Letter: Not scoffing at climate science

I was simply suggesting that the plan’s exclusive focus on “emissions” was ill-advised

Not scoffing at climate science

Re: “The wise and the brave”, (Cowichan Valley Citizen, Dec. 23, 2021)

I find it amazing how a simple statement of fact on my part in the Dec. 7 Committee of the Whole meeting regarding our municipal response to climate change has prompted Mr. Slade to invoke Godwin’s Law, (“…as a discussion grows longer — regardless of topic or scope — the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches.”)

Mr. Slade expressly invokes Godwin’s law in his letter when he writes: “Right here in the Cowichan Valley there exists elected government officials who scoff at the science of human caused climate change, who say the problem is not us and is not ours…. (W)hen the tide of fascism was rolling across the continent, Churchill did not stubbornly insist that Nazis are an unproven theory and that until Europe did more to confront their fascism problem, we the British, shall keep our heads in the sand.”

No one — least of all me — is “scoff(ing) at the science of human caused climate change.” In fact, during the discussion on the update to our Climate Action and Energy Plan, I expressly asked: “Where is the stuff in this plan about dealing with the effects of climate change, which we are seeing more and more and more of?”

I was simply suggesting that the plan’s exclusive focus on “emissions” was ill-advised, given that per statistics from Environment Canada, our entire country is responsible for just 1.6 per cent of global emissions. As I said in that debate, “when you take out the oil sands and the Ontario industry, the rest is 0.8 per cent. And we in North Cowichan are going to save the world with our emissions plan? The point is, we could cut all emissions in this entire country, and shoot every farting cow, and China would make up the emissions that we’ve eliminated within six months.”

So what I was saying was that the discussion around climate change shouldn’t be exclusively about emissions. “It’s about flooding. It’s about dealing with heat domes. It’s about coming up with a strategy to improve our emergency response. Those are the kinds of things I need to see in a climate plan. (But) I can’t endorse this plan the way it’s written right now because it misses the biggest problem, which is that the climate is changing. What are we going to do about the effects of that?”

Mr. Slade invokes the need for “wisdom and bravery” on this file. I would submit it doesn’t take a lot of either of these to impose new taxes to achieve some sort of notional “carbon neutrality”, but that it takes a lot of both to actually institute policies and practices to protect our community. And that’s what I’m looking for. Because as I said in the 2018 campaign, “the ongoing insistence that our GHG emissions in little North Cowichan are in any way significant on a global scale is akin to peeing in the ocean and expecting the water levels to rise.”

Al Siebring

Mayor, District of North Cowichan