Harper puts green machine in motion
Stephen Harper moved yesterday to mend his government's frayed international reputation on climate change by dispatching his Environment Minister to Paris for a key conference and promising to join an emergency UN summit on the issue. The decisions came as the Prime Minister was battered for a second day in the House of Commons over a letter he wrote five years ago in which he called the Kyoto accord a “socialist scheme” aimed at sucking money from wealth-producing nations. While in Paris, Environment Minister John Baird will be briefed by the group of leading scientists whose work on global warming inspired Kyoto. The scientists will release a major report tomorrow concluding there is “unequivocal” evidence that climate change is real and is happening faster than expected. French President Jacques Chirac is expected to ask Baird for Canada's support for a new United Nations environment organization. Baird's spokesman, Mike Van Soelen, confirmed the Paris meeting, but would not say whether Canada would support the creation of the agency. Also yesterday, the Prime Minister said he is willing to take part in a summit on global warming being called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I have not received an invitation from the United Nations Secretary-General,” Harper told the Commons. “However, if we did, we would accept . . . we all realize this is a serious environmental problem that needs immediate action.”
Within the scientific community, there is widespread dismay that, even after years of compelling evidence, some still dispute the temperature readings showing the exceptional warming over the past 50 years, and dismiss the models that predict the warming will intensify if more fossil fuels are burned. Gordon McBean, former head of the Meteorological Service of Canada and a professor at the University of Western Ontario, says the view that humans are causing the planet to warm by altering the gases in the atmosphere “is the consensus view of 80 to 90% of the climate scientists in the world.” He says about 5% don't accept the idea, but an equal number believe climate change is likely to be far more devastating than most scientists are forecasting. “Whenever you hear from the skeptics, think consciously that there are at least as many credible scientists who would go beyond on the other side of the issue.” (Globe and Mail 070201)
Drivers steer clear of climate concerns
The notion that fretful Canadians concerned about global warming are racing out to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles is overblown, according to a survey of new vehicle buyers by Maritz Research. Buying an environmentally friendly vehicle ranked just 23rd among 26 reasons for purchase, the Maritz New Vehicle Customer Study of 38,500 buyers showed. Protecting the environment ranked well behind value for money, fuel economy and reliability - the top three reasons for buying a certain vehicle - and was also less important to those surveyed than towing capability and interior styling. Even buyers of subcompact cars were more interested in storage and cargo capacity than environmental friendliness. “In actual buying behaviour, it's not manifesting itself in the purchase-decision process,” said Chris Travell, vp of Maritz's automotive research group. “It doesn't hold a candle to these other issues.” While the issue of fuel economy ranked near the top of the survey list, Canadian buyers appeared to shrug off that concern last year. They bought more luxury and large sport utility vehicles, the lightning rod for environmentalists who criticize the auto industry. Sales of large SUVs jumped 17% last year from 2005 levels, while luxury SUV sales jumped 6%, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. (Globe and Mail 070201)
Sigh...I doubt we're ever going to get it.