The Climate Hustle: Where It's Better To Sound Smart Than To Be Smart
As you might expect from an industry that whiffed on Donald Trump, the media is burying the lede on prime minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to fade out coal from energy production by the year 2030. And it’s not coal.
Remember what this is really about: In an ideal scenario, assuming that the western democracies hitch themselves to the climate change plough, we’re promised maybe one degree of temperature relief… by the end of the century. Let me repeat that: one degree. Probably less, very unlikely more. In 85 years.
When everyone reading (or writing) these words will be in the celestial choir.
Now let us address ourselves to why the climate-besotted Boy King of Canada has decreed that we will take an abundant, very inexpensive energy source (and profit center) andreplace it with… other stuff that sounds nicer than icky coal but doesn’t perform anywhere nearly as well.
Trudeau and his lockstep environment minister Catherine McKenna are embracing this seemingly daft strategy because the virtuous people— whose approbation they crave— are doing it. Forget the science and the economics. This is the Hail Mary of a man seeking a legacy to be welcomed into the bosom of United Nations worthies.
Hands up everyone who wants the approval of Ban Ki Moon rather than Don Cherry.
Because he came to the PM job a couple of plates shy of dinner service and in the shadow of his father, Pierre “Print More Money” Trudeau, the current occupant of the chair wants to be taken seriously. Thus, Trudeau subscribes to the Barack Obama maxim— it’s better to sound smart than to be smart.
Like many in the progressive movement, Trudeau’s commitment is inversely proportionate to the social mien of his opponents. Drake: cool. Stephen Harper: So uncool. If he needed affirmation that style counts it came in the form of the Boor, Donald Trump, winning the presidency by ignoring this crusade of zealots. So he is willing to gamble an already vulnerable Canadian economy versus playing for an inside straight on the flop.
Forget that Trudeau thinks carbon pricing will control natural gas and oil… he needs to do the government big foot on coal. Because? Renewables: cool. Coal: So uncool.
Even the greatest proponents of climate-change catechism confess that their long-range projections on where the poor old earth might be in 100 years have a few variables. That’s why they’re constantly adjusting numbers to produce the outcomes they want (Hillary Clinton wishes). Then they get to Marrakech or some other UN pep rally, and collective denial takes over faked results.
So do the expense accounts. That’s why Mr. Trudeau’s posse is always the largest at these events. It needs to be seen that, while the United States under Trump is likely to go slow on the file, Canada will play the role of the Forlorn Hope, charging the breach in search of a glorious death.
And it will be a forlorn hope as China, India and the rest of the developing world buy every scrap of the coal Trudeau disdains to electrify their countries. Canada’s Boy Scout Badge for the environment will mean little more than a warm feeling. China and India have other plans, and they don’t include the earnest pilgrim in Ottawa.
What’s galling in this is that there is a sensible option for Trudeau. Almost all Canadians can be mobilized against pollution. Likewise, most believe that, even in natural warming, there are accommodations that need to be taken about rising water, warmer cities, population growth. Few are the folk who don’t think we need to evolve to other lightweight, more efficient energy sources.
A policy initiative that spoke to Canadians in terms they understood, not some intellectual churn from the unelected plutocrats in Marrakech or Paris, would be warmly received. And it’s not for want of a bad example for Trudeau to avoid. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have emptied Ontario’s coffers in a vain and failed attempt to be a climate paragon. She’s now polling in the teens with voters.
But as we learned in the American election, the climate mandarins are slow learners. Even when the polls put their Xanadu below cracks in the sidewalks in public interest they persevere in the notion that their hand is divinely guided.
It’s more important to dim bulbs like Trudeau and McKenna that it’s seen to be about their vision rather than getting the vision right. Ask Hillary Clinton how that worked out.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy. Bruce is the host of podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. His career includes successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald and the Globe & Mail.