STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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It offend me deeply….

Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

“It offends me deeply to hear people say dirty oil” – Iris Evans

Oh yeah? Well it offends my rights and that of billions of humans and countless species that people like Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans (originator of the title quote) encourages the production of dirty oil.

Alberta politicians and oil
producers are fighting back at a resolution passed by U.S. mayors calling for a boycott of fuel from Alberta’s oilsands. At their annual meeting in Florida, the American mayors passed a resolution that urges major American cities to ban the u
se of fuel from the oilsands in municipal vehicles.

The mayors claim that producing oil from the oilsands emits three times as much carbon dioxide into the environment as conventional oil production.

Even though the boycott will not make much of an immediate difference to Alberta oil companies since it would be difficult to enforce and too easy to slip by, the longer term effects will pack a huge punch. To have US mayors declaring Alberta oil dirty and harmful to environments, public opinion shifts more in favour of plans which truly reduce emissions.

Can’t happen too soon, either. James Hansen one of the first scientists who managed to reveal not only the reality of climate change, but the culpability of politicians and CEOs of energy companies in attempting to cover up the truth.

The soft-spoken scientist, hailed as the “whistle-blower for the planet,” tried to quiet a standing ovation from environmentalists here with a typically blunt admonition. “It is not a time to celebrate,” said Hansen, 20 years to the day since he became the first leading scientist to warn of the dangers of global warming before a congressional committee. He returned not to bask in any adulation, but to warn that the Earth is nearing a tipping point, to call for a national carbon tax and to say that CEOs of energy companies may be guilty of crimes against humanity and nature. “We have reached a point of planetary emergency,” he said.

“There are tipping points in the climate system, which we are very close to, and if we pass them, the dynamics of the system take over and carry you to very large changes which are out of your control.”

As more people understand that our climate is changing as a result of GHGs, too may still think we have time to suck up and use that last bit of oil, indulge in a lifestyle that produces more emissions than out atmosphere can handle, and sit back trusting that “they” will fix things before the tipping point.

Two problems with that – as Suzuki pointed out years ago, “we” are “they,” so we,re the ones who have to act, and secondly, if we use up that little buffer some scientist think we still have, it’s too late. That’s the whole idea behind the tipping point. No matter what we do after that, the planet’s climate systems are on a self-propelling roll and warming will continue, producing even more radical and harmful changes to our climates.

We can add a third concern to those two – many recent reports are showing that changes to climates are occurring much faster than originally thought. That means we may be nearer to, or even at the tipping point already. I believe we are. Once tundra starts melting, more methane is released, which in turn causes more melting, leading to more release of that GHG.

Hansen calls for a plan similar in many aspects to Dion’s Green Shift plan.

(Hansen) called for a carbon tax on coal, oil and gas. The tax, he said, should be returned in full to the public – not used by government – in equal amounts for each adult and a half-share for children, deposited directly into bank accounts or credited to debit cards.

Such a non-regressive tax, Hansen says, will spur low and middle-income people to limit their tax while profligate users will pay for their excesses.

Such statements from people like Hansen do what Liberal ads can’t do – convince more people that the Green Shift plan is reasonable, will have some effect, and won’t devastate personal or national economies. It’s like having a famous name backing a product. The public may not understand why a product is better than another similar one, but for some reason, link a famous name to the product, and more people are likely to trust the ads.

Yes, this can be a deceptive form of advertisement, but in this case, the people backing the Green Shift plan are specialists in the field in question. That carries weight with people trying to decide if the plan will help the environment without destroying our lives.

Carbon tax is a hard sell. We all want a healthy environment, and many of us understand the need to change how we live. We agree in principal with such a tax, but actually changing is harder than saying the words.

What is helping the Dion plan is the supportive comments of several specialists and environmental groups as well as the consideration he gives to shift the tax back to those who most need it, while also providing funding for green R&D.

What is helping Dion finally gain some traction is that his plan, while not going far enough to reduce warming as much as is needed, shows the courage of commitment. He knows it is a hard sell – raising taxes usually is – but it says a lot about his commitment that he has the courage to forward what initially is a tough sell rather than go for the cheap bribes many politicians engage in.


One Response to “It offend me deeply….”

  1. Iris Evans clearly is on the payroll of dirty oil. Shame on her!

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