However, trophy hunting can have a detrimental effect on polar bears based on the example of a sub-population in the area of Melville Island and northern Victoria Island. Liodden attributed a substantial drop in male numbers between the mid-1970s and early 1990s to sports hunts combined with regular harvests. Eighty-four of the animals were shot by trophy hunters between 1982-’91, according to Liodden
Polar bear harvests are co-managed in Nunavut by the Department of Environment and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. The total number of bears killed in 2017-18, the most recent available through government statistics, was 417 out of 484 permitted. Of those, 62 were sports hunts.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this month his government would move to impose a minimum price on carbon (i.e., a carbon tax) on any province or territory that did not voluntarily do so by 2018. The question most Canadians are asking is: how much will this new tax cost us?
Figures will vary by household and province, but by 2022, when the tax will be a minimum of $50 a tonne, the average Canadian household could face $2,569 in new taxes. This, pro-carbon taxers insist, is necessary to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions. After all, climate change is a global issue. Surely Canadians must do their part to help solve the problem.
On the surface, this argument is extremely appealing. And sometimes, sacrifices must indeed be made in the service of an important objective. But to get a sense of just how much Canadians’ sacrifices will help in achieving the goal of fighting climate change, it’s worth unpacking the numbers.
We can start with the Trudeau government’s carbon emissions target for 2030, which would bring Canada’s total annual emissions down from 748 megatonnes (Mt) this year, to 524 Mt by 2030. Assuming we can meet that target — and that’s a big assumption — Canada’s total annual emissions would drop by 224 Mt.
Now consider the biggest contributor to global carbon emissions: China. In 2014, China’s annual carbon emissions were estimated at 10,540 Mt. China is a very large and rapidly developing country. It understandably wants to focus on raising the living standards of its people. Yet, despite strong economic growth in recent decades, the country still has hundreds of millions of people living in relative poverty, especially when compared to more developed countries like Canada. Accordingly, its climate change commitments are less stringent than Canada’s: China’s existing policy will see annual carbon emissions rise to about 13,600 Mt in 2030.
Its annual emissions will thus increase about 3,060 Mt over this period, which means that by 2030, all Canada’s efforts will be cancelled out by just 27 days’ worth of China’s increased carbon emissions.
A recent report, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (also known as the federal Department of the Environment), sparked a feverish bout of media coverage. Much of it keyed off the headline statement that Canada warmed “twice as fast” as the entire planet since 1948. If that is self-evidently a bad thing, what to make of the finding that the Canada’s Atlantic region warmed twice as fast as the Prairies? Or that Canadian winters warmed twice as fast as summers?
I’ll bet you didn’t know that the Maritimes warmed twice as fast as the Prairies. But now that I’ve told you, you might tell yourself it makes sense based on what you’ve seen or heard — that’s called confirmation bias. In fact, I was lying. It’s the other way around. The Prairies warmed almost three times faster than the Maritimes.
The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all
— Climatologist Lennart Bengtsson
Would you have known either way? One of the psychological effects of a report like this, and the attendant media hype, is that it puts ideas in peoples’ heads. Tell everyone over and over that the climate is changing, and soon they will see proof of change everywhere. Rain, snow, wind, floods or dry spells; it will all seem to eerily confirm the theory, even though we have always had these things.
Most of what people are noticing, of course, are just natural weather events. Underneath, there are slow trends, both natural and (likely) human-caused. But they are small and hard to separate out without careful statistical analysis. A few years ago, climatologist Lennart Bengtsson remarked “The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.”
And so we get reports with charts and graphs to tell us about the changes we didn’t notice. Remember last summer when the media hyped a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that warming 1.5 degrees Celsius (compared to preindustrial times) was a disaster threshold we must avoid crossing at all costs? Now we learn that Canada warmed 1.7 degrees Celsius since 1948. Far from leaving the country a smoking ruin, we got wealthier and healthier, our population soared, and life improved by almost any measure of welfare you can imagine. If only every so-called catastrophe was like this.
I referenced this paper a few days ago. This blog post extrapolates the numbers to Canada.
After collecting reams of data, and performing careful calculations, the researchers conclude that US heating bills declined noticeably between 2005 and 2010 “due to the boom in shale production of natural gas.”
That price decline, they write, “caused a 1.6% decrease in the winter mortality rate for households using natural gas for heating.”
Only 58% of American households heat with natural gas, so the drop in the death rate for the US population as a whole over a full calendar year works out to about half a percentage point. The bottom line: lower energy prices saved 11,000 lives annually.
Which brings us to the carbon tax recently imposed on all sources of home heating here in more northerly Canada. Enbridge, the company which supplies natural gas to Ontario homes, says it needs to raise the price it charges households by 11% just to pay for this carbon tax.
If deaths drop when heating costs decline, they’ll surely increase when heating costs spike. So let’s not beat around the bush: Canada’s carbon tax is going to kill people.
Extrapolating from those US numbers, 1,100 Canadians will die unnecessarily next winter. And the winter after that. And the one after that. As the size of the carbon tax increases, the number of annual victims may well rise in tandem.
Professional anti-pipeline activists will try to tell you it’s oil tanker traffic. That’s a lie.
According to the National Energy Board’s 674-page report released last week, when it comes to the noise pollution affecting the struggling pod of 74 killer whales, oil tanker traffic is responsible for just one per cent of the pod’s lost foraging time.
The most significant contributors to the noise pollution that negatively impacts the ability of the whales to hunt and feed are other commercial vehicles — mostly passenger ferries, tug boats, deep-sea fishing vehicles and in the summer, whale-watching boats, says the report which gave the green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
So much for the moniker eco-tourism. Those of us who pay to get close to these magnificent creatures may actually be killing them with our love.
According to the NEB report, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said that commercial whale watching in the Canadian and U.S. portions of the Salish Sea increased from a few boats in the 1970s to about 100 boats in 2016.
The NEB refers to a 2017 report in the scientific journal Nature, called Evaluating Anthropogenic Threats to Endangered Killer Whales. It states that “from the perspective of a foraging killer whale that emits high-frequency (18-32 kHz) echolocation clicks to detect and capture salmon, high-frequency noise from small, outboard vessels that follow whales might cause a greater reduction in a killer whale’s foraging success than low-frequency (<1 kHz) background noise from commercial shipping.”
These endangered whales are being chased virtually every moment of daylight from May to September. Is it any wonder they’re losing weight and are having troubles catching their food — something they do by using sound waves? If people want to watch whales, they should go out in sailboats or kayaks.
The NEB refers to another report that says the foraging time for the orca pod as a result of noise is reduced by up to 5.5 hours per day. B.C. Ferries account for 52 to 67 per cent of lost foraging time due to noise and tug boats account for 12 to 27 per cent. And, oil tankers make up just one per cent of that lost foraging time.
Meanwhile, the number of added tanker trips caused by the proposed expansion of Trans Mountain Pipeline is just 29 more ships per month for a total of 35 per month, or about one per day.
So there you have it. Tourism isn’t so green after all. It contributes significant greenhouse gases and makes hunting, for at least this one pod of killer whales, very difficult.
Despite what you have already read about the Trans Mountain pipeline causing “significant” problems for the endangered killer whale pod in question — something that critics are already saying — that is not what experts actually say.
What the NEB report actually says is this: “While the effects from Project-related marine shipping will be a small fraction of the total cumulative effects, and the level of traffic is expected to increase with or without the Project, the increase in marine vessels associated with the Project would further contribute to cumulative effects that are already jeopardizing the recovery of SRKW (southern resident killer whales.)”
Every so often the Pentagon comes up with a thumbsucker about how climate change is going to alter the geopolitical landscape. The intriguing Norwegian TV show “Okkupert” (“Occupied”) might be a better guide to understanding how such instability could already be brewing on our own northern border.
Americans might be forgiven for not knowing that Norway, with a population of five million, is the world’s 11th largest oil exporter and the third largest exporter of natural gas. They might also need a second or two to realize that this sounds a lot like the Canadian province of Alberta, with four million people and fossil energy reserves second only to Saudi Arabia’s and Venezuela’s.
In the show, which is available on Netflix, Norway’s Greens come to power and announce plans to end fossil energy production. Norway’s European Union neighbors, while keen to seem green, are not keen to do without Norway’s energy. They quietly support a Russian campaign of intimidation that amounts to a creeping takeover, while Norway’s politicians, eager to avoid outright fighting, straddle and prevaricate. Anyone who remembers the name Vidkun Quisling will appreciate why this theme might resonate with a Norwegian audience.
Now back to Alberta: In the provincial capital of Edmonton, house prices have been falling for three years. Car sales are drying up. One-third of Calgary’s office buildings are empty. Though production is booming, Alberta’s oil was recently selling for barely $10 a barrel—an 80% discount to the world price. Why? Because opposition from neighboring provinces has blocked construction of needed pipelines.
In a drastic effort to prop up prices, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in December imposed mandatory production cuts on her province’s largest oil producers. She also announced plans, using taxpayer money, to buy 7,000 railcars to get oil to market, never mind that shipping by rail is expensive and risky.
In the middle is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, dithering between his green supporters and his desire to placate Alberta and keep its money flowing.
He impulsively committed to spend $4.5 billion to rescue a U.S.-backed pipeline whose expansion has been blocked by a Canadian court. At the same time, he has mused that Alberta’s oil-sands production should be phased out in a “generation.” His party is pushing a bill to empower greens to block future pipelines. It supports a U.N. treaty that would increase the veto power of native tribes. It backs a continuing ban on supertankers in Canadian ports.
Unlike the U.S., where secession was shown to be illegal in the 1860s, a 2000 Canadian law spells out the steps for provinces to declare independence. Ms. Notley has tried to play down secession talk, but the politics are complicated. Fellow Canadians may not be ready to give up their energy-rich lifestyles, or the foreign oil imports that make them possible. But they disapprove of Alberta’s participation in an acrid industry and their voters are willing to pay a price for it.
To the east, Quebec’s premier says Alberta’s “dirty energy” has no “social acceptability.” To the west, British Columbia’s premier was elected on a platform of killing a new pipeline project favored by Alberta.
Meanwhile, protest rallies have become a near-daily occurrence in the oil-rich province. Two truck convoys to Ottawa are planned for February, including one explicitly modeled on the French “yellow vests” movement. Ms. Notley herself faces an uphill re-election fight in May. She was already wrong-footed once into backing a carbon tax scheme that was supposed to ease the way for more pipelines. Now her opponent is challenging Canada’s highly symbolic “equalization” scheme, which has shifted hundreds of billions from Alberta to Quebec over two decades.
Only a quarter of Albertans say they favor independence, but that may be beside the point. The province’s future promises to be one of barely contained civil war with its fellow Canadians. If $13 billion a year in payola can’t appease Quebec, the cause is probably beyond salvaging. A Donald Trump re-election could invite talk of becoming the 51st U.S. state. If Obama-like pipeline opponents are returned to power in Washington in 2020, the squeeze will be even worse.
Then what? A weak state with enormous fossil energy resources caught in the West’s culture wars over climate and energy? The cash cow of Canada up for grabs? We could spin lots of scenarios.