My objection to the Kyoto Protocol

Note this is a political, and not a scientific objection. It’s pretty simple.  First off, let’s acknowledge ‘the Earth’ isn’t going to feel any long-term side-effects from a net temperature increase (of whatever amount). The Earth will go on around the sun, for another few billion years. The only impact will be on human populations (and contemporary flora and fauna, of course).

My instrument of measurement is, what is the best way to improve the standard of living for people on the planet? Kyoto proponents will say, ’30 years from now the Seychelles will be under water, New York will be significantly reduced in size, and the cost of accommodating this will be astronomical”. My point of view would be, first off, there isn’t a global bank to which all of humanity will owe money. The global economy is a system. If someone in the Seychelles has to move, they may lose out — but someone else will benefit. This is the beauty of the GDP measure — any economic activity is beneficial, even if it’s in the form of a company paying a fine for polluting the air.

No, if we really want to improve global human development — lifespans, quality of life, access to education, women’s rights, etc. — we would be better off taking the billions of dollars in greenhouse gas reduction costs and put it towards social justice issues.  There are First Nations in Canada who live in absolutely abysmal living conditions. This issue on its own is enough to make me embarassed to be a Canadian. Our government cancelled an accord that would have at least taken some small steps towards remedying this. So I hope you can understand my frustration when wealthy middle-class Canadians get so upset over a projected rise in global sea levels.

Secondly, am I mistaken, or is the current environment not that great? Have we fixed things so perfectly in the here and now that we can worry about 50 years on? Toronto had 48 smog days last year, when people with breathing difficulty are advised to stay indoors. Canada’s national parks are woefully understaffed and underfunded. We have toothless endangered species legislation. There is a proposal to log vast new areas in Ontario’s northwest.

I say, let’s fix these things first. But I guess these issues aren’t sexy enough for Al Gore to document.

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Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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