I received an Action Alert from Public Interest Alberta this week that I think taxpaying Albertans should find shocking.
For those who donāt know, Public Interest Alberta is a self-described public interest advocacy group. Its board of directors is represented by every major public sector union in Alberta, including the Alberta Teachersā Association, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the United Nurses of Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Non-Academic Staff Association, the Calgary and Edmonton district labour councils and CUPE Alberta Division.
So imagine my surprise in seeing this collective of the best-paid public sector workers in Canada ā owing almost entirely to the incredible energy resource wealth that has gone to padding their salaries and benefits ā now advocating for an end to Albertaās energy sector and inviting you to join them in the effort.
Their Action Alert promotes Green New Deal town halls that are ābeing organized by allies of Public Interest Alberta.ā Events are being held in Edmonton on Saturday, Calgary on Tuesday and Banff on May 29. It gave a link to a document that helpfully describes what that Green New Deal could look like.
Doomsday phenom Greta Thunberg, 16, is prominently quoted as saying: āIf the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white. There are no gray (sic) areas when it comes to survival. Either we go on as a civilization or we donāt. We have to change.ā
How did we allow the discussion about climate change to become so overwrought that teenagers believe the Earth is going to be unsurvivable and human civilization will come to an end unless we stop using fossil fuels immediately?
There is no empirical evidence to support that apocalyptic vision. In fact, just the opposite. The planet has warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 and in that time the Earthās population has grown from 1.2 billion people in 1850 to 7.7 billion today. Global death rates from all natural disasters peaked at 3.71 million people in 1931. In 2018, death rates from natural disasters totalled 10,809. The number of people living in extreme poverty has declined from 84 per cent in 1820 to less than 10 per cent today. Indeed, the areas with persistent problems of high death rates and poverty are in sub-Saharan Africa, which also happens to have the lowest access to reliable electricity.
If this is the result of 1 C of warming over the last century, it simply doesnāt follow that catastrophe awaits humanity with an additional 1.5 degrees more. The record shows that humanity has proven remarkably resilient and adaptable to climate change. Thereās no reason to believe that will stop.
Nonetheless, the prophets of doom declare in The Pact for a Green New Deal that the solution is not adaptation. Instead, they call for a wholesale change in our energy consumption to cut fossil fuel use in half by 2030 and ultimately eliminate it completely: āWe have the ability to build a 100 per cent renewable economy based on public ownership and dignified, well-paying work.ā
Never mind that our energy grid isnāt large enough to handle our entire population switching over to electric cars and electric home heating along with all the electricity needs we currently have. Never mind that wind and solar are intermittent power sources. Never mind that we donāt have a power storage solution and that Tesla, which currently only has a tiny fraction of the car market, is already warning about shortages in rare earth metals needed to make batteries.
If this was just some marginal movement backed by an extreme fringe, perhaps you could argue to just ignore it.
But it isnāt marginal or fringe. It is also not a foreign-funded campaign that seeks to landlock our oil to benefit foreign interests, as Vivien Krause has revealed in her work on the Tarsands Campaign.
No, this Green New Deal is being backed by the biggest and most powerful public sector unions in our province. Those who never saw job losses during the most recent downturn in the economy. Those who never faced a wage cut. Those who campaigned hard to get the NDP re-elected.
My only question for Premier Jason Kenney is where is that energy war room? We need it ā now.
Danielle Smith is a radio host with 770 CHQR. She can be reached at email@example.com.