Good Sunday Morning,
That the carbon tax is some lefty strategy to undermine the economy is just plain laughable. Sure it was proposed by Al Gore in his book "Earth in the Balance" but Greg Mankiw, head of the Council of Economic Advisers under the George W. Bush administration, economic adviser to Mitt Romney for his 2012 presidential campaign and economics professor at Harvard University since 1985, has been advocating for increased carbon/oil taxation since at least 1999. As far back as 1979, economist Milton Friedman expressed support for the idea of a carbon tax.
Former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and NASA climatologist James E. Hansen have argued in support of a carbon tax. Former Congressman Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina) heads the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University which is making the conservative case for climate legislation through support for a carbon tax.
And a number of businesses and business leaders support a carbon tax including: Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, James Owens, CEO of Caterpillar, Paul Anderson, CEO and Chairman of Duke Energy, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Unilever, and Nestlé. BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total sent an open letter to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) calling for the implementation of carbon pricing and eventually link it into a global system.
Economist Laura D'Andrea Tyson wrote in June 2013: "The beauty of a carbon tax is its market-based simplicity. Economists since Adam Smith have insisted that prices are by far the most efficient way to guide the decisions of producers and consumers. Carbon emissions have an "unpriced" societal cost in terms of their deleterious effects on the earth's climate. A tax on carbon would reflect these costs and send a powerful price signal that would discourage carbon emissions."
So when these henchmen of the oil lobby unite forces to oppose a deeply conservative, market signaling mechanism, you know it's all about confusing the debate to grab power so they can do the bidding for their masters. But it's not just them the boys in blue. Justin Trudeau promised to stop subsidizing the fossil industry during the last campaign. A promise that was quickly broken as corporate welfare continues to flow through the pipeline lobby. Then he bought the pipeline with our money. His "Grand Bargain" turned out to be a deal with the devil that has come back to bite him (and Rachel Notley).
"Rebellious Scientists Issue Urgent Appeal" reads the headline in CounterPunch. Robert Hunzinger writes that: "Nearly 100 British scientists, academics, and writers are willing to go to jail to make their point that anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is a surefire provocateur that’s already starting to decimate ecosystems." Among them are Elizabeth's favourite British MP Caroline Lucas and her former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Elizabeth echoed that appeal when she delivered a keynote entitled “One point five to stay alive” at "Scaling Up 2018", a conference about competing in the global bioeconomy market. According to National Observer reports, Elizabeth reminded delegates that somewhere between 1.5 and 2 degrees, there’s a danger of crossing a big red line in the atmosphere. That's where warming feedback loops will kick in, such as when the Arctic permafrost thaws, and releases huge stores of methane into the atmosphere.
"The oilsands industry is Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the federal government. But the current Alberta NDP government introduced a climate change plan in 2015 that would cap the industry's overall annual pollution to a level that would be about 40 per cent higher.
"May noted that the sector, which extracts heavy oil from tar-like bituminous deposits of sand beneath Alberta's boreal forest, has been heavily subsidized ever since former prime minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government offered billions of dollars in incentives, starting in the 1990s."
"Canada’s federal government handed out hundreds of millions of dollars per year in public money to oil and gas companies between 2016 and 2018, despite its longstanding commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies," writes Patrick DeRochie Program Manager Climate & Energy for Environmental Defense. "In our new report, we provide details on the array of tax breaks, fiscal supports and direct grants from the federal government that are encouraging the production of more fossil fuels."
During that same Keynote Elizabeth also hammered home the massive cost to taxpayers of the unfunded liability that is the Alberta tar sands (yes I call them what they are and not what the spin-masters have named them). Elizabeth was reacting to revelations we wrote about last week, that Alberta’s fossil fuel industry regulator had privately estimated that the cost of cleaning up aging and inactive oil and gas exploration wells, facilities, pipelines and tailing ponds in the province could cost $260 billion — or $200 billion more than a previous public estimate.
“Right now all Canadians should know that we have a very heavy debt load that we’re carrying on behalf of the oil industry, because they won’t be paying off their cleanup costs," Elizabeth told the National Observer. A recent joint investigation by National Observer, Global News, the Toronto Star and StarMetro Calgary led to an apology by the Alberta Energy Regulator for the “concern and confusion” caused by its estimate. The organization then announced that its president would resign in January — a move it said had nothing to do with revelations about its oilpatch liability figures. On Tuesday, Alberta's governing New Democrats and official Opposition United Conservatives joined forces to prevent an emergency debate on the issue proposed by a Liberal MLA.
And now just to create more toxic waste that we don't know how to handle, the Federal Liberals are pursuing a new nuclear program. Instead of investing in wind and solar, the economically preferred energy options according to Delloite, Trudeau's Liberals have decided to invest in technology that has been widely discredited. The nuclear industry has a history of underestimated costs and timelines whereas wind and solar are already competitive in price and their uptake is immediate. "We have abundant alternatives." Elizabeth explained in this press conference.
Almost two years ago, before the incessant wildfires of the past two summers or the recent IPCC report, Tyler Hamilton, a climate and economy reporter, wrote in The Star: "Signs of mental distress related to climate change have appeared in vulnerable populations, from drought-stricken prairie farmers to isolated aboriginal communities and the scientists who crunch climate data. Our fast-changing climate has long been identified as a threat to physical health, but more psychologists are warning that the mental health impacts and the economic toll they take are real. Some have called it a “pre-traumatic” stress disorder.
We have faced these kind of global challenges before. Challenges that seemed overwhelming and threatened to cause unprecedented destruction to our way of life. The complexities of the Armistice, 100 years ago today, can not fit on our lapel. The magnitude of the suffering and lives lost, military and civilian on all sides, can not fit into the single day we devote each year to remind ourselves. But the red poppy signifies that the lessons of the past are important. For those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. And if the lessons of history teach us anything it's that how we choose to govern ourselves, matters.
Tyranny takes many forms but its number one enemy, the antidote that neutralizes any tyrant, is an informed and engaged citizenry. Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, reminds us in this short clip that "History gives no discounts. If the future of humanity is decided in your absence, because you're too busy feeding and clothing your kids, you and they will not be exempt from the consequences. This is very unfair, but who ever told you that history was fair?"
Harari argues that it's not big brother censorship, as we feared in the 70s, that has robbed the masses of their ability to make informed decisions. But rather it's the onslaught of misinformation. That point has been made many times. The information age has turned easy access to global events into a virtual fire-hose of information that is aimed directly at our senses. The latest strategy by the plutocratic class is to fill that fire-hose with misinformation. As a result the public, feeling overwhelmed by the barrage, finds refuge in the justification that "it's all lies anyway".
Lies like those that were spread on social media about George Soros and the migrant caravan marching through Mexico. "It’s really significant how these memes can go from feverswamp-ish places to be amplified by lawmakers, even the president," said David Carroll, associate professor at The New School's Parsons School of Design in New York. “From there, the impact on world events can’t be underestimated.”
Or the 1,100 lies that President Trump told Americans in the lead-up to the mid-term elections. "It's truly stunning -- and frightening -- stuff. What's more terrifying to me is that Trump's supporters don't seem to know -- or care -- about any of this. They regard fact checks by the media as simply the "fake news" doing everything they can to slow down Trump's momentum. And to the extent they acknowledge that Trump doesn't tell the truth a lot of the time, they write it off as either a) him just talking or b) that all politicians lie."
The claim that Alberta has to get more "oilsands" to market for its economy to survive and that the discount on bitumen is a result of limited transportation links to Asian markets has been disproved over and over again. And yet the conservative Globe and Mail, the NDP premier of Alberta and our Liberal Prime Minister continue to peddle these untruths.
Perhaps there is a rising Green Tide because there is only one national political party left in Canada that is not afraid to speak truth to the power of big oil and the carbon lobby. Perhaps it's because there is only one party left who refuses to lace on the concrete boots of the status quo, who refuses to be locked into the "best practices" of political gamesmanship, and who refuses to sell its soul to the spin doctors.
Elizabeth's week in review shows what she accomplishes each week on our behalf. But there is so much more to do to keep our democracy strong. As I've said before, the first rule of democracy is to show up. And in today's digital age, showing up means being more than a passive bystander. We need to hold our leaders to account. We need to hold them to the highest standards.
According to the latest Abacus poll, almost three in four Canadians see climate change as a big problem. Two-thirds of Canadians feel there is conclusive or solid evidence that the earth is warming. Only 9% say there is little or no evidence. Half of those inclined to vote Conservative say the evidence of climate change is now conclusive or solid. Half of Alberta voters also believe this. And still we have politicians elected by a minority of voters who, under First Past The Post, are entrusted with 100% of the power, and then exercise that power to stifle climate action.
As you observe a moment of silence today to reflect on the incredible sacrifice and dedication of our men and women in uniform, perhaps you want to also consider taking a moment to reflect on the suffering and loss of the innocent, the helpless and those who can not speak for themselves. Consider how political actions and avoidance, courage and cowardice can have lasting effects for generations to come. It's about honor, respect, dedication and yes, sacrifice. But it's also about courage and hope and determination to secure a brighter future.
Lest we forget,
"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015
This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues. And if you are on twitter please join in on this hashtag.