Posted tagged ‘Kyoto’

Being Climate Changed

6 December 2011

warm earthI may have been climate changed today.

My current main computer is due for an OS upgrade. I’ve had inconsistent results with upgrades in the past so prefer to do new installs with a fresh drive. Not having a large enough drive to do the job, I went to a local computer store to ask about hard drives. The fellow there told me $120 for a 500 GB SATA drive. I didn’t think that was a terrible price. $20 more than the nearest big box store price, but supporting the small local business is perhaps worth $20.

Apparently he didn’t like his own price though, because he went on to explain that hard drive prices are high due to the flooding in Thailand!

Of course I had heard of the flooding in Thailand, but I hadn’t heard there was a shortage of hard drives. Looking online I see things like;

“retailers are rationing hard drives in an attempt to deal with shortages caused by the closure of flooded factories.”

Damn. Had to happen just when I want one!

Now, in interviews I’ve read or heard, scientists are always careful to say that no particular weather event can be linked to climate change. However, they also always say that climate change will bring us more and worse extreme weather events. More and worse like the flooding in Thailand. The oceans near Thailand have been 0.3C warmer than normal so rains have been freakishly heavy. The resulting floods have affected (among other things I’m sure) car manufacturing, the computer and camera industries and rice production (also badly hit this year by the droughts in the U.S.), as well as outright killing 600 Thai people by the latest numbers I’ve seen.

My personal experience of shopping for a hard drive is of course trivial, even within just my own life. And it had a bright side in that I wound up buying a used computer instead. It is more powerful than my old main computer and cost not much more than the new hard drive would have. Not having Windows on it saved me about $45.

It struck me though that while my federal government is in Durban vigorously trying to prevent any progress in combating climate change, here I was at home experiencing in a very small but concrete way how climate change is impacting and increasingly will impact us all.

It looks like the flooding in Thailand is going to cost the insurance industry around eleven billion dollars. The insurance industry is really taking a kicking this year so you know they’ll be kicking us next year.

Conservatives aren’t known for their sensitivity to human costs in whatever situation. But they are the ones everyone expects to be champions of the economy. How does the Harper government dismiss the economic impacts of climate change? Isn’t preventing action on climate change and turning Canada into Saudi Arabia North, with the emissions growth that entails, kind of like taking a job where you get one dollar today to tie a plastic bag over your head and if you survive it the boss will dock you two dollars tomorrow?

Fighting climate change, on the other hand, is like putting money in an RESP for your kids.

You’d think Harper would get that.

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Redefine Progress

17 November 2011

I browsed to an article on iPolitics.ca about Canadian opposition MP’s not being part of Canada’s official delegation to upcoming climate talks in Durban, South Africa. (Not surprising. Opposition MPs tend to think we should do something about climate change and would likely embarrass the government) The first thing that caught my eye on the ipolitics.ca web page was an animated ad, screenshot below. There’s our flag on there. Not sure who we’re going to kill with these things, but isn’t it great to be part of the ‘in’ crowd!

screenshot of f-35 ad I saw on ipolitics.ca
“A Partnership For Progress” it says. It would be nice if we could partner with other countries for progress at the Durban talks. It is regrettable that Canada goes to those talks represented by a government that vows to oppose action on climate change. Ours is the only government to ratify Kyoto targets and then publicly reject those targets.

Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified in 2002 with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. With 2012 almost upon us and no real action taken to reach that target, the Harper government changed the goalposts, setting a new target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This target lowers the bar by 90%, yet the 2011 report by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development says that it is doubtful that Canada will reach even that weak target.

Canada goes to Durban having stated that it will not support an extension of the Kyoto agreement and will only support a new agreement that is ratified by all major emitters, something that is widely thought to be near impossible at these talks.

Canada is not entirely without action on climate change though. Environment minister Kent recently pledged $150 million over five years for climate change adaptation. $150M/5 = $30 million per year.

Meanwhile, Canada has announced that it will purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets. According to the airforce website the F-35 is an “affordable, sustainable, multi-role and stealthy fighter aircraft”. Ottawa’s cost estimates put these aircraft at $70 to $80 million each. These numbers are controversial with current unit costs of F-35’s over $100 million and concerns that the U.S. might reduce the number they order thereby raising unit costs. Compare Canadian estimates to the Israeli budget of $137 million each and $80 million seems rather optimistic. Let’s call it an even $100 million per aircraft. That puts Canada’s commitment for these fighters at $6,500 million with delivery over the years 2016 to 2023. $6,500M/8 = $812.5 million per year.

Canada also recently awarded a $25 billion contract to Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding to build 21 new warships. The minister of public works and government services stated that this contract would provide jobs over 30 years. $25B/30 = $833.3 million dollars per year.

We can spend over $800 million a year on fighter jets and over $800 million a year on warships, but only $30 million a year on adapting to climate change? (Note the change of language from the days when they used to talk about ‘fighting’ or ‘preventing’ climate change. Now we talk about ‘adapting’.)

The latest weapons are considered affordable and sustainable while action to fight climate change is not.

We really need to redefine “progress”.