Thursday, January 25, 2007


IN A NUTSHELL: What’s wrong with Gore’s approach

Al Gore, Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, politicians with a “Green Agenda” and mainstream environmentalists all want to create more “green” consumers.

The point however, is that we are going to have to reduce the number of consumers, green or otherwise.

However individually small their footprint, Canada’s ecosystem will not carry the 70 million people projected to live here by century’s end. Nor will America carry the 700 million people expected to live there by 2100 if their immigration rates are not curbed. And certainly the planet will not sustain another 3 billion people indefinitely.

Making the right energy choices as consumers and governments is fine, but partial in impact. It is not going to be the toughest, most necessary choice however.

That will be the choice to jump off The Perpetual Economic Growth Machine and construct a steady-state economy that will operate within the regenerative and absorptive capabilities of the ecosystem. The shift will involve painful adjustments—it cannot be denied.

But I suspect that if we don’t make that choice, and soon, nature is going to make it for us. We will see famine, pestilence, war and disease on a scale not dreamt of and it will make all the pre-emptive measures now proposed seem mild indeed.


Postscript: Al Gore, in a trailer to his documentary, called the projected leveling off of the world’s population at 9.1 billion “a success story”. The problem is, even our current 6.5 billion is well beyond the planet’s carrying capacity. Moreover, many analysts believe that only 1 billion people can subsist without oil, as oil and chemical fertilizers are critical in large-scale agriculture. Some predict oil reserves to vanish quickly and result in the death of 800 million people every year for 18 years.

Greenhouse emissions and Economic Growth: Eighty British MPs signed a document that proposed an end to economic growth as an industrial strategy. Why? It was found that even after restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions were enforced in the U.K., the sum total of emissions grew because although factories and cars spewed less noxious gases due to the new regulations, the gains were wiped out by the increase in the number of factories and cars. Again, numbers are important.

1 comment:

ericbwalton said...

The fundamental error in the position advanced by Tim Murray in his "Canada The Sinking Lifeboat" anti-immigration position is the idea that Canada could thrive ecologically (let alone socially!) as a nation state version of the "gated community".

Sorry to burst that bubble but the ecological "lifeboat" that will be swamped (or not ) is the planet in its entirety. It would be more accurate to view Canada as an integral piece of the ecological lifeboat that is Earth. National borders will not protect us from the many impacts of climate change and environmental breakdown (not to mention conflict!).

We had better focus our full efforts on addressing the dangerous combination of global population growth combined with the increasing imitation/export of our high consumption "Western" development model or we are all in very big trouble.

Circling the Canadian wagons and looking inwards to a misguided notion of self-interest will effectively remove Canada from any possibility of playing an effective international role in advancing vital global ideas and effort. I'm afraid Its "Global or Bust", anything else is a delusion of national security.

Eric Walton - former Green Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Shadow Cabinet Critic and current GPC SC Industry Critic .