Preston Manning spewsDear Mr Manning,
I was listening to your interview with Anna Maria Tremonti 3 December 2014. Apparently you have joined a bunch of economists and former politicians to create Canada's Ecofiscal Commission" with an agenda to put a price on pollution (carbon) and remove subsidies on things that cause ecological degradation.
The Ecosfiscal Commission's website is not exactly a model of intellectual penetration and clarity. Near as I can tell, they don't like taxes and they don't like "heavy-handed regulations" (who does?). Oh, also, they don't like subsidies.
On the proactive side, the Ecofiscal Commision seems to think that all problems will be solved by the right policies to:
- correct market signals (those would be unheavy-handed regulations to fix prices?)
- and provide incentives to invest in new technologies (those would be subsidies?).
At the heart of the matter, these economists and politicians (and Rex Murphy, an honorary economist?) seek salvation in technology. Really? Pardon me, a mere scientist, for doubting.
It seems to me that technological innovation and ecological degradation have gone hand-in-hand for the last 10,000 years, or more...
Technological gain enables population gain and environmental degradation follows.
I suggest to you that we would not consider carbon dioxide to be a pollutant but for the fact that human population has increased by 1000% in the same period for which carbon emissions have raised global temperature from 287 deg Kelvin to 288 deg Kelvin --- a monstrous temperature increase of 0.36%...
If population had not exploded then people could have expansive lifestyles and still leave much of the ecosystem in a natural state --- which would be sufficient to absorb most of our much smaller overall carbon dioxide emissions.
So, Mr Manning:
- Why didn't you point out that population growth has always been the biggest factor causing environmental impacts?
- Why do you politicians continue subsidize population growth but self righteously punish the products of population growth?
Now I hesitate to call myself an ecologist but at least I have written several works about ecosystem dynamics that have been published in real scientific journals. I was interested, therefore, to find out how a bunch of economists and political hacks (and Rex Murphy) might presume to expound on "Ecology".
At first I thought that you and your peers might have become followers of the steady-state economy theory propounded by Herman Daley. But you immediately dispelled the notion of a steady-state economy with that old clarion call for "economic development", which is just an economists synonym for increasing GDP.
Your suggestion about "living within your means" made me wonder. How? Your answer to that question was contained within the presumptions of your next-stated position: "You can't demand more of natural systems than you are prepared to put into sustaining them." You go on to argue that we must go back to the good-old-days when the "Christian faith used to have a concept of environmental stewartship..."
The notion that the Christian faith has anything useful to say about ecology is about as bizare as claiming that it contains within it the principles of electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. When I scanned the bible (some decades ago) I read about: being fruitfull and filling the Earth. Oh, and let us not forget that great biblical lesson about men being given dominion over the Earth and all the animals (and women)!
The biblical theory of ecology was excusable for a barely post-neolithic tribe wandering around in the wilderness. But nowadays some of us really have learned a thing or two about ecology and evolution. It is telling that economists and politicians have not.
In light of modern knowledge, it is laughable for you to think that "you sustain natural systems". To the contrary, "natural systems sustain you".
You did seem to argue that religion should help us to accept "less in terms of goods and services" in order to "reduce the strain that we put on the environment". Of course, this is not an original viewpoint. Throughout history the wealthy power-mongers have always found religion to be useful for subjugating, controlling and befuddling the poor.
But history also tells us that religion has never provided a solution to the poverty problem. Neither have economists. As for former politicians, they forever failed before they became former!
In order to obtain a proper understanding of how ecology and evolution place constraints upon the human trajectory, I suggest that you read two books by Paul Colinvaux. The first book is entitled "Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare" and it will give you a grounding in the most fundamental principles of ecology. The second book is "The Fates of Nations: A Biological Theory of History" which is intelligently discussed in this review.
Prior to the 20th Century the well-being of one group of humans was most often obtained at the expense of another. Recall how the Roman Empire waxed with the booty and slaves obtained from each new conquest. Recall how the fortunes of European powers were obtained by extinguishing, enslaving and robbing the peoples of the rest of the world. (The modern nation of Canada --- which you, Preston Manning, once sought to rule --- is one of those stolen countries.)
This century just passed was (almost) unique in human ecology. Technological innovation enabled us to use machines instead of slaves. Standards of living rose, for a time. But technologies saturate and the advantage was quickly lost as population rose to the point that resources are rationed according to the rules of poverty. A trajectory towards egalitarianism has now well and truly shifted towards wealth and power for the few.
You rightly observe that: "Canadians want economic development and clean water and clean air." Canadians are wise, they understand that in order to have both these things they have to restrict their fertility. And that is exactly what Canadians have done. The problem is not with Canadians but with the politicians and economists who presume to overrule Canadians by employing every trick in the book to drive up population.
When it comes to population, all political parties have the same policy: grow baby grow!
Your Ecofiscal Commission is positive proof that all Canadian politicians are Conservatives. They all forget nothing and learn nothing --- that's perfect conservation.
"As Saskatchewan's population grows and the holiday season approaches, the city's charitable groups such as The Salvation Army are working to combat growing poverty rates."