Redmond Weissenberger

Today, China is providing a model for the rest of the developing world to follow. Ignoring the hypocritical calls from the West to rein in its growth, China has lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty and given them far better quality of life – and far more opportunities – by increasing the use of oil, coal and natural gas, and accepting many tenets of the free market.

We should be thankful that these talks to replace Kyoto are failing. Kyoto failed and with good reason: given our current technology (including expensive, land-intensive, unreliable wind and solar power), it is impossible to provide a healthy economy and affordable, reasonable quality of life without using oil, coal and natural gas. (Nuclear power would certainly help, but Greens oppose that too.)

Canada did indeed sign the Kyoto Protocol – but then it wisely proceeded to abandon any attempt to comply. The Canadian economy and population were growing, in one of the coldest nations on Earth, and to restrict our economy the way Kyoto demands would severely hamper our ability to feed people, keep them warm, and keep our country prosperous.

As to “technology transfer” agreements, many talk about “incentivizing innovation” to “encourage” and “facilitate” transfers. However, UN bureaucrats do not realize that innovation cannot be generated by transferring taxpayer and consumer money to politically favored corporations. This leads only to mal-investment – the forced movement of scarce financial, material and creative resources into unproductive pursuits, like industrial wind farms. Too often, these “transfers” have meant loans, subsidies and mandates from Ottawa, Washington, Berlin, Madrid, the IMF and the World Bank, to pay politically correct and connected corporations to install expensive equipment. This is corporate welfare, nothing else.

If the EU and its member states want to "transfer" technology to the developing world, they should do it the old fashioned way – through free trade, fair trade, a fair exchange of money for the best, most efficient, lowest polluting modern technology available. They should lower barriers and let developed countries trade freely with the people of Africa and other poor regions, open EU markets to their agricultural and other products, and trade with them for what they want and need.

When it comes to deforestation and environmental protection, once again embracing the natural human “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another" would solve many problems. Taking care of the environment isn't cheap, and there is a connection that is not often noted by the greens: the richest nations also have the cleanest environments.

We in the developed world no longer need to cut down trees and destroy wildlife habitats to cook our food. We no longer endure the energy poverty – and consequent lung and intestinal diseases, malnutrition, misery and premature death – that infect billions of poor people all over the world.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of life that a country can provide to its residents and its per capita CO2 emissions. Trying to force an unneeded transition to renewable energy technologies that are not ready for prime time (and are not needed for “climate change prevention” reasons), in the name of ideologically driven goals, will lead only to unnecessary hardship for people in developed countries. It will perpetuate the economic and energy poverty, misery, disease and early death that still plague billions of people around the world who live on less than two dollars a day.

The United States and Canada need to get back to what they have done best over the last 100 years: providing a model of what the free human spirit can accomplish, if given the opportunity. In other words, guide and help poor nations to build a prosperous society that can lift all boats and all people, by providing opportunities to everyone. If we happen to create a little CO2 along the way, then so be it.

Humans are part of nature. The use of hydrocarbons is part of nature. Carbon dioxide emissions are a vital fertilizer that helps food crops and all other plants grow better and faster and with greater resistance to drought and disease, thereby making ALL life on earth possible.

We are the rational animal, and our creativity and ingenuity should not be stifled – nor should anyone seek to condemn half of humanity to a lives that shackle their ability to make full use of their gifts. Instead of worrying about carbon dioxide, we should ask: How can we make better use of the greatest resource we have yet discovered – hydrocarbons?

We should not ask, How we can reduce our CO2 emissions? Rather, we should ask, How we can raise CO2 emissions in the Third World, by giving them better access to the vast energy and opportunity stored in hydrocarbons – and thereby reducing their need to chop down forest habitats and burn trees in dangerous, polluting open fires?

The best commitment the United States and Canada can make is to promise that they will do all they can to relegate the Kyoto protocol to the dustbin of history, leave UN bureaucrats to tilt at windmills – and help all still impoverished people achieve their hopes, their dreams, their true destinies.


Redmond Weissenberger

Redmond Weissenberger is the Canadian Policy Analyst for the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow (www. CFACT.org). He lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.