Welcome Back to Planet Canada

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An interesting cluster of stories has appeared in this morning’s press. If you’re a Canadian, see if you can connect the dots.

  1. From the International Energy Agency: “Both global oil demand and supply are now close to new, historically significant peaks at 100 million barrels per day, and neither show signs of ceasing to grow any time soon.”

  2. From the Globe and Mail: “The price of Western Canadian Select crude fell to a record US$52.50 per barrel below the price of Northern American benchmark West Texas Intermediate in trading Thursday. A shortage of pipeline capacity and refinery maintenance have combined to cause a growing glut.” The current spot price for WCS crude is $19 per barrel.

  3. From iPolitics: “Western Canadian grain farmers are warning the federal agriculture minister they may not be able to get this year’s multibillion-dollar crop in the bin because of continued snowfall in much of the Prairies.”

This will definitely be on the exam.

Are Voters Really Too Stupid to Solve the Greatest Challenge Facing Mankind?

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It had to happen. The recent IPCC report on the doomed Earth has got the press corps in such a lather that they’re now going after ordinary citizens. This is new, and well worth pondering.

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail piece by veteran national-affairs columnist Gary Mason is typical. Mason appears to be genuinely baffled by the failure of the IPCC to terrify the people of the world into breakneck decarbonization. “Unfortunately,” he writes, “the dire cautions being levelled by climate scientists these days don’t seem to be precipitating the global panic and outrage that they should.” From there Mason segues, apparently without irony, into a full-frontal attack on the usual Canadian suspects—Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer—for their “often misleading scaremongering.”

What in the world would compel so many of Canada’s political leaders to be so barbaric as to hasten the death throes of the planet? “Politicians such as Mr. Ford and his ilk couldn’t care less about pollution,” Mason avers, “or taking measures to radically reduce emissions. He believes the people who make up Ford Nation, the people who voted him into office, only care about their next paycheque.” But here’s the pièce de résistance. According to Mason, Premier Ford et al are not only playing politics with the only measure that can guarantee the future of the biosphere, i.e. carbon taxation, but they

are betting people are too stupid to figure that out. And they may be right about that, too. Yes, politicians will have blood on their hands when the seas start rising. But it’s not just politicians. It’s the people who voted them in knowing these so-called leaders didn’t care about trying to solve the greatest challenge facing mankind.

Wow.

What are we to make of such brazen attacks on the intelligence of Canadian voters?

For starters, we might imagine that in virtually any other context, Canadians’ resistance to a propaganda offensive designed to foment “global panic” would be commendable. Secondarily, we might err on the side of defending the democratic right of Canadians to assess for themselves the political landscape and its bearing on their well-being, now and in the future. And if extending these two benefits of the doubt to Canadian voters can’t mitigate the tragedy of their being “too stupid” not to vote for politicians who “couldn’t care less about pollution,” we might even take refuge in the time-honoured mantra of democrats everywhere and allow that Canadians have the constitutionally guaranteed right to be stupid.

But Canadians are not stupid. And in any other circumstance, the abject failure of the Canadian commentariat to follow the bouncing ball on the decarbonization debate would be both obvious and risible.

Take polling. In yesterday’s Toronto Star—which, like the Globe, covered the IPCC report with unbounded hysteria—EKOS pollster Frank Graves is cited alongside eco-radicals like NDP MP Niki Ashton, Environmental Defence director Dale Marshall and Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada. Graves is quoted as musing that “an issue like climate change, as it is now cast in almost apocalyptic possibilities—that can be very emotionally engaging.” But, in fact, his own survey data suggest precisely the opposite—which, of course, is why climate-change activists are beside themselves. Graves is paraphrased in the Star as saying, “a majority of Canadians already rank climate change and the environment amongst their top concerns [but] there is still a solid base of voters receptive to the Conservative attack on the carbon tax.”

How in the world to explain this paradox?

Here’s how. For thirty years, i.e. starting with James Hansen’s dramatic pitch to the U.S. Congress in 1988, Canadians (and others) have been told that global warming is an existential threat to the planet. For the last twenty years, they’ve been told that the science is settled. And for the last decade at least, thanks to Al Gore and others who pontificate as he does, they’ve been told that anyone who does not subscribe root-and-branch to climate-change orthodoxy will be likened to a Holocaust denier and publicly shamed. Indeed, the hermetic seal on this orthodoxy is so tight that no one under the age of forty can recall a time when conversing even privately about climate policy was not a matter of intense social scrutiny and stigmatization. And now, all these decades later, we have the likes of Gary Mason telling us that if we do not think as he does, and vote as he does, we’re stupid. So when the phone rings in the kitchens of Canadians and pollsters like Frank Graves ask them what they think about climate change, how are they apt to answer?

The straitjacketing of the global climate conversation is one of the most egregious intellectual offences of the early twenty-first century world—the more so because it has its origins not in some paranoid dictatorship but in the country that gave us the First Amendment. But having put it in motion—having browbeaten thoughtful voters everywhere into silence—we should hardly be surprised that many of them are quietly but firmly drawing their own conclusions and voting their own consciences.

The IPCC Reports from Fantasy Island

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The long-anticipated post-Paris report of the IPCC—Global Warming of 1.5°C—is out today and, not surprisingly, it is making tsunami-sized waves among climate-change radicals who are already convinced that only the breakneck decarbonization of the planet ensures the future of the biosphere. “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C,” says the opening line of today’s IPCC press release, “would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Deferential media have responded with the usual cant, as in this jeremiad from Deutsche Welles’ Sonya Angelica Diehn:

But when you really boil it down, do we actually have a choice? Do you want millions of people to lose their homes and their livelihoods? Are you and your family ready to personally face ever more heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall and flooding? Are you ready to see your own food security at risk?

If you care at all about the future, you should be ready to make some sacrifices now and take action to hold politicians accountable.

Are you?

There’s nothing new in this, of course. For decades media coverage of the work of the IPCC has been almost uniformly obliging and uncritical. We have grown accustomed to reading full-frontal attacks on President Trump and the hated “denialists.” And having allowed the IPCC consensus to stifle scientific dissent, we also appear to have resigned ourselves to the radicals’ decarbonize-or-perish binary without caveat—which is to say, without so much as a nod to the political realities that make it fanciful.

Here’s an example: according to a story in the New York Times, somewhere in the 728-page IPCC document posted today is an estimate of the global carbon price circa 2100: $27,000 per ton. If you’re reading this in Canada, you’ll know that our prime minister is, even now, meeting considerable resistance on his plan to tax carbon emissions at a comparatively paltry $50 per tonne by 2020. The distance between these two numbers is mind-numbing. But it evinces the poverty of the climate debate as it stands today, courtesy of the the iron-fisted hegemony of IPCC ideology and influence.

The point should be obvious. Political leaders who live and work here in the world of the real are no more likely to embrace “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” than they are to disarm unilaterally because the dream of a world without war is nice. We used to call politics the art of the possible precisely because we comprehended its limits.