The Kyoto Accord is “dead as a Dodo”, largely because certain powerful western governments that can well afford to implement the protocol are taking a shortsighted approach and caving in to pressure from corporations that are even more shortsighted. What some politicians are feeding us is a totally different kind of do-do, and pretty soon we’ll be in it up to our necks.
Ralph Klein’s up on his soapbox, ranting about Alberta’s need for some kind of separate treatment because of their dependence on fossil fuels. First of all, he wants everything delayed for a few years so that we can develop clean-burning technology for coal. Hey, Ralph! Don’t you remember the Seventies? We’ve been trying to develop “clean-burning technology” for at least the last 30 years, so what makes you think it’ll come about by 2012?
Then he wants to get credit for Natural Gas sold to the US and eastern Canada. Credit? Here’s a simple chemical formula – it’s been simplified for politicians who didn’t learn any chemistry in law school, but it’s close enough to reality for purposes of Kyoto:
CH4 + 2(O2) = 2(CO2) + 2(H2O)
Natural gas is mostly Methane (CH4), and when Methane is burned it produces Carbon Dioxide and Water. Do you even have a clue what the greenhouse gases are, Ralph? Carbon Dioxide is number one. Guess what? Methane is number two! So for every litre of natural gas removed from the Earth, between one & two litres of greenhouse gases are produced (depending whether the gas actually gets burned). At least unburned coal isn’t contributing to greenhouse gases, though the burning of coal and oil will add to the other greenhouse gases (Nitrous Oxides, Fluorocarbons and Sulfur Hexafluoride). By the way, Ralph, even natural gas combustion produces all of these, but in smaller quantities than coal.
George W. Bush and Ralph Klein apparently see entirely eye-to-eye on this. Somehow, burning more fossil fuels is supposed to be an even better solution to global warming than energy conservation. They say we can’t afford to meet the reductions required. Why not? It’s been calculated that light-detecting switches that would turn off office lights that weren’t necessary – because they were close to well-lit windows – could save the US as much energy as could be produced by the gas fields Dubya wants to tap in the Arctic wildlife preserve. When I was a kid in England, most in-town delivery vehicles were electric (except for the horse-drawn ones:). Why aren’t there more electric vehicles in North America? I understand that they wouldn’t be very useful for long hauls, but they’re ideal in places where diesels would usually be idling.
I have an off-grid home. All of my electricity comes from solar panels. I do use some propane, so I’m not a zero-polluter yet, but it’s cost me much less so far to install solar than it would to get grid-power delivered. I’ll be putting the difference into more panels and a wind-generator to give me the sort of lifestyle Canadians expect while eliminating my household contribution to greenhouse gases. It isn’t necessary to bankrupt ourselves, or to lower our standard of living, to live green.
Still, Ralph, unless you smarten up, I’m going to have to take advantage of my neighbour’s offer to sell me the hill behind my oceanfront home. If the rising water doesn’t get me, the do-do will.
For the text of the Kyoto Protocol, see:
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