Saturday, February 03, 2007

Surprisingly Greenish!

Now that we've settled the existential question, the debate over Global Warming turns on what if anything to do about the phenomenon. A common argument from the Political Right is that, when faced with the bill for cleaning up carbon emissions, the Canadian people will choose to party like its 1999 and let the ice-caps bloody well melt. And indeed (perhaps conveniently?) there have been a number of surveys cropping up recently that seem to show, when it comes to practicalities, that Canadians don't appear to be doing much to help save the planet (and therefore, it is implied, can't be expected to actually agree to do much in the future).

Unfortunately, there is more than an element of truth to some of these various studies. However one of them, a recent survey by Maritz Research and reported upon in the G&M, paints a far too gloomy picture of Canadians' car-buying habits:

Buying an environmentally friendly vehicle ranked just 23rd among 26 reasons for purchase, the Maritz New Vehicle Customer Study of 38,500 buyers showed.

Protecting the environment ranked well behind value for money, fuel economy and reliability -- the top three reasons for buying a certain vehicle -- and was also less important to those surveyed than towing capability and interior styling. Even buyers of subcompact cars were more interested in storage and cargo capacity than environmental friendliness.

Shocking, but terribly misleading, I think. After all, the single most important "green" property of any particular automobile type is its fuel efficiency. This is why the main selling point of, for example, the Prius is that it gets a combined city/highway mileage of 55 miles per gallon (according to the website). In fact, I personally find it difficult to put my finger on a vehicular property of "environmental friendliness" that is not intimately interconnected with the property of being fuel efficient.

And "fuel economy" is given as the main reason for purchase by 28.4% of survey participants. Add that to the rather amorphous "environmental friendliness", and almost 31% of Canadians choose their cars for reasons related to the environment.

Which makes it the second most popular reason driving Canadian car purchases. Which puts things in an entirely different perspective.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Yer on the money 'bout that survey. When I seen that fuel economy was #2 on the list, that jest sed it all.

Fact is, the Big 3 US automakers is hurtin' an' they're hurtin' on accounta they got too many bigass SUV's that nobuddy wants an' not enuff hybrids that there's waitin' lists t' get.

Fact is, Canajuns is switchin' t' CFB lightbulbs an' reducin', re-usin' an' recyclin' like never before. Up an' down my street more'n'more of us are cuttin' the grass with non-motorized mowers an' we're diggin' the weeds instead o' sprayin'.

People can change, sez I.

20 years ago, there weren't much stigma attached t' drunk drivin'. Then, publick opinion got massaged inta sense an' now we'd be ashamed t' admit any drinkin' an' drivin'.

Second-hand smoke was a non-issue 20 years ago. Nobuddy's smokin' 'round their babies today.

It's jest like ol' Red Green's prayer --

"I'm a man... but I can change... if I have to... I guess."

We're seein' that we hafta an' we're changin'.

From here on out, I reckon we oughta treat the climate change deniers like we do the moon-landin' deniers. Pity 'em fer their ignorance but don't let 'em back into the debate. The only reason they been in the debate so long is on accounta the support they got from EXxon. The lid's off on that, now.


Anonymous said...

or bring back the "double nickel" 55 MPH speed limit.

Very simple to make ALL vehicles more fuel efficient.

I'm sure all Canadians will comply, especially your buddy "NIMBY Jjmbobby" who likes using electricity, but prefers a coal spewing plant in his back yard to a clean nuke plant.

A true Liberal there jimbobby - get somebody else to pay.

The truth on Kyoto from the G&M - Harper is right - its a socialist money sucking scheme.

Global warming is a reality. Canada must join the global effort to curb greenhouse gases. But it has to be smart in the way it does so, and St├ęphane Dion is advocating an exercise in futility.

The federal Liberal Leader wants the government to reaffirm Canada's unrealistic commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. There is no way, short of an economic disaster, that the nation can meet its treaty obligation to slash greenhouse-gas emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels in the period from 2008 to 2012. Despite their good intentions, Canadians would not accept the ensuing reality of drastically lower living standards and diminished government services such as health care. Worse, because Canadian officials apparently did not understand exactly what they were signing when they committed themselves to Kyoto in 1998, it is not even clear that it is in Canada's best interests to remain a party to the treaty.

So why are all three opposition parties supporting Mr. Dion's House of Commons resolution calling on the federal Conservative government to meet those targets and to impose hard caps on industrial polluters? Although the resolution is non-binding, the Liberals are also pushing through legislation calling for the implementation of the accord; the bill will be put to a final vote in two weeks. Either Mr. Dion is naive or, more likely, he has disingenuously placed politics ahead of common sense. What can he be thinking?

Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions in 1998, ratifying it in 2002. It became legally binding in February of 2005. Last May, after years of Liberal inaction, Ottawa conceded the level of emissions in 2004 was 34.6 per cent above the Kyoto target of 563 million tonnes. The level is even higher now, probably 780 million tonnes. But, under the treaty, energy-exporting Canada has promised to cut emissions to an average of 563 million tonnes a year in 2008-12. It is virtually impossible to meet those targets….

The Kyoto Protocol is essentially a trade treaty. Other nations, such as the United States and Britain, sent financially savvy negotiators. Canada sent aid and environmental experts. The terms reflect that imbalance. Energy-exporting nations such as Canada are held responsible for 60 per cent of all emissions from exported products such as natural gas….

Any nation that falls short of its commitments must carry a deficit multiplied by 1.3 onto its post-Kyoto balance sheet. If Canada does not meet its commitments, if it does not buy credits from other nations after 2012, Europe and Japan can impose sanctions on Canadian exports under World Trade Organization rules. "Essentially the treaty is operating against us as a permanent wealth transfer to other nations," Ms. Donnelly concludes….

Those are serious issues that Canadians have to discuss openly and rationally. The former Liberal government had earmarked funding to buy emissions credits abroad. But surely any federal funding would be far better spent on the development of better technologies or more stringent auto-emissions policies to curtail greenhouse gases. As a staunch environmentalist, Mr. Dion knows the extent of the challenge -- and the expensive risk of failure. Yet he is pressing the government to adhere fully to a treaty whose terms Canada cannot hope to fulfill.

The answer lies in improved technology, not in a poorer society. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday, there "are no quick fixes to this. You can't just snap your fingers" and solve the problem. That doesn't give the government an excuse to ignore the calamity of global warming, but trying to meet the unattainable goals Canada set within Kyoto is not the way to proceed.

Anonymous said...

just to keep your comments accurate, both the Greenland Ice Cap and the Eastern Antarctic Ice Cap (80 % of the entire Antarctic Ice) are INCREASING in mass.

they are not melting, despite all the PR pictures taken in summer around the edges where meting naturally occurs.

Anonymous said...

Lucky for Canadians that the Liberal Party of Montreal has kept them poorer than they otherwise would be - without crushing taxes being taken to stuff envelopes with cash, Canadians would have lost out on the opportunity to point fingers at Americans and arrogantly proclaim themselves morally superior, Canadians simply can't afford bigger vehicles - so we get to be self-righteous instead.