In the "Climate Action Statement" issued on Thursday at the Climate Summit of the
Americas in Toronto, representatives of state, provincial and municipal governments
pronounced climate change as "one of the greatest challenges facing the world today."
Reiterating their support for the UN's unrealistic goal of controlling world climate
so as to not exceed 2 degrees C of warming, politicians pledged to invoke policies
to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to "solve the climate crisis,"
as conference keynote speaker Al Gore put it.
However, for an increasing fraction of the world's population, the real crisis is
not the possibility that dangerous human-caused climate change may someday occur.
It is the serious problems being caused today by government policies to mitigate
For example, to reduce CO2 emissions to supposedly stop global warming, 6.5% of
the world's grain is being diverted to produce biofuels instead of food. This is
causing food price spikes that are a disaster for the world's poor.
The demand for biofuels also creates serious problems for indigenous land owners
in developing countries. In a February 2015 open letter to the European Parliament
endorsed by 197 civil society organisations from Asia, Africa, and Latin America,
it was asserted:
"The destruction of forests and fertile agricultural land to make way for oil palm
plantations is jeopardising the food sovereignty and cultural integrity of entire
communities who depend on the land as their source of food and livelihoods."
Replacing virgin forests with monoculture plantations to provide palm oil for biodiesel
also greatly reduces biodiversity over vast regions.
In another attempt to reduce CO2 emissions, hundreds of thousands of industrial
wind turbines (IWT) are being constructed worldwide, 6,736 of them in Ontario alone.
Only 4% of the province's power came from wind energy in 2013 and 1% from solar,
yet together they accounted for 20% of the commodity cost paid by Ontarians. So
electricity rates have soared, mostly affecting the poor.
IWTs kill millions of birds and bats across the world. Ontario's situation has drawn
the attention of Save the Eagles International which headlined their May 23 news
release, "Migrating golden eagles to be slaughtered in Ontario." They showed that
Ontario turbines are being placed directly in the path of migrating golden eagles,
already an endangered species.
Besides a significant loss in property value for homes near IWTs, health concerns
abound. A particularly tragic example is occurring in West Lincoln, Ontario. Despite
public objections, wind developers have received approval to install at least seventy-seven
3 Megawatt IWTs in the region, each as tall as a 61 story building.
Local resident Shellie Correia is particularly concerned. Her 12 year old son Joey
has Sensory Processing Disorder and must not be exposed to excessive noise. Correia
explained to the government's Environmental Review Tribunal, "On top of the incessant,
cyclical noise, there is light flicker, and infrasound. This is not something that
my son will be able to tolerate."
The Ontario government does not care and a 186 meter high IWT is being built only
550 meters from their home.
The drive to reduce CO2 emissions makes it difficult for developing countries to
finance the construction of vitally-needed power plants. For example, in 2010 South
Africa secured a $3.9 billion loan to build the Medupi coal-fired power station
only because developing country representatives on the World Bank board voted for
approval. The U.S. and four European nation members abstained from approval because
of their concerns about climate change. They apparently wanted South Africans to
use wind and solar power instead, sources too expensive for widespread use even
in wealthy nations.
Finally, because of the belief that humans control climate, only 6% of the one billion
dollars spent every day across the world on climate finance goes to helping vulnerable
people cope with climate change today. The rest is spent trying to stop phenomena
that might someday happen. This is immoral, effectively valuing the lives of people
yet to be born more than those in need today.
Rather than deal with these serious social justice issues, the Climate Summit of
the Americas merely promoted unrealistic policies to control climate as if we had
a global thermostat. That our leaders persist with this misguided approach is a
moral and political travesty of the first order.
*Note: Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.), is Executive Director of the
Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). ICSC is not right wing
(our participants come from across the political spectrum), is not funded by 'big
oil,' and are not lobbyists or 'shills' for industry of any sort. He has never worked
as a lobbyist or PR rep for any company or sector.