Two months ago the Martin government set aside $5 billion over five years for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. On Wednesday Canadians were told the treaty’s costs would actually hit $10 billion over seven years, sending the right of centre bloggists into conniptions.
Sorry folks: If we are going to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to six per cent below 1990’s level by 2012, as the protocol demands, it is going to cost. It may be expensive, however we going to get more for our money than clean air. The first thing the liberals have promised is an expanded East-West power grid (sorry I know it’s a liberal promise), which will not just reduce the dependence on coal power, but also prevent major power outages like the August 14, 2003 black out.
We will also be paying for better health, without putting money into the pockets of large pharmaceutical companies. Kyoto implementation measures will cut emissions that can cause respiratory illnesses. According to Statistics Canada, in 1993 Canadians spent $962 million on pharmaceuticals to combat respiratory diseases. The Federal Government also surveyed Canadian attitudes on health issues (April 2004) and found that “a majority (53%) believe that air pollution affects health a great deal, while another 40 percent believe that air pollution “somewhat affects” the health of Canadians.” Thus 93% of Canadians consider air pollution a threat to their health. If the cost of clean air is higher prices on consumer items, I would rather pay this then pay for chemotherapy when I get lung cancer.
The whole issue of cost may be redundant, as it becomes more a question of do we pay now or pay later. Global warming is even now making the cost of agriculture rise, reducing fish harvests, and may eventually contribute to Wall St. sinking into the Atlantic.
In 1988 the growing season in Canada, witnessed large crop losses in the Prairies, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec due to drought. In a 1995 study Environment Canada concluded that these droughts “could provide a very useful example of how the average summer climates of Canada may appear in the future, and While such events are not unprecedented in Canada’s history, they are likely to occur more frequently during the decades to come.” and it likely has as emissions are 30% higher then they were in the 1990’s.
Like motorcycle repair we can use duct tape and binder twine to fix the problem and have the bike fall apart in 5 to 10 years, or we can fix it with new parts and keep it running forever.
This item is published with apologies to Robert Pirsig, however the theft and bastardization of his title was just too tempting, considering values are discussed in both works albeit different types of values.