Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hot air on climate change

At some point you will likely read a variant of this column last week by John Ibbitson:

Greenhouse-gas emissions declined in the United States last year.

This is something that sanctimonious Canadians should bear in mind when accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government of resembling the evildoing Americans on global-warming issues.

Conventional Canadian wisdom is that the United States is a carbon-dioxide-spewing environmental failed state. The reality is entirely different. When it comes to taking action on global warming, the United States leaves Canada in the dust.

A better view of this can be found in this blog posting by Canadian climate change scientist Simon Donner:
The Washington Post reports that US carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 1.3% in 2006.

A good sign? Perhaps. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is attributing the change to "effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment."

Oy. Just as we can't look at one warm year and declare global warming has happened, we can't look at a one year drop and claim an emissions policy is working. CO2 emissions vary year-to-year because of the weather (reduced heating required during the warm winter), changes in the economy (higher gas prices, less fuel use), etc. There's no evidence any Bush administration initiatives, it's not even clear what policies or investments that statement could possibly be referring to, are having any measurable effect on emissions.
Of course journalistic hot air long preceded climate change.

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