Roy Romanow stars as Eeyore on the Environment

Commentary, Energy, David Seymour

The Saskatoon Star Phoenix carried an op-ed by former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow yesterday.

As Frontier has published elsewhere, Romanow ran a very good government that can be credited with a lot of Saskatchewan’s current prosperity. However, yesterday’s Star Phoenix article, designed to promote a new report on the environment from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, which he chairs (and which we have been quite critical of) is a litany of unnecessary depression about the environment.

The op-ed can be summarised as: 1) The environment is deteriorating. 2) We need to consume less.

The claims in part 1 are of three types: That we are, for example, consuming a lot or using a lot of energy and fossil fuels. That various environmental indicators are getting worse. That we are contributing to climate change. None of these stand up to scrutiny.

The first type of claim doesn’t necessarily reveal a problem. More consumption does not necessarily mean more damage to the environment. For example, advances in agriculture have meant that much more food can be produced while using much less land, and therefore leaving more habitat to wildlife.

The second claim has very weak evidence behind it. Even in CIW’s report summary the trends are mostly stable or have mildly deteriorated over a short timeframe. A Frontier study with longer time scales shows that, if anything, environmental indicators are getting much better in Canada.

For the third type, we direct Romanow and others with similar views to this excellent from-horse’s-mouth piece from former Australian Greenhouse Office consultant and climate modeler David Evans.

As we regularly argue, there are real problems with the environment but they are solvable. More importantly, it is markets, prices, private property, technology and wealth that are needed by the better environmental custodians of the future. Not a defeatist retreat to central control and poverty.