By Lorrie Goldstein (Reprint from April, 2007)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a surprise winner for the stupidest comment ever made by a Canadian politician about the environment. We know a lot of you were expecting it would be Stephen Harper, John Baird, Stephane Dion or a member of the Alberta legislature. But our winner is Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s energy minister, who says Ontario’s Liberal government won’t install scrubbers on the smokestacks of its coal-fired electricity generating stations — among Canada’s, and North America’s, worst emitters of air pollution and greenhouse gases.
As Duncan put it: “We’re not going to spend $1.6 billion on technology that doesn’t help climate change. That’s just dumb.”
Actually, Mr. Duncan, what you’ve just said is dumb. It’s so dumb that whenever anyone looks up “dumb” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of you.
By announcing that Ontario will do nothing to clean up the airborne pollutants pouring out of its coal-fired generating stations, Duncan (and Premier Dalton McGuinty) have decided not to fight smog — which we know is choking the life out of thousands of Canadians every year — particularly seniors and children with respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma.
Their reason? Because the scrubbers won’t remove greenhouse gases that are also a byproduct of burning coal and linked to global warming. The reason the scrubbers don’t do this is the technology doesn’t exist.
So, Duncan isn’t going to address a problem — pollution and smog — we have the technology to deal with and we know is killing people, because it won’t also address greenhouse gases and global warming — which, if the science is right, might kill people in future because of increasingly violent weather patterns.
This is what happens when the ongoing hysteria over global warming links up with foolish, trendy politicians.
Global warming has become the elephant in the room that is sucking out the oxygen — literally — from every other major environmental concern, especially smog.
LUMP OF COAL
In 2003, when McGuinty was running for election, the only thing he talked about regarding Ontario’s coal-fired energy plants was air pollution. Not a word about global warming.
Among the 231 election promises he made was this: “Air we can breathe. No more coal. We will shut down Ontario’s coal-burning plants by 2007 and replace them with cleaner sources of energy.”
Since then, McGuinty has broken and rebroken this promise, pushing back the date (because Ontario needs the electricity these plants generate) to 2014. Duncan argues it will take five years to install the scrubbers and by then the plants will be about to close — assuming the Liberals are still in office and still intending to keep a promise they’ve broken twice.
What’s clear is that in 2003, their promise to close these plants referred only to pollution. That was the crisis. There was nothing about greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which isn’t a pollutant.
Here’s McGuinty in 2003: “Our five coal-burning plants (four are still open, including the largest) are the worst polluters in Ontario. They create smog and threaten our health. Asthma is the most common reason for admitting children to Ontario hospitals. Polluted air is a major cause of this epidemic. We think our most vulnerable citizens — seniors and children — should be able to go outside in summer without consulting a smog index.”
That was then, this is now. Now, McGuinty is transfixed by global warming and we can all choke on it.
This is madness. This is the lunatics running the asylum.