to trudge a bit further into the bush and chop down that tree, dig up that mineral, or shoot that fur-bearing critter. We've never had to deal with scarcity, and it has been useful to our politicians to keep us in a state of blissful third-world thinking that the Big Man will provide.

Warmer winters would, as others have said, mean that much of the country becomes mush. Warmer temperatures mean more mosquitos/blackfly, and colossal stress on prairie agriculture.
... Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away
posted by scruss at 4:48 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


we suck. I'm seriously ashamed of my country.
posted by jb at 5:41 AM on December 13, 2011


barnacles: If you're an expert, or even well read and current on a subject where people are mislead, then it's your moral obligation to enlighten or keep silent: someone who cares about expanding others' horizons should never belittle or berate.
posted by absalom at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2011


Shameful stuff. Even supposing that the Kyoto targets were unachievable, you'd think they would be replaced by a set of policies and proposals to demonstrate that the country is serious about its international stature and obligations.

we've allowed our economy to become driven by the oil sands project. It's just stupid.

What's more is that with the increase in relative size of the oil and gas (but mostly oil) sector, the country flirts with Dutch disease. The heart of the Canadian economy was, for many years, a mature and diverse manufacturing base in Ontario. But where the oil price goes, so does the Canadian dollar, and so almost every aspect of the economy apart from digging up rocks has brakes put on it. And yet, our governments and policy makers are preparing us for the doubling of oil sands production in the next ten years.

On the other hand, we should be careful about making this too much about one sector worth about 20%. of emissions (though the fastest growing sector, to be sure). Transportation, buildings, electricity generation represent about 60%. De-carbonization is a big challenge for a mature economy, with established infrastructure and buildings.

Successive Federal governments have failed to propose significant policy to attempt to make these changes start to happen. Some of this is due, no doubt, to the limited federal jurisdiction in the relevant portfolios (and yes, there's some action in BC, Ontario and, yes, Alberta), but mostly I think its become clear to the political class how any proposal that could be spun as being personally inconvenient and impacting the economy -- like say green taxes -- has become political suicide. Which baffles me, but then again, you have otherwise smart, informed and reasonable folks spout out such ridiculous hyperbole as "not physically possible without shutting down half the economy" which is completely false yet, I suppose, taken as so obviously self-evident that it requires no further thought, demonstration or argument.
posted by bumpkin at 6:11 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another view of what "pragmatism" means in this context.
posted by sneebler at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2011


But we'd like to make the polar bear our national animal.
You know. In memorial.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:36 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is much too late. We are well past the point of no return.

Which is to say, we're all going to die, but have the choice of dying in hair shirts, flagellating ourselves over our collective stupidity, or to die in our Hummers, the air-conditioning turned up to 11, screaming "fuck you!" at mother nature like red-blooded, corn-fed all-American movie heroes. And many people, faced with such a choice, would choose the latter.

Perhaps as the evidence mounts that global warming is real, Big Oil will discard its denialist shills (who look increasingly indistinguishable from creationists and platygaeans) and start pushing the "we're doomed, let's go out with a bang" line. Even if drastic measures could save life on Earth, a sense of imminent extinction would be better for the 90-day balance sheets. Maybe humanity will go extinct with the Dow soaring towards Valhalla on the wings of valkyries?
posted by acb at 8:52 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe humanity will go extinct with the Dow soaring towards Valhalla on the wings of valkyries?

Me, I'm going to sink a luxury yacht or two before I go the way of the polar bear.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:58 AM on December 13, 2011


The citizenship oath rule regarding head coverings is pretty reasonable if you ask me.

In the same sense it would be pretty reasonable to make new citizens show they're not crossing their fingers when taking the citizenship oath
posted by Hoopo at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


But we still need to sharply reduce the emissions we're currently putting out to prevent the problem from becoming even more severe than it already is.

We cannot prevent the problem from becoming more severe. Vast reserves of methane hydrates are being released. Global temperatures are going to rise regardless any action we take. There is literally nothing we can do about that.

We meed to start figuring out how we are going to survive in a world with unstable weather, extreme weather, and massive crop failures.

Reducing our pollution is commendable but it is not even remotely like a solution. We are well beyond solutions now. We screwed the pooch.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:29 AM on December 13, 2011


Has there ever in human history been a collective action problem of the size and severity of global warming?

Probably not. But our track record on other "smaller" systemic problems doesn't give room for much optimism. Like the current Euro debt crisis for example. Or the obesity epidemic.

All of these problems share common characteristics:

1. Everything seems ok at the moment, so why do anything.
2. To fix the problem requires a big sacrifice of nice things.
3. If something bad happens, maybe we'll be ok.

The history of financial crises is pretty depressing, we've shown as a species that when push comes to shove, we pick the sub-optimal choice.

So if we can't even fix the US debt crisis, the Euro debt crisis, what chance do we have against global warming?

I suppose this is an argument for using the money that would otherwise go to Kyoto carbon credits on measures that would mitigate climate change.
posted by storybored at 9:36 AM on December 13, 2011


It is much too late. We are well past the point of no return.

Man, that's a boring point of view, and old. I seem to recall people voicing it over forty years ago when I was still in elementary school. Everything was wrong, wrong, wrong and we were all going to be dead before we turned fifty.

Okay, so maybe they just got the date wrong. Maybe.

Or maybe that great and horrible tipping point had already happened long before any of us were born. Which means we were already in it -- age of perpetual turmoil, disequilibrium, apocalypse, CHANGE. And we still are, all the post split-atom generations, facing a future both strange and incalculable ... with the outcome very much in doubt.

Get used to it.
posted by philip-random at 9:53 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck Harper. All I can say right now.
posted by jokeefe at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reducing our pollution is commendable but it is not even remotely like a solution. We are well beyond solutions now. We screwed the pooch.

I absolutely agree, but that just means the conservation work is over and the real work begins. What we need to look at now is how to build resilience into our infrastructure, with the inability to control global emissions as a given. Industrial monocrop agriculture is probably what scares the living daylights out of me right now: the superstorms make for spooky TV, but it's going to be the loss of food production capacity that initiates the real disaster. Most people alive today have never experienced famine, but I am absolutely certain we will not retain that privilege.

I just wish we had the slightest bit of collective foresight.
posted by mek at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


>The citizenship oath rule regarding head coverings is pretty reasonable if you ask me.

In the same sense it would be pretty reasonable to make new citizens show they're not crossing their fingers when taking the citizenship oath


Yeah, you're right. On reflection, I realized I was wrong - what is the point of banning head coverings during the citizenship oath? Citizens in Canada are supposed to enjoy religious freedom.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:16 PM on December 13, 2011


Is there a support group for people who think they may be getting an ulcer reading about all of this shit?
posted by dobie at 2:19 PM on December 13, 2011


Is there a support group for people who think they may be getting an ulcer reading about all of this shit?

Yes.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:20 PM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


The problem with Kyoto isn't about the politicians. It's about *us*.

Agreed.
posted by Kurichina at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2011


Is there a support group for people who think they may be getting an ulcer reading about all of this shit?

I stopped caring, period. I gave up on the country the night Harper and The Crazies got their majority from a smug sleepwalking populace. RIP, my home. Currently looking at Europe or Central America, and frankly, both are looking good.
posted by holycola at 9:16 PM on December 13, 2011


Comparing the absolute output of a country with 38 times our population is just pure political posturing BS

Comparing the per-capita output of countries is also pure political posturing BS. I mean, having a ridiculously huge population is not obviously any more or less virtuous than burning a lot of fuel per capita. CO2 doesn't care about your national borders. Trying to decide on targets and quotas for individual countries is a giant waste of time which will never succeed. The international treaty we need is simply a level carbon tax on everyone, but instead the politicians are blinded by the complexity of the process that will keep them busy arguing about it for the next decade.
posted by sfenders at 7:41 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fracking disclosure rules approved in Colorado
posted by jeffburdges at 8:20 AM on December 14, 2011


Harper and The Crazies got their majority from a smug sleepwalking populace.

But voting every 2 years is just so hard. No one wants to read the news that often.
posted by Hoopo at 9:10 AM on December 14, 2011


Justin Trudeau hurls obscenity at Peter Kent in Commons.

Simple defence of truth applies, I imagine. Is not Peter Kent, in fact, a piece of shit?
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2011


No. Peter Kent, that thing you just said, was a piece of shit thing to say.
posted by anthill at 3:31 PM on December 14, 2011


A Part of Our Heritage: Backing Out of the Kyoto Accord.
posted by oulipian at 7:18 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Paging Gompa, paging Dr. Gompa to Thread 110428 stat!"
posted by Jaybo at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2011


Oh, and in "The Leap" (which is the first link in my comment above) the guy who led Germany in developing the feed-in tariff which has made Germany a superstar of the sustainable movement actually agrees that Kyoto is the wrong way to approach the climate change crisis.

It's an amazing book (and I say that not just because it was written by a MeFite.) You should buy a copy for yourself for Christmas (and one to send to Stephen Harper or the duly elected official of your choice as well.)
posted by Jaybo at 10:05 AM on December 15, 2011


(I hope I'm remembering that fact right. Gompa, where are you???)
posted by Jaybo at 10:22 AM on December 15, 2011


Shale Gas Industry Using PsyOps Tactics Tested in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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