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Lorne Gunter should read his own paper

June 5, 2008

Notorious climate-change curmudgeon Lorne Gunter produced another brown op-ed today for the pages of the National Post:

In lean times, green fervour fades

If truth is the first casualty of war, then environmental concern is the first casualty of economic recession.

Surveys of Canadian voters showed the environment to be their first or second concern in 1989-90. At that time, though, the economy was booming, pumping out tens of thousands of new jobs a month.

A year-and-a-half later, with the economy locked in the worst recession in 60 years, government finances were imploding, jobs disappearing and foreclosure wolves circling, the environment vanished from the top 10.

He goes on to claim that governments in Europe who had gone with “fashionable left-wing political ideas” like carbon taxes are finding their pro-active stance to be far less politically expedient than it once was as economic hard times take hold.

In other words, the environment isn’t politically sexy any more, so Canada shouldn’t bother.

As usual, Gunter is ignoring one overwhelming reality: the age of cheap oil is over. Not because of European carbon taxes, not because of government policies regulating emissions, but because oil production has peaked and the price of oil and gas are about to go from expensive to unaffordable.

If Gunter won’t take the word of a bunch of carrot-munching eco-nuts, he might want to take a look through the business pages of his own paper:

Market best way to fight greenhouse gases

Turbine makers generate profits

GM closures were inevitable; High gas prices causing truck demand to drop

Continental cuts 3,000 jobs; says airline industry is in crisis

I would suggest to Lorne Gunter that there are two courses that Canada can choose to take in the face of the dual realities of climate change and peak oil. We can continue to stick our heads in the oil sands and cling desperately to the status quo until the oil runs out or the planet becomes unlivable (or both). Or we can do what major manufacturers are already starting to do: re-tool our industries and put Canada at the forefront of the post-petroleum economy.

That’s not some “fashionable left-wing idea”. That’s just good business.

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