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The federal carbon tax is already working!

Hart Attacks: It's a miracle. I haven't been feeling any global warming on the Prairies this January

I don’t know what the country is whining about. Alberta’s Climate Change Leadership program (I love that label), also known as a carbon tax, IS WORKING!

As I pointed out to my inner circle in an earlier Facebook post, January 2017 is already much colder than it was in late December 2016, so just having the Alberta fuel tax in place for three weeks already appears to have nipped global warming in the bud. So what’s all the fuss about? The tax is working!

I don’t think there are too many of us, during our most lucid moments, who don’t believe that looking after the environment is important. My thought on climate change is how will we ever know if any penny we pay in a fuel tax, each margarine container that gets recycled, or adding Beano to the ration of every feeder animal will make a difference?

It is such a huge, complex issue that is completely muddled by science, money and politics.

I believe the climate is changing. David Philips, the senior climatologist with Environment Canada told me directly not long ago the Canadian climate has warmed up:

“Over the past 70 years Canadian temperatures have warmed 1.5 C to 1.7 C. And over the next 50 years it could warm by 2.5 C to 3 C. The warming trend could put Western Canada on par with the current climate (growing conditions) of Nebraska and Iowa. Ontario and other parts of Eastern Canada could see growing conditions similar to Kentucky. Overall, on the plus side, the models show the warming trend will result in longer growing seasons. While warmer is generally good, on the downside it is also expected to be dryer.”

He seems like a bright, trustworthy guy. I believe him. But did me running my truck up and down Highway 2 in Alberta, or all those burping steers at Border Line Feeders in southern Saskatchewan, or all the farmers doing recreational tillage in Manitoba cause that?

Good, ol’ Dr. Tim Ball, retired, University of Manitoba (and he’s still out there on the speaker circuit), but he’s looked long and hard at climate and makes the point, the climate is always changing — always has and always will.

Good, ol’ former Country Guide columnist Dr. Tim Ball, retired, University of Manitoba, (not sure if he is still on the speaker circuit or not), but he’s looked long and hard at climate and makes the point, the climate is always changing — always has and always will.

I watch science specials on Nova and their scientists look at the four billion year history of the earth, and world climate has repeatedly swung (over a few million years at a time) from hot to cold. On the day of this writing, I could drive up to Carrot River, Sask. near Prince Albert and supposedly it is a high of -20 C with a windchill of -25 C, which isn’t very topical. Yet if I had made the trip there 92 million years ago I would have found crocodiles on the edge of a great inland sea. Something changed, and I don’t think it had anything to do with me and my Dodge truck.

And then you throw politics into the discussion and good luck. If you are a politician who hasn’t been on the climate change bandwagon in the past 10 to 15 years, you might as well forget it. Again, I agree it is important to look after the environment, promote and even insist on good environmental stewardship and reduce pollution but unless everyone is serious about it, does anything really change?

Some of the world leaders can sit down, and feel good about themselves because they hammer out a climate change accord, and are “really making a difference.” But I bet if I called a household in China today, they would have a hard time finding the phone because the smog created by their industrial complex is so thick they can’t see their hand in front of their face. So whether I drive or walk over to Walmart today will that change anything in China? Alberta set a carbon emission cap for the oilsands, but it actually allows for an increase in emissions over the next 25 years. How does that work?

Nationally, Prime Minister Trudeau is intent on having a national carbon tax to help reduce carbon emissions and further fund environmental improvement programs. One Saskatchewan rancher was telling me the other day if this progressively increasing carbon tax comes into effect it will potentially cost him “tens of thousands of dollars per year” in increased taxes on his ranch.

I’m not sure what these grain farmers and ranchers are complaining about. If the cost of production goes up (including higher taxes) why don’t they just charge more for their products? Seems simple enough to me. Oh, wait, come to think of it, agriculture doesn’t work that way. Walmart, Superstore, Safeway/Sobeys they can pass on increased costs to consumers, but not primary producers.

Alberta Premier Notley and her ministers (and many others) often talk about the affect of increased costs, and say businesses, including farmers and ranchers, just need to become more efficient. Why farmers didn’t think of that…

I am not exactly sure what becoming more efficient looks like on a farm or ranch today. I was listening to a radio talk show recently discussing the new Alberta carbon tax, and one farmer called in and he was absolutely livid. His basic message was “you work, and work and work, cope with the weather and volatile markets, tighten everything up as much as possible to be as efficient as possible, and maybe just maybe you break even or see a little profit then along comes another tax that sets everything back to zero or minus”… (if you screamed that you would get some sense of how frustrated he was.)

These ideas, concepts and philosophies are good, noble, worthwhile. But how do you know if it makes any difference? Does it just look good politically? I can do the best, squeaky clean job on my side of the street, but if the guy (or whole neighbourhood) across the road still has an uncontrolled mess, does anything really change?

Maybe the upset over the carbon tax will force a government change. And then I can watch the new prime minister, Canadian billionaire Kevin O’Leary, and U.S. president, billionaire Donald Trump run my world. I will consider what ever fees I pay in carbon tax, as my low, low, low price of admission for that show.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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