By Letter to the Editor on December 4, 2021.
Climate change is a fact of life – the climate has been changing since time immemorial. Mother Nature does what Mother Nature does and I doubt that mankind can do much to change her ways. Globally, governments have fiddlle-faddled with multiple conferences over the last 30 years in an attempt to modify the climate with little success. Instead of trying to change the climate 50 years down the road we need to plan on how to mitigate against weather events that seem to come with increasing frequency.
We have had little success in predicting the effects of climate change so we need to plan for the inevitable disasters that seem to come without warning.
We can however, mitigate against natural disasters by attempting to anticipate the effects of human settlement on the natural environment. For instance if we drain a lake to build a city in its place; we need to take measures to ensure that when an atmospheric river comes along that the lake does not fill up again inundating the built environment. Water has a habit of always seeking the lowest point and that lake was and probably still is the lowest point. It is somewhat alarming that control of the Sumac River at Abbotsford has been talked about for years – all talk and no action, and now we have a billion dollar disaster that has displaced the residents of an entire city. With the lower mainland being a major agricultural area that we all depend on for our foodstuffs that catastrophic flood has further challenged our already compromised supply chain.
In the last number of years we have seen major floods in Calgary, High River, Ft. McMurray and just recently in the lower Fraser Valley. With Calgary and the Elbow River – it’s now been 8 years and still no action to prevent a further flood of downtown Calgary. We need to take the example from Winnipeg and the Red River.
After multiple years of massive flooding, action has been taken to divert the regularly rising waters of the Red River from habitable areas.
The Town of High River has also taken measures to fortify the banks of the Highwood River ensuring that residents and businesses will be protected against future flooding. In Alberta various levels of government have been active with flood plain mapping and resulting restrictions on urban development within these flood zones. Those are the actions necessary to avoid future environmental concerns.
Let us take the revenue from the carbon tax and use it to mitigate the effects of climate change rather than attempting to change Mother Nature’s ways.
A more appropriate name for the carbon tax would be to call it a ‘climate’ tax.
A second way we can be more strategic in mitigating climate change on a global scale is to concentrate our resources where they can be most effective. Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are minimal compared to the emissions in China, India and some of the developing nations. Let us channel our abundant energy resources to these other countries to assist them in lowering their emissions.
We have an abundance of natural gas that can be shipped as LNG to assist these countries in reducing their reliance on coal and other polluting fuels in order to reduce their GHG emissions.
Similarly we have some of the best and cleanest metallurgical coal that can be exported for steel making. Clean coal for clean steel.
Canada boasts of the highest environmental standards in the world as well as some of the best expertise, so we should concentrate on using that expertise and those resources to assist those other nations in achieving the global objective of reducing our carbon footprint.
Exporting our natural resources and technical expertise will also be a boon to our economy which can help to pay for the resources necessary to mitigate against Mother Nature’s fury.
Let’s face it – Canada has not been successful in reducing our greenhouse gases, in fact they keep creeping higher, so we need to reassess our strategy. We have had a strong signal that we need to look at strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change in order to avert future disasters. At the same time we need to recognize that Canada’s strength is in exporting our expertise and our energy resources to those countries that can benefit from what we have to offer.
Let us change our focus from carbon reduction to climate mitigation. i.e. Climate tax not carbon tax!
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA