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Kyoto

This is the most threatening piece of legislation to Alberta since the National Energy Program.
Colby Cosh discusses the premises a Canadian must logically accept before advocating Kyoto:

1. The earth is getting warmer, and...

2. This warming is significant and will continue, all things remaining more or less equal.

Over the very short term, no discernable warming trend in the earth's lower atmosphere.  Using satellite data over the last 18 years, NASA found even a slight cooling of -0.04C per year.


Over the medium term, there is a similar lack of evidence that the earth's climate is getting abnormally warmer
.

Harvard astrophysicists Soon and Baliunas note that the twentieth century is not an abnormally warm period nor is it the warmest era in the past 1,000 years. The earth has certainly warmed since the Little Ice Age, but has also cooled since the Medieval Warm Period.

This study is confirmed by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003), who found "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects" in Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998). They detailed the errors and presented a new time series of temperatures using the corrected data. Their findings are that the "hockey stick" indicating rising global temperatures is based on poor data handling, obsolete data and incorrect calculation of principal components. In other words, the 20th century is not abnormally warm.

And in studies of global temperatures spawning geological time, similar conclusions are found. NASA found that the middle Pilocene (3.15 million and 2.85 million years ago) was much warmer than present.

Global warming is not a fact. There are many studies indicating that such a warming is not occuring, regardless of what time period is considered. Moreover, if such a warming is occuring, it is not abnormal.

3. The warming is, for the world, more bad than it is good. (Or, as a possible alternative, the warming is good for the world, but bad for Canada, and therefore we should act in our own interests. Or: the warming is bad for the world but good for Canada, so we have some kind of responsibility to take steps to harm ourselves and benefit the rest of the world.)

Fact is, nobody can predict the future with certainty. Could a warmer global climate lead to longer growing seasons in certain areas, particularly in northern climes like Canada? Sure. Could a warmer global climate dramatically increase the amount of arable land that Canada has? Absolutely.

One could just as easily raise concerns over increased pestilence one observes in warmer climates, with its associated diseases.

What would be the net effect? Nobody knows for sure. And if the effect of Global Warming (assuming it exists, a stretch in itself) cannot be known, why take steps to stop it?

4. There is a significant human element in the causes of this warming, and...

5. Greenhouse gases constitute the most important part of this human element.

The most significant greenhouse gas is water vapor, from earth's vast oceans:














Ignoring water vapor, man's contribution to greenhouse gases still pales in comparison to nature's:

U.S. Department of Energy, (October, 2000)
(all concentrations
expressed in parts per billion)
Pre-industrial baseline Natural additions Man-made additions Total (ppb)  Percent of Total
 Carbon Dioxide (CO2)  288,000 68,520  11,880  368,400  99.44% 
 Methane (CH4)  848 577  320  1,745  0.47% 
 Nitrous Oxide (N2O)  285 12  15  312  0.08% 
 Misc. gases  25 2 27  0.01% 
 Total  289,158 69,109  12,217  370,484  100.00% 

Anthropogenic contributions to greenhouse gases comprise 3.298% of all greenhouse gas concentrations, ignoring water vapor.

CO2 has different heat retention properties than CH4 or N20, so that has to be taken into account:

This table adjusts values to compare greenhouse gases equally with respect to CO2. ( #'s are unit-less) Multiplier
Pre-industrial baseline(new) Natural additions (new) Man-made additions (new) Tot. Relative Contribution Percent of Total (new)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)  1  288,000 68,520  11,880  368,400  72.369%
Methane (CH4)  21  17,808 12,117  6,720  36,645  7.199%
Nitrous Oxide (N2O)  310 88,350 3,599 4,771  96,720  19.000%
Other 10.46 2,500 4,791  7,291  1.432%
 Total   396,658 84,236 28,162  509,056  100.000% 

Anthropogenic contributions to greenhouse gases, based on the heat retention of those greenhouse gases, comprise 5.53% of all greenhouse gas contributions. Once again, this ignores water vapor's contribution. When the effect of water vapor is factored in, the story changes dramatically:

Role of Atmospheric Greenhouse Gases (man-made and natural)
as a Percentage of Relative Contribution to the "Greenhouse Effect"

Based on concentrations (ppb) adjusted for heat retention characteristics Percent of Total  Percent of Total -
adjusted for water vapor
Water vapor ----- 95.00%
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 72.37%  3.62%
 Methane (CH4) 7.10%  0.36%
Nitrous oxide (N2O) 19.00%  0.95%
 CFC's (and other misc. gases) 1.43%  0.07%
 Total 100.00%  100.00%

Mankind's contribution add up to 0.28% of the greenhouse effect:

Anthropogenic Contribution to the Greenhouse Effect,
expressed as a Percentage of Total (Water Vapor Included)
Based on concentrations (ppb) adjusted for heat retention characteristics  % of All Greenhouse Gases
% Natural
% Man-made
 Water vapor 95.000% 

 94.999%

0.001% 
 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 3.618% 

 3.502%

0.117% 
 Methane (CH4) 0.360% 

 0.294%

0.066% 
 Nitrous Oxide (N2O) 0.950% 

 0.903%

0.047% 
 Misc. gases ( CFC's, etc.) 0.072% 

 0.025%

0.047% 
 Total 100.00% 

 99.72

0.28% 

The anthropogenic CO2 contributions cause 0.117% of earth's greenhouse effect. This is insignificant.

6. The modest greenhouse-emissions reductions proposed in the Protocol will have a noticeable positive effect on climate change.

Even if one adheres to the proposition that greenhouse gases are the prime driver of global warming, the above tables indicate that the anthropogenic contribution to greenhouse gases is miniscule. Even if the Kyoto Protocol could remove all man-made greenhouse gases, it would have a negligible effect on climate change.

Further, the Kyoto Protocol will not reduce greenhouse gas levels. Developing countries are exempt from limitations on CO2. Included in this list of developing countries are
China and India - the 2nd and 5th highest producers of CO2 respectively. Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Iran and Brazil are among the other countries in the top twenty CO2 producers who are similarly exempt.

Further, of the countries whose production of greenhouse gases (except water vapor), several of those countries (New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine, Norway, Australia and Iceland) are allowed slight increases in emissions.

If Kyoto won't reduce global CO2 emissions, how can it have any effect on global climate?

7. There will be no unexpected effects from, say, economic changes which will counteract the aforementioned positive effect. (If the economic harm from Kyoto somehow delays the eventual adoption of cleaner technologies, passing it would be stupid.)


This is one thing that nobody knows the answer to. We do know that Kyoto will weaken the Canadian economy in general, and the Albertan economy directly. Will that harm be enough to prevent the adoption of more painless solutions to reduce carbon emissions?

Nobody can predict the evolution of technological developments, nor how much it will cost to discover and put these developments into every day usage. While it is quite likely that some technological developments will be prevented, there is no way to calculate their magnitude.

8. Assuming that ratifying Kyoto is a good idea for all these reasons, it is ethically proper for our federal government to implement, on our behalf, an economically damaging plan which has been rejected by Australia, Japan, and the United States and which hasn't been imposed at all upon India and China.


Canada ratifying Kyoto while her largest trading partners do not reeks of head-in-the-clouds impracticality. In such a case, Canada would be undercutting her own interests by making her economy less productive than that of the U.S., Japan, etc.. Why would someone willingly endanger their own competitiveness vis-a-vis direct competitors?

It is even more silly to ratifying Kyoto considering that Kyoto will not go into effect. With Russia and the U.S. deciding not to ratify Kyoto, the treaty does not become enforceable. This is because the treaty does not go into effect if Annex B countries responsible for at least 55% of carbon emissions do not ratify Kyoto.

If 55% of the emissions from Annex B countries aren't being limited via Kyoto, and 100% of the emissions from non-Annex B countries are not being limited, what is the point of ratifying Kyoto? There is no point.

9. Assuming that ratifying Kyoto is a good idea for all these reasons, imposing the plan on the parts of Canada which have high greenhouse emissions (because they are the economically productive parts of Confederation) (a) is ethically acceptable, (b) is being done in a politically appropriate way, and (c) will not harm the economy of the country, as a whole, too badly for the plan to be tenable.


We will discuss the effect of Kyoto on Canada, and more importantly, Alberta, in greater detail below. In short, the Canadian government's plan for implementing Kyoto will harm Alberta disproportionately, and is essentially a transfer of wealth from Alberta to the rest of the country.

What we will discuss here is that natural resources, as per Canada's Constitution, as a provincial responsibility. Kyoto represents a federal intrusion into an area of provincial responsibility. The political appropriateness of imposing legislation that is likely to be unconstitutional is debatable at best.

10. Assuming that these reasons are all good and that it is proper to take on the proposed degree of economic self-harm, there is no alternative way of spending the same (or less) money which would yield more benefit in reducing emissions.

The Alberta government has taken the initiative by creating a Made-In-Alberta Plan as an alternative to the vague federal Kyoto legislation that has yet to emerge.

While a lot of the rationale behind global warming is questionable, at least this legislation sets the legal precedent that carbon emissions are indeed a natural resource.

From a cost / benefit analysis, the Alberta has some things that the federal legislation probably won't have, namely:
1. Setting longer terms to lessen economic dislocation,
2. Rejecting the idea of paying emission credits to other countries, and reinvesting that money,
3. Focusing on research instead of penalties, and
4. Focusing on pollution per unit of GNP rather than overall.

The Effect of Kyoto on Alberta

As was the case with the National Energy Program, Kyoto has the potential to wreak havoc on Alberta.

We are already seeing Kyoto being used as nothing more than a program used to redistribute more of Alberta's wealth to the rest of Canada. Ontario has their auto industries exempt from Kyoto. Quebec gets credit (if the Canadian government gets their way) for clean-burning hydroelectricity. Manitoba is fortunate to have an industry that Quebec has, so they will get similar credit. Ontario and Quebec are the base of Liberal political power. No federal government gets elected without Ontario's and Quebec's permission. It matters if Quebec and Ontario are punitively harmed by Kyoto. It doesn't matter whether Alberta is.

With increased costs of extracting oil from Alberta's oil sands, investment will become more scarce. The federal government has exacerbated this by being very coy on how they plan to implement Kyoto. With greater uncertainty comes less investment. “The problem right now is that there are no defined rules (for implementing Kyoto),” Edwards said. “As a businessman, if you don’t have defined rules, you have to make decisions in the absence of them and therefore you go where the certainty is.” Murray Smith said that Kyoto could wipe out $10 billion of investment in the oil sands. His guess might be conservative.
Here is a story of how Kyoto has delayed a $3.5 billion TrueNorth Energy L.P.. Kyoto hasn't even been implemented, and $3.5 billion is already delayed? What happens when it is implemented? The status of the investment changes from "delayed" to "canceled."

With investment in Alberta wiped out, investment in the U.S. could possibly boom.
Here is a story of how EnCana is considering locating a bitumen upgrader in the U.S., instead of Alberta. Note that this project would eliminate 100,000 man jobs during the construction phase and billions of dollars in tax and royalty revenue. From the same article, a director of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. notes that the upgrader portion of his company, a $4.2 billion project, could be built in the U.S.. Here's a story about Petrocanada saying that Kyoto is imperiling a $415 million dollar project.

I hope the irony of anti-American ecologists providing the U.S. a reward for not signing on to Kyoto is noted.

The energy industry may not be the only industry adversely affected by Kyoto's implementation. Methane, as previously noted, is a greenhouse gas. Moreover, methane retains heat at 21 times the rate that carbon dioxide does. Further, while carbon dioxide naturally occurs in the environment and has certain benefits, methane is poisonous. And what industry produces methane? The cattle industry produces methane.

This Australian government website details how methane is created by the Australian cattle industry. I haven't seen much in the way of Canada planning to harm the Alberta cattle industry, but the above documentation of methane production by cattle indicates it could be a future target of Canadian regulation.

Kyoto not only threatens Alberta's largest industry - oil - but threatens Alberta's largest agricultural industry, cattle.
The Canadian Wheat Board

Albertan wheat and barley farmers, as well as farmers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, are forced to sell to one buyer: the Canadian Wheat Board. This isn't exactly the most rational policy, since limiting the choice of farmers prevents farmers from acting in their own interest and selling to the highest bidder. What makes this regulation particularly contemptible is that Eastern wheat and barley farmers ARE allowed to sell to whomever they want.

Here is the story of Albertan farmers being sent to jail for selling their wheat.

Here is a great
link to Farmers for Justice, a group expressing the frustration of Alberta farmers being made criminals by discriminatory public policy.
Bill C-10: An Act To Amend The Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act.

This bill is close to becoming law. It has passed the House of Commons and First and Second Readings in the Senate. I will not focus on firearm regulations in this section (that is covered elsewhere).

Here is the
act in question.

In The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
report on Bill C-10, the Senate considers the numerous Canadian Bill of Rights violations. These harm all Canadians, The Senate is actually talking about actual rights, like the right to property, so these are legitimate concerns.

However, Bill C-10 has specific consequences that will unfairly affect Albertans. Quoting from the
report:

"10. In rat-free Alberta, shooting rats at the border may no longer be tolerated."

"6. In the various subsections of Section 182.2(1) the right to property is violated in a manner inconsistent with the Canadian Bill of Rights:
· all rodeos may be prohibited under this section, as steer wrestling, bronc and bull riding and many other rodeo events are not necessary."
 
These effects disproportionately affect Albertans. It would be another example of federal regulation disastrous for Albertans.