Letter to the editor: More counterpoint on the fate of the globe’s polar bears

To the Expositor:

Before moving on from polar bears I have to say that we haven’t seen Derek Stephan McPhail so worked up since he and I traded remarks on extreme weather events (EWE) (‘Quoting the same article as proof of the proof isn’t proof,’ November 4, Page 4). Then as now in the polar bear discussions, he is short on facts and long on rants. I purposely repeated some evidence in my last note since most from the first was ignored. For example, I cited three sub-populations that were subject to extensive studies and all resulted in very positive outcomes. Of course, the news doesn’t fit the narrative so McPhail simply ignores the evidence. Some readers might recall that in the EWE discussion, after I pointed out to him that evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other sources supported my claims, he closed the discussion with an interesting Malthusian Marxist rant that provided a good measure of the man. I leave it there and move on to a few other interesting topics.

Recently reporter Lori Thompson wrote a brief summary of the federal government’s Throne Speech as it pertained to climate change. Of particular interest were two subjects that I would like to comment on.

The first is electric cars described as “zero emissions.” There is no such thing! The International Energy Agency makes a comparison between a gasoline powered car and an electric one. The first emits ~ 34 tons of carbon dioxide over a 10-year time span while an electric car will emit 26 tons. This is taking into account the emissions during the production of the vehicles. In addition, what powers the grid will also influence emissions. The grid in China is 60 percent powered by coal, India and the USA are both 80 percent powered by fossil fuels. Given the inefficiencies in converting energy, using electric vehicles in these areas will results in more emissions that if gasoline powered unit were operated. In Canada, there are areas where the grid is predominantly powered by fossil fuels. Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are examples. Even in Ontario with its nuclear generation we still rely on natural gas for about six percent of our needs.

The second idea that I wish to comment on is “carbon neutrality.” A term which is currently in vogue and typically used without any attempt to describe in meaningful terms what the cost implications might be.

There is only one country in the world that has attempted to cost a “carbon neutral” objective and that would be New Zealand. It was the first country to state a goal to achieve this target. It was also the first to fail. The original promise was declared in 2007 with 2020 as the target date. Emissions were 130 percent higher when time was up. In 2018, New Zealand again made a promise to achieve the same goal by 2050. The New Zealand government then asked for an estimate of the cost of this proposal and the result is the only official, academically credible estimate of the cost to achieve carbon neutrality. Costs would start in 2020 and the costs would be the equivalent of ~ $13,000 for every single New Zealander and could escalate to ~ $25,000 per person every single year! An equivalent calculation for the USA would result in a cost of ~ $5 trillion every year, higher than the current annual federal spend.

Obviously, “carbon neutrality” ranks right up there with “low carbon economy” and unicorn sightings for credibility.

Note: The numbers I have used above come from Bjorn Lomborg’s newest book entitled ‘False Alarm, How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.’

Shane Desjardins