Indoctrinating pro-Kyoto views

Commentary, Climate, Frontier Centre

THERE’S no doubt a truly “dramatic” deal was struck in the waning moments – though last gasps would be more accurate – of the international talks to save the Kyoto accord that wrapped up this past weekend in Montreal.

In fact, for his impassioned portrayal of the tireless public servant championing the righteous cause of saving Earth from itself, Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion likely has a shot at an Oscar nomination. As dawn broke on exhausting all-night sessions to try to find a compromise agreement to rescue the planet, Dion dramatically stepped to the microphone and announced success! “You have upheld the trust the people of the world have placed in us,” he intoned. (It helps here if you can picture a sea of hopeful faces, all focused on Dion speaking). “Facing the worst ecological threat to humanity, you have said: The world is united and together, step by step, we will win this fight.”

Genius, I say. Encore, encore!

The power of that scene, though, dissipates fairly quickly when you actually find out what’s in the “dramatic” deal that purports to throw humanity a lifeline. After 10 days of angry accusations, symbolic walkouts and extremely tough, we’re told, negotiations, the 189 nations convened at the climate change conference agreed – dramatically, no doubt – to a … wait for it … non-binding dialogue, without deadlines, on how to reduce global warming.

Huh? Talk about a Hollywood Hidalgo moment. You mean they didn’t agree to anything?

Not really. They agreed to keep discussing the matter, which is pretty much what the world’s been doing for the last decade. Even the separate deal struck, that Canada and the other three dozen or so signatories with mandated emission reductions must “discuss” deeper reductions after 2012, is nothing more than so much greenhouse gas at this point. Many of those same signatories have failed abysmally – led by everyone’s favourite hectoring moral superpower, us – to curb emissions under Kyoto’s existing obligations. Can you say “global sham”?

I could only shake my head at the tone of the media copy flowing from the conference. “U.S. embarrassed,” “Americans backed into corner,” etc. And, of course, the ever-ready “Wait till ’09” cry from environmentalists, when George W. will be out of office. Ex-president Bill Clinton, the ethics-challenged U.S. leader beloved by environmentalists, was even there to blame Bush for keeping the U.S. out of Kyoto. Except, of course, that it was under Clinton’s watch that the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to never accept a climate treaty that exempted some nations or harmed the American economy. That won’t change when Bush is gone. What’s even more ironic is that apparently U.S. emissions – which have climbed 13 per cent since 1990, compared to Canada’s 24 per cent – have actually dropped since Bush took office.

Oh, and by the way, many scientists do not believe global warming has been proven to be primarily manmade.

None of which matters to the Liberals or their pro-Kyoto accomplices. Climate scientists who dispute the sky-is-falling line are regularly ignored or frozen out of key consultations by the Canadian government.

Dr. Tim Patterson, an expert in paleoclimatology who teaches at Carleton University in Ottawa, says he and other scientists who openly question the current approach were barred from 2002 Kyoto pre-ratification “public” hearings across the country, as they weren’t “designated stakeholders.” Meanwhile, he says, the federal government funded groups such as Sierra Club of Canada to travel to the events and make – surprise, surprise – pro-Kyoto presentations.

Extreme weather expert Dr. Madhav Khandekar, who also disputes conventional thinking on Kyoto, was not even allowed into the Montreal conference, which apparently was very light on scientists but heavy on government bureaucrats and members of environmental NGOs.

Dr. Tim Ball, who holds a doctorate in climatology, has tried to put together a teacher’s guide on the other side of the global warming debate, to make teachers and young people aware of different points of view, and got the cold shoulder from educators; while groups like Sierra Club have been allowed to put on climate change sessions for teachers in a number of provinces.

Including, it turns out, Nova Scotia. Climate change professional development sessions for teachers, put on by Sierra Club and like-minded organizations, have been going on here for several years. The Department of Education says it doesn’t “endorse” the Sierra Club’s message, but recognizes the value of education about climate change and global warming. The sessions count toward a teacher’s yearly professional development target. That recognition is negotiated between the teachers’ union and local school boards; the Department of Education is notified, but relies on boards to make appropriate decisions. The federal government, through the Department of Natural Resources, helps fund the workshops.

So there you have it. Using taxpayers’ dollars, Ottawa makes very sure that teachers and students get the “right” message about Kyoto and global warming. I don’t doubt that Sierra Club’s sessions contain loads of useful information. But there’s also no doubt it has an agenda, and that agenda influences what’s included and what’s not. All of which wouldn’t bother me – as much, anyway – if the other side got a fair hearing, instead of dissenting views being firmly squelched. Sorry, did that seem overly dramatic?